Archive for January 2019

Trump says US intelligence chiefs ‘naive’ on Iran

January 31, 2019

Source: Trump says US intelligence chiefs ‘naive’ on Iran | The Times of Israel

‘They are wrong!’ American president tweets after top intel officials say Tehran isn’t actively seeking nuclear weapons

In this photo from January 25, 2019, US President Donald Trump speaks from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC. (Alex Edelman/AFP)

In this photo from January 25, 2019, US President Donald Trump speaks from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC. (Alex Edelman/AFP)

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump on Wednesday attacked the US intelligence services as “naive” and “wrong” on the threat he says is posed by Iran.

“Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” Trump said in a blistering series of tweets.

“The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!” Trump tweeted.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif fired back at Trump, writing on Twitter he “should have listened to the EU, the UN, and former US officials all along.”

Javad Zarif

@JZarif

When @realDonaldTrump‘s own intelligence agencies contradict what he, the warmongers in his admin, and the Israelis say about Iran. He should have listened to the EU, the UN, and former US officials all along.

Although especially vehement, it was not the first time Trump has publicly criticized his own intelligence services.

The broadside, which included separate tweets where Trump praised the success of his policies in Syria and North Korea, followed testimony Tuesday by top intelligence chiefs that were widely seen as contradicting the president’s rosy assessments.

In a hearing on global threats at the Senate Intelligence Committee, the top officials took issue with Trump’s assertion that the Islamic State group has been defeated, and that North Korea can be convinced to forego its nuclear weapons.

They also challenged the president’s claim that Tehran is actively seeking nuclear weapons, the justification Trump gave for withdrawing last year from a multilateral treaty on Iran.

Left to right: FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testify at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on January 29, 2019, in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP)

They underscored again that they believe Russia meddled deeply on Trump’s behalf in the 2016 presidential election — which he has repeatedly denied — and can be expected to do the same in 2020.

The hearing took place weeks after Trump cited a victory over Islamic State to justify his sudden announcement of an immediate pullout from Syria, a move that alarmed the US defense establishment and allies in the Middle East.

And it came just weeks before Trump plans a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to negotiate a hoped-for denuclearization of the deeply isolated state.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Europe set to announce plan letting Iran bypass US sanctions 

January 31, 2019

Source: Europe set to announce plan letting Iran bypass US sanctions | The Times of Israel

UK, France, Germany expected to launch payment mechanism Thursday; US warns it will pursue any company breaching sanctions

Customers speak with a money changer at his shop in downtown Tehran, Iran, November 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Customers speak with a money changer at his shop in downtown Tehran, Iran, November 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Britain, France and Germany will launch a special payment mechanism Thursday that the EU hopes will help save the Iran nuclear deal by bypassing US sanctions, European sources told AFP.

The entity, to be registered in France with German governance and finance from all three countries, will allow Iran to trade with EU companies despite Washington reimposing sanctions after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 accord.

The three countries — the European signatories to the landmark deal that curbed Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in return for sanctions relief — are expected to issue a joint communique launching the project, which has been in preparation for months.

While the new institution, called INSTEX — short for Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges — is a project of the three governments, it will receive the formal endorsement of all 28 EU members.

The announcement may come on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Bucharest.

US President Donald Trump signs a Presidential Memorandum withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, on May 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Washington has warned the EU against trying to sidestep its sanctions on Tehran, while the Europeans — along with the deal’s other signatories Russia and China — say Iran has not broken its side of the deal and should be allowed to trade.

The EU has growing concerns about Tehran’s ballistic missile program, as well as its human rights record, its interference in Middle East conflicts and recent attempted attacks against opposition groups in Europe.

Washington has warned it will vigorously pursue any company breaching its sanctions against the Islamic republic, and a number of major international corporations have already pulled out.

The new European scheme was originally intended to allow Iran to sell oil to the EU on a barter basis but, with Europe now buying very little Iranian oil, it is now aimed at small and medium-sized companies.

“We’ll have to wait and see who uses it,” a European source said.

Iran’s economic crisis has led to sporadic protests against the government in the past year.

A group of protesters chant slogans at the main gate of old grand bazaar in Tehran, Iran, Monday, June 25, 2018. (Iranian Labor News Agency via AP)

The protests have seen unusual scenes of demonstrators chanting against continued Iranian spending of billions of dollars on regional proxy wars and support for terrorist groups, which many say has meant less investment in the struggling economy at home.

