Category Archives: Israel

Being smarter about Iran

It is always a mistake to read ZeroHedge before finishing your first cup of coffee. I made that mistake today and came across this article Jerusalem Post: U.S. Bombing Of Iran “Will Be Massive But Will Be Limited To A Specific Target”.

The article outlines all the ways that this approach to war with Iran would be folly and while I don’t necessarily agree with all the points made, the general point that massive force however strategically deployed will almost certainly produce results that the US and the rest of the world will not like one little bit. While you can bomb the Hell out of Iran, Iran has a number of retaliatory options rangine from the possibility of an EMP hit (they may have a rudimentary nuke) to closing the Strait of Hormuz to using Hezbollah sleeper cells in the US to hit critical infrastructure. While I have no doubt the US could beat Iran in a straight war, it would be long, bloody, politically suicidal for Trump and nasty for ordinary Americans.

Worse, it would be a strategic error. If the US leaves its current sanctions in place the Iranian economy will grind to something of a halt. Support for the current Iranian regime, already shakey, will decline. Yes, the current regime will continue with its provocations – I have no doubt it was Iranians who put holes in the sides of two tankers. But, so what?

Exciting as a hot war with Iran would be for assorted policy wonks, it would be an expensive exercise in futility compared to a longer term cold war with some clever extras.

First off, the Americans should make it very clear to the Iranians and the world that while they are committed to freedom of navigation, they are not interested in massive responses to minor incidents. If there is to be any response at all to the tanker mines (if that is what they were) it should be very local indeed. Find the boat in the video and sink it (or one very much like it – no need to be too picky).

Second, using US cyber assets – such as they are – it is time to see just how effectively infrastructure can be disrupted rather than destroyed. A sense of humour would be a huge asset here. Being able to cut into TV broadcasts is one thing, telling jokes at the Ayatollah’s expense is another.

Third, the Israelis did a very good business in the selective assasination of Iran’s nuclear scientists. A similar tactic against Iranian civil and military officials engaged in terrorism or attacks on shipping would be throughly demoralizing for the Iranian regime.

Fourth, use US, Arab, Iranian and Israeli inteligence assets to mount a serious campaign of exposure against the corruption of the clerics and Revolutionary Guard. There is a lot of evidence that a great deal of the wealth in Iran since the Islamic Revolution has flowed to these two groups. Expose that and conduct a campaign world wide to freeze and seize those assets.

Fifth, roll up Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guard operating outside Iran. Again, this need not be a shock and awe operation. Just the relentless raiding of rocket storehouses, arms depots, command and control infrastructure where ever it is located. Yes, there will be some unexplained explosions in southern Lebannon and in Syria. But there may be raids in South America and in the US and Canada. This would have the double effect of blunting Iran’s capacity to attack outside its borders and would, consequently, improve the safety of various civilian populations.

Sixth, and this should be done in any event, get to work hardening and creating redundancies in key infrastructure. A few years ago someone, who was never caught, was shooting up transformers at remote electrical substations in the US. The fact is that the grid in the US remains open to cyber attack, EMP attack, a guy with a 50 cal sniper rifle and a Carrington Event: how quickly it can recover is a matter of preparation.

President Trump has suggested that the Iraq and Afghani wars were expensive wastes of time. A war with Iran would be much more expensive and just as much a waste of time. The US and its allies have plenty of tools to fight a cool war of attrition which would be relatively cheap, have clearly defined goals and which, over time, would neuter the hardliners in Iran.

If Trump wants more people to think he is indeed “a stable genius” he’ll resist the temptation to get into an overt shooting war with Iran. Instead, he and his allies will fight from the shadows and beat the Iranian hardliners without dropping a single, traceable, bomb. (There maybe some Hellfires here and there.)

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Saudi Gets Serious in Yemen

CLf7bm-UYAA4nxaThe reported deployment of tanks and other armoured vehicles from the United Arab Emirates, which have been seen unloading in Aden over recent days, represents the first major ground involvement by the Arab coalition ranged against the Houthi rebels.

It is a signal that the air campaign launched in March has its limits and it is a sign too that the Saudi-led coalition is willing now to become more engaged in the fighting. The reinforcements may already have had a hand in the recapture of al-Anad airbase: an important asset that could provide a launch-pad for more extensive operations against the rebels. bbc

Debka has more.

