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High-gear diplomacy aims to avert U.S.-Iran conflict

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – A flurry of diplomatic visits and meetings crisscrossing the Persian Gulf have driven urgent efforts in recent days to defuse the possibility of all-out war after the U.S. killed Iran's top military commander. Global leaders and top diplomats are repeating the mantra of "de-escalation" and "dialog," yet none has publicly laid out a path to achieving either. The United States and Iran have said they do not want war, but fears have grown that the crisis could spin out of Tehran's or Washington's control. Tensions have careened from one crisis to another since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers. The U.S. drone strike that killed Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani and a senior Iraqi militia leader in Baghdad on Jan. 3 was seen as a major provocation.


Israel hints it could hit Iran's 'air force' in Syria

The Japan Times

JERUSALEM – Israel released details on Tuesday about what it described as an Iranian "air force" deployed in neighboring Syria, including civilian planes suspected of transferring arms, a signal that these could be attacked should tensions with Tehran escalate. Iran, along with Damascus and its big-power backer Russia, blamed Israel for an April 9 airstrike on a Syrian air base, T-4, that killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) members. Iranian officials have promised unspecified reprisals. Israeli media ran satellite images and a map of five Syrian air bases allegedly used to field Iranian drones or cargo aircraft, as well as the names of three senior IRGC officers suspected of commanding related projects, such as missile units. The information came from the Israeli military, according to a wide range of television and radio stations and news websites.


Airstrikes on Iran-backed groups in Syria apparently kill 18; Hezbollah claims downing of Israeli drone

The Japan Times

BEIRUT – Unknown warplanes targeted overnight an arms depot and posts of Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border, killing at least 18 fighters, Syrian opposition activists said Monday. The strikes come amid rising tensions in the Middle East and the crisis between Iran and the U.S. in the wake of the collapsing nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. An official with an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq blamed Israel for the airstrikes that hit in the eastern Syrian town of Boukamal. There was no immediate comment from Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that Iran has no immunity anywhere and that the Israeli military "will act -- and currently are acting -- against them."


The risk of an Iran cyberattack is up after missile strike on Iraqi military bases with US troops

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Americans should be on heightened alert for cyberattacks after Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two military bases in Iraq where U.S. troops are stationed late Tuesday, security researchers say. Iran could target private businesses and government infrastructure to avenge last week's killing of its top military commander as tensions between Tehran and Washington reach one of their highest points since the 1979 Iranian revolution. "I am not predicting it will happen, but if it happens, I won't be surprised," said Steven Bellovin, a computer science professor at Columbia University School of Engineering. A cyber conflict has been silently raging for years. In retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad last week, Iran could target the power and electricity you use, the smart devices you carry or your bank account, security experts say.


Pompeo accuses Iran of 'unprecedented attack' after drones hit Saudi oil facilities

FOX News

The attack comes after Iran exceeded their enriched uranium stockpile limit in the nuclear deal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the international community to join him Saturday in condemning Iran for drone attacks on two Saudi oil facilities, which he described as "an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply." "Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while [President Hassan] Rouhani and [Foreign Minister Mohammad] Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy," Pompeo tweeted, referring to the nation's president and foreign affairs minister. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen." Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack hours before Pompeo's tweet. The world's largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia and a major oil field were impacted, sparking huge fires at a vulnerable chokepoint for global energy supplies. "The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression," Pompeo concluded. According to multiple news reports that cited unidentified sources, the drone attacks affected up to half of the supplies from the world's largest exporter of oil, though the output should be restored within days. It remained unclear if anyone was injured at the Abqaiq oil processing facility and the Khurais oil field. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, denounced Pompeo's description of the attack, calling it an "irresponsible simplification." "The Saudis and Houthis are at war.