WAR Main Persian Gulf Trouble thread

jward

passin' thru
Exclusive: Iran expands advanced centrifuge work underground, IAEA report shows
By Francois Murphy


2 minute read
The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna

The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters, before the beginning of a board of governors meeting, in Vienna, Austria, March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo

  • Iran had held off of acting on plan to set up IR-6 cascade
  • Installation of that cascade has now begun, IAEA says
  • Tehran tells agency it now plans to install two more
VIENNA, June 8 (Reuters) - Iran has begun installing advanced IR-6 centrifuges in a cluster at an underground enrichment plant in line with a longstanding plan and now intends to add two more such clusters, or cascades, the U.N. nuclear watchdog told its member states on Wednesday.

The moves are described in a confidential International Atomic Energy Agency report sent to member states shortly before the IAEA's 35-nation Board of Governors passed a resolution criticising Iran for failing to explain uranium traces found at undeclared sites. Iran had warned of retaliation. read more


The IAEA report was seen by Reuters and confirmed by the agency.

Iran's commercial-scale Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz is its biggest and was built underground, apparently to protect it from potential aerial bombardment.

A 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers only lets Iran use first-generation, IR-1 machines there but as the deal unravelled in the wake of Washington's withdrawal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, Iran installed cascades of more efficient advanced centrifuges, like the IR-2m and IR-4.


For months Tehran had held off, however, on following through on its plan to install a cascade of IR-6 machines.

"On 6 June 2022, the Agency verified at FEP that Iran had started to install IR-6 centrifuges in the aforementioned single cascade previously declared by Iran to the Agency," the report said.

Iran informed the IAEA in a letter received on June 6 of its intention to install two "new cascades" of IR-6 machines at the underground plant, the report said.


"On 8 June 2022, the Agency also verified that installation of the two 'new' IR-6 cascades had yet to begin," it added.

Earlier on Wednesday, before the board vote, Iran said it would "shut down" two IAEA cameras at an unspecified enrichment plant.

 

Heliobas Disciple

TB Fanatic
hmmmmmmmmmmmm...........

(fair use applies)

Bennett Makes Snap Visit to UAE to Discuss ‘Regional Issues’
By Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency
June 9, 2022

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett left for a snap visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday, at the invitation of UAE President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed.

This was their third meeting. They met previously in Abu Dhabi in December 2021 and in Egypt in March.

Bennett was welcomed by Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed and an honor guard. He met privately with President Bin Zayed at his palace, and the two then held an expanded working meeting with the participation of their staffs.

The leaders discussed “various regional issues,” Bennett’s office stated.


Upon departing, Bennett stated he “will take the special bond that has been woven between our countries to the next level — for the growth and security of both our peoples.”

He again commended the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Board of Governors for its decision to censure Iran for its nuclear activities, a decision “which clearly states that Iran is continuing to play games and is continuing to conceal and hide.”

The UN nuclear watchdog passed a resolution on Wednesday, which was adopted by an overwhelming majority of 30 in favor, with only Russia and China voting against it, censuring Iran over its nuclear program. Drafted by Britain, France, Germany, and the US, the resolution accuses Iran of not cooperating with the IAEA.

“On the one hand, we see in this decision the lies and the hypocrisy of Iran on the nuclear issue and in general. On the other hand, we see here a firm stance by the countries of the world regarding the distinction between good and evil, as they clearly state that Iran is concealing things. We will not let up on this issue,” he declared.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said this week that Iran has a considerable amount of enriched uranium and could be only weeks away from producing enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb.

Commenting on the talks in Vienna between the West and Iran on its return to the nuclear deal, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price stated Monday that “the prospect of a mutual return to compliance would still prolong that breakout time fairly significantly if we were successful in negotiating a mutual return to that. That remains a big question mark. We’ll have to see what the coming period – where that leads us.”
 

jward

passin' thru
Iran's nuclear tactics leaves Biden with tough choices



US President Joe Biden is under increasing pressure to either reach a deal to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran or walk away from talks after a three-month impasse. - Jim WATSON

by Francesco FONTEMAGGI
June 10, 2022 — Washington (AFP)

A flare-up in tensions between the UN nuclear monitor and Iran this week has left US President Joe Biden in an increasingly tight jam.
The US leader opened his presidency with a pledge to return to the 2015 international agreement that aimed to prevent Tehran from building nuclear weapons, after predecessor Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it.
Negotiations to restore that agreement have been at an impasse for three months over the very last details.
Without a deal -- and Iran ever closer to nuclear "breakout" -- Biden has a tough choice: to make more concessions to Tehran, and be accused of weakness by Republican opponents ahead of midterm elections, or declare the talks dead, which could spark a new Middle East crisis.

Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Thursday that Tehran's removal this week of 27 cameras monitoring its nuclear sites could deal a "fatal blow" to negotiations.
"At this stage, things can go either way," said Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group. "The tension of the past few days could potentially stir leadership in Tehran and Washington to take the deal that is on the table."
Or, he said, "It's the first step in another cycle of escalation, and from this point on it would only get worse."
"Worse" could mean Tehran moving ahead to build a nuclear weapon, and its opponents like Israel and US hardliners demanding hard action to prevent that.
- Verge of a deal -

A demonstration of a nuclear activities monitoring camera used by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Iran.


The talks in Vienna between Iran and the major powers resumed last year at Biden's impetus, with the US willing to rescind sanctions in exchange for Tehran returning to full implementation of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
But at the edge of a deal three months ago, the talks stalled, due -- according to US officials -- to final demands by Iran unrelated to nuclear issues.
Meanwhile, officials say, Iran has pushed ahead with uranium enrichment operations that take it close to a weapons capability.

The situation deteriorated this week when members of the IAEA censured Iran for not cooperating. A day later Iran removed the 27 cameras.

- Call for 'maximum pressure' -

Enrichment equipment at Iran's Natanz nuclear research center.


Supporters say the deal is the only thing that has prevented Iran from building nuclear weapons, and that saving it is worth Biden giving Tehran some concessions.
But opponents -- Republicans, and strong supporters of Iran's nemesis Israel -- say Iran's lack of cooperation shows the agreement is not worth pursuing.

If Tehran's accelerated uranium enrichment operations "are not sufficient to get the Biden administration to change course, what will?" asked Behnam Ben Taleblu of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think-tank, which has opposed the JCPOA.
"The time has come for a multilateral version of maximum pressure," he said, referring to Trump's approach.
Even among Biden's Democratic Party, some voices are growing impatient.
"At what point will the administration acknowledge that Iran's nuclear advances make a return to the 2015 JCPOA not in the United States' strategic interest?" said Senator Bob Menendez.

- 'Unsustainable' limbo -
Vaez says that the Biden administration has settled into the situation of having neither an agreement nor a crisis over it.
"The developments of the past 48 hours have basically demonstrated to both sides that the status quo in the past three months of no deal, no crisis is really not sustainable," said Vaez.
Yet Washington hasn't set a deadline. On Thursday Secretary of State Antony Blinken only warned that the removal of the monitoring cameras threatened JCPOA restoration.
"The only outcome of such a path will be a deepening nuclear crisis and further economic and political isolation for Iran," Blinken said.

Instead of a hard line, the top US diplomat kept the door open.
Returning to the deal "would still achieve our most important and urgent nonproliferation goals and would be strongly in our national security interests," said a Blinken spokesperson.
Randa Slim, a researcher at the Middle East Institute in Washington, called the impasse a state of limbo "whereby everybody will assume that the Vienna talks have collapsed, but nobody will be willing to announce it."
That is Biden's dilemma, she said.

If they declare the talks over and conclude that Iran has imminent nuclear weapons capability, Washington could be forced into taking direct action against Iran, or supporting such action by Israel, said Slim.
"There are two clocks ticking .... putting a lot of pressure on the Biden administration," said Vaez.
One is the clock on Tehran's actual nuclear technology advances, he said.
"And then there's the political clock," of the congressional elections in November that could deeply erode Biden's political clout.
 

jward

passin' thru
EndGameWW3
@EndGameWW3

11h

Update: Iranian media: An officer in the Air Force of the Revolutionary Guards was killed in a car accident while on a mission


EndGameWW3
@EndGameWW3

11h

Damn Iran be losing IRGC officers like a prostitute dropping her panties.
https://twitter.com/EndGameWW3

Another one bites the dust... The Central Province Revolutionary Guards announced that Ali Kamani, a member of the Aerospace Unit, was killed "during a mission" and in a "traffic accident" in the city of Khomein.
 

jward

passin' thru
hmm. not certain unprecedented, thought they took care of all most a dozen in their initial efforts.
probably misremembering. It's my superpower n all. :rolleyes:

ELINT News
@ELINTNews

3h

Thread coming later tonight on events in Iran and how this ties to Israeli evacuations in Turkey. Likely Mossad is currently engaged in large-scale targeted assassination campaign at a scale that is likely unprecedented. In the past month around 4-5 assassinations and attacks.
 

jward

passin' thru
Iran says any response to Israel ‘will not be in a third country’
Following reports of a thwarted plot by Iranian agents to target Israelis in Turkey, Tehran’s foreign ministry issues threat against Jewish state
By TOI staff 13 June 2022, 3:23 pm


Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh speaks during a press conference in Tehran, on March 14, 2022 (AFP)
Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh speaks during a press conference in Tehran, on March 14, 2022 (AFP)



An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said Monday that any “response” the Islamic Republic would make against Israel would take place inside Israel, a day after it was reported that Israeli and Turkish security agencies last month uncovered an Iranian plot to kidnap Israeli tourists in Turkey.
“If we will want to respond to Israel’s activities, our answer will be given in its place and not in a third country,” Saeed Khatibzadeh said.
According to Sunday’s reports in Hebrew media outlets, Israeli security officials tipped off their Turkish counterparts about the plan and asked that they take action to thwart the attack.



