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20 Aug: Afghanistan- After the US apparently agreed to withdraw from Afghanistan during recent talks with the Taliban in Doha the Afghan president declared a ceasefire yesterday. Today Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US supports a new Afghan ceasefire, saying it is “time for peace” and that the US is ready to facilitate peace talks between the two sides. In response the Taliban issued a statement over the weekend.
The Taliban policy of freeing government forces who surrender, if they promise not rejoin the fight against the legitimate government of the Taliban which was overthrown by the US, is beginning to cut deeply into the war weary Afghan army’s resistance..
Iran- Remembering the 1953 CIA coup which overthrew an Iranian government, Tehran declares that the new US Acton Group will fail to overthrow the government of Iran this time around. Iran appoints new air force chief as Bolton discusses the coming Mideast war with Netanyahu.
19 Aug: Afghanistan- As America prepares to pull out of Afghanistan:
The Taliban have proved in the recent offensive that the US puppet Afghan government cannot survive an American exit from the country, and with a US departure in the works Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani today declared a three month ceasefire with the Taliban effective from Monday.
In a televised address on Sunday, Ghani said the truce would be “until the prophet’s birthday provided that the Taliban reciprocate”, referring to the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday which is celebrated on November 21 in Afghanistan.
In response the Taliban released a statement saying that they planned to free “hundreds of prisoners” on the occasion of Eid [remembering the intended sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham] this year on Aug 21.
Ghani’s ceasefire announcement was limited to the Taliban and excluded other armed groups such as Islamic State.
Pakistan immediately welcomed the Afghan government’s declaration of a ceasefire. During the three month ceasefire talks will continue on a US withdrawal and a national reconciliation
Please see today’s important analysis of the present Middle East situation. August 19, 2018; Situation Report the Middle East Today and Tomorrow
The Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca begins today, see the pictures of the gathered masses.
In the very near future after Messiah the Christ comes and heals the nations restoring true religion as the true Messiah and Mahdi, he will build the Ezekiel Temple. Then millions will visit that Temple in Jerusalem three times a year. It will not be possible for the billions of mankind to visit Jerusalem three times a year for sheer numbers, instead each nation will probably send delegations with every person having at least one chance during their lives to visit the Ezekiel Temple during their life times wile most will be observing the Holy Festivals at sites around the world and will have modern communications hook ups to the Temple services.
Israel- Israel closes the Gaza crossing again. John Bolton visits Israel, Ukraine to discuss coming war.
18 Aug: A Blessed Sabbath for All God’s Faithful!
17 Aug: Gaza peace talks are now in recess for the Islamic Hajj holiday. Talks will resume after the Hajj ends on 24 Aug. The talks will see a final round with an Israeli team going to Cairo the week of Aug 26th.
Mideast War- Israel has established a special battle group for the approaching war with Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. The “Gideon Battle Group”—a combat brigade that includes thousands of IDF soldiers—is training in the Golan Heights for war with the now battle hardened Hezbollah.
Seven wounded by Israeli fire as thousands demonstrate on the Gaza border. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman spends the day in the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv to receive constant updates about what is happening along the border.
Israel- Police interrogate Netanyahu for the 11th time over bribery complaints with a another recommendation to indict expected soon.
Trump- The huge military victory parade scheduled for November by Donald Trump has been postponed.
Iran- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday named senior policy adviser Brian Hook as Washington’s special representative for Iran, Hook will lead a newly established Iran Action Group to coordinate the State Department’s campaign against Iran
Turkey- Pres. Erdogan spoke by phone about stability and cooperation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, and with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday. Turkey and Europe are being driven into each other’s arms by the Trump administration’s economic policies.
The US is threatening more sanctions on Turkey over the case of Andrew Brunson. Brunson is charged with being associated with certain evangelicals accompanying American service personnel in Turkey and conspiring against the Turkish state by collecting intelligence [spying] on Turkey.
