Posts Tagged ‘Lebanon’

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu: ‘Fix or Nix’ Iran Nuclear Deal — “Those that threaten us with annihilation put themselves in mortal peril”

September 20, 2017
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BY HERB KEINON, JPOST.COM STAFF
 SEPTEMBER 19, 2017 23:10

In Farsi, tells Iranians: You are Israel’s friends

PM: Iran risks ‘mortal peril’ by threatening Israel, fix or nix nuclear deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, US, September 19, 2017. (photo credit:REUTERS/LUCAS JACKSON)

NEW YORK – “Fix it or nix it,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, telling the world body that Israel’s policy on the Iranian nuclear deal is simple: “Change it or cancel it.”

Netanyahu’s speech began with enumerating Israel’s diplomatic breakthroughs, and how the country has significantly improved its relations with many countries because of what it has to offer in terms of technology and anti-terrorism expertise, and ended with a warning that it would not tolerate Iran’s efforts to establish permanent bases on Israel’s borders or open new terrorist fronts against Israel in Syria.

“Those that threaten us with annihilation put themselves in mortal peril,” he said. “Israel will defend itself with the full force of our arms and the full power of our convictions.”

Netanyahu recalled his ardent opposition to the 2015 nuclear deal and those who said it would “somehow moderate Iran.

“I strongly disagree,” he said.

“I warned that when the sanctions will be removed, Iran would behave like a hungry tiger unleashed.

Not join the community of nations, but devouring the nations one after the other.

That is precisely what Iran is doing today.”

He said that unless the “sunset clause” was excised from the agreement, Iran would be on its way to become the next North Korea, another rogue state with nuclear capabilities.

In a rhetorical parallel to the Iron Curtain, Netanyahu said “an Iranian curtain is descending across the Middle East. It spreads this curtain over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere and pledges to extinguish the light of Israel.”

But, Netanyahu continued, “I have a simple message for Khamenei: The light of Israel will never be extinguished.”

During his address, Netanyahu turned directly to the Iranian people, greeted them in Farsi, and said Israel was not their enemy, and that once the regime is changed, the peoples can resume what was a historic friendship.

The prime minister made a point of praising US President Donald Trump a number of times during the address, both for the speech he gave earlier in the day and for his strong support of Israel at the United Nations.

Netanyahu said that in his 30 years of experience with the UN, he has not heard a bolder or more courageous speech than the one Trump delivered on Tuesday.

While Netanyahu did not pull out any props or gimmicks during his speech, he did make a joke about penguins, saying that while he has visited six continents this year, he has not yet visited Antarctica.

“I want to go there, too, because I have heard penguins are also enthusiastic supporters of Israel, they have no difficulty recognizing something rare black and white, right and wrong.”

When it comes to Israel, he quipped, this power of recognition is too often absent.

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Netanyahu Vows to Curb Iran in U.N. Speech

September 20, 2017
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.N. General Assembly that his country would act to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria, the same day the Israeli military said it shot down an Iranian-made drone.
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, US, September 19, 2017. (photo credit REUTERS-LUCAS JACKSON)

By Rory Jones
The Wall Street Journal

TEL AVIV—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday told the United Nations General Assembly that his country would act to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria, the same day the Israeli military said it shot down an Iranian-made drone.

Echoing a speech by U.S. President Donald Trump, the Israeli leader also lambasted the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, telling the group of nations to “fix or nix” the agreement.

“Those who threaten us with annihilation put themselves in mortal peril,” Mr. Netanyahu told the U.N., in a direct message to Iran.

Earlier Tuesday, the Israeli military said it had downed an unmanned aerial vehicle with a Patriot missile-defense system over the Golan Heights after it came near but failed to reach Israeli-controlled airspace.

The drone took off from the Syrian capital of Damascus on a reconnaissance mission for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the military said.

There was no immediate response to Israel’s claim about the downed drone from Hezbollah or the Syrian regime.

Israeli soldiers maneuver tanks and armored personnel carriers during the last day of military exercises in the northern part of the Golan Heights earlier this month. Israel on Tuesday said it shot down an Iranian-made drone over the Golan Heights.Photo: jalaa marey/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The incident is the latest point of tension between Israel and the Iran-backed Syrian regime and Hezbollah. It comes as both sides amp up hostile rhetoric and talk of a future war.

In his speech at the U.N., Mr. Netanyahu criticized the Iranian nuclear deal as it sets a time frame for winding down, after which Israel fears Tehran will be able to accelerate the development of nuclear weapons.

“The greater danger is not that Iran will rush to a single bomb by breaking the deal but that Iran will be able to build many bombs by keeping the deal,” he said.

