Archive for May 19, 2019

Report: Israel will not join war with Iran unless attacked 

May 19, 2019

Source: Report: Israel will not join war with Iran unless attacked –

Israeli officials reportedly shared with Trump administration classified information on Iran’s missile program during a recent visit to Washington, Independent Arabia reports. Talks meant to coordinate joint posture on Iran and prepare for possible escalation.

According to the report, the Israeli delegation told the American officials that in the case of a full-fledged confrontation between Iran and the United States, Jerusalem would not play an active role and would only join the fighting if it was attacked by Iran or its proxies.
The discussions reportedly focused on ensuring there would be no daylight between the two countries in the case of a military confrontation in the region.
The Israelis, according to the report, also provided classified information on Iran’s missile program.


First tentative US-Iranian talks don’t promise easing of war tensions – DEBKAfile

May 19, 2019

Source: First tentative US-Iranian talks don’t promise easing of war tensions – DEBKAfile

Both the US and Iran appear for now to be holding back from a direct military confrontation, judging from the comments heard on all sides. On Tuesday, May 14, US President Donald Trump said: “We don’t want a war with Iran.”

The next day, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said: “The Iranian nation has chosen the path of resistance.” The most revealing comment came on Friday, May 17, from Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani after a visit to Tehran: “A red desk should be set up in Iraq or Qatar with officials from the two sides… to manage tensions.”

All these remarks confirm the suspicion that American and Iranian officials are already in secret conversation in Baghdad or in Doha, although engaged in nothing more than  a start on “talks about talks” – a far cry from ordering a slowdown of their threatening military movements. Therefore, flareups are still on the cards, including such incidents as the presumed Israeli air or missile strike on Iranian and Hizballah sites south of Damascus on Friday night, May 17. It may be taken for granted that Israel would have cleared with Washington in advance any attack on Iranian targets in Syria.

Even if  US and Iranian officials achieve enough progress in their preliminary talks to lift the war clouds hanging over the Middle East, they would still face major hurdles on the path to negotiations on the substantive subjects at issue. The easing of crippling US sanctions will top Iran’s agenda, as it has for Kim Jong-un after his two summits with President Donald Trump, and also most likely for President Vladimir Putin when he met Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Sochi last Tuesday, although the trade war with China takes place on a different plane.

Up until now, Trump has stuck fast to sanctions as the most powerful weapon in his foreign policy toolbox with regard to Iran, North Korea, China and Russian, in the hope that one of those powers will blink first and the others will follow. That has still not happened.

Trump confronts Tehran with his tallest order: Halt malign meddling in the affairs of Middle East nations, especially, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen; give up your nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development programs; and return to the table for talks on a revised nuclear pact. However, although the sanctions against Iran are harsh, Khamenei is a tough survivor and confident enough to believe that he can outlast his adversary in the White House.


Syria says air defenses intercept Israeli missiles, in 2nd incident in 24 hours

May 19, 2019

State TV says military shot down ‘hostile targets coming from direction of occupied territories,’ a day after explosions heard in vicinity of Iranian and Hezbollah facilities

By TOI STAFF and AGENCIES18 May 2019, 9:39 pm 

Footage aired by Syrian state media shows an air defense missile after it was fired during reported Israeli strikes near the capital Damascus on May 17, 2019. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Syria claimed its air defenses on Saturday night shot down a number of missiles fired from Israel, for the second time in less than 24 hours.

The official SANA news agency said the military intercepted “hostile targets coming from direction of occupied territories.” Syrian state TV said the missiles were shot down over Quneitra and near Damascus.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Israel fired at least three missiles. Two of the strikes targeted a Syrian army brigade which supervises the country’s Quneitra province, he told AFP, while the third missile was destroyed by Syrian defenses.

On Friday night, Syrian state TV reported sounds of explosions near the capital, and aired footage of what it claimed were air defenses intercepting missiles fired from Israeli jets seen over Quneitra in the Syrian Golan Heights.

“Aerial defenses detected hostile targets coming from the direction of Quneitra and dealt with them,” the official SANA news agency quoted a military source saying, referring to a Syrian town in the Golan Heights bordering Israel.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported several explosions in the Al-Kiswah area outside the city, in the vicinity of Iranian and Hezbollah storage facilities and air defense batteries. The group added that it was not immediately clear if the explosions were caused by Israeli airstrikes or surface-to-surface missiles.

There was no response from the Israel Defense Forces, which rarely comments on reported strikes.

The Hebrew-language media reported Saturday night that Friday’s alleged strike was another episode in the confrontation between Israel and Iran in Syria. Israel accuses Iran of seeking to set up a military presence in Syria that could be used to threaten the Jewish state.

In November 2017, Western intelligence officials told the BBC that Iran had established a permanent military base in el-Kiswah. Israel has reportedly hit the base several times.

The Israeli military has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria in recent years on targets linked to Iran, which is backing President Bashar Assad’s regime in the Syrian civil war.