Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Evening Update: Proxy Wars With Iran. Liberman Says Israel Will Never Leave Golan

Strike On Sudanese Plant May Be Sign Of Escalating Proxy War

This is actually a fascinating article:

A suspected Israeli airstrike against a weapons factory in Khartoum last week points to a possible escalation in a hidden front of the rivalry between Israel and Iran: The arms pipeline through Sudan to terrorists on Israel’s borders.
Mystery still surrounds the blast, which killed four people. But analysts say the incident could indicate Iran is trying to send more advanced weapons via Sudan to Hamas in the Gaza Strip or Hezbollah in Lebanon — and that Israel has become more determined to stop it at a time of increased tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.

Consensus has built among Israeli and Arab military analysts that the explosion just after midnight last Wednesday at the Yarmouk factory was indeed an Israeli airstrike as Sudan has claimed.

Israel says it neither confirms nor denies being behind it. Sudan, in turn, denied on Monday that Iran had any connection to the factory’s production.

Experts say that Sudan’s value to Iran is not in its modest weapons production capabilities, but in its vast desert expanses that provide cover for weapons convoys bound for Gaza through Egypt’s lawless Sinai Peninsula. Israel has long contended that Iran uses the route to supply Hamas.

The question now is: What would prompt Israel to conduct a bolder strike hitting a Sudanese government facility in the heart of the capital Khartoum?

The target may have been 40 shipping containers that satellite images show were stacked in the factory compound days before the explosion. Post-explosion imagery released Saturday by the Satellite Sentinel Project, a US monitoring group, show six 52-foot-wide craters all centered at the spot where the containers had been, the blast’s epicenter.

The group said the craters were consistent with an airstrike and that whatever it hit was a “highly volatile cargo,” causing a powerful explosion that destroyed at least two structures in the compound and sent ordnance flying into nearby neighborhoods.

What was in the containers remains unknown — leaving observers to speculate.
Retired Israeli Brigadier General Shlomo Brom, a military expert, said there is a “strong possibility” that Israel had identified an “imminent threat” within the factory.

Gen. Sameh Seif Elyazal, a former Egyptian army general, said his understanding was that a strike was carried out against short-range missiles being assembled in the factory “under Iranian supervision,” bound for the Hamas and Hezbollah militant groups. He said that his analysis was based on “private conversations with Israeli officials” that had been conveyed to him through others. He did not elaborate.

Elyazal said Iranian-made weapons smuggled through Sudan reach Hamas militants in Gaza and Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.
“Iran wants to put Israel under pressure from the north, through Hezbollah and from the east through Gaza,” he said.

Speaking to Israel Radio after the Wednesday explosion in Khartoum, Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon said “there’s no doubt that there is an axis of weapons from Iran via Sudan that reaches us, and not just us.”

Fawaz A. Gerges, who heads the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics, says the strike has its symbolic aspect as well, allowing Israel to “flex its muscle and capacity and will to strike.”“Regardless of what particular weapons were destroyed, Israel sent a message to Sudan and to Iran,” Gerges said.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman toured the Golan Heights Tuesday and said that the territory would stay in Israeli hands, calling it non-negotiable under a Likud-Yisrael Beytenu government.
The alliance of Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party and the Likud was approved Monday by the Likud Central Committee.
“The Israeli Law, which applies to the Golan Heights, has been in place since the days of former prime minister Menachem Begin, which means the Golan Heights are like Tel Aviv or Holon,” he said, according to Ynet.
Israel captured the Golan in the 1967 war, and subsequently extended Israeli law to the area.
Liberman also cited the ongoing violent situation in Syria as support for Israel’s retention of the Heights.
As part of the agreement with Liberman for the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu to run together in January’s elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly pledged not to relinquish the Golan Heights in any negotiations with Syria.

Liberman, looking out towards Quinetra, told reporters that "unfortunately in recent years we have seen a number of attempts to negotiate over the Golan Heights. The Golan is an integral part of Israel, and I think that recent events prove that."

Liberman said that al-Qaida, which "sits just a short distance away in Quinetra, would be on the Kinneret and the hills and all the kibbutzim and communities would be under the threat by all kinds of the most radical elements in the Muslim world."

Liberman said he viewed the Golan as he did Tel Aviv, Netanya, Holon and Bat Yam, and was not willing to even discuss the idea of giving up the region.

No comments: