MESOP MIDEASTWATCH: STREIT IN DER ISRAELISCHEN MILITÄR FÜHRUNG! Hat der Gaza-Krieg der Hisbollah geholfen?

Während der Iran in der Lage war, seine regionalen Netzwerke zu mobilisieren und seine regionale Bedeutung zu bekräftigen, ist die Geschichte im Libanon komplizierter. 7.2  Februar 2024

Während nur wenige daran zweifeln, dass der Iran und die Hisbollah von der Absicht der Hamas wussten, israelische Städte in Gaza anzugreifen, bleibt unklar, ob sie von dem Zeitpunkt wussten oder ihn sogar begrüßten. Tatsächlich berichtete Reuters unter Berufung auf drei Quellen, dass der oberste Führer des Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Anfang November zu Ismail Haniyeh von der Hamas sagte: “Sie haben uns keine Warnung vor Ihrem Angriff auf Israel am 7. Oktober gegeben und wir werden nicht in Ihrem Namen in den Krieg eintreten.” Die Hamas dementierte den Bericht später und nannte ihn “eine Lüge”.

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MESOP MIDEAST WATCH : IRAN DEMONSTRATES STRENGTH TO KEEP ADVERSARIES AT BAY

Bottom Line Up Front: 23-1-24 THE SOUFAN CENTER USA
  • In mid-January, Iran aimed a missile barrage at a range of adversaries based in Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria in a show of force intended to deter its two main adversaries, the United States and Israel.
  • Iran’s volleys deviated from Tehran’s classic strategy of acting through a network of allied militias and movements.
  • The strikes on Iraqi and Pakistani territory produced an unintended backlash from both neighbors, threatening Iran’s regional relationships.
  • Tehran calculates that displaying its military might will help accomplish its objectives on the spreading regional conflict sparked by the war in Gaza.
In the context of the expansion of the Israel-Hamas war throughout the region and Iranian leadership fears of a looming direct conflict with Washington, Iran conducted a significant show of force over two days last week. Yet, unlike the post-October 7 actions of Iran’s allies in Iraq and Syria, the display of Iranian might was not directed against any U.S. forces or facilities but rather against non-state actors and purported agents of Israel. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC), whose air force fields Iran’s missile arsenal, fired twenty-four ballistic missiles from three different regions within its borders on targets manned by Tehran’s opponents based in Syria and Iraq. A day later, Iran carried out airstrikes in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, targeting armed groups Iran claimed had taken shelter there. To emphasize Iran’s technological prowess, one of the missiles used in the strikes – reaching Syria’s Idlib Province – was the Kheibar Shekan (“fortress destroyer”), a ballistic missile with a maximum range of 900 miles, not used or transferred previously.

Little directly links the target sets in the three countries struck. Firing the Kheibar Shekan into Syria’s opposition-held Idlib Province, IRGC officials said they sought to strike militants of Islamic State (IS), a Sunni Muslim jihadist group opposed not only to Shia Muslim-dominated Iran but also to the United States, the broader West, and Israel. Tehran’s motivation for wanting to attack IS is clear. In Idlib, IS works in parallel with other groups opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Tehran. Asserting it seeks to confront Iran’s “projects” in the region, IS claimed responsibility for the January 3, 2024, suicide bombing against Kerman residents commemorating the fourth anniversary of the 2020 U.S. killing of revered IRGC-Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani. The Kerman bombings killed more than ninety people, according to Iranian state media. IS has always blamed Soleimani for engineering Iran’s campaign to help Iraq beat back the group’s territorial conquests during 2014-2018. With respect to the volley that hit Pakistan’s territory, the IRGC claimed to have struck Jaysh al-Adl, an extremist Sunni Muslim group that promotes the separatist aspirations of the mostly Baluch inhabitants of Sistan and Baluchistan province, which borders Pakistan. Jaysh al-Adl was responsible for a December 15 raid on a police station in Rask, a town in the province, which killed twelve Iranian police officers, according to Iranian state media.

