By Sean Savage/JNS.org
by Con Coughlin
President Barack Obama may have hailed his deal with Iran as an historic breakthrough, but this is not how it is being viewed in Saudi Arabia, where the kingdom has responded to Washington’s attempted rapprochement with Tehran by embarking on a massive military build up.
Saudi Arabia is Iran’s fiercest regional rival, with enmity between the two countries dating back at least to Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, and the Saudi royal family has voiced deep scepticism about the Obama administration’s foreign policy tilt towards Iran. Mr Obama will hear these views most forcefully expressed himself with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the Saudi monarch visits Washington this weekend.
In the past, the late Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, consistently spoke out against the dangers of a U.S.-Iran deal, while other senior Saudi security officials have warned that the kingdom would strike out on its own if its interests were threatened by an unsatisfactory nuclear agreement. The most public demonstration of the Saudis’ displeasure came in May when King Salman declined to attend a Camp David summit at which Mr. Obama hoped to reassure Gulf leaders that the Iran protected their interests.
So no one should be surprised that, now that Mr. Obama has signed off his deal with the ayatollahs, the Saudis have embarked on a massive arms build up, one that promises dramatic changes to the military balance of power in the region.
Institutional concerns in Riyadh’s defence establishment over the threat posed by Iran have already resulted in Saudi Arabia having the world’s fourth largest defence budget. A recent study by London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank conservatively estimated Riyadh’s defence spend for 2014 at $59.6 billion, although other assessments have suggested it rose by 17 percent to $80.8 billion. Either way this places Saudi spending above that of Britain, at $57 billion and France’s £52.4 billion (nearly $80 billion).
Now the Saudis are planning to establish themselves as the Arab world’s undisputed military superpower by embarking on a $150 billion defence spending spree that will see the country’s Armed Forces double in size over the course of the next five years.
The new Saudi defence doctrine drawn up by senior military officers in Riyadh proposes a doubling in the size of the air force from its current strength of around 250 combat warplanes to 500. Increases of a similar scale are envisaged for the kingdom’s other armed forces, with the Navy set to see the size of its surface fleet more than double, as well as acquiring its first submarine fleet. Saudi Arabia also wants to acquire a range of sophisticated ballistic missile systems, air defence systems and battle tanks, while the total number of combat ready personnel will rise above the 500,000 mark.
At this rate, Saudi Arabia will soon replace Egypt as the Arab world’s most significant military power.
Nor is Saudi Arabia’s huge arms build up confined to conventional weaponry. In a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph in London, Prince Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Britain, warned that Riyadh would not rule out acquiring nuclear weapons if Washington failed to provide proper safeguards about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“We hope we receive the assurances that guarantee Iran will not pursue this kind of weapon,” explained Prince Mohammed “But if this does not happen, then all options will be on the table for Saudi Arabia.” Nawaf Obaid, a Saudi defence expert and visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, said: “Saudi Arabia is preparing itself in case Iran develops nuclear weapons.”
Saudi Arabia is known to have close links with Pakistan, where Dr A.Q. Khan, the “father” of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons arsenal, is believed to have received Saudi funding for his research into building an atom bomb. Senior U.S. officials have warned Saudi Arabia has recently taken a “strategic decision” to acquire “off-the-shelf” nuclear weapons from Pakistan.
Saudi Arabia’s new arms build-up is being undertaken as a direct response to what many Saudis believe is the Obama administration’s capitulation to Tehran over its nuclear program. The defence doctrine identifies a nuclear-armed Iran as one of the three main threats the kingdom is likely to face in the future, together with terrorism and regional instability.
The new doctrine threatens to change dramatically the military balance of power in the Arab world, a change that is likely to be viewed with deep concern by Israel. Shortly before Mr. Obama announced the nuclear deal with Tehran, the Saudis announced they had concluded a $12 billion arms deal with France, including helicopters and naval patrol vessels.
Saudi Arabia’s new policy of military assertiveness was recently demonstrated in the Yemen conflict, where the Saudi military played a decisive role in recapturing the strategically important port of Aden after it was overrun by Iranian-back Houthi rebels. As a result, exiled Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Balah has been able to return to his home country.
After their success in Yemen, the Saudis now intend to focus on Syria, where they are again likely to find themselves in direct conflict with Iranian-backed forces. The Saudi royal family is determined to secure the overthrow of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, one of Iran’s most important regional allies, and any attempt by Riyadh to deepen its involvement in the Syrian conflict is likely to result in direct military confrontation with Iran.
