Iran-US and Iran-Israel tensions September 2020 and onward
Updated: Dec 5, 2020
For our previous digest of daily incidents from July to September, compiled by Seth J. Frantzman, click this link. We have begun to include more details about Turkey tensions as well because we assess that Turkey's relations are more entwined with the wider regional tensions. This includes Turkey-Qatar relations and Israel-UAE-Bahrain-Saudi Arabia-Cyprus-Greece-Egypt relations and Iran and its allies.
Explosion in Ain Qana Lebanon.
Abrams interview with al-Arabiya.
Trump: We will not allow Iran to endanger world with ballistic missiles
Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Italy, Greece and PA sign East med Gas Forum Deal.
Bradley vehicles in Syria.
Israel's Gantz goes to DC to discuss F-35, KC-46s and other equipment.
Inherent Resolve shows off patrols in eastern Syria.
Shelly Kittleson: My latest for Al-Monitor on #Iranian influence in the southeastern part of the #Kurdistan Region of #Iraq. I travelled to the border area days after a cross-border smuggling network was discovered and spoke to locals and security forces for this.
Saudi Arabia King slams Iran at UN.
US 5th Fleet: Yesterday, Sept. 23: The first time in nearly 2 1/2 years that U.S. aircraft launched from an aircraft carrier conducted kinetic operations in support of Inherent Resolve.
Petti: Senator Bob Menendez asks Elliott Abrams whether Iranian-backed militia attacks against U.S. troops have gone up Then he goes into grilling Undersecretary David Hale over selling F-35s to the UAE because it will erode Israel's qualitative military edge.
Abrams: "The U.S. is committed to holding accountable those who are denying freedom and justice to the people of Iran."
For the 1st time almost all Iraqi leadership including Iraqi PM, Iraqi President, Muqtada al-Sadr, Kataib Hezbollah commander & Fatih bloc condemned the recent IED attack on British diplomatic convoy & rocket attacks against sites hosting US troops & diplomats.
Esper, Meeting With Gantz, Reaffirms Israel’s Regional Military Edge.
Turkey slams Pelosi and may be recruiting Syrian rebels to fight Armenia.
UAE didn’t need peace with Israel to counter Iran, Anwar Gargash said today, but he said Iran’s aggressive policies over three decades alarmed many Arab countries and made them look at their relationship with Israel “with fresh eyes.
Al-Monitor: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly told Iraqi President Barham Salih that the U.S. would shut the U.S. Embassy and Baghdad and target Iraqi Shia militia groups “without distinction” if the Iraqi government didn’t step up its own actions.
Egypt condemns Turkey's interference in Middle East.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein met tonight (Saturday, October 26) with the Speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and discussed the bilateral relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq on bilateral. Qalibaf said "The sovereignty, security, independence and integrity of Iraq are always emphasized by Iran." We believe that the current Iraq has a positive, important and influential role in the region. Qalibaf went on to describe US intervention in the region and the presence of US-backed ISIS terrorists as a threat to peace, stability and prosperity in Iraq and the region.
He added: "Some countries in the region, under pressure from the United States, normalized relations with the Zionist regime. Undoubtedly, the Islamic world should not be silent on this issue, and it is necessary because the issue of Palestine is the first priority of the Islamic Ummah." Emphasizing that Iran has always supported Iraq.
Rouhani met Iraq's President: Discussed the unity of Shiites and interaction between different groups including Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds in this country as an important principle. "We are with the government and people of Iraq to help the unity and cohesion of Iraq," he said. "We have always made our views clear and unequivocal in our political positions," he said. We know the stability of the region. Emphasizing that trying to get the United States out of the region is not our job, it's the duty of any country where Americans are present, Rouhani said: The Iraqi people and our support. "We have never believed in interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq and the relations between Iraqi groups."
Hezbollah and Amal obstruct new government in Lebanon: Lebanese analysts and politicians have confirmed that Hezbollah is leading Lebanon into chaos and abyss, after it, along with the "Amal Movement," obstructed the formation of the new Lebanese government. The experts explained, in separate interviews to Al-Ain Al-Akhbariya, that France was referring to Hezbollah, when President Emmanuel Macron accused political parties in Lebanon of having committed "collective treason.
The Greek government confirmed today, Saturday, that it has deployed its forces in the Aegean islands, in response to Turkey's deployment of forces to the coast.
