IRGC displays British, American drones seized over Iran’s territory

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps displays a number of intruding American and British drones captured for violating Iran's airspace, in an exhibition in Tehran on September 21, 2019. (Photo by Tasnim news agency)

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps displays a number of intruding American and British drones captured for violating Iran’s airspace, in an exhibition in Tehran on September 21, 2019. (Photo by Tasnim news agency)

Press tv

Sat Sep 21, 2019 02:35PM [Updated: Sat Sep 21, 2019 02:49PM

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has displayed a number of American and British drones captured for violating Iran’s airspace.

In an exhibition in Tehran on Saturday, the IRGC showcased a British unmanned aerial vehicle, named Phoenix, seized by its Aerospace Division.

Phoenix is an all-weather, day or night, real-time combat surveillance drone. The twin-boom UAV provides surveillance through its surveillance pod, from which the imagery is data linked to a ground control station (GCS) that also controls the aircraft in flight. It has also a maximum flight time of around five hours.

The drone, powered by a 20 kW (26 hp) piston engine, had a maximum speed of 166 km/h and a wingspan of 5.6 meters.

The IRGC also displayed the Aerosonde HQ vertical take-off and landing drone belonging to the US Army used for multi-intelligence payloads such as electronic warfare and communications relay in a single flight.

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Aerosonde has been designed for expeditionary land- and sea-based operations and equipped for simultaneous day/night full-motion video. It is field-proven with more than 300,000 flight hours, including desert heat and Arctic cold.

It is equipped with an easy-to-use launch and recovery trailer for constrained land and shipboard operations.

Desert Hawk was another American drone showcased in the exhibition. It has a length of 0.86 meters with a weight of 3.2 kg. It has an endurance of about an hour with an electric motor driving a quiet pusher propeller.

In June, Iran shot down an intruding American spy drone in the country’s southern coastal province of Hormozgan.

The IRGC said in a statement that the US-made Global Hawk surveillance drone was brought down by its Air Force near the Kouh-e Mobarak region — which sits in the central district of Jask County — after the aircraft violated Iranian airspace.

Back in 2015, Iran also downed a US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft with minimal damage. The drone was flying over the Iranian city of Kashmar, near the Afghan border, when it was brought down.

Known to be able to hack into enemy drones, Iran currently possesses the biggest collection of captured or downed American and Israeli drones, including the US’ MQ1, MQ9, Shadow, ScanEagle, and RQ-170 as well as the Israeli regime’s Hermes.

 

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Houthi Rebels Overturned the Middle East Geopolitical Chessboard

The Yemeni Shiite group’s spectacular attack on Abqaiq raises the distinct possibility of a push to drive the House of Saud from power

Global Research, September 19, 2019
Mohamed Bin Salman

We are the Houthis and we’re coming to town. With the spectacular attack on Abqaiq, Yemen’s Houthis have overturned the geopolitical chessboard in Southwest Asia – going as far as introducing a whole new dimension: the distinct possibility of investing in a push to drive the House of Saud out of power.

Blowback is a bitch. Houthis – Zaidi Shiites from northern Yemen – and Wahhabis have been at each other’s throats for ages. This book is absolutely essential to understand the mind-boggling complexity of Houthi tribes; as a bonus, it places the turmoil in southern Arabian lands way beyond a mere Iran-Saudi proxy war.

Still, it’s always important to consider that Arab Shiites in the Eastern province – working in Saudi oil installations – have got to be natural allies of the Houthis fighting against Riyadh.

Houthi striking capability – from drone swarms to ballistic missile attacks – has been improving remarkably for the past year or so. It’s not by accident that the UAE saw which way the geopolitical and geoeconomic winds were blowing: Abu Dhabi withdrew from Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s vicious war against Yemen and now is engaged in what it describes as a  “peace-first” strategy.

Even before Abqaiq, the Houthis had already engineered quite a few attacks against Saudi oil installations as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports. In early July, Yemen’s Operations Command Center staged an exhibition in full regalia in Sana’a featuring their whole range of ballistic and winged missiles and drones.

The Saudi Ministry of Defense displays drones and parts from missiles used in the refinery attack.