The tragedy of all this for the Obama administration is that, had it not been for its obsession with doing a deal with Iran, Washington could have formed a useful strategic alliance with Riyadh to defeat common foes, such as Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) in Syria and Iraq.
But after the Iran deal, the Saudis now appear determined to go it alone, which means they are likely to pursue aggressive policies in the region that will not necessarily be to Washington’s liking, and over which the Obama administration will be able to exercise precious little influence.
by Paul Alster
An unsettling surge in terrorism by Iranian proxies has many Israelis convinced the release to Tehran of tens of billions of dollars in frozen funds is already putting the Jewish state in danger.
In recent days, rockets have rained down on Israel from Gaza in the south and the Golan Heights to the north, Israeli forces foiled a bomb plot at the tomb of biblical patriarch Joseph, and Gaza-based terrorist groups that also have a presence in the West Bank have openly appealed for aid on Iranian television. Israeli officials fear the terrorist activity is spiking as groups audition for funding from Tehran, which is set to receive the long-frozen funds as part of its deal to allow limited nuclear inspections. They say the international focus on Iran’s nuclear ambitions has left its more conventional methods of attacking regional adversaries unaddressed.
“The nuclear context is just one aspect of the negative Iranian activities in the region,” Emmanuel Nahshon, senior Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, told FoxNews.com. “We can see the demonstration of this on a daily basis in Syria, in Yemen, and in Iraq. We see it also when we see the [Iranian] support of Hezbollah and other groups who operate against Israel.”
Last month, National Security Adviser Susan Rice admitted that some of the money due to be released as part of the deal negotiated by the U.S. led P5+1 “would go to the Iranian military and could potentially be used for the kinds of bad behavior that we have seen in the region.”
Aside from the soon-to-be-released billions, Iran’s finances will also be strengthened by the easing of trade embargoes that have seen a horde of major international business – many from P5+1 countries – rushing to sign lucrative deals with the ayatollahs. Earlier this week, British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond scoffed at the fears of Israel and many Arab countries in the Middle East, saying the deal would “slowly rebuild their sense that Iran is not a threat to them.” Less than 24 hours later, the spokesman for Iran’s top parliament member said, “Our positions against [Israel] have not changed at all; Israel should be annihilated.”
If that remains Iran’s intention, terror groups Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are showing a renewed eagerness to continue as its proxies. Four rockets apparently fired by the PIJ from Syria into northern Israel last week – two into the Golan Heights and two more into the Upper Galilee – were the first such attacks since the start of Syria’s bloody civil war more than four years ago. Israel responded with targeted missile strikes, including one which hit a car killing “five or six PIJ terrorists.”
On Aug. 18, Iranian state TV broadcast images of a new, 2.5-mile tunnel leading from Gaza into Israel. Dug by the Fatah-linked terror group the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and seemingly competing with arch-rivals Hamas for a share of the imminently unfrozen Iranian funds, the terrorists made an unabashed appeal for more cash. In a segment translated by Palestinian Media Watch, the terror group’s representatives said, “This is why we are asking for money… especially from Iran, which is a known long-time supporter of the resistance and the Palestinian cause.”
On Tuesday, Israeli officials revealed that a joint Israeli internal security and military operation thwarted a potentially lethal bomb attack planned by the Islamic Jihad on visitors to Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem in the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, the resting place of the biblical figure revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.
The pace of attacks, as well as the diversity of their perpetrators, has prompted speculation that terrorist groups are competing for Iranian funding, and trying to show they are capable of giving Tehran bang for its buck. The terrorist groups however operate on budgets that are tiny given the scale of Iran’s financing capability.
“The amount that Iran gives Hezbollah is not very much – around $200 million – not even 1 percent of Iran’s budget last year,” Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born Israeli expert on the region who writes at http://www.middleastanalyst.com, told FoxNews.com. “If you want to stop Iranian support of Hezbollah you would need to have inspectors on the ground in Syria and Lebanon, the most dangerous of places, checking Hezbollah’s arsenal, bank accounts, bases, and Syrian bases which Hezbollah uses. I don’t see any UN force, or anyone else volunteering to do that.”
