WAR Main Persian Gulf Trouble thread

jward

passin' thru
Babak Taghvaee - Μπάπακ Τακβαίε - بابک تقوایی
@BabakTaghvaee

#BREAKING: It is possible that #IRGC backed #Houthi rebels carry-out an attack against #UAE tonight or tomorrow in response to the trip of #Israel's Prime Minister #Netanyahu to the country for negotiations with Saudi & Emirati officials regarding the plans for airstrike at #Iran https://pic.twitter.com/3qsZcjTI1D
 

danielboon

Has No Life - Lives on TB




ثائر سوري

@VivaRevolt

There has been movement of large Rockets and Missiles at Al-Mayadin in Deir Ez Zor,with the Rockets and Missiles being pointed towards United States Military Positions in SDF-Held Deir Ez Zor,with a State of Maximum Alertness at Al-Mayadin and Al-Bukamal
10:23 AM · Mar 11, 2021
https://twitter.com/intent/like?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1370032678678974473%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.godlikeproductions.com%2Fforum1%2Fmessage4738650%2Fpg1&tweet_id=1370032678678974473
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
US Intelligence Reveals Israel Has Bombed "Dozens" Of Iranian Oil Tankers

BY TYLER DURDEN
ZERO HEDGE
THURSDAY, MAR 11, 2021 - 20:30

All signs are currently pointing to serious escalation in the Middle East between Israel, Iran, and involving the United States - particularly after Israel's recent claim of an Iranian sponsored attack on an Israeli-owned cargo ship in the Gulf of Oman two weeks ago.

Signaling the likelihood that another red hot 'tanker war' is set for regional waters within the upcoming months, a new bombshell report in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday reveals Israeli intelligence has been waging its own tanker sabotage campaign against the Iranians over the past two years, in order to thwart what Tel Aviv believes are illegal oil shipments that result in funds for terror groups.

"Israel has targeted at least a dozen vessels bound for Syria and mostly carrying Iranian oil out of concern that petroleum profits are funding extremism in the Middle East, US and regional officials say, in a new front in the conflict between Israel and Iran," the WSJ writes.



Previously published photos of Iranian-owned Sabiti oil tanker sailing in the Red Sea, October 13, 2019.


It also appears part of the Israeli and US campaign to essentially starve the Assad government and bring it to its knees, further amidst near weekly Israeli airstrikes inside the war-torn country. The new report clearly suggests US intelligence officials knew about the covert tanker sabotage campaign in real time, and may have even assisted in some level of the planning or operations. Remember too that during the final months of the Trump administration Pompeo was essentially told he could go "gloves off" when it comes to greenlighting Israeli sabotage against Iran.

Officials say the covert espionage campaign has been underway going back to late 2019, which featured water mines being secretly attached to ships in order to stop 'sanctions-busting activity' in places like the Red Sea - which is a transit route the Islamic Republic uses to resupply its ally Syria of badly needed oil and fuel.

Interestingly, Iran has actually loudly claimed to be victim of precisely such Israeli mine and bomb attacks on the high seas in the recent past, which starting in 2019 were even reported in Israeli media.
See for example the below...

"In an episode last month, suspected Israeli operatives attached a limpet mine to attack an Iranian vessel as it anchored near Lebanon to deliver Iran oil to Syria, according to the first shipping professional," WSJ continues.

"The attacks on the tankers carrying Iranian oil haven’t been previously disclosed. Iranian officials have reported some of the attacks earlier and have said they suspect Israeli involvement." But typically when it's the Iranians, Russians or Syrians making the allegations it gets ignored or batted down in Western press.

The rationale provided for such attacks in the report also includes that Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) typically operate or provide security for the tankers bound for Syria. All of this helps explain what appears to be Iranian retaliation over the past year - again, particularly the latest bombing incident against the Israeli-owned cargo ship Helios Ray in the Gulf of Oman.

The Israeli initiative also appears aimed at ensuring the disruption of Biden's stated plans to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal.

Chief executive for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Mark Dubowitz, summarized Tel Aviv's approach as follows: "Israel stepped up the game beyond sanctions to sabotage," he was quoted in WSJ as saying. "The Red Sea sabotage is keeping with a broader economic warfare campaign."

US Intelligence Reveals Israel Has Bombed "Dozens" Of Iranian Oil Tankers | ZeroHedge
 

jward

passin' thru

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Iran reports attack on its cargo vessel in Mediterranean Sea
Iran's state TV says an Iranian cargo vessel was targeted this week in a “terrorist attack” in the Mediterranean Sea

By NASSER KARIMI Associated Press
12 March 2021, 08:49

TEHRAN, Iran -- An Iranian cargo vessel was targeted this week in a “terrorist attack” in the Mediterranean Sea, the country's state TV reported on Friday. There were no casualties in the explosion, the report said.

The report quoted Ali Ghiasian, spokesman for the state shipping line, as saying that Wednesday's attack damaged Shahr-e Kord, a commercial vessel traveling to Europe. Ghiasian said an “explosives device" damaged the hull of the ship and set off a small fire that was quickly extinguished.

Ghiasian said such acts of terrorism and instances of piracy are contrary to international regulations. He said "legal prosecution of the perpetrators of this terrorist action will be pursued through competent international organizations.”
The report said the ship would continue on its path following a damage assessment, without providing more details. It did not blame anyone for the attack.

Earlier this week, Israel accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guard of attaching an explosive device to the Israeli-owned cargo vessel Helios Ray in international waters near the Gulf of Oman in February. The vessel was en route from Saudi Arabia to Singapore. Israel said the explosion caused “severe damage, forcing the ship to return to the port of Dubai to ensure the safety of the crew."

Iran, which does not recognize Israel and supports anti-Israeli militant groups such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas, rejected the claim as an unfounded allegation.

Also Friday, Iranian Gen. Esmail Ghaani, chief of the Quds Force, thye foreign wing of the Revolutionary Guard, warned that Tehran “will destroy the wall,” referring to Israel’s West Bank separation barrier. Iranian officials are known for calling for the destruction of Israel if it attacks Iran.

Israel accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons. Earlier this week, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz told the American cable network Fox News that his country is upgrading contingency plans to strike Iranian targets if Tehran shows signs of a nuclear escalation.

Iran denies it is pursuing nuclear weapons, and says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Unlike Iran, Israel’s atomic program, which is widely believed to include an undeclared nuclear bomb program, is not monitored by the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

Iran reports attack on its cargo vessel in Mediterranean Sea - ABC News
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Will Biden Limit Israeli Operations Against Iran?
March 9, 2021
Israel Radar
Mossad ops could be restricted as part of Biden deal with Iran, analyst warns; Israeli intelligence minister urges US to avoid Obama’s tactics.

Will Biden Limit Israeli Operations Against Iran? 1

Will US limit Israeli operations against Iran? (Archive: Pixabay)

The US could significantly restrict Mossad and IDF action against Iran, an Israeli defense analyst warns. Meanwhile, Israel’s intelligence minister is urging the Biden Administration to adopt a more aggressive Middle East strategy.

President Biden could limit Mossad operations in Iran as part of a deal with Tehran, analyst Ami Rojkes Dombe wrote in an article for the Israel Defense website. This could be done by giving Israel a cold shoulder from US intelligence agencies or via clear messages to Jerusalem, he said.

Moreover, the probability of a US strike on Iran is slim, and an independent IDF assault will likely harm Israel’s strategic ties with America, Dombe said. The defense establishment is already frustrated by the apparent limits on military or covert action against Iran, he wrote.

