We were offline for 3 days and we seem to have missed a possible outbreak of WW3!
This Ongoing War reports that on Tuesday the Iranians sent a drone over Israel which Israel successfully shot down:
All the ominous recent talk about Iran’s massively increased financial capacity – thanks to its JCPOA deal with the Obama administration – to feed its voracious appetite for military adventurism in our part of the world just became significantly more worrisome this afternoon.
The Israeli Air Force intercepted what it believes to be an Iranian-built drone, sent by the Hezbollah terrorist organization, with a Patriot missile after it attempted to cross into Israeli airspace on Tuesday, the army said. The military also scrambled fighter jets to the area, but ultimately did not need to use them as the interceptor missile was able to destroy the target. [According to an IDF spokesperson] the air force monitored the unmanned aerial vehicle from its take-off from Damascus airport to the demilitarized zone that separates the Israeli and Syrian Golan Heights. [When it crossed] the Syrian border and entered the demilitarized zone — but not Israeli airspace — the IDF “decided to intercept it,” [the spokesperson] said. [“IDF Patriot intercepts apparent Hezbollah drone from Syria“, Times of Israel, September 19, 2017]
The sabre-rattling of Iran’s entire power structure is generally taken seriously around here. An Associated Press report reminds us that Israeli leaders across the military and political spectrum are
worried that as the Syrian civil war appears to be winding down, Iranian and Hezbollah forces will maintain a permanent presence in the neighboring country. Netanyahu was to address the U.N. General Assembly later on Tuesday, with Iran at the top of his agenda… [Netanyahu] has repeatedly warned that Israel will not accept a military presence by Iran or any of its Shiite allies in the Syrian border area near Israel. Israel has largely stayed out of the fighting in Syria. But it has carried out dozens of airstrikes on alleged arms shipments bound for Hezbollah. It fears the group will gain sophisticated weapons and smuggle them from Syria into Lebanon.
On Friday Iran escalated and test-fired a ballistic missile capable of reaching Israel – despite pressure from Donald Trump to refrain from doing so:
Iran tested a new ballistic missile that is reportedly capable of carrying multiple warheads, the nation’s state-run broadcaster announced Saturday.
Iran unveiled the ballistic missile Friday at a military parade in Tehran and successfully tested it the same day, Press TV reported. The report also said Iran released footage of the test-launch.
Test-firing of the Iranian Khoramshahr missile, launched from an unknown location. (Screenshot/PressTV)
Called the Khorramshahr missile, the weapon has a range of 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) and can carry multiple warheads, according to Press TV.
“The Khorramshahr missile has become smaller in size and more tactical and it will be operational in the near future,” the broadcaster said.
The missile was launched from an unknown location. With the claimed range, the missile would be easily capable of reaching Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Speaking during Friday’s parade, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran would press ahead with strengthening its missile capabilities and military defenses, Press TV reported.
Israel protested the Iranian missile test, calling it a provocation to the US and a threat to the entire free world:
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday called an Iranian test of a missile that could reach Israel, test a provocation to the United States and a threat to the whole world.
Earlier in the day Iran said it had successfully tested a new medium-range missile, in defiance of warnings from Washington that it is ready to ditch a landmark nuclear deal over the issue.
“The ballistic missile that was fired by Iran is not only a a provocation and a slap in the face for the United States and its allies — and an attempt to test them — but also further proof of the Iranian ambitions to become a world power and threaten countries in the Middle East all the the countries of the free world,” Liberman said in a statement.
“Imagine what would happen if Iran would acquire nuclear weapons. That is what it is striving for. We cannot allow it to happen.,” Liberman said.
Iran continued its provocations as it displayed its S-300 air defense missile system to the public today.
With excellent timing considering these Iranian provocations, Israel carried out a second attack in as many weeks on a Syrian weapons depot outside Damascus:
Israeli warplanes early on Friday morning struck a Hezbollah weapons depot outside Damascus, Arabic-language media outlets reported.
According to reports and a monitoring group, the three separate strikes were carried out near the Damascus International Airport, an area known to be a stronghold of the Iranian-backed terrorist group.
“Israeli warplanes targeted with rocket fire a weapons depot belonging to Hezbollah near the airport,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
There were no reports of casualties or damage.
It’s hard to believe there was no damage considering the pictures that emerged after the attack:
Images of the alleged Israeli strike uploaded to social media showed smoke and a large ball of fire from the area near the airport.
This led to yet another absurd accusation by the Syrians in the UN that Israel is backing terror gangs. Since Syria is the biggest terror-backer in the Middle East outside of Iran, and its regime has murdered almost half a million of its own citizens and driven millions more into exile, this would be very funny if it were not so dangerous.
Today, the day after Rosh Hashana, Netanyahu convened the security cabinet to discuss the Iraninan missile threat:
During the gathering, scheduled for 4 p.m., the prime minister was also expected raise the subject of the Iranian military presence in Syria, the Ynet website reported.
On Saturday, Iran said it had successfully tested a new medium-range missile, in defiance of warnings from Washington that it is ready to ditch the landmark nuclear deal over the issue.