Saudi airstrikes target Houthi air defense system.
Press TV reports on cyber attacks on UK.
Iraq’s foreign minister arrived in Tehran on Saturday morning for a two-day visit of wide-ranging talks in the wake of the US warning it might close its Baghdad embassy due to threats, including from Iranian-backed militias.
Iran shows off new weapons: AF exhibition, Artesh's Ground Forces unveiled a Caracal intelligent robot, Gahar 4x4 tactical vehicle, Chabok fast frequency hopping system, UAV piston engines, Masih rescue robot, an upgraded 26x40 vehicle, and Hadaf-2 twin-arm missile. Iran launcher disguised in shipping container. Seven achievements. Photos of the missiles.
US sources in Baghdad: we have information that there are plans to storm our embassy & take hostages. Sadr: Form a committee to investigate rocket attacks Kadhimi & Halboussi: yeah that's a good idea Fayyadh (to Nujaba and others): Dont attack US Forces while they withdraw Khazali: Don't form the committee because it suggests that Iraq can be made safe again for US. Witty: In Iraq, leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq militia says it is not in the national interests to investigate who has been firing rockets at US embassy. Second attack on convoy of Iraqi contractor companies transporting equipment for US-led coalition in #Iraq today, as Iraqi security media cell confirms an IED targeted a convoy of Iraqi contractor company transporting US-led coalition equipment in Babil province this evening. The first was this one on Hillah highway IRGC linked telegram channels are highlighting an Mayadeen report about US threatening to close down its embassy in #Iraq. A senior #Iran military delegation is in Baghdad.
Secretary General of Harakat al-Nuajba'a, Akram al-Kaabi says that their developed missiles are active now and ready to launch, but the armed group is waiting for a decision to be made by all the Islamic resistance forces to target the US embassy inside #Baghdad's Green Zone. Macron: "Hezbollah can't be a wild militia against the civilians in #Syria" (minute 4:37). Iran calls for end to fighting Azerbaijan-Armenia: "Iran is closely monitoring the alarming violence in Nagorno-Karabakh. We call for an immediate end to hostilities and urge dialogue to resolve differences. Our neighbors are our priority and we are ready to provide good offices to enable talks."
Pompeo meets Greek Foreign Minister, Strategic Dialogue, strengthening coop, regional dvpts,Eastern Mediterranean in focus.
Iran displays captured US drones and new missiles.
IED attack on convoy for US in southern Baghdad.
Ghafuri: "Iraqi PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi is rushing to establish a committee that will investigate the attacks." Iraq signs energy deal with Jordan for electricity. Iran may sign deal with Iran. US ambassador says US still supports Baghdad in fight on ISIS.
Family killed by katyusha in Iraq. Photos. The Iraqi Security Media Cell confirmed today a Katyusha rocket fell inside a civilian house & killed 2 women & 3 children. Iraqi PM says outlaw group who conducted crime must be brought to justice.
Iran tankers arrive in Venezuela.
The Turkish president said on Monday the OSCE Minsk Group had been unable to solve the conflict over the disputed Karabakh region. "In 30 years, they have been unable to solve this issue. And they have done everything so that it would not be solved. And now they are teaching us, and sometimes threatening us. They ask us if there are Turkish military there [in Karabakh]. If Turkey is supplying weapons. Those who ask this have sent thousands of trucks with weapons to the north of Syria," Erdogan said, referring to the US support of the Syrian Kurds, who are considered an offshoot of a terrorist organization by Ankara.
Nascent Iraqi Shiite insurgent group "Ulul Azmi" has released video that allegedly shows its first operation, a Sept. 10 IED attack targeting a convoy supplying U.S. military forces as it passed through Iraq's Diwaniyah Province.