The reports, citing unnamed senior Israeli sources, did not specify what nationality the alleged Iranian agents were, how many were involved, or if any arrests were made.
After preventing the kidnapping, Israel asked Turkey to act against the Iranian network that planned it, Kan news reported.


Get The Times of Israel's Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories


Iranian government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi told the semi-official Iranian Tasnim news agency on Monday that Iran “will take whatever retaliatory measure necessary in response to any external action by [the Israeli] regime.”

heydari.jpg

The commander of the Iranian military’s ground forces, Kiumars Heydari, speaks to the press in an undated photo. (Screenshot)

Last week an Iranian general threatened to “raze” Israeli cities.
“For any mistake made by the enemy, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground by the order of the Supreme Leader,” the Islamic Republic’s ground forces commander, Kiumars Heydari, told Tasnim news.

Also last week, a Channel 12 report said Thai security forces had thwarted several recent Iranian attempts to harm Western and Israeli targets in the Southeast Asian country — a popular tourist destination for Israelis.
Israeli diplomatic missions have been on alert, expecting Iran to seek revenge for the assassination last month of a senior officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. However, Kan reported that the attempted kidnapping in Turkey happened before the officer’s killing.
The National Security Council in recent days has considered issuing a top-level travel warning, explicitly telling Israelis not to travel to Turkey at all in the coming period. It has already advised against making non-essential trips to the country.
Israeli security officials believe there are still Iranian terror units operating in Turkey aiming to carry out kidnappings or shooting attacks, the Ynet news site reported, and intelligence services are working to counter those threats.

AP22136150534099.jpg

A full moon rises above the iconic Haghia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, early May 16, 2022. (Mucahid Yapici/AP)

A source familiar with the developments told the outlet: “In light of the existing intelligence, it would be best for Israelis to not fly there during this period. It is worth considering canceling vacations in Turkey at this time.”
A senior Israeli official was quoted by Ynet as saying there has been an uptick in Iranian attempts to carry out attacks.

At the end of last month, Israel issued a travel warning to its citizens, advising them to avoid visiting Turkey amid fears of an imminent Iranian response to the assassination of the Iranian officer a week earlier.
In an unusual move, the National Security Council at the time explicitly identified “Iranian terrorist operatives” as the source of the threat to Israelis in Turkey and nearby countries. Notably, however, the travel warning for Turkey remained at its same level, third of four, a “moderate threat,” with recommendations to avoid visiting the country for nonessential reasons. At level four, “high threat,” Israelis are explicitly told not to visit the country and to leave if they are already inside. Countries with this warning include Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iran.
Last month, Iranian Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei was shot five times in his car by two unidentified gunmen on motorbikes in the middle of Tehran. He reportedly was involved in killings and abductions outside of Iran, including attempts to target Israelis.
Iranian authorities have yet to pin down the suspects in Khodaei’s killing, even though the incident took place in the heart of one of the most secure areas in Tehran — Mohahedin-e Eslam Street, home to other senior officials in the IRGC and its elite Quds Force.

AP22144278414758.jpg

People walk past a banner showing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, prior to his funeral ceremony, in Tehran, Iran, May 24, 2022. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

Israel, which has not officially commented on the incident, reportedly raised the security alert level at its embassies and consulates around the world, fearing a retaliatory Iranian attack.
An unnamed intelligence official told the New York Times that Israel told US officials it was behind the assassination.
In May, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said it uncovered an attempt by Iranian operatives to lure Israeli academics and businesspeople abroad with the intention of kidnapping or harming them.
In February, Turkish media reported that local intelligence thwarted an Iranian plan to assassinate an Israeli businessman in the country. The intended target, Yair Geller, confirmed the reports.
 

jward

passin' thru
German intel report shows Iran stepped up illegal attempts to aid nuke program
Benjamin Weinthal

5-6 minutes



Iran has significantly intensified its efforts to obtain technology for its illegal nuclear program, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency said in a report released on Tuesday.
Fox News Digital reviewed the key passages in the 368-page document outlining security threats to Germany.
"The German domestic intelligence agencies were able to identify a significant increase in the indications of proliferation-related procurement attempts by Iran for its nuclear program," the report by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) reads.
https://www.foxnews.com/world/us-europeans-draft-resolution-criticizing-iran-iaea-board
The report covers the Iranian regime’s efforts during 2021, at a time when the U.S. and other world powers offered enormous concessions to Tehran in an effort to convince it to stop its work on its atomic weapons program.
A German intelligence agency cited Iran 59 times in a report showing that there was suspicion of possible violations of the Iran nuclear deal.


A German intelligence agency cited Iran 59 times in a report showing that there "was suspicion of possible violations" of the Iran nuclear deal. (Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch)
According to the German intelligence document, "If there was a suspicion of possible violations of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 Iran nuclear deal], the BfV passed on the relevant information to the responsible authorities." Iran’s clerical regime is cited 59 times in the report.
The report refrained, with one exception, from detailing the nature of Iran’s nuclear proliferation activity and whether there were violations of the JCPOA, which is supposed to restrict Tehran’s efforts to expand its nuclear program.
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/iran-materials-first-nuclear-weapon-israeli-defense-minister
The German Customs Investigation Bureau (ZKA) opened an investigation against a German citizen of Iranian origin in Norderstedt, near Hamburg, on "suspicion of having violated the Foreign Trade Law in three commercial cases. He is said to have been involved in procuring laboratory equipment and spectrometers for Iran’s nuclear and missile programs."
According to the intelligence report, the proliferation "activities of foreign powers also include the procurement of know-how and products for the development and production of weapons of mass destruction and delivery technologies." Delivery systems are needed to accurately deliver missiles to their targets.
This satellite photo provided from Planet Labs Inc. shows Iran's Natanz nuclear facility on April 14, 2021.


This satellite photo provided from Planet Labs Inc. shows Iran's Natanz nuclear facility on April 14, 2021. (Planet Labs via AP)
https://www.foxnews.com/world/saudi-arabia-bomb-iran-deal-experts
Tehran is pursuing "one of the largest missile programs in the Middle East," the intelligence document highlights. "Iran is accused of supplying rocket and drone technology to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, among others, who in turn use them against the United Arab Emirates and its allies."
The report adds that "Iran’s ambitious missile program is not covered by the provisions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action… the procurement activities in Germany to this end [expanding the missile program] are consistently high – with an upward trend."
Professor Matthew Kroenig of the Department of Government and the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, an expert on Iran's nuclear weapons program, told Fox News Digital the German intelligence is "disturbing news but not surprising. Iran has tried to build a bomb for several decades."
Kroenig said Iran’s efforts in Germany to obtain nuclear-related technology could be after "components for weaponization."
Iran is "weeks away from dashing to a bomb. We need to take action or Iran will be a nuclear-armed power forever," he said, pointing to the case of the communist dictatorship in North Korea that developed a nuclear weapons arsenal because the international community remained passive toward its efforts.
https://www.foxnews.com/apps-products?pid=AppArticleLink
Kroenig noted the "international approach has failed" to get Iran back into the JCPOA.
Iran "has missile capability and enrichment capability," he warned, adding that the next step is weaponization of its arsenal.
The German intelligence revelations coincided with a report on Tuesday that the United States, Britain, France and Germany filed a draft resolution with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rebuking Tehran for failing to answer questions about uranium traces at an undeclared atomic location.
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Satellite images suggest Iran preparing for rocket launch
Iran appears to be readying for a space launch as satellite images showed a rocket on a rural desert launch pad, just as tensions remain high over Tehran’s nuclear program
By Jon Gambrell Associated Press
June 14, 2022, 5:06 PM

WireAP_40f90abf7c0643cf842e8059fde4f97c_16x9_992.jpg


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Iran appeared to be readying for a space launch Tuesday as satellite images showed a rocket on a rural desert launch pad, just as tensions remain high over Tehran's nuclear program.

The images from Maxar Technologies showed a launch pad at Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s rural Semnan province, the site of frequent recent failed attempts to put a satellite into orbit.

One set of images showed a rocket on a transporter, preparing to be lifted and put on a launch tower. A later image Tuesday afternoon showed the rocket apparently on the tower.

Iran did not acknowledge a forthcoming launch at the spaceport and its mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

However, its state-run IRNA news agency in May said that Iran likely would have seven homemade satellites ready for launch by the end of the Persian calendar year in March 2023. A Defense Ministry official also recently suggested Iran soon could test its new solid-fueled, satellite-carrying rocket called the Zuljanah.

It wasn't clear when the launch would take place, though erecting a rocket typically means a launch is imminent. NASA fire satellites, which detect flashes of light from space, did not immediately see any activity over the site late Tuesday night.

Asked about the preparations, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington that the U.S. urges Iran to de-escalate the situation.

“Iran has consistently chosen to escalate tensions. It is Iran that has consistently chosen to take provocative actions," Price said.

A Pentagon spokesman, U.S. Army Maj. Rob Lodewick, said the American military “will continue to closely monitor Iran’s pursuit of viable space launch technology and how it may relate to advancements in its overall ballistic missile program.”