Previous Iranian missile launches have triggered US sanctions and accusations that they violate the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday called the test a “provocation” to the United States and a threat to the entire free world.
“The ballistic missile that was fired by Iran is not only a a provocation and a slap in the face for the United States and its allies — and an attempt to test them — but also further proof of the Iranian ambitions to become a world power and threaten countries in the Middle East and all the countries of the free world,” Liberman said in a statement.
“Imagine what would happen if Iran would acquire nuclear weapons. That is what it is striving for. We cannot allow it to happen,” Liberman said.
Last Monday, Netanyahu met with Trump, Netanyahu, focusing on the Iran nuclear deal and the Islamic Republic’s military expansion in the region.
Israeli officials have raised their concerns over Iran extending its military influence into Syria –in particular to areas near the border with Israel — by way of its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah that has been fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime as it battles against an insurgency now in its sixth year.
During his speech to the UN General Assembly last Tuesday, Netanyahu urged an end to the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran that saw the lifting of sanctions in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear program to prevent it producing weapons.
He also brought it up in his meeting with Trump. After the meeting, the White House said in a statement that the two men had discussed efforts to counter “Iran’s malign influence” in the Middle East, as well as “optimism in the region” about Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Binyamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump meet before the UN General Assembly opening
As mentioned above, Netanyahu’s speech (full text here) to the UN focused on the Iranian threat:
This year, though, Netanyahu went all in. Israel’s policy vis-a-vis the nuclear accord is very simple, he declared: “Change it or cancel it. Fix it or nix it.”
A clever soundbite, to be sure, but Netanyahu also explained what that means, at least partially.
“Nixing the deal means restoring massive pressure on Iran, including crippling sanctions, until Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons capability,” he said. “Fixing the deal requires many things, among them inspecting military and any other site that is suspect, and penalizing Iran for every violation. But above all, fixing the deal means getting rid of the sunset clause.”
In advocating to reopen the Iran deal, Netanyahu — who said he had discussed with Trump ways to “fix” the agreement — is betting mainly on the power of sanctions. It was crippling sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating in the first place, his thinking goes, and with even harsher sanctions, the Islamic Republic can be forced to entirely dismantle its nuclear ambitions.
Supporters of the deal, which Iran signed with six world powers, disagree. They posit that it took years and many rounds of tough negotiations to create the sanctions regime, and that it would be impossible to do the same thing over again.
Even if the US were to unilaterally withdraw from the deal, and again impose harsh sanctions on Iran, other major players — such as Russia, China, Japan and others — are unlikely to follow suit, neutering the impact of US sanctions to a degree.
US President Donald Trump too condemned the Iranian regime:
In Iran, Trump said, the trappings of democracy mask a “corrupt dictatorship.” The country must be forced to “end its pursuit of death and destruction. Above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.”
He also did not spare any blistering criticism of the Iranian nuclear deal:
calling it “an embarrassment to the United States.”
And as if all this were not enough. North Korea continued to poke the West in the eye, with yet another nuclear test and a second missile launch towards Japan. This led Donald Trump to to threaten the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, calling him “Rocket Man“:
“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” Trump said, in a disparaging reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
The US escalated in retaliation, with bombers and fighters buzzing North Korea in a show of force:
US bombers flew off the east coast of North Korea Saturday in a show of force designed to project American military power in the face of Pyongyang’s weapons programs, escalating already sky-high tensions.
Minutes after the military show of force was announced, North Korea’s foreign minister assailed US President Donald Trump at the opening of his address to the United Nations, calling him a “mentally deranged person full of megalomania.”
As a certifiable megalomaniac, Kim Jong Un certainly has the expertise to make a diagnosis.
US bombers have carried out similar show of force flights as the United States and the international community struggle to rein in North Korea’s weapons programs.
But this was the furthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any US fighter or bomber aircraft has flown off North Korea’s coast in this century, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.
“This mission is a demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that the President has many military options to defeat any threat,” White said.
“We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the US homeland and our allies.”
A shallow 3.5-magnitude earthquake that hit North Korea near its nuclear test site Saturday was likely an aftershock from the hermit state’s latest nuclear test on September 3, a nuclear test ban watchdog and other experts said.
The bomber flight and quake came at the end of a week that saw a blistering war of words between Kim and Trump, with the US leader using his maiden speech at the United Nations General Assembly to warn that Washington would “totally destroy” the North if America or its allies were threatened.
Was Trump right to double down on the war of words with North Korea? Some are worried that this will make the North Koreans even more paranoid and cause them to escalate still further. But I’m sure there are others who will say that appeasement has been tried and found wanting, and in fact has led us to this point. Maybe it’s about time some strong rhetoric, and maybe a proper show of force as we saw this week from the US, should be employed. The North Koreans certainly don’t listen to reason.
In parallel, it would seem that a similar strategy should be used against Iran. They have pocketed every concession and continued on regardless, while the world looks on, only too eager to be rid of the sanctions so that they can all start to do business again.
And if Israel has to be sacrificed in the rush towards the world’s filthy lucre, they don’t seem to care one jot. Once again, Israel will have to defend itself, and in the final event it will also end up defending the world, not that the world will thank us for our efforts.