Category: Gog-Ezekiel 38 & 39

Mar 21

Trump prepares for visit by Saudi prince who has rocked the kingdom

Saudis demanding same rights given the Iranians to produce nuclear power power and enrich uranium

By Jerome Cartillier Today, 3:55 am 3

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump will host Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in Washington Tuesday, giving the president a receptive audience to denounce rival Iran and a chance to take stock of significant changes the prince is engineering in the kingdom.

Ten months after the last face-to-face meeting between Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh, the 71-year-old president and the 32-year-old strongman prince are expected to deepen an already warm and congenial relationship.

But they are also expected to take up major developments for Saudi Arabia, both internally and externally: the end of a ban on Saudi women driving, the unprecedented detention of dozens of people that was billed as a high-level anti-corruption purge, Saudi involvement in the war in Yemen, and the crisis with the Gulf state of Qatar.

“It’s jaw-dropping how many policy changes the Saudis have pursued at home and in the region since that last meeting,” said Lori Plotkin Boghardt, a former CIA analyst now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Many of these changes have touched US security interests.”

One example is the summit that the administration had hoped to host this year with the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which could be difficult to arrange given the continuing crisis with Qatar.

In June, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) began an air and sea boycott against Qatar, which they accuse of financing terrorism and being overly friendly with Iran.

Prince Mohammed, known by his initials MBS, was named crown prince that month by his father, King Salman.

Early on, the prince announced an ambitious “Vision 2030” initiative to build an economy less dependent on oil, while luring more foreign investment.

Toward that end, Riyadh wants to greatly accelerate the pace of its civilian nuclear energy program. The goal: to build 16 reactors over the next 20 years, at a cost of some 80 billion euros ($98 billion), according to officials and analysts.

As the Saudis pursue the technology needed to undertake the ambitious project, they are expected to play potential rivals against one another, reminding their American counterparts that China, Russia and France are also capable of filling their needs.

“It would be virtually impossible for the Saudi government to accept terms that are less than what Obama gave the Iranians — the possibility of future enrichment,” a source close to the Saudi government told AFP, referring to the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that was completed when Barack Obama was still president.

In an interview with CBS broadcast on Sunday evening, the prince defended at length his anti-corruption purge which saw many of the kingdom’s princes detained for several weeks inside Riyadh’s luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel.

“What we did in Saudi Arabia was extremely necessary” and legal, he said. One goal of the operation, which was marked by physical abuse according to a New York Times investigation, was to recover an amount exceeding $100 billion.

“But the real objective was not this amount or any other amount,” he said. “The idea is not to get money, but to punish the corrupt and send a clear signal that whoever engages in corrupt deals will face the law.”

 Bloody war in Yemen

The United States and Saudi Arabia are historic allies. Ever since Franklin Delano Roosevelt met with King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud on a US naval ship in the Suez Canal in 1945, every American president has carefully nurtured relations with the Saudi royal family.

But the unstinting support Trump offered when he chose Riyadh as the destination of his first overseas trip as president brought the relationship to a new level.

While Barack Obama said in 2015 that it was important “not to perpetuate any long-term confrontation with Iran, or to even marginalize Iran,” Trump, who has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the nuclear deal reached that year with Tehran, has chosen a very different path.

“Everywhere we go in the Middle East it’s Iran, Iran, Iran,” he said a few days ago. “Every problem is Iran.”

Even before setting foot on American soil, Prince Mohammed struck a scathing tone toward Iran in an interview with CBS, comparing the territorial ambitions of that country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to those of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany.

And he warned that if Iran were to develop a nuclear bomb, Saudi Arabia would do the same “as soon as possible.”

But critics are cautioning the White House not to blindly embrace every stance taken by the Saudi prince, particularly as concerns its role in the bloody civil war in Yemen.

Fighting between the Huthi movement, supported by Iran, and Yemeni government forces, backed by the Saudis and the UAE, has claimed nearly 10,000 lives and left the country on the verge of a disastrous famine.

In an opinion column early this month in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman, writing in the form of an open letter to Trump, urged the president not to give in to Prince Mohammed’s “bad impulses” as he seeks to modernize Saudi Arabia’s “economy and religious/social structure.”

He then adds: “If you think you can just applaud his anti-Iran stance and religious reforms and all will work out fine, you’re wrong.”

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Mar 14

Saudi Crown Prince Meets Senior Israeli Officials in Egypt: Report

By JNS March 11, 2018 , 7:00 am

“May Hashem grant strength to His people; may Hashem bestow on His people wellbeing.” Psalms 29:11 (The Israel Bible™)

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman. (Kremlin)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman met with senior Israeli officials during his visit to Egypt this week, the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported on Wednesday.

The report said the meeting focused on the normalization of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and included the Kingdom’s commitment to the “deal of the century,” the Middle East peace plan being devised by the Trump administration.

Within that framework, Israel would take part in the unprecedented real estate venture being sponsored by the Saudis in the Gulf of Aqaba.

