Judah Ari Gross – February 22, 2018
The Israeli military on Thursday began its final preparations for a major air defense exercise with the United States, which is set to kick off at the beginning of next month, the army said.
While the Juniper Cobra exercise, which was first held in 2001, is scheduled every two years, it comes at a time of growing tension between Israel and Iran and the Iranian proxy Hezbollah. This year’s exercise simulates a massive ballistic missile attack against Israel and is also meant to improve ties between the two armies.
The exercise will largely be performed through advanced computer simulations, though it will also include some real-world activities.
In total, some 4,500 soldiers from the two militaries will take part in the exercise — 2,500 of them from the United States’ European Command (US EUCOM) and 2,000 from the Israel Defense Forces. This is a substantial increase from the 2016 exercise, in which some 3,200 soldiers took part.
German-Foriegn Policy – February 19, 2018
(Own report) – The Munich Security Conference, which ended yesterday, was marked by appeals for “Europe” to be more willing to go to war and have a resolute EU “global projection of power.” In addition to a significant arms buildup, the EU needs a “common desire to actually use its military weight,” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen admonished.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned that Europe’s future “projection of power” cannot “do without” military force. Currently, this is not yet possible without the involvement of NATO or US armed forces; however, cooperation with Washington should be “on a par” and “not as deputies.” In the foreseeable future, the EU will be able to buildup its arms to such an extent that it will no longer need US support.
Gabriel branded Russia and China – current “rivals” to the Western “system” – as “autocracies.”
Roger Baird – February 20, 2018
Iran issued a stark warning to Israel, threatening to raze Tel Aviv if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the “slightest unwise move” against it.
The uncompromising message came from the influential Mohsen Rezaie, Iran’s expediency council secretary, an assembly appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which supervises the government.
He said: “About Netanyahu’s unwise words, I should say that if they carry out the slightest unwise move against Iran, we will level Tel Aviv to the ground and will not give any opportunity to Netanyahu to flee.”
The move heightens the already tense standoff between Israel and Iran, which has emerged as the leading Middle East opposition to Tel Aviv.
Iran’s comments come after a provocative speech by Israeli leader Netanyahu at the Munich Security Conference last week.
Debkafiles – February 18, 2018
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Munich security conference on Sunday: “We will act if necessary not just against Iran’s proxies but against Iran itself, if needed.” Holding aloft a piece of the Iranian drone which Israel captured over its air space, he stressed that Tehran was the world’s greatest threat and “Israel will not allow the regime to put a noose of terror around its neck.” Taunting Iran’s’ foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in the audience, he asked,” Do you recognize this? You should. It’s yours,” he said. “You can take a message back to Iran. Do not test Israel’s resolve.” This drone violated Israel’s sovereignty and posed a threat to our security, he said “We destroyed it and its control center in Syria.”
The nuclear deal, he went on to argue, had “unleashed a dangerous tiger in the region and beyond … Iran is devouring huge swathes of the Middle East” through its Shi’ite proxies. Netanyahu warned of the dangers posed to the world by a nuclear-armed Iran. Iran’s aggression will be unchecked and it will encompass the entire world.
Tehran wants to dominate Syria and move its bases and army into Israel’s back yard, acquire Mediterranean naval bases, and transfer tens of thousands of Shiite fighters to Syria. “I said we would not let this happen and have backed up words with deeds,” he said. “Israel will continue to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria and would continue to prevent it from crossing red lines,” he continued.
Ben Doherty – February 16, 2018
The navy admiral nominated to be the next US ambassador to Australia has told Congress America must prepare for the possibility of war with China, and said it would rely on Australia to help uphold the international rules-based system in the Asia-Pacific.
In an excoriating assessment of China’s increasingly muscular posture in the region, Harry Harris said Beijing’s “intent is crystal clear” to dominate the South China Sea and that its military might could soon rival American power “across almost every domain”.
