Archive for September 24, 2019

ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו בהתייחסות לתוקפנות האיראנית – YouTube

September 24, 2019

 

INSS expert: Trump has lost control of Iran standoff

September 24, 2019

Source: INSS expert: Trump has lost control of Iran standoff – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

Zarif offer of permanent inspections is ‘a nothing hamburger’

BY YONAH JEREMY BOB
 SEPTEMBER 24, 2019 01:27
US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump has lost control of the nuclear standoff with Iran, Emily Landau, director of Arms Control at the Institute for National Security Studies, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

It is in that context that Landau says people should view Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s purported latest offer of “sanctions relief” from the US for “permanent monitoring of Iranian nuclear facilities.”

On Monday, CNN’s Christiane Armanpour tweeted a photo of her interviewing Zarif, including highlighting his new offer as an attempt to break the ongoing stalemate between Washington and Tehran.

At first glance, Zarif’s offer could seem like breaking some serious new ground.

Until now the Islamic republic has demanded total sanctions relief before it makes any concessions.

Zarif’s statement seemed to allude to possibly extending the 2015 Iran nuclear deal’s inspections regime beyond the life of the deal which, while not dealing with all of Washington’s criticism of the deal, could be viewed as showing substantive movement by the Iranians.

Landau said that this would be a total misunderstanding of what Zarif offered.

“There is absolutely nothing new in that offer… it is a nothing hamburger,” said Landau.

She said that the wording Zarif used was highly specific and was a clear reference to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Iran has been obligated by for dozens of years – long before the 2015 JCPOA.

The Iran expert explained that this means that all Zarif offered was for Tehran to comply with its preexisting obligations, but nothing new at all.

Moreover, Landau said that even if it turns out that the foreign minister later decides to go beyond the tweeted statement and offer to extend the JCPOA inspection regime, this would not be a substantive change.

Rather, she said that the main difference between the inspection regime and the older treaty regime is frequency of inspections.

This does not, however, solve the problem of scope of inspections, said Landau.

She related that a concession regarding inspections would only be meaningful if Zarif was offering to finally allow the IAEA to inspect military nuclear facilities and other new nuclear sites that it had not disclosed to date.

As long as Iran does not include those facilities, where much of their illicit nuclear program activities may still be ongoing, there is no real gain from simply extending the idea of having more frequent inspections in facilities where Iran is pretending to follow the rules.

So Landau said that, “There is no olive branch here. Iran has said they are willing to meet with Trump after saying emphatically that they wouldn’t meet with Trump in New York. All we learn is that they change their message on a daily basis… nothing can be taken as a sign of anything.”

She made two contrasting points about Zarif’s statement. The first was that the fact that “negotiation talk is in the air is proof that the maximum pressure campaign is working,” since otherwise Iran would be offering nothing. On the other hand, Trump’s hints about relaxing the campaign are starting to have negative effects.

Regarding Trump losing his edge in the confrontation with the Islamic republic, she said that, “Iran is feeling more powerful, more empowered now vis-a-vis the US after blowing up the oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, and not having a firm US response beyond sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran.

“Here, Trump is losing his deterrence powers vis-a-vis Iran… because he has demonstrated his eagerness to meet with Rouhani for negotiations, while the Iranians are saying ‘no,’ she added. “In the negotiation dynamics, that means Trump has blinked first. That spells weakness at the negotiation table.”

Essentially, Landau said that Zarif was trying to sound like Iran is showing flexibility in order to entice Trump into cracking and ending the maximum pressure campaign.

Landau did not say that the campaign would definitely work in getting Iran to change its behavior of promoting terror and advancing its nuclear program, especially with US elections just over a year away.

She did say, however, that the maximum pressure campaign was the only method that has a chance to succeed.

 

Iran’s FM: Israel is hitting Iraq’s ‘official military’ in strikes

September 24, 2019

Source: Iran’s FM: Israel is hitting Iraq’s ‘official military’ in strikes | The Times of Israel

Zarif blames Jerusalem for series of attacks on Iranian-backed targets that Israel has not officially commented on

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif smiles as he meets French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian (not seen) on September 22, 2019 in New York City. (Johannes EISELE / AFP)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has explicitly blamed Israel for a series of airstrikes in Iraq, insisting that the targets were part of the official Iraqi military.

