Iran General Said to Mastermind Iraq Ground War (AP-Washington Post)
After Islamic State militants retreated from the Iraqi town of Jurf al-Sakher last week, photos soon emerged on independent Iraqi news websites of the powerful Iranian general Ghasem Soleimani, whose name has become synonymous with the handful of victories attributed to Iraqi ground forces.
Militia commanders said dozens of advisers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Lebanese Hizbullah were on the front lines in Jurf al-Sakher, 50 km. south of Baghdad.
While U.S. military advisers have been coordinating coalition airstrikes from within heavily fortified bases, Soleimani and his commanders are on the front lines and would assume a key role in the retaking of major Iraqi cities.
Soleimani's Quds Force, the special operations arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, has been involved for years in training and financing Iraq's Shiite militias.
See also Iraq's Marauding Shiite Gangs - Tirana Hassan (Foreign Policy)
Shiite militias have assumed a national military role since the Iraqi government's security forces crumbled this summer.
They are using the fight against the Islamic State as a pretext to destroy Sunni Arab communities.
We met dozens of displaced families from more than 20 predominantly Sunni villages within a 10-mile radius of Yengija. They all provided similar, chilling accounts of the systematic destruction of their villages by government-backed militias determined to prevent Sunni Arabs from returning.
The Baghdad authorities have turned a blind eye to these militias' crimes, while foreign governments have ignored the militias' use of their military aid to pursue their campaign against Sunni Arabs.
Egyptian Militant Group Denies Pledging Loyalty to Islamic State (Reuters)
Egypt's most active militant group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, denied on Tuesday that it had pledged allegiance to Islamic State and it distanced itself from a statement that appeared in its name online.
Saudi Arabia Acts to Crush Anti-Shiite Violence - Rick Gladstone (New York Times)
Saudi Arabian security officials moved aggressively on Tuesday to crush anti-Shiite violence, arresting 15 people in six cities and killing two others in connection with a terrorist ambush on mosque worshipers in a minority Shiite community.
The mosque ambush on the eve of Ashura, a Shiite holiday, occurred Monday night, with at least five young men killed by automatic weapons fire.
German Exports to Iran Surge after Easing of Sanctions (Reuters)
German exports to Iran jumped by 33% in the first eight months of the year, lifted by an easing of Western sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Role for Russia Gives Iran Talks a Possible Boost - David E. Sanger
Iran has tentatively agreed to ship much of its huge stockpile of uranium to Russia if it reaches a broader nuclear deal with the West, according to officials and diplomats involved in the negotiations.
The Russians would convert the uranium into specialized fuel rods for the Bushehr nuclear power plant, Iran's only commercial reactor. Once the uranium is converted into fuel rods, it is extremely difficult to use them to make a nuclear weapon. However, such an agreement would not cut off every pathway that Tehran could take to obtain a nuclear weapon.
With a Nov. 24 deadline looming on the nuclear talks, negotiators are still far from agreement on a range of other issues that could derail a final agreement. A senior National Security Council official noted, "what is less certain is whether Iran will accept the reasonable proposals" on the table, or "will continue to make excessive demands that are not aligned with its practical nuclear needs."
History suggests that an agreement with Iran to part with much of its nuclear stockpile, which it has spent billions of dollars to amass, is never a sure thing. A deal struck between the Obama administration and Iran in 2009 to ship some of its nuclear fuel out of the country fell apart when it was brought to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader.
(New York Times)
See also Iran Rejects New York Times' Claims about Shipment of Enriched Uranium to Russia
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham on Tuesday strongly rejected a report by the New York Times that Iran has agreed to transfer a portion of its enriched uranium to Russia after signing a comprehensive nuclear deal.
- Report: Obama Threatened Netanyahu with Dropping UN Veto Against Anti-Israel Moves - Dave Bender
President Obama threatened Prime Minister Netanyahu that the U.S. may opt not to oppose future hostile UN Security Council votes, unless Israel accedes to American policy demands, Israel's NRG News reported on Sunday.
"The prime minister told colleagues in recent days...that his office's understanding of the issue and the government's take on it is that the Americans will not cast a veto against a resolution that reaches the Security Council," Ariel Kahana, diplomatic correspondent for the Makor Rishon and NRG dailies, said Monday.
"Beyond the abandonment of Israel, it also flies in the face of previous agreements with the Americans, including vis-a-vis the Egyptian peace deal, in which the U.S. would hold the line against such maneuvers," Kahana noted. (Algemeiner)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Palestinian Terrorist Kills One, Wounds 14 in Jerusalem Attack - Nir Hasson
Ibrahim al-Akari of east Jerusalem drove a commercial vehicle into a crowd of people on Wednesday, killing one person and wounding at least 14, three of them seriously.
The vehicle hit several pedestrians on Highway 1, at a bus stop, then continued on to the next junction where it ploughed into more pedestrians.
