ANALYSIS:
Is Israel closing in on Iran?

Israel is continuing its operations inside Iran and now reportedly has a presence in countries bordering the Islamic Republic or in the Gulf States opposite the rogue state.

Yochanan Visser ,

Drone hovers over Hezbollah fighters
Drone hovers over Hezbollah fighters
Reuters
First, let's look at a report about another mysterious explosion at a hitherto secret base of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in late September.

Originally, the media reported that a fire had broken out at the base and later that an explosion had taken place that killed two members of the IRGC and wounded another.

It was then revealed that the target was an IRGC missile development facility named Shahid Hemmat.

Satellite images from Israeli firm ImageSat International, which were released more than a week ago, showed that a quarter of the facility had been completely destroyed.

One could conclude from the released images that another attack with a drone or a so-called Quadcopter had taken place.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, reacted to the explosion by blaming Israel, saying that "the war with the Zionist entity had already begun."

The spokesman accused Israel of state terrorism and of obstructing the resumption of nuclear negotiations with the US. Israel would like to prevent the resumption of these negotiations, according to Khatibzadeh.

Khatibzadeh also pointed to the "hundreds of bombs (nuclear weapons)" Israel allegedly possesses and said the Jewish state had never signed the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Indeed, Israel never signed that treaty because the Jewish state has developed its nuclear weapons solely to use them as a purely defensive weapon in a last option scenario.

Iran, on the other hand, signed the treaty, but has been developing a nuclear weapon since at least 1987. It is now closer to the bomb than ever and, furthermore, will almost certainly use a nuclear weapon as an offensive weapon in a future war.

Israeli action from Azerbaijan

On Tuesday last week, it was announced that Iran had shot down an Israeli Hermes 900 reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that had come from neighboring Azerbaijan.

The Azariha news agency in Azerbaijan reported that Israel regularly sends UAVs toward Iran from its base in the Muslim country with which it maintains friendly relations.

The Mossad action in Tehran in January 2018 was also carried out from Azerbaijan according to Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman, who wrote books about the Mossad and the secret war against Iran.

Iran Responds to Israeli Threat

Iran has now put Azerbaijan on notice and held a major military exercise near the country's border early last week.

“Azerbaijan is playing with fire” an Iranian spokesman said and also warned "the Zionists".

Amir Mousavi, a former Iranian diplomat, said in an interview with Lebanese TV station Al-Mayadeen that “the Zionist entity continues to harass Iran” and that Azerbaijan should not allow itself to be lured (into war) by the “Zionists”.

Mousavi also claimed that "the Zionists could not even defend themselves" and that the government of Iran had documents "providing convincing evidence that 'the Zionists' and also ISIS are operating against Iran from Azerbaijan".

Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Iran's new Foreign Minister, spoke similar language in an interview with TV Channel 1 in Iran and said he knew that “the Zionist regime is trying to get closer to Iran's borders and has a presence in parts of Azerbaijan. ”.

“We will not tolerate the presence of the artificial Zionist regime near our borders or in neighboring countries,” Abdollahian continued.

He then cited the example of Bahrain, which signed a peace agreement with Israel last year, and warned the regime there against ties to the "artificial Zionist regime" which the Iranian minister said has "no people and legitimacy".

Earlier, unknown persons carried out an attack on Iran's embassy in the Azeri capital Baku, further fueling tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran.

Iran also reacted sharply to a joint Azerbaijan-Turkey naval exercise in the Caspian Sea and said it regarded the drill as a provocation.

Tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran were further exacerbated this week when media published a photo of Azeri President Ilham Aliyev posing for a photo-op with his arm around an Israeli-made Harop suicide drone.

The Israeli-manufactured drone turns into a sort of cruise missile when it approaches its target, exploding on impact.

Aliyev later made a public statement that made it clear why he organized the photo-op.

“Why now and why on our border?” the Azeri President asked referring to Iran’s military drill along the border with Azerbaijan.