British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond scoffed at the fears of Israel and many Arab countries in the Middle East, saying the deal would “slowly rebuild their sense that Iran is not a threat to them.” Less than 24 hours later, the spokesman for Iran’s top parliament member said, “Our positions against [Israel] have not changed at all; Israel should be annihilated.”
To say Hammond is a fool would be an understatement. This man, and any others who think like him, are in the Neville Chamberlain class of idiots.
by Con Coughlin
Since its creation 85 years ago, Saudi Arabia has acquired a reputation as a country that tries to avoid confrontation with its neighbours at all costs. During the long war between Iran and Iraq during the 1980s the Saudis desperately sought to preserve their neutrality, even if Riyadh’s sympathies lay with its fellow Sunni co-religionists in Iraq rather than the Shi’ite Muslim hardliners running Iran.
Similarly, Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the two Gulf wars against Saddam Hussein was kept to a minimum. Saudi warplanes made a modest contribution to the overall air campaign during the 1991 liberation of Kuwait, while Riyadh steadfastly refused to involve itself in the 2003 Iraq war. In other conflicts affecting the region, such as the Palestinian intifada, the Saudis have preferred to channel their immense oil wealth in support of Arab allies rather than become directly involved in the strife.
But then this year came Saudi Arabia’s dramatic military intervention in neighbouring Yemen. Saudi warplanes and troops are now involved in a bitter conflict with Iranian-backed rebels from the Houthi religious movement in Yemen. And Saudi Arabia has been confirmed as one of the region’s dominant military powers.
In the past two years, it has beaten Britain into fourth place in the world’s military spending league with a defence budget of around 37 billion pounds (compared with the UK at around 34 billion pounds).
The military offensive in Yemen has seen Saudi Arabia deploy an estimated 150,000 troops – nearly twice the size of the British Army – while Saudi fighter jets, many of them British-made, have flown thousands of sorties.
Now the Saudis have raised the alarming prospect of the Middle East becoming embroiled in a nuclear arms race after the country’s blunt warning that “all options are on the table” if Iran fails to resolve the international stand-off over its nuclear programme.
Prince Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s long-serving ambassador to London, says that for many years the kingdom upheld the policy established by the late King Fahd that Riyadh would not pursue a policy of developing nuclear weapons. “Then it became known that Iran was pursuing a policy that could be shifted to a weapons-of-mass-destruction programme,” Prince Mohammed explained in an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph. “This has changed the whole outlook in the region.”
Like many in the Arab world and beyond, the Saudis are hoping the current negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue, being led by U.S. President Barack Obama, will provide assurances that Tehran does not possess the means to build an atom bomb.
“We have always expressed our support for resolving the Iranian nuclear file in a diplomatic way and through negotiation,” said Prince Mohammed. “We commend the American president’s effort in this regard, provided that any deal reached is watertight and is not the kind of deal that offers Iran a license to continue its destabilizing foreign policies in the region. The proof is in the pudding.”
Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 – the U.S., the U.K., France, China and Russia (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council) and Germany – are due to be concluded by the end of this month.
Negotiators are pressing Tehran to freeze key elements of its uranium-enrichment cycle – which can be used to produce nuclear warheads – in return for easing the sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.
Despite attempts lasting more than a decade to resolve the issue, Iran has yet to make any significant concessions on its nuclear programme.
The New York Times reported last week that Tehran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel had increased by 20 per cent in the past 18 months. That would make a nonsense of the Obama administration’s contention that Iran had frozen its enrichment operations for the duration of the negotiations. Consequently, there are fears in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states that Obama is more interested in reaching an accommodation with reformists in Iran than in standing by America’s traditional allies in the Arab world.
“Iran’s nuclear programme poses a direct threat to the entire region and constitutes a major source and incentive for nuclear proliferation across the Middle East, including Israel.”
Western intelligence agencies believe that the Saudi monarchy paid for up to 60 per cent of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, in return for the ability to buy warheads for itself at short notice. Any failure by Iran to provide the necessary safeguards by the end of this month could see Riyadh activate that deal, thereby enabling Saudi Arabia to become the Arab world’s first nuclear power. And if that were to happen, then many other regional powers, such as Egypt and Turkey, would also attempt to follow suit – a nuclear arms race in the world’s most unstable region.
Prince Mohammed’s comments should serve as a warning to Obama as he briefs other G7 leaders on the Iran talks at this week’s summit in Germany.
