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Re: Iran

Post by blindpig » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:09 pm


Iran's DM: US Will Face 'Crushing Response' for Killing of Gen. Soleimani

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami vowed revenge from those behind the horrendous crime of assassination of commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Qods Force Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.
Expressing condolences over the martyrdom of the IRGC's top commander, Hatami said in a message, "Undoubtedly, the crime once again firmly disclosed the evil nature of the US and proved its support for terrorists in the region and Iraq."

The defense minister added that those whose masterminded the terrorist act and those who carried it out will face a crushing response.

The Pentagon has announced that President Donald Trump authorized a US military strike near Baghdad's airport which resulted in the martyrdom of General Soleimani.

Earlier today, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei had stated those who assassinated General Soleimani must await a tough revenge.

The top commander was martyred in a targeted assassination attack by US aircraft at Baghdad International Airport early Friday morning.

The airstrike also martyred Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), or Hashad al-Shabi. The PMF media arm reported that the two were martyred in an American airstrike that targeted their vehicle on the road to the airport.

The attack came amid tensions that started by the US attack on PMF units that killed 28 Iraqi popular forces. A day later, Iraqi people attacked the US embassy in Baghdad. On Wednesday Trump ordered about 750 US soldiers deployed to the Middle East.

US officials earlier suggested they were to engage in further retaliatory attacks in Iraq.

The developments also represent a major downturn in Iraq-US relations that could further undermine US influence in the region and American troops in Iraq and weaken Washington’s hand in its pressure campaign against Iran.

The attack represents a dramatic escalation by the US toward Iran after months of tensions. The tensions take root in Trump’s decision in May 2018 to withdraw the US from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, struck under his predecessor.
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Re: Iran

Post by blindpig » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:31 pm


Qassem Soleimani and Iran’s Unique Regional Strategy


Abstract: In recent years, Iran has projected its power across the Middle East, from Lebanon and Syria to Iraq and Yemen. One of the keys to its success has been a unique strategy of blending militant and state power, built in part on the model of Hezbollah in Lebanon. The acknowledged principal architect of this policy is Major General Qassem Soleimani, the long-serving head of Iran’s Quds (“Jerusalem”) Force. Without question, Soleimani is the most powerful general in the Middle East today; he is also one of Iran’s most popular living people, and has been repeatedly touted as a possible presidential candidate.

Despite its ongoing economic woes, today’s Iran has fashioned itself into one of the premier military and diplomatic powers in the Middle East—and Saudi Arabia’s principal rival for hegemony over the entire region. It has achieved this with a mix of policies—among them, deft diplomatic maneuvering; a tactical alliance with Vladimir Putin’s Russia; and the provision of arms, advice, and cash to Shi`a militias across a variety of countries. In the latter case, Iran has pioneered a seemingly unique strategy that combines insurgent and state power in a potent admixture—a strategy that is evident today in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

One man is recognized as the principal architect of each of these policies: Major General Qassem Soleimani, long-time chief of the Quds Force, a crack special forces battalion of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Although revered in his home country and feared on battlefields across the Middle East, Soleimani remains virtually unknown in the West. Yet to say that today’s Iran cannot be fully understood without first understanding Qassem Soleimani would be a considerable understatement. More than anyone else, Soleimani has been responsible for the creation of an arc of influence—which Iran terms its “Axis of Resistance”—extending from the Gulf of Oman through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Today, with Assad’s impending victory in his country’s calamitous civil war, this Iranian alliance has become stable enough that Qassem Soleimani, should he be so minded, could drive his car from Tehran to Lebanon’s border with Israel without being stopped. And, as the Mossad chief Yossi Cohen has pointed out, the same route would be open to truckloads of rockets bound for Iran’s main regional proxy, Hezbollah.1

This article reviews Soleimani’s career and assesses his contribution to Iran’s regional ascendancy.

“Come, we are waiting for you:” Hamdan, Iran, 2018
On a normal day, the most powerful soldier in the Middle East shies away from bluster; indeed, he typically tends toward self-effacement. In meetings with everyone from local warlords to Ayatollahs to the Russian foreign minister, Major General Soleimani prefers to sit quietly in a corner and take it all in.2 When he speaks, he does so politely and simply in a pillow-soft tenor, rarely raising his voice.3 He deprecates all attempts at hero worship, refusing, for example, to allow admirers to kiss his hand.4 One American journalist who has profiled Soleimani calls him “almost theatrically modest.”5

Physically, he is unprepossessing. His face gently frosted with a close-cropped white beard, his dreamy eyes seeming to shine with the recollection of a fond memory, he bears more than a passing resemblance to mid-career Sean Connery, circa Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He is short in stature—a fact he has been known to highlight, dubbing himself “the smallest soldier.”6

One day in the summer of 2018, Soleimani’s modest façade dropped—to be replaced, albeit briefly, by righteous anger. The source of his ire was one to which many Americans might relate: a furious tweet from President Trump. On this particular occasion, the object of Trump’s wrath was Soleimani’s nominal boss.


During a speech in Hamdan, a city 200 miles southwest of Tehran, Soleimani tore into Trump with unusual bombast. He scowled. He wagged his finger. And he yelled, despite the half-dozen news microphones clipped to the lectern in front of him—a relatively modest crop, given Soleimani’s celebrity status in his home country.

“The U.S. president … made some idiotic comments on Twitter. It is beneath the dignity of the president of the great Islamic country of Iran to respond, so I will respond, as a soldier of our great nation. You threaten us with a measure that the world has not seen before. First of all, it has been over a year since Trump became U.S. president, but that man’s rhetoric is still that of a casino, of a bar. He talks to the world in the style of a bartender or a casino manager.”8

Soleimani’s audience responded in kind. Where typically they would hear his words in reverent silence, occasionally interjecting pro-forma Islamic revolutionary slogans, on this occasion they laughed and clapped and whistled and hollered and even heckled as if watching a standup comic.

Then came the threat.

“Mr. Trump, the gambler! […] You are well aware of our power and capabilities in the region. You know how powerful we are in asymmetrical warfare.9 Come, we are waiting for you. We are the real men on the scene, as far as you are concerned. You know that a war would mean the loss of all your capabilities. You may start the war, but we will be the ones to determine its end.”10

If anyone is in a position to make such brazen threats, it is Qassem Soleimani. One American commentator compares him to John LeCarré’s ubiquitous yet invisible Soviet spymaster Karla.11 Another calls him “Iran’s real foreign minister.”12 Both have a point. Although practically unknown to the U.S. public, Soleimani in fact manages vast swathes of Iranian foreign policy almost single-handedly. For the best part of 20 years, he has enjoyed the unmediated ear of his country’s supreme leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who calls Soleimani, uniquely among all the Islamic Republic’s heroes, “a living martyr of the Revolution.”13 Abroad, he has made himself the confidant of political leaders in Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad, and even Moscow.