The situation has now reached a point where there’s plenty of chatter across the Persian Gulf about a spectacular scenario: the Houthis investing in a mad dash across the Arabian desert to capture Mecca and Medina in conjunction with a mass Shiite uprising in the Eastern oil belt. That’s not far-fetched anymore. Stranger things have happened in the Middle East. After all, the Saudis can’t even win a bar brawl – that’s why they rely on mercenaries.

Orientalism strikes again

The US intel refrain that the Houthis are incapable of such a sophisticated attack betrays the worst strands of orientalism and white man’s burden/superiority complex.

The only missile parts shown by the Saudis so far come from a Yemeni Quds 1 cruise missile. According to Brigadier General Yahya Saree, spokesman for the Sana’a-based Yemeni Armed Forces,

“the Quds system proved its great ability to hit its targets and to bypass enemy interceptor systems.”

This satellite overview handout image from the US government shows damage to oil/gas infrastructure from weekend drone attacks at Abqaiq.

Houthi armed forces duly claimed responsibility for Abqaiq:

“This operation is one of the largest operations carried out by our forces in the depth of Saudi Arabia, and came after an accurate intelligence operation and advance monitoring and cooperation of honorable and free men within the Kingdom.”

Notice the key concept: “cooperation” from inside Saudi Arabia – which could include the whole spectrum from Yemenis to that Eastern province Shiites.

Even more relevant is the fact that massive American hardware deployed in Saudi Arabia inside out and outside in – satellites, AWACS, Patriot missiles, drones, battleships, jet fighters – didn’t see a thing, or certainly not in time. The sighting of three “loitering” drones by a Kuwaiti bird hunter arguably heading towards Saudi Arabia is being invoked as “evidence”. Cue to the embarrassing picture of a drone swarm – wherever it came from – flying undisturbed for hours over Saudi territory.

UN officials openly admit that now everything that matters is within the 1,500 km range of the Houthis’ new UAV-X drone: oil fields in Saudi Arabia, a still-under-construction nuclear power plant in the Emirates and Dubai’s mega-airport.

My conversations with sources in Tehran over the past two years have ascertained that the Houthis’ new drones and missiles are essentially copies of Iranian designs assembled in Yemen itself with crucial help from Hezbollah engineers.

US intel insists that 17 drones and cruise missiles were launched in combination from southern Iran. In theory, Patriot radar would have picked that up and knocked the drones/missiles from the sky. So far, absolutely no record of this trajectory has been revealed. Military experts generally agree that the radar on the Patriot missile is good, but its success rate is “disputed” – to say the least. What’s important, once again, is that the Houthis do have advanced offensive missiles. And their pinpoint accuracy at Abqaiq was uncanny.

This satellite overview handout image shows damage to oil/gas infrastructure from weekend drone attacks at Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia. Courtesy of Planet Labs Inc

For now, it appears that the winner of the US/UK-supported House of One Saudi war on the civilian Yemeni population, which started in March 2015 and generated a humanitarian crisis the UN regards as having been of biblical proportions, is certainly not the crown prince, widely known as MBS.

Listen to the general

Crude oil stabilization towers – several of them – at Abqaiq were specifically targeted, along with natural gas storage tanks. Persian Gulf energy sources have been telling me repairs and/or rebuilding could last months. Even Riyadh  admitted as much.

Blindly blaming Iran, with no evidence, does not cut it. Tehran can count on swarms of top strategic thinkers. They do not need or want to blow up Southwest Asia, which is something they could do, by the way: Revolutionary Guards generals have already said many times on the record that they are ready for war.

Professor Mohammad Marandi from the University of Tehran, who has very close relations with the Foreign Ministry, is adamant: “It didn’t come from Iran. If it did, it would be very embarrassing for the Americans, showing they are unable to detect a large number of Iranian drones and missiles. That doesn’t make sense.”

Marandi additionally stresses, “Saudi air defenses are not equipped to defend the country from Yemen but from Iran. The Yemenis have been striking against the Saudis, they are getting better and better, developing drone and missile technology for four and a half years, and this was a very soft target.”

A soft – and unprotected – target: the US PAC-2 and PAC-3 systems in place are all oriented towards the east, in the direction of Iran. Neither Washington nor Riyadh knows for sure where the drone swarm/missiles really came from.