Crown Prince Mohammed first announced plans for the 26,500-square-kilometer (10,230-square-mile) zone at an international investment conference in Riyadh last October.

Officials say public and private investment in the area is expected to reach $500 billion. The mega-city would be built on Saudi territory on the eastern shore of the Red Sea near the border with Jordan, and connect to Egypt across the gulf via a bridge running through the island of Tiran.

Known as Neom—from the Greek prefix neo (“new”) and first letter of the Arabic word mostaqbal (“future”)—the mega-city is being billed as “the world’s most ambitious project,” intended to become a transnational city and economic zone.

The crown prince’s stated objective for the project is to wean Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter, off oil revenues.

According to the report, the prince is also applying immense pressure behind the scenes on Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to be part of the American deal.

If an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is struck, the Saudis will reportedly be the beneficiaries of considerable U.S. investments, among other things in the Neom project. In exchange, they will act as the American’s spearhead for implementing the peace agreement.

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Mar 08

BIBI IN AMERICA: Netanyahu Wows At AIPAC, Vows To Stop Iran From Producing Nuclear Weapons

Pointing to a map where Iran’s inroads in the region were painted in black, Netanyahu said that the Islamic Republic was trying to establish a land bridge from Tehran to Tartus on the Mediterranean, and not only establish permanent military bases in Syria, but also manufacture precision-guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon.v

by Geoffrey Grider March 6, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was welcomed with a resounding ovation Tuesday morning at AIPAC, where he gave a 30 minute speech on the “good, bad and beautiful” in Israel and the region. Netanyahu steered completely clear of his legal woes piling up at home.

“Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey, Upon one day in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, namely, upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar.” Esther 8:11,12 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Like Donald Trump in America, Israeli PM Netanyahu is beset by endless attacks from the media all seeking to end his run as leader. And like President Trump, Bibi has survived all such attacks so far, and not just surviving but thriving as well. In America this week, Netanyahu was the keynote speaker at AIPAC, and reminded his audience of the very real and ongoing nuclear threat from Iran. He invoked the book of Esther, and the threat from the Persian people back in 425 BC, as well as from the Persian government of Iran in 2018 AD.

The prime minister, showing no outward signs of the impact of his domestic situation, strolled away from the podium and used slides broadcast on large screens to talk about Israel’s contributions in the spheres of agriculture, water preservation and security, as well as its growing diplomatic standing in the world.

Pointing to the slide which was painted in blue representing all the countries with whom Israel has diplomatic ties, Netanyahu said to a resounding ovation, “There are those who talk about boycotting Israel, we will boycott them.”

While the good news coming out of Israel – regarding its technology and security expertise – is very good and getting better, the bad news, he said, “is that bad things are getting worse and are very bad.”

The overwhelmingly bad thing, he said, is Iran.

“We have to deal with this challenge,” he said. “If I have a message today it is simple: We must stop Iran.” Netanyahu, who last spoke at AIPAC in 2015 during the visit to Washington where he spoke out against the Iranian deal in Congress, said that what he warned then is transpiring.

He recalled that he said at the time that as a result of the nuclear deal Iran would not become more moderate and peaceful, but rather more extreme and “much more dangerous, and that is exactly what is happening.”

Pointing to a map where Iran’s inroads in the region were painted in black, he said that the Islamic Republic was trying to establish a land bridge from Tehran to Tartus on the Mediterranean, and not only establish permanent military bases in Syria, but also manufacture precision-guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon.

“I will not let that happen, we will not let that happen,” he said. “Last week we read in the Book of Esther about an earlier Persian attempt to destroy our people,” he said referring to Purim. “They failed then, they will fail now.”

Netanyahu also spent a few minutes talking about the Palestinian Authority’s payment of $350 million a year to terrorists and their families, asking what message this sends to Palestinian children.

“I believe President Abbas should find better use for his money, “ he said. “Build roads, schools, hospitals and factories. Invest in life, invest in peace.”

The “beautiful,” in his “good, bad and beautiful” equation, was the Israeli-US relationship

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Mar 06

United States may help expand Saudi nuclear capability

The negotiations appear pressing, as the White House directed US Energy Secretary Rick Perry to cancel planned travel to India for talks in London with his Saudi counterpart.

By Michael Wilner

February 27, 2018 20:23

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is in talks with Saudi Arabia over a deal that would allow Riyadh to enrich and reprocess uranium domestically in exchange for the US building nuclear reactors there.

The negotiations appear pressing, as the White House directed US Energy Secretary Rick Perry to cancel planned travel to India for talks in London with his Saudi counterpart.

State Department officials are in parallel talks with European governments over the future of the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, which allows that country to enrich uranium domestically under UN supervision.

American companies, including Westinghouse Electric Corporation, are interested in building reactors in the Saudi kingdom, US media reported this week. In light of the Iran deal, Riyadh has repeatedly previewed its interest in matching Tehran’s nuclear capacity and has announced plans to build up to 16 nuclear power plants over the next 20 years.

