• 2021-02-03

    The US Navy’s Nimitz carrier strike force has left the Middle East after a nine-month deployment abroad that was extended to keep pressure on Iran, the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby declined to tell reporters whether any specific event had influenced Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s decision to send the carrier home, nor whether the United States’ assessment of the potential for hostile Iranian activity in the region had changed. “It is a balancing act between requirements and the capabilities on hand,” Kirby said, adding, “The secretary believes that we have a robust presence in the Middle East to respond.” “It would be imprudent for us to think this is based on a specific piece of intel in a specific part of the world,” he said. USNI first reported the decision to bring the Nimitz back to the United States. Following a late December decision to send the supercarrier home, the Nimitz was ordered to return to the Middle East in early January amid public threats from Iranian leaders against US officials. 

  • 2021-02-02

    Israel’s inclusion in Centcom will further harm the Palestinian cause, drive a wedge between Arab states and raise the heat on Iran. […] It will align US security interests in the region even more closely with Israel’s, at the expense of its Arab neighbours. It will aid Israel’s continuing efforts to crush the national ambitions of the Palestinians, with many Arab states’ either explicit or implicit cooperation. It will accentuate political tensions within the bloc of Arab states, further weakening it. And it will help to build pressure on recalcitrant Arab states to join the broader consensus against Israel’s one remaining significant regional foe: Iran. It is significant that Washington’s long-standing concern about Israel’s presence in Centcom damaging US relations with the Arab states has apparently evaporated.

  • 2021-01-31

    Air raid sirens were heard wailing in Tehran on Friday night, spooking local residents and prompting the spread of a number of theories online about what could have caused the incident. The last time sirens were activated was during the Iran-Iraq War, which saw Iraqi forces lobbing missiles, some armed with chemical munitions, into Iranian cities. […] where they supposedly carried out reconnaissance in Bandar Abbas, Isfahan, and Shiraz. Iranian media dismissed the claims, pointing out that an elementary analysis of the F-35’s range characteristics (1,700 km to 2,200 km) would make it impossible for the Israelis to fly all the way from Israel to Iran and back in stealth mode without refuelling, with refuelling planes unable to conceal their positions. Tehran also says that it has the advanced strategic and mobile radar capabilities necessary to detect enemy aircraft, including those with stealth capabilities. In June 2019, the Khordad-3, an Iranian-made medium-range missile system, shot a stealthy $220 million US Global Hawk surveillance drone out of the sky over the Strait of Hormuz.

  • 2021-01-29

    The US military is signaling its show of force against Tehran may continue as the State Department explores paths toward a renewed nuclear agreement. As the Biden administration weighs next steps with Iran, the Pentagon is reassuring regional partners that deterrence remains central to US strategy toward Iran.

  • 2021-01-29

    Everything terrible that happens in the country is the fault of the enemy, weather true or not. Yes, much of economic troubles in Iran are the result of sanctions, but not all, as even some politicians in Iran occasionally admit. Mismanagement, corruption, ineptness, ignorance, backwardness, internal feuding, have all contributed, along with brutal sanctions, to the faltering economy. So, President Biden, here is a simple blueprint for achieving your goals, including a “regime change”: Lift the sanctions. Stop imprisoning Iranians on flimsy charges of violating these sanctions. Stop assassinating Iranians. Stop sabotaging Iranian nuclear and non-nuclear facilities. Stop threatening Iran. Stop sending B52s, warships, and drones to the Persian Gulf. Stop interfering in Iran’s internal affairs. Stop even condemning the Islamic Republic for violating human rights. Afterall, as one of the greatest purveyors of violence around the world, the US is in no position to talk about human rights. Your condemnations ring hollow. In short, leave the Islamic Republic to its own devices! […] If you do these, you will have a much better chance of achieving your stated and unstated goals. Without enemies at the gate, the Islamic Republic will have no use for highly enriched uranium or massive amount of low enriched uranium. It will have no use for long range-missiles. It will have no reason to act belligerently in the Persian Gulf. Above all, without enemies, the Islamic Republic will have no one to blame for when it comes to social and economic woes in Iran. It will have to become fully accountable to its own citizens for whatever ill the society faces. It will have to respect civil rights and liberties. Otherwise, it will face the wrath of a population that has always fought against tyrannical rule.

  • 2021-01-28

    Middle East. Jewish Insider first reported last week that President Joe Biden was considering appointing Malley, a veteran diplomat and CEO of the International Crisis Group, as a special envoy to Iran. The rumors set off a smear campaign among hawks who oppose diplomatic engagement with the Iranian government. 

  • 2021-01-28

    This paper attempts to explore the cost-benefit calculations which would drive Moscow’s decisions in a US-Iran war scenario. In the first section, we analyze the possible benefits Moscow might derive from an open conflict emerging between the US and Tehran, while in the second we consider the downsides of such a scenario for Russian interests. The paper analyzes the implications of these benefits and costs on Russian Middle East policy. We argue that Moscow’s losses in such a war would be threatening to Russia’s core interests in the Middle East, and thus is probably the key factor defining the Russian response strategy.

  • 2021-01-28

    In a stunning interview to the Beirut-based al Mayadeen network, Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah has outlined how Maj Gen Qassem Soleimani – assassinated by an American drone strike at Baghdad airport a litle over a year ago – was instrumental in convincing Russia to help Syria militarily in its war against Salafi-jihadis.

  • 2021-01-27

    Senior Iranian officials have dismissed Israel's recent threat of "offensive options" against the Islamic Republic as desperate “psychological warfare,” mostly meant to prevent a possible US return to the 2015 nuclear deal. Israel's army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi, said on Tuesday that the regime's military was revising its attack plans against Iran, claiming that any US return to the Iran nuclear deal would be “wrong.” Kochavi said that he had instructed the military “to prepare a number of operational plans, in addition to those already in place” against Iran, adding, “It will be up to the political leadership, of course, to decide on implementation but these plans need to be on the table.” 

  • 2021-01-27

    The U.S. needs to make fundamental changes to its security efforts in the Persian/Arab Gulf and the Middle East. The U.S. has done more to destabilize Gulf security over the last four years than to establish a stable structure of deterrence and defense. At the same time, the threat in the region has evolved far beyond extremist groups, such as ISIS, and past assessments of Iran’s nuclear weapons efforts. If the Biden Administration is to succeed in creating a new structure of deterrence and defense in the Gulf, it must look beyond extremism and issues like the Israeli-Palestinian peace process – important as they are. It must rebuild and strengthen its security partnerships with Arab states and address a wide range of new security issues. There are no easy, “good,” or simple solution to these challenges, and many will require years of patient efforts meant simply to contain the problems involved, rather than to solve them. The U.S. does, however, have a wide range of options, and it can make progress in many areas. There is still much to build upon even if the Biden Administration acts promptly and consistently to address the full range of challenges involved. 

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