TIMES OF ISRAEL
Israeli analysts expressed shock and amazement Friday night at US President Barack Obama’s stated openness to Iran’s demand for the immediate lifting of all economic sanctions, and his defense of Russia’s agreement to supply a sophisticated air defense system to Iran.
There was no immediate official Israeli response to the president’s comments, which were made after the start of Shabbat in Israel, when politicians generally do not work.
“Jaws dropped” around the studio, said the Channel 10 News diplomatic commentator Ben Caspit, as news broke of Obama’s declared empathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to supply Tehran with the S-300 missile defense system.
“Obama is something else,” Caspit added. “He’s decided to take America out of the wars…”
The station’s news anchor, Alon Ben David, chipped in, “He’s amazed that the Russians honored an agreement with him [for this long]? That’s what is astonishing.”
Responded Caspit, “This is the new America. We had better get used to it.”
Channel 10 also quoted unnamed senior Israeli diplomatic officials saying the prospect of Israel derailing the deal taking shape in US-led talks with Iran on its nuclear program was now zero. “The Iran issue is finished,” the officials were quoted saying.
In Washington earlier on Friday, Obama said he was surprised that Russia’s suspension of missile sales to Iran had “held this long.”
Obama noted that Putin had previously suspended the sale “at our request. I am frankly surprised that it held this long, given that they were not prohibited by sanctions from selling these defensive weapons.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has furiously protested the planned supply of the advanced systems, and phoned Putin this week to try to persuade him to reconsider, but was rebuffed. Israel fears the S-300s would complicate any military intervention as a last resort to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive. It also fears Iran could supply the missile defense systems to Syria or Hezbollah, diluting Israel’s air supremacy over Syria and Lebanon.
Obama on Friday also left open the door to “creative negotiations” in response to Iran’s demand that punishing sanctions be immediately lifted as part of a nuclear deal, even though the US has said the framework agreement reached in Lausanne earlier this month calls for the penalties to be removed over time.
Asked whether he would definitively rule out lifting sanctions at once as part of a final deal aimed at keeping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, Obama said he didn’t want to get ahead of negotiators in how to work through the potential sticking point. He said his main concern is making sure that if Iran violates an agreement, sanctions can quickly be reinstated — the so-called “snap back” provision.
“How sanctions are lessened, how we snap back sanctions if there’s a violation, there are a lot of different mechanisms and ways to do that,” Obama said. He said part of the job for Secretary of State John Kerry and the representatives of five other nations working to reach a final deal with Iran by June 30 “is to sometimes find formulas that get to our main concerns while allowing the other side to make a presentation to their body politic that is more acceptable.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani insisted last week that they would not sign a deal unless all sanctions are lifted right after an agreement is signed. Obama initially portrayed their comments as a reflection of internal political pressure, while pointing out that the framework agreement provides for sanctions to be phased out only once international monitors verify that Tehran is abiding by the limitations.
by JEROME R. CORSI
As the Obama administration negotiates a controversial nuclear agreement with Iran, a dissident group is revealing evidence Tehran is operating a secret uranium-enrichment site northeast of the capital city.
The disclosure Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, NCRI, threatens to undermine the credibility of any nuclear agreement the Obama administration might reach with the radical Islamic clerics that have controlled the government in Tehran since Ayatollah Khomeni’s revolution in 1979.
NCRI’s deputy director, Alireza Jafarzadeh, said Iran cannot be trusted.
“How in the world can the United States expect to get an agreement from Iran to end their nuclear program, when we continue to find Iran is developing and operating secret nuclear facilities that are withheld even from the United Nations International Atomic Energy Administration?” Jafarzadeh asked.
“Iran has lied repeatedly about its secret nuclear facilities, and then when Iran is caught, the government gives you two more lies,” he said.
Jafarzadeh and Soona Samsami, U.S. representative of NCRI, identified the secret nuclear site as Lavizan-3, located in the northeastern suburbs of Tehran.
They said it operates advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges under the cover of an Intelligence Ministry center.
The NCRI disclosure was developed by the Mujahedin-e Klaq, MEK, the group’s political arm in Iran founded in 1965 to oppose Khomeini’s radical Islamic revolution.
NCRI has a track record of accurately disclosing secret Iranian uranium enrichment sites. In 2002, NCRI revealed Iran’s top secret uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, some 100 miles north of Isfahan, and a second top secret Iranian nuclear plant in Arak, approximately 150 miles south of Tehran, designed to produce heavy water for the production of plutonium for use in nuclear weapons.