The international community has taken note. The United Nations Security Council sanctions Soleimani for supporting terrorism and selling Iranian weapons overseas.14 The U.S. government brands him a nuclear proliferator, a supporter of terrorism, a human rights abuser, and a leading suspect in the 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States by bombing a Washington, D.C., restaurant.15 While most Americans and Europeans may never have heard the name Qassem Soleimani, their intelligence services might wish it came up less often.

Soleimani has become the leading exponent of a uniquely Iranian style of insurgency. Typically, militias define themselves against governments, fight them, and seek to sweep away all vestiges of their power. Those under Soleimani’s control, by contrast, have tended more often to work with the grain of government power, and thus to co-opt governments from within, fusing militant and state power into a formidable whole. Lebanon’s Hezbollah is the most prominent example; but, as this article will note, it is far from the only one.

The Goat Thief: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, 1953-200216
Little in Soleimani’s personal background could have hinted at the power he would one day wield. He hails from a village in the mountains of Kerman Province, a region in Iran’s southeast, not far from the borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan.17 In Kerman, tribal politics traditionally have held far more sway than any edict of the central government 500 miles away in Tehran.

Owing to a botched land reform introduced by the Shah as part of the “White Revolution,” Soleimani’s father, a small-time farmer, wound up owing the government around 9,000 rials. This debt, which was only on the order of $100, seems to have brought the family to the brink of ruin. In order to help pay down the debt, Soleimani left school at 13 to labor on construction sites in the provincial capital, Kerman City. By the time the Islamic Revolution erupted in 1978, he had become a technician with the municipal water authority.18

Prior to that point, the young Soleimani had shown little, if any, interest in politics; but he joined the IRGC shortly after it was founded in April 1979. He found his calling. At any rate, he must have impressed someone, for immediately after completing basic training, he became an instructor of new recruits.19 That was the moment Qassem Soleimani began his remarkable upward trajectory.

In many ways, Soleimani’s rise from provincial obscurity to the heights of power parallels Iran’s regional ascendancy over the past 40 years. His frontline career began in the turmoil that followed the Islamic Revolution, when his unit was sent to the northwest to quell a Kurdish separatist uprising—a mission regarded to this day as a badge of honor within the IRGC. (It was in the course of that effort that Soleimani, just 22 years old, first encountered a 23-year-old political operative named Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then acting as an adviser to the regional government. Nearly 30 years later, Ahmadinejad would go on to serve as one of the Islamic Republic’s most hardline presidents—with vocal support from Soleimani.20)

In September 1980, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq opportunistically invaded its neighbor, hoping to capitalize on the post-revolutionary chaos. Initially, Soleimani was sent back to Kerman to raise and train troops, but he soon found himself redirected to the front, where he volunteered to spend extra time. Soleimani served throughout the war in almost every part of the front, from the retaking of Bostan in December 1981 to the invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan in 1987, during which Saddam’s forces attacked his unit with chemical weapons, to the climactic expedition to the al-Faw Peninsula in April 1988, whose failure helped precipitate the ceasefire that ended the war.21

Soleimani developed a reputation for treating the men under his command well. He made a habit of returning from behind-the-lines reconnaissance missions with live goats and other provender to feed his men, earning him the admiring sobriquet “the Goat Thief.”22 On many occasions, he publicly questioned the decisions of his commanding officers, culminating in a shouting match in which he told his commander-in-chief, Mohsen Rezai, “We don’t have any plan for the war!”23 But this insubordinate streak did not prevent him from rising to leadership of the IRGC’s crack 41st Division, nicknamed Tharallah—Vengeance of God—an alias of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet and one of the key figures in Shi`a Islam.24 He was starting to attract attention from the very top; a photograph from the period shows Soleimani seated on the floor, enjoying a meal at the right hand of then-President Ali Khamenei.25

Following the close of hostilities with Iraq in 1988, Soleimani was sent back home to Kerman to wage war on the drug gangs threatening order in the region. Like the United States’ own “War on Drugs,” it was a bloody campaign; but within three years, forces under Soleimani’s command had pacified the province, earning him the lasting gratitude of its residents.26

Little is known about the next six or seven years of Soleimani’s life, but by March 1998 at the latest, he had risen to become commander of the Quds Force, the lethal special forces unit of the IRGC tasked with bolstering pro-Iranian regimes and militias abroad. (“Quds” comes from the Farsi name for Jerusalem.27) As the remainder of this article will show, Soleimani excelled at this task, establishing or strengthening contacts with Shi`a militias and political parties across the region, as well as the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.

At the same time, the then-newly installed administration of Mohammed Khatami put him in charge of managing Iran’s burgeoning confrontation with the upstart Taliban movement in neighboring Afghanistan.28 Not for the first or last time, Soleimani’s inborn familiarity with tribal culture and politics would stand him in good stead.

In August 1998, a few months into Soleimani’s tenure at the head of the Quds Force, Taliban forces swept into the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i Sharif, home to a substantial community of ethnic Hazaras—Farsi-speaking Shi`a Muslims. The Taliban initiated a brutal pogrom against members of the minority, trashing homes, raping women and girls, and massacring hundreds of Shi`a men and boys.29 Among the dead was a group of nine Iranians: eight diplomats and a journalist.30 At this naked provocation, factions on both sides turned white-hot for war; the IRGC’s overall commander at the time, Yahya Rahim Safavi, requested Supreme Leader Khamenei’s permission “for the punishment of the Taliban, to advance to Herat [a city in western Afghanistan], annihilate, punish, eliminate them.”31 Iran began massing an invasion force of almost a quarter-million soldiers along the Afghan border. Reportedly, it was Soleimani who stepped in and defused the situation without resorting to further violence. Instead of confronting the Taliban directly, Soleimani opted to throw increased Iranian support behind the opposition Northern Alliance, personally helping to direct the group’s operations from a base across Afghanistan’s northern border in Tajikistan.32 It was a model of proxy warfare to which he would return again and again.

In the months after 9/11, Soleimani saw an opportunity to defeat the Taliban once and for all by unconventional means—namely, cooperation with the United States. Early in the war, he directed Iranian diplomats to share intelligence on Taliban military positions with their U.S. counterparts. The Americans, in return, told the Iranians what they knew about an al-Qa`ida fixer hiding out in eastern Iran.33

For a brief moment, it seemed as if this contact might lead to a more general thawing of relations between Iran and the country its leaders refer to as the “Great Satan.” Indeed, back in Tehran, behind closed doors, Soleimani was pronouncing himself “pleased with [the] cooperation,” and musing at the highest political levels that “maybe it’s time to rethink our relationship with the Americans.”34

This cooperation came to an abrupt halt in January 2002, however, after President George W. Bush used his State of the Union address to throw the book at Iran, branding it a nuclear proliferator, an exporter of terrorism, a repressive state, and part of an “Axis of Evil.” Soleimani, predictably, was apoplectic, and canceled future meetings with the Americans—a huge setback.35

Worse was to come.

“When we say no, he makes trouble:” Iraq, 2003-2011
The Islamic Republic’s relationship with Syria’s Assad regime has deep roots, extending back as far as the Iran-Iraq War when Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez, closed a key oil pipeline in a bid to harm the Iraqi economy. In 2003, the U.S. invasion of Iraq pushed Syria and Iran still closer together, as both regimes realized that if the Americans succeeded in Iraq, they could be next. To damage the U.S. occupation, Soleimani helped Syrian intelligence create pipelines for funneling Sunni jihadis into Iraq. Once there, the jihadis attacked U.S. forces, often using roadside bombs supplied by Soleimani’s Quds Force from factories inside Iran.36

Soleimani soon intervened more directly in Iraq, too, sending in Shi`a militias as proxies. Under his leadership, the Quds Force stood up a number of militias for the express purpose of attacking U.S. and allied troops. Collectively, these organizations were responsible for hundreds of coalition deaths. One of them, Asaib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous), claimed more than 6,000 such attacks between its creation in 2006 and the U.S. withdrawal in 2011—an average of more than three per day, every day, for five years.37

In 2006, at the height of the bloodshed in Iraq, Soleimani took a break from managing Asaib and its sister groups in order to supervise another Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, in its escalating war with Israel.38 During his absence, U.S. commanders in the Green Zone noted a sharp decline in casualties across the country. Upon his return from Lebanon, Soleimani wrote to U.S. commanders, “I hope you have been enjoying the peace and quiet in Baghdad. I’ve been busy in Beirut!”39

Following the reestablishment of government in Iraq in 2005, Soleimani’s influence extended into the country’s politics as well. Under prime ministers Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Nouri al-Maliki, one of Soleimani’s militant proxies, the Badr Organization, was allowed to become, in effect, an arm of the state when the interior and transport ministries came under the control of its political wing.40 Iraq’s president from 2005 to 2014, Jalal Talabani, had benefited from IRGC help (as well as that of the CIA) when he served as a leader of Kurdish resistance to Saddam in the 1990s, and Soleimani took full advantage of that history.41 Dexter Filkins of The New Yorker quoted an intelligence officer as saying that he had never seen the normally formidable Talabani “so deferential to anyone. He was terrified.” No wonder; the same profile quoted one of Talabani’s fellow Kurdish officials as saying, “When we say no [to Soleimani], he makes trouble for us. Bombings. Shootings.”42

In early 2008, Soleimani sent General David Petraeus, then the most senior U.S. commander in Iraq, an imperious message:

“Dear General Petraeus: You should be aware that I, Qassem Soleimani, control Iran’s policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan. And indeed, the ambassador in Baghdad is a Quds Force member. The individual who’s going to replace him is a Quds Force member.”43

This was conveyed to General Petraeus via a text message to Talabani’s personal cellphone—effectively relegating Talabani to the role of Soleimani’s mailman. The symbolism was not lost on anyone. Legend has it that Petraeus’ piquant reply read, “Dear General Soleimani: Go pound sand down a rat hole.”44 Privately, however, the U.S. State Department appears to have concurred with Soleimani’s assessment of his own bailiwick, describing him as “the point man directing the formulation and implementation of [his country’s] Iraq policy, with authority second only to [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei.”45

Soleimani’s habit of taunting U.S. officials did not end with the American withdrawal in 2011. As recently as 2017, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo wrote to Soleimani again, warning him to restrain militias under his command from attacking U.S. interests in Iraq. The response from ‘Karla?’ “I will not take your letter nor read it and I have nothing to say to these people.”46

“We must witness victory:” Syria and Iraq, 2011-present
When the Arab Spring began in late 2010, Soleimani was quick to recognize the potential benefits for Iran, declaring in a May 2011 speech in Qom that the uprisings “provide our revolution with the greatest opportunities … we must witness victory in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. This is the fruit of the Islamic Revolution.”47 In the months that followed, Soleimani made himself even more indispensable to the regimes in both Damascus and Baghdad—by deploying militants under his command.

On battlefields in both countries, Qassem Soleimani made himself ubiquitous. One might see him standing on the hoods and flatbeds of trucks, surrounded by fighters jostling and shushing each other to hear and see better.48 His rapt audiences consist of Shi`a militiamen from various countries who fight in support of the Assad regime or against the Islamic State group, but there is never any doubt as to where their principal loyalty lies. Not only do these groups sing songs about Soleimani, they produce music videos featuring militants doing parkour stunts and saluting the general’s image.49

Following the outbreak of civil war in Syria in 2011, Soleimani ordered some of his Iraqi militias into Syria to defend the Assad regime.50 For the same purpose, he also set up additional Shi`a militant groups; these included a group of Afghans resident in Iran, the Fatemiyoun Division, and a Pakistani outfit, the Zeynabiyoun Brigade.51 The very names of these groups announce Iran’s sectarian intentions: Shi`a Muslims accord Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet, a status comparable to that of the Virgin Mary in Catholicism; while Zaynab, Fatima’s daughter, was the sister of Hussein, whose death at the Battle of Karbala formed a pivotal moment in the Sunni-Shi`a schism. Forces under his command were instrumental in many major offensives of the Syrian war, including the recapture of Qusayr from rebels.52 True to form, Soleimani has sought to blend state and insurgent power as seamlessly as possible; the staff at his secret headquarters in Damascus reportedly includes Lebanese and Iraqi militia chieftains working alongside generals from both Iran and Syria.53

In June 2014, Islamic State forces captured Mosul, a city of nearly two million in northern Iraq. In the face of the jihadi advance, tens of thousands of Iraqi troops and federal police doffed their uniforms and melted away.54 By October 2014, the Islamic State had reached the outskirts of Baghdad and was lobbing mortar rounds at the city’s main international airport.55 In the absence of a credible Iraqi army, someone had to save the capital, and Soleimani’s Shi`a proxies—alongside other militias drawn from other communities—were only too happy to oblige. Soleimani now ordered some of the Iraqi militias tasked with defending Assad to cross back over the border to rescue the Iraqi state.56 The militants participating in the defense organized themselves into the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella organization for coordination with the government in Baghdad. Most of the PMF’s constituent groups are Shi`a, and most of those are aligned in some way with Iran, although not all fall under Soleimani’s direct control.57 But Soleimani’s forces are among the biggest, and have seen much of the most intense fighting—often benefiting from U.S. military support to Iraqi troops on the ground. For example, they were pivotal to the retaking of Tikrit in early 2015, during which Soleimani himself was frequently pictured on the frontlines.58

Speaking later that year at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi thanked Iran for its “prompt” deliveries of arms and ammunition, “without even asking for immediate payments.” He reserved particular praise for Qassem Soleimani, calling him out by name as one of Iraq’s most important allies in the fight against the Islamic State.59

Today, the Islamic State no longer holds any meaningful territory in Iraq. But the PMF has not gone away. As of early 2018, its strength was being estimated at around 100,000 to 150,000 fighters, most of them aligned with Iran.60 Long after the Islamic State’s defeat became an inevitability, Prime Minister Abadi was referring to the PMF as “the hope of the country and the region.”61 Indeed, Abadi’s government further entrenched the PMF’s power, making it an independent security force reporting directly to the prime minister’s office—a position that, by longstanding convention, is always held by a Shi`a Muslim.62 While some PMF groups have indeed integrated their command structures under the prime minister’s office, others—including prominent militias with close ties to Tehran—have refused to do so, preferring to retain their independence.63 The Abadi government’s attempts to bring these groups into line met with resistance, denunciations, and in some cases violence, suggesting that future administrations will need to tread carefully when dealing with the PMF.64

