In the cyber era, war is no longer just fought with guns and missiles on the battlefield. To incapacitate an enemy, all one has to do is infiltrate the opposition’s computers. This enables hackers to steal vital classified information as well as infect the systems with all sorts of malware.
Computers in Iran and other Arab nations have been attacked with a vicious virus. While no culprit has claimed responsibility for the attack, Israel has hinted that it may have some involvement.
The virus is being called the Flame, and Israel’s Vice Prime Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, stated that the cyber-attack is expected and justified given Iran’s history of making threats. He also added that Israel prides itself on its technological capabilities, which opens a wide door for the country to carry out various objectives while remaining under the radar.
The virus was initially detected by Kaspersky, an internet security firm. Flame is a malware with file transferring capabilities and is also able to record audio and keystrokes.
Ilan Proimovich, a Kaspersky representative, stated that Flame is operated via remote computer, which means it only becomes active when commanded to do so. This makes it extremely difficult to detect.
This is not the first cyber assault on Iran. Back in 2010, the country’s computer system came under attack by a virus called Stuxnet. Both the Flame and Stuxnet share striking similarities, though the former is designed for the purpose of gathering information, while the latter was created for the sole purpose of wrecking as much havoc to the computers as possible.
While the origin of the viruses remains unknown at this point, if Israel is behind it, it is not so adamant about denying it. If Israel is indeed the mastermind behind the Flame, then it could potentially foreshadow a bigger conflict between Israel and Iran in the near future.
In a continued effort by the U.S. and the United Nations to prevent Iran from reaching nuclear capability, a meeting was scheduled in Istanbul where negotiations resumed. Intelligence officials have been working hard to determine Iran’s true intentions with its uranium development program.
Netanyahu’s response to the conference: “My initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “It has got five weeks to continue enrichment without any limitation, any inhibition.”
One prominent Iranian figure has drawn the attention of the C.I.A. It has been long known that Ali Khamenei, the Ayatollah and Iran’s supreme leader, is the one influencing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s decisions. The C.I.A has been paying close attention to what this man has been saying and dissecting every word.
Khamenei is somewhat of a mystery; the words that come out of his mouth seem to contradict Iran’s recent actions. He has stated that Iran has no plans for acquiring nuclear arms as it is considered a sin from a religious standpoint.
It is really hard to know whether Khamenei’s statement holds any credibility. Prior to his comments against the acquirement of nukes, he had chastised Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya for his decision to abandon his country’s nuclear weapons program. He then went on to say that Iran is headed in the same direction if they cave in to Western demands.
Intelligence has another reason to doubt Khamenei’s words. The Shiites community has been the minority in the Muslim community for hundreds of years. During their oppression, a concept known as taqiya was implemented. It was a practice where deception was commonly used to conceal their sectarian identity. Lying became common place in order for the Shiites to protect their own community.
The rank of Ayatollah gives Khamenei the final authority in interpreting Islamic law and policy. His role within the Iranian government is considered pivotal. Whatever he says must not be taken lightly and every attempt must be made to determine the true meaning behind his words.
Iran has put the world on edge with its nuclear ambitions. Calls for negotiations have largely been unsuccessful at this point and has escalated to the point of the U.S. putting the possibility of military force on the table.
However, negotiations have since resumed with some hope of a positive outcome for all nations involved. A senior Iranian official announced that the country was willing to meet Western demands halfway. Ferydon Abbasi, the senior head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, announced that Iran has plans to enrich uranium to no more than 20 percent purity just for the use of a medical research reactor. He also added that all other activities towards uranium enrichment would be only used to fuel power generation reactors.
Abassi’s statement, if believed, is a good sign in the right direction. However, another Iranian official released a statement that completely runs counter to Abassi’s announcement. Foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi made his own announcement that Iran has no plans of agreeing to any preconditions before negotiation resumes.
One can only speculate, but it appears that the conflicting remarks made by Abassi and Salehi are due to internal debate and conflict within Iran’s own regime. Iran is after all, being threatened with economic sanctions and a European embargo if it proceeds with plans to build a nuclear weapon.
The negotiations will involve Iran and members of the United Nations Security Council, which includes the U.S., Britain, Russia, France and China.
One of the conditions by U.S. and European diplomats is for Iran to transfer its current stockpile of uranium fuel out of the country. Additional demands also include the dismantling of a newly constructed nuclear compound located under a mountain near the city of Qum.
