Russian Pilots to Fly Attack Missions in Syria - Alex Fishman (Ynet News)
Russian fighter pilots will soon arrive in Syria to fly Russian fighter jets and attack helicopters against ISIS and rebel targets.
According to Western diplomats, a Russian expeditionary force has already arrived in Syria and set up camp at an airbase near Damascus.
In the coming weeks thousands of Russian military personnel are set to arrive in Syria in a major military intervention.
Western diplomatic sources have emphasized that the Obama administration is fully aware of the Russian intent to intervene directly in Syria.
Israel Navy Divers Recover Essential Data from Missile Tests - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
Behind the scenes of Israel's missile test program are divers from the Navy's Underwater Missions Unit.
After the exo-atmospheric Arrow-3 or the two-stage Jericho II long-range missile is launched westward over the Mediterranean from the national launch site at Palmachim Air Base, spent boosters and debris bearing often essential data for developers must be recovered.
Lt. Col. Ido Kaufman, the unit's commander, explained: "Since we don't have a lot of unpopulated land, our industry experiments take place over the sea. And when something falls, one of our missions is to make sure it's not explosive anymore. Then our experts will wrap it and lift it up."
Uzi Rubin, a former director of the Israel Missile Development Office, added that debris might not be needed for after-action analysis but for security purposes to prevent it from falling into unauthorized hands.
Other missions assigned to the unit include explosive ordnance detection and retrieval; neutralization and recovery of IEDs and mines; submarine rescue; salvage operations; and the planting of sensors to detect enemy frogmen.
Palestinian Human Rights Campaigner Slams PA Leadership (J-Wire-Australia)
The founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group - Bassem Eid - told a group in Sydney, Australia, on Aug. 26 that the current Palestinian leadership is too old and corrupt. Eid criticized the Palestinians for running to the UN instead of continuing negotiations.
He criticized the Hamas leadership for forcing people back into their houses in Beit Lahiya during the war in Gaza last summer and of using the population as human shields by digging tunnels under their houses.
Eid accused Hamas of using the people to protect their missiles and rockets. He said Gazans were offered $50 per month to allow tunnels to be built under their homes.
He urged Australians to approach their government for an accounting of how the $65 million given annually to the Palestinian Authority is spent.
Eid said a majority of Palestinians did not support the BDS movement and claimed that 92,000 Arabs from the West Bank work in Israel each day.
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- Clerical Leader: U.S. Is Iran's "No. 1 Enemy" Despite Nuclear Deal
The U.S. remains Iran's "number one enemy" despite the recent nuclear deal, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi,
the chief of the Assembly of Experts, Tehran's top clerical body, said Tuesday. The nuclear agreement should not "change our foreign policy" of opposition to the U.S., Yazdi said. (AFP)
See also Merkel: Iran's Attitude toward Israel "Not Acceptable"
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that Iran's opposition to Israel needed to change.
"It is not acceptable how Iran continues to talk about Israel," Merkel said. "It is a disappointment that there has been no change as far as the recognition of Israel goes." (Reuters)
- Egypt Renews Campaign Against Gaza Smuggling Tunnels
Egyptian military bulldozers are digging along Egypt's border with Gaza in a renewed campaign to put an end to the last remaining cross-border underground smuggling tunnels. The project, billed as the construction of a fish farm, effectively would fill the border area with water. Today, Palestinian smugglers still operate an estimated 20 tunnels. Several smugglers said they are installing water pumps to drain the tunnels in case they flood. (AP)
- Faking Doctors' Notes to Escape Gaza - Jodi Rudoren
A Gaza woman said she paid a doctor $50 to write a fake medical report, hoping to join the hundreds of Palestinian patients allowed out of Gaza each month for treatment, mostly to Israel and the West Bank. Officials involved in the issuing of permits say a rise in fraudulent referrals has slowed approval for genuine cases. Patient applications from Gaza nearly quadrupled from 5,470 in 2006. There were 10,034 requests in the first half of 2015.
"We have a lot of cases of both fake papers and fake requests, and also just people that don't really need to get this treatment outside," said the Israeli official who heads the permit division.
He said the unit has a list of about 20 "problematic doctors that are very, very generous in giving papers and signing them, with no real need."
A surgeon at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City said buying fake or exaggerated diagnoses was "becoming a norm," with lab technicians and hospital administrative staff serving as "brokers." The doctor said a colleague had gotten a medical transfer for a hemorrhoid that could have been treated in Gaza in order to go to Germany for a job. (New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Will the Egyptian Natural Gas Find Affect Israel? - Sharon Udasin
On Sunday, the Italian energy giant Eni announced the Mediterranean's largest known gas field off the Egyptian coast, the 849 billion cubic meter Zohr field, which is significantly larger than Israel's biggest field, Leviathan, which is 621 b.cu.m. Last year, the natural gas companies operating in Israel's waters signed letters of intent to provide 71 b.cu.m. to Spanish Union Fenosa's Egyptian liquefied natural gas plant and 105 b.cu.m. to the British Gas LNG plant in Egypt.
