JD: Let me just throw out a couple of phrases which would relate to what has been happening in 2018 may even have play into 2019 as well, the killing of the journalist there at the Saudi Embassy in Turkey and all of the ramifications of that.
KT: That has really been a difficult event for the United States because President Trump has embraced Mohammed bin Salman the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who appears to have been behind it. But never the less I continue to worry that this may have been a manipulation by the Turks because all the information coming out has been by Turkey. And Turkey is trying to diminish Mohammed bin Salman who is against the Moslem brotherhood which Turkey has been supported. So there’s a big rivalry going on there behind the scenes.
JD: Civil war going on in Syria with Russia and Iran involved. It seems to be winding down but is that the case? Could it pick up again in 2019?
KT: I think the war is winding down and I think one conclusion is already just about certain is that Assad is going to stay in power, Bashar al-Assad the President of Syria will remain in power. He’s won his war with the help of Russia and Iran. The Syrian free democratic army and the other Syrian fighters who are opposing the government had been pretty much defeated. The US had been trying to orchestrate between the Kurds in northern Syria and the government so that Syria would allow them to live in peace in the semi-autonomous zone. That is actually a big improvement and that’s a big plus going forward.
JD: Well Iran wants to deploy about a hundred thousand more fighters into Syria. That’s not good news as far as Israel is concerned.
KT: This was an announcement from the outgoing Chief of the Israel Defense Force, the IDF, and he said that’s the goal of the Iranians is to build up a fighting force in Syria of a hundred thousand men strong. That is a very large force. It’s roughly ten times what the Iranians are currently believed to have deployed in Syria of their own people. Now they’ve got tens of thousands more that they’ve recruited in Iraq from Pakistan and from Afghanistan.
JD: Ken Timmerman with a look at events in the Middle East 2018 and prospects for 2019.