Iran continues to persist that its uranium is only intended for peaceful purposes, while the United Nations continue to hold suspicion that Iran is enriching its uranium to construct a nuclear weapon. Until the negotiations resume, there is no telling which direction Iran will take.
In short Iran is screwing around with the world and stalls for time as it feverishly continues to develop a nuclear weapon.
This is what a third world nuclear arms race looks like – in case you were wondering..
Last December, the global intelligence company Strategic Forecast, referred to as Stratfor, was hacked by members of the Anonymous group. Among the files gathered were a very large number of internal emails, showing how the private intelligence gathering company conducted its business around the world, and include a lot of revelations that are only now becoming public. One such email for example hints at the fact that Israeli commandos and Kurdish fighters may have destroyed an Iran nuclear facility. If true, this could have wide repercussions in the middle east.
The email is just one of five millions that the firm sent and that was hacked in the December attack. In it, Stratfor analysts apparently obtained information that would indicate an Israeli commando wiped out an Iranian nuclear facility. Some of the company staff discuss how likely that is, and come to the conclusion that it could be true if the Israeli forces cooperated with Kurdish fighters. The explosion at the Iranian facility was seen as possibly being caused by such an attack: “[He] was asked what he thought of reports that the Israelis were preparing a military offensive against Iran. Response: I think this is a diversion. The Israelis already destroyed all the Iranian nuclear infrastructure on the ground weeks ago.” Thanks to the series of emails that followed, the company comes to the conclusion that it may well have happened the way their informant says it did.
But this is just one of many revelations that are already starting to come out from these massive files. In its press release, WikiLeaks portrayed Stratfor as a private intelligence agency, a shadow CIA bribing people to obtain their intelligence through a series of hidden Swiss bank accounts, working with large corporations, executives, government agencies and the military to get the best intelligence they could through money exchanges or extortion, and then turning this into a money making business. Their latest fund StratCap aims at profiting financially from getting this early access to facts and rumors from around the world. Meanwhile, a select few individuals and corporations are allowed to pay the company to get early access to this information.
Meanwhile, Stratfor has posted a statement on its web site, saying the hack and subsequent release of private emails is a deplorable and illegal act, something they did not authorize, and warn that some of the emails may be altered or faked. They claim that their internal systems are now more secure and that such a hacking attempt would not happen again. Still, there’s no doubt that the emails released will more than likely bring us more facts about powerful world figures in the weeks to come.
These days you need to keep and make new friends. Benjamin Netanyahu and wife visited Cyprus in a historic one day trip. He met with Dimitris Christofias the PM and signed a mutual rescue agreement that allows both countries to send troops for a limited time to the other country in times of a disaster.
The same agreement was once in place with Turkey but since relations went downhill, this is a little message to the Turks that no one is irreplaceable.
Netanyahu said that “the sanctions on Iran are not working. We are dealing with a country that break all international codes of behavior.” He also said that the US and other countries should worry about a country like Iran holding a nuclear weapon.
Cyprus also has a tense relationship with Turkey that’s blaming it for drilling for Natural Gas in its territorial waters. That has also made the relations with Israel more important recently for Cyprus.
During some previous discussions Israel has asked to place some fighters in Cyprus. The same sort of discussions have gone on with Greece, which has also been getting chummy with Israel.
The situation with Iran and their nuclear program has been on the front of the world agenda for a long time now. It’s a rich history of accusations and denials. Now, to add to the fire, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta talked in a CBS interview about the fact that in his opinion, Iran could make a nuclear bomb inside of a year, which is sure to reignite the debate of whether that’s the case or not, and what to do about it, if anything. It’s not the first time that the subject was brought to the public’ attention, and will clearly not be the last either.
Iran’s nuclear ambitions are nothing new. The country has been working on various projects including radioactive materials for decades. In itself, refining uranium isn’t necessarily evil. In fact their claims have always been that they are building nuclear reactors to power their cities. The question of course is whether that’s true, or if they have a secret nuclear bomb program. For Defense Secretary Panetta, there’s no question about it, Iran has all the necessary tools and technology to start working on a bomb. It would apparently take them one year to manufacture enough radioactive material to create the bomb, and then up to another year to create the infrastructure to be able and aim it at any country in the world. He said that the US is fully prepared to stop them if they get the intelligence that they’re in process of doing that.
