Archive for September 21, 2019

Islam’s Shi’ite-Sunni Mideast Rivalries- Jerusalem Studio 450 

September 21, 2019

 

 

US to send troops to Saudi Arabia, hold off on striking Iran 

September 21, 2019

Source: US to send troops to Saudi Arabia, hold off on striking Iran | The Times of Israel

Officials say Washington likely to send hundreds of personnel, defensive equipment; Trump: restraint ‘shows far more strength’ than launching strikes

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the Oval Office of the White House, September 20, 2019, Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the Oval Office of the White House, September 20, 2019, Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

AP — The Pentagon on Friday announced it will deploy additional US troops and missile defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as US President Donald Trump has at least for now put off any immediate military strike on Iran in response to the attack on the Saudi oil industry.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Pentagon reporters this is a first step to beef up security and he would not rule out additional moves down the road. General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said more details about the deployment will be determined in the coming days, but it would not involve thousands of US troops.

Other officials said the US deployment would likely be in the hundreds and the defensive equipment heading to the Middle East would probably include Patriot missile batteries and possibly enhanced radars.

The announcement reflected Trump’s comments earlier in the day when he told reporters that showing restraint “shows far more strength” than launching military strikes and he wanted to avoid an all-out war with Iran.

The US Army test fires a Patriot missile, March 27, 2019. (US Army/Jason Cutshaw)

Instead, he laid out new sanctions on the Iranian central bank and said the easiest thing to do would be to launch military strikes.

“I think the strong person’s approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “Much easier to do it the other way, and Iran knows that if they misbehave, they are on borrowed time.”

Dunford told reporters the extra equipment and troops would give the Saudis a better chance of defending against unconventional aerial attacks.

“No single system is going to be able to defend against a threat like that,” he said, “but a layered system of defensive capabilities would mitigate the risk of swarms of drones or other attacks that may come from Iran.”

The US has not provided any hard evidence that Iran was responsible for the attacks, while insisting the investigation continues, but Esper on Friday said the drones and cruise missiles used in the attack were produced by Iran.

“The attack on September 14 against Saudi Arabian oil facilities represents a dramatic escalation of Iranian aggression,” Esper said, adding that the US has thus far shown “great restraint.”

Satellite image from Planet Labs Inc. shows thick black smoke rising from Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia, September 14, 2019. (Planet Labs Inc via AP)

In deciding against an immediate US strike, Trump for the second time in recent months pulled back from a major military action against Iran that many Pentagon and other advisers fear could trigger a new Middle East war. In June, after Iran shot down an American surveillance drone, Trump initially endorsed a retaliatory military strike then abruptly called it off because he said it would have killed dozens of Iranians.

On Friday, he left the door open a bit for a later military response, saying people thought he’d attack Iran “within two seconds,” but he has “plenty of time.”

Trump spoke just before he gathered his national security team at the White House to consider a broad range of military, economic and diplomatic options in response to what administration officials say was an unprecedented Iranian attack on Saudi oil facilities.

Iran has denied involvement and warned the US that any attack will spark an “all-out war” with immediate retaliation from Tehran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence have condemned the attack on Saudi oil facilities as “an act of war.”

Esper and Dunford declined to discuss any potential ship movements to the region, although a number of US Navy vessels are nearby.

The additional air and missile defense equipment for Saudi Arabia would be designed to bolster its defenses in the north, since most of its defenses have focused on threats from Houthis in Yemen to the south.

A forensic team from US Central Command is poring over evidence from cruise missile and drone debris, but the Pentagon said the assessment is not finished. Officials are trying to determine if they can get navigational information from the debris that could provide hard evidence that the strikes came from Iran.

 

Iran warns any country that attacks it will become the ‘main battlefield’ 

September 21, 2019

Source: Iran warns any country that attacks it will become the ‘main battlefield’ | The Times of Israel

As US blames Tehran for attack on Saudi oil facilities, Revolutionary Guards commander says his forces are ready for ‘any type of scenario’

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami at Tehran’s Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense museum during the unveiling of an exhibition of what Iran says are US and other drones captured in its territory, in the capital Tehran on September 21, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Any country that attacks Iran will become the “main battlefield,” the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Crops warned Saturday after Washington ordered reinforcements to the Gulf following attacks on Saudi oil installations it blames on Tehran.