On Wednesday Turkey responded to the Trump tariffs with its own tariffs ranging from 50 to 140 percent on rice, alcohol and cars from the U.S.
16 Aug: Ukraine- To the horror of most Ukraine people the Ukraine army and government put in place by a US backed coup is becoming increasingly Nazified. Ukrainians are becoming more and more disgusted, with many longing for the days of a close relationship with Russia. See also our article on Ukraine.
Israel- After securing a consensus among the Gaza militias on a long term ceasefire offer, Egypt has invited an Israeli team to Cairo to negotiate with the Gaza militias next week. The entire series of Gaza talks is expected to be completed by the end of August.
Israel admits goal is to overthrow Hamas and says that they will meet calm with calm for now but rejects any long term Gaza ceasefire deal.
Asia- Islamic State fighters seek better treatment and rush to surrender to US – Afghans after suffering defeat by Taliban. The Taliban are expelled from Ghazni, but take the “Chinese Camp” base further north. Taliban also advance in other areas.
15 Aug: Asia- Putin invites the DPRK’s Kim and the South’s President Moon Jae-in to an economic forum in Vladivostok next month, besides China another key participant is Japan. The Japanese Russian cooperation is hoped to eventually lead to a final peace treaty resolving the final issues of WW2. See also the 13 Aug section below.
since the start of the Ukrainian Crisis and the 2014 annexation of Crimea, Japan has refused to take part in the sanctions against the country by Japan’s Western allies. The governments of the two countries have instead taken efforts to increase relations, including Japanese investment in Russia, military cooperation, and organizing a year of cultural exchange between Russia and Japan for 2018.
On 27 April, 2018 Japan and Moscow held the fourth Russia-Japan forum dubbed The Points of Convergence, where the sides discussed pressing issues concerning the two countries’ trade and economic relations. Toshihiro Nikai, the secretary general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was the forum’s special guest, read out Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s address at the event’s opening ceremony. Participants discussed the two countries’ tourism cooperation, investment projects for the Far East and other Russian regions, as well as interaction in the areas of infrastructure, technology and energy industry.
On June 23, 2018 Russia and Japan inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Russia’s Far Eastern Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) to expand cooperation between the two countries.
14 Aug: Mideast War: It will be impossible for the Israeli government to agree to the Hamas ceasefire being negotiated by Egypt and the UN because the Jewish Home party has announced it will oppose the long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza which the cabinet is slated to debate tomorrow morning.
Party leader Bennett explained, “This ‘quiet’ [in exchange for ending the blockade and opening the borders] will award Hamas total immunity to replenish tens of thousands of rockets threatening all parts of the country, and allow them to launch a war against Israel at a time and under conditions most convenient to them. This will ultimately lead to the opening of two highly dangerous fronts, to the north and to the south – at a time determined by the enemy and under their conditions.”
Israel’s counter proposal is expected to demand that militias completely disarm; a non starter for the militias.
IDF completes ‘war of the future’ drill – Thousands of soldiers deploy across Golan Heights to implement IDF’s new fighting doctrine, which envisions requirement to fight on multiple fronts. Exercise includes use of drones, cyber and intelligence-gathering technology, and air defense systems. (Israel Hayom).
Iran- Khamenei Bans Any Talks With Trump as Iran Unveils New Version of a Short-range Missile – ‘I ban holding any talks with America… America never remains loyal to its promises in talks,’ said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on policy in the Islamic Republic. (Agencies, Haaretz)
Iran takes back uranium given to Russia under nuclear deal – Iran transferred its 20%-enriched uranium to Russia as part of deal but has already received a batch back, says Iranian official. He says fuel necessary for “domestic [power plant] needs” and if nuclear deal ends, Iran “would feel unimpeded” to produce 20% uranium. (Agencies, Israel Hayom) NOTE: Uranium must be enriched above 90% to produce nuclear weapons.