Readers should pay close attention to this groundbreaking interview with General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force. The interview, in Farsi (with English subtitles), was conducted by US-sanctioned Iranian intellectual Nader Talebzadeh and includes questions forwarded by my US analyst friends Phil Giraldi and Michael Maloof and myself.

Explaining Iranian self-sufficiency in its defense capabilities, Hajizadeh sounds like a very rational actor. The bottom line: “Our view is that neither American politicians nor our officials want a war. If an incident like the one with the drone [the RQ-4N shot down by Iran in June] happens or a misunderstanding happens, and that develops into a larger war, that’s a different matter. Therefore we are always ready for a big war.”

In response to one of my questions, on what message the Revolutionary Guards want to convey, especially to the US, Hajizadeh does not mince his words: “In addition to the US bases in various regions like Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Emirates and Qatar, we have targeted all naval vessels up to a distance of 2,000 kilometers and we are constantly monitoring them. They think that if they go to a distance of 400 km, they are out of our firing range. Wherever they are, it only takes one spark, we hit their vessels, their airbases, their troops.”

Get your S-400s or else

On the energy front, Tehran has been playing a very precise game under pressure – selling loads of oil by turning off the transponders of their tankers as they leave Iran and transferring the oil at sea, tanker to tanker, at night, and relabeling their cargo as originating at other producers for a price. I have been checking this for weeks with my trusted Persian Gulf traders – and they all confirm it. Iran could go on doing it forever.

Of course, the Trump administration knows it. But the fact is they are looking the other way. To state it as concisely as possible: they are caught in a trap by the absolute folly of ditching the JCPOA, and they are looking for a face-saving way out. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned the administration in so many words: the US should return to the agreement it reneged on before it’s too late.

And now for the really hair-raising part.

The strike at Abqaiq shows that the entire Middle East production of over 18 million barrels of oil a day – including Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – can be easily knocked out. There is zero adequate defense against these drones and missiles.

Well, there’s always Russia.

Here’s what happened at the press conference after the Ankara summit this week on Syria, uniting Presidents Putin, Rouhani and Erdogan.

Question: Will Russia provide Saudi Arabia with any help or support in restoring its infrastructure?

President Putin: As for assisting Saudi Arabia, it is also written in the Quran that violence of any kind is illegitimate except when protecting one’s people. In order to protect them and the country, we are ready to provide the necessary assistance to Saudi Arabia. All the political leaders of Saudi Arabia have to do is take a wise decision, as Iran did by buying the S-300 missile system, and as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did when he bought Russia’s latest S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft system. They would offer reliable protection for any Saudi infrastructure facilities.

President Hassan Rouhani: So do they need to buy the S-300 or the S-400?

President Vladimir Putin: It is up to them to decide [laughs].

In The Transformation of War, Martin van Creveld actually predicted that the whole industrial-military-security complex would come crumbling down when it was exposed that most of its weapons are useless against fourth-generation asymmetrical opponents. There’s no question the whole Global South is watching – and will have gotten the message.

Hybrid war, reloaded

Now we are entering a whole new dimension in asymmetric hybrid war.

In the – horrendous – event that Washington would decide to attack Iran, egged on by the usual neocon suspects, the Pentagon could never hope to hit and disable all the Iranian and/or Yemeni drones. The US could expect, for sure, all-out war. And then no ships would sail through the Strait of Hormuz. We all know the consequences of that.

Which brings us to The Big Surprise. The real reason there would be no ships traversing the Strait of Hormuz is that there would be no oil in the Gulf left to pump. The oil fields, having been bombed, would be burning.

So we’re back to the realistic bottom line, which has been stressed by not only Moscow and Beijing but also Paris and Berlin: US President Donald Trump gambled big time, and he lost. Now he must find a face-saving way out. If the War Party allows it.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on Asia Times.

Pepe Escobar is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

All images in this article are from Asia Times unless otherwise stated

US Imposes New Sanctions on Four Lebanese, Schenker Looking for Hezbollah’s Missiles: Al-Akhbar

Hezbollah flag

September 15, 2019

Al-Akhbar Newspaper

US Department of Treasury has issued sanctions against four Lebanese on the pretext of belonging to Hezbollah, namely: Ali Karaki, Mohammad Haydar, Ibrahim Aqil and Fouad Shukr, Al Akhbar newspaper reported.

