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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

In the Short Run, Biden Might Well Keep his Promise that Iran Won’t Get Nukes

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

{Originally posted at author’s website, Liberty Unyielding}

It’s not just the promise, of course.  It’s the Bidenesque way he makes it:

Monday, Biden had to remind Israeli leaders that the U.S. is not seeking a negotiation with Iran at Israel’s expense.

“I have heard so much malarkey about our position on Iran,” Biden said. “We will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, period. I would not put my 42-year reputation on the line if I were not certain when I say it. We mean it.”

Daniel Greenfield casts a doubt or two on that 42-year reputation, and that’s fair enough.  We would be fools to take seriously such assurances from Joe Biden.

But there are reasons why Iran may well delay that moment of focused provocation when the radical Islamic regime proves itself nuclear armed.  If the Iranians don’t have the means to offer that proof yet, they are very close to it – so close that it is now their choice how fast to move, and in what way.

Where we are

Iran now lacks only the public demonstration of uranium enrichment to a weapons-grade level (above 95%), and a detectable warhead detonation.  To talk of a “breakout” capacity – a bomb-in-waiting – as something we are still looking for is now misleading.  Using such terms suggests that there is something more we need to see from Iran, before we officially set the breakout watch.

But the reality is that there is nothing we have yet to see that we can reliably expect to see.  We’ve reached the point at which it is prudent to assume the breakout watch has already started – and imprudent not to.

Fifteen years ago, Iran did not have a reliable uranium enrichment process; did not have an industrial-scale infrastructure for enrichment; did not have a stockpile of enriched uranium; did not have her own uranium production capacity; did not have a detonator mechanism for a uranium warhead; did not have a missile that could deliver a nuclear warhead; and did not have anything close to an intercontinental missile capability.

As little as six years ago, moreover, the United States had more than enough ready combat power, between our Air Force and Navy, to quickly strike a meaningful blow against an Iranian nuclear infrastructure that was still comparatively rudimentary and geographically concentrated.

Both of those conditions have changed significantly.  Iran now does have all the things she lacked in 1999: enough low-enriched uranium for at least 7-8 warheads; a proven enrichment process, including enrichment to higher purity (19.75%); an industrial-scale infrastructure, with geographic dispersion; an indigenous uranium production capacity (see here and here); a tested detonator mechanism for a nuclear warhead; at least one medium-range ballistic missile series that could deliver a nuclear warhead; and a satellite/rocket program advanced enough to support ICBM testing in as little as 1-3 years.  Iran has acquired almost all of these things since UN sanctions were implemented in 2007, and under the regime of IAEA inspections.

Reminder: Nothing has interrupted the trend of Iran’s uranium enrichment. Red column shows low-enriched UF6 stockpiled (versus total cumulative enrichment in blue), once Iran began enriching some stock to 20% in Jan 2012. Although Iran has “downblended” her 20%-enriched stock, the rate of increase in the total stockpile of 5% LEU has been robust: 17% from 11/13 to 11/14. (Data source: IAEA)

Reminder: Nothing has interrupted the trend of Iran’s uranium enrichment. Red column shows low-enriched UF6 stockpiled (versus total cumulative enrichment in blue), once Iran began enriching some stock to 20% in Jan 2012. Although Iran has “downblended” her 20%-enriched stock, the rate of increase in the total stockpile of 5% LEU has been robust: 17% from 11/13 to 11/14. (Data source: IAEA)

American military power, in the meantime, has declined to such an extent that mounting a quick, comprehensive strike on the Iranian infrastructure is no longer feasible.  We couldn’t do it quickly.  Not only could we not do it quickly; we couldn’t do it without first restoring the readiness of military units we no longer keep at their highest readiness level.  It would take months to prepare for a comprehensive strike campaign – and would require the prior allocation of special funding from Congress.

Where Iran once wanted to be

Iran’s vision for the future has been shaped, as everyone’s has, by the consequences of the Arab Spring.  It has also been shaped by the withdrawal of American power under Obama.

Four or five years ago, Iran took as a given the U.S. posture in the larger Middle East.  That posture included a key strategic presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan; close partnerships with almost all the Gulf Cooperation Council nations; special relationships, including military cooperation, with both Egypt and Israel; and unchallenged supremacy on the regional seas.

Iran’s basic objective was to peel America’s partners away through the pressure of proxy insurgencies (and other underhanded tactics), and thus squeeze us out of the region.  The first-order purpose of having the bomb was to immunize Iran against retaliation in that process, as the USSR had immunized itself with a nuclear “deterrent” force when it worked through proxy conflicts in the Cold War.

Iran also set her sights on chokepoints in the regional waterways, from the Strait of Hormuz through the Red Sea and all the way to Morocco and the Strait of Gibraltar.  No one was close to having a navy that could challenge the U.S. Navy, but even great navies are vulnerable in chokepoints.

