Pentagon: Iran Creating "Suicide" Drones that Threaten Israel, U.S. Navy - Rowan Scarborough (Washington Times)
Iran has placed an emphasis on putting attack drones into the sky, including "suicide" aircraft that increase risks for Israel and U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf, according to a new analysis from the U.S. Army's Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth.
Iran also is sharing new drone technologies with Hamas and Hizbullah, the Army study says.
In February, Hamas launched three Ababil-3 reconnaissance drones into Israeli airspace and then pulled them back once Israeli air defense fighters were launched.
Iranian-designed drones also have penetrated Israel in the north from Lebanon.
Air Force Lt. Gen. (ret.) Thomas McInerney said drones in sufficient numbers could inflict damage similar to Japanese kamikazes in World War II.
"Even absent explosives, an Iranian willingness to collide drones with helicopters and jet fighters could hamper routine naval and army aviation along the borders of Iran," noted Michael Rubin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
Poll: Most Americans Don't Trust Iran on Nuclear Deal (NBC News)
68% of Americans don't trust that Iran will abide by an eventual agreement to curtail its nuclear program and not develop an atomic weapon, according to an NBC News poll released on Thursday, compared with 25% who said Iran was likely to do so.
53% said the Iranian nuclear program represents a major threat to the U.S., compared with 37% who said it was a minor threat, and 8% who said it was not a threat.
Report: Iranian Military Officers Captured in Yemen (Reuters-Newsweek)
Two Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers were captured during fighting on Friday in the city of Aden in Yemen, local militiamen said.
The Iranians, identified as a colonel and a captain, were seized in two separate districts. "They are from the Quds Force and are working as advisors to the Houthi militia," a source told Reuters.
Tehran has denied providing military support for Houthi fighters.
Egypt's Sinai Peninsula Hit by Deadly Bomb Attacks (BBC News)
At least 14 people were killed on Sunday in separate bomb attacks in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula carried out by militants affiliated to Islamic State.
Eight people died and 45 others were injured in an explosion outside a police barracks in El-Arish. Witnesses said a suicide bomber driving a pick-up truck drove through security barriers and rammed the building.
At least six soldiers lost their lives and two were wounded in an attack on an armored vehicle near Sheikh Zuweid.
See also IS in Egypt Claims Soldier's Execution (AFP)
Egyptian jihadists who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group have posted a video online appearing to show them shooting dead an Egyptian soldier and beheading another captive.
IDF Commander Returns to Service after Being Wounded in Gaza War - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
Eight months after his leg was shattered by a Palestinian sniper during the Gaza War, Captain Shir Klevner, 25, has returned to his unit, recently walking 10 km. during a training session.
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- Khamenei Says U.S. "Fact Sheet" on Talks "Was Wrong on Most of the Issues" - William Branigin and Daniela Deane
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Thursday denounced a State Department fact sheet that laid out various restrictions on Iran's nuclear program. "This statement, which they called a 'fact sheet,' was wrong on most of the issues," he said.
See also Ayatollah Khamenei Says No - Eli Lake
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - the only person who decides on this matter - says he hasn't agreed to the most important elements of the nuclear deal with Iran as laid out in the White House fact sheet.
Khamenei's social media team made sure to tweet out the supreme leader's take on the White House fact sheet in his English language account.
One such tweet was, "Hours after the #talks, Americans offered a fact sheet that most of it was contrary to what was agreed. They always deceive and breach promises." (Bloomberg)
See also Iran's Supreme Leader Says Sanctions Must Lift When Nuclear Deal Is Signed - Thomas Erdbrink and David E. Sanger
Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei on Thursday said sanctions "should be lifted all together on the same day of the agreement, not six months or one year later." He also declared that military sites would be strictly off limits to foreign inspectors.
President Obama has been saying that sanctions would be suspended in phases, as Iran complied with its obligations. That is critical to American leverage in making sure that Iran follows through on its commitments to vastly reduce its uranium stockpile - a process that will take months, if not longer - and decommissions centrifuges.
On Wednesday, on the "PBS NewsHour," Secretary of State Kerry said that in any final agreement, Iran would also have to resolve outstanding questions with the International Atomic Energy Agency over suspected military dimensions of the nuclear program. "It will be part of a final agreement," he said. "It has to be." (New York Times)
- U.S. Moves to Stem Iran Arms Flow to Yemen - Dion Nissenbaum
U.S. naval forces in the Red Sea this month boarded a freighter suspected of delivering Iranian weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen, American military officials said. The boarding operation marked an expanding campaign to ensure Iran doesn't supply game-changing weapons such as surface-to-air missiles that would threaten Saudi-led airstrikes on the Houthis. U.S. and Saudi officials say Tehran has been providing weapons, training and funding for the Houthis for years.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also U.S. Widens Role in Saudi-led Campaign Against Yemen Rebels - Maria Abi-Habib and Adam Entous
The U.S. is vetting military targets in Saudi Arabia's campaign in Yemen.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Islamists Arrested in Spain Eyed Attacks on Synagogues
Members of a militant Islamist cell arrested last Wednesday in Spain were trying to obtain explosives to bomb a Jewish bookshop in Barcelona, an investigating magistrate said on Friday. Other potential targets of the group included synagogues and public buildings in the Catalonia region. Six of the people arrested belonged to a militant cell with a profile similar to that of the Islamic State jihadist movement.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu Sets Out Terms for "Better" Iran Deal
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday: "Iran insists on maintaining its formidable nuclear capabilities with which it could produce nuclear bombs. Iran insists on removing all sanctions immediately. And Iran refuses to allow effective inspections of all its suspect facilities. At the same time, Iran continues its unbridled aggression in the region and its terrorism throughout the world."