Mr. Trump, in his own speech to the U.N. earlier in the day, called Iran an authoritarian regime and denounced the nuclear deal as “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”

Other world powers, including European nations, have said Iran is maintaining the nuclear deal and stated their opposition to changing the agreement.

Messrs. Netanyahu and Trump met Monday in New York to discuss the accord. The Israeli leader has long opposed it and has recently ratcheted up his criticism as he tries to win support from the U.S. and other world leaders to limit Iran’s role in Syria.

President Donald Trump told the United Nations General Assembly that Iran has become an “economically depleted rogue state” whose chief export is violence and chaos in the Middle East. He also called the Iran nuclear deal an “embarrassment.” Photo: Getty

More From the U.N.

  • Live Coverage: U.N. General Assembly
  • Analysis: Trump Returns U.S. to Realpolitik in World Affairs

Israel has in recent months accused Iran and Hezbollah of setting up weapons factories in Syria. The country fears the partners will take advantage of the fall of Islamic State to set up a land corridor from Tehran to the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

Majority Shiite Iran and Hezbollah have fought alongside Mr. Assad’s forces for five years, helping the Syrian leader fend off an assault by Sunni rebel groups allied with different powers.

Israel and other Arab states also have accused Iran of promoting government change in Yemen and of establishing a presence in Iraq.

Mr. Netanyahu on Tuesday called Iran’s attempts to influence geopolitics in the region a “curtain of terror.”

Israeli officials have already made clear to the U.S., which backs opposition groups, and Russia, a key supporter of Mr. Assad, that Israel won’t allow an Iranian or Hezbollah presence on its northern border with Syria.

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Iranian protesters burn representations of US and Israeli flags in their annual pro-Palestinian rally marking Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day in Tehran, Iran, Friday, June 23, 2017. AP photo

This month, Israel launched airstrikes on a Syrian military compound in what former Israeli officials said was an attack meant to thwart military threats from Iran and Hezbollah. It came as the Israeli military held a 10-day exercise along its border with Lebanon, the largest such drill in nearly 20 years.

Israel won control of the Golan Heights plateau from Syria in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

In a bid to in part limit Hezbollah and Iranian presence on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, the Israeli military in recent years has supplied Sunni rebels there with cash and aid in a program known as the Good Neighborhood policy.

Write to Rory Jones at rory.jones@wsj.com

 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/israel-shoots-down-iranian-made-drone-over-golan-heights-1505829361?mod=nwsrl_latin_america_news&cx_refModule=nwsrl#cx_testId=16&cx_testVariant=ctrl&cx_artPos=11

Trump weighing aggressive Iran strategy — More than 80 experts urge Trump not to abandon Iran nuclear deal

September 14, 2017
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WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – President Donald Trump is weighing a strategy that could allow more aggressive U.S. responses to Iran’s forces, its Shi’ite Muslim proxies in Iraq and Syria, and its support for militant groups, according to six current and former U.S. officials.

The proposal was prepared by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and other top officials, and presented to Trump at a National Security Council meeting on Friday, the sources said.

It could be agreed and made public before the end of September, two of the sources said. All of the sources are familiar with the draft and requested anonymity because Trump has yet to act on it.

RELATED: US-Iran relations through time

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In contrast to detailed instructions handed down by President Barack Obama and some of his predecessors, Trump is expected to set broad strategic objectives and goals for U.S. policy but leave it to U.S. military commanders, diplomats and other U.S. officials to implement the plan, said a senior administration official.

“Whatever we end up with, we want to implement with allies to the greatest extent possible,” the official added.

The White House declined to comment.

The plan is intended to increase the pressure on Tehran to curb its ballistic missile programs and support for militants, several sources said.

“I would call it a broad strategy for the range of Iranian malign activities: financial materials, support for terror, destabilization in the region, especially Syria and Iraq and Yemen,” said another senior administration official.

The proposal also targets cyber espionage and other activity and potentially nuclear proliferation, the official said.

The administration is still debating a new stance on a 2015 agreement, sealed by Obama, to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The draft urges consideration of tougher economic sanctions if Iran violates the 2015 agreement.

The proposal includes more aggressive U.S. interceptions of Iranian arms shipments such as those to Houthi rebels in Yemen and Palestinian groups in Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai, a current official and a knowledgeable former U.S. official said.

The plan also recommends the United States react more aggressively in Bahrain, whose Sunni Muslim monarchy has been suppressing majority Shi’ites, who are demanding reforms, the sources said.

In addition, U.S. naval forces could react more forcefully when harassed by armed speed boats operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s paramilitary and espionage contingent, three of the sources said.