Israel- Hundreds exposed to Leptospirosis in Golan Heights streams – Health Ministry says 27 have been hospitalized so far after bathing in several popular Golan Heights streams said to contain bacterial infection; Nature and Parks Authority announces some parks have been closed, while others given the all clear. (Ynet)
Economics- Turkey responds to Trump sanctions by imposing a boycott on US electronic goods.
Harley Davidson moves some production out of the US due to the Trump engineered increase in steel/aluminum costs. Once the tribulation begins and the US dollar crashes; foreign companies [like the Asian and EU auto manufacturers] and the internationals, will stampede out of the US. This will put millions of Americans out of work rendering them destitute, and adding to the momentum of the US economy’s catastrophic tribulation downward avalanche.
13 Aug: Developments in Asia- Backed by heavy American bombing, Afghan and allied forces counterattack in Ghazni.
Korea- With the US placing tariffs on South Korean goods and making heavy demands on the North while offering nothing in return, the two Korea’s are being driven to work out their differences with Chinese, German and Russian help. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet in Pyongyang sometime in September, for their third summit as mutual negotiations progress outside of the US purview.
If they can come up with a peace treaty they may be invited to abandon the US, with China and Russia offering them membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and German advisers lending the expertise gained from German reunification to help the Korea’s.
Russia is slowly getting rid of US debt instruments and abandoning the US dollar due to Trump’s sanctions.
The Taliban have all but taken Ghazni in Afghanistan, placing them in a position to interdict the already precarious US supply lines through Pakistan. The move places them in a very strong bargaining position as talks begin soon on an American withdrawal from the Afghan-Pakistan region. See our recent in depth article.
The Taliban are now in talks with the Uzbeks and appear to be ready to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization once they have regained control of Afghanistan; having gained increasingly positive attention from Russia as well as Uzbekistan, which view the Taliban as a bulwark against the spread of the Islamic State group in Afghanistan.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization begins the assimilation of Pakistan as Russia signs an agreement for the training of Pakistani military officers after the Trump administration cut aid to Pakistan and abolished training and educational programmes for the Pakistani military. 66 training slots for Pakistani military officers in U.S. facilities are being abolished, and Russia is opening up its facilities to train Pakistani officers.
Since the US Afghan supply lines traverse Pakistan, the US occupation of Afghanistan is no longer sustainable.
Do to Donald Trumps efforts to bring in the New World Order; Turkey will ultimately ally itself with the rising New Federal Europe while Iran will join the Asian Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
The ultimate aim of Trump’s Jesuit handlers is to bring to birth a New Federal Europe which looks to the Roman Pope as its moral leader. Trump is Jesuit educated with a core constituency of the Catholic church, the ecumenical leaning Protestants and Jewish radicals, and then those who have climbed on the America First deception bandwagon. His function is to establish the conditions for the rise of a united and Catholic Europe.
To accomplish this goal there must be a Mideast war, a crisis between most of the world and America and a crisis in Europe / NATO; to motivate Europeans to accept a New Federal Europe.
A charismatic leader is waiting in the wings to be made pope, who will reach out to all “Christians,” Jews and Muslims as a wonderful man of peace, and who will appear at just the right moment to bring everything together.
That is the Jesuit plan for a Catholic dominated world. America’s part in the plan will go awry when God withdraws his protection and the Psalm 83 nations as well as most of the world abandon the petrodollar.
12 Aug: Israel- Netanyahu told a meeting of coalition party leaders Sunday: “if we don’t find a solution for the enlistment bill in three weeks, we’ll decide on a date for an election.” At the meeting, those in attendance — including Jewish Home chief Naftali Bennett, Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon, Shas’s Aryeh Deri and United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni representing the party — agreed that if an agreement could not be reached on the draft bill by the next cabinet meeting, then that meeting will set the date of the next election.
The next cabinet meeting is set for September second, right after the Egyptian UN talks with the Gaza militias are scheduled to end.