Israeli message to US

As Israeli concerns mount, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen urged the US on Tuesday to take a tougher approach on Iran. A firm stand against Tehran is the only way to ensure regional stability, he told a conference organized by Makor Rishon weekly.

President Obama’s attempts to curry favor with Iran failed to achieve progress or a breakthrough, Cohen said. On the other hand, President Trump’s aggressive policy changed the region and led to four peace agreements between Israel and Arab states, the minister added.

Cohen also stressed that Israel is capable of defending itself and striking its enemies.

Despite the changing political climate, the IDF continues to prepare for an attack on Iran’s nuclear project. Defense Minister Benny Gantz recently told Fox News that Israel is updating its strike plans and is ready to act independently.

Will Biden Limit Israeli Operations Against Iran? (israelradar.com)
 

jward

passin' thru
Henry Rome
@hrome2



On this Friday afternoon, take a trip back in the annals of US-Iran history to learn why
@JZarif
is quoting George H.W. Bush--and what it means for US-Iran diplomacy today. My latest in
@ForeignPolicy

Argument
Why Iran Keeps Quoting George H.W. Bush
As the past president found out, getting Iran to negotiate is hard—especially when it uses your own words against you.

By Henry Rome | March 12, 2021, 1:32 PM
U.S. President George H.W. Bush speaks at a press conference in Munich on July 8, 1992.

U.S. President George H.W. Bush speaks at a press conference in Munich on July 8, 1992. Luke Frazza/AFP/Getty Images


Joe Biden’s election as U.S. president raised hopes that the United States and Iran could make an immediate breakthrough on reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). But restoring the deal is proving harder than it may look, and the two sides are at an impasse. Washington, which withdrew from the accord in 2018, is calling on Tehran to enter talks over restoring compliance with the deal and addressing other areas of concern. Tehran rejected an initial offer to talk. On Thursday, it repeated its demand that Washington must relieve sanctions first.
To make their point, Iranian officials have been repeating a specific phrase: “Goodwill begets goodwill.” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif used the phrase in a January article in Foreign Affairs and has repeated variations of it since. Other senior officials have echoed him.

For many Western policymakers, Iran’s use of this expression may be unremarkable. But in the annals of U.S.-Iranian history, the phrase—coined by former U.S. President George H.W. Bush—has specific resonance. Not only is Iran’s top diplomat consciously quoting a former U.S. president, he is harkening back to a misunderstood and ultimately failed diplomatic gambit from 30 years ago. Iran’s invocation of the phrase calls for a closer look at what “goodwill begets goodwill” meant as a diplomatic strategy, why it failed, and how it could apply to the current circumstances.

When Bush entered office in January 1989, Iran was low on his policy agenda. Iran’s nuclear program was nascent, its regional influence limited, and it was reeling from a devastating eight-year war with Iraq. But Bush was committed to freeing U.S. citizens held hostage in Lebanon, and the administration believed that Iran held influence over the militia groups that orchestrated the kidnappings. So he asked Tehran for help.
In his inaugural address, Bush referenced U.S. citizens held abroad by saying: “Assistance can be shown here and will be long remembered. Goodwill begets goodwill.” Bush wanted Iran to take the first step in easing tension between the two countries, after which the United States would address unspecified Iranian concerns in exchange. Bush added, “good faith can be a spiral that endlessly moves on.”

The George H.W. Bush administration asked the United Nations to convey the message privately to Iran as well, and it issued a classified policy directive instructing the administration to “be prepared for a normal relationship with Iran.” To indicate his seriousness, Bush told the Omani government, a frequent interlocutor with Iran, that releasing the hostages was the essential prerequisite for improved relations with Tehran.

The Iranian president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, accepted the offer, concluding it was worth the effort to remove an irritant in relations with Washington. But it took time—and cash—for him to deliver. Over the course of the next three years, eight U.S. citizens held hostage were freed, and the bodies of two others who died or were killed in custody were returned; the final hostages were freed in December 1991. The U.N. special envoy, the indefatigable Giandomenico Picco, explicitly credited Tehran and Rafsanjani for facilitating the releases. Then-young Iranian diplomat Zarif was closely involved as well. Bush repeatedly thanked Iran for its assistance.
Even today, some analysts contend that Bush did nothing in exchange for Iran’s efforts.

Even today, some analysts contend that Bush did nothing in exchange for Iran’s efforts. That is incorrect. The United States provided several “goodwill” measures in 1990 and 1991. It lifted a ban on U.S. companies importing Iranian oil, resolved an outstanding claim for undelivered military equipment at The Hague, and supported the United Nations’ issuance of a final report blaming Iraq for triggering the Iran-Iraq War. The United States was not purely motivated by reciprocating for the hostages’ release; Washington also sought to persuade Iran to play a productive role in the 1990-1991 Gulf War, which it did.

At the time, Washington had no direct diplomatic channels with Tehran. Former Secretary of State James Baker told me the United States tried to open up talks, but Tehran declined. Nevertheless, Washington decided that Tehran expected more “goodwill,” and it initiated a secret policy review in late 1991 or early 1992 to decide how to move forward.

 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
Will Biden Limit Israeli Operations Against Iran?
March 9, 2021
Israel Radar
Mossad ops could be restricted as part of Biden deal with Iran, analyst warns; Israeli intelligence minister urges US to avoid Obama’s tactics.

Will Biden Limit Israeli Operations Against Iran? 1

Will US limit Israeli operations against Iran? (Archive: Pixabay)

The US could significantly restrict Mossad and IDF action against Iran, an Israeli defense analyst warns. Meanwhile, Israel’s intelligence minister is urging the Biden Administration to adopt a more aggressive Middle East strategy.

President Biden could limit Mossad operations in Iran as part of a deal with Tehran, analyst Ami Rojkes Dombe wrote in an article for the Israel Defense website. This could be done by giving Israel a cold shoulder from US intelligence agencies or via clear messages to Jerusalem, he said.

Moreover, the probability of a US strike on Iran is slim, and an independent IDF assault will likely harm Israel’s strategic ties with America, Dombe said. The defense establishment is already frustrated by the apparent limits on military or covert action against Iran, he wrote.

Israeli message to US

As Israeli concerns mount, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen urged the US on Tuesday to take a tougher approach on Iran. A firm stand against Tehran is the only way to ensure regional stability, he told a conference organized by Makor Rishon weekly.

President Obama’s attempts to curry favor with Iran failed to achieve progress or a breakthrough, Cohen said. On the other hand, President Trump’s aggressive policy changed the region and led to four peace agreements between Israel and Arab states, the minister added.

Cohen also stressed that Israel is capable of defending itself and striking its enemies.

Despite the changing political climate, the IDF continues to prepare for an attack on Iran’s nuclear project. Defense Minister Benny Gantz recently told Fox News that Israel is updating its strike plans and is ready to act independently.

Will Biden Limit Israeli Operations Against Iran? (israelradar.com)
With the level of threat a nuclear Iran poses to the region I would guess the Israelis would be willing to alienate the Biden Administration for the duration of its stay at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue....besides, the Saudis would be more than willing to bankroll any pressing needs for the both of them in their budding alliance in that circumstance.
 

jward

passin' thru
Hmm. Read as a threat to me :shr:

Evan Kohlmann
@IntelTweet

1m

Replying to
@IntelTweet
Ashab al-Kahf: "We are monitoring an increase in numbers of the American army, an increase in weapons, and the entry of military gear that did not exist previously, and we are monitoring the locations that NATO intends to convert into military bases."
 

jward

passin' thru
Michael P Pregent
@MPPregent

3h

Iran is using Iraq to push Biden into concessions. Iran's puppet Iraqi militias - on the Iraqi gov payroll btw - will continue attacks unless Khadimi demands U.S. exit from Iraq. Ameri & Abu Fadak's IRGC-QF militias will attack U.S. forces until PM demands U.S. exit.
 

jward

passin' thru
Other sources are reporting it is "only" two... time will tell. not seeing anyone suggesting casualties.. time will tell..

