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Saturday, November 18, 2017

'ISIS has lost 95% of its caliphate'

The Islamic State (ISIS) group has lost 95 percent of the cross-border "caliphate" it declared three years ago in Iraq and Syria, the U.S.-led coalition fighting the jihadist group says.
"Since our coalition was formed in 2014, ISIS has lost 95 percent of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria," Washington's envoy to the coalition, Brett McGurk, said late Wednesday after a meeting in Jordan, according to AFP.
 
The jihadist group swept across Syria and Iraq the same year, declaring a cross-border "caliphate" in territory roughly the size of Britain, attracting thousands of foreign fighters.
Since then, several military offensives, including those backed by the U.S.-led coalition, have since seen IS lose most areas it once controlled.
 
"More than 7.5 million people have now been liberated from ISIS," McGurk said in a statement, adding that the group's finances are now "at their lowest levels to date".
With the jihadists' dreams of statehood lying in tatters following the battlefield defeats, Western attention is increasingly pivoting to trying to block foreign fighters from returning home to carry out attacks.
 
McGurk insisted that flows of foreign ISIS fighters into Syria have "nearly stopped", and that jihadists are increasingly being picked up as they cross borders.
"We are enhancing cooperation and border security, aviation security, law enforcement, financial sanctions, counter-messaging, and intelligence sharing to prevent ISIS from carrying out attacks in our homelands," he was quoted as having said.
The jihadists recently suffered a series of stunningly quick defeats, including the loss of their de facto capital Raqqa in Syria.
The group was reported to have lost the town of Albu Kamal in eastern Syria, but later recaptured it from the Syrian military.

Saudi FM: Hezbollah holding Lebanon hostage

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, on Friday blasted Hezbollah, accusing the group of holding Lebanon hostage and demanding that it disarm.
 
Al-Jubeir told reporters in Madrid, according to AFP, that Hezbollah was destabilizing Lebanon by maintaining its arsenal and fighters in the Mediterranean nation.
"You cannot have a militia with a military force that operates outside the scope of the government," he was quoted as having told reporters after talks with Spanish counterpart Alfonso Dastis.
 
"We see Hezbollah hijacking the Lebanese banking system to launder money, we see Hezbollah hijacking Lebanese ports in order to smuggle drugs, we see Hezbollah engaging in terrorist activities and interfering in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen," he charged.
 
"Unless Hezbollah disarms and becomes a (solely) political party, Lebanon will be held hostage by Hezbollah and by extension Iran. This is not acceptable to us and is not acceptable to the Lebanese," Al-Jubeir made clear.
 
The tensions between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia over Lebanon has increased in recent days, following the sudden resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri.
Hariri gave a statement from Riyadh two weeks ago in which he announced he was stepping down because he feared for his life while also accusing Iran and Hezbollah of destabilizing Lebanon.
 
Speculation has swirled around Hariri's prolonged stay in Saudi Arabia since the announcement. READ MORE

'We won’t accept Iranian presence on our border'

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, met this week with Major General Francis Vib-Sanziri, the new commander of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) stationed on the Israeli-Syrian border.
 
During their meeting, Danon expressed to the Commander that Israel would not accept the presence of Iran or its proxies, such as Hezbollah, in the vicinity of the border or in the Quneitra region.
 
“Israel will do all that is necessary to ensure the security of its citizens and will not allow for any threat to its sovereignty,” Ambassador Danon said during the meeting.
 
“The international community must act immediately against Iran’s aggression and their attempts undermine stability in the region,” he added.
 
Danon several months ago presented new information to the Security Council revealing that Hezbollah had established a series of outposts along the border with Israel under the guise of agricultural NGO “Green Without Borders”.
 
The UN, however, rejected Israel’s claims, saying that “Green Without Borders” members have planted trees in the area, but it "has not observed any unauthorized armed persons at the locations or found any basis to report a violation of resolution 1701."
 
Mossad Director Yossi Cohen later provided an assessment that the Iranian regime is expanding its control across the Middle East through proxy forces in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen.

Church Sign Warns Members Are Armed, Will Use Deadly Force If Attacked

A sign posted outside the River at Tampa Bay Church warns that congregants are armed and will use deadly force if attacked.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that the sign has been up for about a year but drew fresh attention when Senior Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne posted it on his Instagram account two days after the heinous attack on the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The sign is intended to let would-be attackers know that congregants do not plan to be sitting ducks if someone comes in to do harm:
Associate Pastor Allen Hawes commented on the sign, saying, “It is a deterrent. Look at what is going on. In the past two months, look at what happened in Texas. Look at what happened in Las Vegas. Because we are a church that is on television, we are very involved in the community. We want people to know that this is a safe zone.”
River at Tampa Bay Church has 1,200 to 1,300 members, and Hawes stressed that many of them are armed and “prepared to use deadly force if necessary.” He said, “We are not a soft target. People here will defend their families.”

Friday, November 17, 2017

Saudi Prince Muhammad is on eve of accession, plans war on Iran, with Israeli attack on Hizballah

The next Saudi King Crown Prince Muhammad and Israel agree that Iran is the biggest threat to the region, but Israel’s top soldier rules out initiating an attack on Hizballah.
Two London publications on the same day, Thursday, Nov. 17, shed unusual light on the next chapter in Saud royal history, as well as on the hitherto semi-clandestine ties between Riyadh and Jerusalem.
 
The London Daily Mail, quoting “a source close to the Saudi royal family” reported that King Salman, 91, intends to give up the throne next week and name his son, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, 32 as his successor. The king will reportedly confine himself to ceremonial duties like “the queen of England,” retaining only the title of “Custodian of the Holy Shrines.
 
