"Iran on war alert"
In a rare move, Iran has declared a state of war on its northwestern border, DEBKAfile's military and Iranian sources report. Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps men and equipment units are being massed in the Caspian Sea region against what Tehran claims are US and Israeli forces concentrated on army and air bases in Azerbaijan ready to strike Iran's nuclear facilities.
"The mobilization is due to the presence of American and Israeli forces on the western border," adding, "Reinforcements are being dispatched to West Azerbaijan Province because some western countries are fueling ethnic conflicts to destabilize the situation in the region."
Other Iranian sources report that in the last few days, Israel has secretly transferred a large number of bomber jets to bases in Azerbaijan, via Georgia, and that American special forces are also concentrated in Azerbaijan in preparation for a strike.
DEBKAfile's intelligence and Iranian sources point to three other developments as setting off Iran's war alert:
1. A certain (limited) reinforcement of American and Israeli forces has taken place in Azerbaijan. Neither Washington nor Jerusalem has ever acknowledged a military presence in this country that borders on Iran, but Western intelligence sources say that both keep a wary eye on the goings-on inside Iran from electronic surveillance bases in that country.
2. Iran feels moved to respond to certain US steps: The arrival of the USS Harry S. Truman Strike Group in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea and its war games with France and Israel, which included live-fire bombing practices against targets in Iran.
3. The execution of Abdolmalek Rigi, head of the Sunni Baluchi rebel organization (including the Iranian Baluchis), on June 20 was intended as a deterrent for Iran's other minorities. Instead, they are more restive than ever. Several Azeri breakaway movements operate in Iranian Azerbaijan in combination with their brethren across the border. Tehran decided a substantial buildup in the province would serve as a timely measure against possible upheavals.
Then we see an update on the possible conflict between Iran and Israel due to Iran sending ships into the blockade:
"Iran Changes Course on Ship; Israel Trains for the Worst"
Iran has changed course again and announced Tuesday afternoon it will send a ship to try to challenge Israeli sovereignty over the waters off of Hamas-controlled Gaza...
"No one in their right mind can believe that a ship sent by the ayatollahs and their Revolutionary Guards has anything to do with humanitarian aid," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. "I don't think there is one single country in this region and beyond that would let such an ayatollah ship come near its coasts."
If Iran goes through with its vow to send a ship, any confrontation with Israel is less likely to result in the international sympathy for the Turkish flotilla that clashed with Israeli commandos May 31, when nine Turkish terror activists were killed.
The prospect of U.S. warships being involved was played down by Newsweek magazine, which reported Tuesday that Saturday’s movement through the Suez Canal of the American warships, led by the giant aircraft carrier USS Truman, was unconnected with an Iranian attempt to reach Gaza.
The movement of the warships was exceptional because of the number of vessels involved, the largest in years, but the Pentagon stated that the USS Truman simply was on its way to relieve the USS Eisenhower carrier in “a routine rotation of forces during a scheduled deployment.”
These are interesting developments. We saw a few days ago, U.S. and Israeli ships headed towards Iran and now perhaps we have some ground troop movements towards Iran's northern border. This is worth watching closely. It will take very little to ignite this powder-keg, and the region's tension continues to escalate by the day.
Rumors of war. Indeed.