Home
  • Five rockets hit Iraqi military air base of Balad north of Baghdad, no casualties -security sources

Five rockets hit Iraqi military air base of Balad north of Baghdad, no casualties -security sources
Five rockets hit Iraqi military air base of Balad north of Baghdad, no casualties -security sources

Short Url
Updated 18 sec ago
March 15, 2021 21:45


Five rockets hit Iraqi military air base of Balad north of Baghdad, no casualties, security sources said.
_____________________________________





Babak Taghvaee - Μπάπακ Τακβαίε - بابک تقوایی
@BabakTaghvaee

3m

#BREAKING: The rocket attack at #Balad Air Base of #Iraqi Air Force is carried-out by #IRGC backed #KataibHezbollah terrorists. Their key goal is to terrorize the #LockheedMartin's contractors who are maintaining the F-16IQ fighter jets of #Iraq Air Force's 9th Fighter Squadron.


Aurora Intel
@AuroraIntel


Multiple impacts reported off base at Balad airbase, #Iraq after a rocket attack. Unknown number of impacts at this time.

1:37 PM · Mar 15, 2021·TweetDeck
 
Last edited:

jward

passin' thru
The Jerusalem Post - Israel News



Jerusalem Post
Middle East
Understanding the increase in attacks on ships in the Middle East
Naval tensions have increased dramatically since a series of incidents in 2019.
By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
MARCH 14, 2021 16:22

Damage is seen on Iranian-owned Sabiti oil tanker sailing in the Red Sea, October 13, 2019 (photo credit: COMPANY VIA WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)


Damage is seen on Iranian-owned Sabiti oil tanker sailing in the Red Sea, October 13, 2019

(photo credit: COMPANY VIA WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)




Recent tensions at sea include allegations by Iran that Israel has carried out an attack on one of its cargo ships in the Mediterranean. Israel had accused Iran of attacking an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman in February. This builds on two years of attacks on ships and the seizing of ships by Iran and other countries.

A recent report in The Wall Street Journal that Israel has carried out “at least” a dozen attacks on Iranian ships heading to Syria changes the broader context of naval tensions in the region. This is because the report alleges the attacks began in late 2019. There were three attacks in 2019 and six in 2020, the report claims.

Some other interesting details have emerged. The National Iranian Oil Company appears to have supplied an image of a damaged tanker from 2019 and another image of the tanker Sabiti. Tehran has also trotted out a representative from the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line Group to claim a ship was attacked on March 10.

Back in May 2019, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit to Iraq, warning of Iranian attacks. Four days later, limpet mines were used to damage four ships off the UAE Port of Fujairah, which is in the Gulf of Oman. Investigations concluded that there were strong indications the four attacks were part of a sophisticated and coordinated operation carried out with significant operational capacity.

A month later, the Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous were in the Gulf of Oman off Iran and were also attacked. US Central Command later released footage showing an IRGC patrol boat removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the ships and alleging the IRGC had placed the mines in the first place.

The attacks on the ships in May and June were unique. Ships are not usually attacked with mines in this highly sensitive trade corridor. Iran has usually conducted other types of operations, such as using IRGC fast boats to harass US and other ships.

What is interesting in the Journal report is the allegation that “in an episode last month, suspected Israeli operatives attached a limpet mine to attack an Iranian vessel as it anchored near Lebanon to deliver Iran oil to Syria,” according to the first shipping professional. Israel’s military declined to comment on the incident.

LIMPET MINES are typically attached secretly to the hull of ships in port and detonated later, blowing holes in the sides of the vessels. It’s difficult to understand from the sources noted in the Journal piece if it is Iran that is alleging Israel has been attacking its ships. It appears that since the Islamic Republic subsequently claimed a ship was attacked a day after the article came out, Iran is seeking to leverage this.

Overall, naval tensions have increased dramatically since the 2019 incidents. These include harassment of US ships in 2019 and 2020 to the point that US president Donald Trump threatened to sink Iranian naval ships. There was also the US decision to seize petroleum aboard Iranian vessels bound for Venezuela, as well as the Iranian decisions to seize a British ship in July 2019 and a South Korean ship in January 2021.

Iran has shown that it is willing to seize ships to get back either its own ships or to get back frozen assets it wants. It does the same seizing Western hostages. However, when it comes to attacks on ships, Iran’s strategy is more complex.
It harasses US warships and films them using drones. It also traffics munitions to the Houthis in Yemen. It has sought to increase the range of its navy and of its drones and missiles, including targeting vessels at sea during war games.

The Journal story alleging three Israeli attacks in 2020 and six in 2021 changes somewhat the perception of the naval tensions in the region. That Iran remained quiet about these alleged attacks until March 12 leaves many questions about why it waited until now to discuss them.
Is it to distract from the fact that Iran is accused of the attack on the Israeli-owned ship Helios Rayon February 26? Is it to distract from allegations that it is responsible for an oil spill off the coast of Israel in February?

What is clear from the story is that a shadowy naval conflict has been taking place over the last several years in the region, one that the public is only partially privy to.

Posted For Fair Use
Understanding the increase in attacks on ships in the Middle East

Tags Israel Iran mediterranean sea persian gulf Ship Gulf tanker crises Gulf of Oman
 

jward

passin' thru
Photos, documentation & add. commentary at source
View: https://twitter.com/ELINTNews/status/1371152717549346816?s=20




ELINT News
@ELINTNews



Quick thread on Israel’s air defence systems in the next war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel currently operates:

10 batteries of Iron Dome
2 batteries of David’s Sling
6 batteries of Patriot PAC-2
2 batteries of Arrow 2
1 battery of Arrow 3

12:34 PM · Mar 14, 2021·Twitter for iPhone
Most of Hezbollah’s 150,000 rocket and missile arsenal consists of small and medium range rockets. Mainly Katyushas: 107mm, 122mm, & Falaq-1/2, Khaibar-1, as well as Fajr-3 and Fajr-5’s. Therefore Iron Dome will likely be doing most of the heavy lifting during the next conflict.

The issue is approx 4,000 rockets and missiles will be falling in Israel each day of the war (at least at the beginning until the IAF can destroy many launch sites and storage sites). Most of these rockets will fall in the range of Iron Dome.

This war will be very different to Gaza. Many towns & villages will likely remain undefended in the north as air bases and critical infrastructure in cities and other areas are given priority in defence. This means many rockets may fall in towns without interception.

In terms of Hezbollah’s longer range rockets and missiles, these are mainly thousands of Zelzal-2 large-calibre artillery rockets and hundreds of Fateh-class ballistic missiles. These will need to be intercepted by David’s Sling and Patriot PAC-2 GEM+

These Fateh-class ballistic missiles are the main worry. They are likely Syrian M-600 variant Fateh-110’s with a CEP of 250m. They will probably be used to strike key sites such as the Haifa oil refinery and Dimona nuclear facility. These will need to be given intercept priority.

Hezbollah’s PGM project aims to upgrade existing Zelzal-2 and Fateh-110’s with Labeik guidance kits which increase the accuracy CEP to around 10m, close to that of a Fateh-313. These will be used to strike places such as air bases and the Kirya. Again these must be intercepted.