In Iraq, Iran targeted a major regional adversary, Israel, rather than a non-state actor. The IRGC claimed its missile volley landing in Erbil, in Kurdish-run northern Iraq, destroyed facilities linked to Israel’s Mossad spy agency as retaliation for Israel’s killing of Sayyed Razi Mousavi, the IRGC-Qods Force’s top commander in Syria, in a December 25 strike near Damascus. However, one of the victims of the Iranian barrage was a prominent Kurdish businessman that Iranian state media accused of harboring Mossad operatives in Erbil. The strike also reportedly hit the intelligence headquarters of the Kurdistan region, a site with little apparent connection to Israel, despite Tehran’s assertions. Similarly, in March 2022, as part of a broader Iran-Israel “shadow war” underway for at least a decade, Iranian missiles struck a Kurdish target near the U.S. consulate in Erbil in what Iran claimed represented retaliation for an Israeli strike in Syria that killed two IRGC officers. Both of the main Iraqi Kurdish parties, who dominate the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, have close relations with the United States but have worked cooperatively with Iranian officials as well. Kurdish officials in northern Iraq have repeatedly denied that they harbor any Mossad or covert Israeli presence.

The scope of Iran’s attacks sought to communicate a broader message to Tehran’s most feared opponents – the United States and Israel. At the strategic level, Iran seeks to deter both powerful actors by demonstrating it has the resources and military technology to defend itself and its allies from aggression. Iranian leaders are well aware that there are increasing calls in Washington to not only confront Iran’s regional allies more aggressively, but to expand U.S. deterrence efforts by striking targets inside Iran as well. Iranian strategists likely assessed that the U.S. decision in early January to begin pre-emptively striking Houthi missile systems signals that harder-line leaders in Washington might have begun to prevail in steering the U.S. response to the Mideast crisis. With its missile barrages last week, Iran arguably sought to warn the United States that it is not dependent on its axis of resistance partners to act in Iran’s defense, but that Tehran’s own forces are willing and able to apply pressure on the United States and its allies if needed. Attempting to message Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Tehran’s use of the Kheibar Shekan clearly signaled that Iran can add significantly to any rocket and missile attacks against Israelis that its close ally, Lebanese Hezbollah, might undertake in the event of a full-blown Israel-Hezbollah war. Iran is hoping to add to those voices in Israel cautioning Netanyahu that an escalation against Hezbollah to try to force the group to withdraw from the Israel-Lebanon border would produce devastating consequences for Israel. To address internal political considerations, the volleys were no doubt intended, at least in part, to satisfy hardliners in the IRGC and other institutions who want to deter what they see as attacks on Iranian stability by outside powers, Sunni jihadist groups, and domestic Iranian collaborators with these adversaries.

Yet, Iran’s escalation last week carries great risk for Iran’s regional diplomatic position. By striking inside Iraq, Tehran risks its close relationship with, and significant influence over, the relatively pro-Iranian government in Baghdad. Iran’s strikes represented a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, empowering those Iraqi political leaders who urge the government to distance itself from Iran, confront Iran’s Shia militia allies in Iraq, and align more closely with Washington and U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf and broader Arab world. Suggesting that Iran’s action lost its ground inside Iraq, the Baghdad government responded to Iran’s strikes in Erbil by filing a formal complaint against Iran at the UN Security Council. Iran has had normal relations with Pakistan, despite the presence of anti-Iran Baluch separatist groups and other militants there. Over the past fifteen years, the two had sought to cooperate on an ambitious natural gas pipeline project, although the plan ultimately dissolved over Pakistan’s concerns about U.S. sanctions on Iranian economic interests. Tehran likely did not expect that its strike on Jaysh al-Adl would produce the backlash that it did – Pakistan’s withdrawal of its ambassador, followed by a significant Pakistani strike on anti-Pakistan Baluch militants inside Iran. Still, the two sought to lower tensions immediately after the Pakistani strike, including conducting a joint naval drill, suggesting the Pakistan-Iran front would not escalate.

