What is possibly the most concerning geopolitical situation facing us today is not in the Middle East, but in the Far East. Chinese President Xi Jinping continues to increase the strength of his rhetoric when it comes to Taiwan. “Taiwan independence separatism is the biggest obstacle to achieving the reunification of the motherland, and the most serious hidden danger to national rejuvenation,” he said in a speech at Beijing’s Great Hall of People. “The historical task of the complete reunification of the motherland must be fulfilled, and will definitely be fulfilled.” When Xi finally makes his move, it will be interesting to see if any of Taiwan’s western allies, including the US, will come to her defense. If they do, it could mean military confrontation. If they don’t, China will see a green light to physically move into what up to now has only been a spreading financial empire.
It seems that the situation between Iran and Azerbaijan is beginning to calm down. In a statement yesterday, Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said, “The sides noted that recent rhetoric has harmed bilateral relations and that any differences should be settled through dialogue.” Both neighboring nations will seek to establish conversation that they hope will lead to an easing of the tensions. As per usual, Israel has become the scapegoat in many eyes. On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh stated, “The Zionist regime has taken insecurity and instability everywhere it went. The Zionist regime definitely wants to see this region as insecure.” I wonder if he could be referring to the two F-35I fifth-generation stealth fighter jets Israel has just “permanently stationed” in Azerbaijan?
Overnight Friday, Israel struck a shipment of Iranian drones stored at the T-4 Airbase near Palmyra, Syria. In the attack, six Iranian-backed Syrian fighters were injured and major structural damage occurred. Then, last night, the same base was attacked with Iranian Revolutionary Guard materiel targeted. In addition, there were reports last night of attacks in the Homs area
In an operation that Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi called “one of the most difficult” that the nation’s intelligence service has ever carried out, Sammy Jassem Muhammad al-Jaburi, ISIS CFO and former best buddy of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was arrested. Responsible for the financial side of the terrorist organization, the US State Department had leveled a $5 million bounty on his head
During Yom Kippur, Aryeh Lipo, a Jewish man, was removed from the Temple Mount for quietly praying, something that has long been forbidden, even by Israeli authorities. His attorney, Moshe Polsky, stated, “It is inconceivable that Jews in the Temple Mount area should not be allowed to mumble and pray even silently when Muslims on the mountain are allowed to do everything – pray, demand, play football, and riot while the police do not prevent this.” Last week, a ruling by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court agreed with the attorney’s logic and allowed the prayer. Not surprisingly, the Muslim authorities were up in arms over it. Then, on Friday, a higher court reversed the decision, once again barring overt Jewish worship on the Temple Mount. This came after an appeal by Police Minister Omer Barlev and pressure by the current US presidential administration who said they were concerned that the ruling could lead to an escalation in violence.
- Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi will not be attending the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, after relatives of torture victims in Iranian prisons submitted a formal request to Scottish authorities demanding his arrest.
- Two Iraqi militias that deal with the transfer of rocket weapons from Iraq to Syria were attacked and destroyed during a missile firing attempt in the Syrian desert, killing three senior commanders.
- Some Lebanese citizens have tried to break into banks and other have sold checks for half their face value in a desperate attempt to get to their money after banks announced that they would no longer receive their savings because they had been frozen by the regime.
- Today in Beirut, there is gunfire and the launching of RPG shoulder-fired missiles after a judge ruled against the people involved in a bombing over a year ago, a verdict that has Hezbollah not happy and could lead Lebanon into an all-out civil war!
- Turkey’s currency is plunging with the lira reaching a record low against the dollar.
- ISIS has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a mosque in Kunduz, Afghanistan, that left a death toll of over 60 but which will likely reach up to 100 as the days progress.
- In an election in which only 41% of citizens voted, a record low, Iraqis chose the party of anti-US Shi’ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr as the biggest winner of the day.
- Over the past two months, an Israeli humanitarian aid group coordinated the evacuation through Albania of 167 vulnerable Afghans, including judges, professional cyclists, journalists, TV presenters, human rights activists, families of diplomats, artists, law enforcement officers, and scientists.
- Jewish immigration in 2021 has seen a 31% increase over the same time frame in 2020.
- In a story reminiscent of my new thriller novel, Operation Joktan, it was revealed this past week that the Mossad kidnapped an Iranian general from the streets of Damascus, interrogated him over the 1986 capture of Israeli airman Ron Arad, then released him in Johannesburg, South Africa.
As you can see above, there is a lot happening in the world – particularly when it comes to the Middle East. If you want to hear some more of my thoughts about the top stories, check out my Middle East Update, entitled “What Do We Know About Israel’s Future?” Also, be sure to check out last Friday’s Middle East Update, “Has a War Between Israel and Iran Begun?” which digs into the growing tension between the two nations.