Rockets fired at Erbil from Sheikh Amir in Nineveh plains. Kurdistan region strongly condemns attack of six rockets, four of which fell in KRG. Coalition: "Initial reports that Indirect Fire did not land on Coalition Forces in Erbil tonight. There was no damage or casualties. Incident is under investigation." Lawk Ghafuri "Tonight's rocket attacks near Erbil international airport is more like a message than an attack, as none of the rockets targeted the airport, but the message has been heard, as it was to tell everyone that no area or place in all over #Iraq can be safe for the foreign forces." Bongo truck with 107mm rockets found. Alex Mello: "Quick workup on the Erbil rocket strike. POO of the rocket fire IVO Sheikh Amir village a good 40km NW of Erbil airport. Other reports place the POO on the Zartak ridge, suggesting the rocket cell may have taken advantage of an elevated launch point to increase range out to Erbil." This area is controlled by the Hashd al-Shebek, 30th Brigade of PMU. "An Iraqi group calling itself Kurdistan Freedom takes a slogan similar to the slogan of the Kurdish Change Movement. It adopts the process of targeting the Silk Base in Erbil and confirms that it will carry out operations inside the Kurdistan Region again on goals it called 'global imperialism.'"
UAE, Israel and US discuss joint energy strategy.
Syria rejects normalization with Israel.
Berri opposes demarcating waters and border with Israel.
Macron and Putin push ceasefire in Armenia and say Turkey sent mercenaries.
Azeris protest in Iran. Iran concerned.
Greece and Turkey agree NATO de-confliction in med.
US announces it has reached agreement to demarcate water for Israel and Lebanon. Some oppose the agreement as potentially aiding Hezbollah. FM Ashkenazi " would like to thank US Secretary of State Pompeo and his staff for their dedicated efforts that have led to the beginning of direct talks between Israel and Lebanon on the demarcation of the maritime boundary. This is an important step."
Erbil condemned the PMU attack from near Bartella against Erbil by 122mm rockets (6 of them) on September 30. Masrour Barzani: “I have spoken to PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi on the importance of holding the perpetrators accountable,” Barzani tweeted late Wednesday about a phone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. “I strongly condemn tonight’s rocket attack in Erbil. The KRG will not tolerate any attempt to undermine Kurdistan’s stability and our response will be robust.” Details here and here and here. Map.
U.S. says won't hesitate to act against threats to personnel in #Iraq: “We can’t tolerate the threats to our people, our men and women serving abroad.” Unspecified Iraqi Shiite insurgents have allegedly launched a new attack on a convoy supplying U.S. military forces as it passed through Al-Diwaniyah--with claims from Shiite insurgent sources that the attackers employed anti-tank guided missiles...According to a message from Iraqi Shiite militia Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, "The operation was carried out with an ATGM heat-seeking missile, indicating a new phase of confrontation, namely the precision weapons phase." Iraqi security media cell confirms that a convoy of Iraqi contractor company transporting equipment for US-led coalition troops inside #Iraq has been struck with a rocket in Shomeli area in Diwanyah province. The attack resulted in burning one of the containers within the convoy.
IDF shows video of Hezbollah touring its facilities after IDF earlier in week showed sites of missile production.
Kata'ib Hezbollah-affiliated Rab’a Allah (God’s fellows) threatens AlhurraIraq because the TV channel 'offended' Abu Fakad, KH leader and acting chief of the PMF staff. A week ago I talked about the group and why it has been created, in this thread.
Iraq FM concerned as US indicates it will close embassy, Kadhimi says it will harm Iraq's economy.
“#Russia will sell arms to #Iran once UN embargo ends on Oct18. We are not afraid of US threats. S-400 missile system would be up for sales,” Russian ambassador to Tehran tells conservative daily Resalat.
Protests continue in Iraq.
Aftermath of Erbil rocket attack: Iraqi Joint Operations Command orders Hashd al-Shaabi in Ninawa Plain to pulls back 5 kilometers from Peshmerga lines, the area will be turned over to the Iraqi army. Shia militias oppose the decision.
A group of #Iranian lawmakers paid a visit to country’s border areas near Nagorno-Karabakh region, where fighting has broken out between Armenia and Republic of Azerbaijan since last week
New info on rocket attack on Erbil.
Iran, Syria, Russia, Turkey watch operations closely in Nagorna-Karabakh.
Iran says Arab nations oppose normalization.
The chairman of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, says the anti-terror resistance group will continue to defend Iraqi territory and sovereignty.
Rouhani concerned Azerbaijan-Armenia war could become regional conflict, Iran warns of "terrorists" near border sent by Turkey, as Assad also condemns Turkey sending "takfiri" terrorists to fight.
Iran has new Ghadir radar with up to 1,000 km range.