"Iranian aggression, to include the demonstrated threat posed by its various missile programs, continues to be a top concern for our forces in the region,” Lodewick said.

Over the past decade, Iran has sent several short-lived satellites into orbit and in 2013 launched a monkey into space. The program has seen recent troubles, however. There have been five failed launches in a row for the Simorgh program, a type of satellite-carrying rocket. A fire at the Imam Khomeini Spaceport in February 2019 also killed three researchers, authorities said at the time.

The launch pad used in Tuesday's preparations remains scarred from an explosion in August 2019 that even drew the attention of then-President Donald Trump. He later tweeted what appeared to be a classified surveillance image of the launch failure. Satellite images from February suggested a failed Zuljanah launch earlier this year, though Iran did not acknowledge it.

The successive failures raised suspicion of outside interference in Iran’s program, something Trump himself hinted at by tweeting at the time that the U.S. “was not involved in the catastrophic accident.” There’s been no evidence offered, however, to show foul play in any of the failures, and space launches remain challenging even for the world’s most successful programs.

Meanwhile, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in April 2020 revealed its own secret space program by successfully launching a satellite into orbit. The Guard launched another satellite this March at another site in Semnan province, just east of the Iranian capital of Tehran.

Judging from the launch pad used, Iran likely is preparing for the Zuljanah test launch, said John Krzyzaniak, a research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Krzyzaniak earlier this week suggested a launch was imminent based on activity at the site.

The rocket's name, Zuljanah, comes from the horse of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Iranian state television aired footage of a successful Zuljanah launch in February 2021.

The launch preparations also come as the Guard reportedly saw one of its soldiers “martyred” in Semnan province under unclear circumstances over the weekend. Iran's Defense and Armed Forces Logistics Ministry, however, later claimed the man worked for it.

The United States has alleged that Iran’s satellite launches defy a U.N. Security Council resolution and has called on Tehran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The U.S. intelligence community’s 2022 threat assessment, published in March, claims such a satellite launch vehicle “shortens the timeline” to an intercontinental ballistic missile for Iran as it uses “similar technologies.”

Iran, which has long said it does not seek nuclear weapons, previously maintained that its satellite launches and rocket tests do not have a military component. U.S. intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency say Iran abandoned an organized military nuclear program in 2003.

However, Iran's likely preparations for a launch come as tensions have been heightened in recent days over Tehran's nuclear program. Iran now says it will remove 27 IAEA surveillance cameras from its nuclear sites as it now enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels.

Both Iran and the U.S. insist they are willing to re-enter Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which saw the Islamic Republic drastically curb its enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord in 2018, setting in motion a series of attacks and confrontations beginning in 2019 that continue today into the administration of President Joe Biden.

Talks in Vienna about reviving the deal have been on a “pause” since March.

Building a nuclear bomb would still take Iran more time if it pursued a weapon, analysts say, though they warn Tehran’s advances make the program more dangerous. Israel has threatened in the past that it would carry out a preemptive strike to stop Iran — and already is suspected in a series of recent killings targeting Iranian officials.

———

Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twiter.com/jongambrellAP.

Satellite images suggest Iran preparing for rocket launch - ABC News (go.com)
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Israel tells its citizens to avoid Istanbul, warns Iran not to harm them
Reuters
June 13, 20221:07 PM EDTLast Updated a day ago

JERUSALEM, June 13 (Reuters) - Israel raised its Istanbul travel advisory to the highest level on Monday because of what it said was a threat of Iranian attempts to kill or abduct Israelis vacationing in Turkey.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said a "huge effort" by Israel's security forces had saved "Israeli lives in recent weeks", and thanked the Turkish government for its contribution.

He did not give further details. An Israeli security official told Reuters Turkey had arrested several suspected "operatives" of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Turkish officials and the Iranian embassy in Ankara did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"We are calling on Israelis not to fly to Istanbul - and if you don't have a vital reason, don't fly to Turkey. If you are already in Istanbul, return to Israel as soon as possible," Lapid said in a televised statement.

"These terrorist threats are aimed at vacationing Israelis. They are selecting, in a random but deliberate manner, Israeli citizens with a view to kidnapping or murdering them," he said.

"I want, from here, to relay a message to the Iranians as well. Whoever harms Israelis will not get away with it. Israel's long arm will get them, no matter where they are."

Tehran has vowed to retaliate against Israel, which it blames for the May 22 killing of Hassan Sayad Khodai, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps colonel who was shot dead at the wheel of his car by two people on a motorcycle.

Israel neither confirmed nor denied responsibility, its standard policy over accusations of assassinations. It accused Khodai of having plotted attacks against its citizens worldwide.

Turkey is a popular tourist destination for Israelis. The two countries have been mending their ties after more than a decade of strained relations

The upgraded advisory does not apply to Israelis on flights with layovers in Istanbul "as long as they do not leave the airport", Israel's National Security Council said in a statement.

Additional reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Writing by Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Jon Boyle and Deepa Babington

Israel tells its citizens to avoid Istanbul, warns Iran not to harm them | Reuters
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
The IDF drills for a devastating war on home soil and away

MILITARY AFFAIRS: Chariots of Fire brought the Israeli military to a new standard, as troops practiced responding to emergency events.

By ANNA AHRONHEIM
Jerusalem Post
Published: JUNE 4, 2022 19:11
Updated: JUNE 4, 2022 21:08

It was a drill on a level that the IDF had never carried out before.

Thousands of troops, and hundreds of aircraft and navy vessels all trained together in going to war against Israel’s enemies, on all fronts and in all dimensions, including a strike in Iran
.

Chariots of Fire brought the Israeli military to a new standard, as troops practiced responding to emergency events in multiple theaters simultaneously while under heavy rocket fire from all borders – especially from the North.

The Israeli army expects the home front to be bombarded with 1,500 rockets a day until the last day of the war. The attacks would wreck the country, with dozens of buildings and sites destroyed and hundreds killed and wounded.


IDF assessments state that while it is unlikely that Hezbollah will attack Israel in the near future, the northern border remains the most explosive, and both sides have warned that the next conflict between the two would be devastating.

Thousands of Lebanese civilians and Hezbollah operatives would also be killed or wounded in the war, and cities in south Lebanon, as well as the capital of Beirut, would be heavily bombarded by the Israeli military. The already heavily bombed Gaza Strip would also be heavily hit.

Many of Hezbollah’s capabilities and much of its infrastructure are intertwined with the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon. And though Israel refrained from striking Lebanese infrastructure during the Second Lebanon War, Israeli officials have warned repeatedly that the next war will cause unbelievable destruction to the country, as anything used by the terrorist group is a legitimate target.

Hezbollah has an estimated arsenal of 130,000-150,000 missiles and rockets, while Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups in Gaza have an estimated 30,000 rockets, missiles and mortars.

With such a heavy arsenal aimed at the Israeli home front and strategic infrastructure, the military has to increase its ability to strike targets deep inside enemy territory in order to bring an end to the fighting as quickly as possible.

But the IDF hasn’t conducted a full and proper ground maneuver in enemy territory since troops entered Gaza in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge; and with many troops and officers never having experienced combat, the IDF has to train its forces for just that – aggressive maneuvering behind enemy lines.

A month-long drill

THE DURATION and intensity of Chariots of Fire gave the IDF a unique opportunity to simulate war on a scale that had not been practiced in recent years.

It saw the military strengthen cooperation between corps and introduce new technology and techniques into the battle for maximum operational effectiveness, which would allow ground forces to carry out their missions with power, lethality and speed that would crush the enemy.

During the first week of the drill, the IDF trained on increasing readiness on the northern front while strengthening the country’s defenses and dealing with challenges developing in the West Bank and Gaza.

The second week saw the military try to limit its campaign, similar to the rounds of violence along the Gaza border before it deteriorated into an all-out war. The IDF simulated transitioning from routine to emergency scenarios with challenges facing the home front during an outbreak of war, including evacuating civilians and hospitals from the front lines.

The third week saw the military wage a full-scale multi-front and multidimensional simulated war against Israel’s enemies – in the air, at sea, on land and in the cyber and spectrum spheres.

It included two large-scale division exercises of regular and reserve forces from the 162nd Division and troops from the 98th Division, in order to practice offensive maneuvers on the northern front as part of a broad campaign. Along with the offensive scenarios, troops also defended the home front from enemy attacks and dealt with heavy rioting by Israeli-Arabs in mixed cities and along main arteries.

The last week saw thousands of IDF troops and hundreds of IAF planes and navy vessels train in Cyprus, simulating a military campaign deep inside Lebanese territory against Hezbollah.

The drill, dubbed Beyond the Horizon, was designed to test the readiness and capabilities of the Israeli military to handle a prolonged and intense military campaign far from its borders. The military deployed thousands of troops, reservists, aircraft and naval vessels and logistical equipment to the island nation in a way that it had never done before.

The exercise saw combat helicopters assist ground forces, perform emergency evacuations with IAF transport helicopters, direct and escort forces using visual intelligence, and facilitate the movement of logistics equipment through the heavy transport squadrons.

The navy also had dozens of ships participate in the drill in Cyprus, transporting soldiers and logistical equipment from Israel. It also carried out fire support for ground forces and simulated medical evacuations by sea of wounded soldiers.

