Monday, April 30, 2018

Updates From The Middle East: Israel vs Iran/Russia

In a surprise and potentially far-reaching victory for Benjamin Netanyahu, the Knesset on Monday evening gave the prime minister the authority to declare war or order a major military operation by consulting only the defense minister, and not via a full cabinet vote as the law had previously required.
Sixty-two Knesset members voted the dramatic proposal into law, beating out the 41 opposition MKs who opposed it claiming that the language of the law effectively gives free reign to the prime minister by removing all oversight.
According to the new law, in “extreme circumstances,” military operations can be authorized by the prime minister and defense minister alone and will not need a vote by cabinet ministers.

The law does not specify exactly what those circumstances may be, or who will determine them, saying only that the case will apply, “if the issue is necessary due to urgency.”

The White House said late Monday that the trove of information  released earlier in the day by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “provides new and compelling details about Iran’s efforts to develop missile-deliverable nuclear weapons.”
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, until last week director of the CIA, said the documents were authentic and much of it was new to US experts.
The statement comes after Netanyahu’s broadcast in which the prime minister revealed that Israel had obtained 100,000 secret Iranian documents pertaining to the program.

“The United States is aware of the information just released by Israel and continues to examine it carefully,” the White House said.
“This information provides new and compelling details about Iran’s efforts to develop missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” it said. “These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known: Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people.”

Officials tell NY Times Iran will likely wait to respond against Israel until after upcoming elections in Lebanon, where ally Hezbollah is fielding candidates

An overnight missile attack against weapons storage bases in Syria destroyed some 200 surface-to-surface rockets, a regional official told The New York Times Monday.
The official, from the regional alliance of Iran, Syria, Iran and its proxy Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, said the strikes killed 16 people, including 11 Iranians.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, missile strikes hit two military targets in Aleppo and Hama provinces late Sunday.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Monday Tehran will respond to the strikes against its facilities in Syria.
"Now for every your strike you will get retaliatory strikes," Khamenei said. The Supreme Leader warned that "the era when after delivering strikes the adversary managed to avoid a response is over."
The statement was a response to a missile strike on positions of the Syrian army and armed units of Shia militias fighting alongside with Damascus. A Syrian military source earlier told the SANA news agency that the strikes were carried out overnight to Monday against the outskirts of Hama and Aleppo.
According to Sky News Arabiya TV, the strike destroyed a large depot with Iranian weapons 10 km to the west of Hama (220 km from Damascus). The report said there were deaths among the Syrian forces and Iranian military advisers.

The explosion in Syria’s Hama province late Sunday night, which has been attributed to an Israeli airstrike, registered 2.6 on the Richter scale — a small earthquake, the kind that won’t knock down a building, but might knock a picture off your shelf.
The epicenter of this tremor was a military base south of the city of Hama, which is connected to the Syrian military’s 47th Brigade and has been identified by Syrian opposition sources as being under Iranian control and housing a weapons depot.
Casualty reports from the strike varied, ranging from 16 to 38 people killed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that there were 26 fatalities, most of them Iranian.

In general, the concern in Jerusalem is that precise medium- and long-range missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles — like the armed one that Israel says entered its airspace in February — or sophisticated air defense systems will make their way into Syria or to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
If Israeli intelligence spots such a shipment, the country’s decision-makers must determine if the risk of retaliation outweighs the threat posed by the incoming system in question.
“Do we confront Iran before it has these capabilities, or do we wait?” Yadlin said.

Supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei threatened the United States and its allies during a Monday speech to workers leading up to International Workers’ Day. The remarks came in response to a Sunday attack on a base in Syria that killed a number of Iranians.
Khamenei told a crowd of "thousands of laborers and entrepreneurs" from across Iran that the United States is trying to pit Muslims against one another, according to the leader's official website. "The US incites the Saudis in order to create conflict in our region. Why don't they incite the Zionists? Because they want Muslims to fight against Muslims," Khamenei reportedly said.
Sunday night, an airstrike on was conducted against the 47th Brigade of the Syrian Arab Army, a unit made up of Iranian forces and forces from Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based international army that has been fighting for the government in Syria. The attack hit a military base somewhere between Hama and Homs killing 18 Iranians, according to the Jerusalem Post. However, Israeli newspaper Haaretz, citing an official from the Iran-Hezbollah-Syria coalition, said 16 people were killed, including 11 Iranians. 

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