U.S. ships have fired flares and warning shots to drive off IRGC boats that made what were viewed as threatening approaches after refusing to heed radio warnings in the passageway for 35 percent of the world’s seaborne petroleum exports.

U.S. commanders now are permitted to open fire only when they think their vessels and the lives of their crews are endangered. The sources offered no details of the proposed changes in the rules, which are classified.

ISLAMIC STATE FIRST

The plan does not include an escalation of U.S. military activity in Syria and Iraq. Trump’s national security aides argued that a more muscular military response to Iranian proxies in Syria and Iraq would complicate the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State, which they argued should remain the top priority, four of the sources said.

Mattis and McMaster, as well as the heads of the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Forces Command, have opposed allowing U.S. commanders in Syria and Iraq to react more forcefully to provocations by the IRGC, Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias, the four sources said.

The advisers are concerned that more permissive rules of engagement would divert U.S. forces from defeating the remnants of Islamic State, they said.

RELATED: Ballistic missile testing in Iran

Moreover, looser rules could embroil the United States in a conflict with Iran while U.S. forces remain overstretched, and Trump has authorized a small troop increase for Afghanistan, said one senior administration official.

A former U.S. official said Hezbollah and Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias in Iraq have been “very helpful” in recapturing vast swaths of the caliphate that Islamic State declared in Syria and Iran in 2014.

U.S. troops supporting Kurdish and Sunni Arab fighters battling Islamic State in Syria have been wrestling with how to respond to hostile actions by Iranian-backed forces.

In some of the most notable cases, U.S. aircraft shot down two Iranian-made drones in June. Both were justified as defensive acts narrowly tailored to halt an imminent threat on the ground.

 

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Trump’s opposition to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), poses a dilemma for policymakers.

Most of his national security aides favor remaining in the pact, as do U.S. allies Israel and Saudi Arabia despite their reservations about Iran’s adherence to the agreement, said U.S. officials involved in the discussions.

“The main issue for us was to get the president not to discard the JCPOA. But he had very strong feelings, backed by (U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) Nikki Haley, that they should be more aggressive with Iran,” one of the two U.S. officials said. “Almost all the strategies presented to him were ones that tried to preserve the JCPOA but lean forward on these other (issues.)”

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(Writing by Jonathan Landay.; Reporting by Arshad Mohammed,Jonathan Landay, and Steve Holland.; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart and John Walcott; Editing by Howard Goller)

Includes videos:

https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/09/12/report-trump-weighing-aggressive-iran-strategy-against-malign-activities/23206015/

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Donald Trump is pictured here. | Getty Images
President Donald Trump’s administration has been reviewing the Iran nuclear deal. | Andrew Harrer/Getty Images

More than 80 experts urge Trump not to abandon Iran nuclear deal

More than 80 experts on nuclear proliferation urged the Trump administration not to abandon the Iran nuclear deal in a statement on Wednesday.

The agreement, which was negotiated under former President Barack Obama in 2015, ended several sanctions against Iran in exchange for that country taking steps to dismantle its nuclear program. Iran is subject to regular inspections to monitor whether it adheres to those rules under terms of the agreement.

The signatories, which include many academics and some former State Department officials, wrote that they are “concerned by statements from the Trump administration that it may be seeking to create a false pretext for accusing Iran of noncooperation or noncompliance with the agreement in order to trigger the re-imposition of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.”

Last week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley described the deal as a “very flawed and very limited agreement” and contended that “Iran has been caught in multiple violations over the past year and a half.”

The experts who signed the letter, though, described the agreement as “an effective and verifiable arrangement that is a net plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts” and warned against leaving it.

“Abandoning the deal without clear evidence of an unresolved material breach by Iran that is corroborated by the other EU3+3 partners runs the risk that Tehran would resume some of its nuclear activities, such as enriching uranium to higher levels or increasing the number of operating centrifuges,” they wrote. “These steps would decrease the time it would take for Iran to obtain enough nuclear material for a warhead.”

President Donald Trump was a critic of the Iran deal as a candidate, but he has not taken steps to abandon it since taking office. His administration, however, has been reviewing the deal.

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/13/trump-iran-nuclear-deal-letter-242655

The Iran Deal Is on Thin Ice, and Rightly So

September 9, 2017

Foreign Policy

The Iran Deal Is on Thin Ice, and Rightly So

The future of the Iran deal is again under question. President Donald Trump garnered much attention in July by stating he no longer wanted to certify that Iran is in compliance with the agreement, which is required by law to occur every 90 days and thus due again next month. European leaders reacted by affirming their support for the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the Iranian government responded by claiming that it was in compliance — but would take measures to accelerate its nuclear program if Washington were to stop its compliance. Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) certified Iran’s compliance again in June, weakening the president’s case.