With the understanding that, during war, commanders might not have any communication to the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, part of the challenge of troops in Cyprus was the operational effectiveness of communication between forces, as well as with the troops behind enemy lines.

The IDF is in the midst of a digital transformation as part of Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi’s Momentum Plan. The ability of all corps to speak the same language on a shared platform, using the military’s internal internet, in terms of target acquirement and striking, was a major aspect of the drill in Cyprus.

The newly established Sufa teams, placed within every combat infantry brigade, joined the ground forces on the battlefield to provide fire support and coordination during the drill.

The five-person team includes a commander, an Artillery Corps officer responsible for ground fire, a Sufa officer who manages air fire, and three additional soldiers from the brigade. The Sufa officer acts as the man on the ground who provides air support in an accurate and effective manner, while the Artillery Corps officer provides accurate firepower from the ground forces.

Hundreds of IAF aircraft also simulated striking targets far from Israel’s borders, including in Iran.

Israel has significantly increased its readiness level and has taken steps throughout the past year to prepare a credible military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The IDF is seriously planning several military options against Iran should the nuclear talks between the West and the Islamic Republic fail, and one of them was drilled during the exercise.

The Israeli military believes that the alliance with countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, such as Cyprus and neighboring Greece, gives Israel a strategic balance and helps to maintain stability against the threat posed by Iran and its proxies in the Middle East, including in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Military cooperation between Israel and Cyprus has expanded in recent years and is viewed as a key component in maintaining the IDF’s operational readiness.

During a visit to the drill, Defense Minister Benny Gantz thanked Cyprus for hosting the IDF, saying that it “illustrates the depth of the strategic alliance between the two countries.” Kohavi also thanked the Cypriot forces while visiting on Tuesday.

CHARIOTS OF Fire was originally set to take place last May but was postponed due to the outbreak of Operation Guardian of the Walls. Instead of being disappointed that the drill had to be temporarily shelved, the military decided to implement all the lessons it learned from the operation, along with those learned from the war in Ukraine.

The goal was to improve the readiness of the entire military and examine the ability of troops to carry out a powerful and prolonged campaign against enemy forces. The drill also examined logistics and firepower issues that could face troops in a war.

The Israeli military has faced logistics problems during several wars, including during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when the military had difficulty getting supplies to troops on the ground. During the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense against terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, reservists and troops complained of food shortages.

The IDF has also learned from the chaos surrounding issues with logistics that allowed Ukraine’s military to destroy thousands of Russian tanks and platforms.

In the event of a multi-front, full-scale war that will see ground maneuvering in the North and the South, the IDF would need to flood highways across the country with convoys of armored vehicles, tanks and more.

The IDF’s Logistics Corps played a key role during the month, drilling several scenarios with troops from the various logistics units, police, medical personnel and engineering forces.

It also practiced avoiding issues such as heavy traffic and rocket strikes by constructing bypass roads for transporters and other platforms.

During the 11-day fighting last year, there was heavy rioting in those areas as well as in mixed Israeli-Arab cities such as Lod and Jaffa. Two people were killed and several civilians were injured.

As part of the drill, the military had forces practice dealing with scenarios where they had to protect military convoys from even heavier rioting: two times the level of violence seen last year. The IDF wants to be able to send troops before violence breaks out, and not in response to the violence.

It also aimed to improve the cooperation between itself and various government ministries and security organizations, as well as civilian bodies’ abilities to transition from routine to a full emergency scenario.

A “cabinet” – made up of former military officers in reserve, including Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror and Maj.-Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen – was also established to simulate the political echelon, which would be an active partner in the decision-making process. Gantz and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visited the drill several times over the course of the month.

ALONGSIDE THE massive exercise, the military continued with its operation – known as Break the Wave – to thwart terrorist attacks in the country. While some of the troops had originally been set to take part in Chariots of Fire, the military stressed that operational activity is a top priority.

Thousands of IDF troops have been deployed to the West Bank and Seam Line in order to thwart terrorist attacks against Israelis, and arrest raids took place in the West Bank on a nightly basis, with troops arresting dozens of Palestinian suspected to be involved in terrorism.


The IDF drills for a devastating war on home soil and away - Israel News - The Jerusalem Post (jpost.com)
 
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northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Based on the recent posts on this thread, I would say the Middle East is going openly hot very soon.

Amended as per jward
 
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jward

passin' thru
I would amend that to "OPENLY" hot, it's been a scorcher that's been ramping up in intensity for a while now.

..apparently that travel warning for Israelies was due to an actual, unsuccessful, abduction attempt.
 

jward

passin' thru
Iran prepares enrichment escalation at Fordow plant, IAEA report shows


Mon, June 20, 2022 at 2:48 PM·1 min read


VIENNA, June 20 (Reuters) - Iran is escalating its uranium enrichment further by preparing to use advanced IR-6 centrifuges at its underground Fordow site that can more easily switch between enrichment levels, a U.N. nuclear watchdog report seen by Reuters showed on Monday.
The cascade, or cluster, of 166 machines is the second IR-6 cascade installed at Fordow, a site buried inside a mountain, and it is the only cascade with so-called "modified sub-headers" that make it easier to enrich to different purities.
The confidential report to member states said Iran had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had begun passivation, a process that is carried out before enrichment, but Tehran had not clarified which level the cascade would enrich to, which the IAEA confirmed in a statement. (Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Sandra Maler)
 

jward

passin' thru
Israel Expands Operations Against Iranian Nuclear and Military Assets


3000.jpeg

Israel is intensifying its campaign to thwart Iran’s nuclear, missile and drone programs with a series of covert operations targeting a broader range of key targets, said people familiar with the effort.
The new moves are the latest evolution of a strategy that has been dubbed the Octopus Doctrine by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who aims to bring Israel’s battle against Iran onto Iranian territory after years of targeting Iranian agents and Tehran’s proxies outside the country in places such as Syria.

“In the past year, the state of Israel has taken action against the head of the terrorist octopus and not just against the arms as was done in previous decades,” Mr. Bennett told a parliamentary committee earlier this month. “The days of immunity, in which Iran attacks Israel and spreads terrorism via its regional proxies but remains unscathed, are over,” he said.
Israel has stepped up the campaign in the past year, with strikes using small drones to hit Iranian nuclear facilities and an attack on an Iranian drone base, according to the people briefed on the campaigns. Iran blamed Israel for last month’s killing in Tehran of a top Iranian military officer that the Israelis suspected of running overseas hit teams targeting Israelis.
The recent deaths of a small number of Iranians involved in the country’s nuclear and military research programs have also raised questions as to whether Israel was responsible for them.

After focusing its covert efforts on Iran’s nuclear program for years, Israel is expanding its campaign with the recognition that Iran has already made considerable progress in producing weapons-grade uranium, according to the people. The aim now is to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear warhead and missile that could carry it, they said.

Click here to read more.
Source: Washington Post

All beyond Pay wall
Posted for fair use
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
"DOT"......

Posted for fair use.....

Israel announces regional air defense network with Middle East partners, US
“This program is already operative and has already enabled the successful interception of Iranian attempts to attack Israel and other countries,” Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz said.

By ARIE EGOZIon June 20, 2022 at 12:20 PM

TEL AVIV: Israel has announced that it has joined with several other countries in the Middle East to form a new US-led joint air defense network, known as the Middle East Air Defense Alliance (MEAD).

The announcement, made by Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz in a Monday speech, means that Israel will tie its air defense capabilities in with regional players who for years have served the role of antagonists. However, Israel officially declined to comment on what nations may be involved, and details about the new setup are scant at best. A request for comment from the White House was not immediately returned.

According to Gantz, the MEAD will help the countries in the region to better protect themselves from Iran’s attempts to attack the region’s countries using rockets, cruise missiles and UAVs.

“This program is already operative and has already enabled the successful interception of Iranian attempts to attack Israel and other countries,” Gantz said.

An Israeli defense source told Breaking Defense that MEAD is based on the already-operational coalition against Iranian armed UAV’s. That coalition appears to have played a role in last year’s shootdown of Iranian UAVs by a pair of Israeli F-35s, which according to defense sources used real-time intelligence and data collected outside of Israel.

“Now it is clear that more than one country participated in the interception of the two Iranian UAV’s,” the defense source said.

Among nations to keep an eye on as potentially participating in the MEAD would be Jordan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Notably, both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have had preliminary discussions about purchasing Israeli-made air defense systems, as Breaking Defense has previously reported.

Gantz speech at the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee focused, unsurprisingly, on Iran, ahead of US President Joe Biden’s upcoming travels to the region.


“This alliance has already thwarted Iranian attempts to threaten Israel and other countries in the region. President Biden’s visit [to the region] will support this process. In face of Iran’s threat to carry out an attack [on Israeli citizens in Turkey], I have directed the defense establishment to prepare a powerful response. We have a variety of options at our disposal, and we will respond to any harm directed at the citizens of Israeli, at the time and place of our choosing.”

He added that in recent months, Israel has witnessed two significant achievements bringing the international community together to face the Iranian threat: “The first achievement is in keeping the IRGC on the ‘FTO’ list of terror organizations. The second is the IAEA’s condemnation of Iran regarding its noncompliance with investigations and inspections.”
 

jward

passin' thru
Iran claims it detained Mossad cell planning to kill nuclear scientists
By TOI staff

5-6 minutes



Iran claimed on Tuesday that it had arrested Mossad agents who were planning to assassinate nuclear scientists in the country.
The announcement did not detail the alleged agents’ nationalities or how many people had been detained. There were no further details given on the alleged plot.
“The arrest of these Mossad operatives came after a complicated intelligence operation that lasted for eight months of monitoring them,” said Mehdi Shamsabadi, the prosecutor general of Sistan-Baluchistan province, according to Iran’s Mehr News.

