US gives Israel go-ahead to take out powerful Iranian general

Kuwaiti report: US gives Israel go-ahead to kill powerful Iranian general

Newspaper says Washington and Jerusalem have overcome the differences that saw Americans tipping off Tehran about Israeli attempt to kill Qassem Soleimani 3 years ago

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US intelligence agencies have given Israel the green light to assassinate the senior Iranian responsible for coordinating military activity on behalf of the Islamic Republic in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, according to the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida.

For the past 20 years or so, Qassem Soleimani has commanded the Quds Force — the branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards responsible for military and clandestine operations outside of the Islamic Republic.

Soleimani is a key figure in efforts to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad and to enable him to retake cities and towns from rebel groups during his country’s ongoing civil war. He is also responsible for providing military aid to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas in Gaza — both of which are committed to the destruction of Israel — as well as to Shia and Kurdish groups in Iraq.

Thursday’s report by al-Jarida, which has been known to publish improbable-sounding stories about Israel, was widely picked up by Israeli media.

There was no immediate reaction to the report from Jerusalem or Washington.

Three years ago, Israel came close to assassinating Soleimani near Damascus, al-Jarida quoted unnamed source as saying, but the Americans tipped off the Iranians against the background of intense disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem.

That was during the Obama administration, which, according to reports at the time, was so focused on securing the 2015 Iran nuclear accord that it chose to overlook and even obstruct efforts to clamp down on Iranian-backed terror organizations.

It’s not clear if the reported tip-off was related to efforts to secure the Iran deal.

Today, the Trump and Netanyahu administrations see eye to eye on Iran. Just four days ago, the two countries signed a joint memorandum of understanding laying the groundwork for full cooperation to deal with Iran’s nuclear drive, its missile programs and its other threatening activities, an Israeli TV report said recently.

The source was quoted by the paper as saying that Soleimani’s assassination would serve both countries’ interests and that US authorities have given Israel the go-ahead to carry it out. (Click to Source)

GOG AND MAGOG WATCH: Turkey and Russia sign deal on supply of S-400 missiles

Turkey, Russia sign deal on supply of S-400 missiles

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey and Russia on Friday signed an accord for Moscow to supply Ankara with S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries, Turkish authorities said, finalizing a deal set to deepen military ties between NATO member Turkey and the Kremlin.

Russian S-400 Triumph medium-range and long-range surface-to-air missile systems drive during the Victory Day parade at Red Square in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2015. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

The S-400 deal, reportedly worth some $2.5 billion and in the works for more than a year, has worried the West because the system cannot be integrated into NATO’s military architecture.

As part of NATO’s collective defense pledge, the allies integrate their ships, planes and weapons systems to make them work together, as well as sharing command across the alliance.

The accord is the latest in a series of moves by Ankara to boost its defense capabilities as it faces threats from Kurdish and Islamist militants at home and conflicts across its borders in Syria and Iraq.

In a statement late on Friday, Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) said that Moscow would supply the S-400 missile batteries to Ankara in an initial delivery planned for the first quarter of 2020.

On Wednesday, Sergei Chemezov, head of the Russian state conglomerate Rostec, told the Kommersant daily that Russia would supply Turkey with four batteries of S-400s under the deal.

However, the SSM said Turkey would buy two S-400 batteries from Russia under the agreement, with one being optional, and added the systems would be used and managed “independently” by Turkish personnel, rather than Russian advisors.

It said the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) would have full control over the systems, and added that the accord signed earlier on Friday included clauses on cooperation for technologic gains and joint development.

Turkey’s purchase of the systems has unnerved NATO member countries, who are already wary of Moscow’s military presence in the Middle East, as the system is incompatible with the alliance’s systems.

NATO officials have warned Turkey about unspecified consequences of purchasing the S-400, but Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said ties with NATO remain strong.

Chezmezov said Moscow was expected to begin the first deliveries in March 2020 and that Turkey was the first NATO member state to acquire the advanced S-400 missile system.

Earlier on Friday, Turkish newspapers cited Erdogan as saying Turkey would borrow in the Russian currency in a loan deal under the accord.

BORROWING “IN RUBLES”

“We will not borrow in dollars in this loan, we will borrow in rubles,” Hurriyet newspaper quoted Erdogan as telling reporters on his plane, returning from a trip to Africa.

According to Chemezov, Turkey would pay 45 percent of the cost of the agreement up front, with Russia providing loans to cover the remaining 55 percent.

The Russian Finance Ministry will finance a deal from the state treasury, while Russian banks will take part solely in the transfer of funds in the deal, a Russian banking source said.

Relations between Moscow and Ankara deteriorated sharply in 2015 after Turkey shot down a Russian air force jet that it said had crossed into Turkish airspace, but they have since repaired ties despite having backed different sides in the Syrian war.

