12-28-2017 Endtime News Update

Hezbollah, Syrian forces advance on rebels 7 miles from Israel

At foot of Mt. Hermon, Assad troops and Iran-backed groups launch bombardment on besieged Mughr al Meer

Smoke and explosions from fighting between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels, in the Quneitra area, seen from the Golan Heights, June 17, 2015. (AP/Ariel Schalit/ File)

Smoke and explosions from fighting between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels, in the Quneitra area, seen from the Golan Heights, June 17, 2015. (AP/Ariel Schalit/ File)

Hezbollah and Syrian army forces have reportedly launched an assault on a besieged Syrian rebels’ stronghold some 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) from Israel’s border, even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel will not accept Iranian proxies on its frontier.

Rebels groups have reported heavy bombardments and artillery fire on their positions, and the Syrian army claimed it had encircled Mughr al Meer at the foot of Mount Hermon, the elevated area that commands the Golan Heights.

The rebels holed up in those areas have been ordered by surrounding regime forces to surrender or face defeat, Reuters reported Tuesday night.

“They were given 72 hours to surrender with fighters to go to [rebel-held] Idlib or those who want to stay have to reach a settlement,” a Free Syrian Army official said.

Metal silhouettes of soldiers dot the landscape overlooking the snow-covered Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights in January. (photo credit: Shay Levy/Flash 90)

According to Hadashot news, Assad’s forces and Hezbollah were also eyeing an advance on Beit Jinn. The Beit Jinn area is the last significant rebel-held enclave southwest of Damascus.

Fierce fighting has been reported in the area in recent days, and Hezbollah has said the rebels intend to surrender and talks have begun on the terms.

Suhaib al Ruhail, an official from the Liwa al Furqan rebel group operating in the area, told Reuters on Monday that “the Iran-backed militias are trying to consolidate their sphere of influence all the way from southwest of Damascus to the Israeli border.”

Thousands of Shiite fighters are up against several hundred rebels including those of the Free Syrian Army, a loosely affiliated group of militias, some of which have been receiving military aid and weapons from Western countries, including the US.

Rebels still hold other areas in central and southern Quneitra on the Golan Heights.



US And Israel Reach “Secret Plan” To Counter Iran

One month after we reported  that Israel would take the unprecedented step of sharing intelligence with Saudi Arabia as the two countries ramped up efforts to curb what they perceive as “Iranian expansion” in the region, on Thursday Israel’s Channel 10 reported that Israel has also pivoted to the US and reached a similar plan to counter Iranian activity in the Middle East. As Axios adds, U.S. and Israeli officials said the joint understandings were reached in “a secret meeting” between senior Israeli and U.S. delegations at the White House on December 12th.


Speaking to Axios, a senior U.S. official said that after two days of talks the U.S. and Israel “reached at a joint document which included understandings on countering Iranian actions in the region.”

The U.S. official said the document goal’s was to translate President Trump’s Iran speech to joint U.S.-Israeli strategic goals regarding Iran and to set up a joint work plan.

On the Israeli side, the team was headed by national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and included senior representatives of the Israeli military, including the Ministry of Defense, Foreign Ministry and intelligence community. The U.S. side was headed by national security adviser H.R. McMaster and included senior representatives from the National Security Council, State Department, Department of Defense and the intelligence community.

  • Covert and diplomatic action to block Iran’s path to nuclear weapons – according to the U.S. official this working group will deal with diplomatic steps that can be taken as part of the Iran nuclear deal to further monitor and verify that Iran is not violating the deal. It also includes diplomatic steps outside of the nuclear deal to put more pressure on Iran. The working group will deal with possible covert steps against the Iranian nuclear program.
  • Countering Iranian activity in the region, especially the Iranian entrenchment efforts in Syria and the Iranian support for Hezbollah and other terror groups. This working group will also deal with drafting U.S.-Israeli policy regarding the “day after” in the Syrian civil war.
  • Countering Iranian ballistic missiles development and the Iranian “precision project” aimed at manufacturing precision guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon for Hezbollah to be used against Israel in a future war.
  • Joint U.S.-Israeli preparation for different escalation scenarios in the region concerning Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

After the (not so) “secret” meetings, senior Israeli officials confirmed the U.S. and Israel have arrived at strategic understandings regarding Iran that would strengthen the cooperation in countering regional challenges. The Israeli official added that “[T]he U.S. and Israel see eye to eye the different developments in the region and especially those that are connected to Iran. We reached at understandings regarding the strategy and the policy needed to counter Iran. Our understandings deal with the overall strategy but also with concrete goals, way of action and the means which need to be used to get obtain those goals.”

