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By Arie Egozi
The Israeli intelligence point to possible military action by Iran against the US and Israel, as the Memorial Day for Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Quds Force, one of five branches of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), approaches.
He was killed on Jan. 3, 2020, when a US drone launched missiles that hit his car near the Baghdad International Airport.
In a parallel development, the Israeli government instructed the Israeli defense forces to get ready for American action against Iran. This according to a report by senior reporter Barak Ravid, from the Israeli Walla news outlet.
According to this report, the IDF was instructed “to prepare for a scenario of a US action against Iran before President Donald Trump leaves the White House on January 20.”
He added that Jerusalem is expected to receive an early warning on such an American action.
According to the report, Israeli Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz, has spoken twice in the past two weeks with Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, who replaced Mark Asper who was fired by Trump a few days after the presidential election.
The tension in the area is increasing. The Israeli Air Force again on Nov. 24 attacked Iranian targets in Syria, killing at least an Iranian and pro-Iranian that were in Iranian-related sites in Syria.
Last week, the New York Times reported that President Trump had raised an option to attack Iran’s central uranium enrichment facility in Natanz. Trump made the remarks while sitting in the Oval Office after receiving an update that the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report showed that Iran had significantly increased the amount of enriched uranium in its possession. According to the report, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and other senior government officials dismissed the president on the grounds that it would lead to a regional escalation.
A few days after the same report in the New York Times, Secretary of State Pompeo visited Israel and the Gulf states. During Pompeo’s visit, US officials in his entourage said that as far as the Trump administration was concerned, “all options are still on the table” regarding Iran.
While Pompeo was in the Gulf, the Central Command of the United States Army, which is in charge of the Middle East, announced a surprise exercise in which B-52 strategic bombers were launched. These bombers are capable of carrying the giant bombs that can penetrate the underground area in which the Iranian facility is protected.
The American bombers took off from the US and flew directly to the US Air Force base in Qatar. The surprise exercise was presented as a message to Tehran. A statement from the Central Command of the US Army stated that “the aim of the exercise was to deter aggressive elements” and to express support for the United States’ allies in the Middle East.”
According to Michael Segal, an expert on Iran In the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Iraqi Defense Minister Jumah Inad recently visited Iran accompanied by a high-level military security delegation and met with top political and security officials. Military and political relations were discussed. The Iranian side raised the issue of the continued operation of American forces on Iraqi soil and the need to make them leave.
During the visit, the Iraqi Defense Minister met with the Commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Hussein Salami, who stressed that the expulsion of American forces from Iraq should be carried out in accordance with the decision of the parliament and the will of the Iraqi people.
According to Segal, both sides also discussed the assassination of Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Mendes, the deputy commander of the pro-Iranian Iraqi umbrella organization of mostly-Shiite militias, and the need to avenge those responsible for their deaths. Hussein Salami said the revenge would be high-profile (“in the square”).
Currently, there is no official confirmation to the report in the Israeli news outlet but sources here say that under the circumstances, “it makes a lot of sense.”
Arie Egozi, iHLS Editor-in-Chief