Crossfire War – Rapid Fire News=Tehran – Gaza – Damascus Watch – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Pentagon Has Allowed IAF to Use Airbases in Iraq to Practice Air Strikes on Iran – Hamas Preparing for New Rocket Barrages – IDF Prepares Offensive Operations into Gaza Strip
Night Watch: STRAIT OF HORMUZ – This excellent news video is from RIA/Reuters and shows the latest missile-torpedo tests by Iran’s military and also the decision by the French energy firm Total to refrain from further investments in Iran’s Persian Gulf oil fields until hostilities are over. I estimate Iran has enough for nearly one year of offensive warfare against the West, using its 2006 security agreements with Serbia and against India in security agreements with Pakistan. The only ground forces Tehran will commit against Israel will be its expendable brigade size Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) in the name of supporting Palestinian people. Israel is completely unimportant economically and one does not become internationally prominent by attempting to conquer the desert and sand of Israel or the salt in the Dead Sea. Tehran, however, has enabled Hamas and Palestinian militants to prepare to fire massive rocket barrages which will force the Israel Defense Force (IDF) to increase offensive operations into the Gaza Strip. Iran will use its war effort against Jerusalem to inspire more Islamic extremism. [RIA]
Nasiriya – But before Iran can commit its RDF it may first have to defend its known nuclear, missile and perhaps also some of its airbases from joint air attacks by the Israel Air Force and U. S. carrier based aircraft and air units in Iraq. Yesterday PressTV reported according to Iraq’s Nahrainet the Pentagon has allowed the IAF to practice landings and takeoffs from U. S. airbases in Iraq at Nasiriya and Haditha. Nahrainent quoted sources close to Iraq’s Defense Ministry and this is one of the reasons for security agreements between Baghdad-Tehran on preventing Iraq from being used as a base to attack Iran. But Iraq has virtually no air force and is powerless to prevent the Pentagon from using its airbases with Israel. However I suspect Iraq-Iran have decided instead to have Iraqi army units join in attacks on those bases when the war expands and to take no action as Shia militias and the Mahdi Army do the same as missiles launched from both Syria-Iran target the bases. [PRESSTV]
The airbase in Nasiriya is nearly 200 miles southeast of Baghdad and just eighty miles from the Iranian border and is surrounded by centers of support for the Mahdi Army. Haditha is 130 miles northwest of the capital and just eighty miles from Syria and with the defense agreements between Damascus-Tehran it is indeed extremely likely Syria will attack the airbase. Because any attack against Iran will have an immediate response not only from Iran but also from members of its regional military axis, Hezbollah-Hamas-Syria-Iraq. Most of the missiles launched at Haditha will be fired from Syria as Iranian missiles hit the airbase at Nasiriyah. At the same time there could be so many missiles and rockets fired at Israel by Hezbollah-Syria the IDF may be forced to use some of its nuclear bombs within a week after heavy fighting begins.
For the past month U. S. military officials have increased security at both bases as air activity has increased especially at night. Fighter aircraft, cargo planes, helicopters and unmanned aircraft have all increased flights for the past three weeks.
Jerusalem – “The Iranian issue is a challenge not just for Israel but for the entire world. Israel is the strongest country in the region and we have proven in the past that we are not deterred from acting when our vital interests are at stake. The reaction of enemies needs to be taken into consideration as well.” That was the warning from Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak which ended on a note of caution as he realizes Iran can attack Israel-U. S. from a number of directions. And his warning was made as the Jerusalem Post reports he is to depart Monday for Washington and a series of meetings that will take place during his three day visit. Barak is to meet U. S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. I am surprised at the Ban Ki-moon meeting and of course this means the UN Secretary-General is fully supportive of attacks on Iran and he will be used to justify it to the international community. It is not known if Barak will have time to meet President George W. Bush. Barak has been preceded by Meir Dagan, head of Israel’s intelligence service Mossad, and will be followed by IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi who will no doubt meet his counterparts in the Pentagon. [JPOST]
The last part of Barak’s statement is the key since Israel’s regional enemies are no longer in awe of the IDF since their lackadaisical performance in 2006. Hezbollah holding its own against the IDF convinced Syria President Bashar al-Assad Hezbollah had won a great victory and therefore it will be easy for Syria to retake the strategic Golan Heights lost to Israel in the 1967 war. And Israel has never faced an enemy so heavily prepared and this fanatically devoted.
Gaza – It is quite possible Tehran may have decided to disrupt their planning sessions by having fighting increase in Gaza. INN reports Israel defense officials have already warned municipal leaders in the western Negev Hamas has prepared to resume massive rocket bombardments. I am not at all surprised since I have always assumed that is Tehran’s preferred way of starting the wider regional war, by using the Palestinian militants based there and Iran has armed them nearly as heavily as they have armed Hezbollah in Lebanon. Military sources in Israel estimate that in just the six months after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 they were able to amass 230 tons of weaponry, 30,000 rifles, six million rounds of ammunition and a large number of anti-air and anti-tank missiles. And this does not take into account the enormous amount of supplies they received when the Rafah Terminal with Egypt was forced open for twelve days in January and the supplies Palestinian militants accumulate during ceasefires. [INN]
Tehran definitely wants to stage its magnanimous military gesture of supporting the Palestinian community and Iran cannot do that if Israel-U.S. seizes the initiative by attacking Iran first. Tehran would rather see the IDF-Pentagon scrambling desperately in response to new heavy fighting around them before any attack on Iran.
Gaza – That is probably why the Jerusalem Post/AP is quoting a senior Israel defense official as saying, “It is not clear how much longer the ceasefire will last and we need to be prepared for an operation in Gaza.” Though the IDF seems to have decided on a policy of containment of the threat from Gaza and not an all-out invasion, it will still be the largest operation since the 2006 war. And to prevent the missile-rocket attack from recurring Jerusalem will have to occupy at least part of the territory after the war. That action will be more than enough for Hezbollah-Damascus-Tehran to enter the conflict as a way of preventing the IDF from concentrating too many forces in one area and it could disrupt some of the combined operations planned by the Pentagon and Israel. [JPOST]
One factor that will work in Jerusalem’s favor is the intense hatred of Egypt President Hosni Mubarak of Iran and its growing influence in the region and in Egypt as Tehran displays its military support for Palestinian people which Iran and Arab media will give spectacular publicity. Mubarak has always hated Islamic fundamentalism ever since the assassination of his predecessor Anwar al-Sadat in 1981 just two years after the Islamic revolution in Iran led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Iran even named a street after the assassin and Mubarak’s administration could be aware of the close relations Tehran has with Egypt’s main opposition group to Mubarak the Muslim Brotherhood which assisted Hamas forcing open the Rafah Terminal in January. Some of Egypt’s military is still loyal to Mubarak who is a former Major-General in Egypt’s Air Force and those could be some of the first units ordered into action when Mubarak declares war on Iran. That will take some of the pressure off Israel.
National Museum – To prepare for the massive upheaval that will take place in Cairo during the war Tehran is preparing to take advantage of it to have their agents loot treasures from Egypt’s National Museum as Iran did with the looting of Baghdad in 2003. PressTV reports a team of Iranian archaeologists are currently vesting France’s National Museum in Paris to study Egyptian artifacts. I suspect to appraise their value. [PRESSTV]