Friday, March 07, 2014
Rocking the boat?
On Wednesday, Israeli Navy commandos intercepted a commercial ship in the Red Sea between Eritrea and Sudan that was transporting weapons from Iran to terrorists in Gaza.
Because the commandos that boarded the vessel were wearing helmet cameras, there is real-time footage of the operation. And what the pictures reveal are dozens of Syrian-made long-range missiles, hundreds of pounds of payload and sacks of concrete with a "made in Iran" label in plain English.
According to sources in the Israeli defense establishment, this event is merely the tip of the iceberg. At its epicenter is the Quds Force of the Iranian Republican Guards, the unit in charge of "exporting the Islamic Revolution" worldwide. Key to the success of its goal is arming and financing terrorist networks bent on Israel's annihilation.
Israeli intelligence has been closely monitoring the activities of Iran's global reach and Middle East stronghold. Wednesday's interception of the Klos C ship was one among many thwarted attempts by the ayatollah-led regime to transfer arms to Palestinian terror groups. One shudders to think of all the successful efforts emanating out of Tehran that Israel was unable to block.
It is this that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu keeps trying to hit home with the American administration. His constant warning (reiterated during his speech on Tuesday at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy conference) that Iran has not become more moderate with President Hassan Rouhani at its helm -- and that time is running out before it acquires nuclear weapons -- sounds like a broken record.
But Netanyahu is forced to repeat himself, because U.S. President Barack Obama is neither listening nor cares.
This did not prevent Obama from taking credit for the Israeli commando raid on the Klos C, however. Indeed, as soon as news of the covert operation broke, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "Our intelligence and military activities were closely coordinated with our Israeli counterparts, who ultimately chose to take the lead in interdicting this shipment of illicit arms."
Lucky that Israel "chose to take the lead." As enemies of the United States have learned since Obama took office, American threats are empty.
"We will continue to stand up to Iran's support for destabilizing activities in the region in coordination with our partners and allies," Carney continued. "These illicit acts are unacceptable to the international community and in gross violation of Iran's Security Council obligations."
One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry at such atrophied muscle-flexing.
Let us not forget, after all, that while he was making these statements to the press in Washington, a new round of three-day negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (the U.S., the U.K., Russia, China, France and Germany) had begun in Vienna. These talks are scheduled to end on Friday.
On Sunday, European Union foreign policy chief and nuclear negotiator Catherine Ashton is headed to Iran for a chummy visit. There she will undoubtedly meet with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. He's one Iranian whom she has gotten to know quite well, as he has participated in a number of farcical P5+1 summits, like the last one in February.
This is why Carney hurried to soften his "tough" words. Regardless of the Iranian weapons cache found on the Klos C, he said, "It's entirely appropriate to continue to pursue the possibility of reaching a resolution on the nuclear program."
This is as ludicrous as Tehran's denial that it had anything to do with the intercepted arms shipment.
So preposterous is this, in fact, that while one Iranian military source was calling the accusations "baseless and false," Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan held a ceremony that day to announce the addition of four new types of ballistic missiles to its arsenal -- some with multiple warheads for more devastating effects.
"These missiles are able to hit and destroy enemy targets with precision, and they meet a variety of the armed forces' needs," he said. "The weapons have strengthened Iran's deterrence power and military might."
Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, Israel is in easy range of these missiles.
It is unlikely that Ashton will raise this particular issue over tea with Zarif during her Tehran trip. Nor will she want to rock the boat, so to speak, by asking him about his tweet on Thursday, which read: "An Iranian ship carrying arms for Gaza. Captured just in time for annual AIPAC anti Iran campaign. Amazing Coincidence! Or same failed lies."
It's enough to make even those of us with an iron stomach seasick.Ruthie Blum is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"