The driver then exited the vehicle and began attacking people with a metal rod, before being shot and killed by police. (Ha'aretz)
- PA Arrests 250 Islamists to Prevent West Bank Violence - Avi Issacharoff
Over 250 Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives have been detained in PA-controlled areas of the West Bank since the end of the Gaza war,
in an effort to prevent riots from spreading in the West Bank, Palestinian officials said Tuesday. Israeli defense officials confirmed the arrests. PA officials recognize that Hamas is directly responsible for the upsurge in violence in Jerusalem, and has also been seeking to foment violence in the West Bank. While PA President Mahmoud Abbas has publicly castigated Israel for its actions to quell the unrest, he is also personally dictating the tough policies against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank. (Times of Israel)
- Israel: Amnesty Report on Gaza War Ignores Hamas Terror
Amnesty International's report issued Wednesday on this summer's conflict between Israel and the Hamas terror group accuses Israel of wrongdoing while producing no evidence. At the same time, the report ignores documented war crimes perpetrated by Hamas, including the use of human shields, as well as firing at Israeli civilian population centers from within schools, hospitals, mosques and civilian neighborhoods in Gaza. The report does not mention the word "terror" in relation to Hamas or other armed Palestinian groups, nor does it mention tunnels built by Hamas to infiltrate Israel and perpetrate terror attacks.
In Israel, investigations are currently underway by several bodies, inside and outside the Israel Defense Forces, into over 90 incidents. In comparison to Israel's rigorous procedures, Amnesty's report was written by local "field workers" with no independent verification of their claims.
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- How the U.S., Not Iran, Is Making Concessions - Michael Singh
The central aim of American policy toward Iran in recent years had been to persuade Tehran to make a strategic shift: away from a strategy of projecting power and deterring adversaries through asymmetric means, and toward one that would adhere to international norms and reinforce regional peace and stability. Iran does not, however, appear to have undergone any such change.
In Iraq, much is made of the supposed alignment of interests between the U.S. and Iran. But no such alignment is apparent. Iran's overt backing for Shiite militias in Iraq is directly at odds with President Obama's strategy of seeking to restore Iraqi Sunnis' confidence in Baghdad. In Syria, Washington's stated policy is that Bashar al-Assad is illegitimate and that ending the Syrian conflict requires that he cede power, while Iran has worked to shore up Assad. Nor when it comes to Islamic State are the U.S. and Iran on the same page. Iranian leaders accuse the U.S. of having created IS.
America is choosing to overlook, rather than counter, long-standing Iranian policies. Combined with the concessions we have made in the nuclear talks, this reinforces the impression that the U.S., not Iran, is undergoing a strategic shift.
The writer, managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy,
worked on Middle East issues at the U.S. National Security Council from 2005 to 2008.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Handing Over the Gulf to Iran - Salem Salmin al-Nu'aimi
Those who speak of the U.S. and Europe's need for Gulf oil and gas do not seem to realize that it is the Asian countries that are the main consumers of Middle Eastern oil. By 2035, 90% of the Gulf's oil exports will go to Asia. But that does not alter the fact that it is the U.S. that is the main guarantor of the naval passageways, something that is directly linked to the interests of U.S. energy security.
The U.S. needs markets that will consume its products if it is to remain a superpower, and if it is to protect its economic interests, political influence, and commercial, industrial, and technological presence in the region, let alone secure the Gulf's oil trade. All this affects the global price of oil and gas, whose rise will halt the ongoing efforts to recover from the global economic crisis. So, where does the failure lie in the U.S. attitude towards Gulf security?
The failure lies in the notion that Iran can take the place of the U.S. as a strong military power in the region. This is a scenario that some American politicians view as a solution for the problem posed by Iranian threats to the Straits of Hormuz, on the grounds that Iran is a regional power with a secret network that stretches across the entire region.
Israeli Defense Minister Ya'alon: "I Am Deeply Moved by Depth and Intimacy of Ties with U.S." - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
- Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Tuesday praised the "unbreakable alliance" with the U.S., and described Washington as Israel's "greatest friend," on which the Jewish state is strategically reliant. "The U.S. supplied Israel throughout the years with wide-scale assistance, particularly in the defense field, and it is the one that assists Israel in standing up to challenges," Ya'alon said.
- "I am deeply moved every time by the depth of the ties and the intimacy between the defense establishments, and the militaries that are at their helm. In a changing and stormy Middle East, where one does not know what the next day will bring, these are important ties, like no other."
- "An argument, as harsh as it may be, will not darken relations between the countries and the gratitude felt by Israelis to the U.S. and its role in our defense and power."
- Discussing Israel Aerospace Industries' production of wings for the F-35 stealth fighter, Ya'alon said these capabilities were driven by the knowledge that "if we are not the best, the most advanced, the most sophisticated, we simply will not be. This is the secret of our power and existence. This is our power. Our minds and hearts, spirit and knowledge."
Ya'alon: I Wasn't Snubbed During Recent Visit in U.S.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, referring to reports that he had received a cold shoulder during a recent visit to Washington, said Tuesday that most government officials were busy with the upcoming elections and therefore could not meet with him. Ya'alon spoke at the unveiling of an Israel Aerospace Industries production line where wings for the F-35 fighter jet will be produced. During his visit to Washington last month, Ya'alon met with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon.
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert.