Top Iranian Commander Identifies US Bases “Within Reach” Of Precision Missiles

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Threats issued from Iranian officials against U.S. military operations in the Persian Gulf are nothing new, however, it will be interesting to see the White House response to an elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) commander specifically designating that American bases in Afghanistan, the UAE, Qatar, as well as U.S. aircraft carriers in the Gulf are within range of Iranian ballistic missiles.

Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of the IRGC airspace division, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency, via Reuters:

They are within our reach, and we can hit them if they make a move… Our land-to-sea missiles have a range of 700 kilometers [450 miles]… and the US aircraft carriers are our targets. Continue reading

Iran Revolutionary Guards Find New Route to Arm Yemen Rebels

Member of a special force loyal to Houthi rebels holds RPG launcher / REUTERS

 

LONDON (Reuters) — Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards have started using a new route across the Gulf to funnel covert arms shipments to their Houthi allies in Yemen’s civil war, sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters.

In March, regional and Western sources told Reuters that Iran was shipping weapons and military advisers to the Houthis either directly to Yemen or via Somalia. This route however risked contact with international naval vessels on patrol in the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea.

For the last six months the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has begun using waters further up the Gulf between Kuwait and Iran as it looks for new ways to beat an embargo on arms shipments to fellow Shi’ites in the Houthi movement, Western and Iranian sources say. Continue reading

The Saudi Power Balance Is On A Knife-Edge

 

The sweltering heat of Saudi Arabian summer will feel like a cool breeze compared to the geopolitical fire that could soon take over the country if ongoing internal power struggles destabilize the Kingdom’s Royal Family and national security in the coming weeks.

After his successful elevation to Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) has been appointed by King Salman to be in charge during his holiday to Morocco. The King’s holiday comes at a time of relative instability in the Kingdom, as the effects of the removal of former Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef at the end of the Ramadan period continue to linger. Continue reading

Saudi Arabia turns to Turkey

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (R) shakes hands with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud during a luncheon ahead of the G-20 summit in Belek, Turkey, Nov. 14, 2015. (photo by REUTERS/Kayhan Ozer)

 

Saudi Arabia and Turkey have agreed to form a Strategic Cooperation Council to coordinate and develop relations between the countries in terms of economic, political, defense, security, education and health issues. The countries also are discussing military cooperation, especially with regard to Syria.

The custodian of the two holy mosques, Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, received Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at his palace in Riyadh during the prime minister’s official visit Jan. 31. Continue reading

Iran Uses Maritime Confrontations to Project Power in Gulf

ANKARA (Reuters) – Iran is using its sea power in the Gulf to show it will not be cowed by Washington’s newly assertive Arab allies, prompting critics to accuse Tehran of destabilizing the region.

Iranian ships fired shots at a Singapore-flagged tanker which it said damaged an Iranian oil platform, causing the vessel to flee, and seized a container ship in the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil route, over a debt row.

The incidents coincided with a push by Washington to reassure Gulf Arab monarchies that their interests would not be threatened by a nuclear accord that Tehran and world powers are trying to reach by the end of June. Continue reading

Here’s Why Iran’s Seizure of a Cargo Ship Is So Odd, and Disturbing

So far, nothing terribly unusual. The IRGCN, assigned to patrol the Gulf, routinely sends boats to shadow — some call it “harass” — vessels of other nationalities as they transit the strait. Just three days ago, CNN reported, four IRGCN boats surrounded the U.S.-flagged Maersk Kensington in the Strait of Hormuz and followed it closely for some time. The U.S. Fifth Fleet subsequently issued a notice to mariners.What happened next to the MV Maersk Tigris, however, was quite out of the ordinary.

The master was contacted and directed to proceed further into Iranian territorial waters,” said Warren. “He declined and one of the IRGCN craft fired shots across the bridge of the Maersk Tigris. The master complied with the Iranian demand and proceeded into Iranian waters in the vicinity of Larak Island.” Continue reading

Saudi Arabia ‘targeting Iran and Israel with ballistic missiles’

Saudi Arabia is targeting both Israel and Iran with powerful ballistic missiles, new satellite photography shown by military experts to The Telegraph suggests.

Images analysed by experts at IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review has revealed a hitherto undisclosed surface-to-surface missile base deep in the Saudi desert, with capabilities for hitting both countries.

Analysts who examined the photos spotted two launch pads with markings pointing north-west towards Tel Aviv and north-east towards Tehran. They are designed for Saudi Arabia’s arsenal of lorry-launched DF 3 missiles, which have a range of 1,500-2,500 miles and can carry a two-ton payload. Continue reading

Pentagon strengthens naval forces in Gulf

The US Navy has deployed three additional coastal patrol ships to its Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, bolstering America’s presence in the strategic Gulf, officials said Wednesday.

The USS Tempest, the USS Squall and the USS Thunderbolt arrived Wednesday at the port of Manama, bringing the total number of patrol craft to eight, the Navy said. Continue reading

IRAN OFFICIAL: ATTACK ON SYRIA IS ATTACK ON IRAN

Giving credibility to today’s DEBKAfile report:

Iran is Syria’s strongest ally in the Middle East, and has provided Assad’s government with military and political backing for years. In September, the top commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, said the elite unit had high-level advisers in Syria. Iran also is believed to be sending weapons and money to Syria as it endures its worst crisis in decades.

“Syria plays a very key role in supporting or, God forbid, destabilizing the resistance front,” Velayati was quoted by Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency as saying. “For this same reason, (an) attack on Syria is considered (an) attack on Iran and Iran’s allies.Continue reading

Report: China’s arming of Iran poses threat to U.S. Navy in Gulf

“Unless Beijing and Teheran divert from their current course of action, or Washington undertakes actions to offset or counterbalance the effects of their military buildups, it is practically certain that the cost incurred by the U.S. military to maintain access to two areas of vital interest will rise sharply, perhaps to prohibitive levels, and perhaps much sooner than many expect,” the report, titled “Questions For Strategy, Requirements For Military Forces,” said.

The report said Iran also purchased the M-11 short-range ballistic missile from China. The M-11 was designed to carry a nuclear warhead.

“Between 1995 and 2010, Iran increased the number of missiles it possessed from several hundred to an estimated 1,000,” the report said. “Simultaneously, the Iranian missile program fielded increasingly more-sophisticated missiles, with particular emphasis on technical efficiency and range.”

Full article: Report: China’s arming of Iran poses threat to U.S. Navy in Gulf (World Tribune)