Archive for August 2, 2018

Israel will join coalition against Iran if it blocks Red Sea, PM warns

August 2, 2018


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the naval officers’ graduation in Haifa, Wednesday

If Iran blocks Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which leads into Red Sea, it will face international coalition that includes “all of Israel’s military branches,” PM Netanyahu says • Defense Minister Lieberman: Israel has “heard of threats to harm Israeli ships.”

Lilach Shoval, Eli Leon, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

Source Link: Israel will join coalition against Iran if it blocks Red Sea, PM warns

{Wow! It appears the days when Israel was asked to step aside are finally over. – LS}

Israel would deploy its military as part of an international coalition to stop an attempt by Iran to block the Bab el-Mandeb Strait that leads into the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Wednesday.

“If Iran tries to block the strait of Bab el-Mandeb, I am certain that it will find itself confronting an international coalition that will be determined to prevent this, and this coalition will also include all of Israel’s military branches,” Netanyahu said. He was speaking at a graduation parade for new Israeli Navy officers in Haifa.

Last week, Saudi Arabia said it was suspending oil shipments through the strategic strait after Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis attacked two ships in the waterway.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are engaged in a three-year-old proxy war in Yemen, which lies on one side of Bab el-Mandeb.

Yemen’s Houthis, who have previously threatened to block the strait, said last week they had the naval capability to hit Saudi ports and other Red Sea targets.

Iran has not threatened to block Bab el-Mandeb but has said it will block the Strait of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, if it is prevented from exporting oil.

Speaking at a separate event, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel had “recently heard of threats to harm Israeli ships in the Red Sea.” He gave no additional details.

Ships mainly from Asia pass through Bab el-Mandeb heading for Eilat in Israel. Ships also pass through the strait heading for Aqaba in Jordan and some Saudi destinations, as well as to continue on through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea.

The strait is just 29 kilometers (18 miles) wide, making hundreds of ships potentially an easy target. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said an estimated 4.8 million barrels per day of crude oil and products flowed through it in 2016.

Israel has previously attacked Iranian forces in Syria and has insisted that they leave Syria completely. They have withdrawn to a distance of 85 kilometers (53 miles) from the Israeli Golan Heights, Russia’s special envoy to Syria said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, senior Iranian officials and military commanders on Tuesday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s offer of talks without preconditions as worthless and “a dream,” saying his words contradict his actions in reimposing sanctions on Iran.

Israeli officials dismissed allegations that the declaration caught Israel by surprise.

Iran’s currency plummeted to new depths on Monday, dropping below 120,000 rials to the dollar, but Trump’s expressed willingness to negotiate with Iran sparked a minor recovery on Tuesday to 110,000 rials on the unofficial market.

Videos on social media showed hundreds of people rallying in Isfahan in central Iran, and Karaj near Tehran, in protest against high prices caused in part by the rial’s devaluation under heightened U.S. pressure.

Crane: Iran’s ‘Chicken Dance’ on the High Seas Looks Very Similar to the One on Twitter

August 2, 2018

By Eli Crane – August 1, 2018 Breitbart

Source Link: Crane: Iran’s ‘Chicken Dance’ on the High Seas Looks Very Similar to the One on Twitter

{Sink an Iranian ‘fast boat’ and see what happens…probably not much. – LS}

Threatening rhetorical exchanges on Twitter have once again inflamed tensions between Iran and the United States. In tone and effectiveness, Iran’s false bravado on social media reminds me of my personal experience with threatening Iranian naval behavior in the Strait of Hormuz.

Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani boldly cautioned American President Donald Trump, saying, “Mr. Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail, this would only lead to regret” and suggesting that “war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

President Trump fired back that Tehran would face very serious consequences, “the likes of which few throughout history have suffered before,” if further threats were made against the United States.

I don’t believe this major Twitter fight is a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention since the introduction of then-candidate Trump and his campaign promise to pull out of the horrible nuclear deal struck by President Obama and reinstate a hard line with the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism.