The Obama administration, which negotiated the Iran deal, opposed the nuclearization of other powers in the region at the time. At a Camp David summit on the pending nuclear agreement in 2015 with Gulf Arab nations, Ben Rhodes, a senior foreign policy adviser to Obama, told The Jerusalem Post that Tehran’s path to nuclear power should not be seen as a model for others.

But the dueling negotiations – over the nuclear capacities of two rival regional powers – may be a tool of leverage for the Trump administration, as it works to coax Europe into a new round of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

Critics of the Iran deal questioned why the US would ever agree to grant Tehran a “right to enrich,” after it had violated several UN resolutions and commitments barring certain nuclear activities. The Saudi deal would similarly allow Riyadh to enrich uranium on its own, according to reports, although details of the negotiations have not been confirmed on record by Saudi or US officials.

The Netanyahu government, which vociferously opposes the Iran deal, has not commented on the reported Saudi talks.

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Feb 28

Turkey is now invading Syria with the Special Forces of its military. Make no mistake about it, you are now witnessing Turkish expansionism

Turkey is increasing the intensity of its expansion into northern Syria, this time by mobilizing its “Special Forces” into the region. Make no mistake about it: this is Turkish expansionism. As we read in a report from RT:

Ankara has sent police special forces units to the northern Syrian region of Afrin in anticipation of a new phase of its campaign against the Kurdish militias. It also says the UN-backed ceasefire does not affect its operation.

The special forces units crossed into Syrian territory from the southern Turkish provinces of Kilis and Hatay, local media reported. The new forces are expected to hold villages taken by Turkish troops from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as well as to take part in urban combat as Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch apparently moves from the countryside to the major settlements.

“Deploying special forces is part of the preparation for a new fight that is approaching,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag told Turkish NTV. “The fight will shift to places where there are civilians, as the area (of fighting) narrows,” he said, adding that the special forces units have experience in fighting militants in residential areas.

Even though the Turkish operation has entered its sixth week, most of the larger towns in the Kurdish-held enclave, including the city of Afrin itself, remain in the hands of the YPG. Still, Turkish forces drove the Kurdish militias from all areas bordering Turkey, local media report. On February 20, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the troops would lay siege to Afrin “in the coming days.”

Operation Olive Branch will continue despite a UN Security Council resolution envisaging a 30-day nationwide ceasefire in Syria. The resolution, which was unanimously adopted by the security council on Saturday, says that the ceasefire does not apply to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), Al-Nusra, or any other terrorist organization.

Ankara believes this exemption applies to the Kurdish militias as well. “When we look at the UN Security Council resolution, we see that fight against terror organizations is outside its scope. Therefore, it will not affect Turkey’s ongoing operation,” Bozdag said, as cited by Anadolu news agency.

The Turkish military began its operation against the YPG, a Kurdish-led militia, as it considers it to be a wing of the PKK, an armed movement that Ankara regards as terrorist. The YPG, which controls several enclaves in northern Syria, including Afrin, secured the territories from Islamist rebels and other extremist groups over the course of the Syrian conflict with the US-led coalition’s backing.

The number of “terrorists” who were “neutralized” over the course of the operation has reached 2,059, the Turkish General Staff said on Monday. Ankara also insists that the offensive is solely aimed at wiping out terrorists, denying allegations that it has targeted civilians.

The Turkish operation also increases tensions between Ankara and Damascus. The Syrian government has repeatedly condemned the operation as a violation of the country’s sovereignty and has accused Ankara of “aggression” against the Syrian people. Damascus also sent militias to Afrin to reinforce locals in their resistance against the Turkish onslaught.

This information was disputed by Ankara, which said the Syrian forces were prevented from entering the region. Erdogan also warned that the incoming militias would “pay a heavy price.”

Who is is supplying Turkey with its military technology? Western defense companies. We know for a fact that Germany is the one supplying Turkey with its Leopard tank, as we read in a report from DW:

Turkey has given confirmation that its troops have been using Leopard 2 tanks supplied by Germany during their offensive against Kurdish fighters in the Syrian border region of Afrin, according to a report from the German Ministry for Economic Affairs sent to parliamentarians in Berlin.

And we know that the German defense company, Rheinmetall, has made a contract with the Turkish defense company, Havelsan, to produce for Turkey a tank of its own.

This all has historical parallels. Lets remember that during World War One it was the Germans who provided the Ottomans naval support, driving the British navy out of the Dardanelles with its U-boats, removing the obstacle of naval bombardment for the Turks and giving the Turkish artillery men freedom to strike the British and the Aussies without impediment.

Moreover, the mobile batteries that the Turks were using to strike the British in the Dardanelles were German made. Furthermore, the Germans built the railway network by which they could send a continual flow of weapons and troops to Turkey. This overwhelming flow of weapons and men exhausted the British and French and forced them to retreat in the battle over the Dardanelles.

