Israel-Iran: prospects of wide-scale conflict- Jerusalem Studio 456 

Posted October 12, 2019 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

 

 

The IDF’s secret weapon against Iran

Posted October 11, 2019 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: The IDF’s secret weapon against Iran – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

Thousands of soldiers and officers pass through its doors every year, training for positions in the IDF’s Military Intelligence Division.

BY ANNA AHRONHEIM
 OCTOBER 10, 2019 19:37
The IDF's secret weapon against Iran

Israel’s military has a secret weapon as the war-between-war campaign against Hezbollah and Iran continues to expand: the Language Teaching Department at the Military Intelligence and Cyber Instruction Unit (MICIU), a language school where soldiers become fluent in Arabic or Farsi in under two months.

In a nondescript building in a base in the center of the country sits the largest intelligence school in the entire Middle East. Thousands of soldiers and officers pass through its doors every year, training for positions in the IDF’s Military Intelligence Division.

“It’s not like in a normal school where students are taught just a language,” Maj. V., head of the MICIU’s Language Teaching Department, told The Jerusalem Post. “We aren’t here just to learn a language; the language is a tool to get and understand the intelligence we collect.”


The school, which has existed for over 50 years, uses innovative approaches and learning environments that within weeks have soldiers understanding both the language and culture of their enemies.

V.’s name can’t be divulged for security reasons. The identity of R. and N. are similarly secret.

R. has been an instructor at the school for 47 years, and teaches spoken Arabic. Her daughter, Master Sgt. N., teaches written Arabic.

“It’s a challenging and hard role because we have the responsibility of the state’s security on our shoulders,” R. said. “To work in this environment is serving the country, on all levels.”
It’s not only conscripts who study at the MICIU, but officers in other security agencies whose operational activity sees them interacting with Palestinians or the Arab world on a regular basis.

V. explained that in recent years, fundamentalist Islam and the Persian language have become a more central part of the school, which for decades focused on various Arabic dialects, as well as Hebrew.

The Hebrew language courses are “a growing trend” at the school, not only for new immigrants whose mother tongue isn’t Hebrew, but for Israelis who “don’t read or write enough and therefore whose Hebrew just isn’t good enough,” V. said.

While the IDF’s language school is the largest of its kind, there are several schools across the country teaching Arabic and one which teaches Farsi, giving students the opportunity to be selected to the Intelligence Unit’s language tracks that opens the doors to the elite Unit 8200.


“It’s more challenging because [Persian] is not taught in Israeli schools,” V. said. “This is the only place in the country that researches and teaches the language so intensely. Because of the dynamic world of intelligence and changes in the intelligence, students are learning non-stop.”

Students learn from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily for 10 weeks to get a matriculation certificate. This is followed by another 10 weeks of advanced courses.

Despite the growing number of computerized language translation tools available, there’s nothing better than the human mind.

“You still need people who don’t only know the language” but who can read between the lines and give the precise intelligence the military needs, according to V.

“Time is not a luxury that we have,” V said. “The soldiers have only two years where they are serving, and I want them to be as effective as possible in their work.”

 

Two missiles set an Iranian tanker on fire near the Saudi coast – DEBKAfile

Posted October 11, 2019 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Two missiles set an Iranian tanker on fire near the Saudi coast – DEBKAfile

Explosions set a tanker belonging to National Iranian Oil Company on fire in the Red Sea on Friday, Oct. 11 when it was 95km from the Saudi port city of Jeddah. The NIOC says it was hit by two missiles. Iranian state media RNA said the explosions damaged two storerooms aboard the oil tanker and caused an oil spill into the Red Sea.

Iran’s Nour news agency, close to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, later said the situation was under control and no crew members were injured. It gave the the vessel different names, “Sanitized” or “Sabity” or “Sinopa”

The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which oversees the region, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The explosions came after a series of attacks attributed to Iran, including the shooting down of a US drone over the Strait of Hormuz, attacks on tankers sailing in the Gulf and, finally, the cruise missile-drone assault on Saudi oil facilities which halved its output.

DEBKAfile: If a missile strikes is confirmed. this would be the first time since that series of attacks began to unfold five months ago that an Iranian oil tanker was targeted.

The incident may have two possible sources:

  1. The two missiles were fired from the Saudi coast or a Saudi missile boat. This would represent Riyadh’s payback for the missile-drone assault that disabled a Saudi oil field and refinery on Sept. 14. For now, no comment has been forthcoming from any Saudi source.
  2. A third party which maintains a missile boat presence in the Red Sea.