A statement issued by the State Department said that US President Donald Trump Tuesday signed an executive order “modernizing and strengthening sanctions authorities to combat terrorism.”

According to the US statement, “Karaki is a leader of Hezbollah’s military wing and is responsible for military operations within southern Lebanon”. Whereas Aqil, the statement added, “is a senior member of Hezbollah’s military wing and is responsible for its military operations”.

“Mohammed Haydar”, the statement said, “runs Hezbollah’s networks outside Lebanon”, while Fouad Shokr “is the supervisor of Hezbollah’s weapons and missile units in Syria, and is the military adviser close to Hezbollah leader” Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, according to the US statement.

“The sanctions targeted 15 leaders and members of groups including Hezbollah, Hamas, Daesh (ISIS) and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” the US statement added.

Besides, the American Envoy David Schenker continued his meetings with the Lebanese officials which started last Monday. In addition to his inquiries concerning the recent Israeli attack against Lebanon and the resistance’s retaliation attack, Schenker’s statements included a threat of war in case the resistance doesn’t change its ‘behavior’, according to Al Akhbar newspaper.

Schenker statements were similar to the intimidation campaign led by the Western embassies and the Americans before the resistance’s retaliation, in a trial to prevent Lebanon from responding on the Israeli violations, reported Al Akhbar newspaper.

Well-informed sources confirmed that Schenker “concentrated on the security situation and recent developments on the borders. The sources added that the Schenker was concerned about the resistance’s missiles.

Schenker arrived in Beirut on Monday evening for his first visit to Lebanon to get acquainted with the Lebanese officials, agencies reported, as part of a tour to the region.

Schenker has also met Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Tuesday, agencies reported. Berri told Schenker, “Lebanon has ratified financial laws that make it compliant with the highest international standards in the field of combating the smuggling and laundering of funds”.

“The Lebanese economy and the banking sector cannot withstand this magnitude of pressures,” Berri added, referring to the latest US measures against suspected Hezbollah financial transactions, according to agencies.

Berri also emphasized Lebanon’s “keenness on stability, avoidance of war and commitment to U.N. resolutions, especially 1701,” noting that Israel is “responsible for the violations of the U.N. resolution and the undermining of the stability that had been running since 2006’, agencies reported.

President Aoun said similar things to Schenker stressing on Lebanon’s commitment to the 1701 Resolution while Israel is violating it.

Aoun also told Schenker that Lebanon is waiting US’s mediations concerning the demarcation of land and sea borders in south Lebanon”, agencies reported.

Source: Al-Akhbar Newspaper (translated and edited by Al-Manar Website)

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WAR REPORT: HEZBOLLAH SHOOTS DOWN ISRAELI DRONE OVER LEBANON

South Front

On September 9, Hezbollah announced that it had shot down an Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle over the village of Ramyeh in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah added that the UAV is now in its hands.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed in a statement that the UAV had been lost claiming that it was “on a routine mission in northern Israel” but somehow “fell into Lebanese territory.” Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesperson for the IDF, declined to comment on the specific nature of the UAV’s activities. However, he said that “there is no risk of breach of information”.

The development followed claims by the IDF that overnight into September 9 Shia militias operating under command of the Qods Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched several rockets towards Israel from the countryside of the Syrian capital, Damascus.

On September 8, several explosions rocked near the Syrian city of Al Bukamal, located on the border with Iraq. The incident reportedly happened in the area where Iranian-backed militias are deployed. Pro-Israeli media outlets immediately speculated that the explosions were a result of Israeli strikes and killed at least 18 Iranian-backed fighters. No evidence to confirm these claims was provided. The situation remains unclear.

The Israeli military political leadership openly exploits the current tensions across the Middle East to achieve own political goals. In fact, Tel Aviv is interested in the existence of the so-called Iranian-Hezbollah threat because it helps to justify Israeli regional policy and gain more and more financial and military support from the Trump administration. In own turn, the Israeli attitude serves as a direct confirmation of the official rhetoric of Hezbollah and Iran regarding ‘the Zionist aggression’ in the region. Therefore, Iranian and Hezbollah influence on Shia groups across the Middle East are growing.

