Israeli Analyst: Iran Is Taking a Step Back for Fear of Trump
Iran is pulling back from its latest confrontation with the U.S. because it fears President Donald Trump, veteran Israeli journalist Ehud Yaari
wrote on the Mako
news site on Thursday.
He said Iran was "taking a step back or maybe just a time out" because Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was "scared of Trump."
Yaari said, "Iran has instructed Shi'a militias in Iraq not to make good on their threats for now to launch a terror campaign against the 5,000 American soldiers in the country."
Even Kataib Hezbollah, the pro-Iran group whose leader was killed along with Soleimani, was "now calling for 'de-escalation' instead of revenge."
"In short: the roar of threats being heard from Tehran should be heard without too much anxiety. When the Iranians talk about 80 American dead as a result of the missile fire, they know very well that they are clinging to lies."
Iran Plane Crash Victims Came from at Least Seven Countries
- Dan Bilefsky (New York Times
Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine's minister of foreign affairs, said the victims of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 that crashed on Wednesday included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, including nine Ukrainian crew members, 10 from Sweden, four from Afghanistan, three from Germany, and three from Britain.
Israel's New Laser-Based Air Defense System Could Be a Game Changer
- Amos Harel (Ha'aretz
The development of a laser-based missile-interception system, announced Wednesday, could be of dramatic importance in defending Israel's home front.
The head of research and development at Israel's Defense Ministry, Brig.-Gen. Yaniv Rotem, described the laser as able to thwart mortar shells, antitank missiles and drones, threats that fly at low altitudes compared to the rockets intercepted by Iron Dome.
People involved in its development say a breakthrough has been achieved by overcoming two main obstacles: ensuring an effective hit on a target several km. away, and creating precise and focused laser beams.
Laser-based interception will enable swift interception of most rockets and missiles while they're still over enemy territory and eliminate the need for constant production of interceptor missiles to refill dwindling stockpiles.
See also Video: Israel Unveils Laser-Based Missile Interception System
(Israel Ministry of Defense
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U.S. Army to Field Israeli-Made Long-Range Missiles on Its Helicopters
- Jen Judson (Defense News
The U.S. Army has decided to field Israeli-made Spike Non-Line-of-Sight long-range precision missiles on its attack helicopters, Brig.-Gen. Wally Rugen, in charge of Army aviation modernization, said on Jan. 8.
The Army fired Spike missiles from Apache attack helicopters both in Israel and at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona last year.
was present for one test in August 2019. The Apache hid behind 1,600 feet of craggy mountain and took aim at a target representing a Russian Pantsir medium-range, surface-to-air missile system on the opposite slope.
The missiles hit every target across nine total shots used to evaluate the system. The last missile hit a moving target in the dark.
Syrians Rejoice at Death of Qasem Soleimani
- Bassel Oudat (Al-Ahram-Egypt
Millions of Syrian citizens sympathizing with the country's opposition rejoiced at the news of the death of Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force.
Many Syrians cannot not be glad that he is dead because he was Iran's point man in Syria.
He even gave orders to the Syrian regime's regular army, as if he were a Syrian officer.
He played a key role in Iran's military expansion in Syria over the past eight years, taking control of several Syrian cities.
He was the second-most influential figure on the battlefield after Assad himself.
The Syrian opposition asked why Washington had not targeted him before.
See also Syrians Celebrating Soleimani's Death
- Elizabeth Tsurkov (Ha'aretz
Conversations with Syrians who survived shelling, siege, starvation and displacement at the hands of pro-Iranian militias guided by the Quds Force leader show that the decision to target Soleimani earned their resounding support.
The rush of joy felt by Syrians who had lost their loved ones, homes and towns to militias created and supported by the Quds Force was expressed widely, both online and off-line.
Displaced individuals, seeped in trauma, spent several days posting jokes and celebrating.