At a kind of eschatological-strategic level, meanwhile, just as the Arab Spring was unfolding in early 2011, Iranian TV was running a mullah-approved “documentary” that outlined a scheme of military preparation for the arrival of the “twelfth imam.”  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad figured as a great military commander from Shia prophecy in this fantastical oeuvre, which depicted a dénouement in the armed conquest of Jerusalem.  (“Rescuing” Jerusalem had already figured for years in Iranian policy rhetoric, as well as in the concept of some major military exercises.)

Where Iran now wants to be

In the years since Obama took office, much has changed.  One thing hasn’t, and that’s Iran’s interest in gaining leverage at critical chokepoints in the regional seaways.  But some of the focused urgency has been bled out of the pressure campaign against America’s regional partners, in part because of the Arab Spring, and in part because Barack Obama has been doing an excellent job of peeling them away from us himself.

The momentum of Iran’s efforts has shifted to a new, more geographically focused vector, one that as recently as 2011 appeared to be unthinkable.  Where once Iran was confined to putting general pressure on various American partners in the region, and perhaps maneuvering to leapfrog nearby territory in which we seemed established – Iraq, Jordan, Israel – Iran can now realistically contemplate making an “internal” line of communication (LOC) through that territory.  She might accomplish that by proxy first, and then, eventually, exploit the LOC directly.

In fact, with much of the territory in question now disputed between ISIS and a weak Iraqi government, Iran has all the more reason for being there, with advisors and military equipment.

The bonus?  The U.S., weakened and compromised as our power is, has signed up to do at least some of the fighting against ISIS.  If Iran plays her cards right, American forces will open her strategic LOC through the heart of the Middle East for her.

Female IDF Veteran Goes to Help Kurdish Fighters

Monday, November 10th, 2014

A female veteran of the Israel Defense Forces who immigrated to Israel from Canada is on her way to join Kurdish fighters training in an Iraqi camp on the border with Syria.

The 31-year-old woman did not identify herself in her conversation with Israel Radio, other than to say she contacted Kurdish fighters via the Internet and decided to help.

“They are our brothers. They are good people,” she told the interviewer. “They love life, a lot like us, really.”

Many Kurdish fighters – especially in the northern Syrian city of Kobani – are women. This IDF veteran told Israel Radio she felt she could contribute to the Kurdish effort. But she did not provide any details other than to say she planned to travel to the combat zones in northern Syria.

Israel bans its citizens from traveling to enemy nations, including Syria and Iraq. However, Israel has maintained quiet ties with the Kurds since the 1960s; the unique ethnic population stands apart as a group of its own in four countries – Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey.

If and when the traveling military “consultant” returns to Israel from helping the Kurds, it is not yet clear what will happen to her.

Iranian, Syrian Nuclear Scientists Assassinated Near Damascus

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Five nuclear scientists – one Iranian and four Syrians — were assassinated this weekend (Sunday, Nov. 9) while riding a bus to work at a scientific research center in the Barzeh neighborhood of northern Damascus.

According to Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “Their bus was ambushed while they were on their way to the research center. Their assailants shot them dead.”

Six people who worked at the same center were killed in July 2013 when the installation was shelled by Syrian rebels.

In May 2013, a different military research center came under attack by Israel, when it was clear that lethal weaponry was to be transferred to Hezbollah terrorists, who would then use it against the Jewish State.

Shots Fired at IDF From Syrian Border

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

A small caliber weapon was used to shoot at IDF troops patrolling along the border near Quneitra, along the Syrian border, just before 4 PM on Thursday.

No soldiers were injured from the Syrian gunfire.

Israel Wants UN to Recognize Hamas – as a Terrorist Organization

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Israel will demand that the United Nations label Hamas a terrorist organization when the head of the IDF’s international law department and Israel’s legal adviser to the international body meet this month for the first time ever with U.N. officials.

The United Nations never has officially recognized any group as a terrorist organization, and considering the solid pro-Arab majority in the General Assembly, the chances of its labeling Hamas as a terrorist group are as high as Iran publicly turning over its nuclear development program to the United States for safe keeping.

“Operation Protective Edge serves as a serious ‘indictment’ that reveals Hamas’ international crimes with emphasis on the terror tunnels as well as the usage of civilians as human shields,” the Israel delegation said in a statement.

The meeting with senior United Nations official will take place with the IDF’s expert on law, Col. Noam Neuman, and the Foreign Ministry’s legal adviser Ehud Keinan to UN senior officials.

It added, with what must undoubtedly be a carload of sarcasm, “Surprisingly, to date the UN has not officially recognized any organization in the world as a terrorist organization.”

”Surprisingly?”

The United Nations does not even know what terrorism means. It has no official definition of the term, according to Anne Bayefsky, editor of Eye on the UN. If the United Nations were to define a country that sponsors terrorism and then expel it from the undistinguished international body, the General Assembly could move into much smaller quarters.

The United Nations, once known for its work around the world to help poor societies, especially in Africa, has turned into a front for terrorism because it protects countries that operate on terror. It even awards them with prestigious positions. Saudi Arabia is on the Human Rights Council and Iran is on the Commission on the Status of Women.