So while we must focus on what Turkey is doing, we must also remember the Germanic forces backing them (and yes, that includes the Americans and Anglo Saxons who are providing support for Turkey). Germany, like in the past, will side with the revived Ottoman empire.


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Feb 20

Waving piece of downed drone, PM threatens direct military action against Iran

‘Do you recognize this, Mr. Zarif?’ PM asks security confab attended by Iran FM, warns Tehran to ‘not test Israel’s resolve’

By Judah Ari Gross and Michael Bachner 18 February 2018, 12:58 pm 12

Brandishing a fragment of an Iranian drone downed over northern Israel a week ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned that Israel could strike the Islamic Republic directly and cautioned Tehran not to “test Israel’s resolve.”

“Mr. Zarif, do you recognize this? You should, it’s yours. You can take back with you a message to the tyrants of Tehran — do not test Israel’s resolve!” proclaimed Netanyahu at the Munich Security Conference, which was also attended by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The Iranian drone, which entered northern Israel from Syria near the Jordan border last Saturday, was shot down by an Israeli attack helicopter. In response to the drone incursion, Israeli jets attacked the mobile command center from which it was operated, the army said last week.

During the reprisal raid, one of the eight Israeli F-16 fighter jets that took part in the operation was apparently hit by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile and crashed. The Israeli Air Force then conducted a second round of airstrikes, destroying between a third and half of Syria’s air defenses, according to IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.

The flareup on the northern border marked the first direct confrontation between the Israeli air force and the Iranian regime on Israeli territory. Israel has warned of growing Iranian entrenchment in neighboring Syria and has said it will not abide an Iranian military presence on its borders.

“Through its proxies — Shiite militias in Iraq, the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza — Iran is devouring huge swaths of the Middle East,” said Netanyahu.

“Israel will not allow Iran’s regime to put a noose of terror around our neck,” he added. “We will act without hesitation to defend ourselves. And we will act if necessary not just against Iran’s proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself.”

In his remarks on Sunday, the prime minister also railed against the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, lambasted the Iranian regime, and branded Zarif the “smooth-talking mouthpiece of Iran.”

“I’ll say this, he lies eloquently,” Netanyahu said. “Zarif said it was wrong to say Iran is radical. If that’s true, why do they hang gays from cranes in city squares?”

Displaying a map of the Middle East, Netanyahu noted that while the Islamic State terrorist group is in retreat, Iran has been steadily making gains. Israeli military intelligence has helped prevent dozens of terror attacks in dozens of countries by Islamic State, said Netanyahu.

Iran is trying to take over large swaths of the Middle East, including setting up naval bases in the Mediterranean, Netanyahu charged.

“Can you imagine Iranian submarines next to the US Sixth Fleet? Next to the port of Haifa?” he asked.

The prime minister called for scrapping the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Tehran, saying, “Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past. Appeasement never works.”

He likened modern Iran to Nazi Germany on the eve of World War II, saying that agreements between both regimes and world powers had emboldened them.

“Concessions to Hitler only emboldened the Nazis. Well-intentioned leaders only made war more difficult and costly,” he said.

“Iran is not Nazi Germany. One championed a master race, the other champions a master faith,” said Netanyahu. “Iran looks to destroy Israel and is developing ballistic missiles that can also reach Europe and the US. Once nuclear-armed, Iran will be unchecked.”

The Iran deal has “not made them more moderate internally, it has not made them more moderate externally. It released an Iranian tiger in our region. We must speak clearly; we must act boldly. We can stop this dangerous regime,” said Netanyahu.

“I don’t care about the agreement, fixing it or nixing it. I care about preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” Netanyahu said, calling for “the toughest, crippling sanctions” against Iran’s development of ballistic missiles.

The prime minister also hinted at a diplomatic row with Poland over a law outlawing blaming the Polish state or nation for crimes of the Holocaust, though he did not address it directly.

Addressing the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was rejecting criticism of a new law that criminalizes mentions of Polish state complicity in the Holocaust, when he was asked by an Israeli journalist if sharing his family’s history of persecution in Poland would be outlawed under the new legislation.

“Of course it’s not going to be punishable, [it’s] not going to be seen as criminal to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian; not only German perpetrators,” Morawiecki told Yedioth Ahronoth’s Ronen Bergman. In his initial response on Saturday night, Netanyahu responded that “the Polish prime minister’s remarks here in Munich are outrageous. There is a problem here of an inability to understand history and a lack of sensitivity to the tragedy of our people. I intend to speak with him forthwith.”

Speaking about Nazi crimes in World War II, the prime minister said on Sunday that “60 million were killed, including a third of my own people. Six million Jews killed by the Nazis and their collaborators,” he said, emphasizing the last word.

“We will not forget, we will not forgive, we will always fight for the truth,” Netanyahu said in Hebrew and English.