Mideast War/Gaza- The Haaretz daily reports that Israel has formulated a plan to assassinate members of the senior Hamas leadership, but is waiting to see the outcome of the Egypt and UN brokered negotiations before implementing it. The talks between the militias and the Egyptian UN negotiators are expected to run until the end of August, which is why the Israeli political crisis has been given a deadline of Sep 2.
Netanyahu Israeli Gaza strategy: Israel is demanding a complete [long term] ceasefire; i.e. the disarming of the militias. Israel is using repeated episodes of heavy bombing to degrade the militias and soften them up for invasion with a full scale war possibly coming in September.
Hamas sends first incendiary super kite into Israel, the kite is about 8 feet across and carries a larger device.
Turkey- President Erdogan announced that it is a shame the US is abandoning its friends and that Turkey will seek new friends and allies.
Europe- Germany is working not only towards a New Federal Europe but is working for that New Federal Europe to replace the US as the center piece of international trade and finance.
Germany will serve on the Security Council for two years starting in 2019. If Berlin is assigned to chair the council, that would be the point at which the new international trade alliance would appear for the first time, since Germany would be voted chair by its allies in the body; which would then form a powerful allied group of nations controlling the UNSC. Germany wants to define its seat on the SC as “European,” together with France [a veto holding permanent member]. Together with India, Brazil and Japan, the German foreign minister is then planning to propose a reform of the Security Council.
11 Aug: A Blessed Sabbath for All God’s Faithful!
10 Aug: Turkey- A plunge in the country’s currency — further accelerated by President Trump’s announcement that he has authorized a doubling of “tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey.” — caused financial markets in Asia and Europe to tremble, hastened a broad flight of money from emerging markets; and brought more instability in Turkey where internal political turmoil, soaring inflation and a burgeoning conflict with President Trump over a jailed American pastor combined to destroy confidence in the Turkish lira,
Turkey is prophesied to lead the Islamic world [except Egypt] and closely ally with the now rising New Federal Europe (Psalm 83). Watch closely as the Turkish situation develops.
Mideast War- At least two dead 307 injured by Israeli shelling on Gaza.
08:00 PDT- A lull in fighting has now lasted 12 hours and Hamas is calling for mass border demonstrations, while Israel continues to mass troops in the Gaza area and local mayors and residents call for an end to the Gaza militias once and for all.
I wonder if Israel is trying to avoid a two front war by waiting the Gaza operation until Assad is tied down in a major offensive in Idlib province?
Syria prepares to move against the rebel province of Idlib the final non Kurdish rebel bastion.
Trump Trade Wars- Russian lawmaker Sergei Ryabukhin said on Thursday Moscow could restrict exports of RD-180 rocket engines to the United States if Washington imposed the just announced new sanctions, the RIA news agency reported. The Russian rocket engine is the mainstay of the American space program. The idea is being circulated as Trump plans a Space Force boondoggle.
9 Aug: Mideast War- 14:15 PDT- The Security Cabinet has instructed the IDF to act forcefully and Israeli troops are massing for an invasion of Gaza.
13:15 PDT- Al-Jazeera reported that a ceasefire agreement has been reached between Israel & Hamas that is to go into effect from midnight tonight. Israel has denied the report.
The security cabinet has ordered the IDF to “continue taking strong action against the terrorist elements,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. Hamas military leaders have turned off their cellphones over the last day and gone into hiding for fear of being assassinated.
11:30 PDT- Israeli bombs have destroyed the five story Hamas Internal Security Command Center in Gaza City. Public areas have been closed in the south and summer camps and classes suspended.
08:30 PDT- Ceasefire called by Hamas; Israel resumes bombing campaign after ceasefire broken by rocket on Beer Sheva three hours later.
04:00 PDT- The IDF bombs 150 Gaza sites, 180 projectiles hit Israel. The IDF is reinforcing the Gaza region and civilians beginning to evacuate. The Security Cabinet meets in two hours.