Shamsabadi said the investigation was ongoing and that the individuals would be charged in the near future.
“The case is currently in the preliminary investigation stage and an indictment will be issued and sent to the court soon,” he said, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

The report also said that three people had been arrested two months earlier on suspicion of leaking classified information related to Iran’s nuclear program. The report said the three — named as M.S., M.Z. and A-Gh — were linked to Israeli intelligence services.

AP21107409114651.jpg

Various centrifuge machines line a hall at the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, on April 17, 2021. (Screenshot, Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting-IRIB, via AP)

It said one of those arrested was a woman who held a government position in an Iranian province but had previously worked for an organization linked to the presidency. Another individual arrested had tried to access confidential information through “administrative and executive authorities.”
Iran often detains individuals it claims are linked to foreign intelligence services without providing public evidence.

Tensions between Israel and Iran have intensified in recent weeks, after the assassination of a top Iranian officer in Tehran last month that it blames on Israel and a number of other deaths of security and scientific personnel in Iran.
Earlier this month it was reported that Iran suspects Israel killed two Iranian scientists several weeks ago by poisoning their food, as tensions flare between Tehran and Jerusalem amid Iranian progress on its rogue nuclear program and a series of mysterious deaths in Iran.
In addition there have been airstrikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria, which Tehran has blamed on Israel, alongside threatening rhetoric from Iranian leaders and Iran’s increasing violations of nuclear agreements amid a crumbling agreement with world powers.


An Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, on February 3, 2007. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

These tensions led Israel to urge its citizens in Turkey to leave immediately in recent days, over concerns that Iranian agents were planning to kill or kidnap Israelis there.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Monday that Israeli and Turkish security officials have worked together to foil terrorist attacks on Israelis in Turkey.
“The operational efforts alongside Turkish security forces have borne fruit,” Bennett said. “In recent days, in a joint Israeli-Turkish effort, we thwarted a number of attacks and a number of terrorists were arrested on Turkish soil.”
The prime minister did not include details on the number of attacks, how many individuals were arrested, or the nationality of the terrorists.


You're a dedicated reader
 

jward

passin' thru
Iran Revolutionary Guards say intelligence chief Hossein Taeb replaced

AFP
June 23, 2022 10:26 am


Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Thursday replaced its intelligence chief Hossein Taeb, who had held the position for more than 12 years, the Guards said in a statement.
“The Guards’ chief Major General Hossein Salami appointed General Mohammad Kazemi as the new head of the IRGC Intelligence Organisation,” Guards spokesman Ramezan Sharif said in the statement.
Salami also appointed Taeb, who is a cleric, as his own adviser, according to the statement.

The replacement of the intelligence chief comes after the killing of a number of members of the Guards, which is designated as a terrorist group by Iran’s arch enemy the United States.
Iran and US ally Israel have been engaged in a years-long shadow war but tensions have ratcheted up following a string of high-profile incidents Tehran has blamed on the Jewish state.

On June 13, Ali Kamani, a member of the Guards’ aerospace division, was killed while on a mission in Khomein in the central province of Markazi, the Guards said in a statement without elaborating.

Earlier in June, Colonel Ali Esmailzadeh, a commander of the Guards’ external operations unit, the Quds Force, died “in an accident in his home”, according to state news agency IRNA.

And on May 22, Guards Colonel Sayyad Khodai, 50, was killed outside his home in the east of the Iranian capital by attackers on motorbikes who shot him five times.
State television in Iran said Khodai was a member of the Quds Force and that he was “known” in Syria, where Iran has acknowledged deploying “military advisers”.
The Guards described Khodai as a “defender of the sanctuary”, a term used for those who work on behalf of the Islamic republic in Syria or Iraq.

The Guards accused “Zionists” of being behind the assassination and vowed revenge.
Israel last week urged its citizens to leave Turkey immediately because of “possible” threats from Iranian operatives.
Media outlets in Turkey on Thursday reported the arrest of eight people allegedly working for an Iranian intelligence cell that planned to kill Israeli tourists in Istanbul.
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
"DOT"......

Posted for fair use.....

Israel announces regional air defense network with Middle East partners, US
“This program is already operative and has already enabled the successful interception of Iranian attempts to attack Israel and other countries,” Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz said.

By ARIE EGOZIon June 20, 2022 at 12:20 PM

TEL AVIV: Israel has announced that it has joined with several other countries in the Middle East to form a new US-led joint air defense network, known as the Middle East Air Defense Alliance (MEAD).

The announcement, made by Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz in a Monday speech, means that Israel will tie its air defense capabilities in with regional players who for years have served the role of antagonists. However, Israel officially declined to comment on what nations may be involved, and details about the new setup are scant at best. A request for comment from the White House was not immediately returned.

According to Gantz, the MEAD will help the countries in the region to better protect themselves from Iran’s attempts to attack the region’s countries using rockets, cruise missiles and UAVs.

“This program is already operative and has already enabled the successful interception of Iranian attempts to attack Israel and other countries,” Gantz said.

An Israeli defense source told Breaking Defense that MEAD is based on the already-operational coalition against Iranian armed UAV’s. That coalition appears to have played a role in last year’s shootdown of Iranian UAVs by a pair of Israeli F-35s, which according to defense sources used real-time intelligence and data collected outside of Israel.

“Now it is clear that more than one country participated in the interception of the two Iranian UAV’s,” the defense source said.

Among nations to keep an eye on as potentially participating in the MEAD would be Jordan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Notably, both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have had preliminary discussions about purchasing Israeli-made air defense systems, as Breaking Defense has previously reported.

Gantz speech at the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee focused, unsurprisingly, on Iran, ahead of US President Joe Biden’s upcoming travels to the region.


“This alliance has already thwarted Iranian attempts to threaten Israel and other countries in the region. President Biden’s visit [to the region] will support this process. In face of Iran’s threat to carry out an attack [on Israeli citizens in Turkey], I have directed the defense establishment to prepare a powerful response. We have a variety of options at our disposal, and we will respond to any harm directed at the citizens of Israeli, at the time and place of our choosing.”

He added that in recent months, Israel has witnessed two significant achievements bringing the international community together to face the Iranian threat: “The first achievement is in keeping the IRGC on the ‘FTO’ list of terror organizations. The second is the IAEA’s condemnation of Iran regarding its noncompliance with investigations and inspections.”


Posted for fair use.....

A Middle East NATO? A missile defense network with Israel? Major shifts brewing in region
After Israel announced cooperative defense with Arab nations, many questions remain unanswered.

By RIAD KAHWAJI
on June 24, 2022 at 9:50 AM

DUBAI: The growing perception of Iran’s aggression in the Middle East, along with Washington’s desire to reduce Russian and Chinese influence in the oil-rich Gulf Arab states, has prompted intense bouts of diplomacy in recent months that could lead to major tectonic shits in the political and military landscape.

Many reports have surfaced in past weeks regarding significant developments in play that will likely come together during President Joe Biden’s expected visit to the region next month, according to analysts who spoke with Breaking Defense.

The idea of a new defense alignment was underlined Friday when Jordan’s King Abdullah II said he would support the creation of a Middle East alliance similar to NATO, telling CNBC “I would be one of the first people that would endorse a Middle East NATO.” However, he noted, “The mission statement has to be very, very clear. Otherwise, it confuses everybody.”

More broadly, Abdullah said, there is a growing sense in the region that nations facing similar threats need to work together.

“I’m hoping what you’re seeing in 2022 is this new vibe, I guess, in the region to say, ‘how can we connect with each other and work with each other,'” he said.

Abdullah’s comments are the strongest from a regional leader on this issue, but perhaps not as eye-raising as what occurred Monday, when Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced on Monday that Israel has joined what he called the Middle East Air Defense Alliance (MEAD), a US-led regional air defense network that includes some Arab countries. Although Gants did not name the Arab countries, many observers assume that MEAD would likely include the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, and/or Jordan.

RELATED: Israel to request more funding for laser missile defense R&D during Biden trip

But it’s unclear at what stage the arrangement is currently in and, analysts said, MEAD and any further defense cooperation is contingent on the US settling outstanding tensions with different players in the region.

When rumors of the defense arrangement circulated earlier this month, a White House spokesperson told Breaking Defense only that the US “strongly support Israel’s integration into the broader Middle East region, and this will be a topic of discussion when the President visits Israel.”

Iran has invested heavily in developing its arsenal of ballistic and cruise missiles as well as attack drones, which has made it imperative for all of Iran’s regional opponents to bolster their air defense systems and improve early warning capabilities by linking up with their neighbors and the US, which has substantial military presence in the Middle East.

RELATED: Iran fears push Israel, Arab nations to once-‘unthinkable’ security partnerships

Although UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, and Jordan have signed peace treaties with Israel and established diplomatic relations, they have not formed any formal military alliances or engaged in defense cooperation programs.

“I would not say there is a military alliance being formed between Israel and some Arab states, because an alliance involves drafting written agreements that would be binding to all the signatories,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, a UAE political science professor. “What we have is more of an axis taking shape based on understandings between Israel and other Arab states.”