The Lavizan-3 site is about 500 by 500 yards, with the primary nuclear facility buried deep underground, NCRI said. It consists of four parallel halls, each more than 200 yards long. The facility was constructed by the Iranian Defense Ministry under the direction of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Brig. Gen. Seyyed Ali Hosseini-Tash, then the deputy defense minister, and Kalaye Electric Company, affiliated with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, responsible for the enrichment of uranium.
Jafarzadeh said there is “no way to insure Iran is not developing secret nuclear weapons if Tehran keeps nuclear sites like Lavizan-3 hidden even from the IAEA such that the sites cannot be subject to international inspection.”
“This is especially important when you are talking about a regime that has a track record of lying, cheating and deceiving the whole world,” he said. “That is why the U.S. government and the IAEA should take this information very seriously.”
Jafarzadeh emphasized the importance of the disclosure of yet another secret Iranian nuclear site as the negotiations with the U.S. in Geneva are approach a March 31 deadline.
“This site, Levizan-3, must be inspected and there should be no delay,” he said. “It is absolutely senseless to continue the negotiations discussing how many centrifuges Iran will be allowed to have going forward when we have these serious outstanding issues lingering out there.”
Jafarzadeh said NCRI shared the disclosures with top levels of the U.S. government and with the IAEA.
The disclosures were a “revelation” to the IAEA, he said.
“Under current IAEA agreements, the operation of Levizan-3 is in clear violation of IAEA requirements to inform the IAEA of all developments in Iranian nuclear research and development, as well as a violation of numerous United Nations Security Council decrees, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” he said.
An NCRI statement said the “notion that the mullahs will abandon their nuclear weapons program through nuclear talks is a misguided narrative, which is the byproduct of the mullahs’ duplicity and western economic and political expediency.”
“Those who hope to secure the regime’s cooperation in the campaign against fundamentalism by offering nuclear concessions to the mullahs are both increasing the chances of a nuclear-armed Iran and contributing to the spread of Islamic fundamentalism,” NCRI said.
In a prepared statement she read at the press conference,
Samsami said in a prepared statement that research and development with advanced centrifuges in secret sites are only intended to advance Iran’s nuclear weapons project.
“Why else would the Iranian regime deceive the world into believing it had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, when Levizan-3 was in preparation from 2004 through 2008?” she asked.
“If the United States is serious about preventing the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons, the United States must make the continuation of talks conditional on the IAEA’s immediate inspection of the Levizan-3 site,” she stressed. “Any delay in doing so will enable the Iranian regime to destroy the evidence as it has done in the past.”
In 2005, WND Books published “Atomic Iran: How the Terrorist Regime Bought the Bomb and American Politicians.” The author, senior staff writer Jerome Corsi, argued Iranian supporters in the U.S. of the Islamic regime, including New York-based investment banker Hassan Nemazee, had influenced U.S. politicians such as then-Sen. John Kerry to take campaign contributions in exchange for accepting an Iranian promise of developing nuclear capabilities only for energy.
In 2004, Nemazee served as the New York finance chairman for Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, followed by serving as finance chairman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
In her 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton chose Nemazee to serve as her national finance director.
On March 2010, Nemazee, then 60, pleaded guilty in federal court to fraudulently applying for and receiving some $292 million in loans. As chairman of Nemazee Capital, he received the loans from Citicorp, Bank of America and HSBC to buy property in Westchester County, make campaign contributions to Democratic Party politicians, donate to charity and to support his lavish society lifestyle.
On July 15, 2010, U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York sentenced Namazee to more than 12 years in federal prison on multiple federal criminal counts of bank and wire fraud.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
As U.S. President Barack Obama continues to seek a negotiated deal on Iran’s nuclear program, the Iranians have been working hard in recent weeks to infiltrate the Palestinian arena and re-establish ties with their erstwhile ally, Hamas.
Emboldened by Obama’s obsession with the nuclear negotiations, which are set to resume next month, Iran’s leaders apparently trust that the Obama Administration is prepared to turn a blind eye to whatever they do.
So the Iranians are apparently feeling free to meddle once again in the internal affairs of the Palestinians, to strengthen their hand still further in the Middle East.
With bases in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, Iran has surrounded Saudi Arabia and all the oil fields of the Persian Gulf. This encirclement can be comfortably backed with Iran’s forthcoming nuclear weapons program.
