Sunday, February 16, 2014

Preparing For The Wars To Come

Today's Theme: Wars and rumors of war

Iran’s chief air defense commander said Saturday that a homegrown air defense system based said to be more advanced than Russia’s highly-regarded S-300 battery would come online in two years.

The highly anticipated Bavar 373 program — “belief” in Persian — has been hampered by setbacks, but on Saturday, Brigadier General Farzad Esmayeeli explained that the troubles facing development had been solved and the anti-missile defense system would be completed by the end of 2015, Fars News Agency reported.

“We hope to witness a very good system with higher capabilities than the (Russian) S-300 in our air defense structure by the end of the (Development) Plan,” Esmayeeli said. “The indigenized system will be more powerful than the S-300 missile system.”

Last May it was announced that Iran would soon unveil a home-made long-range air-defense missile system similar to the Russian S-300.
The S-300 is a series of Russian long range surface-to-air missile systems produced by NPO Almaz. The S-300 system was constructed for the Soviet Air Defense Forces in order to defend against aircraft and cruise missiles. Subsequent variations on the model were developed to intercept ballistic missiles.

An Israeli state-owned arms company developing a laser-based missile shield that evokes “Star Wars” style technology says its deployment over the country is closer to becoming a reality.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems said development of the system was advanced enough for the company to be comfortable with publicizing it at this week’s Singapore Airshow, which is Asia’s largest aerospace and defense exhibition.

The laser technology behind the missile shield called Iron Beam is not that far removed from fiction.
“It’s exactly like what you see in Star Wars,” said company spokesman Amit Zimmer. “You see the lasers go up so quickly like a flash and the target is finished.”
Iron Beam is designed to intercept close-range drones, rockets and mortars which might not remain in the air long enough for Israel’s current Iron Dome missile defense system to intercept.
Iron Dome batteries have shot down hundreds of rockets launched by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip at Israeli cities. With no peace deal in sight and also threatened by Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel wants to beef up that system and develop further protection.
Avnish Patel, an expert in military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, said Iron Beam is potentially an effective addition to Israel’s defenses rather than a drastic change.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems said test data show Iron Beam lasers are blasting away more than 90 percent of their targets. The new system can also be modified so that multiple lasers can be used to hit a target, according to the company. But officials remain tight lipped as to when and how the Iron Beam will be deployed.
Zimmer, the company spokesman, said it took 15 engineers about five years to work on the technology involving solid-state lasers. It works by shooting laser beams at targets which are heated so rapidly they disintegrate in an instant.
“It’s very accurate and will help avoid collateral damage,” Zimmer said at the company’s booth at the airshow exhibition hall. “When you use lasers, you have an unlimited magazine.”
Besides Iron Beam and Iron Dome, Israel is also developing the next phase of its Arrow system which can intercept missiles in space and the upcoming David’s Sling, which shoots down short and mid-range ballistic missiles.

A new concern is preoccupying Israel’s strategists in recent weeks. On top of the al Qaeda fighting strength gathering around its borders, they are beginning to worry about the high momentum with which Russian President Vladimir Putin is capitalizing on America’s withdrawal from the Middle East. Moscow is working through military pacts with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Egyptian strongman and future president, Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to dramatically deepen its regional foothold. This and Putin's powerful personal backing for the two figures already have serious repercussions.

 Obama has no intention of conducting even the most minor US intervention in Syria war and has opted to leave a clear field in that doomed country to President Putin.
This hands-off policy has not only given the Russian president free rein to advance his interests, but further empowered Syrian ruler Bashar Assad to exercise his will on his suffering people undisturbed.

A similar relationship may be evolving between Cairo and Damascus.

This week, Egypt’s future president Defense Minister Gen. El-Sisi was in Moscow to sign a large transaction for the purchase of Russian arms. According to some estimates it is worth $2 billion; others put the figure as high as $3 billion.
Advanced Russian missiles and warplanes – and most likely S-300 anti-missile batteries – will flow into the Egyptian army’s arsenals for its two interlinked wars on the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed as a terrorist organization after its overthrow from power, and on the al Qaeda jihadists entrenched in Sinai.

But the Egyptian strongman's is trip to Moscow last week took him a long step away from Washington and an important step closer to Moscow, with incalculable consequences.

Although widely different in personality and leadership style, El-Sisis and Assad share the same lone rider instinct. They prepare their steps with meticulous care and advance planning for the sake of preserving their independence of action.
Assad’s maneuvers net him all the hardware he needs to fight his war from Russia.

The Egyptian ruler and his following hold to the political orientation briefly summed up as Nasserist. He knows that Egypt’s fundamental economic woes are incurable, and so he is investing effort in building a strong regime that will promote the Nasserist form of pan-Arab nationalism, with Egypt in the forefront.
This policy may well bring Egypt into collision with the state of Israel, the national manifestation of the Jewish people.
Therefore, in many ways, the Egyptian strongman is an enigma. Neither Washington nor Jerusalem can foresee exactly where he is heading. The Syrian ruler for his part has confounded the most extreme predictions of how far he is willing to go in his pitiless determination to survive. 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened his weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday with more words of warning to the West over Iran. 
"The major powers' talks with Iran will resume this week. Until now, it must be said, it is Iran which has gained without giving anything significant," he began. "It has received a major easing of sanctions and the Iranian economy is already responding appropriately. Iran is also continuing its aggressive policy both inside Iran and outside Iran."

"Iran is also continuing to arm terrorist organizations with advanced, deadly weapons and, of course, it is continuing to call for the destruction of the State of Israel. At the same time, Iran is continuing with advanced research and development of centrifuges. Iran is not prepared to concede even one centrifuge."

"Israel's policy is clear and is active on two tracks: First, to expose Iran's unchanging aggressive policy. Second, to demand the dismantling of Iran's enrichment capacity," the Prime Minister reiterated. "Iran does not need any centrifuges for nuclear power for civilian purposes." 

On Tuesday, Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi announced that new centrifuges were being developed that are 15 times more powerful than what Iran currently uses for its uranium enrichment. 

The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip came out against a foreign military observation force as part of any future peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, saying it would demonstrate the same hostility to international troops as it does to the IDF.

“Any foreign military force that will be deployed to safeguard an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement would get the same treatment as [Israel's] occupying forces,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Friday. Hamas relentlessly seeks to attack Israeli forces, carries out terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, intermittently fires rockets at Israel, and is currently engaged in improving its rocket capabilities and preparing for future rounds of conflict with Israel.

Abu Zuhri also called on Abbas to terminate US-brokered negotiations with Israel and urged Palestinian factions to unite in opposition to the talks. He said the talks were aimed to “terminate the question of Palestine and what is left of Palestinian rights and principles.”
“Nobody authorized you to speak in the name of the people, in the name of Hamas or in the name of any other faction,” the Hamas spokesman said, addressing Abbas. “Why don’t you tell the truth regarding what is taking place in the secret talks? If you are sincere, come out to your people. Tell them the truth and give them details.”
The Hamas prime minister in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, said Saturday that his Islamist group would not be bound by any such framework agreement.
Speaking in the Hamas-controlled territory, Haniyeh said that the deal Kerry is formulating is an agreement to perpetuate the occupation of Palestinian land.
“We will not concede a foot of Palestinian land or on a single right of the Palestinian people,” Haniyeh said.

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