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One big question in my mind with reference to Afghanistan is

"If we switch horses (again) will the horse believe we're sincere or pretend to believe just long enough to buck us off for good."

In spite of the fact the Taliban are Sunni and the Iranians are Shia, there have been many examples of Taliban representatives traveling to Iran for direct talks. If we attack Iran from Afghanistan, whose side will the Taliban really be on?
Video update for those tired of hearing me ramble :)
The ISIS pocket in SW Syria is well and truly surrounded. ISIS moved quickly to occupy a few towns abandoned by HTS and FSE forces after reconciliation agreements but evidently were not able to hold them. Syria has already recovered all six, plus a few more and is rapidly eating away at the pocket from the north.

Syrian Forces Liberate Over 10 Settlements From ISIS East Of Golans (Maps)

ISIS in Suweida has made a serious attempt to divert Syrian attention from the action in SW Syria...with their usual brutality and disregard for civilians.

Large ISIS Attack Kills 100 Civilians In Al-Suwayda, Syrian Army Repels It

ISIS on the Israeli border has absolutely no choice but to fight and eventually die, be captured, jailed and tried (likely executed) or try to cross into Israel. They have no good options left. Israel is not going to let them into their turf. I don't think yesterday's downing of a Syrian jet is the last action we'll see trying to interfere with Syrian efforts to clean out the pocket. Syria's response has been low far.
Well this surprises me.  I'll wait a couple days and see if any new info comes to light ...not sure we got the whole story here from Israel or Russia.

Israeli Warplanes Destroy Rocket Launcher Of ISIS In Southern Syria

An Idlib development that may lie close to Erdogan's heart.  We'll see if he reacts or not soon enough.

Explosion Rocks Large Ammo Depot Of Turkestan Militants Near Turkish Observation Post In Northern Syria

Quote:...After the incident, several warplanes of the Turkish Air Force (TAF) flew over Eshtabraq, in what appears to be a mission to assess the damage caused by the explosion.

Some Syrian opposition activists claimed that the TIP’s ammo depot was targeted by warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces, while others said that explosion was a result of an accident or even sabotage...

Totally different sphere but how  this develops could be quite  important:

Explosion reported outside US embassy in Beijing

Blast near US Embassy in Beijing – reports (PHOTO, VIDEO)
Gaza on fire once more. The Israeli hawk's case for an big ground operation is being built.

Israeli Forces Strike Gaza After Sniper Hits Israeli Soldier (Photos)

If the hawks win the argument and ground troops move into Gaza in force, there might be a much wider escalation from Hamas across the Lebanese border.
The Rules of Engagement (ROE) are changing in Syria.
(07-26-2018, 03:39 AM)roamer Wrote: [ -> ]The Rules of Engagement (ROE) are changing in Syria.

boy oh boy. That does change the tone.

I expect Israel will be attacked eventually. Right now I'm expecting it to be after the US and Russia get smacked down, but it could be the other way around. I hope the world can manage to step away from the brink a bit longer. For now it looks like we're just edging closer and closer to it.
Haven't said much on Yemen lately but  I gotta say those Houthis are a scrappy lot :)   Until recently things had settled into a kindof daily routine of Saudi air strikes (of dubious effectiveness) on Houthi positions and Houthis launching an occasional missile at Saudi targets or attacking a re-supply convoy here and there.  Houthi missiles rarely seem to do much damage either, but they've got to be keeping various Saudi installations from feeling safe.

On the 21st the Saudi's apparently made another sizeable ground attack east of Sana'a (an attempt to threaten the capital?  New strategy?  Dunno..but its a long ways from the port at Hodeidah.).  

Then two days in rapid succession there were reports (sparse on details) of two separate Houthi attacks on Saudi ships in Yemeni waters.  I didn't fully buy it and decided to wait for more details.

Well here we go...evidently the Houthis at least managed to get the insurance companies nervous enough to refuse to insure crude shipments past the area :)

Saudi Arabia Halts Oil Shipments Through Bab-el-Mandeb Strait Following Houthis’ Attacks On Its Vessels

And even an attempt at international diplomacy. I don't see Russia as being in a position to respond to this positively, but they still might have a hand in sending up the trial balloon.

Houthis Ask Russia For Help To Put End To Saudi-led Coalition’s Blockade Of Yemen

The air and sea blockade has to be hurting the Houthis badly and they don't have an unlimited amount of time. I'm sure the starvation in Yemen is getting worse :/
Those interested in a deeper dive into wrestling with different perspectives on these issues can add this article from The Saker to the Elijah Magnier article roamer linked a few posts above.

The Saker: “The Putin-Trump Helsinki summit: the action is in the reaction”

Quote:...Because the Russians have concluded a long time ago that the US officials are “non-agreement capable” (недоговороспособны). They are correct – the US has been non-agreement capable at least since Obama and Trump has only made things even worse: not only has the US now reneged on Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action(illegally – since this plan was endorsed by the UNSC), but Trump has even pathetically backtracked on the most important statement he made during the summit when he retroactively changed his “President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be” into “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia” (so much for 5D chess!). If Trump can’t even stick to his own words, how could anybody expect the Russians to take anything he says seriously?! Besides, ever since the many western verbal promises of not moving NATO east “by one inch eastward” the Russians know that western promises, assurances, and other guarantees are worthless, whether promised in a conversation or inked on paper. In truth, the Russians have been very blunt about their disgust with not only the western dishonesty but even about the basic lack of professionalism of their western counterparts, hence the comment by Putin about “it is difficult to have a dialogue with people who confuse Austria and Australia“. It is quite obvious that the Russians agreed to the summit while knowing full well that nothing would, or even could, come out of it. This is why they were already dumping US Treasuries even before meeting with Trump (a clear sign of how the Kremlin really feels about Trump and the USA).

So why did they agree to the meeting?

Because they correctly evaluated the consequences of this meeting...

Obama screwed us with his ILLEGALLY committing the US to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in the first place, but once the rest of the world saw us as having given our word, it certainly complicated matters. I don't think describing Trump's withdrawal as "illegal" is fair since I don't accept that UN "laws" apply to me or this nation at all...yet integrity in diplomacy matters a lot, and we're devoid of it in the eyes of "friend" and adversary alike.