Of course, we don’t know what the intelligence currently says, and he did not specify any of it. Iran has always claimed that the rest of the world was mistaken, and that the only facilities they had was to create nuclear fuel for their reactors. The process is very similar, where there’s a need to get the base material pure enough to be used as a source of fuel. The difference is how pure it needs to be. For a reactor, this can be around 25% to 75%, whereas for a nuclear bomb, it needs to be higher than 95%. That’s a big difference, and why it’s much more complex to get enough fuel for a bomb. With many countries both in the western hemisphere and in Europe suspecting that Iran has every intention of developing a nuclear bomb, there’s no doubt that they have highly damning suspicions, but without any hard proof, it’s hard to know how things will proceed next.
The situation remains volatile, and this type of talk doesn’t help reassuring people. It seems likely that if proof were to come out of Iran’s true motives, then it may start yet another large scale war in the region, which would destabilize the area. Until then, countries stay on alert, and we all watch.
Mysterious blast in Iranian capital leaves one dead, injures two. Local media reports say blast ‘reminiscent’ of previous attacks on nuclear scientists.
According to Iranian media reports, the incident “looks similar to attacks on nuclear scientists in the city,” more than one year ago. The semi-official Fars news agency cited witnesses as saying a motorcyclist stuck a bomb on the side of the car which then exploded, killing one and injuring two people inside.
Fars identified the victim as Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan. State-run Press TV said he was a university professor. Another Iranian nuclear professor was killed earlier this year when a motorcycle rigged with explosives was detonated outside his home. Iranian authorities, who claim Western governments seeking to thwart the country’s nuclear ambitions are behind the attacks on nuclear scientists, issued a statement blaming today’s attacks on “Zionist agents” and vowing revenge.
The U.S. and its allies are pressuring Iran to halt uranium enrichment, a key element of the nuclear program that the West suspects is aimed at producing atomic weapons. Uranium enriched to low levels can be used as nuclear fuel but at higher levels, it can be used as material for a nuclear warhead.
Iran has claimed that Israel’s Mossad, the CIA and Britain’s spy agency are engaged in an underground “terrorism” campaign against nuclear-related targets, including at least three slayings since early 2010 and the release of a malicious computer virus known at Stuxnet in 2010 that Iran says disrupted controls of some centrifuges a key component in nuclear fuel production. Both countries have denied the Iranian accusations.
Israeli officials have hinted about covert campaigns against Iran without directly admitting involvement. On Tuesday, Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was quoted as telling a parliamentary panel that 2012 would be a “critical year” for Iran in part because of “things that happen to it unnaturally.”
“Many bad things have been happening to Iran in the recent period,” added Mickey Segal, a former director of the Israeli military’s Iranian intelligence department. “Iran is in a situation where pressure on it is mounting, and the latest assassination joins the pressure that the Iranian regime is facing.”
A top official with Iran’s nuclear program announced over the weekend that the country is on the verge of breaking ground on a second uranium enrichment site. This rebellious announcement comes amid new international sanctions against the country due to its dispute over their nuclear program. The announcement was made through new media reports and came after weeks of escalading confrontations between Tehran and Washing. This included a threat that Iran could potentially respond through military force if the US tried to send their aircraft carriers through the Strait of Hormuz.
The second enrichment site, the Fordo plant, which is located near Qum, puts the US in a difficult position about how far they will need to go in order to limit the nuclear abilities of Iran. The Fordo plan is located underground and is well defended against attacks. This makes the plant more resistant to missiles and other forms of air strikes than the first plant at Natanz.
The Fordo plant was first talked about in 2009 by President Barack Obama. At the time, the US, France and Great Britain were not convinced that Iran would go far enough to develop the plant. Once the plant goes into operation it will be much more difficult to disable it. Fereydoon Abbasi made the announcement on Saturday that the facility was nearly completed. Abbasi was made the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization in 2010 after surviving an assassination attempt.
Iran has been known to exaggerate their abilities, however, nuclear experts claim that an operational site is plausible. Inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency reported enrichment centrifuges in December, which makes the story even more probable.