If the Saudis were responsible, the incident is capable of triggering a major outbreak of hostilities, including the trading of missile strikes between the oil kingdom and Iran. If it was a third party, Tehran may decide to pin the blame on Israel. On Thursday, Oct. 10, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu revealed for the first time that Israel was pondering a pre-emptive attack on Iran to thwart its plans for an assault on Israel.

 

Erdogan threatens EU with refugee influx if it criticizes Syria operation

Posted October 10, 2019 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Erdogan threatens EU with refugee influx if it criticizes Syria operation | The Times of Israel

Turkish president says he will allow millions of refugees to head to Europe if bloc censures Ankara over military offensive against Kurdish forces

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during an extended meeting with provincial heads of ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in Ankara, Turkey, on October 10, 2019. (Adem ALTAN / AFP)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the EU on Thursday that Ankara would allow millions of refugees to head to Europe if the bloc criticized Turkey’s military offensive in Syria.

“Hey EU, wake up. I say it again: if you try to frame our operation there as an invasion, our task is simple: we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you,” Erdogan said in a speech to his party.

Turkey launched an operation into Syrian territory on Wednesday, aimed at combating Kurdish militants tied to insurgents in its own territory.

Erdogan said 109 “terrorists” had been killed so far in the operation, which would soon cover ground from Manbij in northern Syria to the Iraqi border some 350 kilometers (220 miles) east.

Civilians flee amid Turkish bombardment on Syria’s northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border on October 9, 2019 (Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)

“God willing, we will crush these snakes’ heads quickly,” he said.

“What we are trying to do is prevent the establishment of a terrorist state on our southern border. This cannot happen,”

Turkey currently hosts 3.6 million refugees from the eight-year conflict in Syria — the highest number in the world.

Under a 2016 agreement with the EU, Turkey agreed to prevent refugees from leaving towards Europe in exchange for six billion euros and visa-free travel for its citizens, but has frequently criticized the lack of assistance from Brussels.

“You have never been sincere,” Erdogan said, addressing the EU.

“Now they say they will withhold three billion euros from us. Have you ever kept any promise you gave us so far? No.”

One aim of the military operation is to establish a “safe zone” in which at least one million Syrian refugees can be repatriated, after the long-term presence of refugees became an increasingly political liability.

“For those who want to return to their country but don’t have a home left anymore, we plan to build settlements for one million people, with international financing,” Erdogan said.

A woman flees with her children amid Turkish bombardment on Syria’s northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border on October 9, 2019 (Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)

He also sought to assuage concerns regarding Islamic State prisoners currently held by Kurdish forces.

“Those that need to be kept in jail we will keep in jail. We will return foreigners to their home countries if they accept them back,” he said.

 

Netanyahu condemns Turkish invasion of Syrian Kurdistan, offers aid

Posted October 10, 2019 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Netanyahu condemns Turkish invasion of Syrian Kurdistan, offers aid | The Times of Israel

Prime minister warns against ‘ethnic cleansing’ of minority in northern Syria, does not mention decision by US president that paved way for offensive

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuat a memorial ceremony at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl for those killed in the Yom Kippur War, on October 10, 2019. (Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuat a memorial ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl for those killed in the Yom Kippur War, on October 10, 2019. (Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday denounced Turkey’s invasion of Kurdish-controlled areas of northeastern Syria and said Israel was prepared to offer humanitarian aid to the Kurds in Syria facing an onslaught from Ankara.

The comments were the first from Netanyahu on the situation in Syria after remaining silent for several days following US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from the country and allow the Turkish offensive to move ahead. Several other Israeli officials have denounced the Turkish operation and urged support for the Kurds.

“Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies,” Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office. “Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people.”

Netanyahu did not mention the US decision to withdraw troops and essentially give Ankara the green light for the offensive.

On Wednesday, Turkey launched a broad assault on Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria, with intensive bombardment paving the way for a ground offensive made possible by the withdrawal of US troops.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of the attack on Twitter and soon after jets and artillery targeted Kurdish positions along the full width of the border, sending thousands of civilians fleeing their homes.

Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters going to Tel Abyad from Turkish gate towards Syria in Akcakale in Sanliurfa province on October 10, 2019. (BULENT KILIC/AFP)

In 2014, Netanyahu expressed support for an independent Kurdistan. He praised the Kurds’ “political commitment and political moderation,” and said they were “worthy of their own political independence.” But he has avoided criticizing Washington’s decision to pull its troops from northern Syria, which some analysts warn will create a vacuum to be filled by powers that don’t share Israel’s interests.

In what appeared to be a reference to that concern, Netanyahu declared earlier on Thursday that Israel will continue to defend itself on its own against regional threats.