The writer is a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
See also For Many Syrians, Qasem Soleimani Is the Man Who Brutalized Millions to Save Assad
- Kareem Shaheen (The National-Abu Dhabi
Egypt to Import Gas from Israel
- Ahmed Kotb (Al-Ahram-Egypt
The $15 billion natural gas deal signed in 2018 between Egypt, U.S.-based Noble Energy, and Israel will come into effect by mid-January after the beginning of production at Israel's offshore Leviathan Field.
Egypt will use the gas to supply large industrial and commercial consumers in Egypt, as well as re-exporting some to outside markets, mainly in Europe, after processing it into liquefied natural gas (LNG).
A similar 15-year agreement has been struck with Jordan, which has started receiving Israeli gas from the Leviathan field.
$3 Billion Israel Bond Offering Hugely Oversubscribed
Israel's Ministry of Finance raised $3 billion in government bonds in London on Wednesday.
The bonds were purchased by 400 investors from 40 countries and were oversubscribed 6.8 times, with demand reaching $20 billion.
Israeli Exports to UK Grew 286 Percent in Last Decade
Israeli exports to the UK grew by 286% over the past decade, according to official figures published on Monday by Israel's Foreign Trade Administration.
The latest Israeli figures show how ineffective the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has been.
Japanese Investments in Israel Surge in 2019
- Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel
Japanese investments in Israel surged in 2019, with 53 new deals amounting to $815 million, according to the Harel-Hertz Investment House.
Since the year 2000, Japanese investments in Israel have totaled over $7.2 billion in 233 investment deals.
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
- U.S. Believes Ukraine Plane Was Shot Down by Iran - Nancy A. Youssef
The U.S. believes that a Ukrainian commercial aircraft that crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran on Wednesday was downed by two surface-to-air missiles fired by Iran, a U.S. official said.
"We have a high level of confidence that this was shot down by Iran," the official said, adding that the plane was being followed by Iranian radar used to aim missiles just before two were fired.
One factor contributing to the U.S. assessment was the large field of debris at the crash site, a second official said. Planes that crash as a result of mechanical failure have narrower debris fields.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also Trudeau Says Canada Has Intelligence Iran Shot Down Ukrainian Airliner - Jim Sciutto
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday his country has intelligence from their own sources and allies that suggests a Ukrainian airliner was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. "This may have been unintentional," he said. There were 63 Canadians on board.
A U.S. official said the plane was shot down by two Russian-made SA-15 surface-to-air missiles. The crash occurred just hours after Iran fired missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops.
See also Video Shows Ukrainian Plane Being Hit over Iran - Christiaan Triebert
Video verified by the New York Times appears to show an Iranian missile hitting a plane near Tehran's airport. (New York Times)
- 3 Hours from Alert to Attacks: The Race to Protect U.S. Forces from Iran Strikes - Mark Mazzetti
The alert came to the White House shortly after 2 p.m. on Tuesday, a flash message from American spy agencies warning that an Iranian attack on American troops was almost certain. Three hours later, a hail of ballistic missiles launched from Iran crashed into two bases in Iraq, including Al Asad, where 1,000 American troops are stationed. The missiles destroyed evacuated aircraft hangars.
Spy satellites had been tracking the movements of Iran's arsenal of missile launchers, and communications among Iranian military leaders were intercepted by the National Security Agency. No Patriot antimissile systems protected Al Asad base. They had been deployed to other countries in the Middle East deemed more susceptible to Iranian missile attacks.
In the days before Gen. Soleimani's death, CIA director Gina Haspel had advised President Trump that the threat the Iranian general presented was greater than the threat of Iran's response if he was killed, according to U.S. officials. Indeed, Haspel had predicted the most likely response would be a missile strike from Iran on bases where American troops were deployed.
Though Haspel took no formal position about whether to kill Soleimani, officials who heard her analysis came away with the clear view that the CIA believed that killing him would improve - not weaken - security in the Middle East.