They are now cooperating on Syrian peace efforts as well as projects in the defense industry and energy sectors.

While pushing ahead with the S-400 project, Ankara has sought to secure defense deals with other countries as well.

In November, Turkey signed a letter of intent with France and Italy to strengthen cooperation on joint defense projects. As a first step, the Franco-Italian EUROSAM consortium and Turkish companies will look into a system based on the SAMP-T missile systems.

Turkey has also invested heavily in the development of its domestic defense industry, with projects encompassing areas including combat helicopters, tanks, drones and warships. (Click to Source)

US and Israel sign secret pact to tackle Iran nuclear and missile threat

Report: US, Israel sign secret pact to tackle Iran nuclear and missile threat

‘Dramatic understandings’ were agreed at the White House on December 12, and deal signed by the two countries’ national security chiefs, Channel 10 says

Israel and the United States have secretly signed a far-reaching joint memorandum of understanding providing for full cooperation to deal with Iran’s nuclear drive, its missile programs and its other threatening activities, an Israeli TV report said.

The document was signed on December 12 at the White House, culminating intensive talks between representatives of the major Israeli and American intelligence and defense hierarchies, headed by the US and Israeli national security advisers, H. R. McMaster and Meir Ben-Shabbat, respectively, the Channel 10 report said Thursday.

Citing both American and Israeli officials, the report said the document is designed to translate into “steps on the ground” the positions set out by US President Donald Trump in his October 13 speech on Iran, in which he decertified the Iran nuclear deal.

At what the TV report described as a “secret” meeting at the White House, the US and Israel formulated and signed a joint agreement on strategy and policy regarding Iran. Specifically, they agreed to set up joint teams to handle various aspects of the Iranian threat.

One such joint team, the report said, will deal with Iranian activity in Syria and Tehran’s support for the Hezbollah terror organization.

Another joint team will deal with both diplomatic and intelligence activities designed to grapple with Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

A third joint team, it was reportedly agreed, would grapple with Iran’s ballistic missile program and its efforts to build accurate missile systems in Syria and Lebanon.

Finally, a fourth team would oversee preparation for any escalation by Iran and/or Hezbollah.

McMaster and Ben-Shabbat signed the joint document, the TV report said, quoting a “senior US government” source and “senior Israeli officials.”

Quoting the Israeli officials, Channel 10 said that the meeting confirmed that the US and Israel “see eye to eye on the trends and processes in the region,” and have now reached agreement on the strategy and policy required to deal with them.

“With all due respect to President Trump’s [December 6] declaration on Jerusalem [as the capital of Israel]” Channel 10 reporter Barak Ravid said, the December 12 “dramatic understandings” would have “a far greater impact on the security of Israel’s citizens.”

In a speech on October 13, Trump announced he would not recertify the Iranian nuclear deal, and outlined a new, tougher approach toward Tehran.

Trump said he was launching the new strategy to check Iran’s “fanatical regime” and warned that 2015’s landmark international nuclear deal could be terminated at any time.
“We cannot and will not make this certification,” he said. “We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout.”Trump stopped short of withdrawing from the accord, but “decertified” his support for the agreement and left its fate in the hands of Congress.

In addition, outlining the results of a review of efforts to counter “aggression” by Tehran and its proxies in a series of Middle East conflicts, Trump ordered tougher sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and on its ballistic missile program.

Trump said the agreement, which defenders say was only ever meant to curtail Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, had failed to address Iranian subversion in the region and its illegal missile program.

The US president said he supported efforts in Congress to work on new measures to address those threats without immediately torpedoing the broader deal.

He added later, speaking of Congress, “They may come back with something that’s very satisfactory to me, and if they don’t, within a very short period of time, I’ll terminate the deal.”“However, in the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated,” Trump said in a televised address from the Diplomatic Room of the White House. “It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me as president at any time,” he warned.

Trump accused the administration of his predecessor Barack Obama of lifting sanctions on Iran as part of the 2015 nuclear accord “just before” they could cripple the regime and bring it to collapse.

“The Iran deal is one of the worst and one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” he said. “In just a few years, as key restrictions disappear, Iran can sprint toward nuclear weapons breakout… What is the purpose of a deal that, at best, only delays [Iranian nuclear ambitions]?“ he asked.

Trump said he planned to ensure “Iran never — and I mean never — acquires a nuclear weapon.”

Netanyahu was a fierce opponent of the Iran deal before it was ratified in the US, even traveling to Washington to urge Congress to reject it in a controversial speech. Obama, however, insisted that the agreement would benefit Israel as well as the rest of the region, and touted the accord as one of his administration’s signature foreign policy achievements. (Click to Source)