If Iran sought to deter Israel, Tehran’s message might not have gotten through. On Saturday, another Israeli strike in Syria killed five high-ranking IRGC advisers deployed there in support of the Assad regime. And Israel continued to escalate modestly against Hezbollah military targets across the northern border. Iran will have difficulty deterring Israel, in part because of Israeli confidence in its multi-layered missile and rocket defense systems. Some experts assessed that Iran’s missile launches in the three neighboring countries struck “soft targets,” facing missile defense not comparable in capabilities to those Iran would face in an attack on Israel. On the other hand, Iran’s willingness to showcase its capabilities might succeed in empowering those in Washington who caution that attacking Tehran would stretch too thin U.S. forces and weaponry already committed to helping defend Ukraine, Israel, and commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

The Soufan Center is an independent non-profit center offering research, analysis, and strategic dialogue on global security challenges and foreign policy issues. For more information, please inquire at info@thesoufancenter.org

Copyright © 2023 The Soufan Center. All rights reserved.
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MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: ISRAEL MAIN WEAPONS SUPPORTER OF AZERBAIJAN DICTATORSHIP / THE WAR  CONTRA ARMENIAN CHRISTIANS

Karabakh escalation: Iran flexes muscles to warn Israel, Russia a main benefactor

Ariel KoganSeptember 19, 2023 at 06:18 PMlatest revision September 20, 2023 at 07:36 AM

i24NEWS contributor

Iran accuses Azerbaijan-ally Israel of having a part in the escalation, saying it will not tolerate any ‘Zionist initiative on border reshuffling in the region’

Azerbaijan’s anti-terror operation launched on Tuesday in its Nagorno-Karabakh conclave – a response to a series of terror attacks on civilian and police vehicles – was aimed at separatist militia in the territory, populated by Armenians who live under the control of a Russian peacekeeping force.

The escalation plays into the hands of two major players in the region – Iran and Russia.

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MESOP MIDEAST WATCH : U.S. AND IRAN FINALIZE PRISONER SWAP

 

 

Bottom Line Up Front: THE SOUFAN CENTER USA – 19-3-23

 

  • Yesterday’s prisoner swap between the United States and Iran will include the release of $6 billion in Iranian assets, to be used to purchase food and medical equipment for the Iranian people.
  • The deal has reignited a debate over U.S. concessions to Iran’s long-used tactic of incarcerating American citizens.
  • Iran reportedly sought to complete the swap as the UN General Assembly meetings convene in New York City this week.
  • U.S. officials see the exchange as not only bringing home American citizens detained abroad, but also paving the way for broader de-escalation with Iran.
On September 18, five detained U.S. citizens and residents flew out of Iran as part of a prisoner swap deal that will also see approximately $6 billion in frozen Iranian oil revenues released to Qatar’s central bank, where they can be accessed by Iran for humanitarian purposes. The five arbitrarily detained Americans are to be exchanged for five Iranians convicted of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. The liberated Americans include Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi, Morad Tahbaz, and two others whom U.S. officials say asked not to be identified. Both Sharghi and Tahbaz have been held since 2018, while Namazi has been held since 2015. In August, as the agreement was close to being finalized, four of the five Americans were released from Iran’s notorious Evin Prison to join the fifth U.S. citizen under house arrest in an Iranian hotel to await release. Namazi’s father, Baqer, had also been held with him in Iran since 2016, but was released on humanitarian grounds in 2022 due to his failing health. The five Iranians to be freed by U.S. authorities include a U.S. permanent resident and a U.S.-Iranian dual national. A spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry said only two of the five Iranian prisoners being freed by the United States would return to Iran; two had chosen to remain in the United States as legal residents, and one would return to a third country.