It looks like the Saudis and the UAE, backed by naval bombardment, is finally getting down to business in Yemen. It is not going to be pretty because the Saudis are apparently willing to scratch the paint on their tank fleet. With 1200 tanks that is a serious force even if only a fraction is deployed.

What this means for the Iranian-backed Yemeni rebels is annihilation. And there is little chance Iran is going to be able to do much to stop them as it is occupied to the north trying to keep Assad in power and fighting ISIS.

In broader terms this is a departure for the Saudis who have usually kept ground troops at home. It is also a setback for Obama’s whistling past the graveyard Middle Eastern surrender. His boys the Iranians are going to suffer a significant loss to their Sunni enemies.

My bet is that the Saudis didn’t bother to ask permission or even tell the Americans they were going to launch this offensive. The ever dumb Kerry was in Qatar as the offensive launched meeting with Sunni leaders. Want to bet they mentioned the fact they were taking on Iranian proxies.

And if the Sunnis did not bring in the US where were they getting their satellite intelligence from. One guess. Those fiends in Israel have 24/7 high-res coverage of the relevant areas.

Things are changing fast in the Middle East. The Big Zero has been benched.

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Long views

A long break from writing my blog but not from thinking about the questions which drive it.  In the interim we have seen the rise of IS, the economic laming of Europe, the collapse of high oil prices and the end of the Democratic Congress.

Oh and I nearly forgot, the end of alarmist climate change as anything but a fringe issue… When you are reduced to the Pope and Prince Charles you know that the shark jump has occurred.

At end I have been reading history and Gore Vidal’s essays and Proust. To really get a handle on IS you need a sense of the murderous history of the Near and Middle East. To capture the spirit of massacre which permeates the politics of the Levant you need to recognize that it stretches all the way back to the Early Byzantine. If you want to understand the nastiness of elements of Sicilian and Spanish cultural attitudes towards women you have to see how far into Europe Islam advanced. Similarly it is useful to know that before the Islamic invasion much of the Middle East was Christian, pagan or Jewish. The Crusaders, in their brutish way were protecting Christian holy places from invaders. (Not that the Crusaders were adverse to killing the Jews as well as Muslims in wholesale numbers. Not to mention attacking Byzantine, populated by fellow Christians.)

When you get a bit of a historical feel for the place a lot of the vexed questions of whose land is it vanish – it is contested land open to whomever can hold it. So then the question become who would we like to hold it. And that question can be answered in a number of defensible ways.

So, back to blogging. It is an emptier world than when I tapered off. But it will be interesting to see who is new.

Time for Fury

A second journalist, Steven Sotloff, has been beheaded by the medieval Islamists of IS.

There are many good reasons to eradicate IS and its enablers: genocide, ethnic and religious cleansing, rape as a tool of war, slavery – and the murder of one more person should not tip the balance. Rather, the balance should have been tipped long ago.

Pinprick airstrikes are not doing the job. Hellfire missles are too little, too late. It is time for serious air attack. Cluster munitions will make some impression. It is time for the Saudi airforce to start flying its 300 F-15s.

It is also time for there to be a single, short phone call from the American President to his allies saying that the US is going in and, if they would like to help they would be welcome.

Now, if the empty seat who occupies that office cannot bestir himself to defend the citizens of the Republic he serves the Constitution has provisions for that. Meanwhile, it is still important for Canada, Australia, the UK, Germany, France, Saudi, Jordan, Egypt, the UAE and Israel to begin the process of rolling back IS.

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A Modest Thought

Israel kicked Hamas’ ass in the last iteration of the ongoing Gaza War. Hamas and its Western media enablers are trying to spin it as some sort of victory but the fact they accepted the “no deal” terms which had been on offer for a month suggests otherwise.

Which does not change the fact that Hamas is still a terrorist force which is capable of shooting rockets and digging tunnels.

Iron Dome is doing an outstanding job of neutralizing the rockets but what about the tunnels and the leadership bunkers and underground arsenals. The Israeli Airforce and the Army made a good deal of progress but the fact is to take down the tunnel/bunker infrastructure would have required street by street fighting in nasty urban environments. A lot of Israeli soldiers would have died.

So, is there another way?

There may be. Gaza is a very small place much of it is only 6 kilometers wide. It is also a place, as the Hamas tunnellers have demonstrated, which has a soil geology almost ideal for tunnelling: sand, sandstone and loess.

Hamas uses hand labour – including child labour – to dig its tunnels.