Iran’s behavior, meanwhile, follows years of a policy to threaten and bully as far as their enemies will allow. I have personally witnessed this kind of Iranian false bravado and posturing followed by immediate retreat on a much smaller scale in the Strait of Hormuz many years ago.

My first experience with the “Iranian chicken dance” occurred in 2003 while a gunner’s mate 2nd class on board the USS Gettysburg (CG-64). It was my first overseas deployment. I’ll never forget the mission brief before our first transit into the gulf. We were told by the weapons officer that we would most likely see a swarm of small, fast Iranian attack craft heading full steam for the battle group as we made our way through the strait, but that they would most likely reverse course and retreat back to their coast before intercepting and engaging our warships.

We were told that we were cleared to fire warning shots if the enemy craft closed within 150 yards.

I thought, really? That is odd. I was brand new to the fleet and had zero exposure to any of this. My station during the transit was as the gunner on the port side twenty-five-millimeter chain gun, so I had a front-row seat for the entire show and, to be honest, the ability to stop them dead in the water. I remember hearing calls coming over coms as we got close to the tightest point in the transit alerting us that the fast attack craft were headed our way. I thought to myself, “you have got to be kidding me.”

Here we are, the most powerful Navy ever created, with several warships accompanying an aircraft carrier with enough firepower to pose a serious threat to the security of the entire Iranian regime, and they are sending a handful of speedboats armed only with crew served and handheld weapons, straight towards us in a game of suicidal chicken.

Sure enough, here they came. There were close to 30 in number and they were so small that you could see their linear wake trailing behind them long before you could spot the actual craft. They were headed straight towards us in a direct line of interdiction with our battle group. Our helicopter immediately headed out to meet them and deter them from doing something very foolish and deadly. To the disappointment of many within the crew that day, the attack boats did exactly what we were briefed they would do.

No shots were fired, nobody was wounded. They puffed out their chest, realized that we were ready for them and unwilling to change our course, and so they turned tail and I-ran back to their shores. Many U.S. sailors, airmen, and Marines have witnessed this dance fight so often that it rarely makes the news or the nightly conversation on the mess decks.

I am far from a subject matter expert on Iranian military capabilities or U.S.-Iranian relations. However, after several years in the surface fleet and close to a decade in the SEAL teams, I can tell you this: a real war with the Iranians would hardly be the mother of all wars. Quite simply, they do not have the weaponry, manpower, defense budget, or world-class training to compete with the top-ranked United States military. It would be over very shortly and, despite the tough talk and bluster by the Iranian regime this week, they are well aware of this fact, which is why an all-out war will likely never happen.

To make a comparison, the Iraqi vs. Iran war lasted 8 years and ended in a cease-fire. How long did it take the U.S. to defeat the Iraqi army in the first Gulf War? You get my point.

I can also tell you this: the episode we saw not too long ago where the Iranians boarded a U.S. vessel and held an American crew hostage will NOT happen while President Trump is our commander-in-chief. That was only a reality because the wise and very observant regime sensed weakness permeating from the Obama White House as the Middle East on fire caused by our poorly planned and telegraphed withdrawal from the region.

Never mind that shameful episode where our commander-in-chief drew a red line in the sand on national television and then did nothing when our adversaries called our bluff and danced all over it. The sleeping tiger the Japanese were afraid of waking up was found spineless, toothless, and unwilling to engage. Just like the fast boats that never attacked our battle groups during my time in the service under the leadership of George W. Bush, the Iranians will never launch a direct military assault on the U.S. under this president. With this regime, we must be mindful of indirect and covert threats.

The Iranians will continue to attack us, aka the “great Satan,” with terrorism and unconventional and cyberwarfare to avoid openly doing exactly what they warned us of, playing with the real lion’s tail. I do believe that when the dust from this international Twitter spat settles, punctuated with all caps, our citizens will once again be reminded that peace through strength works just as much today as it did under the great Ronald Reagan.

Eli Crane is the founder and CEO of Bottle Breacher, a former Navy SEAL, and a current Fox News Analyst. He is a Christian, Husband, Father, keynote speaker, contributor at entrepreneur.com, and member of the Advisory Committee Veterans Business Affairs (ACVBA).