Meanwhile, PMF groups have themselves become a force at the ballot box. In 2018, several of the larger militias loyal to Soleimani, including the Badr Organization and Asaib Ahl al-Haq (both of which battled Western troops during the U.S. occupation) formed a political coalition, the Fatah (Victory) Alliance, which won 48 seats in Iraq’s parliament in the May 2018 elections.65 In the political negotiations that followed those elections, Tehran initially identified Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Badr Organization and the Fatah Alliance, as one of its preferred candidates for prime minister (the other being former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki).66 Al-Amiri has acknowledged his friendship with and admiration for Soleimani in effusive terms.67 As transport minister in the al-Maliki government from 2010 to 2014, he allegedly permitted supply flights from Iran to Hezbollah to overfly Iraqi airspace at Soleimani’s behest.68

Soleimani’s own role in Iraqi politics also persists. Prior to the retaking of Kirkuk from Kurdish peshmergas in the fall of 2017, Soleimani personally traveled to Kurdistan on at least three occasions to deliver veiled threats to the Kurdish leadership on behalf of then-Prime Minister Abadi.69 No doubt these warnings factored heavily into the Kurds’ eventual decision to yield the city almost without a fight. Wily as ever, Soleimani positioned his own militias so that they would wind up in control of key sites around the city.70

It remains to be seen how Iraq’s new prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, will handle the PMF. Now a political independent, Abdul Mahdi came to prominence during the Saddam years as a leader in the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq—a political party-in-exile created by (and indeed, in) Tehran in the early 1980s.71 However, he also worked productively with U.S. officials following the 2003 invasion.72 The Fatah Alliance, together with other Iran-aligned political groups, initially opposed his candidacy, while other influential Shi`a figures, including the clerics Moqtada al-Sadr and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, backed him.73 Given this eclectic background, Abdul Mahdi’s nomination has been seen as representing a compromise, both between the two major Shi`a political blocs and, on a wider level, between U.S. and Iranian interests in Iraq.74

In the near term, Abdul Mahdi’s government will have little room to curb the power of the PMF; as long as the Islamic State retains any presence in Iraq, the militias will remain essential to the country’s security.75 Even after the Islamic State is fully eradicated (if that day ever comes), the PMF’s influence, militarily and politically, has reached the point that no successful government will be able to ignore its wishes for the foreseeable future; indeed, amid a slate of cabinet nominees comprised largely of moderates and technocrats, Abdul Mahdi also nominated the Chair of the PMF, Falih al-Fayadh, to serve as his interior minister.76

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Re: Iran

Post by blindpig » Fri Jan 03, 2020 4:15 pm

Sayyed Nasrallah on Gen. Soleimani’s Assassination: We’ll Pursue His Path, Work Night & Day to Achieve His Goals
Posted on January 3, 2020 by martyrashrakat

Translated by Staff


Hezbollah Secretary General, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, issued a statement mourning the martyrdom of IRGC Quds Force Commander Martyr Leader Qassem Soleimani
In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.

{Among the believers are men true to their pledge before God. Some of them have fulfilled their vows, and some are still waiting, and never wavering.}

Allah the Almighty has spoken the truth

Given that the beloved brother and great leader Hajj Qassem Soleimani has fulfilled his ultimate hope by achieving noble martyrdom, he truly became the master of the martyrs in the resistance axis.

We offer our condolences to our master and Imam, master of the time, may God Almighty hasten his relief; to His Eminence the Leader, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Khamenei, to our great religious references and dear brothers and officials of the Islamic Republic in Iran, especially the leadership of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard and the great and resisting Iranian people, to each and every member in Hajj Qassem’s noble and resisting family in particular.

I extend the warmest condolences to them all on the loss of this brave and ingenious role model and compassionate father of all resistance fighters and Mujahideen in our region.

I congratulate and exult him on this great martyrdom and for arriving to the high status in the school of (Imam) Hussein and Zainab, peace be upon them. This is what the scene is like for us.

This is how we perceive the scene and the situation.

Concerning us who remained after him, we will pursue his path and work night and day to achieve his goals. We’ll carry his flag in all arenas, fields and fronts. The victories of the resistance axis will increase with the blessing of his sacred blood, just like these victories grew with his perseverence and tireless struggle. It will be the responsibility, duty, and action of all resistance fighters and Mujahideen throughout the world to take harsh revenge from his criminal killers who are the worst villains of this world.

The US killers, God willing, will not be able to achieve any of their goals with this huge crime. Rather, all of Hajj Qassem’s goals will be accomplished owing to the greatness of his soul and blood. (The goals) will be accomplished by his brothers, children, and students of the resistance from all the peoples of our nations that reject humiliation and submission to the imperialists and tyrants.

Glory, honor, and high ranks be to the great martyr leader Hajj Qassem Soleimani, and to all the dear Mujahideen who were martyred with him, especially the great martyr leader Abu Mahdi, may Allah be pleased with them.
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Re: Iran

Post by blindpig » Mon Jan 06, 2020 3:31 pm


Persian Gulf Arab States to Trump: Do Not Drag Us into Another War

TEHRAN (FNA)- Saudi Arabia will send a message on behalf of the Arab States to President Donald Trump to warn him about another war in Middle East, as some US bases inside Persian Gulf countries are seen as potential targets for Tehran's retaliation of Iranian top general's assassination.
"Saudi Arabia is sending a delegation to Washington to urge restraint with Iran on behalf of [Persian] Gulf states. The message will be: 'Please spare us the pain of going through another war'," Liz Sly, The Washington Post Beirut bureau chief wrote on Twitter.

The Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported, citing people it didn’t identify, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has instructed his younger brother, Deputy Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman, to travel to Washington and London in the next few days to urge restraint.

Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Qods Force Commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, Deputy Commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), or Hashad al-Shabi, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and several others were martyred in a targeted assassination raid by US aircraft in Iraq on Friday morning.

Iranian officials branded Washington assassination operation an “act of international terrorism” and promised retaliation. Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has stated that the Unites States must await a tough revenge.

High-ranking US Democrats warned that the assassination of Iran’s elite Quds Force chief will invite retaliatory attacks from Tehran and bring the two nations to the brink of a major war in the Middle East. Democrats have slammed Trump’s decision to launch an operation against General Soleimani, with many saying he needed congressional authority to order the killing and branding the assassination operation as "an act of war".

I'm still laughing at this. Suckers.
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Re: Iran

Post by blindpig » Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:58 pm

The Axis Of Resistance Announces The Project That Will Avenge Qassem Soleimani
The media continue to tell fairytales about Qassem Soleimani and about Trumps decision to assassinate him and PMU leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Meanwhile the Resistance Axis announced how it will avenge their deaths.