Around 5:30 p.m. in Washington, the Pentagon detected the first of 16 short- and medium-range Fateh 110 and Shahab missiles, fired from three locations in Iran. At Al Asad they hit a Black Hawk helicopter and a reconnaissance drone, along with parts of the air traffic control tower.
A senior American military official dismissed the idea that Iran had intentionally avoided killing American troops.
(New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Israel to Release Two Golan Druze Inmates to Syria as Part of Swap Deal with Russia
Israel is to release two Golan Druze inmates to Syria as part of a swap deal
that saw Russia return the body of long-missing IDF soldier Zachary Baumel from Syria to Israel earlier this year, the Israel Prison Service confirmed on Thursday.
Sidqi al-Maqt, 53, from Majdal Shams, was sentenced to 11 years for spying on IDF activity in the Golan Heights for the Syrian government. Amal Abu Salah, 26, also from Majdal Shams, was sentenced to 7 years for killing a Syrian national who was being taken to an Israeli hospital. Earlier this year, Israel released two other Syrian prisoners - a Fatah terrorist and a drug smuggler - in return for Baumel's remains. (Ynet News)
- Iran-Backed Militia Targeted in Syria Thursday - Jack Khoury
At least eight people were killed in a strike on an Iranian-backed militia in Syria, in the Boukamal area near the Iraqi border, on Thursday night, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday. None of those killed were Syrian.
Deir Ezzor 24 reported that planes struck trucks carrying weapons and depots for ballistic missiles, triggering a huge explosion.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
After the Targeted Killing of Iranian Gen. Soleimani
- The Killing of Soleimani May Restrain Tehran's Aggression - Eric S. Edelman and Franklin C. Miller
With the killing of Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Washington has sent Tehran an unambiguous message that it can no longer attack Americans with impunity.
Until now, the Iranian leadership has suffered no losses to its own valued assets as a result of killing Americans. Soleimani was a state actor, carrying out a national policy of terrorism to murder Americans. U.S. recognition that it has been and remains engaged in a war with Iran and its proxies is long overdue.
Some say the Soleimani strike will encourage Iran to hit soft targets in the American homeland. But that risk already exists. The sole previous direct American response against Iranian state assets - the 1988 naval rout, in which the U.S. sank two Iranian ships and destroyed a Persian Gulf oil platform being used to harass Western shipping - caused Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to agree to a cessation of hostilities. Deterrence works, but only if the threats are credible.
Mr. Edelman was U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, 2005-09, and is counselor at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Mr. Miller served as senior director for defense policy and arms control on the U.S. National Security Council staff, 2001-05.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Confronting a Dangerous Iranian Regime Likely to Lead to a Better Outcome - Stuart Gottlieb and Danielle Pletka
The Iranian people are not fools. They know better than most exactly what the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its Quds Force - led by the late Gen. Soleimani - are all about. They know, as most Americans do not, what the IRGC mission is - regime protection at home, terror abroad - and the costs it has imposed on Iranian society to carry it out.
Americans are being fed a steady diet of press stories conjuring tales of Iranian affection for the IRGC and its ruthless leadership. We are told that Iran is now united behind regime hardliners and that Soleimani's killing will "backfire." In fact, history suggests the opposite is true: Confronting a hostile and dangerous authoritarian regime leads to better policy outcomes.
Rather than accelerate a spiral of attacks and retribution, there is a chance that, understanding the consequences, Tehran's leadership may hesitate before goading the U.S. into steps that may well threaten the regime itself.
Stuart Gottlieb teaches at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Danielle Pletka is senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
- Iran's Attacks Against the U.S. in Iraq Accomplished What Was Intended - Jonathan Spyer
The Iranian missile attacks on Ain al-Asad and Erbil in Iraq on Jan. 8 indicate that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has chosen to de-escalate and draw a line under the episode of the killing of Qasem Soleimani.
Finding Americans and killing them in either Iraq or Syria does not present a problem for the Iranians, given their known capabilities. But an attack of sufficient magnitude to settle the account over Soleimani would almost certainly invite further, wider American retribution. This could descend into a direct clash between the U.S. and Iran, which Iran could not possibly win, and which could mean the destruction of much that Iran has gained in the region over the last decade.