Abdullah added that the UAE and Saudi Arabia were working on establishing an axis of “moderate” Arab states that will be more open towards cooperation with Israel in efforts to enhance regional security – including air defense.

“Iran’s hostile actions along with its ongoing nuclear program are raising fears everywhere in the region and has transferred Iran into a common enemy or adversary to many Arab and non-Arab countries in the Middle East,” said Abdullah.

Saudi Arabia, a major Arab powerhouse, has not signed a peace treaty with Israel and does not have diplomatic relations with it. However, some Saudi defense analysts do not doubt the possibility of Riyadh being part of MEAD, provided that the United States settles all its outstanding disputes with the Kingdom and reassumes its role of the security guarantor of the region.

“The region is on the verge of major changes that I expect to materialize in the very near future and it will include a form of security cooperation between Israel and Arab states,” said Abdallah Ghanem Al Kahtani, a retired Major General from the Royal Saudi Air Force. “This is only logical if we take into consideration the threats posed by Iran and its allies to most countries of the region.”

However, Saudi Arabia will not give anything for free.

“I believe Saudi Arabia will have its conditions and terms in its dealings with the United States and others,” noted Al Kahtani. “I believe the preparations being made by US officials for the coming trip of President Biden to Riyadh are aimed at rectifying the relations between the two states.”

Abdullah pointed out that many US government institutions and private corporations have put pressure on Biden to reconsider his policies towards Saudi Arabia “especially his personal relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman” who is often referred to as MBS.

RELATED: UAE, reeling from Houti attacks, seeking Israeli advanced radar, sources say

Biden had vehemently criticized MBS in the past, especially over his alleged role in the killing of a prominent Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey in 2018. The CIA investigation into the incident concluded that MBS likely had ordered the assassination. MBS, who denied ordering Khashoggi’s death, is regarded by many as the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia due to the poor health of the Monarch King Salman bin Abdulaziz

“The United States, if it truly considers the Gulf Arab States as its strategic allies and partners, it must provide tangible security protection against threats posed by Iran and its allied terrorist groups,” said Al Kahtani. “There should be clear, legally-binding defense agreements between the Gulf Arab States and the US that cannot be retracted or ignored by future American presidents.”

Saudi Arabia has been pressing for more US support in confronting the Iranian-allied Houthi militias in Yemen that have fired more than 200 ballistic missiles and dozens of unmanned kamikaze drones against the Kingdom in the past seven years. Saudi oil fields even came under attack in 2019 by drones and cruise missiles largely believed to have come from Iran’s direction.

Several US Democratic lawmakers have criticized the Saudi war in Yemen, in which critics have alleged war crimes, and have subsequently blocked several contracts to supply it with precision weapons.
The Biden administration has also imposed conditions on the completion of an agreement to sell the UAE F-35 warplanes and MQ-9B attack drones. The UAE decided to pull out of the deal in protest.

But the Russian offensive against Ukraine and Moscow’s efforts to convince Gulf Arab states to keep oil prices high and not to join Western sanctions against it have created a new political reality that is pressing the Biden administration to reconsider its policies towards the region.

Moreover, the stalling of the talks with Iran to revive the nuclear deal and Tehran’s acceleration of the uranium enrichment in large quantities have placed Washington under pressure to come up with an effective alternative policy that would reduce the anxieties of its Middle East allies and assure them of US military support.

“There are many vital interests for the US in the Middle East, such as the security of Israel, and the uninterrupted flow of oil to international markets with reasonable rates to ensure global economic stability,” said Albadr Al Shateri, a professor at the UAE National Defense University.

“These vital interests will prevent the US from abandoning its role as the hegemon military power in the Middle East,” Al Shateri said.
 

jward

passin' thru
Opinion: The dangerous desperation of Iran's revenge
Jason M. Brodsky​
June 25, 2022 at 07:00 AMlatest revision June 25, 2022 at 07:03 AM


Shifting of IRGC targeting from diplomats and business people to tourists shows urgency in Tehran's actions

Iran’s threats to Israeli nationals in Turkey have been generating headlines, with unusually concrete, imminent, and specific warnings being telegraphed from Jerusalem.
Tehran has grown increasingly desperate to rebalance the deterrence equation in the aftermath of the killing of multiple operatives in Iran proper.
Two important aspects of this latest battle of the shadow war between Israel and Iran include familiar models of brazenness in Iranian targeting and increasing paranoia inside the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Emboldened Targeting
For over a year, periodic news reports have showcased Iran’s attempted terrorist plotting against Israeli interests. It started in India's New Delhi in January 2021, with a bombing near the Israeli embassy where a letter was found nearby addressed to Israel’s ambassador dubbing the incident a “trailer” after the deaths of the late IRGC's Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani and the father of Iran’s past nuclear weapons program Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
Then in February came news that Iranian intelligence agents were casing the embassies of the United States, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates in Ethiopia. Later that fall, in October, Israel accused Iran of hunting Israeli businesspeople living in Cyprus. In November, news dropped that five people linked to Iran, who had been in Ghana, Senegal, and Tanzania, were arrested. Among their targets were Israeli tourists taking safaris.

That same month, news broke in El Tiempo that Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah was targeting an Israeli businessman in Colombia, who was a former intelligence officer. Reports also surfaced that Israel's Mossad spy agency foiled a plot by the Quds Force to assassinate an Israeli diplomat in Istanbul.
"Iranian squads have become less selective in their targeting in now pursuing Israeli civilians"
While security officials thwarted these schemes, aside from the episodes in Africa, most were focused on Israeli diplomats and businessmen. Fast forward to the current threat landscape, rather than focusing on diplomats and businessmen, who are more guarded by virtue of their work, Iranian squads have become less selective in their targeting - now pursuing Israeli civilians visiting Istanbul, who are more vulnerable.

Israel’s Channel 13 News reported that a woman received a call from a senior Israeli official at a market in Istanbul warning her not to return to her hotel room because assassins were waiting there to kill her and her spouse. While Iran and its satellites have murdered Israeli tourists before - for example, in the July 2012 Burgas bus bombing in Bulgaria - the current faceoff demonstrates an escalation in risk-readiness on the part of the Iranian leadership, signaling a degree of dangerous desperation to restore deterrence.

This has been a recurring pattern in Iranian-directed operations. Throughout 2012, in the aftermath of the killing of Hezbollah’s Imad Mughniyeh and Iranian nuclear scientists, Tehran and Hezbollah attempted a series of terror attacks against Israeli targets in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kenya, India, and Thailand, culminating in Bulgaria.
The operations initially and almost exclusively focused on Israeli diplomats - its ambassador to Azerbaijan, an embassy vehicle in Georgia, the wife of a military attaché in New Delhi, and an embassy in Kenya. But none of these incidents resulted in Israeli deaths. This lack of success likely frustrated the Iranians, but it resulted in the Burgas bus bombing which killed Israeli tourists.

Fast forward to 2022, with unsuccessful targeting gradually morphing from diplomats and businessmen to tourists in Istanbul, the cycle is repeating itself. The summertime travel season thus presents a prime opportunity for the Iranian leadership to strike - as it did through Hezbollah in July 2012 in Burgas. And Turkey is not the only place where Israeli travelers are vulnerable - for example, Iranian dissidents have been kidnapped from locales like Dubai.

The Departure of Hossein Taeb

Israeli media reports have focused on the role of Hossein Taeb, the now-former head of the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization, and how he was under “intense pressure” to carry out a successful hit as the Iranian leadership was considering removing him from his post.

The fact that Taeb, a cleric who held his position since 2009, was replaced on Thursday with Mohammad Kazemi, a non-cleric who formerly headed the IRGC’s Intelligence Protection Organization, is a sign of the counterintelligence paranoia inside the ranks of the guardsmen. The Intelligence Protection Organization is a separate entity from the Intelligence Organization, focusing on security inside the IRGC.

This is especially true in that the Iranian system had other options, with speculation of figures like Taeb’s deputy Hassan Mohaghegh or former Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi being elevated as Taeb’s replacement. Kazemi was thus likely seen as a change given that he comes from outside the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization - in contrast to Mohaghegh - but not one as radical as promoting a figure like Moslehi who came from its competitor in the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).

Nevertheless, Kazemi was also in his previous post amid multiple assassinations and sabotage incidents, which raises questions about just how effective he will be in comparison to Taeb, not to mention the future of the longstanding rivalry between the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization and MOIS, which is still headed by a cleric.

HAMED MALEKPOUR / TASNIM NEWS / AFPHossein Taeb, Iranian Shia cleric and former head of the intelligence apparatus of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Tehran, Iran, on June 24, 2018.
Taeb’s departure has the potential to alter the power dynamic in Iran’s broader intelligence community given his influence on the supreme leader’s influential son Mojtaba Khamenei. As former Intelligence Minister Ali Younesi warned last year, “parallel organizations are busy fighting insiders rather than monitoring and confronting infiltrators.”

At least initially, Taeb’s departure can also be seen as a demotion as he will merely be an advisor to the Commander-in-Chief of the IRGC Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami.

This is a comedown as Taeb, who is described by critics as “unhinged” and “imbalanced,” has been protected and promoted through the years despite controversies given his association with Iran’s supreme leader and his closeness to Mojtaba. He was sacked as head of counterintelligence in MOIS during the Presidency of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani because he was so controversial, but Khamenei nevertheless found a landing spot for him as a deputy coordinator in his office.