Near two weeks ago, Prince Muhammad ordered 500 notables, including princes, former ministers and business leaders detained on charges of corruption. The British newspaper carried the first photos of the distinguished detainees sleeping on mattresses on the floor of the five-star Carlton Ritz Riyadh.
 
After he is crowned king, the prince will focus on Iran, according the Daily Mail. His plan is “to start the fire in Lebanon, in the hope of Israeli military backing.” He is convinced he has to hit Iran and Hizballah – contrary to the advice of the royal family – and will enlist the help of the Israeli military to crush Hizballah, for which he has promised Israel billions of dollars if they agree.” READ MORE
 

Report: Saudi Crown Prince will 'crush' Hezbollah with Israel

The King of Saudi Arabia plans to step down and announce his son as his successor next week, the British newspaper Daily Mail reported on Thursday, citing a source close to the country's royal family.
 
The move is seen as the final step in 32-year-old Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's power grab, which began earlier this month with the arrests of more than 40 princes and government ministers in a corruption probe.
 
The unnamed source told the Daily Mail that King Salman will continue only as a ceremonial figurehead, handing over official leadership of the country to his son, often referred to as MBS.
 
“Unless something dramatic happens, King Salman will announce the appointment of MBS as King of Saudi Arabia next week. King Salman will play the role of the queen of England. He will only keep the title 'Custodian of the Holy Shrines,'” said the source.
 
The high level source further said that once crowned king, the prince will shift his focus to Iran, Saudi Arabia's longtime regional rival.
 
He will also enlist the help of the Israeli military to crush Hezbollah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon, according to the source.
 
“MBS is convinced that he has to hit Iran and Hezbollah...MBS's plan is to start the fire in Lebanon, but he's hoping to count on Israeli military backing. He has already promised Israel billions of dollars in direct financial aid if they agree,” claimed the source.
 
“MBS can not confront Hezbollah in Lebanon without Israel. Plan B is to fight Hezbollah in Syria,' added the source. READ MORE

Satellite images reveal North Korea is dangerously close to finishing new ballistic missile submarine

Washington-based 38 North, a North Korea monitoring project, published images taken on November 5 showing activity at North Korea's Sinpo South Shipyard.

Its report stated: "The presence of what appear to be sections of a submarine's pressure hull in the yards suggests construction of a new submarine, possibly the SINPO-C ballistic missile submarine - the follow-on to the current SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine."
The report said that throughout 2017 there had been continued movement of parts and components into and out of two parts yards adjacent to the constructions halls in the centre of the shipyard.
It said the November 5 images showed two large circular objects that could be sections of a submarine's pressure hull. It said these appeared larger than those for North Korea's ROMEO-class attack submarine.
Images of a test stand indicated continued testing of a mechanism for ejection launch of missiles from a submarine.
However, the report said no activity could be seen suggesting preparations for a new test of a submarine-launched missile.
North Korea has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the US, sparking a major international crisis in which US President Donald Trump has said that all options are under consideration, including military ones.
North Korea is also thought to be working on a solid-fuel missile for submarine launches.
Last month, The Diplomat magazine quoted a US government source as saying US military intelligence had detected a new diesel-electric submarine under construction at Sinpo and dubbed it the Sinpo-C. READ MORE

Saudi Arabia king to step down and hand over the crown to his 32-year-old son after prince rounded up Saudi royals in corruption arrests and had them sleep on bare

The King of Saudi Arabia plans to step down and announce his son as his successor next week, a source close to the country's royal family has exclusively told DailyMail.com. 
The move is seen as the final step in 32-year-old Prince Mohammed bin Salman's power grab, which began earlier this month with the arrests of more than 40 princes and government ministers in a corruption probe. 
The source said King Salman will continue only as a ceremonial figurehead, handing over official leadership of the country to his son - often referred to as MBS.
'Unless something dramatic happens, King Salman will announce the appointment of MBS as King of Saudi Arabia next week,' said the source. 
'King Salman will play the role of the queen of England. He will only keep the title "Custodian of the Holy Shrines".'

The high level source said once crowned king, the prince will shift his focus to Iran, a long standing rival oil empire to Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, with fears military action is possible.
He will also enlist the help of the Israeli military to crush Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia supported by Iran, according to the source. 
'MBS is convinced that he has to hit Iran and Hezbollah,' he said. 'Contrary to the advice of the royal family elders, that's MBS's next target. Hence why the ruler of Kuwait privately calls him "The raging Bull". 
'MBS's plan is to start the fire in Lebanon, but he's hoping to count on Israeli military backing. He has already promised Israel billions of dollars in direct financial aid if they agree. 
'MBS can not confront Hezbollah in Lebanon without Israel. Plan B is to fight Hezbollah in Syria,' said the source.  READ MORE

Thursday, November 16, 2017

IDF CHIEF OF STAFF: ISRAEL WILLING TO SHARE INTELLIGENCE WITH SAUDIS

"THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND!"

According to the Chief of Staff, the expansion of Iranian influence across the Middle East is a major concern to both Israel and Saudi Arabia.

"The Iranian plan is to control the Middle East through two Shi'ite crescents,” Eisenkot told Elaph. “The first is from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon and the second across the Gulf from Bahrain to Yemen to the Red Sea. We must stop that from happening.”


Eisenkot, who met with military leaders from around the globe at the second annual conference of the chiefs of staff in Washington in October, told Elaph that what he heard from the Saudi representative about Iranian expansion was “identical” to Israeli concerns.

“This is what should be prevented in the region,” he said, adding that “In this matter there is complete agreement between us and Saudi Arabia.”

While Tehran’s nuclear program has been temporarily frozen, there is no doubt about the country’s intention to acquire nuclear capabilities. Tehran is not only providing arms to terror groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, but is transferring expertise, building weapons factories, supplying advanced weapons and investing huge sums into various militias. (Read More)