Since mid-July, eight arms depots and training camps belonging to the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) have been targeted in Syria and Iraq. The PMF, an umbrella group of largely Iran-backed militias, has blamed both Israel and the US for the string of blasts and drone sightings at its bases.

Israeli officials have not publicly commented on the allegations, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted at the possibility that Israel has struck in Iraq.

As part of a discussion on an attack on Saudi oil facilities on September 14, which has been blamed on Iran and a Tehran-backed militia, Zarif said that militias in Iraq are part of the national army.

“These militias that you talk about are part of the Iraqi government. The Israelis are attacking parts of Iraqi military, official military,” Zarif said in a CBS interview broadcast Sunday.

Illustrative: Popular Mobilization Forces members stand by a burning truck after a drone attack blamed on Israel near Qaim border crossing, in Anbar province, Iraq, August 25, 2019. (AP Photo)

An airstrike was reported Sunday afternoon in western Iraq, targeting a military base belonging to the PMF — the third such attack on the militia in a week and the fourth in a month.

“An unidentified aircraft targeted the area surrounding a military base next to the al-Murssinat [military] airport in the western part of the al-Anbar province,” Lebanese television station al-Mayadeen quoted sources as saying.

There were no casualties in the attack, the report said.

On Thursday, Arabic-language media reported that unknown aircraft attacked PMF posts in the Boukamal region of eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border, killing at least five people and wounding nine, after an earlier similar strike two days earlier.

Some Syrian and Iraqi outlets have said Israel was suspected of being behind the strikes. There were no such public allegations by Syrian or Iraqi officials.

On September 9, aircraft targeted an arms depot and posts of Iranian-backed militias in the Boukamal region, killing at least 18 fighters and destroying at least eight storehouses. A Syrian security official said at the time that Israeli jets were behind the attack but denied there were casualties.

The Saudi-owned Al Arabiya network has reported that the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group also maintains a presence in the Boukamal region.

Israel views Iran as its greatest threat, and has acknowledged carrying out scores of airstrikes in Syria in recent years aimed primarily at preventing the transfers of sophisticated weapons, including guided missiles, to the Iran-backed Hezbollah.

This quiet war has reportedly expanded to Iraq in recent weeks, with unnamed US officials saying the Israel Defense Forces was behind at least some strikes on Iran-linked sites in Iraq.

 

Iran sets up Islamic Jihad cells in Judea and Samaria for rocket attacks on Israel – DEBKAfile

September 24, 2019

Source: Iran sets up Islamic Jihad cells in Judea and Samaria for rocket attacks on Israel – DEBKAfile

Palestinian Authority intelligence authorities have uncovered an Iranian attempt to plant rocket-armed Islamic Jihad cells on the West Bank for attacking Israel’s population centers.

Three arrests in the Ramallah district ordered by Gen. Majid Frej, head of the PA’s General Intelligence, thwarted a project for constructing home-made rockets. Its findings were passed to Israel’s Shin Bet security service.

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that the three detentions are the tip of the iceberg of Iran’s effort to replicate in Judea and Samaria the sporadic rocket fire offensive from the Gaza Strip against Israeli population centers. The three detainees were discovered receiving instructions from Iran by internet on how to build the rockets and arm them for attack.

So far, the PA authorities have bust one cell, impounded its construction machinery for the rockets and collected six unfinished samples. The Palestinian and Israeli security authorities agree that Iran has only just begun its project for building an offensive rocket infrastructure on the West Bank for attacking Israel’s most densely populated region.

In Gaza, Tehran’s Palestinian proxy, Islamic Jihad, has built a virtually autonomous network which in recent weeks has launched rocket volleys against southern Israel whenever some sort of truce with Hamas was within reach. This campaign is commanded by Baha Abu Ata, head of the Islamic Jihad’s northern wing. He does not take his orders from the movement’s headquarters in Damascus or defer to the Gaza branch, and is not afraid to defy Hamas’ dreaded security services. Abu Ata has several hundred rockets at his disposal and fires them when he receives instructions through an independent communications line directly from the IRGC Al Qods’ headquarters in the Syrian town of Abu Kamal near the Iraqi border.

Palestinian and Israeli security authorities are estimated to have uncovered 90 percent of the pro-Iranian cells planted on the West Bank, but the remaining ten percent may be enough to embark on a rocket campaign against Israel from Judea and Samaria.