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Feb 19

Turkey and Iran’s Skin-Deep Friendship

By Burak Bekdil February 13, 2018

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at Saadabad Palace, photo by Mohammad Hassanzadeh via Wikimedia Commons

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 739, February 13, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Like most moments in the passionate Turkish-Persian relationship, incidents of Muslim-to-Muslim fraternity are misleading. For the mullahs in Tehran, Turkey remains too western, too treacherous, and too Sunni. For the neo-Ottomans in Ankara, Iran remains too discreetly hostile, too ambitious, too untrustworthy, and too Shiite.

After having fought several inconclusive wars, the Ottoman Turks and the Safavid Persians decided, in 1639, to embrace a new code of conduct that would last for centuries: cold peace. After Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, that cold peace was tested: the then staunchly secular Turkish establishment feared that the mullahs in Tehran might wish to undermine Turkey by exporting its “pervert Islamism” to Turkish soil.

The 21st century iteration of the cold peace took a different turn after Turkey swerved from staunch state secularism to elected Islamism. Theoretically, the cold peace should have moved from “cold” to just “peace.” It did not, because Turkey’s Islamism was too Sunni and Iran’s too Shiite.

The cold war was here to stay, with its golden rule respected by both Ankara and Tehran: pretend to respect your rival; do not openly confront one another; and cooperate against common enemies – there are, after all, plenty of them.

Trade between the cold peace partners would prosper. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan once said, during his time as the Turkish prime minister, that he felt Tehran was his second home. In return, then Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad praised his good friend Erdoğan “for his clear stance against the Zionist regime.” The “Passage to Persia” was in perfect progress, at least in theory.

When, in the summer of 2009, Tehran’s streets erupted in flames and thousands of angry young Iranians rose up under the Green Movement banner against Ahmedinejad’s corrupt sharia rule, the Turkish government exchanged diplomatic niceties with Tehran. “It is not right to interfere in the domestic affairs of a big country like Iran,” then President Abdullah Gül commented on the Iranian protests. “Iran’s stability is very important for us. We want Iran’s problems to get resolved without disturbing internal peace.”

Four summers later, in 2013, millions of Turks took to the streets to stand against a government they thought was moving in an increasingly “Iranian direction;” i.e., towards an unpleasant blend of autocracy and Islamism. As the Turkish protests gained strength, the Iranian government reciprocated for 2009 by staying mute. Puzzlingly, Iranian youth, too, were largely indifferent to the Turkish riots, though some watched them with excitement and curiosity.

At the peak of the Turkish protests, Erdoğan and his senior officials blamed the unrest on a rich menu of culprits, from telekenesis to Jewish lobby groups to Zionists, western governments, western media, and western airliners – all of which had apparently united with the sole purpose of stopping the rise of a new Turkish empire.

At the end of 2017, the unrest moved back to the Persian street. The golden rule underpinning the Turkish-Iranian cold peace remained unchanged. Ankara voiced concern over the protests in Iranian cities, and then the foreign ministers of the “brotherly countries” exchanged diplomatic pleasantries over the phone.

Erdoğan stated how deeply Turkey values Iran’s stability and generously praised Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani. Iranian officials, meanwhile, blamed “enemies” for the protests in the country – though they displayed less ingenuity on this score than their Turkish friends, who blamed esoteric creatures like the “ulterior mind” (a Turkish invention that Ankara officials have yet to define).

Turkey warned those who might wish to interfere in Iranian politics, with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu explicitly accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump of supporting the Iranian protesters. Among the protesters, groups of Azeri-Turkish pan-Turkic youth were spotted making racist signs, prompting Ankara to task ultra-nationalist Turkish politicians with getting the Turkic protesters to “withdraw … from the scenes of protest.” Another brotherly gesture.

As is so often the case in the Turkish-Persian relationship, moments of Muslim-to-Muslim fraternity are misleading. For the Iranian mullahs of various conservative stripes, Turkey remains too western, too treacherous, and too Sunni. And for the neo-Ottomans in Ankara, Iran remains too discreetly hostile, too ambitious, too untrustworthy, and too Shiite. Turkish neo-Ottoman ambitions are simply not wanted in Tehran, Damascus, or the underground office rooms of Beirut.

For many years, Ankara thought it could win hearts and minds in Tehran by emphasizing convergences over divergences. The Turks opposed sanctions on Iran and later helped Iranians evade them. There was also the common enemy – Israel – but as it turns out, even Israel can divide rather than unite Sunni Turkey and Shiite Iran.

When Erdoğan spearheaded the recent international effort to recognize east Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, Tehran shrugged off the effort, calling it “too little, too late.” According to Iran, the Turks should have gone so far as to recognize the whole of Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, not just the eastern section. Sunni mullahs in Ankara took this as the Shiite mullahs trying to spoil their game.

In December, Erdoğan reiterated that Syrian President Bashar Assad was a “state terrorist and must go.” Assad is the Tehran mullahs’ staunchest ally in this part of the world. Thinking he will go simply because Erdoğan wants him to is likely to provoke little more than laughter in Tehran (and Moscow).