Iran has been deeply hurt by four years of sanctions, but it appears that the nuclear energy program is flourishing. The oil embargo in Europe and the new sanctions by America could undercut the government and lead to a cutoff of their biggest revenue source: oil. These sanctions seem to have only made Iran more determined to proceed with their enrichment program.
Iran has threatened to close shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, which could increase oil prices immensely. Iran has conducted exercises with their military to close the waterway and stated that they would use military force to bar the reentry of the John C Stennis, a US aircraft Carrier.
The test firing of two long range missiles on Monday by Iran’s Navy solidifies the fear that 2012 is going to be a year or tension between the Iranian government in Tehran and the United States. There were also claims on Monday that Iran has made a breakthrough with their nuclear program. Both of these factors could lead to a dangerous showdown with the allies of the West and the Iranian government.
Mahmoud Mousavi, Iran’s deputy navy commander, made a statement on Iranian television saying “successfully test-fired long-range ground to water and ground to ground missiles.” These missile tests came toward the end of the 10-day navy exercises to close the Strait of Hormuz. If Iran does close the Strait of Hormuz, the rest of the world could feel the increase in gas prices.
Tehran announced on Sunday that they had successfully produced their first nuclear fuel rod. The Iranian government is claiming that they are making radioisotopes for cancer treatment within the country; however, US intelligence officers and nuclear inspectors believe the country is producing nuclear weapons.
The United States has issued a call to other nations to sanction the Tehran government in an effort to cease the creation of nuclear weapons. These sanctions have created revolts inside the government, an organization that has been feeling stressed financially since the sanctions were put in place.
James Carafano, a defense analyst for The Heritage Foundation, was quoted saying “the weakness shown by the Obama White House has only encouraged Iran to adopt a more reckless foreign policy. Meanwhile, with dissent growing at home and in neighboring Syria, Tehran has been looking for any excuse to focus on the ‘external’ enemy and divert attention from domestic problems.”
Many analysts are dead set on branding Iran as a nuclear threat, citing peace talks a null option. These analysts are vying for the Iranian government to be pushed hard during 2012 to resolve any issues with nuclear capabilities.
The ransacked offices of the UK embassy in Tehran are said to be the work of militant students in the area. The embassy’s smashed windows and a burning British flag have become the picture of today’s newspapers. This move has come directly after the UK has vowed to endorse further sanctions to Iran.
In a press release, the UK’s Foreign Offices have said to be “outraged” by the backlash. Iranian offices have also released a statement of regret. The UK Foreign office has also advised all Britons in Iran to stay indoors and to keep a very low profile while in the country.
Onlookers have said that they heard “death To England” being chanted as the students rioted against police. One protester has been reported as waving a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II while turning over desktops and rummaging through the files of the embassy.
Pictures of the event showed embassy paperwork set aflame while a car inside the compound was also on fire. Embassy staff is said to have escaped through the backdoor of the facility. Tear gas was fired as the security forces tried to get a handle on the situation.
The US has condemned the attack and support the UK as it tries to pick up the pieces of their embassy. France and Russia have also expressed their concern and stand by the UK.
This has all been sparked by the theory of Iran’s nuclear development program as the UK has imposed monetary sanctions on the banks of Iran. They have accused the banks of funding the nuclear program. Iran has denied these claims and insists that their nuclear program is solely for energy purposes for their people.
On Sunday, the Iranian parliament voted by a vast majority to reduce their relations with the UK.
Journalist and talk radio host Aaron Klein wrote a piece for Arutz Sheva in which he posits rumors that Israel is about to attack Iran, not exactly correct. Klein wrote:
“The visible Israeli military preparations, including this week’s missile tests, most likely are related to the strong possibility of a U.S.-NATO-led campaign against Israel’s Syrian neighbor to the north. The regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad – a key partner to Iran – has been accused of major human rights violations, including crimes against humanity…”
Meanwhile, United Press International reported:
“Speculation a recent air force exercise and rocket propulsion system test are linked to a debate on a strike against Iran is “nonsense,” an official said.
Israel Radio quoted an anonymous Israeli defense official as saying Thursday it is “absolute nonsense” to presume a recent air force exercise with the Italian air force and the testing of a rocket propulsion system are linked to reports Israel is preparing for a possible airstrike on Iran’s nuclear sites.
The official’s remarks come amid intensive public debate over reports Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are pushing for a strike. The army’s Home Front command conducted a drill Thursday simulating missile attacks in the center of the country. Sirens also were tested.