In recent years, Iran has provided financial aid to Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and Shiite militias in Iraq. Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Tehran has poured a reported $6 billion into propping up president Bashar Assad’s government.

Rouhani has blamed the spontaneous demonstrations on “foreign media propaganda,” and has accused the US of waging “an economic war” against Tehran.

Iran regularly holds exercises to display its military preparedness and has vowed to respond strongly to any attack by Israel or the United States, both of which view it as a regional menace.

 

Report: Hezbollah terror group in midst of deep economic crisis 

January 31, 2019

Source: Report: Hezbollah terror group in midst of deep economic crisis – Israel Hayom

 

The stone around Iran’s neck

January 31, 2019

Source: The stone around Iran’s neck – Israel Hayom

As the Islamist regime in Iran marks 40 years to its establishment, local leaders there will admit there is not much reason to celebrate. They talk openly of their fears of an uprising and threaten that attempts to riot will be met with an iron fist.

In the streets of Tehran and other major cities throughout the country, protesters call to “leave Syria alone, deal with us!” and demand Iran end its financial support for Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian organizations.

The country’s coffers are quickly growing empty, its oil exports increasingly on the decline. While the U.S. may not meet its stated goal of bringing Iranian oil sales to zero, Iran is not being paid for the oil it does manage to sell in U.S. dollars. China, India and Turkey are willing to pay for Iran’s oil in either local currency or goods, but these goods cannot provide for all of Iran’s needs. While Europe was very much interested in continuing to engage in trade with Iran, almost all of the continent’s large companies have already cut ties to the country.

Iran’s leaders are now openly talking about the dire straits the country is in. In cabinet meetings, President Hassan Rouhani has spoken about the increasing problem of poverty in the country and the growing impact it is having on the public, including the middle class. Noting he was born into a poor family, Rouhani has noted he is well aware of the pains of poverty. Even radical religious figures have spoken out about the issue, although they attribute it to the inefficacy of Rouhani and his advisers.

The Rouhani government has been busy in recent weeks working on a budget proposal for the coming year, and in light of Iran’s financial woes, budget cuts across all fields and sectors would seem the natural way to go. But Iran’s institutions of influence are trying to squeeze everything they can out of the government, going so far as to demand increases to their budgets. Religious figures are leading the struggle on this end at a time when media outlets are reporting that education, health and welfare in the country are already suffering as a result of a lack of funding.

It is still hard to predict if and when the regime will fall, but it is safe to say the ayatollahs are on shaky ground. In the past two years, protests in Iran have seen demonstrators shout, “Death to the dictator!” While the regime has so far succeeded in keeping the protests under control, the next time their anger boils over, it could lead to the collapse of the regime. It is not only the United States but also Arab states that are working toward this end. According to foreign reports, Israel is involved as well.

Menashe Amir is an expert on Iranian affairs and former head of the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s Persian language division.

 

A revolution on hold 

January 31, 2019

Source: A revolution on hold – Israel Hayom

‘Iran was at the cutting edge of technology’

January 31, 2019

Source: ‘Iran was at the cutting edge of technology’ – Israel Hayom

 

Rafael Designing Future Battlefield Warriors – Drone Swarms

January 31, 2019

There is a nice video available at link below.

https://www.jewishpress.com/news/business-economy/watch-rafael-designing-future-battlefield-warriors-drone-swarms/2019/01/25/

In a secret laboratory in northern Israel, the Jewish State is preparing for next-generation warfare: thousands of small drones capable of synchronized action, like flocks of birds, observing, following and finally attacking the enemy – without risking the life of friendly forces, Channel 12 reported Thursday night.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is working on the design and production of drone swarms that can mimic the behavior of flocks of birds such as starlings.

Eric, head of the skimmers division in Rafael, introduced the integrated operation of these weapons:

“We try to imitate nature, whether it’s to fly as a group or to identify targets,” he explained. “You can see how these flyers assemble together,” he added. “It’s enough for me to tell one drone to fly south and the rest would follow.”

In the lab, the drones are adapted to the modern battlefield, which includes urban areas with multiple targets, most of which are hidden inside buildings.

According to the report, Rafael’s small drones are already capable of going out to take over a village or a city, fly low over the streets and hit terrorists, all the time directed by remote control and the enemy has no way to disrupt their operation.

“Not even the sky is the limit,” said Shmuel Olansky, head of innovation at Rafael. “You’re looking at years’ worth of developed capabilities that have been created here – as if they were groomed for today’s challenges.”