In a rare moment of clarity, Erdoğan in 2012 put the Turkish-Persian game in a relatively realistic light. “We cannot comfortably work with Iran,” he said. “They highlight a sectarian approach too much. I have repeatedly told prominent Iranians: let’s put aside the Alevi-Sunni [divide]. Before everything, we are Muslims. Let’s view this matter [Syria] like Muslims. When we have bilateral meetings with them, they tell us ‘Let’s resolve this matter together.’ When it comes to taking steps [for a solution], they unfortunately have working methods that are particular to them. This is, of course, very sad.”

The Turks are smart, but not always smart enough. They have finally noticed that the Iranians “highlight a sectarian approach too much.” They have not, however, grasped what the Iranians can clearly see: that the Turks do exactly the same thing. It is childish to think that unconvincing “let’s-sort-this-out-like-Muslims” rhetoric can end a 14-century-long war that has lasted since the days of Quraysh

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Feb 15

Iran Unveils Series Of Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missiles And Threatens To Strike Israel Over Syria Attack

Iranian military leaders bragged the ballistic missile “can be launched from mobile platforms or silos in different positions and can escape missile defense shields due to their radar-evading capability,” according to reports in Iran’s state-controlled media.


by Geoffrey Grider February 13, 2018

Iran unveiled a series of new homemade nuclear-capable ballistic missiles during military parades held over the weekend, a move that experts view as a bid to bolster the hardline ruling regime as dissidents continue efforts to stir protest.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Iran, armed with an ever-increasing battery of missiles and a firm alliance with Russia, is doggedly pursuing a confrontation with Israel. The Iranian drone incursion that triggered a series of Syrian airstrikes over the weekend that resulted in the loss of an Israel f-16 is proof of that. The policies of the Obama administration allowed Iranian technology to advance to the point now where Israel has no choice but to prepare to attack. 

On the heels of an encounter between an Iranian drone and Israeli forces, Iranian leaders showcased their ballistic missile capabilities, which includes a nuclear-capable medium-range missile that appears to share similarities with North Korean technology, according to experts.

The nuclear-capable missile can strike Israel even when fired from Iranian territory, raising concerns about an impending conflict between Tehran and the Jewish state that could further inflame the region.

Iranian military leaders bragged the ballistic missile “can be launched from mobile platforms or silos in different positions and can escape missile defense shields due to their radar-evading capability,” according to reports in Iran’s state-controlled media.

The latest technology could further inflame tensions between Israel and Iran, which funds and controls terror organizations operating along Israel’s border. Concerns that this nuclear-capable technology could be shared by Iran with its terrorist proxies are fueling longstanding concerns among the Israelis that an attack is imminent.

As Iranian dissidents continue to protest over the country’s ailing economy, the ruling regime continues to invest millions of dollars it received as part of the landmark nuclear deal with the United States on its military technology, specifically ballistic missiles, which are subject to a ban under international statutes.

However, Iran has not only continued this work but also invested heavily in it since receiving the cash windfalls from the nuclear deal. Conservative estimates from open sources indicate the Iranian regime has spent at least $16 billion in recent years on its military buildup and rogue operations in Syria, as well as other countries.

“Thirty-nine years in, the Islamic Revolution has little to show for its decades in power other than growing the country’s asymmetric military capabilities in order to continue their export of the revolution,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Washington Free Beacon. “The Islamic Republic has considerably grown the country’s missile and rocket arsenal, both through production and procurement.”

The two missiles featured over the weekend by Iran include the Ghadr, a medium-range ballistic missile that was modified and upgraded by the Islamic Republic

“The Ghadr can strike Israel when fired from Iranian territory, and in March 2016, was flight-tested while bearing genocidal slogans against the state of Israel,” according to Ben Taleblu, who has researched Iranian missile procurement.

Iranian military leaders also rolled out a rocket called the Fajr-5, which is becoming a new favorite of Iranian-backed terror proxy groups operating against Israel.

“The Fajr-5 is an Iranian rocket that has been proliferated to anti-Israel groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. It can travel up to 75 km, and is therefore a long-range artillery rocket. It uses solid fuel for propulsion,” Ben Taleblu explained. “Both the Qadr missile and Fajr rocket represents Iran’s commitment to developing stand-off weaponry that it uses for purposes of deterrence and coercion.”

The new weaponry could fuel ongoing efforts by Congress to crackdown on Iran’s continued proliferation of ballistic missile technology, a large part of which has been incubated by the North Korean regime, which continues to have a technology-sharing agreement with Tehran.

Iran already has the region’s largest arsenal of ballistic missiles and is seeking to continue building this technology.

The Trump administration has said that any effort to fix the nuclear deal with Iran must focus on constricting the regime’s access to ballistic missile technology.