Although many U.S. Republican political leaders criticize making any concessions to Iran, including prisoner exchanges, the release of $6 billion in Iranian assets has been the most controversial component of the swap. The release of the assets, to be used by Iran under strict conditions and monitored by Qatar and the U.S. Department of Treasury, was agreed upon by U.S. officials “to facilitate [the Americans’] release,” according to a sanctions waiver signed off on by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. U.S. sanctions restrict the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and Central Bank of Iran, which are designated by the United States as entities that support international terrorism, from accessing or transferring assets held in third-country banks. U.S. officials can waive the threat of penalty on banks that hold the Iranian accounts or allow their transfer if doing so is reported to the U.S. Congress as necessary to protect national interests. According to Blinken’s September 11 announcement, the waivers enable banks and other financial institutions in South Korea, Germany, Ireland, Qatar, and Switzerland to transfer the funds or convert their currency without fear of U.S. penalty.

Critics of the deal asserted that releasing the funds for use by Iran, even under controlled conditions, amounts to paying a ransom to secure the release of U.S. hostages. They assert that the exchange follows a longstanding pattern in which Tehran seizes or incarcerates foreign citizens to wrest concessions – including sanctions relief – from the United States and other governments. In January 2016, coinciding with the implementation of the multilateral Iran nuclear agreement (JCPOA), the United States and Iran agreed to a prisoner swap under which Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and others were released. Simultaneously, U.S. officials agreed to settle a longstanding dispute with Iran by providing $1.7 billion in cash directly to Iran. This amount represented principal and interest payments for military equipment paid for by Iran under its former regime but withheld after the Iranian revolution brought the Islamic Republic into power. The Iran hostage crisis of 1979-1981 was settled only after U.S. officials agreed to release some of the Iranian assets frozen in the United States in response to the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Some fear providing concessions may present a moral hazard and encourage Iran to continue taking Americans prisoner in the future to obtain more concessions. Yet, partisan criticism aside, the U.S. and Iran have made deals on and off for the past four decades.

U.S. officials counter that the $6 billion represents money Iran earned from oil sales to South Korea, purchased when U.S. sanctions were suspended by the JCPOA or were otherwise permitted under U.S. sanctions law. Officials add that the funds can only be used for humanitarian purchases such as food and medical equipment “in accordance with written guidance from the U.S. Government,” as outlined by Secretary Blinken. To that extent, Iran will not be able to repatriate the funds or use them to purchase weaponry or to fund armed factions in the region that Tehran supports. Critics assert that the $6 billion asset release will free up an equivalent amount of Iran’s funds for purposes that empower Iran militarily and strategically, while proponents of the swap argue that sanctions were used effectively to help bring about the release of U.S. hostages.

Reports indicate that Iranian officials sought to complete the prisoner swap before or during the UN General Assembly (UNGA) meetings, which began yesterday, with hopes that the deal might overshadow expected anti-Iran demonstrations in New York and perhaps empower experts and officials who argue that diplomacy between the United States and Iran is preferable to unending confrontation with Iran’s current regime. However, with Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi slated to deliver a speech to the gathering today, exiled Iranian oppositionists and U.S. critics will certainly take advantage of Raisi’s presence in the United States to highlight and denounce Iran’s policies, including its repression of women. The UNGA meetings come just one year after the death of Mahsa Amini, who died in Iranian custody on September 16, 2022, setting off months of anti-regime unrest. Other critics focus on Iran’s supplies of missiles and armed drones for regional armed factions that commit acts of violence against U.S. forces in the region, its nuclear program, and Tehran’s supply of Iranian-designed armed drones to Russia for use against Ukraine.