Iranian Guards naval buildup at Hormuz: US monitors, Israel warns 

August 2, 2018

Source: Iranian Guards naval buildup at Hormuz: US monitors, Israel warns – DEBKAfile

Shortly before a new round of US sanctions, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) navy is building up maritime forces at the Strait of Hormuz, ready to launch an “exercise” at 48 hours’ notice.

The warships, poised outside the northern opening of the waterway, demonstrate that Iran can, if it so decides, block the vital waterway for Gulf oil exports. Thursday morning, Aug. 2, the US Central Command issued the following statement: “We are aware of the increase in Iran naval operations within the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and ‘Gulf of Oman. We are monitoring it closely, and will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waterways… We also continue to advocate for all maritime forces to conform to international maritime customs, standards and laws.”

DEBKAfile notes that CENTCOM chose to refer to the Persian Gulf as the “Arabian Gulf” which Tehran sees as a national affront.
Wednesday night, Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that any Iranian attempt to interfere with shipping sailing through another vital regional waterway, the Bab al Mandeb Straits, would encounter an international coalition, including Israel with a full array of its military capabilities.

Our sources liken the current climate surrounding a possible US-Iranian summit to that which led up to President Donald Trump’s Singapore meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. That too was preceded closely by a dramatic rise in war tensions, while quiet preparations for the big event continued without interruption.

IDF airstrike said to kill 7 terrorists in Syria close to Israeli border

August 2, 2018

Source: IDF airstrike said to kill 7 terrorists in Syria close to Israeli border | The Times of Israel

Fighters were en route to attack Israel according to army, which retrieved explosive belts, Kalashnikov rifle during subsequent search of area

A picture taken from the Israeli Golan Heights shows a smoke plume rising during air strikes backing a Syrian-government-led offensive in the southwestern province of Daraa,  July 23, 2018. (JALAA MAREY/AFP)

A picture taken from the Israeli Golan Heights shows a smoke plume rising during air strikes backing a Syrian-government-led offensive in the southwestern province of Daraa, July 23, 2018. (JALAA MAREY/AFP)

Seven armed terrorists were said to have been killed late Wednesday in an IDF airstrike in Syria, close to the border with Israel.

The IDF confirmed Thursday that it targeted a number of “terror squads” in the Syrian Golan Heights and that explosive belts along with a Kalashnikov rifle were found during searches of the area Thursday morning.

The army did not elaborate on the affiliation of the terrorists, on how soldiers managed to retrieve the weapons, and how many of them were killed.

However, Arab media reported that seven were killed in the strike.

IDF spokesman Ronen Manelis said the gunmen were members of the Islamic State group and had been less than 700 feet from the border when they were targeted.

The Kalashnikov rifle retrieved by Israel following an air strike against gunmen in the Syrian Golan Heights. (IDF)

According to Army Radio, the gunmen had been en route to an attack on Israel.

Manelis stated that there had been no threat to Israeli communities along the northern border, but he did not elaborate whether the IS gunmen were intending to attack Israeli military targets.

The Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that Russian military police would be deploying along the border between Syria and Israel to prevent further escalation between the sides.

The air raid took place as the IDF was completing a large-scale drill of war scenarios testing the preparedness of the the Northern Command and the General Staff.

The army stressed that the exercise had been planned in advance as part of its training program for 2018.

However, it came just a week after Israeli aircraft destroyed a rocket launcher belonging, according to the army, to the Islamic State after it fired a pair of projectiles at Israel that landed in the Sea of Galilee.

The IDF said the rockets had been errant fire from internal Syrian fighting, but some analysts have argued that it was an intentional move by IS to lure Israel into a clash with the Syrian army.

A day prior, a Sukhoi-model jet had traveled two kilometers into Israeli airspace when the IDF said it fired two Patriot missiles at the plane, shooting it down. The plane crashed inside Syria, killing its pilot.

According to the IDF, the fighter jet took off from the Iran-linked T-4 air force base in central Syria, which Israel has bombed in the past, and traveled “at high speed” toward the Golan Heights.