In their descriptions of Qassem Soleimani U.S. media fail to mention that Soleimani and the U.S. fought on the same side. In 2001 Iran supported the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. It used its good relations with the Hazara Militia and the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, which both the CIA and Iran had supplied for years, to support the U.S. operation. The Wikipedia entry for the 2001 uprising in Herat lists U.S. General Tommy Franks and General Qassem Soleimani as allied commanders.


The collaboration ended in 2002 after George W. Bush named Iran as a member of his "Axis of Evil".

In 2015 the U.S. and Iran again collaborated. This time to defeat ISIS in Iraq. During the battle to liberate Tikrit the U.S. air force flew in support of General Soleimani's ground forces. Newsweek reported at that time:

While western nations, including the U.S., were slow to react to ISIS's march across northern Iraq, Soleimani was quick to play a more public role in Tehran's efforts to tackle the terror group. For example, the commander was seen in pictures with militiamen in the northern Iraqi town of Amerli when it was recaptured from ISIS last September.
Top U.S. general Martin Dempsey has said that the involvement of Iran in the fight against ISIS in Iraq could be a positive step, as long as the situation does not descend into sectarianism, because of fears surrounding how Shia militias may treat the remaining Sunni population of Tikrit if it is recaptured. The military chief also claimed that almost two thirds of the 30,000 offensive were Iranian-backed militiamen, meaning that without Iranian assistance and Soleimani's guidance, the offensive on Tikrit may not have been possible.
It is deplorable that U.S. media and politicians blame Soleimani for U.S. casualties during the invasion of Iraq. Shia groups caused only 17% of all U.S. casualties and fought, like the Sadr Brigades, without support from Iran. There are also revived claims that Iran provided the Iraqi resistance with Explosive Formed Penetrators used in roadside bombs. But that claim had been proven to be was false more than 12 years ago. The "EFP from Iran" story was part of a U.S. PSYOPS campaign to explain away the real reason why it was losing the war. There were dozens of reports which proved that the EFPs were manufactured in Iraq and there never was any evidence that Iran delivered weapons or anything else to the Iraqi resistance:

Britain, whose forces have had responsibility for security in southeastern Iraq since the war began, has found nothing to support the Americans' contention that Iran is providing weapons and training in Iraq, several senior military officials said.
"I have not myself seen any evidence -- and I don't think any evidence exists -- of government-supported or instigated" armed support on Iran's part in Iraq, British Defense Secretary Des Browne said in an interview in Baghdad in late August.

Iran is not responsible for the U.S. casualties in Iraq. George W. Bush is. What made Soleimani "bad" in the eyes of the U.S. was his support for the resistance against the Zionist occupation of Palestine. It was Israel that wanted him 'removed'. The media explanations for Trump's decision fail to explain that point.

The New York Times reported yesterday that Trump picked the 'wrong' item from a list of possible courses of action that the military had presented him. That sounded like bullshit invented to take blame away from Trump and to put it onto the military.

The Washington Post reports today that the idea to kill Soleimani came from Secretary of State Pompeo:

Pompeo first spoke with Trump about killing Soleimani months ago, said a senior U.S. official, but neither the president nor Pentagon officials were willing to countenance such an operation.
[This time o]ne significant factor was the “lockstep” coordination for the operation between Pompeo and Esper, both graduates in the same class at the U.S. Military Academy, who deliberated ahead of the briefing with Trump, senior U.S. officials said. Pence also endorsed the decision, but he did not attend the meeting in Florida.
It is possible that the report is correct but it sounds more like an arranged story to blame Pompeo for the bad consequences Trump's decision will have.

During his election campaign Trump did not even know (vid) who Soleimani was. Someone indoctrinated him. The idea to assassinate Soleimani came most likely from Netanyahoo and must have been planted into Trump's head quite a while ago. Israel could have killed Soleimani several times while he was openly traveling in Syria. It shied away from doing that as it (rightly) feared the consequences. Now the U.S. will have to endure them.

The consequences continue to pile up.

The decision by the Iraqi government and parliament to kick all foreign troops out of the country leaves some flexibility in the timeline. The U.S. and other military are in Iraq under simple agreements that were exchanged between the Iraqi Foreign Ministry and the other sides. The ministry can fulfill the parliament decision by simply writing letters that declare that the agreements end next week. It could also choose to wait until the end of the year. But Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has publicly declared that he can no longer guarantee the security of foreign troops on Iraqi ground. That makes the issue urgent and it is likely that the troops will leave rather soon.

Trump did not like the idea and threatened Iraq with sanctions:

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, the U.S. president said: “If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”
“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” Trump said.

The president added that “If there’s any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate, we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions on Iraq.”

There are also some 2,900 Twitter bots who try to let the parliament decision look illegitimate by tweeting "I am Iraqi and parliament doesn't represent me". It is not known if these are Saudi or U.S. bots but their behavior is inauthentic.

There is nothing Trump can do to keep the troops in Iraq. If the Iraqi government does not tell them to leave the Popular Militia Forces will attack the U.S. bases and evict the U.S. military by force. When the U.S. assassinated Soleimani and PMU leader al-Muhandis it made that step inevitable.

Yesterday Iran took a decision to exceed the number of centrifuges that are allowed to run under the JCPOA nuclear agreement which the U.S. has left. The decision had been expected and the Soleimani assassination only accelerated it. Iran took the step under §36 of the agreement which allows Iran to exceed the limits if the other sides of the JCPOA do not stick to their commitments. That means that Iran is still within the JCPOA and that the step is reversible. The IAEA will continue to have access to Iran's sites and will continue to report regularly about Iran's civil nuclear program.

The JCPOA co-signers France, the UK and Germany issued a very unhelpful statement today that puts all blame on Iran and does not even mention the U.S. assassinations of Soleimani.

Iran has not announce what kind of operation it will use to avenge the death of its national hero Qassem Soleimani. It will likely be some asymmetrical operation against the U.S. military somewhere around the globe. It will certainly be a big one.

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, a dear friend of Soleimani, announced yesterday that the Resistance Axis will take its own, separate revenge.


Here are edited excerpts from Nasrallah's rather long speech (which I recommend to read in full):

Today we commemorate Soleimani and al-Muhandis, two great commanders, and their Iraqi and Iranian companions who were martyred in this recent crime. The date of Soleimani's assassination is an inflection point in the history of the region, not just for Iran or Iraq. It is a new beginning.
Soleimani's assassination isn't an isolated incident. It's the beginning of new American approach to the region. The U.S. carefully weighed what move they could take to reverse all their previous failures. But this wasn't war with Iran. Trump knows war with Iran would be difficult and dangerous. So, what could they do that wouldn't lead to war with Iran? They settled on killing Qassem Soleimani, a central figure in the Resistance Axis.
Qassem Soleimani was the glue that held the Resistance Axis together, and so they decided to kill him, and to kill him openly, which would also have its psychological impact.
Our responsibility in the Resistance Axis is divided into three points.
Trump's goal was to terrify us all, and subjugate us. The leadership of Resistance will not waver or back down at all. To the contrary, the martyrdom of Soleimani and Muhandis will only drive us forward.
Resistance must coordinate and become closer, to strengthen itself and its capabilities, because the region is heading toward a new phase.
In terms of response, we have to consider just punishment. In terms of this crime, the one who committed it is known, and must be punished.
Soleimani isn't just an Iranian matter, he is all of the Resistance Axis - Palestine, Lebanon Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and every country which has supporter and lover of Resistance. The umma. This isn't an Iranian issue alone. Iran can also respond as it pleases, but that response doesn't exempt the Resistance Axis from also responding. Iran won't ask you to do anything - to act or not to act. But Resistance Axis forces must decide how to deal with Soleimani's death.