"Let me reiterate again the two main components of the alternative to this bad deal: First, instead of allowing Iran to preserve and develop its nuclear capabilities, a better deal would significantly roll back these capabilities - for example, by shutting down the illicit underground facilities that Iran concealed for years from the international community. Second, instead of lifting the restrictions on Iran's nuclear facilities and program at a fixed date, a better deal would link the lifting of these restrictions to an end of Iran's aggression in the region, its worldwide terrorism and its threats to annihilate Israel."
"Iran needs a deal more than anyone. Instead of making dangerous concessions to Iran, now is the time for the international community to reassert and fortify its original demands for a better deal. We must not let Iran, the foremost sponsor of global terrorism, have an easy path to nuclear weapons which will threaten the entire world." (Prime Minister's Office)
See also Video: Statement by Prime Minister Netanyahu on Iran (Prime Minister's Office)
- The Framework Deal Is a Deception - Nadav Shragai
IDF Col. (ret.) Yigal Carmon, president of the Middle East Media Research Institute and one of the foremost experts on Iran, says the joint statement issued in Lausanne, Switzerland, "was nothing but a smokescreen meant to disguise difficult, ongoing disagreements between the parties....If you read the Lausanne statement word for word, you see it amounts to no agreement."
"The first time I read the American fact sheet it looked amazing and fantastic, too good to be true....But then at the end of the day, it turned out that the fantastic achievement...didn't last even 36 hours....When the American fact sheet was first brought to the attention of the Iranian foreign minister, he said it was a media spin. Later on he and his deputy bluntly challenged John Kerry by saying the fact sheet was false. The Iranians ended up releasing their own, very detailed fact sheet, indicating that there are substantial gaps between the two documents." (Israel Hayom)
- Israeli Opposition Demands U.S. Support for Israeli Strike on Iran Nukes - Ron Ben-Yishai
Israeli opposition leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni from the Zionist Union party called on Sunday for the U.S. to "give legitimization ahead of time to any action Israel will need to take to protect its safety" if Iran violates the framework agreement and tries to produce nuclear weapons.
- The Iran Deal: Anatomy of a Disaster - Charles Krauthammer
Under the deal President Obama is now trying to sell, Iran's entire nuclear infrastructure is kept intact, just frozen or repurposed for the length of the deal (about a decade). The inspection promises are a farce. We haven't even held the Iranians to their current obligation to come clean with the International Atomic Energy Agency on their previous nuclear activities.
Worse, there's been no mention of the only verification regime with real teeth - anywhere/anytime inspections.
As for the "snapback" sanctions, they are equally fantastic. There's no way sanctions will be re-imposed once they have been lifted. China, Russia and the Europeans will not pull their companies out of a thriving, post-sanctions Iran. With sanctions lifted, its economy booming and tens of billions injected into its treasury, why would Iran curb rather than expand its relentless drive for regional dominance? (Washington Post)
- Obama Rolls the Dice on Iran - Jackson Diehl
The weakest point in President Obama's defense of his deal with Iran is his claim that "it is a good deal even if Iran doesn't change at all."
Let's consider that scenario.
An Iran that does not change will reap hundreds of billions of dollars in fresh revenue from the lifting of sanctions, and it will surely use much of that to fund its ongoing military adventures in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. It will supply more weapons to Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups, and invest more in its long-range missiles, cyberweapons and other military technologies not covered by the agreement. It will continue developing advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment and after a decade will begin installing them.
Iran will still seek domination of the Middle East and the elimination of Israel, but with far greater resources and the capability to build a nuclear weapon at any time of its choosing. And the odds of preventing a nuclear Iran will be considerably worse than they are now.
So let's be honest: Everything depends on Obama's hope that nuclear detente will change Iran. But today it's difficult to find an expert who believes Iran will soon evolve into a more benign power. Present and former senior administration officials I consulted said they expected the Iranian regime would remain the same in the next few years, or maybe get worse.
Where Is the Evidence that Iran Wants to Change? - David Brooks (New York Times)
- President Obama's deal with Iran is really a giant gamble on the nature of the Iranian regime. On Thursday, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, delivered his first big response to the sort-of-agreed-upon nuclear framework. What did we learn?
- We learned that Iran's supreme leader still regards the U.S. as his enemy. The audience chanted "Death to America" during his speech, and Khamenei himself dismissed America's "devilish" intentions. He thinks the U.S. is the embodiment of evil.
- We learned that the West wants a deal more than Khamenei does. Throughout the speech, his words dripped with a lack of enthusiasm for the whole enterprise. President Obama is campaigning for a deal, while Khamenei is unmoved.
- We learned that the ayatollah is demanding total trust from us while offering maximum contempt in return. He demanded that the West permanently end all sanctions on the very day the deal is signed. He insisted that no inspectors could visit Iranian military facilities. This would make a hash of verification and enforcement.
- Khamenei's speech suggests that Iran still fundamentally sees itself in a holy war with the West, a war that is still a fundamental clash of values and interests. His speech suggests, as Henry Kissinger and George Shultz put it in a brilliant op-ed essay in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, that there is no congruence of interests between us and Iran.
- If Iran still has revolutionary intent, then no amount of treaty subtlety will enforce this deal. It will continue to work on its advanced nuclear technology even during the agreement. It will inevitably use nuclear weaponry, or even the threat of eventual nuclear weaponry, to advance its apocalyptic interests. Every other regional power will prepare for the worst, and we'll get a nuclear-arms race in a region of disintegrating nation-states.
- At some point, there has to be a scintilla of evidence that Iran wants to change. Khamenei's speech offers none.
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