But given the extraordinary threat that Iran poses with its expansionism in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere, as well as the ongoing administration review of Iran policy, the status of the JCPOA cannot be sacrosanct.

It’s clear that those within Trump’s orbit are already thinking hard about the best way to remake U.S. policy toward Iran. Former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton recently published a detailed “game plan” for pulling out of the agreement and adopting a course of political pressure on Iran amounting almost to regime change. And this week, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley laid out the case for Iran’s non-compliance in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), without endorsing a specific action by the administration.

The Trump administration, Haley noted, sees the agreement as flawed because it is time-limited, front-loaded in Iran’s favor, and does not end enrichment. Thus, it does not totally exclude Iran’s path to the accumulation of sufficient fissile material for a nuclear device. Moreover, it does not effectively address prior nuclear weaponization efforts, which were left to an opaque side deal between the IAEA and Iran, which now blocks inspections of military facilities.

But a primary problem with the agreement, in Haley’s view, is that it does nothing to curb Iran’s aggressive regional expansionism. This behavior, which profoundly worries every friendly Middle East leader, kicked into high gear just weeks after the JCPOA was signed in 2015. International agreements, particularly concerning weapons of mass destruction, are obviously important in themselves, but their strategic context should not be ignored. For example, while there has been little genuine angst over the Israeli nuclear weapons program, regional and global concern about Iranian nukes has been profound due to its destabilizing regional policies.

The Obama administration’s behavior stoked Iran’s aggressive regional approach.

The Obama administration’s behavior stoked Iran’s aggressive regional approach. U.S. officials in the previous administration were slippery on the issue of “linkage” between the agreement and Iran’s disruptive regional agenda. At times, such as a speech Vice President Joseph Biden made at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in April 2015, officials argued that the agreement was simply concerned with nuclear restraints, and Iran’s regional behavior would be dealt with in other ways. But it never was — not in Syria, Yemen, or elsewhere. Rather, the administration’s implicit position appeared best reflected in President Barack Obama’s 2015 interview with the Atlantic, wherein he argued that the long game engendered by the agreement would help return Iran to respectability and calm the region, while also signaling that he was not overly troubled by Iran’s depravations. He opined that Saudi Arabia had to find a way to “share the neighborhood” with Iran, and that backing U.S. allies in the region too strongly against Iran would only fan the flames of conflict.But Iran’s behavior is now too dangerous to ignore. Tehran has facilitated Bashar al-Assad’s scorched-earth policy, encouraged Russia to intervene in Syria, and abetted the rise of the Islamic State by allowing Assad and its clients in Iraq to oppress Sunni Arabs to the point of embracing the jihadist organization. While the JCPOA itself did not enable Iran’s regional policies or finance its expeditionary campaigns — which were well-funded before 2015 — the agreement encouraged Iran’s behavior. Certainly its huge arms purchases from Russia would not have been possible under the oil export and foreign deposit sanctions, and the agreement gave Iran a “seal of approval” facilitating its aggressiveness.

Leveraging the Iran deal to pressure Tehran, or even negotiating a more restrictive agreement, may look at first blush like mission impossible. Despite the nibbling at the edges described above, there is as yet no serious Iranian JCPOA violation. Under these conditions, as Richard Nephew and Ian Goldberg argue in Foreign Policy, there is little likelihood that the United States could convince the agreement’s other signatories and third parties to again implement U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil exports, which brought Iran to the negotiating table last time.

While this fact seemingly argues for leaving the agreement alone, there are other considerations that the administration must take into account. This includes a looming crisis in the Middle East: The Iranian-Assad-Russian campaign for dominance in Syria, and the American-led Coalition campaign to destroy the Islamic State, are both coming to a close. This leaves the United States and its partners with the choice of pulling out of enclaves in Syria and northern Iraq, which were established to fight the Islamic State but useful to counter the Iranian alliance, or if not, face possible direct military confrontation with Iran and its surrogates in both countries, as they see these enclaves as obstacles to Iranian domination of the Levant. Under such circumstances, no aspect of Iranian relations, including the JCPOA, can be immune from a re-think.

The United States can take measures here short of a full-scale JCPOA annulment — which, given the difficulties imposing international sanctions, would likely be a diplomatic disaster. European allies, for example, recently joined the United States in challenging an Iranian missile test “in defiance of” U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the JCPOA. The issue of blocked IAEA access to Iranian military facilities should also be reviewed.

Iran’s expectation of commercial benefits from the JCPOA is also its Achilles’ heel.

