Alleged Russian S-300 system spotted near strategic Libyan city: photo

By News Desk -2020-08-06

S-300 PMU-2 long-range air defense system deployed by the Algerian army in southern Algeria.

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:10 A.M.) – A Russian-made S-300 air defense system has been spotted near the strategic port-city of Sirte in north-central Libya.

According to conflict observers, a photo taken east of Sirte allegedly shows the presence of an S-300 air defense system, which is something that Libya did not previously possess.

However, while some claim that this is an S-300 system, the Russian publication, Avia.Pro, said that the photo does not necessarily confirm its presence, as it is only possible to confirm the ownership of the radar.

“At the moment, there is no complete confidence that we are talking about the S-300 complex, since it was only possible to confirm the ownership of the radar; however, given the fact that Russian military aircraft regularly fly to Libya, landing at air bases controlled by the Libyan National Army. Moreover, we are talking about Russian military specialists, analysts are inclined to believe that we are talking about these complexes,” the publication said.

The Libyan National Army has not commented on the claims of the S-300 system’s deployment to Sirte.

It should be noted that neighboring Egypt does possess an S-300 system and given their alliance with the Libyan National Army, the deployment of this weapon could very well be possible.

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Iraqi Unrest: Saudi, US Hands Clear, Iraq won’t be a Milking Cow, Arbaeen won’t be Affected – Political Analyst

Iraqi Unrest: Saudi, US Hands Clear, Iraq won’t be a Milking Cow, Arbaeen won’t be Affected – Political Analyst

By Zeinab Daher

Beirut – As far as the protests engulfing Iraq has turned violent, something suspicious appeared to the surface as the timing seems more or less fishy since the anticipated date of the annual massive Arbaeen visit to the country’s holy cities approaches.

Iraqi Unrest: Saudi, US Hands Clear, Iraq won’t be a Milking Cow, Arbaeen won’t be Affected – Political Analyst

Commenting on the latest development, Iraqi expert and political analyst Mohammad Sadeq al-Hashemi told al-Ahed News that the worsening situation is definitely pushed by foreign intervention, yet Iraq won’t be like Saudi Arabia and won’t submit to the pressures exerted by Saudi Arabia that eyes Iraq’s oil with much greed.

Situation on ground

According to the political analyst, there are a few protests taking place now in Iraq, in which protesters claim that they have rightful demands such as improving services, ending corruption and the political parties’ control of power. The protests, however, are serving other ideologies in favor of the US interests. In fact, what protesters have done, violence, and the slogans they raised don’t reflect that the rallies demand reforming the situation and obtaining services as much as they show how connected they are to foreign agendas.

The protests, in fact, aim at reversing the situation and the political regime in the US favor, Sayyed al-Hashemi noted.

“They also stress the fact that the US is not satisfied with the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi after he rejected being part of the ‘Israeli’ and Gulf plots, rejected the ‘Deal of Century’ and many contracts with the United States.”

This happens as Iraq rejected being part of the US mechanism to pressure Iran and the Popular Mobilization Units [Hashd al-Shaabi]. This is why the US mobilized its tools to infiltrate among people who took to the streets to really demand their rights.

Sayyed al-Hashemi didn’t rule out that the Iraqi government derelicts in its duties, and this is confessed by the Iraqi religious leadership on the levels of services, spread of corruption and nepotism. And the responsibility of this is on the political parties that allow the US make use of the already existing gaps inside Iraq.

Protests and the Arbaeen Walk

Asked about the suspicious timing of the breakout of protests ahead of the annual Arbaeen visit for Shia Muslims who walk from the holy city of Najaf to the Holy city of Karbala to visit Imam Hussien [AS] on the 40th day of his martyrdom anniversary, an event that is described as the modern world’s biggest pilgrimage as it gathers millions of Muslims from many countries, Sayyed al-Hashemi said the the Arbaeen visit would never be affected.

“What is happening will never affect Iraq,” he said. The Iraqi people, according to the expert, really want to change the current situation. They want to improve services, pressure the government and the political parties, stop stealing the Iraqi money, move the industrial and agricultural cycles, but at the same time they don’t want to destroy their country,” the Iraqi political analyst said.

Iraqis, he said, don’t believe that their will can be imposed by certain mechanisms. There is a group of youngsters who are burning banks, governmental buildings, cars and block roads. The government, however, is ready to surround them, as they are few.