Iraqi Prime Minister asked Iran for 40 day truce to halt pro-Iran groups attacking US targets to try to lesson tension after US threatened to hit 80 sites in Iraq and close its embassy if attacks continued. More details. Middle East Eye: "The United States has drawn up a list of 80 sites in Iraq linked to Iranian-backed groups that it plans to target if it follows through with a threat to close its embassy in Baghdad, Middle East Eye has learned.
The sites include secret headquarters and shelters used by Hadi al-Amiri and Qais Khazali, the respective leaders of the Badr Organisation and Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), as well as sites associated with Kataeb Hezbollah (KH).' US sanctions target Iran's financial system.
Iran announces new 700km range for anti-ship ballistic missile Basir Zulfiqar. More details on new Iraq Ghadir radar. Lizzie Porter: My piece for Prospect Magazine on shifting attitudes to Hezbollah as it has fought on the side of the Assad regime in Syria. Out in print as below in this month’s magazine, or read online. Lora missile used by Azerbaijan. Turkish F-16s in Azerbaijan. US concerns over Turkish S-400 practice. New Lines Magazine on Hashimi. Baalbek clashes in Lebanon. Omar Abu Layla: A bad news, my uncle did not survive the assassination last night in the town of Ash-Shaheil,eastern Deir Ezzor. He died!!
Map of Turkey's recent moves.
MEMRI: Iranian Expert Dr. Masoud Asadollahi: If Israel Attacks Iran, We Will Target Civilian Installations in the UAE As Part of Our Retaliation; Quds Force Is Present in Palestine. US renews opposition to Turkish invasion of Syria, from a year earlier.
North Korea missile display may have ramifications for Iran.
Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s state minister for foreign affairs: “Turkey’s army in Qatar is an element of instability in the Gulf region” United Arab Emirates state minister for foreign affairs has tweeted, adding that it contributed to negative polarisation.
KRG - Iraq agreement on Sinjar. Could impact Iran-backed PMU units. More details. US statement on Sinjar. However other groups oppose it. Video of Turkish mercenaries near Iran border. More video. Geolocation.
"Iran-backed Shia armed groups say they will stop attacking US & other western forces in Iraq. A statement by a newly formed council of “Iraqi resistance”says the ceasefire is temporary & with a condition that there will be a timetable for a US withdrawal." Qatar may transfer $100 million to Gaza. Some PMU units in Nineveh may move. Not locals though. Alex Mello on a tour KH posted of Jurf al-Sakhar"Prob lots of old munitions igloos and underground bunkers to store the Iranian tactical ballistic missiles KH is supposed to be caching in this area." Full video. "Falih Al-Fayyadh, head of PMF commission visits Al-Bohairat district in Jurf al-Sakhar. Al-Bohairat district, south of Iskandariya is under Ali Akbar brigade, affiliated with Imam Hossein shrine. Let's see if he is allowed to visit the main Jurf area under Kata'ib Hezballah."
Iran-backed Rabu Allah militia call people to participate in a protest against #US-funded Al Hurra channel and storm the channel’s office in #Baghdad over reports about Abu Fadak and Al Sadr. US seizes website of Iranian-backed Nujaba in Iraq. Hashd recruits graduate in Iraq.
Video of destruction of S-300s by drones in Nagorna-Karabakh.
"Group of #Iran-backed militias has agreed to a "conditional" cease-fire against U.S.-linked interests in #Iraq on the condition that #Washington present a timetable for the withdrawal of its troops."
Rise of Shia militias in Iraq-Guardian.
Iran backs Azerbaijan "Islamic" claim.
Saudi Arabia Prince Bandar bin Sultan tells all in the final part of his exclusive interview with Al Arabiya. He says the Kingdom must pay attention to its own national security interests, and calls out #Palestine’s leaders.
Turkey NAVTEX condemned by US and Germany, tensions.
Israel-UAE women's forum takes place and first UAE ship arrives in Israel.
Iran's next president could be from IRGC. Alleged Israeli drone that was sold to Azerbaijan crashes inside Iran border. Witty: Iraqi PMF (Hashd) announces it has foiled an Israeli Mossad plot to destroy the mausoleum of Abu Mahdi Mohandis in Najaf Province. 10 mortar shells found near the mausoleum, which Mossad intended to use to construct improvised explosive device. Israel and US work on laser air defense system.
David Witty: "Iraqi MP from Kata’ib Sayyid ash-Shuhada militia in letter to PM: what are you doing to end presence of International Coalition? What are you doing about assassination of Soleimani & Muhandis? What are you doing about Turkish presence?"