Next is the Scud-D threat. In the early 2010’s Syria reportedly handed over a few dozen Scud-D SRBM’s to Hezbollah (I am doubtful- they’re easy targets & need maintenance). If this is true these are very accurate missiles that will need to be intercepted using Arrow 2 batteries.

Next is the drone and cruise missile threat. Hezbollah likely has hundreds of drones- including Ababil-T (Qasef-2k) loitering munitions and dozens of cruise missiles such as the Soumar and Quds-1 (Yemen is likely a testing ground for these Iranian systems).

Air defence systems such as Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Patriot can likely intercept the incoming cruise missiles and drones but will require help from IAF fighter jets for cruise missiles and Apaches for drones. Recently a new air-air missile for this purpose was tested.

In terms of the threat to offshore energy supplies and ships- Hezbollah likely has hundreds of C-802 Noor and C-704 Nasr anti-ship cruise missiles as well as perhaps dozens of Khalij-e-Fars anti-ship ballistic missiles.

C-Dome systems will likely counter drone attacks and Barak-8 on the 3 Sa’ar-5 and 4 Sa’ar-6 class missile corvettes will likely be able to deal with anti-ship cruise missiles and anti-ship ballistic missiles.

There are multiple launchers 3-4 in a battery. Each launcher has 20 interceptors. They have around 40 launchers in total, so around 800 interceptors with thousands more in storage
View: https://twitter.com/ELINTNews/status/1371152717549346816?s=20
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
Hummm.......

Posted for fair use.....

FLAME.HOTLINE.
March 16, 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has acknowledged Saudi responsibility for the murder of dissident Jamal Khashoggi, but denies personal involvement. Reflecting a cooling of its relations with the Gulf state, the U.S. recently released an intelligence report condemning the killing.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has acknowledged Saudi responsibility for the murder of dissident Jamal Khashoggi, but denies personal involvement. Reflecting a cooling of its relations with the Gulf state, the U.S. recently released an intelligence report condemning the killing.

Why the Biden Administration is picking a fight with Saudi Arabia
Dear Friend of FLAME:
Upheavals in the Middle East over the past decade have challenged U.S. leaders to find new regional strategies and shift American alliances. Some recent realignments, however, seem to threaten both U.S. interests and regional peace.

The beginning and end of the Arab Spring, the rise and fall of the Islamic State, the Syrian civil war, conflicts in Yemen and Libya, and ongoing efforts by the Islamic Republic of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons capability—all have upended traditional U.S. diplomatic assumptions.

No surprise that previous U.S. administrations have embraced very different approaches to the region, including which nations and leaders to keep close and which to hold at arm’s length.

President Barack Obama’s first visit to the region was Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey—even as the Turkish leader tightened his iron grip on his nation—followed by a trip to Iraq, Saudi Arabia and then Egypt. That’s when Obama delivered his ill-fated speech at Cairo University, which offended Israel and its many friends and delighted extremists throughout the region.

Obama’s team also engineered the failed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—aka the Iran Nuclear Deal—which emboldened the extremist Shiite nation to expand its colonialist aggression in the region and further export its extremist ideology.

By contrast, President Donald Trump’s first trip to the region included both Israel and Saudi Arabia, and these two nations became the pivots of his regional policy. This strategy—based on the understanding among the U.S. and many Gulf Arab states that Iran is our common enemy—led to unprecedented regional normalization agreements between Israel and four Arab Sunni nations—known as the Abraham Accords.

President Joe Biden has seemingly returned to the Obama vision—despite its scant success. He is now distancing himself from allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia, while extending a friendly hand to Iran, even as the Islamic Republic attacks U.S. personnel, American interests and our friends and allies.

A prime example is the recent decision by the Biden Administration to publish the intelligence report on Jamal Khashoggi’s death in late 2018 and place sanctions on some Saudis involved. While the murder of the journalist was certainly an onerous act—and had to be condemned, as it was at the time—the timing of the diplomatic slap in the face was not coincidental, and its ulterior meaning was a message that the Saudis had to be kept at arm’s length.

Whatever else we may say about Saudi Arabia, it has been a good ally of the U.S. Saudi Arabia’s economic, religious, and political weight in the Arab world and globally is a critical asset to any US administration seeking to block Iranian advances and reduce Chinese and Russian involvement in the region.

The Saudis welcomed U.S. troops during the First Gulf War, helped battle ISIS, they play an important role in the American economy and serve as an apex for regional pragmatism. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia has played a vital role in ending the Arab-Israeli conflict by giving its tacit blessing to the Abraham Accords and allowing Israeli flyover rights over its territory.

While Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is certainly open to scrutiny, it is no worse than many others in the region to which the Biden Administration is warming. Last year, Turkey imprisoned 37 journalists, as it continues to stifle open debate and the free press. Egypt imprisoned 27 and Iran 15.

On the other hand, while far from a liberal democracy, Saudi Arabia, under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, colloquially known as MBS, has launched a series of social and economic reforms aimed at modernizing the conservative kingdom in recent years.

While the Biden Administration appears to be interested in rejoining the JCPOA, Iran continues to be the most malign influence across the region. It has proxies involved in wars, conflicts and massacres across the Middle East, whether in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria or Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives as a result of actions connected to the Ayatollah regime. Furthermore, earlier in the month, three people were killed after a base hosting U.S. and UK troops in Iraq was hit by a rocket attack launched by Iranian-backed militias. In January, another attack left more than 100 American soldiers suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

That Iran is directly involved in attacks on Americans and against American interests around the region has not affected President Biden’s appetite to sit and negotiate with it. Unfortunately, the new president is surrounded by people who negotiated the JCPOA and feel ideologically beholden to it. These same advisors know that the nuclear agreement’s greatest adversaries are Saudi Arabia and Israel, both of whom are direly threatened by Iran’s bellicose behavior.

Ironically—and tragically—discrediting and distancing the U.S. from its two strongest allies in the region appears to be the way back into an agreement that primarily allows a treacherous path to an Iranian nuclear weapon . . . and few discernable benefits. Indeed, the Biden Administration has made little effort to justify its shift to a new Iran agreement and its swerve away from its allies.

Diplomacy is about securing national interests. It is in the interests of the U.S. to distance itself from Iran, which costs us so much blood and suffering in the region and continues to refer to us as the “Big Satan” and chant “Death to America” regularly at official state rallies.

On the other hand, while Saudi Arabia is no bastion of democracy or human rights, it invariably comes down on the side of the U.S., time and again and has shown it can be an important force for peace in the region.

I hope you’ll emphasize to friends, family, colleagues and your elected representatives that the Biden Administration’s threatening message to Saudi Arabia is also harmful to Israel’s interests. The two Middle East nations stand together as part of a new moderate pillar in the region. Toward the end of the Trump Administration, it was variously assessed that open diplomatic relations between the two burgeoning allies would be forthcoming.

Now it seems the forces towards greater peace will be stymied in the near future, because the Biden Administration is trying to placate its progressive wing. The Left, of course, sees appeasement of Iran as the pinnacle of foreign policy, while its opponents in Jerusalem and Riyadh receive the cold shoulder.

I hope you’ll also take a minute, while you have this material front and center, to forward this message to friends, visit FLAME’s lively Facebook page and review the P.S. immediately below. It describes FLAME’s new hasbarah campaign—which exposes the dangerous folly of the U.S. trying to entice Iran back intro the failed “Iran Deal” of 2015.