The UNGA meetings also provide opportunities for U.S., European, and Iranian diplomats to build on the prisoner swap to achieve broader de-escalation in the region. International diplomats speculate that U.S. and Iranian officials might hold talks on the sidelines of the meetings – either directly or, more likely, through state mediators from the Persian Gulf, Europe, or elsewhere– to discuss voluntary Iranian restraints on its nuclear program, further assets releases by the United States, and de-confliction between U.S. and Iran-backed forces in Syria. In particular, U.S. officials and Gulf mediators have been pressing Iran to commit to restrain its uranium enrichment to sixty percent purity, which is the highest level to which Iran is currently enriching. Experts and officials assess that calls within the United States and Israel for military action against Iran will grow louder if the uranium reaches purity levels closer to ninety percent, at which point it would be considered weapons grade. However, the UN nuclear agency reported earlier this month that Iran had reduced its enrichment to its slowest pace since 2021. U.S. officials acknowledge that the obstacles to a more formal restoration of the JCPOA – which held Iran to much lower levels of uranium enrichment – are formidable in light of Iranian concerns that the United States might again withdraw from the deal, as the Trump administration did in 2018. For their part, U.S. officials are wary of providing Iran the sweeping sanctions relief outlined in the JCPOA, amid widespread criticism that U.S. leaders have been too quick to offer Iran sanctions relief in exchange for relatively modest Iranian concessions.

 

 

MESOP MIDEAST WATCH : Todestag Mahsa Aminis: Mehr als 260 Festnahmen im Iran

18-9-23

Rund um den ersten Todestag der Kurdin Jina Mahsa Amini haben Sicherheitskräfte im Iran mehr als 260 Menschen inhaftiert. Der Staat will neue Proteste unbedingt verhindern. Auch in Deutschland zeigt sich Solidarität.

Am Jahrestag des Todes von Jina Mahsa Amini gab es im Iran einen massiven Einsatz von Sicherheitskräften

Die Festnahmen seien innerhalb von 24 Stunden erfolgt, berichtete die iranische Zeitung “Shargh” am Sonntag. Die Sicherheitsbehörden des Iran begründeten die Festnahmen demnach unter anderem mit Verstößen gegen die öffentliche Sicherheit, der Anstiftung zu Protesten oder mit Waffenbesitz. Die Nachrichtenagentur Irna meldete mehrere Festnahmen wegen “Plänen zum Anrichten von Chaos” oder wegen der Herstellung von Inhalten für “feindliche Medien” – insbesondere in Aminis Heimatprovinz Kurdistan, aber auch in anderen Regionen. Bereits in den vergangenen Tagen hatten die Staatsmedien hunderte Festnahmen wegen geplanter Proteste zu Aminis Todestag gemeldet.

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MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: NETANJAHU: TEHERAN VERSTÖSST GEGEN ALLE SEINE GLOBALEN VERPFLICHTUNGEN

In einem “beispiellosen” Schritt verbietet der Iran 1/3 der UN-Inspektoren den Zugang zu Atomanlagen

IAEA-Chef kritisiert “zutiefst bedauerliche” iranische Entscheidung und warnt davor, dass sie die Fähigkeit der Agentur zur Überwachung des Atomprogramms beeinträchtigen wird; Teheran behauptet “politischen” Einsatz von Watchdog durch den Westen

Von TOI-MITARBEITERN und AGENTUREN16. September 2023, TIMES OF ISRAEL

Der Iran hat rund ein Drittel der erfahrensten Inspektoren der Internationalen Atomenergiebehörde daran gehindert, Atomanlagen im Land zu beaufsichtigen, teilte die UN-Beobachtungsgruppe am Samstag mit. Der Chef der IAEO bezeichnete den Schritt als beispiellos und sagte, er würde die Inspektion des iranischen Atomprogramms erschweren.