The latest round of hostilities indicates that those who helm the Iranian bid for regional hegemony are aware of their limitations in the military arena, are not suicidal, and are capable of formulating policy in line with the prevailing power realities. The writer is director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis. (Jerusalem Post)
The Decision to Kill Iranian Gen. Soleimani
- The Decision to Kill Soleimani Was Reasonable and Defensible - Fred Kagan
The U.S. government has said it had evidence that Soleimani was in the midst of planning yet another attack against Americans in the region, and that is extremely likely. The entire pattern of U.S.-Iranian interaction in 2019 has been characterized by consistent Iranian military and paramilitary escalation that the U.S. has usually tried to stop with economic and defensive military deployments. Faced with the likelihood of yet another Iranian military attack, the decision to kill Soleimani was reasonable and defensible.
It is easy to point to all the risks and criticize the decision to kill Soleimani. We must recognize, however, that Iran might well have chosen to undertake these escalatory actions even if the U.S. had done nothing or confined itself to sanctions and defensive deployments. That, after all, has largely been the pattern of 2019. The writer is the director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute.
(New York Daily News)
- German Newspaper: Soleimani Was a Monster, Wanted Atomic Cloud over Tel Aviv - Benjamin Weinthal
Julian Reichelt, editor-in-chief of the German newspaper Bild, wrote last Friday: "President Trump has freed the world of a monster whose aim in life was an atomic cloud over Tel Aviv."
"The Iranian terror godfather Qasem Soleimani stood for a world that no peace-loving person can want: a world in which you can be torn apart by a bomb at any time because you are in the wrong place at the wrong time." He singled out Soleimani's scorched-earth campaign in the Syrian war: "A world in which entire cities are wiped out - like Aleppo. In which bloodthirsty militia go from door to door and execute civilians."
"Soleimani...was an enemy of our civilization. He represented the unbearable thought that murderers will live more safely and be more untouchable the more people they kill." (Jerusalem Post)
- Iran's Deadly Puppet Master - Gen. (ret.) Stanley McChrystal
Qasem Soleimani is arguably the most powerful and unconstrained actor in the Middle East today. U.S. defense officials have reported that Soleimani is running the Syrian civil war (via Iran's local proxies) all on his own. Under Soleimani's leadership, the Quds Force has vastly expanded its capabilities, transforming the unit into a major influencer in intelligence, financial, and political spheres beyond Iran's borders. The writer led the Joint Special Operations Command from 2003 to 2008 and served as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010.
- Iran Loses the Central Figure for Its Ambitions in the Middle East. - Andrew Exum
Qasem Soleimani spent more time in the Arabic-speaking world - propping up Iranian allies from Iraq to Lebanon, and from Syria to Yemen - than he did back home in Iran. I do not know of a single Iranian who was more indispensable to his government's ambitions in the Middle East. Iran and its partners will now feel his loss greatly. The writer served as U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy (2015-16).
- Qasem Soleimani Brutalized the Middle East - Oz Katerji
Qasem Soleimani made his mark through his unrestrained barbarity towards civilians in Syria and Iraq, and he was personally responsible for the deaths of thousands of people. These include the hundreds of Iraqi civilians who were shot dead by Iraqi security forces within the last three months, acting directly under his orders. Soleimani was brutal, merciless, and ruthlessly efficient at his trade, slaughtering his way across the Middle East in the pursuit of regional hegemony.
It is preposterous and grotesque revisionism to suggest that the man who harbored al-Qaeda in Iran was some sort of counter-terrorist. The brutality of Soleimani's policies in Iraq was responsible for creating the material conditions ISIS needed to flourish, and his forces carried out acts of unimaginable cruelty against civilians in ISIS-occupied territory in the process. Soleimani was a mass murderer. His death has made the world a better place. (New Statesman-UK)
- Qasem Soleimani's Final Interview - Lenny Ben-David
An extensive interview with Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani appeared in English on the official Khamenei.ir website on Oct. 1, 2019. It raised the question of whether Iran's leadership was grooming Soleimani for higher office, possibly as a candidate for president.