The defiant Aliyev showed he doesn’t fear Iran, which has an inferior army and relies on missiles and drones for its defense.

The Azeri army, by contrast, is a strong one and has ultra-modern weapons thanks to the assistance of Israel, which organized a military airlift during Azerbaijan’s war with Armenia in 2020.

Internally, Iran is playing with fire by challenging Azerbaijan, because a large minority of Azeri Shiites lives in the northwest of the Islamic Republic along the border with Azerbaijan.

This minority sabotaged Iranian weapon transports to Armenia during last year’s war and staged public protests at the same time.

On Tuesday, the Azeri government issued a sharply-worded statement that warned Iran to back off in its aggressive moves against Azerbaijan.

“Any provocations directed at the state interests of the Republic of Azerbaijani in the state border will be resolutely prevented also from now (on),” the statement read.

The Azeri government also denied that there are an estimated 1.000 Israelis active in Azerbaijan as Iranian officials continue to claim.

Iran now links the resumption of inspections of the country's nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Israel’s actions against the regime and demands that the "fake regime" first stop its "terrorist attacks” on Iran's "technology centers".

The latest attack on a nuclear facility near the city of Karaj in Iran that took place in June this year has been widely attributed to Israel.

In that attack, Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence agency, reportedly used the so-called Quadcopter, a UAV shaped like a helicopter with four rotor blades. The facility in Karaj was heavily damaged, satellite images showed.

Iran also claimed that all IAEA inspection cameras at Karaj were damaged in the attack and then refused to allow the IAEA to continue its work.

In reality, Iran sabotaged the inspection cameras and removed the memory cards.

The Mossad, meanwhile, remains very active against Iran, providing information to the government of Cyprus last week about an imminent Iranian assassination attempt on Israeli businessmen who are operating on the island.

Iran had hired a citizen of Azerbaijan who traveled with a Russian passport to the Turkish part of Cyprus and then crossed the border into the Cypriot part, to carry out the assassinations.

The man was arrested by Cypriot police before he could carry out his mission after observing his targets for several days.

The attempt to kill Israelis in Cyprus could be linked to another secret Mossad action in Syria that took place at the end of September.

During that action, an Iranian general was kidnapped by the Mossad, then transferred to an undisclosed African country for interrogation.

That country was presumably Sudan, where the Mossad had previously been active and built a fake seaside resort from which to carry out espionage activities.

In Israel, this kidnapping was linked to another Mossad operation in Lebanon where the Israeli spy agency had previously searched for the remains of missing navigator Ron Arad whose plane crashed in Lebanon in 1986.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took the very unusual step of making this Mossad action public during a debate in the Knesset.

It remains unclear why Bennett publicized this Mossad action, but the assumption that the kidnapping of the Iranian general was related to the search for Ron Arad is most likely incorrect because Israel is more interested in obtaining information about Iran’s grand strategic plan with the Middle East.

Changing Israeli Strategy

From everything that has happened in the covert war between Israel and Iran in recent weeks, one could conclude that there has been a change in Israel's strategy.

Previously the emphasis was on military action against Iran in Syria in particular, now it seems that Israel has shifted the front to Iran itself.

From the comments by the Iranian diplomats, it has become clear that the regime knows Israel now also has a presence close to the border with Iran. Bahrain is opposite the important Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and Azerbaijan borders Iran.

This development actually confirms what Prime Minister Bennett said earlier about Israel's strategy in the fight against the Islamic Republic.

Bennett accused the previous government of not having been sufficiently active against Iran in the country itself.

He also said during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly that Israel should use its ingenuity against Iran.

So, if the reports about the Israeli presence near the border with Iran are true, Israel is now essentially doing the same thing as Iran in its attempts to encircle Israel - that is, also trying to encircle the Islamic Republic through its proxies and waging constant psychological warfare to make its arch-enemy feel vulnerable.

At the same time, Iran has stepped up its cyber attacks against Israeli targets and is feverishly working to expand its fleet of attack drones, according to opposition sources inside Iran



top