Meanwhile, apparently unconcerned by the Saudi-Israeli-US axis that has formed to contain his nation, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that US President Donald Trump would fail in his hardened stance towards Iran, saying Tehran is stronger than during the time of Ronald Reagan.

“Reagan was more powerful and smarter than Trump, and he was a better actor in making threats, and he also moved against us and they shot down our plane,” Khamenei said in a speech carried on state television.

For now, the Iranian’s Trump-tautning has remained unanswered. The problem is that if Iran continues to dare the US, and its new regional allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, now that there is a regional axis meant to “contain” Iran by any means necessary, it won’t take much for the US, and especially Israel, to respond accordingly.




US won’t strike ISIS resurgent in Assad-ruled areas, pushes Russia to curb pro-Iranian Hizballah push near Israel

While openly blaming Syria (and Russia) for giving ISIS free rein, US quietly rebukes Moscow for not reining in the pro-Iranian push towards Israeli border.

“The Syrian regime has failed to prevent the resurgence of ISIS on their own soil,” said British Maj. Gen. Gedney, deputy commander of Strategy and Support for the US-backed coalition to defeat the Islamic State terror group.  And even in areas where Syrian forces have intensified their efforts against ISIS, progress has been, at best, fleeting, he said. “We’ve got no intention to operate in areas that are currently held by the [Assad] regime.”

DEBKAfile places the coalition general’s comments against the backdrop of the quiet deal struck earlier this month between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. That conversation charted a division of labor in the Syrian arena to avoid clashes between their forces. It was understood that Russia would reciprocate for US consent to abstain from operating west of the Euphrates (in Assad-ruled domains) by curbing Turkish, Iranian and Hizballah operations, especially in border regions.

Gedney’s comments, while only directly referring to ISIS, also coincided Wednesday with the fall of the Beit Jinn enclave in one of those operations.

He went on to say that a “limited numbers of ISIS militants… seem to be moving with impunity through regime-held territory,” and pointed to a new concentration outside the US al-Tanf post in the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi border triangle. “We’ve clearly seen a lot of operations by pro-regime forces, Russian-backed Syrian forces over to the east of the [Euphrates] river,” Gedney said. “We’ve questioned the effectiveness of some of those operations.” Syria and Russia must do more to wipe out ISIS in areas still controlled by the regime, US officials insist.
The US-led coalition is clearly pressing for a decision as to who will assume responsibility for dealing with this rising ISIS threat. DEBKAfile’s sources note that, alongside this question, is the one the US is implicitly addressing to the Russians regarding another terrorist threat: This one is posed by the fall of Beit Jinn opposite an IDF outpost in the foothills of Mount Hermon to a combined Syrian-Hizballah-militia force under the command of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers. At the moment, this combined force stands 11km from the Israeli border and appears to be poised to continue its victorious momentum for an assault on the Quneitra pocket on the doorstep of Israeli Golan, unless it is stopped.

Israel has quietly warned the Trump administration that if this combined hostile force moves any closer, the IDF will have no option but to step in to push it back. Clearly, the understandings reached between presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin were not holding up in this sector.
The Trump-Putin understanding was first revealed on Dec. 22 in DEBKA Weekly 783 (for subscribers) and the DEBKA Files ILTV show on Dec. 25. According to our exclusive sources, that understanding was sealed in a long telephone conversation on the Syrian question between the two presidents on Dec. 14.
Until now, it was understood in Washington and Jerusalem that Russia would reciprocate for US consent to abstain from operating west of the Euphrates (in Assad-ruled domains) by curbing Turkish, Iranian and Hizballah operations. Their deal hinged on two major points:

  1.  The war on ISIS in eastern Syria. A joint war room run by Russian and US-backed Kurdish YPG militia officers was to be established to deploy troops for blocking the westward movement of ISIS forces. (Hence Gen. Gedney’s complaint about this continuing movement.)
  2. Russia and the US would team up to thwart military operations by Iran, Hizballah and Turkey in areas controlled by the Assad regime, especially in proximity to Syria’s borders with Turkey, Israel and Jordan. On this point, Washington undertook to warn the Turks off their plans to invade northwestern Syria and seize control of Idlib province, whereas Moscow was to have instructed Damascus, Tehran and Hizballah to desist from military activity on those borders. This point has likewise gone by the board.

According to DEBKAfile’s military sources, Moscow claims that Putin’s commitment to Trump was met by withholding Russian air support from the disputed Syrian-Hizballah operations. But, in actual fact, the Iranian-commanded force circumvented the Russians and their deal with the Americans by fighting for Beit Jinn without Russian air support and winning the day without its help. This was more than a tactical victory to throw in Israel’s face; it set up a new reality in Syria, whereby Iran and Hizballah can cock a snoot at Moscow, its air cover and its deals with the Americans and go forward to win battles regardless and without Russian help.

The next few days are therefore fraught with three critical uncertainties: (a) Will ISIS persevere in its westward movement, or be halted by military counteraction? (b)  Will the Syrian army, Hizballah and pro-Iranian forces push forward from Beit Jinn to Quneitra and Israel’s Golan border? Or will they be stopped? And (c) Will the Trump-Putin understandings hold water, or will they be scuttled by (a) and (b)?


Anti-corruption protests spread from Tehran to other Iranian cities

Rallies against corruption in high places spread Thursday from Tehran to sweep up an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 more demonstrators in Mashhad, Urmia near the Turkish border and Arak between Tehran and Isfahan. DEBKAfile, reporting on the rising wave of Iranian popular protest, noted that they are becoming increasingly political. Placards were calling “Death to Rouhani” and groups shouted in chorus: “No to Syria! No to Lebanon! No to Gaza!” and “Corruption is everywhere!” In Mashhad, demonstrators gathered outside the residence of supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s favorite for president, Ebrahim Raisi, who heads the Astan Quds Razavi, Khamenei’s personal financial organ.
The anti-corruption protests first erupted in the capital, Tehran, outside Khamenei’s residence, with the slogan on placards asking, “Where is the money?” It was a reference to the vast sums released to Iran by the Obama administration for signing the 2015 nuclear accord. The government clamped gag orders on the event and ordered the large numbers of Revolutionary Guards officers mobilized to act with restraint and refrain from making arrests. The protests then began spreading.


CNBC Director Arrested For Spying On 18-Year-Old Nanny With Bathroom Cam

A CNBC director has been busted for spying on his teenage live-in nanny, according to the Daily News.

Dan Switzen, 44, was arrested and charged with unlawful surveillance by Pleasantville NY police after his 18-year-old au pair and her two friends, also 18, discovered a hidden camera inside of a tissue box in her bathroom on November 13, according to authorities.


The shocked teenagers took the camera to Pleasantville police just before 8pm that night, which was found to contain incriminating images on the memory card.

“He intentionally installed a video recording device in a tissue box located in his family’s bathroom to surreptitiously view a person dressing or undressing…at a place and time when (the victim) had a reasonable expectation of privacy without (her) knowledge or consent,” –Pleasantville Police

Unlawful surveillance is a class E felony in New York, punishable by probation or up to four years in prison.

Switzen, a New York native, was the director of CNBC’s Power Lunch and was formerly the director of CNBC’s Suze Orman show for over a decade. He was released without bail according to his lawyer, Jeffrey Chartier, who said with a straight face: “He’s a very decent family man. I don’t want to litigate these allegations in the press,” adding “We will defend him accordingly.”

Along with Switzen’s work for CNBC, he runs a “beachbody” coaching service with his wife, operating a website – which has been yanked down (but archived) – promoting his fitness business – “Get Fit With Dan.”