Tehran’s main goal is to regain control over the Palestinian Islamist movement so that it can turn itself into a player in the Israeli-Arab conflict.
The Iranians already have Hezbollah sitting on Israel’s northern border. All they need now is another terror group in Gaza to the south, in order to create a similar encirclement. And they are working hard to achieve this goal.
Relations between Iran and Hamas had become strained after Hamas’s refusal to support the regime of Iran’s client, Syria’s Bashar Assad, in his fight against the Syrian opposition forces.
Iran and Hamas need each other badly. Iran wants Hamas because it does not have many Sunni allies left in the region. An alliance with Hamas would enable Iran to rid itself of charges that it is leading a Shiite camp fighting against the Sunnis.
Hamas, for its part, is desperate for any outside support, especially in wake of its increased isolation in the Palestinian and international arenas.
Hamas is also beginning to feel the heat at home in light of its failure to rebuild the Gaza Strip after last summer’s war with Israel. Hamas leaders are now hoping that Iran will resume its financial aid to the movement and avoid a situation where Palestinians might revolt against it.
Egypt’s tough security measures along its border with the Gaza Strip, including the demolition of hundreds of smuggling tunnels and the creation of a security zone, have also tightened the noose on Hamas.
Hamas leaders say they have taken a “strategic” decision to restore their ties with Iran. Ismail Haniyeh, the former prime minister of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, announced recently that his movement is working toward establishing “open relations” with Iran.
Another Hamas leader, Osama Hamdan, announced that the differences between his movement and Iran have been resolved. He said that Hamas establishes its relations with all parties on the basis of providing support for the Palestinian cause. “We welcome any party that supports the Palestinian cause,” Hamdan said. “Relations between Iran and Hamas have returned to normal.”
As part of Hamas’s efforts to appease the Iranians, the Islamist movement’s armed wing, Izaddin al-Qassam, issued a rare statement “thanking Iran for providing money and weapons” to Hamas and other Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip over the past few years.
Hamas knows that improving its relations with Iran also means rapprochement with Tehran’s proxies in Hezbollah. That is why Hamas has taken a number of steps over the past week to restore its ties with Hezbollah.
The commander of Izaddin al-Qassam, Mohamed Deif, last week sent a letter of condolence to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah over the death of some senior Hezbollah operatives, who were killed in an Israeli air strike in Syria.
In his letter, Deif called on Hezbollah to join forces with Hamas against “the real enemy — the Zionist entity.”
The Hamas-Iran rapprochement is yet another sign of Tehran’s effort to use its allies in the Middle East to destroy Israel. Hamas leaders are now hoping that Iran will resume not only its financial aid to their movement, but the supply of weapons as well.
Iran is not interested in the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip or providing shelter to thousands of Palestinian families who lost their homes during the last war. The only thing Iran is interested in there is turning Hamas into another Iranian-backed army that would be used to attack Israel.
This is all happening at a time when the Obama Administration is busy preparing for another round of talks with Iran over its nuclear program. It is obvious by now that Tehran is using these negotiations to divert attention from its efforts to deepen its involvement in the Middle East, with the hope of taking over the oil fields and eliminating Israel.
President Barack Obama’s New Year gift to Israel and the Middle East is a multibillion fund for establishing an Iraqi army as a division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
Wednesday, the last day of 2014, two defense ministers, Iran’s Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqani and Iraq’s Khallid al-Obeidi, signed a pact whereby Iran i.e. the Revolutionary Guards, will “continue to train new Iraqi military units” for replacing the army that crumbled under the onslaught launched by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant since last June.
“We do not see any other option than cooperation and being on the same side as Iran to uproot the terrorists,” said the Iraqi general.
But he carefully avoided mentioning the 1,850 US soldiers posted to Baghdad, Kurdistan’s Irbil and the Al Asad air base in the western province of Anbar, or the 1,300 additional American combat troops, including paratroops of the elite 82nd Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
The 3,150 US troops currently serving in Iraq are therefore sharing the task of rebuilding Iraqi military units with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards!
Two other key points glossed over by the two defense ministers are revealed here by DEBKAfile’s exclusive military and intelligence sources: The sources of financing and recruits.
On the quiet, President Obama has promised Tehran and Baghdad to put up the funding for the new Iraqi army. It is to come out of the US budgetary allocation for the war on terror – a truly ironic gesture considering the mission of the Revolutionary Guards Corps’s pro-active arm, its Al Qods Brigades, which are primarily to orchestrate external terrorism.