In other news, the Associated Press reports that Israel is threatening to suspend the transfer of tax payments to the Palestinian Authority totaling some $100 million in a protest of the PA’s recent admission to the United Nations’ cultural agency…
Saeb Erekat was quoted saying, “I think it would be easier for Mr. Ban Ki-moon to ask the Congress to change their laws…I don’t think Palestine’s admittance to any of these agencies will bring harm.”
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said: “We want to make sure that we will succeed there, and the moment we will succeed there, our membership in the remaining U.N. organizations becomes an automatic one…”
Hey, what ever happened to Iran? The quiet kid in the corner. Sitting nicely, perhaps, apprehensively as totalitarian regimes in the Middle East fall into civil war, one by one, like a great game of dominoes.
Oh, they didn’t go anywhere. They’re still being their mischievous selves!
On Tuesday, the second day of the Great Prophet Mohammad War Games 6, Iran simultaneously test-fired 14 2,000-range missiles at one single target. Enough firepower to spook the geese in all directions. The missiles were launched near the central city of Qom.
Head of the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace division, Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said:
“Iranian missiles can target US bases in Afghanistan and any part of Israeli territory.”
He swankly asserted that the United States has made Iran’s objective easier:
“Their military bases in the region are in a range of 130, 250 and maximum 700 kilometers in Afghanistan which we can hit with these missiles.”
The Islamic Republic does not need to increase the range of its missiles because Israel is only 1,200 km away from Iran and the U.S. bases are even nearer, some 120 to 700 km away from Iran. Asked if Iranian missiles would pose a threat to Europe, Hajizadeh insisted that while Iran had the technological capacity to create longer-range missiles, the 2,000-km range had been precisely chosen with Israel and US bases in mind,for the reason that “we do not feel a threat from any other country.”
According to one source, Iran is working at top speed on some three new ballistic surface missiles with longer ranges than ever. The Shahab-4, for targets at a distance of 3,200-4,000 kilometers; the Sejjil (2,500 kilometers) and the Ashura-Ghadr 110A (3,000 kilometers). Shahab-4 and Ashura/Ghadr 110A are capable of hitting central and western Europe. Iran is also reportedly developing intercontinental ballistic missiles – Shahab-5 (5,000 kilometers) and Shahab-6 (10,000 kilometers), putting North America within hitting range.
In July Iran will unleash the Kavoshgar-5 rocket that will put monkeys into space. Iranian media says that five monkeys have completed their training and the most impressive monkey will be chosen to shoot off into space.
Iran is poised to have a nuclear power plant in operation by August. Built largely with Russian funding, the two countries insist the nuclear plant will be used for power generation, exclusively. Should we believe this?
Two United States emissaries sent to meet with the Saudi King, Abdullah: Defense Secretary Robert Gates on April 6 and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, a week later, were informed that Saudi Arabia cannot forgive America for allowing former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to be overthrown by an anarchic rebellion, and for allowing Iran, a country who continues to enrich uranium, clearly on the road to the development of nuclear weapons (and funds terror activity throughout the Middle East in Gaza, Syria and Lebanon, with its proxy army, Hezbollah) to remain in power.
Last year, the Saudis even gave Israel permission to fly over the kingdom, en route to a military operation on Iran. A WikiLeaks document dated July, 20, 2007, revealed that Binyamin Netanyahu had urged then-Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, to attack Iran. Netanyahu’s request was part of discussions to form a national unity government between Likud and Kadima. (PM Netanyahu, early in his term, invited Kadima leader Tzippi Livni to join forces — she declined).
This year, Saudi Arabia is resolute in leading the Gulf region to a confrontation with Iran – including military action if necessary in a move to defend the oil emirates against Iranian conspiracies. On Monday, April 18, the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, requested that the United Nations Security Council to take action for stopping Iran’s “provocative interference in their countries’ domestic affairs.” This “flagrant interference” posed a “grave security to, and risked flaring up sectarian strike, in the GCC countries.”
The resolution continued:
“The GCC will not hesitate to adopt whatever measures and policies they deem necessary vis-à-vis the foreign interferences in their internal affairs”.
The Saudis are positive their combined missile, air force and naval strength is capable of inflicting damage on mainland Iran.