Iran’s expectation of commercial benefits from the JCPOA is also its Achilles’ heel. The administration could discourage global firms from doing business with Iran by leaving open its final position on the deal, and thus placing at risk their business with America. This is a technical violation of the JCPOA’s terms, but of the most unrealistic condition — the commitment to support  Iranian economic development. While such actions would disappoint Iran, they are unlikely to drive Tehran from an otherwise beneficial agreement.Furthermore, as Haley signaled in her AEI remarks, the law passed by the U.S. Congress requiring the president to certify that Iran is abiding by the Iran deal defines “compliance” more broadly than the JCPOA terms does. In contrast to the Iran deal, the president is required to certify that sanctions relief is in the vital national security interests of the U.S. The president thus could hold Iran in “non-compliance” under that act without necessarily stopping — or allowing Congress to stop — American compliance with the terms of the JCPOA. Under JCPOA Paragraph 36, the United States could also reinstitute token or partial sanctions in response to Iranian actions without pulling out of the agreement.

To many in the international community — especially Europe, but less so in the countries closer to Iran — such steps are anathema. But few if any countries really consider preserving the JCPOA their overriding interest in the Middle East: Even in Europe, what really impacts populations is threats from the Islamic State and unchecked refugee flows, which are largely a result of Iran’s policies in Syria. Moreover, a possible collapse of the U.S.-led Middle East security system by an unchecked Iran endangers them more than it does the United States.

No matter what Trump or another president does, the Iran deal is poised to run up against an uncomfortable political reality. Under the JCPOA, Congress must formally terminate sanctions — which until now have only been waived by the executive branch – by January 2024. It defies credulity to think that anything like today’s Congress, given anything like Iran’s current behavior, would take such a step by 2024.  But not doing so would violate a key JCPOA provision and block Iranian formal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s Additional Protocol. Under these conditions, it may be feasible to pressure those in the international community favorable to the JCPOA to rethink overall relations with Iran, as the “price” for salvaging the agreement’s nuclear restraints.

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

The Iran Deal Is on Thin Ice, and Rightly So

Related:

Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus)

 (John Bolton)

(Includes John Bolton’s Plan for Iran and the Nuclear Deal)

Lebanese Army to Deploy Along Entire Eastern Border: Army Chief

September 8, 2017

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s army will deploy along the country’s entire eastern border with Syria and remain stationed there after recently recapturing areas from Islamic State militants, army chief General Joseph Aoun said on Friday.

The remarks appeared to confirm comments by the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah that it was handing over points it had controlled along the border to the military.

“The army will deploy from now onwards along the extent of the eastern borders, to defend them,” Aoun said at a ceremony commemorating Lebanese soldiers killed by Islamic State.

An army offensive last month ended with the militants withdrawing from their last foothold along the border under a ceasefire deal. The Syrian army and Hezbollah fought the jihadists separately on the Syrian side.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in July it would be ready to hand over territory it captured if the Lebanese army requested it.

Hezbollah led a campaign in the same area that month to oust the Nusra Front jihadist group from their last foothold along the border.

Security sources said Hezbollah had begun handing over points it controlled.

Iran-backed Hezbollah has played a critical role in vanquishing Sunni Muslim jihadists in the border region during the six-year-long Syrian war, part of its military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The group, an ally of Lebanese President Michel Aoun, was key to the defeat of militants in the Qalamoun area further south in 2015, and at the Syrian town of Qusair, in 2013.

Lebanon’s southern border with Israel, a Hezbollah foe, is patrolled by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

(Reporting by Sarah Dadouch, editing by Larry King)

The Next Middle East War

September 8, 2017
Israel and Iran are heading for conflict over southern Syria.
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Donald Trump during a news conference with the Emir of Kuwait at the White House, September 7, 2017.

By The Editorial Board
The wall Street Journal
Sept. 7, 2017 7:22 p.m. ET

Israel launched airstrikes on a military compound in Syria on Thursday, and the bombing should alert the Trump Administration as much as the Syrians. They carry a warning about the next war in the Middle East that could draw in the U.S.

Israel doesn’t confirm or deny its military strikes, but former officials said they were aimed at a base for training and a warehouse for short- and midrange missiles. The strikes also hit a facility that the U.S. cited this year for involvement in making chemical weapons.

The larger context is the confrontation that is building between Israel and Iran as the war against Islamic State moves to a conclusion in Syria and Iraq. Iran is using Syria’s civil war, and the battle against ISIS, as cause to gain a permanent military foothold in Syria that can threaten Israel either directly or via its proxies in Syria and Lebanon.