Best regards,
Jim Sinkinson
President, Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME)
P.S.The Biden administration and many members of Congress seem determined to reengage with Iran over the coming year—and some reports indicate a willingness to return to the failed “Iran Nuclear Deal” without preconditions. As you know, this would be disastrous—for the U.S. and for Israel and our other allies in the Middle East. The Iran Deal gave the Islamic Republic a roadmap to nuclear weapons and did nothing to check their jihadi activities, including development of long-range ballistic missiles. To warn Americans of this danger, FLAME has created a new hasbarah message called “No Fool’s Deal with Iran.” I hope you’ll review this convincing, fact-based paid editorial, which will run in USA Today, the New York Times, Washington Post, and other media nationwide. It spells out specifically the protections any new Iran deal must provide. This piece will also be sent to all members of Congress, Vice President Harris and President Biden. If you agree that this kind of public relations effort on Israel’s behalf is critical, I urge you to support us. Remember: FLAME’s powerful ability to influence public opinion—and U.S. support of Israel—comes from individuals like you, one by one. I hope you’ll consider giving a donation now, as you’re able—with $500, $250, $100, or even $18. (Remember, your donation to FLAME is tax deductible.) To donate online, just go to donatenow. Now, more than ever, we need your support to ensure that the American people, the U.S. Congress and President Biden stay committed to realistic policies in relation to Iran, Israel and the entire Middle East.

As of today, more than 15,000 Israel supporters receive the FLAME Hotline at no charge every week. If you’re not yet a subscriber, won’t you join us in receiving these timely updates, so you can more effectively tell the truth about Israel? Just go to free subscription.
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
Hummm.....

Posted for fair use.....

Editors' Pick|Mar 15, 2021,09:24am EST|964 views
Iran Isn’t Going To Get The Bomb. There Are Three Ways This Can Go And All Are Messy.
Michael Krepon
Contributor

Aerospace & Defense
I'm the Co-founder of the Stimson Center, a Washington think tank.
Iran Missile Drill


In this photo released Jan. 15 by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, missiles are launched in a drill ... [+]
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Nuclear proliferation happens one country at a time, but every addition usually leads to the next. If Iran obtains the Bomb or comes close to it, other countries that bear watching include Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

All of these fence sitters have one thing in common besides their unwillingness to accept Iranian power projection in the Islamic world: They all have a history of security ties to the United States. If Washington manages the Iran nuclear dilemma poorly and if partners continue to lose confidence in the United States, they will increasingly go their own way.

The Bush, Obama, Trump, and now Biden administrations have all vowed that they will not accept an Iranian bomb. Failure to make good on this pledge is not an option—except for those who take comfort in more U.S. insularity. With so much riding on whether or not Iran acquires nuclear weapons or the means to produce them quickly, the outcome isn’t in doubt: Iran won’t succeed. But the means chosen to keep Tehran sufficiently distant from making bombs are very much in doubt. Much is riding on how Tehran and Washington play the cards they are holding.

Waiting for maximum economic pressure to result in favorable regime change in Iran has produced penalties without rewards. What remains are three generic pathways toward a future in which Iran that does not possess nuclear weapons: Iranian self-restraint, diplomacy and military strikes.

Choices must be made. Nuclear proliferation matters greatly, not only because of cascade effects, but also because the likelihood of mushroom clouds increases with the number of nuclear-armed rivals. Diplomacy will be tried after the current huffing and puffing, but faces longer odds than during the Obama administration. Military strikes are waiting in the wings. The American public will support a limited air campaign but not another war in the region, and U.S. troops cannot afford a replay of the ‘forever’ wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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The actual pace of proliferation has been far slower than expected, belying previous predictions and those who believe that nuclear weapons have great utility. Only four states have followed in the footsteps of the two superpowers and Great Britain, France and China. Two (India and Pakistan) are regional rivals. And two—Israel and North Korea—are outliers with very particular reasons for possessing the Bomb.

North Korea was the last state to cross this threshold, testing its first nuclear device in 2006. None of its non-nuclear neighbors followed suit, a major accomplishment. One important reason why is because South Korea and Japan viewed the United States as a reliable ally that offered a protective nuclear umbrella.

Another reason is that a global norm against nuclear proliferation has been nurtured for fifty years. The Nonproliferation Treaty was negotiated during Lyndon Johnson’s administration and entered into force during the Nixon administration. At first, there were many holdouts, including China, France, Brazil and Argentina. Now the Treaty has 190 members and one major headache—Iran. The future of the NPT depends to an uncomfortable extent on preventing Iran from following in North Korea’s footsteps.

The problems posed by Iran’s nuclear activities cannot be solved, but they can be managed. The first pathway to management seems inconceivable to those who distrust Iranian intentions the most, but it can’t be ruled out: In the absence of a formal agreement, Iran’s leaders could exercise roll backs and self-restraint in return for sanctions relief. This would require Iranian leaders to conclude that possessing the Bomb would actually decrease national security. Self-restraint would be based on the logic that if Iran crosses the nuclear threshold, its nuclear ambitions would lead rivals to follow suit, while increasing the likelihood of ruinous military strikes reinforced by endlessly punitive sanctions. This logic also applies to striking a formal deal, but a tacit agreement could be less difficult to accomplish.

For those who are incredulous that Tehran might exercise nuclear self-restraint, consider these facts: In 2003, the U.S. Intelligence Community correctly concluded that Iran stopped working on nuclear warheads after U.S. expeditionary forces toppled Saddam Hussein. In 2015, in return for sanctions relief, Iran agreed to intrusive inspections that foreclosed bomb making for fifteen or more years under the nuclear deal secured during the Obama administration. States that have already decided they must acquire nuclear weapons usually don’t wait fifteen years or more to obtain them.

Tehran was abiding by the terms of this deal until the Trump administration walked away from it in 2018. Subsequently, the level of Iran’s enriched uranium and the size of its stockpile have grown markedly, while providing far less access to international inspectors. Tehran says these steps are reversible (and negotiable), but no one can be sure whether they presage a change in national objectives with a presidential election coming this summer.

Given this history, the odds of a tacit agreement trading rollbacks for sanctions relief are not good. There is no basis for U.S. and other negotiators to trust Iran’s self-restraint or for Tehran to place trust that Washington will relax sanctions.

The second pathway to prevent an Iranian bomb is formal diplomacy. Among the critiques of the deal struck during the Obama administration was that it placed no restraints on Iran’s missile programs or on its hostile actions against friends, allies, and U.S. personnel. Moreover, the original deal is now almost six years old, which means that its time-limited constraints are six years closer to expiration. For these and other reasons, the Biden administration has concluded that Obama’s nuclear deal needs to be “lengthened and strengthened.”

More ambitious U.S. negotiating objectives and amped up Iranian enrichment programs will make for a very hard negotiation, one that might need to proceed in phases. And even if it is possible to arrive at verifiable agreements that leave Tehran far short of a Bomb for an extended period of time, Congressional majorities might continue to oppose it.

Obama couldn’t secure majority support in either the House or Senate, as all Republicans and some Democrats opposed it. The deal survived by means of a filibuster in the Senate. There is less support for it now, in part because Tehran continues to fish in troubled waters.

Which leads us to the third pathway—military strikes that set back Iranian nuclear activities. The Government of Israel has made no secret of its preference for such action, preferably with Washington’s help, but on its own, if necessary. Israel has done this twice before—directed at nuclear facilities in Iraq in 1981 and in the Syrian desert in 2007.