“Having my wife as my work ot partner has been a great inspiration. Seeing her work hard and getting results makes me work harder. We push and encourage each other which definitely gets us through the work outs. Working out should be fun and not a chore. By working out together we have enhanced our relationship.” –Dan Switzen

CNBC declined to comment.



Russian Foreign Minister: US Military Must Leave All Of Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated on Thursday that US forces must leave all of Syria. Speaking to Interfax news agency, Lavrov stated that the UN Security Council has not approved the work of the United States and its coalition in Syria, nor has been invited by the legitimate Syrian government.




Venezuela Will Back Its Cryptocurrency With 5 Billion Barrels Of Oil, Gold Deposits

Four months ago, in a not entirely surprising move meant to circumvent US economic sanctions on Venezuela, president Nicolas Maduro announced that his nation would stop accepting dollars  as payment for oil imports, followed just days later by the announcement that in a dramatic shift away from the Petrodollar and toward Beijing, Venezuela would begin publishing its oil basket price in Chinese yuan. The strategic shift away from the USD did not work quite as expect, because a little over two months later, both Venezuela and its state-owned energy company, PDVSA were declared in default on their debt obligations by ISDA, which triggered the respective CDS contracts as the country’s long-expected insolvency became fact.

Then, in early December, clearly fascinated and captivated by the global crypto craze, Maduro shocked the world by announcing the creation of the “Petro“, Venezuela’s official cryptocurrency “to advance in the matter of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and to overcome the financial blockade”.

Nicolas Maduro dances with supporters in Caracas, Venezuela, December 1, 2017

“The objective is to advance in the Venezuelan economy and overcome the financial blockade, this allows us to continue in the economic and social development supported by Venezuelan riches,” said the president, explaining that his government will make a cryptocurrency issue “backed by reserves of Venezuelan gold, oil, gas and diamond wealth.”

Still, as we said when he first commented  on Venezuela’s bizarre foray into digital currencies, “it was not exactly clear how this PetroCoin would be backed by various natural resources when the whole point of cryptos is that they are not backed by anything, and as such it appears that what Maduro is trying to do is admit that the hyperinflating Bolivar has failed as a sovereign reserve, and the country is hoping to confuse its global trading partners enough into believing that it somehow had a new “bitcoin” on its hands, which like the real thing would then proceed to appreciate in value in the near future.

Today we got the answer when Venezuela’s president announced that “every single Petro will be backed by a barrel of oil… and gold.

“The objective is to advance in the Venezuelan economy and overcome the financial blockade, this allows us to continue in the economic and social development supported by Venezuelan riches,” said the president, explaining that his government will make a cryptocurrency issue “backed by reserves of Venezuelan gold, oil, gas and diamond wealth.”

Some joked at the time that a different name might be more suitable…

But now, as RT reports, Maduro confirmed the backing of the national cryptocurrency Petro with the country’s vast natural resource reserves.

“Here’s the document formalizing the provision of the certified Ayacucho oil field No.1 in the Orinoco Petroleum Belt for the support of El Petro cryptocurrency,” Maduro said on national TV.

Maduro said the field’s “reserves amount to five billion barrels of oil,” which is confirmed by the corresponding “international certificate.”

“Every single Petro will be backed by a barrel of oil,” Maduro said, promising to provide cryptocurrency mining throughout the country.


“We will set up a special team of cryptocurrency specialists so they will be engaged in mining in all states and municipalities of our country.”

The Venezuelan leader has also promised to allocate Arco Minero gold deposits from the Orinoco Belt along with the country’s diamond deposits.

The Venezuelan president explained the purpose was “to advance the country’s monetary sovereignty, to carry out financial transactions and to defeat the financial blockade against the country.”

“We are facing a financial war against the country which we have denounced, and the opposition has denied. There are business people who are unaffected by Donald Trump’s blockade. With this, we will join the 21st century,” said Maduro.


Finally, as Pepe Escobar concluded recently, it ain’t over till the fat (golden) lady sings. When the beginning of the end of the petrodollar system – established by Kissinger in tandem with the House of Saud way back in 1974 – becomes a fact on the ground, all eyes will be focused on the NSS counterpunch.