“I believe that things will be better in the few coming days although some individuals who are instructed by foreign embassies will remain. In all, the situation is under control and the Arbaeen visit will take place amid a stable security situation,” the Iraqi expert stressed.

Foreign hands behind the situation

Sayyed Mohammad Sadeq al-Hashemi didn’t rule out that the foreign role will continue its efforts, adding that it aims at spoiling the country’s political process. “It aims at destabilizing Iraq to be a field for struggles and a platform for the ‘Israeli’ and American existence, yet the power of internal resistance, the state, the political and security institutions, the presence of the religious leadership, and the cohesion among the Iraqi people and the rejection of the western schemes will definitely thwart them.”

Targeting the PMU

The Popular Mobilization Units are part of the governmental body as provided by the law and the resolutions of the Iraqi Parliament. They are targeted by ‘Israel’, the US and even the Gulf countries, which reject the fact that the PMU are part of the governmental institutions.

However, al-Hashemi noted, the applied Iraqi resolutions provided this and the PMU take orders from the General Commander of the Iraqi Armed Forces and will remain part of the forces that protect Iraq also from the internal riot, by the side of the army and the federal police, adjust the institutions and protect the state.

Is Iraq exporting oil to Saudi Arabia?

There are unofficial narrations and rumors in Iraq that the chaos caused in the country was moved by Saudi instructions in response to the strike against Saudi Aramco Company, al-Hashemi explained. Another official narration is that Saudi Arabia is asking Iraq to supply it with oil to compensate the 50% deficit caused by the Aramco strike. This is because the company has binding obligations with foreign companies in the west and the US that Saudi Arabia shall stay committed to. Until now, Iraq still didn’t accept, but also didn’t refuse. Iraq is not a milking cow that would offer its milk for free and without conditions. Iraq is a sovereign country and has its parliament, and offering 500 million barrels, which represent 50% of Saudi Aramco’s Company, is a process that needs approvals, agreements and something in return.

Saudi Arabia, however, cut off all oil supply lines to the Gulf and turned it in its favor, while it is used with Iraqi money. Saudi Arabia until now finances terrorism. Iraq has so far signed 16 memorandums with Saudi Arabia but it still didn’t implement any of them. There are in Iraqi prisons thousands of Saudi terrorists. Saudi Arabia hasn’t until the moment condemned Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group] officially. It didn’t compensate our victims and losses. Hence, it is impossible to open to such level of economic cooperation without guarantees.

Abdul Mahdi’s China visit

The US is not satisfied with the performance of the Iraqi PM as he supports the PMU and the resistance. The US was not satisfied with our premier’s visit to China and Russia because he wants to buy an S-300 system because he wants to secure the Iraqi airspace from violations. An added cause is that he frankly accused ‘Israel’ of bombing Iraqi camps and weapons warehouses as this is considered an international condemnations that is registered at the United Nations.

Additionally, Mr. Abdul Mahdi refused to be a part of the ‘Deal of the Century’ and the US scheme to starve the Iranian people and pressure them, in addition to the blockade against them.

All the stated reasons push the US scheme to topple the current Iraqi government.

Media’s role in the entire situation

It is well-known that the media outlets related to the US and UK embassies, the Gulf, the Baathists and the betrayers don’t want a stabilized Iraq. They want to provoke the situation inside the country, Sayyed al-Hashemi concluded.

Why Patriot Missiles Are Useless

South Front

Missile strikes that shut down a half of Saudi oil production not only marked a new round of escalation in the Persian Gulf, but also revealed the limitations of the Kingdom’s air defense. Over the past years, Saudi Arabia, the state with the third largest military budget in the world ($82.9bn), has spent billions of dollars building up six battalions of US-made Patriot surface-to-air missiles and associated radars. However, these seemingly sophisticated air-defense systems appeared to be not enough to protect key infrastructure objects.

Yemen’s Ansar Allah movement (more widely described by the media as the Houthis) claimed responsibility for the September 14 attack. According to Ansar Allah, its forces employed Qasef-3 and Samad-3 unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as some mysterious “jet-powered unmanned aerial vehicles”, launched from three different positions. The movement added that the strike was a response to the Saudi aggression against Yemen and warned of more strikes to come.