Here is my suggestion for the underground equivalent of Iron Dome.

Imagine a couple of these big boys running along the Gaza Israel Border and building a series of tunnels which, in turn would be flooded with water from the Mediterranean. Now it might sound like an unrealistic project but the fact is that these giant machines can grind through 100 plus meters a week of hard soil, in the soft soil of the Gaza border they might well get that up to 200 or even 300 meters a week. Running two machines and focusing on the high priority sections of the border a defensive cordon of counter tunnels could be dug in a matter of a few months and Gaza could be entirely surrounded in a couple of years.

Offensively, smaller, faster tunnelling machines could head into Gaza and directly towards the Headquarters bunkers, arsenals and the locus points of attack tunnels. Here basic automated mining technology could be employed.

This is an intelligent coal mining machine. It can rip through coal – a rock generally harder than the rock in Gaza – at a 100-200 meters per day. The run from the Israeli border to, say Gaza City is a few kilometers. Running a number of these machines into the Hamas underground concentration points would avoid the casualties of a ground attack. The machine could look for and break into Hamas underground structures and then either blow them up or open up the flood gates from the water filled protection tunnels and simply flood Hamas out.

While all of these machines are expensive to buy and to run we’re talking hundreds of millions rather than billions. A sum Israel can certainly afford if it floods out the Hamas rats.

Arabs helping themselves

From the New York Times (via Blazing Catfur) we learn that Egypt and the UAE may well have bombed jihadis in Libya. Apparently they did not ask America for permission.

Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly teamed up to launch airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation between the supporters and opponents over political Islam.

The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington or seeking its consent, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to American diplomats, the officials said. NYT

This is excellent news if true simply because it is well past time for the Arab world to start cleaning up the mess in its backyard. Not asking the americans for permission is also good news as asking would have interrupted the Big Zeros Golf Game of Grief.

The jihadis, whether Libyan or IS or Hamas need a good deal of bombing and Israel only has the one airforce. The feckless Americans seem content to fly the occasional mission to blow up a few IS US Army surplus armoured vehicles but it is a serious of pin pricks. The ladies running US Foreign Policy seem to have a thing about proportionality (indeed, I suspect the “appropriate” word will come up. So the required waves of B-1s with the cluster munitions are sitting idle.

But Egypt and the UAE are relatively unconstrained and willing to fly 2500 miles to at least make an effort to forestall the jihadis.

With a little luck the Saudis, owners of a deeply impressive set of aircraft, will notice that flying time from their northern air bases to Syria or Iraq is about twenty minutes and that those lovely airplanes could drop a load of bombs, fire a few armour piercing missiles and run the ground attack cannon and be home for lunch. If they want to get really ambitious, they could fly a mission in the afternoon as well.

No doubt the ladies at State will have very large kittens at this sort of thing. The President’s back swing, sketchy at the best of times, will go to Hell. IS will be really angry and threaten to drive to Mecca.

So, basically, win/win.

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The Madness of Islam

With all of the usual qualifications as to not all Muslims….Are these people nuts?

The answer – from the killing fields of Iraq and Syria to the rocketeers in Gaza – is pretty clearly, “Yup. Whacked, ready for the cotton box, gaga.”

For the moment the Islamists, and pace the Big Zero this has everything to do with Islam, are lucky in the sense that the American President is both feckless and addicted to golf and the Israelis seem to still believe that world opinion matters.

The Israelis are the near problem. They have just targeted and killed, perhaps with Egyptian intelligence, three serious Hamas military leaders. They may have got the overall military commander of Hamas and, sadly, they certainly got his wife and kids.

The Israelis will, eventually say “Enough with the rockets” and roll over Gaza and let the leftie luvies and the crazed Islamic Hamas supporters in the West wet their pants. Israel has better and more interesting friends in Saudi, Egypt and Jordan not to mention India and China.

Whether or not the Big Zero has the stones to kill the rabid dog of IS is a different question. Frankly, given the size of the Saudi and Jordanian air forces and the Egyptian army (easily dispatched for mercenary duty) there is no reason why they cannot take a big bite out of the rabid dog of Islam.

And they may have to. Because, with the exception of relatively limited air strikes, the Big Zero seems incapable of actually using the American’s overwhelming air capacity much less put boots on the ground.