So, if any Resistance Axis faction avenges his death, that their decision, and Iran isn't behind that. Iran won't ask anything. It's up to us how to respond. Do we content ourselves with mourning and eulogizing? We must all head towards just punishment.

What do we mean by just punishment? Some are saying this must be someone of the same level as Qassem Soleimani - like Chairman of Joint Chiefs, head of @CENTCOM, but there is no one on Soleimani or Muhandis' level. Soleimani's shoe is worth more than Trump's head, so there's no one I can point to to say this is the person we can target.

Just punishment therefore means American military presence in the region, U.S. military bases, U.S. military ships, every American officer and soldier in our countries and regions. The U.S. military is the one who killed Soleimani and Muhandis, and they will pay the price. This is the equation.

I want to be very clear, we do not mean American citizens or nationals. There are many Americans in our region. We don't mean to attack them, and it is wrong to harm them. Attacking US civilians anywhere serves Trump's interests.

The American military institution put itself in the midst of battle by carrying out the assassination.

There are those who will say I'm blowing things out of proportion. I'm not. I'm seeing it as it is. We won't accept our region, its holy places, and natural resources to be handed over to the Zionists.

If the resistance axis heads in this direction, the Americans will leave our region, humiliated, defeated, and terrified. The suicide martyrs who forced the US out of the region before remain. If our region's peoples head in this direction - when the coffins of of U.S. soldiers and officers - they arrived vertically, and will return horizontally - Trump and his admin will know they lost the region, and will lose the elections.

The response to the blood of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis must be expulsion of all U.S, forces from the region. When we accomplish this goal, the liberation of Palestine will become imminent. When US forces leave the region, these Zionists will pack their bags and leave, and might not need a battle with Israel.

General Esmail Qaani, Soleimani's replacement as commander of the Quds Brigade, endorsed Nasrallah's proposal:

Going Underground on RT @Underground_RT - 00:14 UTC · Jan 6, 2020
Esmail Qaani, the new leader of Iran's IRGC Quds Force:
"Our promise is to continue the path of martyr Soleimani. Due to the martyrdom of #Soleimani, our promise will be the expulsion of the US from the region in different steps."

These are not empty threats but a military project that will play out over the next years. I would not bet on the U.S. as the winner of that war.

There were millions of Iranians in the streets of Tehran today to mourn Qassem Soleimani. The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei shed tears while reciting the funeral prayer (vid). As Ayatollah Khomeini once said: “They call us a nation of tears, but with these tears we overthrew an empire.”

Fereshteh Sadeghi فرشته صادقی @fresh_sadegh - 5:15 UTC · Jan 6, 2020
I was given this poster tonight by 2 young men next to a stand that offered tea and dates to motorists (dates as a sign of mourning in Iran), I want to stick it on my car’s rear window. It reads: A world will avenge you, with hashtag #crushing_response


There will be hundreds of thousands of volunteers should Iran need them to avenge Soleimani. That is why we predicted that the U.S. will come to regret its evil deed.

And while the situation can be reasonably compared to the build up to the war on Iraq I do not see a war happening. Wars are very risky as the enemy gets a vote. Any war with Iran would likely cost ten thousands of U.S. casualties. Trump is probably not stupid enough to launch such a war and certainly not during an election year.

During his campaign Trump said he wanted the U.S. military out of the Middle East. Iran and its allies will help him to keep that promise.

Posted by b on January 6, 2020 at 18:56 UTC | Permalink ... imani.html

Blaming it on 'da Jews', b, really? Well, somebody put that bug in his ear, it's possible...and regardless of who said what it served the purpose. Imperial overreach, it's bound to happen. The Sassanids are back.
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Re: Iran

Post by blindpig » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:48 pm

US interventionist presence in region has to end as soon as possible: Iran defense chief

Friday, 10 January 2020 10:42 AM [ Last Update: Friday, 10 January 2020 12:08 PM ]

File photo shows American aircraft launching from the deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier in an unspecified location, published by the US Navy in January 2018.

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami says Washington's "interventionist presence" in the region has to end as soon as possible for a de-escalation to take place after recent US provocations.

"Achieving de-escalation, stabilization and security in the region requires the immediate end of Washington's occupation and interventionist presence," Hatami said in a phone call with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on Thursday.

The talks between the two defense chiefs came after Tokyo announced last month that its sought to send a warship and a number of patrol aircraft to the Middle East region in order to ensure security amid heightening tensions.

Tokyo receives nearly 90 percent of its oil imports from the Middle East.

Speaking on Thursday, Hatami said "those who seek to assist in de-escalation and achieving regional stability have to remind the Americans, which are a source of regional insecurity, to leave the region."

The Iranian defense chief added that Iran, being the largest country with an access to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, has always fulfilled its role in ensuring security in regional waterways.

Iran’s proposed plan for ensuring security in the Persian Gulf aims to reduce tensions in the strategic region, says the Iranian deputy foreign minister for political affairs.
Hatami's call for the expulsion of US forces comes a week after Washington assassinated the Middle East's most prominent anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

Speaking to his Japanese counterpart, Hatami called on independent countries to condemn Washington's "state terrorism".

He described Soleimani's assassination as an unprecedented and major crime where a foreign government has acted to kill a senior Iranian military officer in another country.

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has targeted US airbases in Iraq.
Speaking on his part, Kono stressed that Japan's military deployment in the region seeks to ensure regional peace and that it does not intend to take part in a so-called US-led Persian Gulf coalition, which commenced its operations last November.

According to Japan's public broadcaster NHK, Kono also gave out orders for the Japanese military deployments to begin on Friday.

Earlier last year, Washington called for the formation of the maritime coalition in response to a series of mysterious explosions targeting vessels in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.

The so-called US-led military coalition in the Persian Gulf has officially commenced its operations.
US officials were quick to blame Iran for the incidents without providing conclusive evidence.

Iran has roundly rejected the accusations, describing the attacks as being part of "false flag operations" seeking to pressure Iran.

Following the tensions, Japan, which has sought to maintain positive ties with both Tehran and Washington, has stressed that it has opted to form its own maritime operation rather than join the US-led mission.

