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Friday, May 11, 2018

Iran's Anti-Israel Aggression has Greatly Improved Israel's Standing in the Middle East

And revealed Iran for the threat that it is

Russia backs off Syrian air defense after
Putin-Netanyahu meeting
By Ed Adamczyk (UPI)

After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, L, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Thursday, Russia said it would not deliver an upgraded missile-defense system to Syria. Photo courtesy The Kremlin

Russia has reversed course and dropped plans to deliver advanced S-300 air-defense systems to Syria, a Kremlin spokesman said Friday.

The change followed a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Israel became concerned about the possible arrival of a new defense system in Syria after a wave of airstrikes on targets in Syrian by French, British and U.S. fighter planes in April. The airstrikes were retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack by Syria.

At least, that was the excuse. 

Israel worried installation of the defense systems could upset the balance of power in Syria and could make Israeli aircraft penetration more difficult.

Supply lines in Syria, manned primarily by Iranian soldiers, have been a frequent target of Israeli airstrikes. A large attack occurred Wednesday and Thursday after Syrian troops, the Israeli armed forces say, fired a barrage of missiles into the Israeli-held Golan Heights.

The presence of the S-300 system could have complicated Israel's efforts, the Moscow Times reported Friday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there was never a formal plan to equip Syria with the systems, but Kremlin aide Vladirmir Kozhin said, "We're not discussing any deliveries of advanced new systems," and added the Syrian military "has everything it needs."

Last month, Russia hinted it might supply the materials to the Syrian regime.

So, remarkably, Russia appears to agree with Israel that is has a right to defend itself from the Iranian build-up of men and missiles by pre-emptive strikes within Syria. Both Syria and Iran are Russian allies. This must leave Putin in a very uncomfortable position. Nevertheless, it was the right thing to do.

Just as remarkable was the agreement by the EU that Israel was justified in its actions...

EU, British PM back Israel’s right to defend itself from Iranian strikes

UN secretary general urges 'immediate halt to all hostile acts and any provocative actions' as Security Council members refuse to call emergency meeting

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini addresses a press conference during a Foreign Ministers meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on March 19, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS)

The European Union on Thursday backed Israel’s right to defend itself and called on “all regional actors to show restraint” after widespread strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, in response to Iranian rockets fired towards the Golan Heights.

“Reports about last night’s Iranian attacks against Israeli army posts from inside Syria to which Israel responded by striking against Iranian targets in Syria are extremely worrying,” the European External Action Service (EEAS) said in a statement.

“As the EU has said repeatedly, Israel has the right to defend itself,” the statement added.

“At the same time, we call on all regional actors to show restraint and avoid any escalation, which could further undermine regional stability.”

Stability? What stability?

British Prime Minister Theresa May also said she “strongly supports Israel’s right to defend itself against Iranian aggression” in a call Thursday evening with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, her office said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) poses with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside 10 Downing Street in London on November 2, 2017.(AFP Photo/Tolga Akmen)

A spokesperson said May condemned the Iranian rocket attacks against Israeli forces and reiterated Downing Street’s earlier call on Iran to refrain from any further attacks and for calm on all sides.

Both leaders were said to agree it was “vital for the international community to continue working together to counter Iran’s destabilizing regional activity, and for Russia to use its influence in Syria to prevent further Iranian attacks.”

Netanyahu’s office said he expressed his appreciation for May’s position.

Iranian forces fired some 20 rockets at northern Israeli military bases from southern Syria just after midnight Wednesday. The IDF said it suffered no casualties, either on the ground or in the air, and that no rockets fired from Syria  hit Israeli territory.

The IDF hit over 50 targets in Syria in overnight strikes in response, including Iranian intelligence sites, logistic centers, weapons depots, and military bases operated by the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force.

Anti-aircraft fire rises into the sky as Israeli missiles hit air defense positions and other military bases around Damascus, Syria, on May 10, 2018, following what the Israeli military said was an Iranian barrage of rockets against Israeli bases on the Golan Heights. (Syrian Central Military Media, via AP)

The exchange was the largest-ever direct clash between the Iranian forces and the IDF, and appeared to be the largest exchange involving Israel in Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed for an “immediate halt to all hostile acts” in the Middle East.

In his statement, Guterres also called on the Security Council to “remain actively seized of the matter and shoulder its responsibilities” under the UN Charter.

“The Secretary-General urges an immediate halt to all hostile acts and any provocative actions to avoid a new conflagration in the region already embroiled in terrible conflicts with immense suffering of civilians,” a spokesman for Guterres said.

But, amazingly, no condemnation of Israel. The UN rarely misses an opportunity like this.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres gives a speech at the 54th Munich Security Conference on February 16, 2018, in Munich, Germany. (AFP Photo/Thomas Kienzle)

None of the Security Council’s 15 members were ready to call an emergency meeting on the situation — which has prompted calls for restraint from the international community.