This may be compared to the conflict Syria, in which the US and Israel played an anti-Iranian card backing various radical groups and even striking supposed Iranian targets. Nonetheless, Iranian and Hezbollah positions in Syria were strengthened because of this policy. A new round of limited escalation in the region may lead to similar consequences.

 

Trump Foreign Policy as Theater of the Absurd

A nightmare that one never wakes up from

PHILIP GIRALDI • SEPTEMBER 10, 2019

One might be forgiven for thinking that the foreign policy of the United States is some kind of theatrical performance, like a comic opera, with new characters appearing on stage willy-nilly and then being driven off after committing an incredible faux pas only to be replaced by even more grotesquely clownish figures. Unfortunately, while the musical chairs and plot twists contrived by a Goldoni or Moliere generally have a cheerful ending, the same cannot be said about what has been taking place in the White House.

The latest White House somewhat unexpected departure was that of ex-real estate lawyer Jason Greenblatt, who has been hanging around for over two years putting together the Deal of the Century for the Middle East. The Deal will reportedly end forever the possibility of any real Palestinian state but has run into a problem because Israel does not want its hands tied in any way while the Saudis and friends are reluctant to come up with the cash to fund the arrangement. Back to square one, though the Administration has replaced Greenblatt with thirty-year old Avi Berkowitz, whose only qualification for the position is that he is a friend of presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner whose most recent job at the White House consisted of managing “daily logistics like getting coffee…” The president is nevertheless still insisting that the peace plan will be revealed in all its glory after the Israeli election on September 17th.

Another administration notable who now appears to be waiting for the hook to come out from offstage and take him away is National Security Adviser John Bolton. Bolton has long been regarded by those who still believe that Donald Trump actually has a heart and a mind as the eminence grise seated behind the throne who has encouraged the president’s bad angels. That may indeed be so, but leaks are now suggesting that the president has been disagreeing with his chief minister and marginalizing his presence in meetings. But as bad as Bolton truly is, one should not dismiss from consideration Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence, both of whom, like Bolton, have exhibited extraordinary ability to provide bad advice and to simultaneously say and do stupid things.

Pence’s recent error plagued trip to Ireland left one exasperated Irish journalist complaining that it was as if the Vice President had been invited to someone’s home and had “shat on the new carpet in the spare room, the one you bought specially for him” before his departure. Pence had unwisely made comments about Brexit that were both uninformed and regarded as “humiliating” by his hosts. But his real crime was that he blamed his boss for the ridiculous decision to stay at a Trump property 180 miles away from Dublin. President Trump denied the claim and, as he does not like being embarrassed by his subordinates, there is already talk that Pence will be replaced on the Republican ticket in 2020. Unfortunately, Attila the Hun is no longer available but it is certain that the GOP will be able to come up with someone else who will, like Pence, offend almost everyone. Tom Cotton maybe? Nikki Haley?

Now that North Korea is not cooperating with Trump’s distinctive brand of diplomacy, the Great Negotiator has turned to America (and Israel’s) enemy number one, suggesting a sit down with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The only problem with that is that Rouhani is not playing because the United States has been engaged in nothing less than “maximum pressure” economic warfare against his country. End the sanctions and Rouhani would consider talking directly.

Israel, of course, is deeply concerned lest American and Iranian heads of government actually get together to discuss things. According to some observers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is believed to be somewhat nervous over that possibility and wants to get a hotter war going in the region to disrupt any consideration of entente between Tehran and Washington. That is why the Israelis have been escalating their attacks against claimed “Iranian targets” in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, an initiative intended to provoke an Iranian reaction which will then be escalated by Netanyahu to draw Washington in supporting Israel while also putting an end to any consideration of top-level talks.

As a side show to the deep thinking going on in the White House, there is the Iranian tanker saga. One might recall that the tanker Adrian Darya 1, which claimed to be registered in Panama while carrying alleged Iranian oil allegedly bound for Syria, was halted in Gibraltar by the British at the request of the American State Department even though it was in international waters at the time. The U.S. has been sanctioning nearly everything having to do with Iran, to include its export of oil, and is also enforcing sanctions imposed on the government in Syria. Pompeo claimed, in fact, that he had “reliable information” the ship was transporting oil to Syria in defiance of wide-ranging U.S. and European Union initiated sanctions directed against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over false claims that it had been using chemical weapons. The Treasury Department added that the vessel was “blocked property” under an anti-terrorist order, and “anyone providing support to the Adrian Darya 1 risks being sanctioned.”