The source of the new manpower was disclosed by Deputy Commander of the IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, when he announced this week that Iran was assembling a mighty army from the various Shiite militias fighting in Syria and Iraq. “This force will be larger even than the Lebanese Hizballah,” he boasted.
All those militias are under the direct command of the Guards. Therefore, the Obama administration has committed the United States to forging a strong military bond with Tehran and providing military and financial assistance for the creation of a strong regional Shiite armed force that will elevate Iran to the standing of leading military power in the Middle East.
US-Iranian cooperation in the war on ISIS is already in full swing in Iraq between the US officers and troops posted there and the headquarters of Iranian Al Qods Brigades Commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi provides liaison. So closely are the two forces aligned, that no Iraqi Shiite operation goes forward without first being cleared with the US command.
by Adam Kredo
A credible U.S. military option against Iran is off the table and something the Obama administration can “no longer even think about,” according to one of Iran’s top military leaders, who claimed in a wide-ranging interview that Iran has deployed advanced missiles and satellites capable of tracking foreign militaries.
Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), scoffed at the Obama administration’s insistence that a credible military option exists against Iran and discussed the Islamic Republic’s offensive military capabilities during a wide-ranging interview on Iranian state-run television.
On the heels of another deal with Iran that extends talks with Western powers over the country’s contested nuclear program through July 2015, Salami accused the United States of bluffing about the threat of military action against Tehran.
“We have denied our enemy any military option,” Salami said in an interview on Iranian television just days after the Nov. 24 extension in talks was announced. “The enemy can no longer even think about a military option.”
“When senior U.S. officials use the term ‘military option,’ it is only for psychology purposes,” Salami said, according to a translation of his Farsi language remarks provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). “It is an outdated bluff. It is a banal and decayed theory. To use the Americans’ own words, it is ‘political decay.’”
Salami went on to declare that U.S. sanctions against Iran—which have been significantly weakened under the terms of an interim deal with the West—no longer have an impact on the Iranian economy and will not push the Islamic Republic to make concessions in the nuclear negotiations.
“The Americans believe that their economic sanctions have had an effect on our people or on our economy,” the military leader said. “They believe that they can take their time, wear us down in negotiations, and continue the sanctions.”
“That way, they hope to bring our people to despair, and to lead to political defeat [in the negotiations],” he continued. “We can and must throw these beliefs into the garbage-can of history.”
In the weeks since the extension in nuclear talks was announced—along with around $50 billion in cash payments to Tehran over the next months—Iranian officials have accused the White House of lying about concessions the Islamic Republic has made.
It also has unveiled a range of advanced military hardware following a call by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei ordering the nation’s military to be on the ready.
IRGC official Salami warned that the country’s ground-to-ground missiles are “capable of reaching enemy targets thousands of kilometers away.”
Israel for instance is about 1,600 kilometers, or 1,000 miles, away from Tehran.
These ballistic missiles “are able to deal deadly blows of various magnitudes to our enemies,” Salami said.
These include missiles that can reach around 2,000 kilometers, making them capable of hitting portions of Europe and much of the Middle East.
The continued construction of ballistic missiles by Iran was not barred under the terms of the interim nuclear agreement with Iran.
Salami also issued a veiled threat to U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf region.
“Our land-to-sea missiles are capable of reaching naval targets deep in the sea,” Salami said. “Our radars are able to detect enemy satellites. Our drones are able to track enemy movements thousands of kilometers beyond our borders. Our helicopters can fly, and our cannons can fire.”
Salami also claimed that Iran has satellites in space that “can see tiny objects on the ground,” as well as “send us photographs and connect us to the entire world.”
The military leader went on to provide further confirmation that Iran is arming Palestinian terrorist in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Relatedly, Hamas officials were in Tehran this week to renew its anti-Israel military alliance with Iran.
“I am sure that the day will come—and that day is not far off—when the West Bank will become a living hell for the security of the Zionists,” he said. “We shall see the day when the children of the West Bank and Gaza will hold hands. Allah willing, that day is near.”
Meanwhile, Iranian commanders announced that the country will test new radar systems and fire at least five new “homemade” missiles next month, according to the country’s state-run press.
Iran unveiled earlier this week a laser simulator to help the country’s troops learn how to fire rocket-propelled grenades.