Bragging of his presence in Lebanon throughout the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Soleimani described working with Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah and military commander Imad Mughniyeh. He claimed that the war ended in "a great victory for Hizbullah. In fact, it was not only a victory in that war, but a turning point and an end to the fear of Israeli aggression toward Lebanon."
Soon after the interview, on Oct. 7, Soleimani told a conference of senior IRGC officers:
"The IRGC has expanded the resistance in terms of both quantity and quality. It has expanded the resistance from a geographical territory of 2,000 sq. km. in southern Lebanon to a territory of half-a-million sq. km....The IRGC has created territorial continuity for [the different parts] of the resistance. It has connected Iran to Iraq, Iraq to Syria, and Syria to Lebanon."
Soleimani viewed events through the lens of a preordained divine plan guided by the ultimate authority of Iran's religious leadership. This leaves only so much room for accommodation to political realities. The writer served 25 years in senior posts in AIPAC in Washington and Jerusalem, and served as deputy chief of mission at Israel's Embassy in Washington.
- Iran's Missiles and Its Evolving "Rings of Fire" - Uzi Rubin
On Oct. 10, 2019, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Iran has deployed precision missiles in Yemen that can reach Israel. The missiles, the machinery for local production of missile fuel, and the required raw materials are secretly smuggled into Houthiland through
maritime and land routes. Large missiles are chopped into short segments for ease of transport, then welded back together. The Iranians have surreptitiously transferred to their Houthi clients ballistic missiles with ranges of up to 1,200 km.
At present, the Israeli heartland is threatened by Iranian-supplied rockets and missiles from the north (Lebanon), the southwest (Gaza), and from the east (Iran-affiliated militias in Iraq who are being supplied by Tehran with missiles that can reach Israel). Iran can also hit Israel with missiles from its own territory and has no need to base them in Iraq. But Iran's proclaimed "no first strike" policy prevents it from threatening Israel directly unless it is first attacked by Israel.
The writer, founding director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, which managed the Arrow program, is a senior research associate at the BESA Center.
(BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- Iran: A Deepening Loss of Public Trust in the Authorities - Raz Zimmt
The recent protests inside Iran reflected the increasing radicalization of the Iranian public. There were calls heard during the protests along the lines of "conservatives, reformists, the story is over," there were shows of support for the monarchy that preceded the Islamic Revolution, and there were violent attacks against banks, public buildings, and even religious seminaries.
A recent public opinion poll in the Tehran district by the Iranian ISPA polling institute showed that only 15% are satisfied with the state of the country - a decline of 50% from a poll two years ago. 52% expected the situation to further deteriorate. 75% justified the recent protests, but most thought it would not generate a positive change in government policy. 54% said the protests would continue.
Since the protests, prominent Iranian commentators, intellectuals, and academics have warned against a deepening loss of public trust in the authorities. The writer is a research fellow at INSS specializing in Iran.
(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
- The Components of World Order in the Middle East - Amb. Dore Gold
The understandings reached at the end of World War I have been under an unprecedented assault in the last two decades. When ISIS came to power in remote parts of Syria and Iraq, the border separating those two countries seemed to have suddenly evaporated. But the defeat of the ISIS self-declared caliphate has not decisively repaired that situation. With the growing power of pro-Iranian militias in Iraqi territory, the border between Iraq and Iran appears to have become increasingly compromised.
The northern flank of the Middle East faces similar problems. Turkish-backed militias have taken over whole stretches of the Turkish-Syrian border area. It is another Middle Eastern boundary that has melted down significantly. A Turkish safety zone has begun to emerge that extends roughly 32 km. into northern Syria.