After six weeks detention, the British released the tanker on August 18th when a Gibraltar judge ruled that there were no grounds for seizing it in the first place, adding that it could not be turned over to Washington. Since that time, it has been making its way across the Mediterranean headed for ports unknown. It is, inevitably, being stalked by the United States Navy, which may or may not attempt to take control of it before it heads to shore in Lebanon or Syria.

The entire situation is farcical, but here is where the fun comes in: Brian Hook, a true Trumpean know-nothing who somehow has been designated U.S. Grand Poobah for Iran, sent an email on August 26th to the ship’s Indian captain Akhilesh Kumar. The message said “This is Brian Hook . . . I work for secretary of state Mike Pompeo… I am writing with good news.”

The “good news” consisted of an offer to give Captain Kumar millions of dollars if he would sail the Adrian Darya 1 to a port that would impound the ship for the U.S. Kumar did not respond to the offer to turn pirate and steal the vessel, so “Captain” Hook dropped the hammer in a second email, writing that: “With this money you can have any life you wish and be well-off in old age. If you choose not to take this easy path, life will be much harder for you.”

The sublimely ridiculous proposal to Kumar comes on top of a similar appeal from the Department of State, which last week offered rewards of up to $15 million for information that would enable the disruption of the financial mechanisms used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). State, acting through its humorously named “Rewards for Justice” program, will pay money for any information regarding the revenue sources of the IRGC, which was listed as a foreign terrorist organization in April.

The State Department announced the rewards at a briefing late last Wednesday morning, with Brian Hook saying that “The IRGC trains, funds, and equips proxy organizations across the Middle East. Iran wants these groups to extend the borders of the regime’s revolution and sow chaos and sectarian violence. We are using every available diplomatic and economic tool to disrupt these operations.”

Having experienced schemes involving paying rewards for information while I was overseas with the CIA, I can with considerable confidence predict that the U.S. Embassies in Turkey and Dubai will be flooded with desperate Iranians peddling what stories they have made up in exchange for money or visas. The actual information obtained will be approaching zero.

The American beneficence towards the Middle East currently also includes, apparently, intervening yet again in Syria to prevent the Syrian Army and its Iranian and Russian allies from eliminating the last major terrorist pocket in the country’s Idlib province. Fact is, it is the United States being led by the nose by Israel that has both supported terrorists and created most of the unrest and violence in the Middle East, central Asia and North Africa.

Additionally, also last week, the Treasury Department’s Office for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence headed by Under Secretary Sigal Mandelker, an Israeli, sanctioned more than two-dozen entities and individuals as well as 11 ships allegedly supporting IRGC oil shipments going to Bashar al-Assad’s Syria and other “illicit actors.” One has to wonder if the Treasury’s Office “for Terrorism” might actually be “for Terrorism” as long as it is carried out by the U.S. and its “best friend and closest ally” in the Middle East.

All in all, one hell of a week. A Greenblatt gone replaced by a Berkowitz, possibly Bolton and Pence going, piracy on the high seas, cash for info schemes, and lots more sanctions. Can’t get much more exciting than that, but let’s wait for next week to see what Donald Trump will give his good buddy Benjamin Netanyahu as a pre-electoral gift. Rumor has it that it will include American recognition of Israel’s right to annex most of the rest of the West Bank plus security guarantees that the U.S. will have the Jewish state’s back no matter what it seeks to do with its neighbors. Stay tuned!

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Retaliation Inevitable, All Threats & Intimidation Will Not Prevent It

Zeinab Essa

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah stressed that “Israel” must pay a price for its aggression on Lebanon.

Addressing thousands of mourners on the first night of Ashoura, Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted that “there is no doubt that since last Sunday, Lebanon as well as the “Israeli” enemy have been living in a new phase and special conditions.”

Hailing the Lebanese national unity over the recent “Israeli” aggression, His Eminence praised the positions of the Lebanese President, House Speaker, Prime Minister and the Supreme Council of Defense

“The Lebanese consensus has its significance, especially when the enemy is exploiting the situation to incite on the resistance,” he added, reiterating that “the response on the “Israeli” aggression will be from Lebanon.”

