Why Iran and Israel may be on the verge of conflict — in Syria

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK POST)

Why Iran and Israel may be on the verge of conflict — in Syria

TEL AVIV  — Some Israelis like to go to the Golan, where from the safety of a ramp overlooking the valley below, they can watch — no binoculars needed — the most consequential regional event of the age: the Syrian civil war.

This week, however, the Israel Defense Forces closed the area for visitors, letting in only the local farmers who worried about missing the cherry harvest.

That’s because for three days in a row, mortar shells flew across the border onto the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan, putting war gawkers at too much risk.

Most likely, the shells overflew their real target: one of the sides in the increasingly heated battle in an area around Quneitra, a town divided between Israel and Syria. Various Sunni militias are entrenched in the area, and Syrian forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad are trying to clear them out.

Control of the road between Quneitra and Dara to the south (where the uprising against Assad started six years ago) is key for the Syrian army — and even more so for its patrons in Tehran. By capturing this road, and the area east of Israel and north of Jordan, they can establish a land corridor from Iran, through Iraq, to Damascus and Syria’s neighbor, Lebanon.

Throw in Yemen, and Iran’s dream of a “Shiite crescent” that would make it the Mideast’s dominant force comes true.

The Syria war is complex, involving many powers pulling in all directions. But Iran and its allied militias — Shiite Iraqis, foreigners from Afghanistan and elsewhere, Hezbollah, Assad’s army — have emerged as a chief worry for policymakers in Riyadh, Amman and Jerusalem.

True, Israel knows how to handle spillover from war on its border. IDF surgical strikes hit Syrian army targets over the past few days, which was enough to at least pause the cross-border seepage of fire into the Golan.

The larger concern for Israeli policymakers here is that Iran and its allied militias, already in control of south Lebanon, are trying to cement a beachhead in Syria.

And that’s exactly what’s happening. “Iran is attempting to use the civil war to establish air force and naval bases in Syria,” Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio this week.

It’s not just Syria. IDF intelligence chief Herzi Halevi said Iran is also building arms factories in Lebanon, a country now dominated by its local proxy, Hezbollah. The mullahs, he said, similarly use Yemeni proxies, the Houthis, to manufacture weapons in that strategically located country next door to Saudi Arabia.

So where’s America in all this?

The Obama administration considered Iran an ally in the fight against ISIS. That, and the nuclear deal that filled the mullahs’ coffers with cash, worried the Saudis so much that they quietly turned to Israel as an ally to confront Tehran.

And not only Saudis. Ha’aretz reports Jordan and Israel have tightened intelligence cooperation in recent weeks to better address the growing Iranian threat on Syrian territory near both countries’ borders.

US forces are reportedly also operating there in growing numbers. Better yet, President Trump has made clear his predecessor’s romance with Tehran was just a fling. The administration has been warning Iran to watch its step as it stomps around the Middle East.

That may have been behind the seemingly-out-of-the-blue White House announcement Monday, confirmed by the Pentagon Tuesday, that it’s detected signs Syria is preparing a new chemical attack. Trump officials warned Assad would pay a “heavy price” for using chemical weapons again.

Yet, widely reported internal fights among administration bigwigs over America’s involvement in the Syria war could hamstring the united anti-Iran front that Sunni allies are hoping for. Washington’s bickering over Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, an Iran ally, isn’t helping either.

According to a Fox News report, Trump is quietly organizing a regional conference, inviting Sunni allies and perhaps even Israel. If so, good — but administration officials will surely hear a lot about the need for America to take a clear stand against Iran’s expansion.

The region is on edge. A victory over ISIS seems close now, but if Iran emerges on top, a wider and more vicious war may ensue, with dire consequences for everyone, including America.

For Israelis, meanwhile, such an outcome could be much scarier than what happened this week to a few Golan tourists that temporarily lost a front-row seat for watching the war below.

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Six Day’s In History 50 Years Ago

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE FRIENDS OF THE IDF)

Friend, this is a week for heroes.

This week, we are commemorating the 50th anniversary of one of the most heroic and pivotal moments in Israel’s history: the Six-Day War, which took place from June 5th to 10th, 1967. Against all odds, and with an outcome no one could have predicted, the young nation of Israel fought enemies from all sides and achieved unprecedented victory in just six days.

In June of 1967, Israel found itself poised for war against its neighboring Arab states. Taking place on three distinct battlefronts, the Six-Day War came after a period of escalating tension during which Egypt and its Arab partners had taken severe steps that threatened both Israel’s security and economy, including: expelling the United Nations Emergency Force from Sinai, infiltrating many military units into the Sinai Peninsula, and blocking the Straits of Tiran, Israel’s only waterway to Asia. On the northern border of Israel, the Syrians tried to divert the headwaters of the Jordan River and were supporting the terrorist activity of the PLO in Israel. All of this created serious threat and the risk of war was looming. Israel was forced to begin mobilizing reserve forces, despite the detriment to the Israeli economy.