8 Aug: Mideast War-
Update 21:00 PDT- The IDF strikes over 100 Hamas sites over night local time, after over 150 projectiles fired towards southern Israel. A third wave of IDF attacks has just begun as rocket fire continue. With the Security Cabinet likely to approve a major Gaza operation the Israeli army has begun deploying more Iron Dome missile defense batteries to prepare for Gaza rockets striking deeper into Israel.
Update 14:09 PDT- Israel pounds Gaza as at least 70 rockets at southern Israel on Wednesday evening, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said shortly after midnight. The Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted 11 of the rockets. Most of the rockets exploded in open areas. Nine persons have been injured so far.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will join an underway security meeting within the hour at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv. The meeting, ongoing for several hours, has been chaired by the defense minister, and attended by the chief of staff, the head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and the head of the National Security Council. The subject is finalizing plans for a full scale Gaza operation. The Security Cabinet will meet tomorrow to review and vote on the military’s plan.
Update 12:30 PDT- This morning Hamas negotiators put their proposals before truce broker Egyptian General Intelligence Director Gen. Kemal Abbas in Cairo. The response from Jerusalem was that they are “totally unacceptable” and Israel did not intend to even start considering them. That rejection and Israel’s own additional demands preceded the present violence.
As of now, 36 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory (including the eight previously reported) three Israelis injured. The Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted four launches, the majority of the rockets hit open areas. The IAF is carrying out multiple and ongoing bombing missions.
After yesterday’s Israel attack on Hamas leaders and Israel effectively demolishing the ceasefire talks by adding already rejected proposals to the talks; Hamas has responded. Israel closed the border area today shortly before a firefight broke out. Later two Israelis were injured in an eight-rocket barrage fired by Hamas from the Gaza Strip. Four landed in Sderot, after two were intercepted by Iron Dome.
The Israeli military confirms that it is conducting airstrikes across the Gaza Strip as top military and government officials meet. Air raid sirens are now wailing in Israel for the fourth time this evening as heavy bombing of Gaza continues.
Last week Netanyahu canceled an important trip to Columbia this week in anticipation of a security breakdown over Gaza [see 2 Aug news].
Syrian forces advancing against remaining pockets of Islamic State fighters in rural areas of Sweida province.
Canada- Trudeau adopts self destructive policy regarding Saudi Arabia; causing a parting with the Saudi’s.
US-Russia- Tensions begin increasing in Georgia.
Israel- Election in Feb Mar likely.
US-Iran- The United States will impose 25 percent tariffs on $16 billion worth of Chinese imports starting August 23, the United States Trade Representative announced Tuesday. The tariffs will affect goods such as electronic parts, plastics, chemicals, batteries, and railway cars.
7 Aug: Israel- Hundreds of Rabbi’s demand homosexual rights be enshrined in law.
The High Court of Justice agreed to extend the deadline for the Haredi Draft Law. moving it back to December from its previous September.
Russia Europe- Russia warns NATO from planned Ukraine Georgia expansion.
Mideast War- Hamas concludes ceasefire consultations, officials return to Cairo to give official response to proposals. The Israeli Security cabinet will meet Thursday to discuss the Hamas response to Cairo.
Two members of Hamas’ armed wing were killed today and 10 more injured, two seriously. The incident occurred during a Hamas military exercise attended by high-profile Hamas leaders.
Israel shelled a Hamas outpost being inspected by senior Hamas leaders, claiming that they had attacked an Israeli patrol. According to one of the reports, senior Hamas political bureau chiefs, deputy Hamas leader Salah al-‘Auri, Mahmoud al-Zahar, and Ahmed Bahar, were present to observe the graduation of a course by a military unit. It is hard to believe that a simple demonstration for visiting senior leaders would attack an Israeli patrol and put those leaders in jeopardy.
Gaza war drums beat ever louder.
US President Trump today warned that any country doing business with Iran will not trade with the US.
