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Iran's Long Arm Of Terror

Binyamin Netanyahu: 'Interception Of Advanced Missiles On Victoria Freighter Illustrates Israel's Right & Duty To Impose Naval Blockade Of Gaza'

IDF Commanders: 'Chinese Developed Missiles Would Have Threatened Strategic Israeli Targets With Powerful Warheads Within Range of 35 Kilometers'

IsraCast Assessment: Iran Now Escalating Subversive Activities On Multiple Fronts: Smuggling Of Sophisticated Missiles To Gaza While Stirring Up Trouble In Bahrain In What Has Developed Into Open Confrontation With Saudi Arabia & Other Gulf States.

photo: IDF Spokesperson

 While Iran advances at full tilt on its nuclear weapons program, Tehran is also stepping up its subversion throughout the Middle East. The Israel Navy's interception of a major shipment of advanced missiles and other sophisticated weaponry to Gaza is but one tentacle of the Iranian octopus of terror and intervention aimed at imposing Iranian hegemony in the region. Analyst David Essing bases his assessment on two corners of the arena.

 Several weeks ago two Iranian Navy vessels, one a supply ship, sailed for the first time through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean to the Syrian port of Latakia. Officially, they were on a training mission but real purpose may have been far more sinister. The supply ship apparently offloaded an estimated 50 tons of weapons that were later transferred to the freighter Victoria that sailed on to Turkey and then headed for Alexandria, Egypt. Their ultimate destination was Gaza where they would have posed a grave threat to all Israeli targets, military or civilian, within a range of 35 kilometers. They are tipped with a potent payload of 128 kilograms of explosives. The Chinese produced C- 704 missiles, now produced in Iran, came completely equipped with a British guidance and control system ready for launching.

Addressing a news conference in the Israeli port of Ashdod, to where the Victoria was steered after being commandeered by Israeli naval commandos, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared: 'The missile smuggling operation by Iran validates Israel's right and duty to stop and inspect all vessels sailing for Gaza'. As proof of Iran's involvement, Netanyahu held up an operational manual printed in the Farsi language and stamped with the emblem of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. This was obviously an impressive coup for Israel's intelligence community. The weapons were squirreled away in three large cargo containers amid others containing cotton and beans however the captain and crew of the Liberian owned Victoria were unaware of the weapons. The Israeli naval commander first informed the captain that, in accordance with international law, he wished to board the freighter to carry out an inspection for illegal cargo. The ship's captain agreed immediately and his crew cooperated fully. This as opposed to the attack by some of the 600 passengers on Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara who attacked the naval commandos last May 31st. resulting in nine Turks being killed and a number of others injured including Israeli commandos. Not surprisingly, both Iran and Hamas have denied any connection with the latest arms smuggling incident.

This time, the Iranians chose the Mediterranean route possibly due to the size and weight of the surface to sea missiles - over 3 meters long and weighing 360 kilograms. They may have been trying to exploit the upheaval in Egypt by trying to slip the arms shipment through Alexandria into Sinai and then on through the underground tunnels into Gaza. It is now a moot point, if they would have succeeded but the Egyptian authorities say they have blocked a convoy of arms bound from Sudan and headed for Gaza. Even more surprisingly, Turkey has intercepted an Iranian aircraft flying in Turkish air space headed for Syria. Turkish intelligence wanted to check whether the aircraft was transporting weapons. Was this an indication that the Turks were peeved about the Iranians orchestrating the Victoria's call at a Turkish port, as cover for the missile operation. Israeli intelligence officials have indicated Turkey was not involved in the Iranian arms smuggling to Gaza.

Farther afield, Shitte Iran has also been stirring the religious cauldron in Bahrain, the tiny Gulf state where 30% of Sunnis rule the 70% Shitte majority. Bahrain has now been set as the stage for the looming confrontation between Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia. The Sultan of Bahrain has called for military aid from Big Brother, Saudi Arabia to suppress the Shitte rebellion. Riyadh sent in the motorized cavalry of armor personnel carriers who raced to the rescue across the 28 kilometer causeway that links Saudi Arabia to the island of Bahrain. The rioting has turned bloody with fatalities on both sides: neither the Shittes or Sunnis are backing down. Tehran is lending verbal support to its coreligionists on Bahrain that once belonged to Iran. If Bahrain goes, will the dominoes also start falling in the other Gulf states? In Riyadh, King Abdullah is taking a stand after what he perceived as the U.S. sellout of Hosni Mubarak in Cairo. For his part, President Barack Obama, is trying to balance America's democratic ideals with its geopolitical interests by expressing support for Arab regimes that will consider democratic reforms. However, this is a non-starter for the Sunni regimes of the Gulf that feel radical Iran breathing down their necks and knowing what Obama apparently does not - that Iran views itself as the upcoming boss of the Islamic world in general and the Middle East in particular. Among Iranian goals is the seizure of the Arab oilfields in the Gulf. Moreover, Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies are disappointed that the U.S. appears so feeble in being able to halt Iran's nuclear weapons program. So while the U.S. and the EU wring their hands over the moral dilemma of Libya, Tehran is relentlessly pursuing its demonic drive for domination of the Middle East.

David Essing

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