U.S. or Israeli strikes would lead to Iranian retaliation and the likelihood of wider U.S. military engagement—at a time when the Pentagon seeks to turn its attention to an intensified competition with China and Russia. And if Iran seeks to rebuild its nuclear infrastructure, periodic strikes would presumably follow, with unwanted escalatory dynamics.

No one can confidently predict how this would play out, which is why Secretary of Defense Robert Gates strenuously opposed this pathway during the Bush administration. But if diplomacy fails, the only remaining options are military strikes or accepting the unacceptable.

Michael Krepon

I'm the Co-founder of the Stimson Center, a Washington think tank. My newest book, Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace: The Rise, Demise and Revival of Arms Control,
 

Housecarl

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Posted for fair use.....

Yemen's Houthis launch ballistic missiles towards Saudi Arabia - Arab coalition

  • Coalition says destroyed ballistic missiles depot in Saada
  • US condemns continuous Houthi attacks targeting civilian areas in the Kingdom

Updated 8 sec ago
Arab News
March 15, 2021 18:57
1928
Follow @arabnews


RIYADH: The Iran-backed Houthi militia fired two ballistic missiles toward the Saudi city of Khamis Mushait on Monday.

The Arab coalition said the missiles were launched from Saada city in northwestern Yemen and landed in two uninhabited areas near the Kingdom’s southern border, Al-Ekhbariya TV reported.

The coalition accused the Houthis of violating international humanitarian law and trying to target civilians.

Later on Monday, the Arab coalition said it had destroyed a fortified cache of ballistic missiles and launchers in Saada, Al-Ekhbariya TV reported.

The coalition said it is taking measures to neutralize sources of threat to protect civilians, adding that their military operations comply with international and humanitarian law.

In recent weeks, the Houthis have intensified missile and drone attacks on the Kingdom.

The coalition said earlier it had intercepted and destroyed a drone launched by the Houthis toward Khamis Mushait in the early hours of Monday, sparking condemnation from regional and international allies.

The US called on the Houthi militia to stop these targeted attacks and come to the negotiating table.

Targeting the Kingdom with ballistic missiles and drones is unacceptable, dangerous, and threatens the lives of civilians, said Jalina Porter, deputy spokeswoman at the US State Department, during a telephonic press briefing.

She urged the Houthis to commit to peace and diplomacy in the region, saying that the Houthi attacks on the Kingdom are not actions issued by a group that wants peace.

Porter said Washington builds on and strengthens the UN framework through diplomatic engagement to achieve broader regional support, and called on the Houthis to take advantage of this moment.

The UAE said the continuation of these attacks reflected the Houthi’s blatant defiance of the international community.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation urged the international community to take “an immediate and decisive stance to stop these repeated actions targeting vital and civilian installations, the Kingdom’s security and stability and global energy supplies.”

Kuwait and Bahrain called on the international community and the UN to condemn Houthi attacks on populated cities in the Kingdom.

Both countries said they stand in full solidarity with Riyadh in all deterrent measures it takes to protect its security.

Jordan and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation also condemned the attacks.

Related

9211 Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched toward Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched toward Saudi Arabia
6193 Iran continues to supply Houthis with weapons: Yemen minister
Middle-East
Iran continues to supply Houthis with weapons: Yemen minister
 

Housecarl

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Posted for fair use.....

Yemen’s Houthis step up offensives as they reject US ceasefire plan
Rebels view proposal as Saudi-authored and seek to take Marib city and avenge bombings

about 5 hours ago


Michael Jansen

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have rejected a US ceasefire plan, arguing it offers nothing new and would exacerbate the country’s volatile situation.

The Houthis dismissed the plan as constructed by the Saudis rather than the US in their first comment on the proposal put forward by US envoy Timothy Lenderking during a late February meeting in Oman with Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam.

Abdul-Salam said the Houthis would welcome a ceasefire if the US was serious about halting Saudi Arabia’s military operations and blockade of Houthi-held territory.

However, the US plan was never likely to be accepted. The initiative coincided with the Houthi launch of a two-pronged offensive to force the Saudis to unilaterally end the six-year war and blockade.

The first prong is an offensive to capture Marib city, the remaining bastion of Saudi-backed forces in northern Yemen. Marib city hosts an oil refinery, a plant for bottling natural gas for cooking and a power plant, while Marib province contains oil fields which, before the war, were the country’s main producer.
Hodeida port
By securing Marib, the Houthis could ease shortages of fuel caused by the Saudi blockade of Hodeida port, the main entry point for imports for Houthi-held north Yemen where 80 per cent of Yemenis live.

Due to the serious shortage of fuel, long queues of lorries laden with essential provisions have formed along roads leading to northern towns and cities. The international airport in the capital, Sanaa, has been damaged by Saudi bombing and traffic shut down except for rare UN humanitarian flights.

The second prong involves stepping up short-range ballistic missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia. Targets have included oil installations, airports and the capital Riyadh and its outskirts.

The Houthi objective is to wreak vengeance for the kingdom’s devastating aerial bombing campaign of Yemen and to undermine Saudi morale. In the Houthi calculation, making Saudi Arabia pay even in a small part for the destruction of Yemen justifies rebel resistance and could strengthen the Houthi position in future talks.


‘Diplomatic efforts’
Undaunted by the Houthi rebuff of Lenderking’s proposal, US secretary of state Antony Blinken has told UN special envoy Martin Griffiths that Washington seeks to “reinvigorate diplomatic efforts” to end the war. “The US supports a unified, stable Yemen free from foreign influence . . . there is no military solution of the six-year conflict,” Blinken has said .

Yemeni spokesman Abdul-Salam has replied that his reference to “foreign interference” is positive, but the Houthis on Monday fired explosive-bearing drones at southern Saudi civilian and military airports. The Saudis claimed one drone was intercepted.

The Yemen war has claimed 230,000 lives, driven four million from their homes, and rendered 80 per cent of the population dependent on foreign aid. The UN has warned of a potentially devastating famine.
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Israel announces upgrade of Iron Dome rocket defense system
The Israeli Defense Ministry says it has completed an upgrade of the country’s Iron Dome rocket-defense system to cope with an additional array of aerial threats

By The Associated Press
16 March 2021, 07:41

JERUSALEM -- The Israeli Defense Ministry on Tuesday announced it has completed an upgrade of the country's Iron Dome rocket-defense system to cope with an additional array of aerial threats.

The Iron Dome was developed to intercept short-range unguided rockets and has shot down some 2,500 incoming projectiles fired from the Gaza Strip since it was deployed a decade ago.

In a statement, the ministry's head of missile defense, Moshe Patel, said the Iron Dome has completed a series of tests that included successful interceptions of rocket and missile salvos as well as simultaneous interceptions of multiple unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Iron Dome is part of Israel's multilayered aerial defense system, ranging from systems capable of intercepting rockets fired from short range up to striking long-range missiles outside of the atmosphere.

Patel said the new Iron Dome system would be deployed by Israel's air force and navy in the near future.

Israel announces upgrade of Iron Dome rocket defense system - ABC News (go.com)
 

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Iran's Defense Ministry Warns Citizens To Prepare For Nuclear & Chemical Attacks
Tyler Durden's Photo

by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Mar 17, 2021 - 11:00 PM
Authored by Dave DeCamp via AntiWar.com,

On Tuesday, Iran’s defense minister said the country must be prepared to face nuclear, chemical, and biological attacks.
"We should be prepared to defend our nation against all threats and whatever the enemy may one day use as an offensive tool, including chemical, nuclear and biological weapons," said Gen. Amir Hatami, according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.

