People stage a protest against the execution by Iran of up to 20 Kurds.. (photo credit: REUTERS)
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Iran claimed credit for firing seven Fateh 110 ballistic missiles in an attack on Kurdish opposition groups in Koya in northern Iraq over the weekend that killed 17 and wounded numerous others. It was the first time Iranian forces had used precision missiles to attack deep inside Iraq.
The daylight attack on the city of some 100,000 in the Erbil Governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan is a message from Tehran to the region that it can do what it wants, not only in neighboring Iraq, but throughout the Middle East. In the last year, Iranian missiles and Iranian-supported groups using Tehran’s technical advisers have targeted Saudi Arabia from Yemen and Israel from Syria.
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As Washington is pressuring Iran, the missile threat is Tehran’s response to the US sanctions. US Vice President Mike Pence condemned the rocket attack in a call with the Kurdistan region’s prime minister, calling it an “effort to threaten and destabilize.”
The IRGC attempted a decapitation strike against the Kurdish KDP-I, an opposition group that has a headquarters in Koya. Numerous senior leaders were present and a missile crashed into the building where they were meeting.
This was a precise and unprecedented strike. Although Iran has targeted Kurdish groups in Iraq before and has fired missiles at other opposition groups, the use of Fateh 110 missiles showcases Iranian intelligence operations and know-how. Iran has been increasing the Fateh 110’s guidance and accuracy for a decade. In mid-August, it test-fired one of them for use against ships. The IRGC released footage showing the missiles were used in coordination with drones and local intelligence. Reporters for Iranian state media were invited days before to prepare and watch the launch.
The missile attack on Koya should not be seen as an isolated Iran regime attack on an opposition group. Iran has been fighting Kurdish opposition groups for years and in Iran there have been increasing clashes. But the missile strike was an escalation and should be seen in the context of the Iranian-backed Houthis using ballistic missiles to target Riyadh, flying some 900 km from their launch point.
Iranian forces from Syria have also targeted and tested Israel’s defenses. They flew a drone into Israeli airspace in February, and fired a salvo of missiles in May. Recent satellite images show missile production facilities in northern Syria. Reports also indicate that Iran has transferred missiles to the Hashd al-Shaabi, or Shia militias, in Iraq. And Iran has armed Hezbollah with missiles for years and also supplied Hamas with technical support.
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The big picture then is an Iranian missile threat throughout the region. The National Defense Authorization Act signed by US President Donald Trump in August included passages about Iran’s ballistic missile threat.
Congress had looked deeply into how Iran’s missile program threatens the region. During a June speech at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, US Under Secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence Sigal Mandelker said that “Iran must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles.”
US allies in the region have missile defense technology to confront the Iranian threat. Israel has a layered system of missile defense including Iron Dome, David’s Sling and the Arrow program, while Saudi Arabia has used Patriot missile batteries to stop the Houthi missiles. This has proven effective. It is also why the IRGC decided to test out its missiles by targeting defenseless Kurdish groups in northern Iraq.
The IRGC’s strike on the Kurds is a message to Washington and to Israel. It shows how the IRGC operates across borders and throughout the region, seeing Iran’s policy in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon as linked into one larger program.
The IRGC is also the group responsible for working with various proxies and Shia militias across the region.
The US administration’s response to the missile attack in Iraq will reveal whether Washington takes this new front in northern Iraq seriously and whether the discussions about stopping Iran’s activities see Iraq as a frontier to confront these missile threats or whether Iraq will continue to be an area that Iran can operate freely in.
BDS movement founder Omar Barghouti (YouTube)
Omar Barghouti, founder and leader of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, was denied entry to the United States on Wednesday.
He was informed by airline staff at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Israel that U.S. immigration officials told the American consul in Tel Aviv to block him from boarding the flight.
A State Department official told NPR, “Visa records are confidential under U.S. law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases.”
The US Capitol Building. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Four of Israel’s most dedicated supporters in the US Congress on Friday expressed concern that the Jewish state may annex the West Bank, as results from Israel’s election earlier this week confirmed the likelihood of a right-wing government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“As strong, life-long supporters of Israel, a U.S.-Israel relationship rooted in our shared values, and the two-state solution, we are greatly concerned by the possibility of Israel taking unilateral steps to annex the West Bank,” said a joint statement from Democratic representatives Eliot Engel (NY), Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The final image sent by Israeli spacecraft Beresheet before it crash-landed on the moon. Photo: courtesy of Space IL.