Saudi Arabia and the United States are putting a different version foreward, claiming that the strike did not originate from Yemen and was carried out with Iranian-made drones and cruise missiles. The Saudi military explained the air-defense failure by claiming that drones and missiles came from the northern direction, while its air defense radars were oriented towards Yemen in the south. Saudi Arabia and the US are yet to state directly that the supposed strike was launched from Iranian territory, but mainstream media outlets are already speculating on this topic using their lovely anonymous sources.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rushed to defend the reputation of the Patriot system.

“Look, anytime – we’ve seen air defense systems all around the world have mixed success.  Some of the finest in the world don’t always pick things up. We want to work to make sure that infrastructure and resources are put in place such that attacks like this would be less successful than this one appears to have been.  That’s certainly the case,” Pompeo said during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

However, the truth is that this was not the first time that Saudi Arabia’s Patriots have failed. Over the past years, Ansar Allah has carried out dozens of successful drone and missile strikes on Saudi Arabia, targeting airports, military camps, oil infrastructure and even the Saudi capital, Riyadh. All these attacks were delivered from the ‘right direction’, but this did not help Saudi Arabia to repel them with anything that could be described as a high degree of success.

Multiple incidents involving Patriot missiles failing, malfunctioning or even returning to explode near the launch area do not add credibility to the Saudi Air Defense Forces and their Patriots. One of the most widely covered of such incidents happened on March 25, 2018, when at least 5 Patriot missiles missed, malfunctioned or exploded mid-air during the Saudi attempt to repel an Ansar Allah missile strike.

The repeated failures of Patriots to defend targets in Saudi Arabia already turned them into a meme at an international level.

It also should be noted that the Patriot was originally created to shoot down aircraft, not missiles or drones. The Patriot got the ballistic missile capability after the missile and system upgrade dubbed the PAC-2. This included the optimization of radar search algorithms, the beam protocol in “theatre ballistic missile search”, and the introduction of the PAC-2 missile optimized for ballistic missile engagements. The missile got larger projectiles in its blast-fragmentation warhead and was optimized for high-speed engagements. The method of fire to engage ballistic missiles was changed. Instead of launching two missiles in an almost simultaneous salvo, a brief delay was added in order to allow the second missile launched to discriminate a ballistic missile warhead in the aftermath of the explosion of the first.

During the Gulf War (1991), Patriot missiles attempted to intercept hostile ballistic missiles over 40 times. The results appeared to be controversial. Then President George H. W. Bush declared that the Patriot intercepted 41 Scud missiles of 42 engaged. This would be a 98% success rate. However, a post-war analysis of presumed interceptions suggested that the real success rate was below 10%. Since then, the Patriot has received multiple upgrades.

In 1995, 1996 and 2000, the Patriot underwent three stages of major upgrades known as the PAC-3 configuration to increase its anti-ballistic missile capability. The Patriot got multiple system and software improvements, a new radar and a new missile almost fully designed to engage ballistic targets, the PAC-3.

According to a 2005 report by Office of the US Under Secretary of Defense For Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Patriot PAC-3, GEM, and GEM+ missiles demonstrated a high success rate engaging 9 hostile ballistic missiles. The report described 8 of them as successful. The ninth engagement was declared as a “probable success”.

These PAC-3 configuration Patriots are the core of the Saudi Air Defense Forces. According to Russian military sources, Saudi Arabia’s northern border is protected by 88 Patriot launchers: 52 of which are the PAC-3 version, 36 – the PAC-2. Therefore, it is possible to suggest the PAC-3’s real success rate in combat conditions could be lower than the 2005 report claimed. This may explain why more and more states seek to acquire non-US systems, for example the Russian S-300 and S-400, despite US diplomatic and sanction opposition to such moves.

Another possible explanation of the inability of Saudi Arabia to protect its infrastructure from missile and drone attacks is that it lacks layered defenses that include long-range, short-range point defense systems and electronic warfare systems which are capable of repelling mixed attacks of this type.

For example, Russia pairs its long-range S-400s and S-300s with short-to-medium range Pantsir and Tor systems designed to engage smaller targets at shorter distances. During the past few years of the Syrian conflict, Pantsirs and EW systems deployed at the Hmeimim airbase successfully repelled dozens of attacks of armed drones. At the same time, the Syrian Armed Forces, drastically limited in resources and mostly equipped with Soviet-times air defenses, demonstrated a surprising effectiveness for a military suffering from an almost 9-year long war.