On June 4, 1967, the government of Israel, headed by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, accepted the decision “to launch a preemptive strike against the Arab states in order to remove the military chokehold that has tightened on Israel…” The war began on June 5, 1967, at 7:45 AM, with a massive air strike by the Israeli Air Force, known as Operation Moked (Operation Focus) on the Egyptian airfields. This took the Egyptians completely by surprise and, due to its brilliant execution, decided the war’s outcome from its very inception with the destruction of the Arab air forces and full paralysis of their airfields. In the first two hours of the war, the Israeli Air Force destroyed 197 Egyptian aircraft, and by the end of the first day 300 Egyptian planes were destroyed, more than 90% of them while on the ground. In the second day, an additional 150 Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi aircraft were destroyed as they joined in the war.

The war spread along all of Israel’s borders. Within six days, the IDF achieved a decisive victory as they:

It was a stunning victory in which the IDF removed the military choke hold, proved their superiority, and earned the title of “the best army in the world.” In those six days, the size of the State of Israel grew threefold. Click here for a full description of the events of the Six-Day War.

Victory celebrations swept the entire country. After 19 years that the Jewish people had been banned from praying at their holiest site, they were now able to return to pray at the Kotel on the Temple Mount. The song “Jerusalem of Gold” (Yerushalayim Shel Zahav) became one of the anthems of the Six-Day War. Amidst the euphoria of this victory, the hearts of the Israeli nation pained for the 779 IDF soldiers who paid the ultimate price by losing their lives.

On June 28, 1967, in a now-famous address called “The Man, Not the Metal” delivered at Hebrew University on Mount Scopus, General Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, Z”L, provided the following insights from this unprecedented military campaign:

“War is intrinsically harsh and cruel, bloody and tear stained, but this war in particular, which we have just undergone, brought forth rare and magnificent instances of heroism and courage, together with humane expressions of brotherhood, comradeship, and spiritual greatness. Whoever has not seen a tank crew continue their attack with their commander killed and their vehicle badly damaged; whoever has not seen soldiers endangering their lives to extricate wounded comrades from a minefield; whoever has not seen the anxiety and the effort of the entire air force devoted to rescuing a pilot who has fallen in enemy territory, cannot know the meaning of devotion among comrades-in-arms.”

Fifty years have passed, and while the challenges that face the State of Israel have dramatically changed, the same fundamental precepts which guide and drive the IDF are the same spirit and morality which led to the incredible victory of the Six-Day War, and have passed from generation to generation to continue today as the ethos of the IDF. The warriors of the IDF and their commanders continue to operate from unequivocal commitment to their nation and country and the same values and ethics which accompanied these warriors for generations.

To honor this momentous anniversary, FIDF is hosting a series of community events across the US, featuring three of the paratroopers of the Jerusalem Brigade, among the first to reach the Kotel. The image of these three paratroopers setting their eyes on the Kotel for the first time in their lives, was made famous thanks to the camera of David Rubinger, Z”L, who captured this highly emotional moment, which has become the iconic image of the Six-Day War.

The 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War

Please join me today, in salute to the warriors of the past and the generation that continues, by bowing our heads together in honor of those who have fallen and their families, and in commitment to do all we can to contribute to the well-being of the soldiers of the IDF, to maintain their spirit, morale, and battle ethics by standing united with them and supporting them as we continue to say: Their job is to look after Israel. Ours is to look after them.

With deep respect,

Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir
National Director and CEO
Friends of the IDF (FIDF)

Israel: Destruction Of Palestinian Homes Are At A Record Pace

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MA’AN PALESTINIAN NEWS AGENCY)

‘We have nowhere else to go’: Bedouins say they will continue to rebuild as Israel carries out home demolitions at a record pace

A white tent is the only structure left standing among the scattered piles of twisted metal and tarp that was a Jahalin Tribe Bedouin encampment West of Jericho city in the Wadi Qilt valley.

On the morning of Wednesday, January 25th, Israeli forces escorted two bulldozers down from the main road up to the small Bedouin community. Mohammed Jahalin and his family were ordered out of their houses and forcefully gathered together on the edge of their encampment where they watched as the metal blades of bulldozers smashed through their homes.

Israeli forces destroyed every standing structure in the encampment — including three houses and two livestock barns — leaving 12 people homeless, half of whom are children.

In 2016, Israeli forces demolished homes, particularly Bedouin homes, in record numbers. According to United Nations documentation, Israeli forces in 2016 demolished or seized an unprecedented 1,093 Palestinian-owned structures throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, resulting in the displacement of 1,601 Palestinians and affecting the livelihoods of another 7,101.