The writer is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
- Erdogan's "Quiet Jihad" in Jerusalem - Nadav Shragai
Last March, the Turkish government gave the Palestinian Authority 140,000 pages of microfilm of the Ottoman Archive, including thousands of documents of land registration from 1517-1917 in what is now Israel. The Palestinians have already used the archive to challenge Israeli ownership of land and real estate in various parts of the country.
Turkish President Erdogan, a patron of the Muslim Brotherhood, seeks to restore Islam's glory throughout "Palestine" and with special emphasis on Jerusalem. He is promoting a Turkish national awakening in the city through cultural events, Turkish flags, and especially dawa - charity, education, and social assistance to bring people closer to Islam.
This is known as the "quiet jihad." In Israel, dozens of dawa groups receive funding from Turkey, thus strengthening Turkey's influence.
In the past two years, the Turks have funded a replacement for the gold crescent that tops the Dome of the Rock and the reconstruction of other Islamic monuments on the Temple Mount. Turkish organizations are also funding the rebuilding of mosques in Jaffa and Haifa and pay the salaries of dozens of imams throughout Israel.
In Jerusalem, 130 buildings have been restored thus far thanks to Turkish money.
- Arab States Have Everything to Gain from Normalization with Israel - Rami Dabbas
As an Arab activist and writer, I call on the Arab world to normalize relations with Israel - a move that would be almost entirely to our benefit alone. Israel would gain very little from this in practical terms, while Arabs stand to gain tremendously. My people don't understand that Israel is actually our friend.
The real reason Arab countries resist normalization with Israel is that they reject Western civilization. Much of the Arab world has been raised to detest this brand of civilization. They want the benefits of European civilization, but then spurn the genuine example of it right next door to us.
We Arabs came from the Hijaz, Najd, and Yemen. We occupied this land and made it Arab. We are not the original inhabitants here. It is time to solve this conflict, and that begins with us, the Arabs, accepting the Jewish people's true historical connection to this land. We have everything to gain from so doing. The writer is a Jordanian civil engineer.
- Israeli Arab Activist Ignores Criticism for Israel Support
Sara Zoabi is a middle-aged Israeli Arab Muslim woman who is in favor of Israel.
"I am a proud Israeli Muslim and I am a Zionist, as I recognize the Jewish people's right to this land. But unlike what some people call me, I am not a traitor, as Jewish connection to this land is even mentioned in the Quran."
She notes Surah al-Maidah 5:20-21: "Moses said to his people: O, my people, remember the favor of Allah upon you when he appointed among you prophets and made you possessors and gave you which he had not given anyone among the worlds. O my people, enter the holy land which Allah has assigned to you." Zoabi claims that many Muslim clerics choose to neglect these facts in their preaching because they are guided by jealousy towards the Jewish people.
"How can you call Israel an apartheid state," asks Zoabi. "I feel no discrimination or persecution. I can work wherever I want, I can study whatever any Jewish citizen can study and I can vote." (Sputnik-Russia)
- The U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone strike that eliminated top Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani on Jan. 3 was a measured, timely, and appropriate combat action.
- It occurred after 18 months of U.S. restraint in the face of a series of increasingly provocative Iranian violations of international law, including 11 Hezbollah Brigade attacks on facilities occupied by U.S. personnel who were conducting security training for Iraq's military.
- What comes next? To deter Iran, its leaders need to believe the U.S. will use its power. This is akin to pushing back on a bully. At some point, a counteroffensive is required, or the abuse will continue.
- Some on the national stage are pandering fear of potential Iranian reaction to Soleimani's death. The fear of possible consequences should not outweigh the logic that forceful action is sometimes necessary to defend U.S. and allied personnel and to shore up the value of deterrence.
- The reality is that taking no action would have increased the odds for further Iranian aggression. Peace through strength is key to deterring open conflict with Iran - projecting fear or appeasement is not.
The writer, Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, was the principal attack planner for the 1991 Operation Desert Storm air campaign.
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