Tehran has helped Hezbollah stockpile tens of thousands of missiles that will be launched against Israel in the next inevitable conflict. If it can also dominate southern Syria, Iran can establish a second front on the border near the Golan Heights that would further stretch Israel’s ability to defend itself.

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Israel may have to make more such strikes in Syria because Iran isn’t likely to give up on this strategic opening. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards know they have Russia’s backing in Syria, and the U.S. is signaling that it is loathe to do anything to change that once Islamic State is routed from Raqqa.

“As far as Syria is concerned, we have very little to do with Syria other than killing ISIS,” President Trump said Thursday at a White House press conference with the emir of Kuwait. “What we do is we kill ISIS. And we have succeeded in that respect. We have done better in eight months of my Presidency than the previous eight years against ISIS.”

Great, but the problem is that the end of ISIS won’t bring stability to Syria, and American interests in the Middle East don’t end with ISIS. The danger of a proxy war or even a direct war between Iran and Israel is growing, and it will increase as Iran’s presence builds in Syria. Mr. Trump may not like it, but he needs a strategy for post-ISIS Syria that contains Iran if he doesn’t want the U.S. to be pulled back into another Middle East war.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-next-middle-east-war-1504826567

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Fatemeh Bahrami | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
A Iranian woman walks past a wall painting in the shape of Iranian flag in Tehran, Iran on the first anniversary of nuclear deal between Iran and world powers on January 16, 2017.
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Iran has boasted about its ballistic missiles, many of which are on mobile launchers

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© Saudi Royal Palace/AFP/File / by Ali Choukeir | A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on July 30, 2017 shows Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) receiving prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Jeddah

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Syria Warns Israel of “Dangerous Repercussions” After Israeli Attack on Chemical Weapons Site

September 8, 2017
BY JPOST.COM STAFF, ANNA AHRONHEIM
 SEPTEMBER 7, 2017 11:34

Syria accuses Israel of targeting a chemical weapons plant and killing two of its soldiers; Israel has yet to confirm or deny the allegations, but Israeli security officials are speaking out.

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People seen fleeing the alleged site of the Israeli attack on a Syrian post where chemical weapons are manufactured.  (photo credit:SOCIAL MEDIA)

Syria accused Israel on Thursday of carrying out an aerial attack on Assad posts overnight. The alleged Israeli attack hit a scientific research center where chemical weapons are manufactured, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

In a statement, the Syrian army warned Israel of “dangerous repercussions of this aggressive action to the security and stability of the region” following the attack.

According to the reports, the attack was launched at 2:30 a.m. on targets located in central Syria, in the area of Hama, and also targeted several weapons convoys that were en route to Hezbollah strongholds in the area.

The Syrian army charged later on Thursday morning that Israel killed two of its soldiers during the aerial attack. An IDF spokeswoman declined to comment on the reports, saying that the army does not comment on operational matters.

Arab media claimed there are three casualties as a result of the attack, which centered on a regime post that belongs to the scientific research center on the outskirts of Hama, situated in the northwestern part of the country. In the scientific center, the regime reportedly develops munitions such as missiles and has developed chemical weapons as well.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that an airstrike on Masyaf in Syria hit a Scientific Studies and Research Center facility and an adjacent military camp where ground-to-ground rockets are stored.

https://maphub.net/embed/15678

The United States has imposed sanctions on employees of the Scientific Studies and Research Center, which it describes as the Syrian agency responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons including chemical weapons, something Damascus denies.

Syrian social media activists reported that “Israeli airplanes infiltrated from the valley area in Lebanon and attacked the center.”

Lebanese media reported that around 4 p.m. IAF fighter jets were spotted circling above Lebanon.

Speaking to Army Radio early Thursday morning, Gen. (res.) Gadi Shamni, who previously served as the military secretary of the prime minister, said that Israel “must do everything to prevent Iran from getting a better stronghold than that which it already has on Syria.”

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This Sunday, April 30, 2017 photo provided by the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), shows a fighter from the SDF carrying weapons as he looks toward the northern town of Tabqa, Syria.

He also said that he “assumes there’s a level of cooperation with the Americans following such an attack or beforehand, but we don’t have to ask for their approval.”

Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence and Executive Director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) took to Twitter stating that the strike was not routine and targeted a Syrian military-scientific center that develops and manufactures, among other things, precision missiles.

“The factory in the attack also produces chemical weapons and barrels of explosives that killed thousands of Syrian citizens. If the attack was conducted by Israel, it would be a commendable and moral action by Israel against the slaughter in Syria,” he wrote.