“As in 1973, today we also greatly appreciate the important support of the US… At the same time, we always remember and implement the basic rule that guides us: Israel will protect itself, on its own, against any threat,” the prime minister said during a memorial ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl national cemetery for those killed in the Yom Kippur War.

Netanyahu accused Iran of “striving to tighten its grip” on countries throughout the region, referencing the downing of a US drone and the targeting of Saudi Arabian oil refineries.

A picture taken in Akcakale at the Turkish border with Syria on October 10, 2019 shows the Turkish flag as smokes rises from the Syrian town of Tal Abyad after a mortar landed in Akcakale. (BULENT KILIC / AFP)

“Iran threatens to wipe us off the map… Time and again, [the regime] tries to attack us, so we must stand ready to protect ourselves from the danger,” the premier added.

Israel and Turkey share chilly diplomatic relations, and Netanyahu regularly criticizes Erdogan for “massacring Kurds.”

Prominent lawmakers across the political spectrum in Israel have issued statements of support for the Kurdish people as Turkey began its invasion of Syria and in the US Trump has faced rare internal pressure from Republicans over the decision to not stand by the Kurds.

On Wednesday night, New Right MK Ayelet Shaked reissued a call for Kurdish statehood, urging the West to support the Kurds as Turkey launched a military campaign in northern Syria.

Most lawmakers have avoided criticizing Trump directly, but Meretz chairman Nitzan Horwitz mentioned the US president by name.

 

Trump defends Syria move: For us, ‘the stupid, endless Mideast wars are ending!’

Posted October 10, 2019 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Trump defends Syria move: For us, ‘the stupid, endless Mideast wars are ending!’ | The Times of Israel

‘USA should never have been in Middle East’ president tweets, amid scathing bipartisan criticism for withdrawing forces, and mounting concern in Israel

President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former Attorney General Edwin Meese, in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former Attorney General Edwin Meese, in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump lashed out Wednesday over sharp bipartisan criticism of his decision to pull back US troops from northeastern Syria, saying he is focused on the “BIG PICTURE” that does not include American involvement in “stupid endless wars” in the Middle East.

“Fighting between various groups that has been going on for hundreds of years. USA should never have been in Middle East,” Trump said in a series of morning tweets. “The stupid endless wars, for us, are ending!”

Turkey launched its offensive Wednesday against Kurdish fighters in Syria, who have helped the US against the Islamic State. Turkey views the Syrian Kurdish fighters as terrorists, and Trump’s decision to pull back US troops leaves them vulnerable to the military onslaught.

Trump’s decision is being condemned by some of his staunchest Republican allies.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Twitter Moments

@TwitterMoments

The White House said Turkey will be “moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria” and will be responsible for all ISIS fighters captured in the area. https://twitter.com/i/events/1181041653827588096 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close Trump ally, stepped up his criticism of the president Wednesday, telling “Fox & Friends” that if Trump “follows through with this, it would be the biggest mistake of his presidency.”

In a series of tweets, Graham urged prayers for “our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration,” adding, “This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS.”

Graham on Monday had warned of the consequences for Israel, saying “The US now has no leverage and Syria will eventually become a nightmare for Israel.” And former Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, told the New York Times on Tuesday that he was no longer sure Israel could “bank on” on the US, under Trump, to come to Israel’s aid at a time of serious war.

Trump defended his unpopular decision, arguing on Twitter that “GOING INTO THE MIDDLE EAST IS THE WORST DECISION EVER MADE IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY!” He said the US went to war under a “false & now disproven premise, WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. There were NONE!”

This photo by Hawar news, the news agency for the semi-autonomous Kurdish areas in Syria (ANHA), shows smoke rising from shelling by Turkish forces, at the outskirts of Ras al-Ayn, northeast Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. A spokesman for the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led force in northern Syria says Turkish warplanes have started targeting “civilian areas” in northern Syria. (ANHA via AP)

Trump said he is “slowly & carefully” bringing home “our great soldiers & military,” in line with his campaign promise to do so.

He added: “Our focus is on the BIG PICTURE! THE USA IS GREATER THAN EVER BEFORE!”

But the US military has kept a decades-long focus on the Middle East as part of a strategy of stopping or minimizing security threats before they spread to American and allied shores.

As a further sign that the military does not share Trump’s view that the fight against the extremists is over, a press release Wednesday by the US-led military coalition combating IS highlighted recent battlefield gains. It concluded by saying that “removing” IS fighters, weapons and bomb materials “remains a top priority” as the group “continues to plot attacks against innocent civilians and our partners throughout Iraq and northeast Syria.”