Hatami made his comments on the 33rd anniversary of a chemical weapons attack by Saddam Hussein on Iraqi Kurds in Halabja, Iraq. During the Iran-Iraq war that raged from 1980 to 1988, Hussein frequently used chemical weapons against Iran, sometimes with US support.

Declassified CIA documents revealed that in 1988, the US shared intelligence with Hussein to show the location of Iranian troops, knowing he would use lethal gas against them.
The documents revealed the US had firm evidence Hussein was using chemical weapons as early as 1983.
The US and other Western countries provided Hussein with materials to make chemical weapons at the time. A 1994 congressional inquiry found that US companies shipped anthrax and dozens of other biological agents that could be used to make chemical weapons to Iraq during the war.
Today is the 33rd anniversary of the Halabja chemical massacre, part of Saddam Hussein's genocide against Kurds.

The Reagan admin knew Iraq was using chemical weapons against Iran, but continued to supply targeting data and blamed Halabja on Iran. Exclusive: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran
— Matthew Petti (@matthew_petti) March 16, 2021
Besides Iran’s history of being targeted by chemical weapons, Iran is also constantly threatened by Israel, the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East.
While Israel frequently takes covert action against Iran, Israeli officials have been hinting at a larger attack on Tehran’s civilian nuclear program if the US returns to the Iran nuclear deal.
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
Iran International English
@IranIntl_En

5m

While #Iranian military commanders continued bragging about the country's #missile power and its determination to wipe #Israel off the map, Israeli media have been highlighting the danger of Iran's missile program for the region. https://iranintl.com/en/world/iran-
View: https://twitter.com/IranIntl_En/status/1372759738715418624?s=20
At a point soon these two lines will cross....
 

danielboon

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Drones spark fire at Saudi refinery as Huthis advance on Yemen's Marib
AFP 7 hrs ago

A drone strike sparked a fire at a Riyadh oil refinery Friday, in an attack claimed by Yemen's Huthi rebels as the Iran-backed insurgents made major advances on the embattled Yemeni city of Marib.
a group of clouds in the sky: Smoke billows during clashes between forces loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed government and Huthi rebel fighters in Yemen's northeastern province of Marib on March 5, 2021
© - Smoke billows during clashes between forces loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed government and Huthi rebel fighters in Yemen's northeastern province of Marib on March 5, 2021
The attack at dawn on the refinery is the second major assault this month on Saudi energy installations, highlighting a dangerous escalation of Yemen's six-year conflict between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the Iran-linked Huthis.
Map of Yemen locating Marib
© STAFF Map of Yemen locating Marib
"The Riyadh oil refinery was attacked by drones, resulting in a fire that has been brought under control," the Saudi energy ministry said in a statement, adding that no casualties were reported and oil supplies were not disrupted.
a person sitting on top of a gun: A fighter loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed government gets into position during clashes with advancing Huthi rebels in Marib province earlier this month
© - A fighter loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed government gets into position during clashes with advancing Huthi rebels in Marib province earlier this month
Strongly condemning the "cowardly attack", the ministry said the drone strikes were not just an assault on the kingdom but the world economy and global energy security.

In a statement, the Huthi rebels claimed to have targeted energy giant Aramco in Riyadh on Friday with six drones in response to the "brutal aggression" of the Saudi-backed military coalition in Yemen.
The rebels are stepping up cross-border attacks on the kingdom despite a renewed push by the US administration of President Joe Biden to revive stalled peace talks.
The latest assault comes after Saudi Arabia earlier this month said it thwarted a missile and drone attack on Ras Tanura -- one of the world's biggest oil ports -- and Aramco facilities in Dhahran city in the kingdom's east. It reported no casualties or damage.
Friday's attack coincides with major Huthi advances on Marib city after the rebels took a strategic mountain in clashes that caused dozens of casualties on both sides, according to Yemeni government sources.
The Huthis "took control of Mount Hilan overlooking the city, after fighting which left dozens of dead and wounded on both sides," one of the sources told AFP.
"Marib is in danger," another source said, adding the loss of the mountain posed "a threat to Marib's first line of defence".
- Intense battle -
Since last month, the rebels have been pushing to seize Marib, the government's last northern stronghold and the capital of an oil-rich region.
The loss of Marib would be a huge blow for the Yemeni government, but would also threaten catastrophe for civilians, including at least one million displaced people sheltering in the region, many in desolate camps in the surrounding desert.
The Huthis had "cut the supply lines of some fronts and are now within firing range of the Al-Mashjab line west of Marib city," the second source added.
Despite the advance, analysts say the city may not fall to the rebels any time soon, given the overwhelming firepower of the Saudi-led coalition which backs the beleaguered government.
"An imminent fall of Marib remains unlikely," Maged al-Madhaji of the Sanaa Center think tank told AFP, adding that this was nonetheless "an important advance that puts additional pressure" on government forces.
The Saudi-led coalition intervened in the conflict in 2015, enforcing a naval and air blockade to prevent the smuggling of weapons to the rebels from Iran -- allegations Tehran denies.
The rebels say any ceasefire agreement can only begin after the Saudi-led blockade of Yemen is lifted.
- 'Grave risk' -
The news of their advance came just hours after the United Nations Security Council condemned the "escalation" of armed clashes around Marib city and warned of a worsening humanitarian catastrophe.
The fighting "places one million internally displaced persons at grave risk and threatens efforts to secure a political settlement when the international community is increasingly united to end the conflict," it said.
It "stressed the need for de-escalation by all, including an immediate end to the Huthi escalation in Marib (and) condemned the use of child soldiers in Marib."
Life in the city retains a veneer of normality despite the conflict that rages outside, but there is a sense of dread as the fighting draws nearer.
"We condemn what is happening to the city of Marib. Our children are terrified," one resident, Umm Ali, told AFP.
Another resident, Mohammed Yahya, said the city would "remain steadfast".
"This is what history told us -- that, throughout the ages, Marib has been the thorn that breaks down any enemy that wants any harm to Yemen," he said.
Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced in Yemen's long war, which has crippled the economy and healthcare system.
The UN has declared Yemen the world's worst humanitarian crisis.https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/drones-spark-fire-at-saudi-refinery-as-huthis-advance-on-yemens-marib/ar-BB1eKwUn
 

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Housecarl

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Hummm... Somebody finally admits the obvious, though not in the broadcast "main stream"............

Posted for fair use.....

Iran Probably Already Has the Bomb. Here’s What to Do about It

March 19, 2021
9 Min Read
Erin Clark
Add Comment

Washington’s policymakers are being misled by the intelligence and defense communities that are grossly underestimating the nuclear threat from Iran, just as they did with North Korea.

Washington’s mainstream “worst-case” thinking assumes Iran does not yet have atomic weapons, but could “break out” to crash-develop one or a few A-bombs in a year, which the intelligence community would supposedly detect in time for warning and preventive measures. Rowan Scarborough recently reported in the Washington Times that “during a private talk in July 2017 before a Japanese-U.S. audience,” the Pentagon’s director of Net Assessment James H. Baker briefed that “Iran, if it chooses, may ‘safely’ possess a nuclear weapon in 10-15 years time.”

Another mainstream “worst-case” view is that Iran could abide by the Obama administration’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and legitimately glide toward nuclear weapons capability in ten to 15 years. The Trump administration canceled the JCPOA for legitimate reasons, but the Biden administration has pledged to revive it.