Trump imposes sanctions over Turkeys detaining of minister

August 2, 2018

Source: Trump imposes sanctions over Turkeys detaining of minister

Making good on threats last week, US president slaps sanctions on NATO ally, targeting Turkey’s justice and interior ministers, over country’s continued detention of American Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson.
The US will impose sanctions on two Turkish officials over a detained American pastor who is being tried on espionage and terror-related charges, the White House announced Wednesday.
President Donald Trump warned last week that he might impose sanctions against Turkey, a key NATO ally, for its treatment of Andrew Craig Brunson in a case that has strained US-Turkish relations. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his government won’t back down and was willing to “go its own way” if the US imposes sanctions.Speaking to reporters in Ankara earlier, Erdogan said Turkey would not make compromises regarding the independence of the judiciary, and said the remarks of the “evangelist, zionist mentality” in the United States was unacceptable.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the sanctions would target Turkey’s justice and interior ministers, whose agencies she said were responsible for the pastor’s arrest and detention.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan  and President Donald Trump (Photo: Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Donald Trump (Photo: Reuters)

“We’ve seen no evidence that Pastor Brunson has done anything wrong, and we believe he is a victim of unfair and unjust attention by the government of Turkey,” Sanders said.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Turkish government refused to release Brunson “after numerous conversations between President Trump and President Erdogan,” along with his conversations with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavosuglo. “President Trump concluded that these sanctions are the appropriate action,” Pompeo said.

A Turkish justice ministry spokesman did not immediately comment on the sanctions. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry was expected to release a statement later Wednesday.

Brunson, 50, was arrested in December 2016 following a failed coup on charges of “committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member” and espionage. He was recently released to home detention. He faces a prison sentence of up to 35 years if he is convicted on both counts at the end of his ongoing trial.

The evangelical pastor, who is originally from Black Mountain, North Carolina, has lived in Turkey for 23 years and led Izmir Resurrection Church.

Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson  (Photo: AFP)

Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson (Photo: AFP)

Under the sanctions to be imposed by the Treasury Department, any property, or interest in property, belonging to Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul or Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu within US jurisdiction would be blocked. Americans would generally be prohibited from doing business with them.Erdogan has denied speculation that there had been an agreement to swap Brunson for Turkish citizens being held abroad, particularly 27-year-old Ebru Ozkan. Ozkan had been detained by Israel on terror-related charges, but was deported this month.

Trump personally asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in July to release a Turkish woman suspected of helping Hamas who had been arrested during a visit to Israel, as part of a secret deal with Turkey to secure Brunson’s release, according to a report in the Washington Post.

The Turkish leader previously connected Brunson’s return to the US to the extradition of Fethullah Gulen. Ankara blames Gulen for the coup attempt, while the cleric denies involvement.

Erdogan has also warned that Turkey would seek international arbitration if the United States refused to deliver F-35 fighter jets in retaliation.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Iranian Woman Who Protested Islamic Headscarf Gets 20-Year Sentence

August 2, 2018

Story is about 3 weeks old now, but it is such a sad thing to happen.

Colour me surprised, but I haven’t heard anything from (leftist) western feminists about this.

Funny that.

Iranian Woman Who Protested Islamic Headscarf Gets 20-Year Sentence

https://www.breitbart.com/jerusalem/2018/07/10/iranian-woman-who-protested-islamic-headscarf-gets-20-year-sentence/

Hijab

(AP) DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An Iranian woman who removed her obligatory Islamic headscarf out of protest in December says she has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Shaparsk Shajarizadeh posted on her personal website that she had been jailed for “opposing the compulsory hijab” and “waving a white flag of peace in the street.”

There was no immediate comment from Iranian officials.

Police in Iran arrested 29 people in February for removing their headscarves as part of a campaign known as “White Wednesdays.” Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer who represented Shajarizadeh and other women, was arrested last month.

Shajarizadeh, 42, was released on bail in late April. Her current whereabouts were unknown.

In Iran, women showing their hair in public face penalties ranging from a $25 fine to prison time.

Tommy Robinson FREED in a Victory for Nationalist Populism!!! – YouTube

August 2, 2018