any fool can see this is just face saving waffle

Trump to weigh more aggressive pindo strategy on Iran
Jonathan Landay, Arshad Mohammed, Steve Holland, Reuters, Sep 12 2017

FASCHINGSTEIN – Pres Trump is weighing a strategy that could allow more aggressive responses to Iran’s forces, its Shi‘ite Muslim proxies in Iraq and Syria, and its support for militant groups, according to six current and former pindo boxtops. The proposal was prepared by Mad Dog Mattis, Rex Tillerson, H R McMaster and other top officials, and presented to Trump at a NSC meeting on Friday. It could be agreed and made public before the end of September. In contrast to detailed instructions handed down by Obama and some of his predecessors, Trump is expected to set broad strategic objectives and goals for policy but leave it to military commanders, diplomats and other boxtops to implement the plan. A senior admin boxtop said:

Whatever we end up with, we want to implement with allies to the greatest extent possible.

The plan is intended to increase the pressure on Tehran to curb its ballistic missile programs and support for militants. Another senior administration official said:

I would call it a broad strategy for the range of Iranian malign activities: financial materials, support for terror, destabilisation in the region, especially Syria and Iraq and Yemen.

The proposal also targets cyber-espionage and other activity and potentially nuclear proliferation. The administration is still debating a new stance on a 2015 agreement, sealed by Obama, to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The draft urges consideration of tougher economic sanctions if Iran violates the 2015 agreement. The proposal includes more aggressive interceptions of Iranian arms shipments such as those to Houthis in Yemen and Palestinian groups in Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai (who in the Sinai? – RB). The plan also recommends that Pindostan react more aggressively in Bahrain. In addition, naval forces could react more forcefully when harassed by armed IRGC speedboats. Pindo warships have fired flares and warning shots to drive off IRGC boats that made what were viewed as threatening approaches after refusing to heed radio warnings. Pindo commanders are permitted to open fire only when they think their vessels and the lives of their crews are endangered. The sources offered no details of the proposed changes in the rules, which are classified.

The plan does not include an escalation of military activity in Syria and Iraq. Trump’s national security aides argued that a more muscular military response to Iranian proxies in Syria and Iraq would complicate the fight against Daesh, which they argued should remain the top priority. Mattis and McMaster, as well as the heads of the CENTCOM & SOCOM, have opposed allowing commanders in Syria and Iraq to react more forcefully to provocations by the IRGC, Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed Shi‘ite militias. The advisers are concerned that more permissive rules of engagement would divert pindo forces from defeating the remnants of Daesh. Moreover, looser rules could embroil Pindostan in a conflict with Iran while pindo forces remain overstretched, and Trump has authorized a small troop increase for Afghanistan. A former pindo boxtop said Hezbollah and Iranian-backed Shi‘ite militias in Iraq have been “very helpful” in recapturing vast swaths of Syria and Iran from Daesh since 2014. Pindo troops supporting Kurdish and Sunni Arab fighters battling Daesh in Syria have been wrestling with how to respond to hostile actions by Iranian-backed forces. In some of the most notable cases, pindo aircraft shot down two Iranian-made drones in June. Both were justified as defensive acts narrowly tailored to halt an imminent threat on the ground. Trump’s opposition to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal poses a dilemma for policy-makers. Most of his national security aides favor remaining in the pact, as do Israel and the Toads despite their reservations about Iran’s adherence to the agreement. One of the two boxtops said:

The main issue for us was to get the president not to discard the JCPoA. But he had very strong feelings, backed by Nikki Haley, that they should be more aggressive with Iran. Almost all the strategies presented to him were ones that tried to preserve the JCPoA but lean forward on these other things.

After Russia, Iran seeks deal for long-term Syria garrison – Israel
Reuters, Sep 11 2017

HERZLIYA – The Israeli intelligence minister said on Monday that Pres Assad was ready to permit Iran to set up military bases in Syria that would pose a long-term threat to neighbouring Israel. While formally neutral on the six-year-old Syrian civil war, Israel worries that Assad’s recent gains have given his Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah allies a foothold on its northern front. Netanyahu has lobbied Russia and Pindostan to curb the Iranian presence in Syria, as well as hinting that Israel could launch preemptive strikes against its arch-foe there. In July, Moscow ratified a deal under which Damascus allowed the Russian air base in Syria’s Latakia Province to remain for almost half a century. Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said Iran could soon gain similar rights. Katz told the IDC Herzliya security conference:

In these very days, Assad and Iran are nearing the signing of a long-term agreement that would anchor Iran’s military presence in Syria, resembling the agreement that was signed between Assad and the Russians. The significance in terms of the danger and the threat against Israel, and not just against Israel, but also many countries in the region, is of the utmost clarity.

Katz did not elaborate on the source of his information or give any further details about the purported negotiations. The Iranian Foreign Ministry declined to comment and Syrian officials could not be reached. Katz said the plan was for an Iranian naval port, bases for Iran’s air and ground forces, and “tens of thousands of Shi’ite militiamen being brought in from various countries.” Iran’s presence in Syria, and efforts to bolster Hezbollah in Lebanon, are expected to feature in Netanyahu’s address to the UNGA on Sep 19.

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