In contrast to these views, we warned in these pages in February 2016 that Iran probably already had atomic weapons deliverable by missile and satellite:

We assess, from UN International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] reports and other sources, that Iran probably already has nuclear weapons. . . . prior to 2003, Iran was manufacturing nuclear weapon components, like bridge-wire detonators and neutron initiators, performing non-fissile explosive experiments of an implosion nuclear device, and working on the design of a nuclear warhead for the Shahab-III missile.
When our World War II Manhattan Project reached this stage, the U.S. was only months away from making the first atomic bombs. This was Iran’s status 18 years ago. And the Manhattan Project employed 1940s-era technology to invent and use the first atomic weapons in only three years, beginning from a purely theoretical understanding.


So by 2003, Iran was already a threshold nuclear-missile state. But for at least the last decade, the intelligence community has annually assessed that Iran could build atomic weapons in one year or less. On the other hand, less than a month ago, independent analysts at the Institute for Science and International Security assessed that Iran had a break-out time of as short as three months for its first nuclear weapon and five months for a second.

And there is no reason to believe U.S. and IAEA intelligence capabilities are so perfect that they can assuredly detect Iran’s clandestine efforts to build atomic weapons. Indeed, the U.S. and IAEA did not even know about Iran’s clandestine nuclear-weapons program until Iranian dissidents exposed it in 2002.

The IAEA and the U.S. intelligence community have long been poor nuclear watchdogs. IAEA inspections failed to discover clandestine nuclear-weapons programs in North Korea, Pakistan, Iraq, and Libya. In 1998, the intelligence community’s “Worldwide Threat Assessment” failed to warn that, just a few months later, Pakistan and India would overtly “go nuclear” with a series of nuclear-weapons tests. U.S. intelligence often underestimated nuclear threats from Russia, China, and North Korea. It is likely now doing the same with Iran.

Contrary to mainstream thinking:

  • Iran can build sophisticated nuclear weapons by relying on component testing, without nuclear testing. The U.S., Israel, Pakistan, and India have all used the component-testing approach. The U.S. Hiroshima bomb was not tested, nor have been more sophisticated U.S. thermonuclear warheads during the past 30 years. Pakistan and India’s 1998 nuclear tests were done for political reasons, not out of technological necessity.
  • IAEA inspections are limited to civilian sites, and restricted from military bases, including several highly suspicious underground facilities where Iran’s nuclear-weapons program almost certainly continues clandestinely. Imagery of one vast underground site, heavily protected by SAMs, shows high-voltage powerlines terminating underground, potentially delivering enormous amounts of electricity, consistent with powering uranium enrichment centrifuges on an industrial scale. So IAEA reports on Iran’s enriched-uranium stockpile almost certainly are not the whole story.
  • The U.S. intelligence assessment that Iran suspended its nuclear-weapons program in 2003 is contradicted both by Iran’s nuclear archives, stolen by Israel in 2018, indicating Iran’s ongoing nuclear-weapons program (reported at several sites in 2006, 2017, and 2019) and by Iran’s rapid resumption of enriching uranium to prohibited levels. This demonstrates an existing capability to quickly produce weapons-grade uranium. Reports from the Congressional Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Commission elaborate these and important related issues.



  • Most estimates assume Iran needs five to ten kilograms of highly enriched (over 90 percent) uranium-235 or plutonium-239 to make an atomic weapon, as with the first crudely designed A-bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But a good design requires only one to two kilograms. Crude A-bombs can be designed with uranium-235 or plutonium-239 enriched to only 50 percent.
  • Iran’s nuclear and missile programs are not just indigenous, but are helped significantly by Russia, China, North Korea, and probably Pakistan.
  • While the intelligence community uses an in-country nuclear test as confirmation that a country, including Iran, has developed a nuclear weapon, this leaves it wide open to deceiving itself, our leadership, and our allies. Iran and North Korea have close working relations, North Korea will do anything for Iranian oil, and Iranians have reportedly been present at some of North Korea’s nuclear tests. North Korea could easily have exchanged information with Iran and even tested Iranian nuclear weapons as well as their own — if there is any difference — without the U.S. and its allies knowing whose weapons were being tested. North Korean scientists are known to be in Iran helping the Islamic Revolutionary Guard “space program” that provides cover for developing ICBMs.

As we warned five years ago, it is implausible and imprudent to assume that Iran refrained from making atomic weapons for more than a decade, when they could do so clandestinely:

Iran probably has nuclear warheads for the Shahab-III medium-range missile, which they tested for making EMP attacks. . . . And at a time of its choosing, Iran could launch a surprise EMP attack against the United States by satellite, as they have apparently practiced with help from North Korea.
Why has Iran not gone overtly nuclear, like North Korea? There are several explanations. For one, North Korea is protected by China and lives in a safer neighborhood, where South Korea and Japan are reluctant to support U.S. military options to disarm Pyongyang. In contrast, Iran’s neighbors, Israel and moderate Arab states, are far more likely to support air strikes to disarm Tehran. As we warned five years ago, Iran probably wants to build enough nuclear missiles to make its capabilities irreversible:

Iran could be building a nuclear-capable missile force, partly hidden in tunnels, as suggested by its revelation of a vast underground missile basing system. . . . Iran is building toward a large, deployable, survivable, war-fighting missile force—to which nuclear weapons can be swiftly added as they are manufactured.
Moreover, Iran wants to preserve the fiction of its non-nuclear status. It has derived far more economic and strategic benefits from the JCPOA and threats to “go nuclear” than has North Korea from “going nuclear” overtly. Ominously, Iran may be forgoing the deterrence benefits of an overt nuclear posture because it is building toward surprise future employment of nuclear capabilities to advance the global theological agenda of the ayatollahs and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, the world’s largest and most sophisticated terrorist organization.

So what can we do to meet this almost-certain threat? Some better options are, unfortunately, far more difficult at this juncture. Arms control non-solutions like the JCPOA will only make matters worse, just as arms control did with North Korea, by offering false hope while the nuclear threat grows. Disarming Iran of nuclear capabilities by airstrikes or invasion would be very risky since we do not know where all of its nuclear missiles are hidden. The U.S. was deterred from disarming North Korea when that nation’s nuclear-missile capabilities were merely nascent. Regime change by sponsoring a popular revolution may be a practical solution — the Iranian people would overthrow their Islamist government if they could. But the regime itself has proven adept at suppressing popular uprisings, and may use U.S. involvement, whether purported or actual, as a propaganda tool in such an effort, as it has before.

But there are things we can do right now, including:

  • Harden U.S. electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures against a nuclear EMP attack, which is described in Iran’s military doctrine and would be the regime’s most easily executed and most damaging nuclear threat.
  • The White House and STRATCOM should regard Iran as a nuclear-missile threat right now, increase scrutiny by national technical means of verification and by human intelligence to locate nuclear-weapons capabilities, and prepare preemptive options should action become necessary.
  • Strengthen National Missile Defenses and especially deploy modern space-based defenses. For example, the 1990s Brilliant Pebbles project, canceled by the Clinton administration, could begin deployment in five years, cost an estimated $20 billion in today’s dollars, and intercept essentially all ballistic missiles ranging more than a few-hundred miles, including from Russia and China. Our national survival should not depend only upon striking first or deterrence. The American people would rather be defended than avenged.

Ambassador R. James Woolsey is a former director of central intelligence; William R. Graham was President Reagan’s science adviser and acting administrator of NASA, and chaired the Congressional EMP Commission; Ambassador Henry F. Cooper was director of the Strategic Defense Initiative and chief negotiator at the Defense and Space Talks with the USSR; Fritz Ermarth was chairman of the National Intelligence Council; Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security and served in the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA.
 
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