Crossfire War – Ashkelon Industrial Zone Hit by For Rockets from Gaza

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Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – GAZA – DAMASCUS WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – El Arish – Baghdad – Beirut – Damascus – Ramallah – Gaza/Jerusalem – Cairo – Amman – London – Washington – Paris – Rome; Hamas Demonstrations Take Place Without Incident – Four Rockets Hits Industrial Zone in Ashkelon – Government in Tehran Prepares Public to Eventually Accept Russian Troops in Iran

Night Watch: EREZ TERMINAL – There are no reports of violent incidents so far during the Hamas demonstrations against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Haaretz reports 5,000 demonstrators came within several hundred meters of the Erez Terminal on the northern Gaza/Israel border and 2,000 demonstrators assembled near the Rafah Terminal on the Gaza/Egypt border. Egypt had sent 300-400 more police to reinforce its troops and armored vehicles were placed inside the crossing and in front of the gate. Based on the news I’ve seen there were no attempts to rush the terminal and no mention of armed Hamas members at the demonstrations. Apparently Hamas only wanted to use the demonstrations to make a non-violent statement against the blockade which has been in place since Hamas took control of the territory in June last year. [HAARETZ]

Persian Gulf – This item has just come in. The Jerusalem Post/AP report the U. S. Navy has stated a ship contracted by them fired flares and warning shots at two small Iranian boats that approached them in the Persian Gulf. For years Iran’s military has trained in waging asymmetric warfare, using smaller units to attack a larger conventional military from different levels at once which is why Iran has a lot of speedboats armed with missiles. U. S. warships in the Gulf can also be attacked by aircraft and shore based missiles. Tehran is of course aware two more U. S. aircraft carriers are currently enroute to the Persian Gulf-Indian Ocean. [JPOST]

Ashkelon – INN reports Palestinian militants fired four medium range rockets which hit the industrial zone of Israel’s port city of Ashkelon 10 miles north of Gaza. The only real damage was done in a cemetery. There are several strategic facilities in Askhelon including oil and gas pipelines, an electric power station and an oil terminal. [INN]

Damascus – Iran seems to have eliminated another official in an Islamic militant organization controlled by Tehran. Debka reports one of the closets aides to Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal was killed in a hit and run car accident in Damascus. Hisham Faiz Abdul Libda was the main liaison between Meshaal, based in Damascus, and Hamas’ military wing in Gaza. Libda also arranged Meshaal’s meetings with Syrian-Iranian officials. He obviously had disagreements with Damascus-Tehran and I suspect he did not want Hamas to be sacrificed in the name of the Jihad-Tehran’s foreign policy, against Israel. Libda may have become too comfortable and complacent for Tehran. Meshaal was in the Qatar capital of Doha at the time of Libda’s death and Syria has imposed a news blackout. [DEBKA]

It is now being said Damascus will never release its findings on the disappearance of Hezbollah official Imad Mughniyeh Feb. 13 from his home in Damascus. If Syria’s investigation was genuine it would implicate both Damascus and Tehran in creating another reason for war against Israel. Hezbollah-Damascus-Tehran all called it an assassination by Israel.

Tehran – Exiled Iranian editor and columnist Amir Taheri mentioned today in his column for Asharq al-Awsat the Iranian government has begun to prepare the country to accept Russian troops in the country once again, the last time was during World War II when Soviet troops occupied the country in 1941 with the British until 1946. Taheri writes, “The message is relayed through deliberately vague terms that diplomats understand immediately while the general public does not.” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been instructed by Iran’s foreign policy establishment to begin discussing the validity of the 1921 and 1941 treaties signed between Moscow – Tehran on Russian troops in the country. At the same time Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has modified Iran’s position on Caspian Sea resources to match Russia’s completely. [ASHARQALAWSAT]

The reason for this is Tehran, unlike the West, has a very serious capacity for foresight and realizes Iran’s military has enough for one year of offensive warfare against its two main enemies, the West, its main international rival and India in support of Pakistan and the Muslims in Kashmir. Israel will be attacked for purposes of inspiration mostly directed at Egypt President Hosni Mubarak. Tehran does not view Russia as a threat like the West and realizes after World War III runs its course Iran will have to work strategically with a major power from outside the region and that will be Russia which does not have a history of trying to control and occupy the region. Russia’s presence will be seen as one of cooperation instead of manipulation.

Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.