“The attack sent 3 important messages: Israel won’t allow for empowerment and production of strategic arms. Israel intends to enforce its redlines despite the fact that the great powers are ignoring them. The presence of Russian air defense does not prevent airstrikes attributed to Israel.

“Now it’s important to keep the escalation in check and to prepare for a Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah response and even opposition from Russia.”

While the IDF does not comment on foreign reports, it would not be the first time Israeli jets have hit Assad regime and Hezbollah targets in Syria. Jerusalem has repeatedly said that while there is no interest by Israel to enter into Syria’s civil war, there are red lines that Jerusalem has set including the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah and an Iranian presence on its borders.

Former Israel Air Force Head Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel stated that Israel carried out at least 100 strikes in the past five years,  against the transfer of advanced weaponry from the Assad regime to Hezbollah, including the transfer of chemical weapons.

Just yesterday, the United Nations released a report affirming that the Syrian regime, governed by Bashar Assad, had indeed used chemical weapons (specifically Serin [sic] gas) to attack its own people when it had bombed the province of Idlib this past April.

The UN investigators confirmed that more than 80 civilians died as a direct result of the lethal attack on Khan Sheikhoun.

This is a developing story.

Yasser Okbi and Reuters contributed to this report.

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http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Initial-Israel-attacked-chemical-weapons-facility-in-Syria-Arab-media-claims-504455
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Syrian government behind sarin gas attack which killed 83 in April, say UN investigators
http://www.firstpost.com/world/syrian-government-behind-sarin-gas-attack-which-killed-83-in-april-say-un-investigators-4017573.html
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Israeli defence chiefs warn Iran, Syria after air strike — “We shall do everything in order not to allow the existence of a Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus.”

September 7, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Israeli soldiers manuever a tank during a military exercise in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on September 7, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel’s defence minister on Thursday issued a veiled warning to Syria, without confirming or denying what Damascus said was an Israeli air strike on its territory.Syria’s army accused Israel of hitting one of its positions, killing two people in an attack earlier the same day that a monitor said targeted a site where the regime allegedly produces chemical weapons.

“We are determined to prevent our enemies harming, or even creating an opportunity to harm, the security of Israeli citizens,” Avigdor Lieberman said in Hebrew, in remarks broadcast on Israeli television.

“We shall do everything in order not to allow the existence of a Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus.”

The site struck near Masyaf, between the central city of Hama and a port used by the Russian navy, is reportedly used by forces from Syria’s allies Iran and the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah.

Israeli planes have previously carried out strikes believed to have targeted the transfer of weapons to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which fought a devastating war with the Jewish state in 2006.

Israel has long warned it would not allow the transfer of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah and has accused Iran of building sites to produce “precision-guided missiles” in both Syria and Lebanon.

In comments made earlier, the head of Israeli military intelligence, Major General Herzl Halevi, did not mention Thursday’s strike directly but warned his country’s enemies “near and far”.

“Serious security threats to Israel are presented by armed organisations, most of them financed and aided by Iran,” he said in a public address.

“We are dealing with these threats, both near and far, with determination and our enemies in every arena know very well the combination of (our) precise intelligence and operational capabilities.”

Israel Air Strike Targets Chemical Weapons in Syria, Hezbollah Weapons

September 7, 2017

Reuters and France 24

© Jack Guez, AFP | An Israeli Air Force F-15 Eagle fighter plane performs at an air show during the graduation of new cadet pilots at Hatzerim base in the Negev desert, near the southern Israeli city of Beer Sheva, on June 29, 2017.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-09-07

Syria’s army said Israel targeted one of its positions in Hama province early on Thursday, which a war monitor said was a branch of the government agency accused by the U.S. of producing chemical weapons.

The army statement said the airstrike killed two people and caused material damage near the town of Masyaf and warned against the “dangerous repercussions of this aggressive action to the security and stability of the region”.

The war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the strikes hit a Scientific Studies and Research Centre facility, the agency the U.S. describes as Syria’s chemical weapons manufacturer.

The Observatory also said that a military storage camp next to the centre was used to store ground-to-ground rockets and that personnel of Iran and its allied Lebanese Hezbollah group had been seen there more than once.

Alleged Israeli strike on Syria

Alleged IDF bombing of targets in Syria. (photo credit:ARAB SOCIAL MEDIA)

It gave the total number of dead and wounded in the strike as seven.

Israeli officials have in the past admitted that Israel has attacked weapons shipments bound for Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, without specifying which ones.

An Israeli army spokeswoman declined to discuss reports of a strike in Syria, saying the army does not comment on operational matters.

Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, tweeted that the reported attack was not routine and targeted a Syrian military scientific centre.