I am hoping I am wrong. I am hoping that once Obama finally breaks 80 he’ll wander back to Washington, re-introduce himself to the Joint Chiefs and say, “Roll’em up boys.” But I am not holding my breath. That would take courage rather than a low handicap.

But the madness of Islam lies in relying upon the weakness of the West and of Israel. What the dimwits in Hamas and IS see as weakness is largely ill-considered forbearance. A few more beheadings, a lucky rocket beating Iron Dome and hitting a family or a school and first the Israelis and then the Americans will move closer to going Roman.


(It will be interesting to see if Israel decides to send a drone or a wet team to Qatar. There is a chap there who certainly would do with some killing.)

School Hit…Er, well, missed….but let’s drag the bodies

Anyone who has followed the Middle East for any period of time will know just how ruthlessly anti-Israel Islamists are willing to compromise the truth. And we know how complicit the media is in the lies Hamas is telling.

The dingbat who is the Secretary General of the United Nations – without evidence being checked – denounced Israel:

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the attack a “moral outrage and a criminal act” and demanded a quick investigation, while the U.S. State Department condemned the strike in unusually strong language, saying it was “appalled” by the “disgraceful” shelling. cbc

Was it?

A) the school itself was not hit,
B) the only confirmed deaths occured outsde the school where two Hamas operatives were hit on a motor bike,
C) The scene at the school was altered significantly for the cameras
D) Children were placed beside the dead operatives who had been dragged to the school.

Want more? Here you go.

Western media have been willing dupes of the Hamas PR department from the start of this conflict. Without their complicity the value of dead and wounded Pali children would drop and the incentive for Hamas to put children in the line of fire would decline.

There is blood on the hands of Hamas, but there is also blood on the hands of the Western media which prefers staged pictures of injured children to real pictures of rockets being launched from civilian areas. (The first will get you kudos, the second will get you kicked out of Gaza.

Hamas Logic

If you think about it a moment incidents such as the alleged drone strike on a Gaza Hospital (which happens to be where a fair number of Hamas leaders congregate) which turn out to be errant Hamas rockets make a perverse sense.

for Hamas there is no chance of military victory. Their only chance is to muster world opinion to force Israel to stop its activities. To achieve this they need one thing: lots of dead Palestinians – preferably babies and children but any will do. The Israelis know this and risk their soldier’s lives to avoid hitting civilians. So, if Israel is failing to bring the body count up fast enough, what would make sense for Hamas, is to train its rockets on its own population. Lord knows they don’t have an Iron Dome. Not all the rockets of course. Just enough to produce a civilian slaughter every few hours to keep CNN supplied with fresh, bloody, pictures of dead children.

“Resistance” comes in many forms. One is human shields, another is rejecting or violating ceasefires, and another may very well be blowing up your own people “accidentally”. As long as the all important body count keeps going up the barbarians who run Hamas are not going to be particularly concerned as to why.

UPDATE: Oooops.

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Saudi nukes

While the kingdom’s quest has often been set in the context of countering Iran’s atomic programme, it is now possible that the Saudis might be able to deploy such devices more quickly than the Islamic republic.

Earlier this year, a senior Nato decision maker told me that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery.

Last month Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, “the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring.”

Since 2009, when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warned visiting US special envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross that if Iran crossed the threshold, “we will get nuclear weapons”, the kingdom has sent the Americans numerous signals of its intentions. bbc news

The Saudis are obviously fed up with the Americans under Obama screwing the pooch on pretty much everything Middle East related. They don’t believe for a minute that the Americans, Russians and Europeans will do SFA about Iran’s nuclear weapons so now they are quite happy to call the marker from Pakistan and get their own bombs.

Now, there is no doubt at all that Israel can selectively hit Iran with tactical nukes. The Pakistani bombs, made 300% better with tritium, would not be as discrete. And the Saudis not only see Iran as a threat, they also see Shi’ites as apostates and really, really hate them.

I don’t want to see any bombs going off in Iran; but if I was Iranian I would much prefer the threat of an Israeli strike on nuclear production facilities than a Saudi eruption against population centers using strategic rather than tactical weapons.

I have little time for the Saudis but their intelligence chief, Bandar bin Sultan, is well aware of the utter dysfunction Obama and Kerry and Clinton and Powers and their like have brought to US Foreign policy. And so, without too much hoo-hoo he is acting for the Kingdom.

It will be interesting if Saudi Arabia turns out to be a better Israeli ally than the US; but that is how it is looking at the moment.

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