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Israel Is Stomping On Iran — And It Could Bring One Of The Worst Wars The Middle East Has Ever Seen
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said Israeli intelligence had obtained a trove of "secret" documents outlining a clandestine nuclear program in Iran.
On Sunday, Syria got rocked by a missile attack that appeared to ignite a munitions depot hard enough to register as a 2.6 magnitude earthquake and is believed to have killed dozens of Iranians. Experts say the strike was most likely carried out by Israel.
Though Tehran has denied that Iranians died in the strike, a more aggressive posture toward Iran by Israel could bring about a major clash that experts say might lead to the biggest war the Middle East has ever seen.
The perpetrator of Sunday's attack hasn't been confirmed. Israel rarely takes credit for strikes within Syria, though it maintains that it will strike at any Iranian activity there that it deems a threat.
With an estimated 20,000 to 70,000 Shiite Iranian-aligned fighters and tens of thousands of rockets in Syria, that's a lot of activity for Israel to monitor.
Israeli F-16Is and F-15C/Ds over the Dead Sea during the 2015 Blue Flag air combat exerciseIsraeli Air Force
Israel's air force appears to be repeatedly battering Iran and Syria
Jonathan Schanzer, an expert on Iran and Syria at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says Israel is picking up the pace of strikes and moves against Iran — and staring down the barrel of a massive confrontation.
"For some time, it really did look like the Israelis were holding back," Schanzer told Business Insider. "They seemed reticent to engage. They didn't want to expose themselves in the skies over Syria."
But after an air battle in February among Israeli, Syrian, and Iranian forces — in which Israel said it downed an Iranian drone and much of Syria's air defenses but lost an F-16 fighter jet— Israel appears to be going much harder.
Israeli forces "appear to have broken a seal of sorts," Schanzer said, adding that Israel may see a "window" as Syria's air defenses are vulnerable.
Both Iranian and Israeli sources cited in recent news reports have predicted retaliation to the strike on Sunday.
But before any such answer could be made, Israel dropped what it characterized as a massive cache of dirt on Iran.
— Danny Makki (@Dannymakkisyria) April 29, 2018
'A psychological operation'
Netanyahu said at a press conference on Monday that Israeli intelligence had about 100,000 documents, videos, and photographs showing that Iran had lied about its nuclear ambitions, and he accused it of cheating on the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Schanzer said: "Spies steal documents all the time, but this was a huge cache. And usually, spy agencies keep it quiet after the intelligence is lifted. Not so with the Israelis — they are broadcasting this, making it as much a psychological operation as a revelation about Iran's nuclear mendacity."
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has signaled the U.S. is revisiting the Iran nuclear deal.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that Trump would withdraw from the 2015 deal "if we can't fix it" and assured Netanyahu that the U.S. was "deeply concerned about Iran's dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region and Iran's ambition to dominate the Middle East."
"The United States is with Israel in this fight, and we strongly support Israel's sovereign right to defend itself," Pompeo added.
Two Israeli F-15D Eagle aircraft practice air defense maneuvers mission over the Nevada Test and Training Ranges, at Nellis Air Force Base , Nevada, during Exercise Red Flag in 2004.U.S. Air Force/Tsgt Kevin J. Gruenwald
Iran's ability to retaliate against Israel is limited.
Diplomatically, Iran doesn't have much leverage. Though Iran is allied with Russia, Russian air defenses in Syria seem uninterested in protecting Iranian targets from suspected Israeli strikes.
Iran's main leverage over Israel is its influence with Hamas, a Palestinian group active in the already boiling Gaza Strip on Israel's border, and its nearby fighters and rocket stockpiles.
"There are things that Iran can do very quickly to make things miserable for the Israelis," Schanzer said.
With Israel on the sidelines of the civil war in Syria, where over 70 countries have bombed or contributed to bombing efforts, the feud heating up between Jerusalem and Tehran could erupt into a fight that could rock the Middle East.
Read more from Business Insider:
- Benjamin Netanyahu gives bizarre presentation saying Iran is cheating on nuclear deal
- Trump reportedly considered withdrawing all U.S. troops from South Korea before the Winter Olympics — but John Kelly stepped in
- Mattis is asking for waivers so U.S. allies can buy Russian weapons
- Former Israeli intelligence chief: Iran will likely seek payback for the latest strikes in Syria
- South Korea is taking down propaganda-broadcasting loudspeakers from the border with North Korea
The Navy has identified the missing sailor from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Slayton Saldana, who was assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 5, with Carrier Air Wing 7.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force has suspended paying incentive fees at all 21 military housing bases operated by landlord Balfour Beatty Communities following a Reuters-CBS News report that the company falsified maintenance records at an Oklahoma base to help it qualify for millions of dollars in bonuses.
The wait is over: the Marine Corps's brand new sniper is officially ready for action.
The Mk13 Mod 7 sniper rifle reached full operational capacity earlier this year after extensive testing, Marine Corps Systems Command announced on Wednesday. Now, the new rifle is finally available in both scout snipers and recon Marine arsenals.
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran announced on Monday it had captured 17 spies working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and sentenced some of them to death, deepening a crisis between the Islamic Republic and the West.
Iranian state television published images that it said showed the CIA officers who had been in touch with the suspected spies.
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One of the few things that aggravates your friend and humble narrator more than hazelnut flavored coffee is Soviet apologists.
Case in point: A recent opinion piece in the New York Times claims the Soviet space program was a model for equality, noting the Soviets put a woman into space 20 years before NASA when Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova orbited the Earth in 1963.
"Cosmonaut diversity was key for the Soviet message to the rest of the globe: Under socialism, a person of even the humblest origins could make it all the way up," wrote Sophie Pinkham just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.