According to The Japan Times, the Japanese operation will operate in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden east of Saudi Arabia and will exclude the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf due to Iran's concerns regarding the presence of the US-led initiative. ... rsian-Gulf

Very calm & precise, I'd be getting nervous were I the empire.
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Re: Iran

Post by blindpig » Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:31 pm

Iran urges all parties involved to contribute to Ukrainian plane crash probe

Thursday, 09 January 2020 11:12 PM [ Last Update: Friday, 10 January 2020 12:03 AM ]

This picture shows the scene where a Ukraine International Airlines plane crashed after take-off from Iran's Imam Khomeini International Airport, on the outskirts of Tehran, on January 8, 2020. (Photo by Tasnim news agency)

Iran has urged all parties involved, including American multinational aviation corporation Boeing, to contribute to a probe into a Ukrainian plane crash near the capital Tehran that killed all 176 people aboard.

“According to international regulations, representatives from the civil aviation agency of the country where the crash has taken place (Iran), the civil aviation agency of the country which has issued the airworthiness certificate (Ukraine), the owner of the airliner (Ukraine International Airlines), the aircraft manufacturer (Boeing Co.), and the jet engine manufacturer (CFM International) can participate in the investigation process. A delegate from Ukraine is already in Iran. We call upon Boeing Co. to dispatch its own representative to participate in the process of reading the black box data,” Ali Rabiei, spokesman for the Iranian administration, said in a statement released early on Friday.

“We also welcome the participation of all countries which have lost their nationals in the mishap,” the statement pointed out.

'Missile attack claims US psychological operation'

Rabiei then roundly dismissed the Pentagon’s allegations that missiles downed the Ukrainian jet, saying, “No one will assume responsibility for such a big lie once it is known that the claim had been fraudulent.”

“It is unfortunate that the psychological operation of the US government, and those supporting it knowingly and unknowingly, are adding insult to the injury of the bereaved families and victimizing them for certain goals by propagating such fallacies,” the senior Iranian official pointed out.

Iran’s civil aviation chief rejects reports that the Ukrainian plane that crashed south of the capital Tehran was hit by missiles.

Iran calls on Canada to hand over info on crashed plane

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Seyyed Abbas Mousavi, said Iran has launched an investigation into the cause of the plane crash in compliance with international principles and those of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The Spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Seyyed Abbas Mousavi (Photo by IRIB News Agency)
Mousavi highlighted that Iran has extended invitations to Ukraine and Boeing Co. to participate in the investigation.

He then offered his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes the participation of experts from countries whose nationals have been killed in the disaster. We ask the Canadian prime minister (Justin Trudeau) or any government with related information to come forward and provide the info to the committee probing the crash in Iran,” the Iranian diplomat noted.

US to join probe: Iran official

In another development, an Iranian official told Reuters Thursday that the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has accepted Iran's invitation to participate in the investigation into the Ukrainian jetliner crash

"The NTSB has replied to our chief investigator and has announced an accredited representative," Reuters quoted Farhad Parvaresh, Iran's ICAO representative, as saying.

A person briefed on the matter confirmed the NTSB had agreed to take part but said it was unclear what if anything its representative would be able to do under US sanctions.

The US is allowed to take part under global rules since the Boeing 737-800NG jet was designed and built there.

Parvaresh added that the Islamic Republic is ready to provide consular facilities and visas for accredited investigators.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Press TV on Thursday night, Head of Iran Civil Aviation Organization Ali Abedzadeh rejected as “illogical rumors" reports that the Ukrainian plane that crashed south of the capital Tehran was hit by missiles.

“From a scientific viewpoint, it is impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane. The plane caught fire three minutes into the flight, according to what the witnesses have reported and the data collected from the parts of the airplane,” Abedzadeh told Press TV.

“The pilot tried to return the airplane at the altitude of 8,000 ft., but due to the fire, the airplane crashed and exploded,” he added.

Ukrainian passenger jet crashes in Iran, all 179 on board dead

A Ukrainian passenger plane with 179 people on board crashes shortly after take-off from the international airport south of the Iranian capital, Tehran, killing all those aboard.
Earlier on Thursday, Iran’s minister of road and urban development dismissed as "untrue" rumors that suggest the Wednesday crash of the Ukrainian airliner was because of a missile attack.

Mohammad Eslami said the Boeing 737-800 aircraft crashed after encountering a technical glitch. ... rash-probe
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Re: Iran

Post by blindpig » Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:52 pm


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Re: Iran

Post by blindpig » Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:00 pm

Iranian Armed Forces Say They Inadvertently Shot Down The Ukrainian Plane - Updated
Updated below

The Iranian Armed Forces General Staff just admitted (in Farsi, English translation) that its air defenses inadvertently shot down the Ukrainian flight PS 752 shortly after it took off on January 8 in Tehran :

2- In early hours after the missile attack [on US’ Ain al-Assad base in Iraq], the military flights of the US’ terrorist forces had increased around the country. The Iranian defence units received news of witnessing flying targets moving towards Iran’s strategic centres, and then several targets were observed in some [Iranian] radars, which incited further sensitivity at the Air Defence units.
3- Under such sensitive and critical circumstances, the Ukrainian airline’s Flight PS752 took off from Imam Khomeini Airport, and when turning around, it approached a sensitive military site of the IRGC, taking the shape and altitude of a hostile target. In such conditions, due to human error and in an unintentional move, the airplane was hit [by the Air Defence], which caused the martyrdom of a number of our compatriots and the deaths of several foreign nationals.

4- The General Staff of the Armed Forces offers condolences and expresses sympathy with the bereaved families of the Iranian and foreign victims, and apologizes for the human error. It also gives full assurances that it will make major revision in the operational procedures of its armed forces in order to make impossible the recurrence of such errors. It will also immediately hand over the culprits to the Judicial Organization of the Armed Forces for prosecution.

The Pentagon had claimed that Iran shot down the airliner but the evidence it presented was flimsy and not sufficient as the U.S. tends to spread disinformation about Iran.

It is welcome that the Iranian forces come clean about the incident.

That is not a given in such cases.

After the USS Vincennes in 1988 had shot down Iran Air Flight 655 and killed 290 people, including many children, the U.S. government denied any culpability. George H. W. Bush, the vice president of the United States at the time, commented: "I will never apologize for the United States – I don't care what the facts are... I'm not an apologize-for-America kind of guy." Despite its "error" the crew was given medals and the captain was even awarded a Legion of Merit "for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as commanding officer ...".

We can be assured by the statement of Iran's president that the responsible Iranian officer will receive no such a reward:

Cont. reading: Iranian Armed Forces Say They Inadvertently Shot Down The Ukrainian Plane - Updated

Posted by b at 4:21 UTC | Comments (105)

There is a lot of speculation about how this could have happened concerning autopilot & ID beacon/signal. We shall see.
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Re: Iran

Post by blindpig » Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:57 am

Was The Shootdown Of The Ukrainian Airplane Near Tehran Intended, A Screw-Up Or A 'Mistake'?
After the shoot down of the Ukrainian flight PS752 the big question within Iran and within its military and political circles is what went wrong.

An analysis of the circumstances under which the incident took place unfortunately shows that nothing went wrong. The strategic and tactical decisions that were made were all rational and made sense. But unfortunately shit happens even when everything else works as it is supposed to work.