Bayefsky wrote last week in the New York Daily News:

“Since the UN has no definition of terrorism, state sponsors of terrorism happily denounce terrorism’ at the very same time as they promote it. Second, the terrorist funders and weapons suppliers redirect the world’s attention to the supposed ‘root causes’ of terrorism….

“On Oct. 7, at the legal committee meeting at UN headquarters, Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon listed ‘root causes that may lead to radicalism such as . . . poverty, social exclusion and marginalization’ along with ‘Islamophobia.’

“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani played the same card in an address to the General Assembly in September when he whined about ‘Iranophobia.’ …

“Iran is also the president of the so-called ‘Non-Aligned Movement — a group of nations routinely aligned against the West. As such, Iran speaks for 120 UN member states — a majority of the 193 UN countries.

“Here’s the Iranian speech to the UN legal beagles that was webcast Oct. 7: ‘Terrorism should not be equated with the legitimate struggle of peoples under colonial or alien domination and foreign occupation for self-determination and national liberation.’

“All 56 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation have signed on to the Islamic Convention on Combating International Terrorism, which gives a green light to killing Israelis, Americans and anybody else deemed fair game. The treaty says, ‘Peoples’ struggle, including armed struggle against foreign occupation, aggression, colonialism and hegemony, aimed at liberation and self-determination . . . shall not be considered a terrorist crime.’”

The United Nations Security Council has followed the Peace and Love philosophy of universal self-destruction by blaming “conditions” for the “spread of violent extremism.”

No one is responsible for his actions, except Israel of course, whose existence is alleged as the reason for terror. Get rid of Israel, and there will be no more terror.

Battle Ends Between ISIS-linked Fighters and Lebanese Army in Tripoli

Monday, October 27th, 2014

After two days of heavy gunfire, the streets are now silent in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-largest city.

Lebanon’s army and Islamist fighters linked to Syrian rebels, the Jabhat al Nusra (Al Nusra Front), Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror groups have ceased fighting.

But not until after they had claimed the lives of 11 soldiers and eight civilians.

The two-day battle was the worst Syrian-linked violence in Lebanon since the summer, when Islamist fighters linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group, and Jabhat al Nusra (Al Nusra Front) invaded the Lebanese border town of Arsal.

The Syrian “rebels” – actually foreign terrorists, for the most part – took 20 Lebanese soldiers captive in that raid. Three have since been executed.

The mostly Sunni Muslim city has seen numerous battles – overflow from the civil war raging in Syria – over the past three-plus years.

Israel has seen overflow from that war as well, with some of the shelling and missile fire directed into the Golan Heights. Occasionally it becomes unclear who is firing what at whom; on those occasions, the IDF fires back at the source, and the silence on Israel’s northern border returns.

Due to the sectarian nature of the Middle East, Lebanon has had its share of instability. Sunni Muslims have for the most part lined up behind the Syrian rebels, who are themselves a divided group, some having broken away to become jihadists and others having remained moderate.

Shi’ite Lebanese have supported the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, along with the Hezbollah terrorist organization. Both are generously patronized by Iran. Russia has also been an eager participant, supporting Assad with weapons as well.

Since February, Lebanon has been a country without a president. That is when the term of former President Michel Suleiman expired – and none has been elected to take his place.

For now, the army has managed to clear nearly all the positions held by the Islamist gunmen, according to Sunni politician Samir Jisr, who spoke with international media. Almost. There are still a few positions left to clear around the city.

US-led Coalition Destroys Syrian Oil Wells

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Syria’s once-lucrative oil wells and refineries have become history as the U.S.-led coalition bombs the Jafra oil fields in the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour.

Russia, China and the Netherlands all had oil interests in Syria prior to the civil war that has raged across Israel’s northern neighbor for the past three years. But those days are long gone.

The coalition carried out at least four air strikes on the oil fields late Wednesday (Oct. 22), according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

At present, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist organization is in control of the oil fields and the oil pipeline that carries the black gold to its consumers.

ISIS is believed to rake in about $1 million per day from the oil wells and their associated pipelines. Some of those supplies are believed to be purchased by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad himself, despite his stance as an enemy of the terrorist organization.

Now that the oil wells themselves have been destroyed, the U.S. and its allies are considering whether to expand their operations to include bombing the oil pipelines as well.

But bombing the oil pipelines may not finish the task, since some of the supplies are likely sent by tanker to other customers, analysts say. It is suspected that at least one of the buyers may even be in Turkey, and the other in Iraq. Both nations are fighting ISIS, although not nearly with the ferocity shown by the Kurds or Syrians.

ISIS also controls the oil fields in Iraq, which has made it one of the wealthiest and most self-sufficient terror organizations in the world, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

“The financing of this barbaric organization allows it to continue its operations,” U.S. deputy assistant secretary for European affairs Julieta Valls Noyes told The Telegraph while in London. “What we have to do is degrade its abilities and ultimately to destroy it.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/us-led-coalition-destroys-syrian-oil-wells/2014/10/23/

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