Sayyed Nasrallah further clarified that “stating that the response is not in Shebaa Farms means that the response will be open because our response to previous operations was in Shebaa Farms.”

In parallel, the Resistance Leader emphasized: “We have been greatly patient when it comes to drones  and the first response to the attack in the Dahyia means that we must start working to down it.”

“We have the right to down the drones, but that does not mean that we will down each one on every hour, day or week,” Sayyed Nasrallah elaborated.

According to His Eminence, Hezbollah Resistance works within a specific performance and tactic i.e. based on its will and estimation.

Based on this, he announced that the Resistance “will choose the time, place and reasons of response.”

Back to the recent “Israeli” drone aggression on Dahyia [Southern Suburbs of Beirut], Sayyed Nasrallah revealed that “the 1st drone was aimed to explode as well as the 2nd one. The two drones aimed to land, drop the bomb and leave in the middle of the night.”

“The “Israeli” must pay the price and the response is coming,” he declared, pointing out that “Israeli” prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pretext is the claim of precision missiles, and then talking about a goal associated with the manufacture of precision missiles.”

According to His Eminence, “If we had precision missile factories, we would say that we have that, but we do not have precision missile factories.”

“We have precise missiles but we do not have factories for manufacturing it and if one day we were able to have these factories I will proudly announce that,” he said, accusing “Netanyahu for looking for a pretext to impose new rules.”

Meanwhile, His Eminence stated that “Netanyahu is lying to his people by alleging that through what happened in the Dahyia he disrupted the precision missiles factories. Netanyahu is lying to the “Israelis” and the international community.”

“We have in Lebanon what we need in any small or large confrontation from precise missiles,” Sayyed Nasrallah declared, underscoring that “the response to the “Israeli” aggression is final. The issue for us is about establishing rules and protecting a country.”

Warning that “through these drones, the “Israeli” can put bombs and land on the roof of any house, car or building and blow up,” His Eminence cautioned that “the exploding drones will open the door of assassinations in Lebanon.”

“The resistance is not interested in saying what is the response and everything that is being said is neither true nor accurate,” he added, noting that “the Resistance’s way of response is known to only few people and we have no sources and this confuses the enemy.”

Sayyed Nasrallah also said: “The subject of the response is in the hands of the resistance’s military commanders who know what they are doing. It is important to make the enemy understand that our country is not open for aggression.”

 

HEZBOLLAH LEADER REVEALS NEW DETAILS ON SOUTHERN BEIRUT DRONE ATTACK

 

Hezbollah Leader Reveals New Details On Southern Beirut Drone Attack

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah during a speech communicating the holy day of Ashura. Via al-Manar TV

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah confirmed that the retaliation to the Israeli aggression in Dahiyeh was imminent regardless of the enemy threatening and menacing.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Muharram mourning ceremonies in Sayyed Shohadaa complex on Saturday night, Sayyed Nasrallah said Hezbollah appreciates the Lebanese stance concerning the Israeli aggression on Beirut’s southern suburb last week. “There was a national consensus on condemning what happened (in Dahiyeh) and considering it as a real aggression against Lebanon,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, hailing specifically the official stance of the Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri as well as that of Speaker Nabih Berri.

Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopted the aggressive actions in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, adding “the Lebanese official and public stance was very important because the enemy strives on inciting people against the resistance.” “We should stop at Berri’s call to Amal movement to keep vigilant and ready, that means the resistance with all its factions and movements has a firm and coherent stance, cutting road against any delusions,” his eminence confirmed.

Concerning the venue of the resistance retaliation, Sayyed Nasrallah said it will be in Lebanon, not necessarily from Shebaa farms.

“The first retaliation on the Israeli aggression would be initiating our right to down Israeli drones,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, adding that the Israeli enemy should know well that the Lebanese airspace is not open to its drones and daily violations. The UN Security Council and all embassies that are calling officials today, have made no effort to stop the Israeli air violations in the past, his eminence indicated. “The Resistance will choose the right time and place to target the Israeli drones in our airspace,” the Hezbollah leader said.

We will follow a specific strategy, if commit ourselves to drop any drone then the Israeli will send us dozens daily to deplete our capabilities, the S.G. assured.