The Iran Front Page has now published a full English language transcript of the press conference by IRGC Aerospace commander Brigadier General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh. It also provides a video with English subtitles of the talk. The narration he gives is highly plausible and has no contradictions within it.

A detailed reading of his talk also clears up some misconceptions in the earlier reporting and comments:

Regarding the details of the incident, I should say; well, you know the region’s conditions remained tense and the risk of conflict was high for over a week. It was really unprecedented compared to what we saw in previous years, even since the 1979 Revolution. The risk of conflict was very high; both the Americans and the Iranian Armed Forces were on highest alert. The Americans had also threatened to hit 52 sites in Iran.
This is a main point one must keep in mind. There really was a threat from the U.S. and everyone thought that war would break out within the next minutes or hours. Decisions made under such stress are more prone to be wrong:

What we know from our investigations and from what our friends explained is that, well, at that night, for example from [Tuesday] evening, the level of preparedness was at wartime conditions; the highest alert level communicated by the integrated air defence to all systems. Under such circumstances, a number of air defence systems was added to Tehran’s air defence ring. The first system – which was behind the incident – was deployed in Bidganeh in western Tehran.
An integrated air defense system provides a full picture of the air situation to all connected units. Fixed radars, defense missile units and command and control centers are connected by secure landlines, not by radio.
But the mobile Tor M1 system responsible for shooting down the Ukrainian airliner was added as a stand alone system. It is an relatively old system. Its operators only had a voice radio connection to other parts of the network. If they had a data connection at all it was also via radio and with very little throughput. The system did not have the full picture of the air situation. Its own radar has a maximum detection range of 25 kilometer (16 miles). In most practical situations it will be a lot less than that. Bidganeh, where the system was deployed, is a strategic missile production and test facility some 30 kilometer away from Tehran airport. The Tor operator did not know that a civil airplane had just taken off:

At several stages, the Alert Level 3, which is the highest level, is communicated and emphasized to the entire network. So all air defence systems were at highest alert level. For several times, these systems including the one involved in the incident were notified by the integrated network that cruise missiles have been fired at the country. For a couple of times, they receive reports that ‘the cruise missiles are coming, be prepared’.
This is the normal 'fog of war' situation in which misinformation, or electronic interference, causes false alarms and where confusion sets in.

So you see the systems were at the highest alert level, where you should just press a button. They had been told cruise missiles were coming, and the air defence unit engaged in this incident and fired a missile. Now we have arranged an interview with this operator, which will be released soon as part of the plan to publicize the issue. He says in this interview that “we requested for several times that the country’s airspace be cleared of [civilian] flights.’ At the Alert Level 3, this is normal; such requests are made; well our dear brothers didn’t follow up the issue for certain considerations. So the planes fly despite the wartime situation.
This the major political issue, not a military one.

Iran's strategic intent after the U.S. assassination of its national hero Qassem Soleimani was to project defiance to the U.S. Its revenge missile barrage on the U.S. base in Iraq was fired despite harsh U.S. warnings and threats of war against Iran.

The pin point hits on the selected targets, mostly maintenance shacks, was a warning that demonstrated Iran's capabilities. I think it was necessary and worth the risk.

The political level decided that by leaving the airspace open and by showing normalcy it would further its strategic objective. Closing the airspace would have allowed the U.S. to claim that Iran is fearing its response and that it had shown weakness. The decision to not close the airspace was, I believe, strategically correct. But it had tactical costs which turned out to be high.

In those moments when the incident happens, this air defence unit realizes that there is a target – which it identified as a cruise missile – at a distance of 19 kilometres. [...] Given the information sent to this operator – that it is a wartime situation and a cruise missile has been fired – this poor guy identifies it as a cruise missile.
The Tor M1 was developed in 1991. The radar signals it generates are shown on an analog tube-screen. The radar's 'hits' on the screen are difficult to discriminate. At best one has speed, distance and direction of the target and must draw conclusion from that. The Boeing jet broadcast the usual civil ADS-B signal but one has to expect that a U.S. cruise missile can and would do the same. The speed of the still climbing Boeing 737 was about 250 knots or 460 kilometers per hour (286 mi/h). That is within the range of the speed of a typical cruise missile. The plane needed a bit less than 8 seconds to fly one kilometer. That left little time for the Tor operator to decide and react.

Well at such a situation, he was obliged to contact, get approval. This is where this operator makes the mistake; but at that moment, his communication system was apparently disrupted – whether because of jamming systems or the high traffic. For that reason, he fails to contact [his commanders]. He had 10 seconds to decide; he could hit or not hit [the target]. Under such circumstances, he decides to make that bad decision; he engages, the missile is fired, and the plane is hit at this place. Then it returns through this track, and here’s the point where it hits the ground.
Radio communication can be unreliable. The people at the other side of the operators call may have been talking to someone else or could not react immediately. Air defense personal is trained to always presume electronic interference by enemy forces. The U.S. has publicly bragged about its cyber-attacks on IRGC systems. U.S. air attacks typically come behind a wave of electronic countermeasures.

Under these circumstances - highest possible alarm level, current warnings of hostile cruise missiles, unknown target flying towards a presumably military objective, lack of communication, little decision time - the operator of the Tor system did what he was trained to do.

As a former military officer I can not see any fault in what the man did. That is why I find this statement by Iran's President Rouhani to be wrong:

In a separate statement, Rouhani called the missile launch an “unforgivable mistake,” and he said officials must “address the weaknesses of the nation’s defense systems to make sure such a disaster is never repeated.”
Iran's strategic intent is to withstand U.S. pressure and to show defiance. Closing the airspace would have contradicted that objective. The shooting down of flight PS752 happened during a tactical engagement by a small mobile unit which did what it was supposed to do. Communication fuck-ups happen all the time during war like situations. They often cause casualties but are unavoidable.

The general in his press conference claimed that his organization is guilty:

Our dear brothers at the Aviation Organization categorically rejected the possibility of a missile hitting the plane; they acted based on what they knew. I must say they were not guilty and have nothing to do with this. All the blame is on us; they’re innocent. The plane was also on its track, it made no mistake. It did the right thing, as did the Aviation Organization. Everyone did the right thing. Only one of our forces made a mistake. Since he is under our command, we are responsible for that. We must be accountable.
It is the right thing to say public relation wise. But the incident itself is not a military error or mistake.

What one can and should criticize is the slow reaction of the Iranian military command after the incident happened. It launched an internal investigation and told everyone to be silent about it. It took the generals three days to look for an excuse that was impossible to find because everything that had happened did happen for rational reasons. The air defense systems have to be dispersed to make them less easy to attack. Communication failures are to be expected during a war. The soldiers are trained to act autonomously when comm-failures happen. They did what they had to do.

It is sad that this incident happened and that 176 lost their life. But if one wants to find a person guilty for it one must look for the person who caused the whole situation. That person is not the lowly sergeant who pressed the button. That person is U.S. President Donald Trump.

Posted by b on January 12, 2020 at 18:08 UTC | Permalink ... stake.html
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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