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Feb 13

The next Iranian-Israeli engagement in Syria is due in late April, early May

Feb 12, 2018 @ 15:09 Iran, Iraqi Shiite militia, Iraqi-Syrian border, Israeli Air Force, Lebanon, Russia, US special forces

It is then that Tehran will try to move a special Russian-backed Iraqi Shiite force from southern Iraq into Syria and so expand its anti-Israel war front.
Since the Israeli Air Force hit a dozen Syrian and Iranian military targets on Saturday, Feb. 10, certain Israeli leaders have been vying for the most belligerent anti-Iran speeches (“They will never forget their next lesson” – Transport Minister Yisrael Katz; “We won’t let Iran set up a forward command” OC IDF’s Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick”). However, the plans Iran has in store  for the next round may tax them with making good on their warnings, although one at least comes after the fact. Iran is already running three forward commands in Syria – one in Damascus, one at Abu Kamal in the east and a third outside Aleppo.
Iran’s next challenge to Israel is likely to be more extensive than a lone Iranian drone intrusion and may start far from Israel’s northern border. Russia and Iran are trying to run a two-way, cross-border military movement between Iraq and Syria, which US forces in Syria have so far frustrated.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the United States is in the process of establishing a new “Border Security Force” in Syria, which is composed mainly of Kurdish fighters.
Iran and Russia are meanwhile building and training an elite “rapid deployment force” based on Iraqi Shiites. One of its functions will be to expand the front against Israel in both Syria and Lebanon. It is expected that the coming crossing into Syria of the Iraqi Shiite force may be used to detach a section for service on the Lebanese-Israeli border. Last month, an Iraqi Shiite militia chief traveled to Lebanon to inspect Israeli positions on that border. .
The Iraqi group is composed of 5,000 Shiite fighters, who are undergoing special training course for combat in Syria. They were handpicked from two high-performance Iraqi Shiite militias: One is the Nujaba of Kaabil (Movement of the Part of God), which is the Iraqi version of the Lebanese Hizballah and is headed by Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi. It has four sub-units, the Ammar Ibn Yasir Brigade, the Liwa al-Hamad – Praise Brigade, the Liwa al-Imam al Hassan al-Mujtaba – Imam Hssan the Chosen, and the Golan Liberation Brigade. The other militia is the Abud al-Fadl al-Abbas Forces.

This big difference between this elite Iraqi force and the other Shiite militias Tehran deploys in Syria is that it will be equipped with an air force, according to DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources. Russian and Iranian air force officers are setting up an aviation unit called the Combat Helicopters Directorates, to consist of dozens of Russian Mil Mi-17 assault and freight choppers as well as Iranian Shaed 285 attack choppers.

The bulk of the new force is expected to be ready to start moving west in the course of April and cross over into southeast Syria in the regions of Abu Kamal and Deir ez-Zour by early May at the latest. So far, the American forces deployed in western Iraq and southeastern Syria, centering in Al Tanf, have used live air force and artillery fire to push the vanguard back from the Syrian border.

A US special operations contingent also frustrated a move in the opposite direction by Syrian and Hizballah forces trying to cross the Euphrates to the eastern bank across a floating bridge laid by the Russians. They were heading to link up with the incoming Iraqi militias.  (Read DEBKAfile’s exclusive report on Feb. 8). This major US operation that involved air force, artillery and commandos was somehow missed by the Israeli politicians and analysts who commented on how the US had abandoned the Syrian arena when they discussed the Israeli air offensive of last Saturday.

Despite every effort to block the Iraqi force from reaching Syria, it may find a small gap in the 1,000km long Iraqi-Syrian border and manage to slip through. Israel’s government and military leaders will then face a decision that is much harder than whether to destroy the command vehicle controlling an Iranian drone. Part of the difficulty will be that before actin, Israel will have to keep an eye on the state of relations between the US and Russia which are at a low ebb at this time and how this plays out on the ground.

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Feb 09

With high-tech warships, Navy readies to guard gas fields from Hezbollah, Hamas

Four new German-built Sa’ar 6 corvettes due to arrive starting late 2019. Until then, IDF planning to protect strategic maritime assets with existing ships, specialized Iron Dome

By Judah Ari Gross 5 February 2018, 6:44 pm

An Israeli Navy Sa’ar 5 corvette defends a natural gas extraction platform off Israel’s coast, in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

An Israeli Navy Sa’ar 5 corvette defends two natural gas extraction platforms off Israel’s coast, in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

An Israeli Navy officer and German engineer look over plans for a Sa’ar 6 corvette that is under construction for the Israeli Navy in Kiel, Germany, in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

German workers look over plans for a Sa’ar 6 corvette that is being constructed for the Israeli Navy in Kiel, Germany, in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli Navy is charged with defending the country’s territorial waters, an area that is twice as large as the state itself and is becoming increasingly crowded with highly lucrative natural gas fields and shipping lanes, and it needs help.