Then, Saturday, April 16, the Iranian foreign ministry summoned the Pakistani chargé d’affaires to issue a caveat against allowing Saud Arabia and Bahrain to continue conscripting Pakistani military personnel. Tehran claims that by offering exorbitant paychecks, Riyadh raised 1,000 Pakistani recruits for its military operation in support of the Bahraini king and another 1,500 are on their way to the Gulf.
Saudi ground-to-ground and anti-air missiles have been transferred to the Bahrain capital of Manama and naval units are positioned in that country’s harbor.
Monday, April 18, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa announced that Saudi and allied GCC troops would remain in the kingdom of Bahrain until Iran no longer poses a menace. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, also claims the spreading revolt against his regime, now entering its second month, was instigated from Riyadh.
But Iran’s problems do not stop there. On April 11-12, the Arabs of Ahwaz in the western Iranian province of Khuzestan staged a two-day uprising against the Ahmadinejad regime. Government forces murdered some 15 demonstrators before cancelling incoming flights, blocking roads to the town and cutting off telephone and Internet communications.
Last Saturday, Iran urged Egyptian officials, now running that country in a caretaker capacity, to snub the U.S., who sided, eventually, with the coup. Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, told the official Iranian news agency, IRNA, “Cairo should resist the opposition from the United States and Israel, and take independant decision to bring the two Islamic countries closer together.”
Earlier last week Reuters and Iran’s Press TV reported Iran had appointed an ambassador to Egypt for the first time in 30 years, as a post-Mubarak Egypt will see diplomatic ties restored between the two countries.
As if you did not realize, dear OneJerusalem.com readers, Iran’s hand in assisting the grizzly murderer, Bashir al-Assad of Syria, read this.
On Tuesday, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry exhibited computers, weapons and secret equipment publicly, which were allegedly used in the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist, Masoud Ali Mohammadi, last year. According to the Islamic Republic, the computer used by the assassins, was encrypted so they could contact their operators while staying outside the country.
On Monday, the ayatollahs’ regime claimed they arrested more than 10 people on suspicion of involvement in the murder of the senior physician last year in Tehran, when a booby-trapped motorcycle was planted near his home.
Iranian Intelligence Minister, Heidar Moslehi, assembled a press conference on Tuesday, announcing the discovery and presenting to reporters the equipment which Mossad allegedly gave to the secret agents.
Along with the computer, gun, videos and pictures the minister displayed:
“Spying equipment designed to make videos and pictures, a radio transmitter, a box with documents and equipment to forge documents.”
“We obtained good intelligence and managed to penetrate into the intelligence of this regime, on order to locate people who are linked to the Zionist regime…”
On Monday evening, Iran’s state-controlled television network broadcasted an interview with 28-year-old, Majid Jamali Fash, one of the key suspects arrested for having ties to the spying network, in which Fash said he went to Tel Aviv to meet with a number of senior IDF officers. He did not reveal the exact date of the visit, yet he said:
“I received sabotage training…I was trained how to follow and avoid being followed, as well as how to attach a bomb underneath a vehicle.”
I found it peculiar when, last month, Saudi Arabia purchased, under the aegis of the Obama administration, 84 Boeing Co. F-15 fighter jets, attack helicopters and helicopters made by United Technologies Corp. (70 Apaches, 72 Black Hawks and 36 Little Birds), satellite-guided bombs and an advanced radar from Raytheon Co..
But one should not be too shocked: according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the U.S. sold, roughly, a combined $37 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait between 2005 and 2009.
Israel has historically been apprehensive about U.S. military sales in the Arab world, especially to Saudi Arabia who, while opposed to the current Ayatolla, Ahmadinejad regime, funds terror and does not recognize the Jewish State; ergo, Israel not showing any opposition, let alone a tantrum over the massive deal is a little strange; especially given that last August, the Obama administration cut funding for Israel’s Arrow 3 program missile defense system (more powerful than the Iron Dome), a project totaling just $108.8m out of the American wallet.
Last week, the Washington Post reported:
“According to the military, Boeing – maker of the F-15, the Apaches and the Little Birds – has estimated that the purchase would involve 77,000 direct and indirect jobs in 44 states. Some of those would be jobs that would be kept, but an unspecified number of new jobs would also be generated, officials said.”
“Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace industry analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, said the overseas weapons market has become more active in recent years. Last year, the U.S. exported $3.2 billion in combat aircraft overseas, up from $2.4 billion in 2008. Among the biggest buyers in 2009 were Singapore for $1 billion worth of F-15 aircraft; Greece and Poland, receiving $1.9 billion worth of F-16s; and Australia, receiving $200 million worth of F-18s.”
The word on the street was that America contacted Israel first, (about the recent Saudi sale) who gave the thumbs up. Spokesman of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Jonathan Peled said that while the Jewish Country is not “thrilled” by the proposal, it has not requested such actions as congressional hearings or assurances.
But if Israel does not have an EVEN WORSE taste in its mouth from the sale, some American politicians do. As far as domestic opposition to the deal, an article in Bloomberg News reported that a letter was put into circulation on the hill, for the signature of lawmakers. Composed by top Democrat and Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the letter stresses the danger of the deal – though stops short at pleading the need to nullify the $60 billion transaction.
The letter was written by California Democrat Howard Berman and Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and is addressed to Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary, Robert Gates.
The lawmakers raise “the potential repercussions for our friends and for our own forces in the region in the event of political change in Saudi Arabia,” saying:
“We have serious concerns about the nature of Saudi involvement in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, particularly since the Saudis have failed to take steps toward normalization of relations with Israel or to augment their financial support to the Palestinian Authority.”
The letter inquires how thoroughly the Pentagon and the State Department have considered the sale’s effect on U.S. policies in the Middle East, specifically the righteous goal of securing Israel’s “qualitative military edge” over its neighbors; a winning goal for American security too.
The two lawmakers cite a report by the Government Accountability Office, concluding the Departments of State and Defense:
“Did not consistently document how arms transfers to gulf countries advanced U.S. foreign policy and national security goals.”
The Saudi F-15 package reportedly does not include arms that could pose a serious threat, like weapons which can be fired from long distances, threatening thereby little Israel. The arrival of F-15s to Saudi Arabia would not begin until 2015, the same year Israel is slated to commence the reception of F-35s.
At the time the deal was announced, Andrew Shapiro of the U.S. State Department said the sale would:
“Protect (Saudi) security in a dangerous neighborhood against legitimate security threats.”
Ros-Lehtinen and Berman, in the letter, ask what Saudi Arabia has done to quell Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. The lawmakers cite potential Saudi “leverage in the international oil market to diminish Iran’s oil revenue” as well as actions to stem financing for terrorism or reduce the spread of nuclear-weapons technology.
Congress has until November 20th to prevent the sale before the Defense Department and companies proceed with more detailed talks on contracts.
Other Notes of Interest:
And last month, number two in the House Republican leadership, Eric Cantor of Virginia proposed that when the GOP wins control of the House – and now they have – they should move Israel’s financial aid package and add it to the Pentagon’s budget.
Writes C. Hart of American Thinker:
“House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, a staunch supporter of Israel, will become House Majority Leader in the next Congress. He will be holding the highest ranking post a Jew has ever held in Congress. His actions will, most likely, focus on giving less U.S. military support to Saudi Arabia. The United States recently approved $60 billion in weapons sales to the Saudis, which only hinders Israel’s qualitative military edge in the Middle East over Arab States. The sale is expected to be the largest in U.S. history if all purchases are made by Saudi Arabia. Ros-Lehtinen has already spoken out against the sale.”
“According to The Israel Project (TIP), Cantor has also cosponsored legislation that would end U.S. taxpayer aid to the Palestinian Authority until it stops its culture of hate toward Israel. He also wants to see an end to unauthorized WAQF excavations of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which are encouraged and supported by the Palestinian Authority.”
The Bibi and Biden Show:
Meanwhile, Israel PM, Binyamin Netanyahu of the Likud party is in America this week. First, D.C., to recall the nostalgic stench of a Republican majority House and then New York for a corned beef on rye at Katz’s Deli.
A source who was present at the meeting in Washington reported that Bibi told Biden:
“The only way to ensure that Iran will not go nuclear is to create a credible threat of military action against it if it doesn’t cease its race for a nuclear weapon…The economic sanctions are making it difficult for Iran, but there is no sign that the Ayatollah regime plans to stop its nuclear program because of them.”
Bibi will not be meeting with the American president this time, who is currently abroad on diplomatic duties.