In the first 23 days of 2017, Israeli forces demolished 119 Palestinian-owned structures, leaving 177 Palestinians displaced. The bi-weekly average for home demolitions in 2017 is nearly a third higher than 2016’s, putting 2017 on track for another record-breaking year.

Read more on Mondoweiss: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/01/bedouins-continue-demolitions/

From Standing Rock To Palestine Caterpillar Bulldozers Used To Destroy Human Rights

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MA’AN NEWS AGENCY IN PALESTINE)

From Standing Rock to Palestine, the Caterpillar Bulldozers at Work for the Colonial Project

(for links and other information, see original article)

 

 

Two Caterpillar bulldozers at work (left: Rafah, Palestine in 2002,      right: Standing Rock, ND on Native sacred burial ground in 2016)

Since April 1, 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, later followed by over 200 other Native nations, has been occupying the sacred site of Standing Rock in order to protect it against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline (named after the two American States, not the Native nation of course), which would carry Bakken crude from North Dakota to Illinois. Yesterday (September 8),  North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple has called for the U.S. National Guard to intervene at Standing Rock a few hours before the ruling of a lawsuit that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has brought against the U.S. government. A few days earlier, some Native organizers had been attacked by dogs ordered by private security force, and bulldozers had demolished a sacred burial ground (see the Democracy Now report here).

In looking at the right part of the photograph above illustrating this deliberate profanation, you will recognize the well-known yellow worn by all non-customized Caterpillar construction (or rather, destruction) equipment on what appears to be D8 bulldozers. Condemning Caterpillar for actions committed in the context of a State’s infrastructural construction can appear as far fetched at first glance — we will see in the last paragraph that it is actually not — but this 90-year old American company is also renowned for its numerous contracts with the U.S. Army, and has no problem to display its support to the “armed forces” on its website:

 

The part of the Caterpillar website dedicated to “Defense” is particularly interesting in this regard and relatively generous in the information given. One might have an overview of the “Defense Product Line” proposed by Caterpillar to the U.S. army and U.S. Federal civilian agencies, including bulldozers such as the D6K or the D7R. The company however does not stop at providing military equipment to an army knowingly deployed in various parts of the world; it also offers training to military operators and provide a schedule of courses throughout the year. The website also features a list of federal agencies and branches of the U.S. army that it supplies with equipment. Under the title “Foreign Military Sales Programs,” the company lists the states of Iraq and Afghanistan as also provided with such equipment as part of the so-called “Supplemental Acquisition Program.” There is however no mention of another indirect important foreign military client: the Israeli army.

The Israeli army indeed regularly purchases Caterpillar bulldozers through the “US Foreign Military Sales Program,” which are later customized by Israel Military Industries to become an autonomous war-machine able to operate in Palestinian cities without any supporting squad. The model D9 of the Caterpillar bulldozers has been a particularly recurrent acquisition by the Israeli army for decades now. Created in 1954, it has been used in every war lead by the Israeli government since the first Sinai invasion in 1956. This ‘steel monster’ is 8-meter long, 4.6-meter wide, 4-meter high, it weights 60 tons, and is usually equipped with a 1.8-meter high blade in its front and a long plowshare in the back, which can dig a 1.7-meter deep furrow. The latter was particularly used during the Second Intifada in order to sever the Palestinian infrastructure (road, water, sewage, electricity) under the pretext of demining — an easily deniable pretext since the plowshare is situated in the back of the bulldozer. The D9 has many variations: the D9T does not need an operator to be present within the vehicle, the “Lioness” version is higher than wide and can thus penetrate in narrower street — although demolishing house to let bulldozers move forward in Palestinian refugee camps has never been a problem for the Israeli army in history… (for more on the question, I can refer to my short book, The Politics of the Bulldozer)

In March 2003, an American activist named Rachel Corrie was killed by such a bulldozer in Rafah when she interposed herself (see past article) between the military vehicle and the house that its operator intended to destroy — about 2,500 Palestinian houses were demolished by bulldozers during the Second Intifada. Although this dreadful event was legitimately relayed by Western media, we can however regret that such coverage does not extend to the many Palestinians who also died in the demolition of their houses by these bulldozers. In November 2004, Human Rights Watch issued a call entitled “Israel: Caterpillar Should Suspend Bulldozer Sales – Weaponized Bulldozers Used to Destroy Civilian Property and Infrastructure,” which remained unanswered positively, Caterpillar’s CEO James Owens saying that the company did “not have the practical ability or legal right to determine how our products are used after they are sold.”