For Israel’s enemies these naval sites are “preferred targets,” and both the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon and — to a lesser extent — Hamas in Gaza have the capabilities to threaten them, a senior Israeli Navy official said Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The senior officer said the navy operates under the assumption that Hezbollah has access to the Russian-made Yakhont shore-to-sea guided missiles, though he would not say explicitly if Israeli intelligence indicates that that is indeed the case.

According to the official, Hamas is less able to acquire advanced weapons due to the Israeli and Egyptian blockades on the Gaza Strip, but is nevertheless believed to have access to two varieties of shore-to-sea missiles: the Chinese C-802 and C-704.

Both terror groups are also believed to be developing naval capabilities, including autonomous submersibles, suicide drones and scuba-diving commando units, Israeli naval officials have said.

Some of those weapons have already been deployed against Israel in combat, by Hezbollah in the 2006 Second Lebanon War and by Hamas in the 2014 Gaza war. Hezbollah succeeded in severely damaging the navy’s INS Hanit with a shore-to-sea missile in the 2006 conflict, and Hamas made use of a naval commando unit in a daring — though ultimately ineffectual — coastal attack at Zikim Beach in 2014.

To counter those threats, as the country’s gas fields and shipping lanes grow more and more important, the military has been investing heavily in the navy, upgrading systems and better integrating it into the rest of the Israel Defense Forces.

In the coming years, additional assistance will come in the form of four state-of-the-art Sa’ar 6 corvettes currently being built by a firm in Kiel, Germany.

The 300-feet-long (90-meter) warships will be packed to the gills with highly sensitive detection equipment, offensive weapons and defensive missile interceptors.

“We’re making use of them down to the last centimeter,” the senior officer told reporters.

Their primary mission will be to guard the natural gas extraction platforms located off the country’s coast.

Since a significant field — Noa North — was first found off the coast of Ashkelon in 2000, Israel has been moving more toward natural gas, with the hope of not only achieving energy independence, but of becoming an energy exporter. That desire kicked into overdrive with the discovery of the Tamar gas field in 2009 and the Leviathan deposit in 2010, which are 200 and 400 times larger than Noa North, respectively.

The process has not been without its controversies both at home and abroad. Domestically, Israelis staged large-scale protests against the deal between the government and energy companies for rights to the sites, with activists and economists claiming that average citizens would not see the benefits from the natural resource.

Internationally, Israel has been at loggerheads with its northern neighbor Lebanon over an area off the coasts of both countries, known as Block 9, where gas is believed to be located and which each claims as its own.

Last Wednesday, Lebanon issued an offshore oil and gas exploration tender for the area, prompting a war of words with Israel, with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman calling the move “very provocative.”

Israel currently gets 60 percent of its electricity from natural gas, and that figure is expected to increase to 75% by the end of the decade.

Tamar, located 130 kilometers (80 miles) off the coast of Haifa, has been active since 2013, while extraction from the nearby Leviathan has yet to begin.

In 2012, the Bloomberg BusinessWeek financial publication estimated that Israel’s natural gas reserves were worth approximately $240 billion.

That valuation, along with the country’s increasing dependence on the gas fields for electrical power, led the government to officially recognize the sites as strategic national assets in 2013.

That year, the government formally gave the navy the responsibility for defending the gas fields, prompting large amounts of funding to be diverted toward the project.

The Sa’ar 6 corvettes will be outfitted with both a modified version of the Iron Dome system, known as the Naval Iron Dome, as well as the Barak 8 missile interceptor.

The senior officer explained that the Naval Dome system will provide a response primarily to simpler ballistic attacks, while the Barak 8 system is meant to counter more advanced guided missiles.

“But the Sa’ar 6 isn’t just defensive; it is also able to attack from long-range. It is deadly and can stand up to the threats,” the officer said. “If I had to pick a side, I’d pick ours.”

However, it’s going to take a little while before they get to the port of Haifa, where they will be based. The first of the ships will be delivered in November 2019, followed by a second in June 2020, a third in September 2020 and the final one in February 2021.

The Sa’ar 6 isn’t just defensive, it is also able to attack from long-range. It is deadly and can stand up to the threats

Only once they arrive can the navy and local defense contractors get to work outfitting the ships with the latest and greatest in Israeli technology, the officer said. The process of bringing the Sa’ar 6 corvettes to operational status is expected to take several months.

Last November, the Israeli Navy outfitted an existing Sa’ar 5, which is older and smaller than the Sa’ar 6, with a Naval Dome battery that is meant to act as an interim security measure.

In addition to purchasing the four cutting-edge Sa’ar 6 corvettes, the Defense Ministry announced a NIS 1.5 billion ($420 million) deal last July to outfit the Israeli Navy with maritime systems to protect the country’s gas fields and shipping lanes, including missile defense batteries, electronic warfare, navigation systems, command and control centers and communication gear.

The senior officer said the navy was also improving its Haifa base in order to better accommodate the Sa’ar 6 corvettes, including the construction of a new floating dry dock.

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