Astronauts and scientists at the US space agency NASA commended the Israeli non-profit organization SpaceIL for its efforts afyer its spacecraft “Beresheet” failed to land safely on the moon on Thursday.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said, “While NASA regrets the end of the SpaceIL mission without a successful lunar landing of the Beresheet lander, we congratulate SpaceIL, the Israel Aerospace Industries and the state of Israel on the incredible accomplishment of sending the first privately funded mission into lunar orbit.”
“Der ewige Jude” – “Theeternal Jew” movie poster . (photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)
The lead article Thursday on the opinion page of the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper compared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the 1940 Nazi antisemitic movie The Eternal Jew.
The article was titled in the paper “The Eternal Netanyahu” in a word play in connection with director Fritz Hippler’s antisemitic pseudo-documentary, based on the medieval legend of the wandering Jew, that served as a cinematographic justification for the Holocaust.
Mar 31, 2019 0Last week, in his speech at the AIPAC policy conference, said President Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras that he would open a commercial office in Jerusalem – but not an embassy. U.S....
As an orthopedic surgeon for 30 years in Washington, D.C. I see patients from all over the world and from every walk of life and what has become clear to me is that everyone is fundamentally the same. As a rule, I shy away from political or religious discussions with my patients as they have no bearing on their care. But occasionally, the discussions are thrust on me.
Several years ago I treated a professor of political science from a local university and had established a good rapport with him. On his last visit before saying goodbye he popped a question.
It is well-known by some and wholly ignored by others that Islam has a long, sad history of antisemitism, a bigotry that originated in the seventh century CE (the first Islamic century) and has grown more vicious in the 21st. Combined with an almost universal anti-Zionism and bolstered by many on the political “left”, it is today the most ubiquitous and deadliest form of Jew-hatred. It takes the form, not just of insults, boycotts, and lawfare, but of wars, terrorist attacks, and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and the genocide of the Jews.
Amman – The streets in Amman’s Jebel al-Weibdeh are crowded in the early evening with sounds of young people looking for a place to relax. Coffee shops intermix with art studios selling crafts for tourists. At the Maestro bar and restaurant, a band is getting ready for a live performance. The lights are dimmed and someone has put “no smoking” signs on the tables – they are out of place with the ash trays. Apparently, Monday has jam sessions and anyone can bring their instrument to join in. But it’s Wednesday.
A few of my readers recently asked me to explain the difference between “Palestinians” living inside and outside of Israel’s borders. Who are the “Palestinians” anyway? First, see below:
“Palestine” does not exist today as a nation-state, but at multiple times in history, including the present, it has been one of the names of a place. The Romans, recalling the defunct Philistines – non-Arab Sea People – coined it after defeating [Jewish general] Bar Kochba in 135 CE to disassociate what had been Judaea from Jews.
President Trump’s peace plan for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict surfaced two years ago and to this day – remarkably – only he and a handful of aides know its precise details. A stream of leaks, however, contains enough internal consistency that their collation, supplemented by conversations with administration officials, provides a plausible outline of the plan’s contents.
On March 31, a South Bend grandma brought her grandson to the hospital. The 11-month-old baby boy had been shot. His grandmother’s car had also taken fire. It was another early morning in South Bend.
Around the same time, Mayor Buttigieg, was toting up the $7 million in donations from his charm offensive as his bid for the 2020 Democrat nomination got underway. The national media never bothered reporting the shooting of an 11-month-old boy in the city he was supposed to be running, but instead confined its coverage of South Bend matters to a publicity stunt wedding officiated by Buttigieg.
The Palestinian students are being targeted because of their political affiliations and not because of any crime they committed.
While the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are busy beating up each other’s supporters, “pro-Palestinian” activists on US and Canadian university campuses are busy blaming Israel for Palestinian woes.
As an American Christian who has had the privilege of working in senior-level positions for four US presidents and who has enjoyed a close association with three of Israel’s prime ministers, I believe it is my obligation to provide the Israeli people with my views. I think my viewpoint is important because a vast number of American Evangelical Christians believe as I believe. In addition, Evangelical Christians are, without question, Israel’s strongest supporters in the United States.
Does Case 3000 – known as the submarine affair – prove that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is guilty of doing something illegal? Well, all Likud supporters believe with absolute confidence that it’s a political plot. Netanyahu’s opponents, however, believe – also with absolute confidence – that it’s the largest corruption case to ever occur in the State of Israel.