Tensions escalated between arch-foes Iran and the United States after last weekend’s attacks on Saudi energy giant Aramco’s Abqaiq processing plant and Khurais oilfield halved the kingdom’s oil output.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for the strikes but the US says it has concluded the attacks involved cruise missiles from Iran and amounted to “an act of war.”

Washington approved the deployment of troops to Saudi Arabia at “the kingdom’s request,” US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, noting the forces would be “defensive in nature” and focused on air and missile defense.

But IRGC commander Major General Hossein Salami said Iran was “ready for any type of scenario.”

Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami (2nd-R) and Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh (R), head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards aerospace division, looks at debris from what Iran presented as a downed US drone reportedly recovered within Iran’s territorial waters, at Tehran’s Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense museum, during the unveiling of an exhibition of what Iran says are US and other drones captured in its territory, on September 21, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

“Whoever wants their land to become the main battlefield, go ahead,” he told a news conference in Tehran.

“We will never allow any war to encroach upon Iran’s territory.

“We hope that they don’t make a strategic mistake,” he said, listing past US military “adventures” against Iran.

Salami was speaking at Tehran’s Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense museum during the unveiling of an exhibition of what Iran says are US and other drones captured in its territory.

It featured a badly damaged drone with US military markings said to be an RQ-4 Global Hawk that Iran downed in June, as well as an RQ-170 Sentinel captured in 2011 and still intact.

‘Act of war’

The Guards also displayed the domestically manufactured Khordad 3 air defense battery they say was used to shoot down the Global Hawk.

“What are your drones doing in our airspace? We will shoot them down, shoot anything that encroaches on our airspace,” said Salami, noting Iran had defeated “America’s technological dominance” in air defense and drone manufacture.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami (2nd-R) walks past a Khordad-3 air defense system during a visit to see an exhibition at the Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense museum in the capital Tehran on September 21, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

His remarks came only days after strikes on Saudi oil facilities claimed by Yemen’s Houthis, but the US says it has concluded the attack involved cruise missiles from Iran and amounted to “an act of war.”

Saudi Arabia, which has been bogged down in a five-year war across its southern border in Yemen, has said Iran “unquestionably sponsored” the attacks.

The Saudi military displays what they say are an Iranian cruise missile and drones used in recent attack on its oil industry at Saudi Aramco’s facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, during a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, September 18, 2019. (Amr Nabil/AP)

The kingdom says the weapons used in the attacks were Iranian-made, but it stopped short of directly blaming its regional rival.

“Sometimes they talk of military options,” Salami said, apparently referring to the Americans.

Yet he warned that “a limited aggression will not remain limited” as Iran was determined to respond and would “not rest until the aggressor’s collapse.”

‘Crushing response’

The IRGC aerospace commander said the US ought to learn from its past failures and abandon its hostile rhetoric.

“We’ve stood tall for the past 40 years and if the enemy makes a mistake, it will certainly receive a crushing response,” Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh said.

The United States upped the ante on Friday by announcing new sanctions against Iran’s central bank, with US President Donald Trump calling the measures the toughest America has ever imposed on another country.

Washington has imposed a series of sanctions against Tehran since unilaterally pulling out of a landmark 2015 nuclear deal in May last year.

It already maintains sweeping sanctions on Iran’s central bank, but the US Treasury said Friday’s designation was over the regulator’s work in funding terrorism.

Commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, right, greets Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei while attending a religious ceremony in a mosque at his residence in Tehran, Iran, March 27, 2015. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

The “action targets a crucial funding mechanism that the Iranian regime uses to support its terrorist network, including the Quds Force, Hezbollah and other militants that spread terror and destabilize the region,” said US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The Quds Force is the IRGC’s foreign operations arm, while Hezbollah is a Lebanese terror group closely allied with Iran.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the new sanctions meant the United States was “trying to block the Iranian people’s access to food and medicine.”

It showed the US was in “despair” and that “the maximum pressure policy has reached its end,” semi-official news agency ISNA quoted him as saying from New York.