Miki Korner, former chief economist for Israel's Natural Gas Authority, noted Monday that the Zohr reservoir is located 200 km. from the Egyptian coast and contains clay rather than sand - conditions that could make development take at least six years. Moreover, Egypt already has a number of other undeveloped reservoirs with about 2,000 b.cu.m. of gas.
- Jews Are Leaving Jerusalem Due to Severe Housing Shortage - Nadav Shragai
Some 18,000 Jewish residents of Jerusalem move away from the city annually (some 320,000 in total over the last two decades) due to a severe shortage in available housing. Over the last decade, only 2,000 new housing units have been built every year (according to the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies), while annual demand is around 4,000 to 4,500. If this migration continues, the relative percentage of Jerusalem's Jewish population is bound to shrink and the percentage of the Arab population, which is currently approaching 40%, will continue to increase.
- How the Iran Deal Could Complicate U.S. Efforts to Prevent a Nuclear Breakout - Michael Eisenstadt
President Obama has often stated, regarding Iran's potential nuclear weapons ambitions, that "we preserve all our capabilities...our military superiority stays in place."
Further scrutiny, however, raises questions regarding whether political and military dynamics set in train by the nuclear deal with Iran will in fact make preventive military action even more problematic and, therefore, unlikely.
The agreement will almost certainly enable Iran to strengthen its defenses and its retaliatory capabilities.
In the next 10 to 20 years, Iran could more than double the size of its current inventory of about 800
short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. This will stress regional missile defenses and dramatically increase the size of an Iranian retaliatory strike. Moreover, Iran is free to continue its development and production of land attack cruise missiles, which are not addressed directly in the deal.
Future underground facilities are likely to be located at sites that are even better protected and deeper than the current underground facilities at Natanz and Fordow. Fordow probably represents the outer limits of what America's current generation of conventional deep penetrator munitions ("bunker-busters") can take on. Iran has hundreds of underground bunkers and facilities that it could use for clandestine nuclear activities, playing a shell game with foreign intelligence services, which would have to determine which ones are being used for proscribed purposes.
The nuclear deal with Iran could therefore complicate U.S. efforts to deter, detect, and prevent a future Iranian nuclear breakout, while buying Iran time to counter some of America's most potent capabilities.
The writer is director of the Military and Security Studies Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
(War on the Rocks)
- Iran Is Going on a Massive Military Shopping Spree in Russia - Michael Rubin
When negotiations on the Joint Plan of Action began, the Iranian economy had just shrunk 5.4%. With upwards of $100 billion in new investment now due in Tehran, Iranian authorities are starting their shopping spree, with a heavy emphasis on the military. When the EU flooded Iran with hard currency between 2000 and 2005 (during which time the price of oil also increased sharply), Iran invested the bulk of its windfall in military and covert nuclear programs.
Consider the latest headlines from the Iranian and Russian press: "Tehran in Talks with Moscow to Purchase Sukhoi Superjet 100."
"Iran, Russia Reach Initial Agreement on Joint Helicopter Manufacturing."
"Russia to Sell to Iran Modernized S-300 Missile Systems."
Given a choice between guns and butter, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will always choose guns. The writer is a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
Israel and the U.S.: Time for a Parallel Agreement - Amos Yadlin (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv)
- The agreement signed with Iran is very problematic for Israel. Israel should seek the formulation of a "parallel agreement" with the U.S. that mitigates the deal's weak points.
Israel is a powerful nation, strong enough to confront the challenges that lie ahead, including those expected from implementation of the agreement. Nonetheless, the best way to do so runs through Washington and requires U.S.-Israeli cooperation that manages the risks and maximizes the strategic possibilities.
- This cooperation should be formalized in an agreement rather than by exchanges of letters or the establishment of understandings. Recent history shows that letters and understandings - such as the letter sent by President Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004 - were not recognized in practice by subsequent administrations.
- Signing a parallel agreement with the U.S. does not mean acquiescing to or reconciling with the problematic Iran deal. Quite the contrary, it is precisely because the agreement with Iran is so troublesome that a parallel agreement between the U.S. and Israel - which is not a signatory to the agreement with Iran - is imperative.
- On the conventional level, Israel and the U.S. must formulate a coordinated campaign to combat Iran's negative influence in the region. The challenge is to define principles for offensive conduct against subversive Iranian activity.
- On the political level, both Israel and the U.S. will gain from demonstrating to Iran the strength of their bilateral alliance, and the far-reaching levels of support Israel enjoys among the American people and in Congress.
- This could be achieved through political measures such as formal American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and the transfer of the American embassy there, without waiting for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Other steps could include promoting recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, given the dissolution of Syria.
Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, chief of Israeli military intelligence from 2006 to 2010, is director of INSS.
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