6 Aug: Mideast War- The Hajj 2018 pilgrimage to Mecca begins at sunset on Sunday, 19th of August 2018 and continues until sunset Friday, 24 August 2018.
Yesterday’s Israeli Security Cabinet developed an Israeli negotiating position for presentation to Hamas through Egypt. Negotiations are still in progress however Hamas has called a meeting of its military leaders to prepare for battle.
US Iran sanctions to be imposed at midnight tonight. United States President Donald Trump has signed new sanctions on motor vehicles, currency and precious metals against Iran. Massive sanctions on the Iranian oil industry will come into effect on November 5th.
5 Aug: Mideast War- Top Syrian scientist killed in booby trapped car attack.
Israeli Security Cabinet conference- At this time no decisions have been made public on a proposed deal with Gaza, only a statement saying only that the IDF is ready for anything.
4 Aug: A Blessed Sabbath for ALL God’s Faithful!
Gaza Peace Plan- This Gaza peace plan is clearly setting up an invasion of Gaza and a subsequent exit strategy. Israel could only accept the deal by insisting that: All militias would have to disarm and prisoners released before the deal could be implemented, otherwise they would lose all leverage on those issues.
When the militias refuse to disarm there will be no ceasefire and the demonstrations/fire balloons will continue, justifying an Israeli Gaza Operation to destroy the militias and then close the deal with the Hamas Political Wing.
This is essentially a deal with the Hamas Political Wing; to destroy the Hamas Military Wing and other Gaza militias.
Once those militias have been defeated, the deal on Gaza can be implemented and elections can take place for a united Gaza West Bank – Palestinian Authority government, along with Israeli elections [now planned for spring 2019], which will bring newly mandated governments to both state’s as a prelude for genuine overall peace talks.
Will peace and safety be declared and the tribulation begin late in 2019 (1 Thess 5:3, Mat 24:15)? Keep watching!
Israel- Fifty thousand Jews Druze demonstrate against Jewish State law.
Mideast War: Forty Gaza initiated fires in Israel on Fri Sat.
3 Aug: Update- Ahead of a Hamas vote on the peace deal, Hamas Military Wing leaders vow to never give up and participate in border demonstrations. 26 fires broke out in Gaza border communities as a result of incendiary balloons flown into Israel from the strip. One Gazan was killed and 90 were wounded by Israeli army fire today.
The big news through the weekend will be the negotiations for a Gaza deal. Whatever is agreed by the Gaza groups with the Palestinian Authority will be passed on to Israel which will discuss the proposals at Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
Reports indicate that:
- The siege of Gaza will end and a sea and air port would be built in Egyptian Sinai close enough to serve Gaza;
- A partially built desalination plant would be completed to ease the chronic water shortage;
- Reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority with inclusive elections;
- A disarming if Gaza militias;
- A ceasefire agreement with Israel amounting to a long term armistice with prisoner exchanges; and
- Extensive internationally financed rebuilding of Gaza.
It seems like a good deal but everything depends on the Hamas Military Wing and other militias; if they will not go along with being disarmed they will have to be removed as the only impediment to a Gaza solution.
Let us hope that peace with Gaza can come without the long anticipated bloodshed
2 Aug: Israel- Deal with Druze collapses after Netanyahu gets furious over criticism of the Jewish State law.
Homosexuals flaunt their pride in Jerusalem parade. The parade, which is expected to be the biggest in the capital’s history, will begin at the Liberty Bell Park and will end at Independence Park.
The Security Cabinet will meet on Sunday to discuss the Gaza situation, including international efforts to negotiate a deal between the Hamas political wing and the Palestinian Authority. Israel has held up an invasion of the strip during negotiations and a deal is all but finalized between Fatah and the Hamas Political Wing but is stalled over the Hamas Military Wing’s refusal to give up weapons. if that issue is the only thing preventing a deal then the Israeli invasion will be on again to remove the militants and so allow a peace deal with the politico’s.