Whether used in the desecration of Native land, in the post-invasion infrastructure of Iraq or Afghanistan, or in the demolition of thousands of Palestinian homes, for the moment, this article has only evoked what we can call the weaponizable function of the bulldozer. However, we ought to look at what a bulldozer is in its essence: it is fundamentally an instrument of absolute geoengineering control over a territory and, as such, a weapon, rather than a weaponizable tool. As argued at length on this blog and elsewhere, qualifying something as a weapon (like, say, architecture) does not necessarily means that its use should be forever proscribed. What it means is that its use is inseparable from violence itself and that, as such, it necessarily crystallizes, enables, enforces a political program. If we go back to North Dakota and, more broadly, to the ways the United States have systematically assert their genocidal claim on the land, we can see how an instrument like the bulldozer (like the barbed wire, as Olivier Razac would say) was invented in such a logic of territorial domination — the displacement of Bakken (a mineral only found in the Montana, North Dakota, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) that the Dakota Access pipeline would enable on thousand of kilometers is also inscribed in this geoengineering dominating logic. Just like the bulldozer is a weapon, not a weaponizable tool; we should interpret what is at stake in Standing Rock and in Palestine not through a negotiation of the ways in which the politics involved could become acceptable, but rather through the prism of the entirety of the political ideologies at work: in both cases here, the variations of the same colonial project.

Israeli Air Force Bombs ISIS Base In Southern Syria After ISIS Attack On IDF Soldiers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

The Israeli Air Force struck a military target belonging to the Islamic State terror group on the Syrian side of the southern Golan Heights overnight Sunday-Monday, the military said in a statement Monday morning.

The raid came after an Israeli airstrike killed four members of an Islamic State-affiliated terrorist group in southern Syria on Sunday morning, following a clash near the border. No Israeli soldiers were injured in the exchange, the army said.

The military said that the additional airstrike Monday was also in response to the attack on Israeli forces on Sunday when, while conducting an “ambush operation,” according an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, soldiers from the Golani Brigade’s reconnaissance unit had come under attack from small arms fire after crossing the security fence with Syria while remaining inside Israeli territory. They returned fire, but soon came under attack from mortar shells.

The IDF said Monday that the target in the overnight airstrike was an “abandoned UN building that has been used by the Islamic State as an operations center along the border in the southern Syrian Golan Heights,” adding that “the compound was the base for yesterday’s attack against IDF forces.”

“This is an additional response to yesterday’s attack, and it is aimed at preventing the terrorists from returning to the installation which poses a significant threat,” the IDF said.

The IDF “will not hesitate to act against terror groups that operate against the State of Israel,” the statement added.

In its immediate response to the attack on Sunday, the Israeli Air Force targeted a truck “that had some sort of machine gun on top of it” and killed the four terrorists who were riding in it.

“It was a short exchange, but it was productive,” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.

The incident Sunday occurred at approximately 8:30 a.m., east of the Avnei Eitan community in the southern Golan Heights, the army said.

Map data ©2016 Google, Mapa GISrael, ORION-ME

According to the IDF, the four men were members of the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, formerly known as the Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist group in Syria that is connected with the Islamic State.

“The army will not tolerate any impairment to its sovereignty and will respond severely to any attempt to damage it,” the army said in a statement.

The army would not go into details about the Golani reconnaissance unit’s ambush, saying only that it was “planned by operational intelligence.”

The incident was the first major confrontation between Israeli forces and Islamic State affiliated terrorists in the Golan, though Israel has clashed with other fighters on the Syrian side of the border several times.

Speaking at a weekly government meeting shortly after the incident, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised that Israel “won’t allow Islamic State figures or other enemy actors, under the cover of the war in Syria, to set up next to our borders.”

Both the IS-affiliated Khalid ibn al-Walid Army and the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly the al-Nusra Front, which is linked to al-Qaeda, have actually been present on Israel’s borders for years, though they and the IDF had maintained a “live and let live” relationship until Sunday.

The Syrian Golan has been the site of intense fighting in recent years between Assad regime forces and the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, though the front on the border with Israel has been relatively quiet in recent months after seeing intense bouts of violence.

Israeli officials fear Hezbollah and Iran’s al-Quds Force, which are allied with Syrian leader Bashar Assad, are aiming at using the area to open a new front against Israel in any future conflict.

Since March 2011, when the war broke out, dozens of mortars have landed in Israeli territory as a result of spillover fighting. The IDF often responds to fire that crosses into Israel by striking Syrian army posts.

Israel maintains a policy of holding Damascus responsible for all fire from Syria into Israel regardless of the source.

This blog, trouthtroubles.com is owned, written, and operated by oldpoet56. All articles, posts, and materials found here, except for those that I have pressed here from someone else’s blog for the purpose of showing off their work, are under copyright and this website must be credited if my articles are re-blogged, pressed, or shared.

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