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MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: MENSCHENRECHTE DER „REGELBASIERTEN WERTEGESELLSCHAFT“ VON DER LEYHEN

Spanien schob kurdische Familie in den Iran ab

Der Familienvater, der an Demonstrationen nach dem Tod Mahsa Aminis teilgenommen hatte, seine Frau und und sein Kind durften den Flughafen Barcelona nie verlassen. Bericht aus Madrid

Reiner Wandler DER STANDARDWIEN 15. September 2023, 14:44

 

Es nützte alles nichts. Weder die Proteste der Präsidentin des katalanischen Autonomieparlaments noch ein Eilantrag der Anwälte von Mohamed Rahmatinia bei der spanischen Audiencia Nacional, seinen Asylantrag erneut zu überprüfen und eine drohende Abschiebung auszusetzen. Die spanische Regierung ließ den 26-jährigen kurdischen Aktivisten aus dem Iran sowie seine schwangere Frau Zeinab und den sieben Jahre alten Sohn am Freitag zwangsdeportieren. Die Familie wurde um 9.30 Uhr gezwungen, ein Flugzeug von Barcelona nach Teheran zu besteigen.

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MESOP MIDEAST WATCH : ISRAELS GROSSE FRAGE ! – Irans globale diplomatisch-wirtschaftliche Kampagne!

In den letzten Monaten hat der Iran eine Kampagne geführt, um sein Ansehen in Asien, Afrika und Lateinamerika in verschiedenen Ländern zu verbessern, die nicht mit dem Westen verbündet sind. Wird dies dem Iran helfen, seine internationale Isolation zu mildern und das Sanktionsregime zu lockern?

INSS Insight Nr. 1761, 5. September 2023 Sima Glanz und Yair Zukerman – ISRAEL

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MESOP MIDEAST WATCH : Warum hat der Iran im Geheimdienstkrieg gegen Israel die Oberhand?

Der Iran hat in letzter Zeit mit wachsender Zuversicht das Bild projiziert, in dem andauernden Geheimdienstkrieg, den er seit Jahren gegen Israel führt, auf der Gewinnerseite zu stehen.

Ein Korrespondent in Teheran AL MONITOR – 4. September 2023

Allein in der vergangenen Woche hat der Iran zwei wichtige Ankündigungen gemacht, in denen er behauptete, dass Israel erhebliche Gewinne erzielen würde, während die beiden Seiten an der Geheimdienstfront gegeneinander antreten.

“Sie wurden wieder einmal gedemütigt”, hieß es in einem Bericht des staatlichen Fernsehens, in dem detailliert berichtet wurde, wie die Geheimdienstabteilung des iranischen Verteidigungsministeriums einen Sabotageakt gegen die umstrittene Raketenindustrie des Landes vereitelt hatte. Die iranischen Behörden erklärten, der angebliche Plan beinhaltete den Einbau defekter Teile in Raketenfertigungssysteme, die die Produktionslinie hätten zum Erliegen bringen können. Sie brachten den Sabotageversuch mit dem Mossad, dem israelischen Auslandsgeheimdienst, und seinen lokalen Agenten in Verbindung.

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MESOP MIDEAST WATCH : Iranische Website kritisiert Präsident Raisi erneut: “Der wichtigste Faktor für Raisis Scheitern ist seine Schwäche und sein Mangel an Wissen in Verwaltungsangelegenheiten”; “Der Stoff, aus dem er gemacht ist, ist nicht für die Verwaltung geeignet”; “Der Chef ist es gewohnt, Befehle zu erteilen … Wie zum Beispiel: “Die Inflation muss reduziert werden… Geflügel muss billig sein.”

  1. August 2023 IranSonderversandNr. 10772 MEMRI REPORT

Nach zwei Jahren seiner Präsidentschaft geriet der iranische Präsident Ebrahim Raisi unter Beschuss der gemäßigt konservativen iranischen Website Asr-e Iran, die am 31. Juli 2023 einen Artikel veröffentlichte, in dem sie ihn als Chef der iranischen Exekutive scharf kritisierte und dieses administrative Versagen auf seine Persönlichkeit und seine mangelnden Verwaltungsfähigkeiten zurückführte. Diese Kritik kam einen Monat nach früherer Kritik an ihm auf der Website – ein Artikel, der sich auf sein Wahlversprechen konzentrierte, in einem Jahr eine Million Wohneinheiten zu bauen. [1]

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