Crossfire War – Rapid Fire News=Tehran – Gaza – Baghdad WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: US Chairman of Joint Chiefs Adm. Mullen to Arrive in Israel on Friday – Joint Operation Session – IDF Closes Gaza/Israel Terminals After Rocket Attacks – Islamic Jihad Threatens More – Fighting Resumes in Iraq Shia South
Night Watch: EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN – May 17 Debka reported the arrival of the U. S. command-communications ship USS Mount Whitney in the Eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Syria-Lebanon for what the Pentagon called an “unscheduled mission”. The ship is used for battlefield communications for air-ground-sea forces and joined the frigate USS Cole and aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman. Regular readers of crossfirewar.com know what has caused Washington’s extreme concern over Syria is its serious attempts to acquire nuclear weaponry which is why the Pentagon approved Israel’s air attack last September on the Syrian nuclear site al-Kibar which was financed by Tehran and used technology from North Korea. Despite that setback Tehran announced just last week it will share its nuclear technology (weaponry) with Damascus, in other words Iran may be in the process of shipping some of its nuclear armed ballistic missiles to Syria. [DEBKA]
When the Mount Whitney arrived on station a spokesman for the U. S. Navy stated she would be there for a specific mission then leave. Based on events since May that time seems to have arrived. Last Friday Washington allowed media networks to publish the Israel Air Force (IAF) conducted a large scale air maneuver in the same area, Eastern Mediterranean during the first week of June and Tehran responded by putting its armed forces on war alert since they realized the significance of the maneuvers not being kept secret. Washington was alerting the international community an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is near. And during those IAF maneuvers they were of course in constant communication with the Mount Whitney and the other U. S. warships in the area. Now today, Debka is reporting, on Friday the Chairman of the Pentagon Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen is due to arrive in Israel for a one day meeting with Israel’s military command. It was Admiral Mullen who announced earlier this year, with some degree of worry, that although the U. S. was engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq it still had enough military resources to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and bases that have supplied Islamic militant groups in Iraq.
Those resources are essentially carrier based aircraft and the Pentagon maintains at least two in the Persian Gulf-Arabian Sea off Iran’s coast. Mullen knew of course an attack would mean what Washington and the West hoped to avoid at all costs, (f)allout war with Iran but for the past two years, as Tehran laughed off economic sanctions, governments in the West have gradually realized Iran had always intended to attack the West with more than just the occasional terrorist incident and go beyond 9/11. Other than immediate defensive action Iran will also respond by fully activating Palestinian militants, Hezbollah-Syria against Israel, have armed groups in Iraq increase their attacks and Iran will also launch missiles against UK/US bases in Iraq-Persian Gulf.
Erez Terminal – Haaretz reports Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the Israel Defense Force (IDF) to close all the Gaza/Israel terminals where goods and materials pass through as a result of the rocket attacks on Tuesday by Islamic Jihad. The decision was made today during security consultations between Barak and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Only the Erez terminal on the border with northern Gaza will remain open since that is a pedestrian crossing. The Prime Minister’s Bureau released a statement which said Olmert-Barak “agreed on methods of response” to the Qassam rocket attacks then added, “We will not provide further details.” Today Islamic Jihad threatened more attacks. [HAARETZ]
The ceasefire agreement was signed last week and was officially meant to last for six months, instead it lasted for six days.
Sadr City – The new “special group” Iraq Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said he was forming two weeks ago seems to have gone into action. AKI reports a bomb was set off at a local council meeting in Sadr City, the main base of the Mahdi Army which the special group is an extension of and intended to attack U. S. forces only. The bombing was timed for the meeting which was attended by U. S. soldiers and U. S. civilians as they were assisting the election for the chairman of the Sadr City council after representatives of Muqtada al-Sadr pulled out. Killed in the explosion were six Iraqis, two U. S. soldiers and two U. S. civilians. I suspect the Mahdi Army and the special groups will not be fully mobilized until war begins directly between Washington/Tehran. [AKI]
Nassiriyah – Asharq al-Awsat/AP are reporting some fighting has broken out again in Iraq’s Shia areas in the south in Nassiriyah 200 mile south of the capital. The Iraq Army was conducting a series of arrests against Shia groups opposed not only to the Baghdad government but also perhaps to the Mahdi Army. As mentioned before the Mahdi Army is only concentrating on U.S. units. [AsharqAlAwsat]