All kinds of traditional air-defenses could struggle to repel mixed attacks massively involving relatively cheap drones and missiles. However, the air defense capabilities of some systems and the ability of some states to employ these systems does seem to be somewhat overestimated.

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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

WHY RUSSIA WON’T SELL S-400 TO IRAN; THE YANKEE BLINK IN THE GULF; SYRIAN ARMY CONTINUES ONSLAUGHT IN IDLIB AND HAMA I

Image result for S-400 Russian anti-aircraft system

(Image courtesy of Moscow Times)

 / 

Besides the Russian-manufactured S-500, the S-400 is the most desirable system for knocking down enemy aircraft.  The Turks have insisted on purchasing the S-400 despite full-throated condemnation from NATO countries who argue that the system is incompatible with target-acquisition platforms used by NATO. The Turks have dug in their heels and shouted “Fudge!”.  The deal is going through with or without Brussels’ acquiescence.  European dawdling over Turkey’s efforts to join the EU has soured Ankara’s taste for the Continent.

But, efforts to negotiate a deal on the S-400s between Iran and Moscow have floundered.  Moscow was only willing to sell Tehran the S-300, a less efficient and less effective system.  The reason is quite simple:  The Russians don’t trust the Iranians to simply buy the system and the Iranians have a proven record of reverse-engineering everything they get a hold of.  One example is the American drone that was almost brought down on Iranian territory by a near-science fiction-like tractor beam that resulted in Iranian scientists recreating the drone for their own and their allies’ uses.  Syria today uses that same drone design to harass and harry the terrorists in Idlib and Hama.  Although the Chinese have been manufacturing effective drones for years, it is just better to get a drone free from Tehran, a drone whose technology is most familiar to Iranian fighters alongside the Syrian Army.

This is a problem the Americans face with China and its never-ending efforts to steal Yankee technology.  The Russians are simply less transparent than the Americans.  If they’re not sure you won’t re-manufacture the product, they won’t sell it to you.

To prove my point, folks, the S-300 has already been cloned in Iran and the number of batteries on the Bastion-like platform exceeds 75, many of which have already been delivered to Syria.  This has caused some friction with Mr. Putin who, as you all know, doesn’t tolerate what he views as treachery.  In any case, the new and improved S-300 deployed by the IRGC knocked down a drone, the RQ 4 Global Hawk, a couple of days ago – a drone that was touted as “untouchable”.  That is why Trump balked.

____________________________________________

THE PERSIAN GULF AT THE STRAITS OF HORMUZ:

Image result for Straits of Hormuz dimensions

(Image courtesy of Thoughtco)

At its narrowest point, the Straits of Hormuz, is 21 miles or 39 kms. wide.  Both Iran and Oman, who are the nations at the narrowest point, extended their sea-air territorial claims 12 miles each for a total of 24 miles.  So much for the American position that the drone which was knocked down was in international airspace.  When the drone was detected crossing into Iranian airspace, the ground commander ordered the S-300 to blast it out of the skies.  The Iranians now have a treasure chest of parts from the plane which they have recovered.  The U.S. does not recognize either Iran’s or Oman’s claims to the 12 mile air and sea territorial extensions.  The U.S. only recognizes its own 12 mile territorial barriers.

_____________________________________________

HAMA:   

اسقاط طائرة مسيرة مذخرة بقنابل شديدة الانفجار بريف حماة الشمالي

(Image courtesy of SANA)

Two days ago, a drone was detected flying in from Idlib Province and on a straight path to Hama’s Military Airbase.  (See map, above)  The drone was shot down by an MT system and recovered.  It turned out to be locally-built drone of the type used by HTS or Alqaeda.  The drone was very sophisticated, armed with 10 missiles loaded with C-4 and had a very advaced GPS capability.  It also had cameras aboard enabling it to send back images.  The belief is that is was designed by a NATO country which wanted credible deniability as far as supporting terrorists such as these.

Today, terrorists coming out of Kafr Zaytaa, Al-Habeet and Al-Lataamina fired on North Hama at the villages of Al-Shaykh Hadeed and Al-Jarnaba a barrage of rockets which destroyed material assets of the villagers only.  The SAA responded by firing back using artillery and destroyed several rocket launchers.

