Australia to deploy forces to Middle East

Date  September 14, 2014 – 2:18PM

Anne Davies and Gareth Hutchens

Abbott commits forces to Middle East

New video released by Islamic State militants purporting to show the murder of a British hostage prompts action in the Middle East.

Australia will send 600 military personnel, including SAS troops, and eight FA18 Super Hornets to the United Arab Emirates in preparation for a dramatic escalation of the multinational effort to contain the Islamic State that now holds parts of northern Iraq and Syria.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the mobilisation and deployment from Darwin, where he is about to tour Arnhem Land. It followed another beheading, this time of an English aid worker, by Islamic State militants.

The troops include 400 air-related personnel to support the deployment of the fighter jets. An Early Warning and Control aircraft and an aerial refuelling aircraft will also be sent from  Amberley airbase in the next week. Continue reading

Advertisements

UK will ‘look at all options’ to aid Scots hostage

A still from the video released by IS showing Steven Sotloff moments before his murder. Picture: Reuters

A still from the video released by IS showing Steven Sotloff moments before his murder. Picture: Reuters

 

by CHRIS MARSHALL

FOREIGN Secretary Philip Hammond declared yesterday that every possible option will be explored to protect a Scottish hostage whose life is being threatened by the same jihadists who have already killed two American journalists.

The 44-year-old aid worker appeared in a video released by Islamic State (IS) extremists on Tuesday. His family has asked for him not to be named.

At the end of the chilling film, a masked knifeman stands above the captive Scot, warning countries entering an “evil alliance” with the United States against IS to “back off”.

Speaking after a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee yesterday, Mr Hammond said the latest video – which depicts the murder of American Steven Sotloff by a jihadist with a British accent – appeared genuine. Continue reading

Turkey should close its border to ISIS

Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, June 11, 2014. Since Tuesday, black clad ISIL fighters have seized Iraq's second biggest city Mosul and Tikrit, home town of former dictator Saddam Hussein, as well as other towns and cities north of Baghdad. They continued their lightning advance on Thursday, moving into towns just an hour's drive from the capital. Picture taken June 11, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS CONFLICT) - RTR3TDQT

Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, June 11, 2014.  (photo by REUTERS)

US President Barack Obama is reviewing a range of options to deal with the takeover of Mosul and other Iraqi cities by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

Summary⎙ Print The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has depended on the Turkish border for its operations in Syria; US Sen. Tim Kaine offers a blueprint for US-Egypt ties; Al-Monitor’s Year in Review and Back Channel.

Author Week in Review Posted June 14, 2014

Translator(s)Sibel Utku Bila

The prospects are daunting for Iraq, now split in three, to be put back together. The potential for a political dialogue among Iraq’s political factions, also urged by Obama, seems distant.

Even US airstrikes, which the administration is considering, would need to be coordinated with ground operations by the Iraqi army, whose effectiveness is in question after its collapse this week in facing ISIS.

Continue reading

Israel to scale down intelligence in Iran – officials

Published: 02 April, 2012, 12:29

clip_image001

AFP Photo / Abbas Momani

Israeli intelligence are scaling down their covert operations in Iran and spy recruitment, Israeli security officials say. This would also imply a cutback in alleged high-profile missions such as assassinations and detonations at missile bases.

­ Senior security officials told TIME magazine that the move was met with “increased dissatisfaction” by Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency. One security official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was afraid that the operations would get exposed by Iran. The official notes that this fear is primarily driven by Mossad’s failure to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal back in 1997, when Netanyahu served his first term as Prime Minister.

“Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu] is traumatized from the Mashaal incident,” the official said. “He is afraid of another failure, that something will blow up in his face.”

Western intelligence officials told TIME that Iran had uncovered one cell trained and equipped by Mossad. They also said that the televised confession of Majid Jamali Fashid, who admitted to being an Israeli spy behind the plot to assassinate nuclear scientist Massoud Ali Mohmmadi, was genuine.