Mideast War- PM Netanyahu has called off his trip next week to Colombia in view of the critical situation around the Gaza Strip. The trip was to thank Columbia for recognizing Jerusalem after the US embassy move and to meet with fifteen other Latin American presidents to discuss them doing the same; the importance of the cancelled trip reveals the gravity of the Gaza situation.
Defense Minister Lieberman addressing the IDF on completion of a major exercise near the Golan threatened war on Syria/Hezbollah/Iran and Gaza. He also announced today that the IDF had received orders to start directly targeting Palestinian incendiary balloon gangs, in view of the increase in fires caused by those balloons. To escape IDF counter-measures, Hamas is sending children up to the rooftops of densely packed Gazan dwellings to launch the balloons.
Israel strike kills seven armed men inside the Syrian Golan demilitarized zone.
Iran’s currency reached new lows this week as Iranians brace for Aug. 7 when Washington is due to reimpose a first lot of economic sanctions following Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal. With Trump planning to announce another round of sanctions on Iran within days, Iran is preparing to begin a naval exercise in the Persian Gulf.
Palestine- President Abbas has appointed his spokesman, Nabil Abu-Rudeina, as deputy cabinet chief.
USA- In a 79-10 vote, the Senate today passed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a $716 billion military spending bill. The bill had already passed in the House last week, and is expected to be signed by President Trump.
The bill sets the base Pentagon budget at $616.9 billion, with another $69 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations, alongside $21.9 billion for the Energy Department for the massive nuclear weapons modernization program.
The bill authorizes the purchase of 13 new warships, 77 more F-35s, and new low-yield nuclear weapons to be launched by submarine. The $716 billion is by far the most spent by any nation on their military, and is almost five times as much as the next largest nation, China.
1 Aug: Israel- As fire kites continue Lieberman orders Gaza border shut to all fuel imports.
Netanyahu resolves crisis with Druze by agreeing to enshrine special status for Druze into law in Knesset fall session.
Mideast Peace- The UN, US, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and others are deeply involved in peace talks with the Hamas Political Wing. The deal involves an end to the blockade and huge investments in exchange for the Hamas Political Wing reconciling with the Palestinian Authority as a prelude to a long term Palestinian ceasefire peace deal with Israel.
Once the deal with the Hamas Political Wing and the Palestinian Authority is agreed in the coming weeks and before any deal can be agreed with Israel, it will be necessary to deal with the Hamas Military Wing and other Gaza militants; and elections will be necessary in Palestine to choose new leaders for the newly reunited Palestinian Authority; for its part the Israeli government has agreed with the Haredi to call elections in spring.
Efforts to bring a reconciliation between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas Political Wing have been successful except that the Hamas Military Wing has rejected a demand that not only administrative control in Gaza be returned to the PA but also security control.
Iran- Trump offers summit with Iran president “without preconditions” [meaning that he rejects Iran’s desire to discuss substantial issues] and Iran pulls back its forces 85 k from the Israeli border now that the area has been liberated and occupied by Syrian / Hezbollah forces.
Within hours of Trump’s no preconditions offer, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was backpedaling. In an interview with CNBC, Pompeo returned to parts of a list of demands at the core of the administration’s Iran policy, which he rolled out last May. “If the Iranians demonstrate a commitment to make fundamental changes in how they treat their own people, reduce their malign behavior, can agree that it’s worthwhile to enter into a nuclear agreement that actually prevents proliferation, then the president said he’s prepared to sit down and have the conversation with them,” Pompeo said yesterday afternoon.
The Iranians say that they would not hold a photo op meet like Trump had with Kim and would only meet if there were substantive discussions on removing US sanctions and returning the US to the nuclear deal.
With massive new US sanctions to be imposed soon and Trump refusing to discuss substantive issues like the sanctions while still demanding his own preconditions, this offer by Trump seems to a political gesture to place him in a public relations position [with Americans] to claim that he did everything he could to avoid war.