The US has about 1,000 troops in Syria and about 5,200 in neighboring Iraq.

Trump has long criticized President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, but the subsequent rise of extremist groups like the Islamic State has convinced many national security officials, and lawmakers such as Graham, that a precipitous US troop withdrawal from the region would leave the US and its allies even more vulnerable to extremism.

Trump also claimed the US has spent $8 trillion “fighting and policing” in the Middle East, up from the $7 trillion figure he has cited numerous times.

Trump is using an inflated estimate on the cost of wars and referring in part to predicted costs going decades into the future, not money actually spent. Some of the spending also reflects his policy decisions he made since taking office nearly three years ago.

Graham said Congress “will push back” against Turkey. He had said earlier this week that he was working on a bipartisan bill to sanction Turkey if they invade Syria, but he did not mention the proposal during Wednesday’s interview.

“We’re not giving Turkey a green light in Congress and we’re not going to abandon the Kurds,” he said. “If the President does so, we won’t.”

Trump announced Tuesday that he and Erdogan will meet at the White House on Nov. 13.

 

As US pulls out of Syria, Netanyahu insists Israel can defend itself on its own 

Posted October 10, 2019 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: As US pulls out of Syria, Netanyahu insists Israel can defend itself on its own | The Times of Israel

PM avoids commenting directly on Trump decision, criticized by senior right-wing MKs as an abandonment of the Kurds, but says Jerusalem appreciates Washington’s assistance

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a memorial ceremony at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl for those killed in the Yom Kippur War, on October 10, 2019. (Screen capture/Youtube)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a memorial ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl for those killed in the Yom Kippur War, on October 10, 2019. (Screen capture/Youtube)

Against the backdrop of the US military’s withdrawal from Syria, criticized by some analysts who warn it will create a vacuum to be filled by powers that don’t share Israel’s interests, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted on Thursday that Israel will defend itself on its own against regional threats.

“As in 1973, today we also greatly appreciate the important support of the US… At the same time, we always remember and implement the basic rule that guides us: Israel will protect itself, on its own, against any threat,” said Netanyahu during a memorial ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl national cemetery for those killed in the Yom Kippur War.

The prime minister avoided directly mentioning the US decision to pull out from Syria, instead focusing on the “current source of aggression in the Middle East: the Iranian regime in Tehran.”

Netanyahu accused the Islamic Republic of “striving to tighten its grip” on countries throughout the region, referencing the downing of a US drone and the targeting of Saudi Arabian oil refineries.

A Syrian Kurdish woman flashes the v-sign during a demonstration against Turkish threats in Ras al-Ain town in Syria’s Hasakeh province near the Turkish border on October 9, 2019. Turkish warplanes were reported to be attacking the town hours later. (Photo by Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)

“Iran threatens to wipe us off the map… Time and again, [the regime] tries to attack us, so we must stand ready to protect ourselves from the danger,” the premier added.

While they also refrained from specifically mentioning the US president, several prominent right-wing lawmakers spoke out against the Trump-ordered withdrawal for its “abandonment” of the Kurdish civilians and military forces in northern Syria.

On Wednesday evening, New Right MK Ayelet Shaked reissued a call for Kurdish statehood, urging the West to support the Kurds as Turkey launched a military campaign in northern Syria.

“Our national memory requires us to revolt against violence directed against another nation. Such is the Turkish violence directed against the Kurdish people in northern Syria,” the former justice minister wrote on Facebook.

“I have said this in the past: It is in the interest of both Israel and the United States, for the security and stability of the region, that a Kurdish state be established,” she wrote.

“The Kurds are the world’s largest nation without a country, with a population of about 35 million people. They are an ancient people that share a special historical connection to the Jewish people,” she went on.

In 2016, Shaked, then justice minister, openly endorsed the idea of an independent Kurdistan.

Smoke billows following Turkish bombardment on Syria’s northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border on October 9, 2019 (Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)

She was joined by other lawmakers, including New Right chairman Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu’s Likud rival Gideon Sa’ar and Blue and White MK Zvi Hauser.

On Wednesday, Turkey launched a broad assault on Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria, with intensive bombardment paving the way for a ground offensive made possible by the withdrawal of US troops.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of the attack on Twitter and soon after jets and artillery targeted Kurdish positions along the full width of the border, sending thousands of civilians fleeing their homes.

In 2014, Netanyahu expressed support for an independent Kurdistan. He praised the Kurds’ “political commitment and political moderation,” and said they were “worthy of their own political independence.”

Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister’s son, positioned himself as a supporter of Kurdish independence on Wednesday, tweeting a Kurdish flag together with the hashtag #freekurdistan.