Bab el Mandeb
Since I’m predicting that the current hotspot is the Iranian Theater, you’ll find increased reporting there for your education and benefit. The corrupt, lying, smug, sly, filthy, elite mainstream media is too focused on how much they hate President Trump to be bothered with reporting on this. That doesn’t mean that it’s not of vital interest to the US (and the rest of the world) and that it’s not escalating.
The Saudi-led Arab coalition declared on Wednesday, 1 August, that it had carried out an assessment of the Iran-backed Houthi militias’ hostile actions against international navigation in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait and Red Sea.
Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said that the “alliance, in coordination with the international community, has taken all necessary measures to ensure freedom of navigation and international trade through the Strait and southern Red Sea.”
This statement implies that the Bab el-Mandeb Strait is open to shipping but does not mention oil tankers. One unladen Saudi VLCC tanker transited the Strait northbound on 30 July, five days after the ban was announced.
The announcement did not mention the Houthi unilateral ceasefire.
One news outlet reported the Saudis lifted the ban. There are no corroborating reports that the ban on transits by oil tankers had been lifted.
On 3 August, Logistics published a detailed status report with a map of the shipping backed up on both sides of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. Three tankers owned by Bahri company are at anchor off Salalah, Oman. The report concluded,
“Waiting at Salalah will enable the tankers to resume their voyages promptly if Saudi Aramco rescinds the ban within the next few days.”
I don’t think that we’ll see the ban lifted soon.
The Israel Defense Force spokesman told the press that an Israeli aircraft killed seven Islamic State terrorists who tried to infiltrate the southern Golan Heights from Syria. Jordan reported that its forces also clashed with Islamic State terrorists who attempted to enter Jordan from Syria.
The Syrian army has cleared the Golan Heights border of organized opposition fighters. Pockets of extremists continue to fight on but are being driven out of southern Syria towards Jordan and Israel.
Defense Minister Lieberman on Syria. During a visit to the Northern Command on 2 August, Defense Minister Lieberman said that security on the Golan Heights should improve.
“From our perspective, the situation is returning to how it was before the civil war, meaning there is a real address, someone responsible, and central rule.” He said that residents in the north should be less wary of a potential flare-up on the border.
“It is also Assad’s interest, because he understands what will happen if it does not return to the previous situation, and I assume that he will make his own decisions, however, as I have made clear, we will not give up our security interests.”
The Defense Minister stressed three points.
· The Syrian regime must strictly adhere to the Separation of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria of 1974.
· Syrian soil cannot serve as a forward operating base by Iran against Israel.
· Syria cannot be used as a way station for arms smuggling to Hizballah in Lebanon.
Lieberman essentially congratulated Syrian President Assad and his allies for winning the civil war. I believe that his statement is a bit premature because Islamic opposition extremists still control most of Idlib governate in northwestern Syria.
Lieberman’s restatement of settled Israeli policy is so succinct that I bulletized the points. They imply that Israeli attacks against targets in Syria will continue because the Iranians are not leaving.
Syrian President Assad is aware of Israeli security policy. The Russians have certainly have informed him about Russian President Putin’s talks with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
The most important point is that Russia will not defend Syria against Israeli airstrikes, including against bases or facilities that are jointly manned by Syrians and Iranians. Russia also has agreed to not provide advanced air defense systems to Syria.
A Russian Buffer
The Jerusalem Post and other news outlets reported that Russian military police began deploying on the Syrian-held Golan. According to a Russian Defense Ministry statement, Russia planned to set up eight observation posts in the area. The Russians said their military police are backing up the UN peacekeeping mission.
Background: The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) contains 1,112 military and civilian personnel from Nepal, Fiji, India, Ireland and Ghana. It has monitored the ceasefire and disengagement agreement since 1974.
The Russian military police deployment is part of the Russian arrangement to prevent a war between Israel and Iran from being fought in Syria. The military police job is to ensure that the Iranian military personnel and equipment remain behind the 85- kilometer buffer zone. Israel seems to accept the Russian arrangement but has not agreed to it. Minister Lieberman also said that, if things do not work out, Israel will look to its security interests.