“The facility at Masyaf also produces chemical weapons and explosive barrels that have killed thousands of Syrian civilians,” Yadlin said in the tweet.

There was no independent confirmation that this was the target but the United Nations has said in the past that the Syrian government has carried out chemical weapons attacks, which Damascus denies.

Israeli officials have also previously said that Israel and Russia, another Assad ally, maintain regular contacts to coordinate military action in Syria.

Jets flying over Lebanon overnight broke the sound barrier and Lebanese media reported that some Israeli jets had breached Lebanese airspace.

Related:

Israeli Airstrike Hits Chemical Weapons Site in Syria — “We must do everything to prevent Iran from getting a better stronghold than that which it already has on Syria.” 

September 7, 2017
BYJPOST.COM STAFF, ANNA AHRONHEIM
 SEPTEMBER 7, 2017 07:23

 

Syria accuses Israel of targeting a chemical weapons plant and killing two of its soldiers; Israel has yet to confirm or deny the allegations, but Israeli security officials are speaking out.

Alleged Israeli strike on Syria

Alleged IDF bombing of targets in Syria. (photo credit:ARAB SOCIAL MEDIA)

Syria accused Israel on Thursday of carrying out an aerial attack on Assad posts overnight, hitting a scientific research center where chemical weapons are manufactured.

In a statement, the Syrian army warned Israel of “dangerous repercussions of this aggressive action to the security and stability of the region” following the attack.

According to the reports, the attack was reportedly launched at 2:30 a.m. on targets located in central Syria, in the area of Hama, and also targeted several weapons convoys that were en route to Hezbollah strongholds in the area. 

Image may contain: text

The Syrian army charged later on Thursday morning that Israel killed two of its soldiers during the aerial attack. An IDF spokeswoman declined to comment on the reports, saying that the army does not comment on operational matters.

Arab media claimed there are three casualties as a result of the attack, which centered on a regime post that belongs to the scientific research center on the outskirts of Hama, situated in the northwestern part of the country. In the scientific center, the regime reportedly develops munitions such as missiles and has developed chemical weapons as well.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that an airstrike on Masyaf in Syria hit a Scientific Studies and Research Center facility and an adjacent military camp where ground-to-ground rockets are stored

The United States has imposed sanctions on employees of the Scientific Studies and Research Center, which it describes as the Syrian agency responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons including chemical weapons, something Damascus denies.

Syrian social media activists reported that “Israeli airplanes infiltrated from the valley area in Lebanon and attacked the center.”

Lebanese media reported that around 4 p.m. IAF fighter jets were spotted circling above Lebanon.

Speaking to Army Radio early Thursday morning, Gen. (res.) Gadi Shamni, who previously served as the military secretary of the prime minister, said that Israel “must do everything to prevent Iran from getting a better stronghold than that which it already has on Syria.” 

He also said that he “assumes there’s a level of cooperation with the Americans following such an attack or beforehand, but we don’t have to ask for their approval.”

Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence and Executive Director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) took to Twitter stating that the strike was not routine and targeted a Syrian military-scientific center that develops and manufactures, among other things, precision missiles.

“The factory in the attack also produces chemical weapons and barrels of explosives that killed thousands of Syrian citizens. If the attack was conducted by Israel, it would be a commendable and moral action by Israel against the slaughter in Syria,” he wrote.

“The attack sent 3 important messages: Israel won’t allow for empowerment and production of strategic arms. Israel intends to enforce its redlines despite the fact that the great powers are ignoring them. The presence of Russian air defense does not prevent airstrikes attributed to Israel.

“Now it’s important to keep the escalation in check and to prepare for a Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah response and even opposition from Russia.”

While reports of Israeli responsibility had not been verified by early Thursday morning, it would not be the first time Israeli jets have hit Assad regime and Hezbollah targets in Syria. Jerusalem has repeatedly said that while there is no interest by Israel to enter into Syria’s civil war, there are red lines that Jerusalem has set including the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah and an Iranian presence on its borders.

Former Israel Air Force Head Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel stated that Israel carried out at least 100 strikes in the past five years,  against the transfer of advanced weaponry from the Assad regime to Hezbollah, including the transfer of chemical weapons.

Just yesterday, the United Nations released a report affirming that the Syrian regime, governed by Bashar Assad, had indeed used chemical weapons (specifically Serin gas) to attack its own people when it had bombed the province of Idlib this past April.

The UN investigators confirmed that more than 80 civilians died as a direct result of the lethal attack on Khan Sheikhoun.

This is a developing story.

Yasser Okbi and Reuters contributed to this report.

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Initial-Israel-attacked-chemical-weapons-facility-in-Syria-Arab-media-claims-504455

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