Later, despite performance issues, the Basij exhibited under his command during the 2009 electoral unrest and Khamenei being warned by a then intelligence minister of his extremist qualities, Taeb was still installed as the inaugural head of the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization months later. As this has been a theme of Taeb’s career, it cannot be discounted that he will eventually occupy another powerful role.

But, in the short term, this is a sign of dissatisfaction with the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization’s performance.

 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
Posted for fair use.....

U.S. Held Secret Meeting With Israeli, Arab Military Chiefs to Counter Iran Air Threat
Meeting in Sharm El Sheikh included military officials from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, the U.A.E. and Bahrain
By Michael R. Gordon
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and David S. Cloud
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June 26, 2022 5:30 am ET

The U.S. convened a secret meeting of top military officials from Israel and Arab countries in March to explore how they could coordinate against Iran’s growing missile and drone capabilities, according to officials from the U.S. and the region.

The previously undisclosed talks, which were held at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, marked the first time that such a range of ranking Israeli and Arab officers have met under U.S. military auspices to discuss how to defend against a common threat. (Rest behind paywall. HC)
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment

Posted for fair use.....

Associated Press
Iran launches rocket into space as nuclear talks to resume
In this frame grab from video footage released Sunday, June 26, 2022 by Iran state TV, IRINN, shows an Iranian satellite-carrier rocket, called “Zuljanah,” blasting off from an undisclosed location in Iran. State TV on Sunday aired the launch of the solid-fueled rocket, which drew a rebuke from Washington ahead of the expected resumption of stalled talks over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers. (IRINN via AP)

In this frame grab from video footage released Sunday, June 26, 2022 by Iran state TV, IRINN, shows an Iranian satellite-carrier rocket, called “Zuljanah,” blasting off from an undisclosed location in Iran. State TV on Sunday aired the launch of the solid-fueled rocket, which drew a rebuke from Washington ahead of the expected resumption of stalled talks over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers. (IRINN via AP)




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Iran
In this frame grab from video footage released Sunday, June 26, 2022 by Iran state TV, IRINN, shows an Iranian satellite-carrier rocket, called “Zuljanah,” blasting off from an undisclosed location in Iran. State TV on Sunday aired the launch of the solid-fueled rocket, which drew a rebuke from Washington ahead of the expected resumption of stalled talks over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers. (IRINN via AP)
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  • Josep Borrell
NASSER KARIMI and ISABEL DEBRE
Sun, June 26, 2022, 5:51 AM·3 min read


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  • Josep Borrell
    Spanish politician, EU foreign affairs representative, former MEP


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian state television said Sunday that Tehran had launched a solid-fueled rocket into space, drawing a rebuke from Washington ahead of the expected resumption of stalled talks over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

It's unclear when or where the rocket was launched, but the announcement came after satellite photos showed preparations at Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s rural Semnan province, the site of Iran's frequent failed attempts to put a satellite into orbit.

State-run media aired dramatic footage of the blastoff against the backdrop of heightened tensions over Tehran's nuclear program, which is racing ahead under decreasing international oversight.

Iran had previously acknowledged that it planned more tests for the satellite-carrying rocket, which it first launched in February of last year.

Ahmad Hosseini, spokesman for Iran's Defense Ministry, said Zuljanah, a 25.5 meter-long rocket, was capable of carrying a satellite of 220 kilograms (485 pounds) that would ultimately gather data in low-earth orbit and promote Iran's space industry. Zuljanah is named for the horse of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

The White House said it was aware of Iran’s announcement and criticized the move as “unhelpful and destabilizing.”

The launch comes just a day after the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, traveled to Tehran in a push to resuscitate negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program that have stalemated for months. A few significant sticking points remain, including Tehran's demand that Washington lift terrorism sanctions on its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

Borrell said on Saturday that talks over the nuclear deal would resume in an unnamed Persian Gulf country in the coming days, with Iranian media reporting that Qatar would likely host the negotiations.

Former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed crushing sanctions on Iran. Tehran responded by greatly ramping up its nuclear work and now enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels.

In a further escalation that limits the international community's view into its nuclear program, Iran removed over two dozen International Atomic Energy Agency cameras from its nuclear sites this month. The agency's director called the move a “fatal blow” to the tattered nuclear deal.

Tehran's rocket launches have raised alarm in Washington amid the unraveling of the nuclear deal. The U.S. warns the launches defy a United Nations Security Council resolution calling on Iran to steer clear of any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

The White House on Sunday said it was committed to using sanctions and other measures to prevent further advances in Iran’s ballistic missile program.

The U.S. intelligence community’s 2022 threat assessment, published in March, claims such a satellite launch vehicle “shortens the timeline” to an intercontinental ballistic missile for Iran as it uses “similar technologies.”

Iran, which long has said it does not seek nuclear weapons, maintains its satellite launches and rocket tests do not have a military component.

Even as Iran's government has sharpened its focus on space, sending several short-lived satellites into orbit and in 2013 launching a monkey into space, the program has seen recent troubles. There have been five failed launches in a row for the Simorgh program, a type of satellite-carrying rocket. A fire at the Imam Khomeini Spaceport in February 2019 also killed three researchers.

The launch pad used in the preparations for the launch of the Zuljanah rocket remains scarred from an explosion in August 2019 that even drew the attention of then-President Trump. He later tweeted what appeared to be a classified surveillance image of the launch failure. Satellite images from February suggested a failed Zuljanah launch earlier this year, though Iran did not acknowledge it.

Meanwhile, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in April 2020 revealed its own secret space program by successfully launching a satellite into orbit. The Guard operates its own military infrastructure parallel to Iran’s regular armed forces.
___

DeBre reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writer Tom Strong in Washington contributed to this report.

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Israel and Saudi Arabia ‘in talks over joint defence against Iran’
US-brokered summit discusses shared threat of Tehran’s growing missile and drone capabilities
Gen Frank McKenzie

The US was represented at the summit by Gen Frank McKenzie, former head of US Central Command, whose responsibilities were expanded under Donald Trump to include Israel. Photograph: Ahmad Seir/AP

Bethan McKernan in Jerusalem
Mon 27 Jun 2022 06.55 EDTLast modified on Mon 27 Jun 2022 15.26 EDT


Top military officials from Israel and Saudi Arabia have met in secret US-brokered talks to discuss defence coordination against Iran, according to a report.
Delegations from Riyadh, as well as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt, met the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) chief of staff in the Egyptian town of Sharm el-Sheikh in March, the Wall Street Journal revealed on Sunday, citing US and regional officials.

The US was represented by Gen Frank McKenzie, the former head of US Central Command, whose area of responsibility was expanded under Donald Trump to include Israel.
The unprecedented summit marks the first time Israeli officials have met with such a wide range of counterparts from the Arab world, with the aim of countering the shared threat of Tehran’s growing missile and drone capabilities.
Israel has no formal diplomatic relations with either Qatar or Saudi Arabia, the region’s geopolitical heavyweight, which is vying for influence with Iran.

During the Trump administration, the majority Jewish state signed the Abraham accords establishing formal relations with the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, ushering in an era of closer ties between Israel and its Arab neighbours.
The accords ended a decades-old taboo in Arab diplomacy as power and priorities in the Middle East shift: the region’s mostly autocratic governments have grown apathetic to the occupation of the Palestinian territories, and Israel and the Gulf states have a common enemy in Iran.
The Sharm el-Sheikh summit appears to represent a major step towards formalising Israeli-Saudi ties.

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President Joe Biden is planning to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia in mid-July, when he is expected to announce further steps in the warming relationship between two of the Middle East’s most powerful nations. A proposed agreement is believed to include allowing Israeli commercial flights over the kingdom, and Israeli approval of a plan to transfer Egypt’s control of two strategic Red Sea islands back to Riyadh.
Arab countries also appear to be increasingly keen to access sophisticated Israeli air defence technology after a spate of drone strikes in recent years on oil facilities and infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the UAE thought to have been carried out by Iran.
The most serious attack, claimed by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, hit an Aramco compound in Saudi Arabia in September 2019, shutting down about 5% of global oil production and causing chaos in financial markets.
The Sharm el-Sheikh summit’s participants reportedly agreed in principle to coordinate rapid notification systems when aerial threats are detected, and discussed potential decision-making processes on which country’s forces would intercept drone, ballistic or cruise missile attacks. Alerts for now would be sent via phones and computers, rather than a US-style military data-sharing system.

The meeting came after a lower-level working group of countries in the region discussed hypothetical threat scenarios and ways in which nations could work together to detect and counter aerial attacks.
The understandings were not binding, the Journal reported, and support from political leaders would be needed to codify the discussed notification arrangements and any broader military cooperation.
In a statement, Central Command did not acknowledge the meeting but said it “maintains a firm commitment to increasing regional cooperation and developing integrated air and missile defence architecture to protect our force and our regional partners”.

Spokespeople for Israel and the Arab countries present did not comment on the summit. Speaking to Israeli Knesset members in a briefing last week, Israel’s defence minister, Benny Gantz, described what he called the “Middle East Air Defence Alliance” as already operational.


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Insider Paper
@TheInsiderPaper


NEW: Iran has applied to join BRICS, according to the spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry

2:43 PM · Jun 27, 2022·Twitter Web App

Iran applies to join BRICS group of emerging countries
Reuters


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An Iranian Army paratrooper flies with the Iranian flag during a military exercise dubbed 'Zulfiqar 1400', in the coastal area of the Gulf of Oman, Iran, in this picture obtained on November 7, 2021. Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY

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DUBAI, June 27 (Reuters) - Iran has submitted an application to become a member in the group of emerging economies known as the BRICS, an Iranian official said on Monday.