At Al-Mastooma and the area of Jabal Al-Arba’een SAA spotters pursued a series of convoys moving south towards Areeha.  The SAA opened a torrent of artillery and rocket fire destroying all the convoys leaving the remnant rodents scurrying toward the village of Musaybeen.  The group was Nusra (HTS or Alqaeda).

 

How Iran’s Soviet Era Air Defense System Shot Down America’s Global Hawk UAV over Strait of Hormuz

On the night of June 19-20, Iran shot down a US Global Hawk reconnaissance UAV over the Strait of Hormuz.  

President Trump responded by calling for retaliatory air strikes against Iran. 

In response to the President and Commander in Chief’s instructions, US Central Command (CENTCOM), confirmed the deployment of US Air Force F-22 stealth fighters at CENTCOM’s Middle East forward headquarters at the al-Udeid airbase in Qatar, with a mandate to “defend American forces and interests” in the region against Iran. (See Michael Welch, Persian Peril, Global Research, June 30, 2019).

And then Commander in Chief Donald Trump decided spontaneously to retract his decision to bomb Iran, while intimating in his tweet that:

“any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas overwhelming will mean obliteration”

According to the Washington Post

Early in the day, the president said he called off the attack at the last minute because it would have killed 150 people in retaliation for the downing of the drone. “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die,” he tweeted.

But administration officials said Trump was told earlier Thursday how many casualties could occur if a strike on Iran were carried out and that he had given the green light that morning to prepare the operation.

The confusion reinforced concerns about the Trump administration’s credibility at a time of military crisis.

Headlines of NYT

Trump’s concern for casualties was a smokescreen. What the Pentagon was concerned with was not only Iran’s ability to defend itself in the case of a US attack, but also its potential to strike back,targeting US military facilities in the Middle East.

In a bitter irony, the “high tech” Global Hawk AUV (“with state-of-the-art electronic protection”) was shot down by the “low tech” Raad anti-aircraft missile system, “which bears a striking resemblance to the outdated Soviet Kub (Cube) system”.

“That does not look good”. Visibly there was also an issue of self-esteem, face saving on the part of Donald Trump and failure of US advanced weapons systems.

While Iran possesses Russia’s S-300 air defense system (and will soon be acquiring Russia’s state of the art S-400), Tehran chose not to deploy its most advanced air defense system in the Strait of Hormuz:   

The Raad has a modified homing head, and Iran may have received the homing head technology from Russia.This may explain why the US drone outfitted with state-of-the-art electronic protection failed to escape the attack of the Iranian missile.” (Dmitriy Sudakov, Pravda Report, July 15, 2019)

Sudakov’s analysis published by Pravda provides important details regarding the June 19-20 incident, focussing on Iran’s air defense capabilities as well as the vulnerability of the US in the case of an air attack.

It just so happens that the 15-ton giant drone worth $220 million with a wingspan of 40 meters failed to escape from an Iranian missile. Iran has ceased to reckon with the United States. Amir-Ali Hajizade, the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division, said that there was a P-8 Poseidon military aircraft flying next to the US UAV. The P-8 Poseidon was carrying 35 people on board. The military aircraft, the official said, invaded Iranian air space too, but Iran chose not to shoot the airplane down. Instead, Iran shot down the drone.

While the drone was brought down with an upgraded version of an outdated Soviet era technology, Iran is in possession (since 2015) of the S-300 Air defense system, which is considered to be more advanced than the US Patriot system:

In 2016, Iran bought four divisions of S-300 Favorit anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia. Each division includes 12 launchers. The Favorit (“Favorite”) range reaches 200 km; the system can easily eliminate all aircraft, including medium-range missiles.

It is worthy of note that Russia readies to launch a new generation of air defense systems known as S-500 Prometei (Prometheus), while the United States has not been able to design anything that could be superior to Russia’s S-300 missile complex. The THAAD system has a different purpose – to strike trans-atmospheric ballistic missiles. The Patriot system clearly lags behind the S-300. (Dmitriy Sudakov, Pravda Report, July 15, 2019)

According to Sudakov, “Iran can launch a total of about 400 S-300 missiles to distances up to 200 kilometres and 1,500 missiles – up to 40 kilometers.”  What this suggests is that Iran has the ability to trigger extensive damage to US military installations in The Persian Gulf (including US military bases located in Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia).

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Featured image is from Mil.ru

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