Sayyed Nasrallah revealed that the drones’ mission was deploying IEDs and detonating them. “The preliminary data from the drone did not show the presence of an explosive device, but on Monday the experts found a bomb in the drone, and therefore we are before a bombing attack without obvious Israeli fingerprints, but it is Allah’s mercy that led us to detect the operation, which forced the Israeli to confess it.”

Commenting on the Israeli claim that the Israeli drones in Dahiyeh were targeting a plant for producing precision-guided missiles, Sayyed Nasrallah said Netanyahu invented this claim to serve him as a pretext to attack Lebanon. “We are before a clear Israeli aggression, and Netanyahu’s claim of the existence of precision-guided missile factories was a pretext to justify targeting Lebanon and break the rules of engagement to impose new ones. Netanyahu wants to convince his people that he’s doing a great job, but he’s lying,” Sayyed Nasrallah said.

“There’s no plant for making precision-guided missiles in the place where the drones fell in Dahiyeh,” his eminence said, adding that Hezbollah doesn’t have any plant for producing precision-guided missiles, affirming that Hezbollah has enough missiles of that kind.

“Retaliating the Israeli aggression is inevitable,” Hezbollah leader assured. “Even enemies and adversaries say they understand our right to retaliate, but they try to convince us not to make any reaction or that the retaliation comes modest, but for us it’s not a matter of dignity rather than to affirm the rules of engagement and the logic of protection against any new Israeli aggression,” he said, adding that breaching the Lebanese airspace will open doors for assassinations through drones, “this can’t be tolerated.”

“‘Israel’ should pay the price, all the Israeli threatening and menacing will not keep us from retaliating.”

Sayyed Nasrallah concluded by saying that the resistance is not concerned with revealing any data about the retaliation. “Speculations in this regard are groundless, it’s the mission of field commanders who know exactly what to do, in terms of its time and scale. We intend to keep the enemy confused as it is now.”

“As President Aoun said, we will prove to the whole world that Lebanon is not a country open to aggression,” Sayyed Nasrallah ended up saying.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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WAR REPORT: ISRAEL CARRIES OUT STRIKES ON SYRIA, LEBANON AND IRAQ

South Front

The situation in the Middle East is once again escalating.

On August 24, Israeli warplanes bombed what the Israeli military described as ‘Iranian targets’ near the town of Aqraba south of the Syrian capital, Damascus. The Syrian air-defense forces intercepted several hostile missiles. However, the rest of them hit the target.

According to claims by the Israeli side, the targeted positions were used by the Qods Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated units to prepare an attack on Israel with several armed drones. The Israeli military also released a satellite image of the positions its warplanes struck claiming that the image shows Qods Force Operatives’ building and a weapons warehouse.

IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaee denied that any Iranian position was hit. However, Lebanese sources reported that two Hezbolalh members were killed by the airstrikes. They were identified as Hassan Yusuf al-Zabib from the town of Nmairiyeh in southern Lebanon and Yasser Ahmad Dahir from the town of Blida in the same region. Hassan Yusuf al-Zabib is reportedly the son of Yusuf al-Zabib, a key administrator in the Hezbollah-affiliated news channel al-Manar.

Early on August 25, an explosion rocked Beirut’s Southern Suburb, known as the stronghold of Hezbollah. According to initial reports, two Israeli drones crashed in the area. Later, Hezbollah clarified that the drones were rigged with explosives and attacked the group’s media center.

“The first drone fell without causing damage while the second one was laden with explosives and exploded causing huge damage to the media center,” Mohamed Afif, the group’s spokesman said adding that the inactive drone is in the Hezbollah hands now.

Later on the same day, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah made an official statement on the situation vowing to shoot down Israeli drones flying over Lebanon. Nasrallah also promised that Hezbollah will respond to recent Israeli airstrikes on Damascus, which killed two fighters of the Lebanese group.

These developments were followed by a mysterious airstrike on a convoy of the Iraqi Armed Forces’ Popular Mobilization Units (the part of the military often describe as Iranian proxies by US-Israeli media) near the Syrian border. The strike destroyed at least 3 vehicles and reportedly killed a PMU officer.

The recent increase of Israel military actions across the region accidentally came ahead of the election into Israel’s Knesset in September 2019. It seems that once again the current Israeli leadership is escalating the situation in the region to secure a local political victory.

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