If similar revelations emerge now, they could undermine the international effort to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear program via sanctions and diplomacy. Iran could effectively blame Israel for an aggressive spy campaign. This could also have ramifications for Israel’s relations with the United States, which has lately been opposed to a preliminary Israeli strike against Iran.

Continue reading

The Counterterrorism Consensus

How did liberals end up supporting the Obama administration’s continuation of George W. Bush’s secret war on terror?

BY MICHAEL A. COHEN | FEBRUARY 13, 2012

There are few areas of greater disappointment for liberal supporters of President Barack Obama than his policies on civil liberties. From the failure to close Guantanamo Bay and his ramped up drone war to the continued reliance on indefinite detention, military commissions for accused terrorists, and the recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that potentially allows for the killing of American citizens without due process, Obama’s presidency, or so the argument goes, has been one broken promise after another. Continue reading

CIA operations in Iran underway to take out Tehran bigs in mission to dismantle weapons program  

Explosions and assasinations at Iran nuke base pinned to Israel may have been CIA

Monday, November 14 2011, 12:11 AM

Vahid Salemi/AP

 

In public Sunday, President Obama was at a summit unsuccessfully leaning on Russia and China to back diplomatic efforts to curb Iran’s nuke program.

In private Sunday, there was more evidence of an efficient and brutal covert operation that continues to degrade Iran’s military capabilities.

Iranian officials revealed that one of the 17 men killed in a huge explosion at a munitions depot was a key Revolutionary Guard commander who headed Iran’s missile program. And the IRNA state news agency reported that scientists had discovered a new computer virus in their systems, a more sophisticated version of the Stuxnet worm deployed last year to foul up Iran’s centrifuges.

Iran said the army base explosion was an accident and the new Duqu virus was contained. But Israeli newspapers and some U.S. experts said it appeared to be more from an ongoing secret operation by the CIA and Israel’s Mossad to eliminate Iran’s nuclear threat.

The covert campaign encompasses a series of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists since 2007 and a similar explosion at another Iranian missile base two years ago both widely attributed to the Mossad.

“May there be more like it,” was all Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said when Army Radio asked about the new blast.

There was a third mysterious event: The son of a top Iranian hard-liner was found dead — a seeming suicide — in a Dubai hotel on Sunday. His father called it “suspicious” and linked to the base explosion, without elaborating. Continue reading

Israel tests new nuclear-capable missile, ends joint air exercise with Italy, starts missile drill

Wednesday, Nov. 2, shortly after announcing the successful test launch from the Palmachim base of a new, intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, Israel disclosed in unusual detail a joint Israeli-Italian air exercise ending last Friday, Nov. 29, at Sardinia.

Foreign sources identified the ICBM as an upgraded Jericho 3 said able to deliver a 750-kilo nuclear warhead to a distance of 7,000 kilometers – further, if fitted with a smaller warhead. Western intelligence experts estimate that 42 missiles with conventional warheads are enough to seriously disable Iran‘s main nuclear facilities in Natanz, Isfahan and Arak.

As for Iran’s newest subterranean Fordo facility near Qom, the US supplied Israel with GBU-28 bunker busters in the third week of September.

Six IAF squadrons took part in the joint one-week exercise with Italy consisting of fourteen F-16 F-16 single and twin-seaters from the Ramat David air base, joined by Boeing craft for in-flight refueling of war planes, the Eitam (G550) Air Control early warning aircraft and Hercules transports taking off from the Nevatim air base in the Negev.

The Italian air force flew the advanced Eurofighter Typhoon, AMX, Panavia Tornado and F-16s.

After the two releases, the Israel Defense Forces announced Wednesday that a large-scale exercise had just begun to prepare central Israel for missile attack.

