Crossfire War – Russian Navy Begins 71 Days of Exercises in Mediterranean

Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=MOSCOW – BERLIN – WASHINGTON WATCH – Mediterranean Theatre: Moscow – Berlin – Washington – Paris – London – Madrid – Rome – Valletta – Jerusalem/Damascus – Beirut – Gaza – Tripoli – Tehran; Russian Navy to Begin 71 Day Mediterranean Exercises Jan. 15 – Joint Operations with UNIFIL-US Possible – Israel Targets Palestinians in Gaza Near Home of PM Haniya – Heavy Fighting in Kashmir

Night Watch: VALLETTA – Led by the flagship Moskva, under the command of Vice-Admiral Vladimir Maximov, the Russian navy has sent a squadron of eleven warships to begin 71 days of exercises in the Mediterranean. Debka reports they are to rendezvous off Malta for a series of maneuvers as they make eleven ports in six countries, including establishing a logistics base in Tripoli, Libya. This is obviously the result of planning within the Moscow-Berlin-Washington Strategic Working Group instituted with the arrival of former U. S. Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger in Moscow last April. Kissinger is co-chairing the group with former Russia Premier Yevgeny Primakov. The first result of their planning was the resumption of Russia’s strategic bombers flying again last August rendezvousing with aircraft from the West. [DEBKA]

Since these naval exercises are due to extend into April it is quite possible the Russian warships will be actively involved in support missions with the European-U. S. ships in the Eastern Mediterranean off Lebanon’s coast operating with the 12,000 European units with UNIFIL. When the shooting gets started, long before the 71 days are over, I suspect the first target will be Syria.

Gaza – The day after it was revealed Israel will attempt to assassinate the Hamas leadership, including their leader in Damascus, Al Jazeera reports Israel launched a missile attack that killed three Palestinian militants in Gaza near the home of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, one of the Hamas leaders targeted for assassination. Jerusalem called it a “targeted killing” in order to prevent them from firing more Qassam rockets. Two of the dead are members of the armed wing of Fatah, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, but the third man Maher al-Mabhouh was a senior member of the Islamic Army Group that planned and captured the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006. [ALJAZEERA]

That was the action, which set off the war that year. Israel responded with an invasion of Gaza then Hezbollah attacked from across Lebanon’s border in July. The same scenario is being prepared for a wider war this year with the difference this time Damascus-Tehran are now ready to enter.

Damhal Hanjipora NewsBlaze reports the first serious encounter has just taken place this year between Islamic militants attacking Indian troops in the disputed province of Kashmir. Two members of the militant unit Lashkar-e-Toiba, supported by Tehran-Islamabad were killed in Damhal Hanipora in South Kashmir after a firefight of more than four hours. Two more members of the same organization were killed in separate engagements in the Shonsh and Banshal areas of the Doda region. [NEWSBLAZE]

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.