The Watchman On The Wall

The Watchman On The Wall
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Verse 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Middle East Report Dec. 22, 2015

In a phone call Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to coordinate their actions to fight terrorism in the Middle East, the Kremlin said in a statement. They also discussed the Syrian crisis. "Putin stressed that there is no alternative to the launch of intra-Syrian negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations, as well as to the continued and uncompromising fight against Islamic State and other extremist groups acting in Syria," the Kremlin said.  No comment has come from Jerusalem. The conversation took place two days after a rocket attack attributed to Israel killed Hizbollah terrorist Samir Quntar in Damascus.

Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, was the second major Iraqi city to fall to the Islamic State after the devastating loss of Mosul. The importance of the offensive launched Tuesday, Dec. 22 for its recapture from ISIS lies chiefly in the makeup of the assault force, which is unique in contemporary Syrian and Iraqi conflicts.
The partners ae US and Russian army and air force elements, two varieties of Iraqi militia – Shiites under Iranian command and Sunnis, as well as the regular Iraqi army.
The Iraqi army is depicted as leading the assault. But this is only a sop to its lost honor for letting this Sunni city fall in the first place. The real command is in the hands of US Special Operations officers alongside Iraqi troops, and the Russian officers posted at the operational command center they established last month in Baghdad.
This Russian war room is in communication with US military headquarters in the Iraqi capital. It is from the Russian war room that the top commanders of the pro-Iranian militias send their orders. The most prominent is Abu Mahadi al-Muhandis, who heads the largest Iraqi Shiite militia known as the Popular Mobilization Committee, pictured above and the logo below.
Noting another first, our military sources disclose that Iranian officers liaise between the Americans and Russians on the front against ISIS. If this combination works for Ramadi, it will not doubt be transposed to the Syrian front and eventually, perhaps next summer, serve as the format for the general offensive the Americans are planning for wresting Mosul from the Islamic State.
When US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was in Baghdad last week to review the final preparations for the Ramadi operation, US officials were still insisting that the Iraqi army was fit for the heavy lifting after being trained by American instructors.
By Tuesday, US sources were admitting that pro-Iranian militias were also part of the operation.
Iraqi army forces are attacking the Ramadi city center from the north; Shiite militias from the south. The US air force is pounding ISIS targets inside the town in order to cripple its ability to fight off the oncoming forces. The Russian air force is standing by, ready to destroy any ISIS reinforcements attempting to cross in from Syria to aid their comrades in beleaguered Ramadi.
Experts keeping track of the offensive have no doubt that it will end in success. The jihadists holding Ramadi are few in number – 400-500 fighters at most. However, cleansing the town after victory will presents a daunting difficulty. In Tikrit and the refinery town of Baiji, ISIS split its defense structure into two levels - one on the surface and the second hidden underground.
The top level was thinly manned by fighting strength, but crawling with mines, booby-trapped trucks and IEDs detonated by remote control.
The lower level, consisting of deeply-dug interconnected tunnel systems, was where ISIS fighters hid out and jump out at night for attacks. According to the experience gained in other Iraqi battle arenas against ISIS, neither the Iraqi army nor local Shiite militias have been able to plumb and destroy these tunnel systems. And so they could never really purge the Islamic State from “liberated” towns. 
Ramadi will face the same quandary. Watch the Ramadi video below.

The Greek Parliament Tuesday voted for the recognition of Palestinian statehood within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem its capital. The Greek media describe the resolution as symbolic and non-binding, like the one approved by the British and French parliaments - not that of Sweden. The vote comes amid warming Israel-Greek relations. Prime Minister Netanyahu scheduled to meet twice next month with Greek Prime Minister Tsipras, after the latter’s visit to Jerusalem and their discussions on a Mediterranean consortium for exploiting Israel’s gas. Greece declined to join the EU guidelines on labeling Israeli products from Judea and Samaria.

Four Russian warplanes will guard the aircraft carrying Syrian ruler Bashar Assad flying to Tehran for a visit in late December or early January, Iran’s official news agency Fars reported Tuesday. Moscow has warned the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State “not to get close to Assad’s plane in order to avoid an aerial battle,” according to a Lebanese newspaper. On its way to Iran, Assad’s plane is expected to fly over Iraq, where the US maintains a military presence.

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