This rush of military activity coincided with speculative reports splashed across Israeli media in the last fortnight that Israeli leaders are in mid-debate over whether or not to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Those reports are unfounded, debkafile‘s military sources report. Binyamin Netanyahu‘s inner cabinet of eight is in fact trying to determine the usefulness of abandoning its longstanding policy of nuclear ambiguity at this time. An attack is not on its current agenda.

November promises to be an especially critical month.

The report on Iran the International Atomic Agency in Vienna is due to publish next Tuesday, Nov. 8 is generally expected to reveal in close detail the advances the Islamic Republic has made toward producing a nuclear weapon. Most of this will not be news to the parties which follow Iran’s progress toward this goal. However, the formal exposure of the scale of this program and Iran’s indictment by the nuclear watchdog is intended to shock world opinion, thereby helping US President Barack Obama to go all the way with really tough sanctions, such as international boycotts of Iranian fuel and the Iranian state bank.
Tehran has warned that these sanctions would be deemed an act of war.

Western intelligence experts as well debkafile‘s Iran watchers believe that the Iranian leadership will not be content with statements refuting the IAEA report but will opt for a more active response. They suggest Tehran may lift the veil over a section of its nuclear achievements, as though to say: Enough of this nuclear hide-and-seek; we are about to be a nuclear power like just like Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.
Tehran may also conduct a complete or partial nuclear test, or else exhibit a new ballistic capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

These steps might be designed to give President Obama pause. Because Tehran would calculate that if it has already crossed the nuclear threshold, what would be the point of tough sanctions?
At the same time, Tehran has made the necessary preparations for counteracting the impact of drastic penalties with the help of Russia, China and to a lesser extent India. Nearly all Iranian oil deals are now channeled through a Russian-Iranian sales mechanism operating in Moscow and out of American and Western reach. Russian banks are handling Iran’s international financial transactions in currencies other than the US dollar – mostly the Russian ruble and Chinese yuan.

However, Iran’s leaders are still weighing their response to the IAEA report and have not yet decided finally how to treat the new sanctions President Obama may have up his sleeve. The tense debates afoot in Washington and Jerusalem over how to handle the volatile scenario ahead have not missed Tehran.
Syria is another complicating factor and poses hard dilemma:

This is because Bashar Assad’s continued crackdown on protest with dozens of deaths caused day by day on both sides of the conflict could at any moment galvanize Tehran into radical action in the wake of the nuclear controversy. Counter-responses by the West and Israel could light the fuse of a regional war.

In these circumstances, a damaging IAEA report on Iran would do more than expose its nuclear misconduct; it could bring the Middle East dangerously close to a regional conflict.

In the last two weeks, therefore, Western governments led by the US as well as Israel have been turning over their options for urgent decisions on how to react to potential Iranian aggression.

The Israeli media’s portrayal of the debate within the cabinet in Jerusalem as an argument between two ministerial factions for and against attacking Iran is false, designed to assault the judgment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
It is also seriously detrimental to Israel’s security.

In an angry statement Wednesday, Nov. 2, Minister of Intelligence Dan Meridor condemned those reports as irresponsible and more damaging even than the betrayal by the Israeli soldier Anat Kamm of secret military documents to an unauthorized person for which she was given jail time this week. The more publicity given this non-existent debate, he said, the edgier Damascus and Tehran will become and the closer to warlike steps. It also has an undesirable effect on Iran’s nuclear decision-making and the severity of Assad’s campaign of suppression.

Military action against Iran, alone or with US support, is therefore not Israel’s current agenda, although an ever-present option.The subject under discussion, debkafile‘s military and intelligence sources stress, is what to do if the nuclear watchdog’s revelations next Tuesday demonstrate that Tehran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon is too far advanced to stop and a nuclear-armed Iran is therefore close to reality.
The cabinet is consequently trying to decide whether the time has come for Israel to come clean on its presumed nuclear capability, or stay silent and back Washington on the imposition of sanctions, knowing that their deterrent value has dropped to nil.

Continue reading