Harris, soon to retire as the head of US Pacific Command in Hawaii, told the House armed services committee, the US and its allies should be wary of Beijing’s military expansionism in the region, and condemned China’s foreign influence operations, predatory economic behaviour and coercion of regional neighbours.
“China’s intent is crystal clear. We ignore it at our peril,” he said. “I’m concerned China will now work to undermine the international rules-based order.”
Anna Ahronheim, Eytan Halon, Tamar Ben-Ozer – February 17, 2018
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) struck six Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday evening in response to the detonation of an explosive device on the Gaza border earlier in the day that wounded four IDF soldiers, two severely.
Targets included a Hamas-built offensive terror tunnel from the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza which was dug towards Israeli territory. Another target stuck included a Hamas military compound in the Netzarim area which included weapons manufacturing sites and a Hamas military compound in Khan Younis.
“The IDF views with great severity the attempt by Hamas to carry out seemingly spontaneous demonstrations intended to turn the fence into a confrontation zone and carry out acts of terror that would destabilize the Gaza Strip,” read a statement by the IDF spokesperson’s unit. “Hamas is responsible for the event and its consequences, as well as for everything happening in and out of the Gaza Strip, above and below the ground,” it added.
DW – February 16, 2018
The chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, said Friday that the world was facing the most serious threat of military confrontation since 1991.
“I’m worried; I think the global security situation is more unstable today than it has been at any time since the demise of the Soviet Union,” he told DW in an interview.
He listed a number of threats that he considered key dangers to global security, including the risks of major conflict in the Middle East, the nuclear standoff with North Korea and tensions between the West and Russia, partly over the simmering conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Ischinger said he was very concerned about the situation in Syria, where a number of powerful foreign players, including Russia, the US and Turkey, have been drawn into a long-running civil conflict.
DW – February 15, 2018
Early plans for a European army failed in the wake of World War II. EU states have since taken numerous small steps to integrate their armed forces, bringing the idea of a Europe-wide military ever closer to reality.
Military treaties for a joint European army were signed just a few years after the end of the Second World War. A defense cooperation pact laid out the details, from acquiring new uniforms to implementing a clear command structure. France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg would supply the European Army with soldiers. A European commissioner’s office made up of nine representatives would send the troops to the front line, but officials would be monitored by a European assembly of MEPs from participating states.
The lower level military units would operate on a purely national level, while officers from several participating states would be expected to serve as leaders. The military project — probably the most ambitious in Europe’s post-war history — cleared numerous hurdles, only to be stopped by opposition in France’s parliament in 1954.
Adam Kredo – February 14, 2018
An Iranian-backed terror group claims it will have nearly half-a-million missiles aimed at Israel within the next year amid ongoing efforts by the Islamic Republic to transfer advanced missile technology to regional hotspots such as Lebanon and Syria, which are located on Israel’s borders.
Militants tied to Hezbollah, the Iranian-controlled terror group that operates along Israel’s northern border in Lebanon, claim they have deployed more than 70,000 long-range missiles across Syria and Lebanon in preparation for a strike on Israel. The number of missiles could grow to nearly half-a-million within the next year, according to these militant groups.
Following an encounter between an Iranian drone and Israeli forces that set off speculation of an upcoming confrontation between these two countries, pro-Hezbollah press outlets disclosed that Iran has been moving advanced missiles across the region in order to bolster its terrorist proxies, such as Hezbollah.
DAMASCUS/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel will face “more surprises” should it again attack Syrian territory, Damascus said on Tuesday, after Syria’s air defenses shot down an advanced Israeli warplane during the fiercest flare-up between the old foes in 36 years.
The F-16 jet was hit over northern Israel on Saturday as it returned from a raid on a Syrian position blamed for launching an Iranian-made drone across the border. Iran is supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s near seven-year civil war.
“Have full confidence the aggressor will be greatly surprised, because it thought this war – this war of attrition Syria has been exposed to for years – had made it incapable of confronting attacks,” Assistant Foreign Minister Ayman Sussan said.
“God willing, they will see more surprises whenever they try to attack Syria,” Sussan said during a Damascus news conference.