When asked if they would call an emergency meeting, ambassadors from Poland, Russia, France and Britain all responded: “Not at this point.”

Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, sent letters to the Security Council and the secretary-general calling for condemnation of “Iran’s acts of aggression.” He also asked the Security Council to “demand that Iran remove its military presence from Syria.”

Why not throw a 'Hail Mary', or two, while the UN is on its heels.

So, Putin standing off, the EU approves, the UN standing off, and even at least one Gulf State supports Israel. No doubt most do in this anti-Iran endeavour, but are reluctant to say so. Not Bahrain...

Bahrain backs Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in Syria
In rare endorsement of IDF operation, FM Al-Khalifa says any country in the region has the 'right to defend itself'

Bahrain Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, during a meeting at the Arab League headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on November 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

In an extremely rare expression of support for an Israeli military operation, the foreign minister of Bahrain on Thursday said Israel’s overnight attack on Iranian targets in Syria was legitimate in light of Tehran’s increasing aggression.

“As long as Iran continues the current status quo of its forces and rockets operating in the region, any country — including Israel — has the right to defend itself by eliminating the source of danger,” Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa posted on his Twitter account, writing in Arabic.

Responding to missiles fired into Israel from Syria, the Israeli Air Force overnight launched a major operation against Iranian targets in the country, wiping out much of Tehran’s military infrastructure there, officials said.

The missiles, which according to Israel were fired by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ al-Quds Force, were targeting forward operating bases on the Golan Heights, a territory much of the international community considers illegally occupied by Israel.

At least 23 troops were killed during the Israeli retaliatory strike, 18 them non-Syrians, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Non-Syrians would be Iranians!

Earlier on Thursday, the UK and Germany condemned the Islamic Republic for shooting rockets at Israeli bases and called on the two sides not to escalate the situation.

“The United Kingdom condemns in the strongest terms the Iranian rocket attacks against Israeli forces. We strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself,” Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrives in Downing Street in London on March 7, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)

“We urge Iran to refrain from further actions which will only lead to increased instability in the region. It is crucial to avoid any further escalations, which would be in no one’s interest,” he added. “We also continue to call on Russia to use its influence to press those in Syria to cease their destabilizing activity and work towards a broader political settlement.”

A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry in Berlin said Germany was “deeply concerned” by Iran’s rocket attacks on Israeli army outposts.

“These attacks are a severe provocation that we most strongly condemn. We have always emphasized that Israel has the right to defend itself,” the spokesperson said.

“At the same time, it is key that the situation not escalate any further,” she added. “This particularly means we must do everything we can to finally arrive at a sustainable political solution to the conflict in Syria – it is needed to end the suffering of the Syrian population, and to not further threaten stability in the entire region.”

Meanwhile Russia, a staunch ally of Iran and Syria, called “for restraint from both sides.”

Moscow is “concerned” by the tension, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said. “We have established contacts with all parties and we call for restraint from all parties. It’s very worrying and a source of concern. We have to work to ease the tension.”

Four of the 20 projectiles launched at Israel were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system and the rest fell in Syria, according to the IDF.

Although one apparently fell in Lebanon. 

Lebanese soldiers inspect remains of a Syrian surface-to-air missile that had apparently been fired at Israeli jets during an extensive air campaign against Iranian targets in Syria, which landed in the southern Lebanese village of Hebarieh, on May 10, 2018. (Ali Dia/AFP)

The rockets included both Grad and Fajr-5 models, according to the military. The IDF said the initial missile barrage was launched by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ al-Quds Force.

It appeared to be the first time Israel attributed an attack directly to Iran, which generally operates through proxies.

In all, the army said it carried out approximately 50 retaliatory raids against IRGC targets, including intelligence centers, weapons depots, storage facilities, observation posts, and logistics centers in Syria, as well as the rocket launcher that carried out the initial attack.

The overnight exchange was the largest-ever direct clash between the Iranian and Israeli militaries, and appeared to be the largest exchange involving Israel in Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

An illustrative map showing the general locations of Israeli strikes in Syria in response to a presumed Iranian attack on the Golan Heights on May 10, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The military said it also targeted a number of Syrian air defense systems — SA-5, SA-2, SA-22 and SA-17 batteries — that had fired at Israeli planes, despite the military’s Arabic-language spokesperson explicitly warning earlier that “any Syrian involvement will be met with the utmost severity.

In the days and weeks before the Iranian barrage, defense officials repeatedly warned that Israel would respond aggressively to any attack from Syrian territory.

Tehran has repeatedly vowed revenge after the T-4 army base in Syria was struck in an air raid — widely attributed to Israel — on April 9, killing at least seven members of the IRGC, including a senior officer responsible for the group’s drone program.

With all the non-intercepted rockets landing in Syria or Lebanon, the entire Middle East ought to be extremely worried that these fools should get their hands on nuclear weapons. God only knows where they might fall.