Iran's membership in the BRICS group, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, "would result in added values for both sides," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said separately that Argentina had also applied to join the group. Argentinian officials could not be reached for immediate comment.


Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez, currently in Europe, has in recent days reiterated his desire for Argentina to join BRICS.

"While the White House was thinking about what else to turn off in the world, ban or spoil, Argentina and Iran applied to join the BRICS," Zakharova wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Russia has long been pushing to forge closer ties with Asia, South America and the Middle East, but it has intensified its efforts recently to weather sanctions imposed by Europe, the United States and other countries over its invasion on Ukraine.


On Monday, the United States and other Western nations pledged unwavering support for Ukraine after 28 civilians were killed in several Russian attacks, including a missile strike on a crowded shopping centre. read more

Russia denies targeting civilians in what it calls is a "special military operation" to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Kyiv and its allies in the West say the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.
 
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Saudi-Hezbollah meeting secured Yemen ceasefire and Hadi resignation
Exclusive: Saudi delegation met Hezbollah deputy Naim Qassem in Beirut in March when direct talks with the Houthis fell through

Lebanon's Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem (Reuters)


Lebanon's Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem (Reuters)

By
David Hearst

Published date: 27 June 2022 13:52 UTC | Last update: 14 hours 31 mins ago


A secret meeting between a Saudi delegation and Hezbollah in Lebanon paved the way for the ceasefire in Yemen, multiple sources have told Middle East Eye.
The meeting is extraordinary because both sides regard each other as bitter foes and Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s general secretary, has repeatedly denied acting on behalf of the Houthis in Yemen, although it is hardly a secret that the movement is trained by and models itself on the Lebanese organisation.

At the meeting in late March, Naim Qassem, Nasrallah’s deputy, presented the Saudis with a list of demands as a condition for an immediate ceasefire in Yemen.
They included the removal of Yemen's President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, the lifting of the blockade of key port city Hodeidah and Sanaa airport, and an exchange of prisoners, not all of whom were Yemeni but some who were Shias imprisoned in Bahrain and other Gulf states.
Three weeks later, most of this came to pass, although not all the prisoners on Qassem’s list were freed.
Supporters of Yemen's Houthis at a rally in Sanaa on 3 June 3, a day after the country's warring parties agreed to renew the ceasefire (AFP)

Supporters of Yemen's Houthis at a rally in Sanaa on 3 June, a day after the country's warring parties agreed to renew the ceasefire (AFP)



At the time, Hadi’s 18 April resignation and the transfer of his powers to a presidential council came out of the blue after eight years of Saudi backing for the Yemeni president.
The Wall Street Journal then reported that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had forced him out of office and put him under effective house arrest.

But until today, the reason why the de facto Saudi ruler did that was unknown, other than a wish to extricate himself from a costly and ineffective seven-year military intervention that he had launched against the Houthis in one of his first acts as defence minister.
'The Saudis asked Qassem what would be the response of the Houthis if these demands were met. Qassem replied: ‘...there will be an immediate ceasefire’
- source briefed on meeting of Saudis and Hezbollah
According to the UN, Yemen's conflict will have killed 377,000 people by the end of 2022. An estimated four million people have been displaced, and 80 percent of the country's population of 29 million are dependent on aid.
In June the ceasefire agreement was extended. However it nearly ran into the sand after the Houthis continued military operations around the central Yemen city of Marib and its surrounding province, a Gulf source said.
In response, MEE was told, Saudi Arabia threatened to boycott the next round of talks between Saudi and Iranian delegations, which have been held in Baghdad to address regional issues on and off for months.

At that point, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who has acted as a mediator in Saudi-Iranian talks, travelled to both countries, and raised the issue with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Sunday.
A statement issued by the Iraqi prime minister’s office on Sunday night said: “During the meeting, they emphasised supporting the armistice in Yemen and strengthening efforts to establish peace there, as well as stressing that a peaceful solution to the crisis should reflect the will of the Yemenis.”
Multiple sources in the Gulf and beyond confirmed the meeting in Lebanon. When approached by MEE, Hezbollah did not reply. But a source with access to the highest levels of the organisation confirmed that “the Saudis did approach Hezbollah”.
The Saudi embassy in London did not respond to a request for comment.

Houthi talks off the table
The extraordinary diplomatic move started at one of the Saudi and Iranian face-to-face meetings in Baghdad.
A Gulf source told MEE: “The Saudis asked the Iranians to open the Yemeni file. The Iranians insisted that Yemen was an independent state and that they did not intervene in Yemeni affairs. The Iranian side said the only thing they could do was on smoothing relations.”
According to the source, the Saudis said any smoothing of relations could only happen with a direct meeting between them and the Houthis.
Here accounts differ. Gulf sources say the Iranians pushed for the two sides to meet and the Houthis rejected such a meeting. Sources close to Hezbollah say the opposite. "The Saudis did not want [to meet] them because they don’t want to recognise Ansar Allah,” one source close to Hezbollah said, using the Houthi movement’s official name.

Yemen: Renewed truce is 'tangible shift' in conflict, says UN envoy
Read More »
The Iranian side then offered Nasrallah as its spokesman. “The Saudis were reluctant. They stormed off, but then they came round to the idea and sent a delegation to Lebanon,” said a Gulf source.

On arrival in Beirut, the Saudi delegation was told it would be met by Qassem, not Nasrallah himself. They rejected this and immediately returned to their hotel. The next day they were contacted by Hezbollah and persuaded to meet Qassem.
The meeting lasted 25 minutes, short considering the complexity of what was being discussed.
The Saudi delegation began with standard diplomatic Middle Eastern lines: “We are all Arabs, all brothers, we must come together.” This was brushed aside by Qassem who pulled out a piece of paper and presented it to the Saudis.
It had on it a list of around a dozen demands, which began with the removal of Hadi and the installation of a broad-based presidential council, and continued with a prisoner exchange and the lifting of the siege on Hodeidah and Sanaa airport.
“The Saudis asked Qassem what would be the response of the Houthis if these demands were met. Qassem replied: ‘Once you realise we are absolutely serious, there will be an immediate ceasefire’,” a source briefed on the meeting told MEE.
Three weeks later, the Saudis began to enact these measures and the Houthis announced a ceasefire.
Though ships began docking in Hodeidah and planes once again flew through Sanaa airport, the Houthis continued to block supply routes to pro-government forces in Marib and the southern city of Taiz.

The Saudis threatened once again to pull out of their meeting with the Iranians in Baghdad if the Houthis “did not respond positively”, leading to Kadhimi’s trip to Tehran.
This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.
 

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haaretz.com

Egypt warns Iran against attacks on Israeli tourists, report says
Jack Khoury, Haaretz

4 minutes


Egypt has warned Iran against targeting Israelis on Egyptian soil, U.K.-based publication al-Araby al-Jadeed reported on Wednesday, citing Egyptian sources.
According to the report, Egyptian intelligence officials have recently met with their Iranian counterparts to discuss security ties and other regional issues, including rising tensions between Israel and Iran and the recent killings of senior Revolutionary Guards commanders.

As part of the talks, the Egyptians reportedly warned that "any Iranian attempt" to carry out attacks against Israeli individuals or targets in Egypt will harm ties between Cairo and Tehran.
Egyptian sources told Haaretz that Cairo and Tehran maintain security ties and a policy of non-interference. Tehran has made sure not to enter a confrontation with Egypt, the sources said, and therefore "Cairo didn't need to warn the Iranians... and the Iranians understand it's not in their interest to harm Israeli targets on Egyptian soil."
The Egyptian officials stressed to their Iranian counterparts, according to the report, that Egypt has refrained from joining any regional alliance against Iran, which it sees as "futile." Any Iranian attack in Egypt might trigger a policy change in Cairo, the sources said, adding that Egypt received information from Israeli intelligence and warning that Iran may be looking for new arenas to operate in against Israelis, after a joint Turkish-Israeli move to foil Iranian activity in Turkey.
The Israeli intelligence, according to the report, named Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as potential "alternatives" Iran had been looking into.
In talks with the Egyptian officials, the Iranians denied any plans to carry out attacks on Egyptian soil, claiming that the Israeli allegations of Iranian attempts to target Israeli tourists in any third country is "a lie." The Iranian officials, according to the Egyptian sources, said that Tehran was "keen to prevent any harm to the peace with Egypt."
For the past weeks, Israel has issued the highest travel warning for Turkey, calling on Israelis to avoid the country if possible. It specified that Istanbul poses a particularly high risk, due to Iranian cells who planned to carry out terror attacks and kidnappings against Israelis there.
However, on Tuesday, Israel's National Security Council announced it has reduced the threat level for travel to Turkey, attributing it to intelligence and operational cooperation with Ankara and a wave of arrests of members of Iranian cells that were plotting against Israelis in the country.
The head of the National Security Council's intelligence unit, Yossi Adler, told journalists on Tuesday that they have downgraded Istanbul's threat level from 4, the highest, to 3, bringing it in line with the travel warning level for the rest of the country.


Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel took part in a secret, U.S.-initiated meeting of top military officials from throughout the Middle East in Egypt in March in order to discuss combatting the shared threat of Iran’s missile and drone capabilities.
 
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