Iran was reportedly hit by a major cyber-attack on Wednesday, which disrupted one of its largest ports and shut down government services. Second in six months. Pompeo: “We are happy that the Iraqis are doing more to provide increased security for our team on the ground there." US helps Hajin hospital Syria. IDF says it raided SAA position near Golan.
Saudi Arabia in DC for strategic dialogue. "The United States deplores Turkey’s October 11 announcement of renewed Turkish survey activity in areas over which Greece asserts jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey’s announcement unilaterally raises tensions in the region..."
New mural of Muhandis and Soleimani at Baghdad airport.
Witty: In Iraq, reporter says fighting has occurred between security forces & Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq militia in Balad.
Iran admits cyber attack targeted it.
October 16 Turkey tests S-400.
UAE concerned about Turkish base in Qatar "destabilizing."
Kalbasi: IRGC associated telegram channels are circulating a photo of Quds Force chief Qaani in #Syria allegedly “during Khan Tuman, liberation operation in Feb 2020.” KDP party HQ attacked in Baghdad by PMU supporters. Video.
Iraqi Joint Operations Command forces PMF (Hashd) 30th Brigade to withdraw from line opposite Peshmerga on Erbil-Ninawa border. 30th Brigade replaced by Army commandos.
Military Security recruitment in Al-Bukamal "Russia opens the door for recruitment, Iran opens the door for recruitment, Assad regime opens the door for recruitment and arrests people for forced conscription."
US calls for Iraq to control militias.
Assad Regime has asked for leaving al-Tanf during the negotiations of Austin Tice. Abbas Ibrahim, Lebanon security chief, went to DC recently. Brodsky: Head of #Iran's Passive Defense Org. confirms recent cyberattack not only on Shahid Rajaee port but also on Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex.
Trump announces Sudan off terror list. Israel visa free travel to UAE.
UAE delegation heads to Israel
Swedish delegation in northeast Syria.
Reported Israeli airstrikes on building near Quneitra in Hurriya (الحرية), alleged to be a former school or vehicle nearby. Ynet: 'Three Iran-backed paramilitary fighters were killed in an alleged Israeli strike overnight that hit Syria’s southern province of Quneitra, a war monitor said'
Benny Gantz: "We will not allow Hezbollah or Iran to entrench on Golan."IDF Chief of Staff Kochavi: "We have many challenges besides the coronavirus, aside from the tunnel in Gaza, on all front." Apparent referncee to the IDF destroying Hezbollah or Iranian posts in the Syrian Golan."
Report: Israel had a secret legation in Bahrain for 11 year.
Reuters: During a June call, a senior Iraq leader with strong ties to #Iran, instructed the security chief for Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone...not to stand in the way of militiamen who were storming the area, two Iraqi security officials said. al-Kadhimi fired the Green Zone security chief, Shihab al-Khiqani, who was threatened by "a senior Iraqi leader with strong ties to Iran,"
Witty: In Iraq, Fatah Coalition: we have heard PM Kadhimi will discuss normalization of relations with Israel in London. Iraqi Parliament rejects this. This decision is up to Iraqi Parliament, not the PM.
UAE Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed during inaugural UAE-US Strategic Dialogue: The UAE will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2021, but it will also be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the relations between our two nations
Iran's Bavar 373 tested successfully, with radar up to ranges of 400km.
Iraq's Kadhimi compares himself to riding a bike on a tightrope.
Ynet: Saudi relations are a long way off.
Calcalist; Israel-UAE ties must be based on trust.
Al-Jazeera; Israel won't oppose US weapon sales to Gulf. "Israel will not oppose the sale of F-35s to the United Arab Emirates, Jerusalem announced on Friday night.The joint announcement by the offices of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz came after Gantz returned from Washington where he met with his US counterpart Mark Esper and signed a deal that ensures Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region."
Pentagon outraged at Turkey's use of S-400. "(The tests) have been and are being conducted,” Erdogan told reporters. “The United States' stance absolutely does not concern us.” The U.S. Defense Department responded hours later Friday, with a harshly worded statement, stopping short of accusing Turkey of betraying the alliance. "The U.S. Department of Defense condemns in the strongest possible terms Turkey’s October 16 test," Chief Pentagon Spokesman, Jonathan Rath Hoffman said, warning the testing “risks serious consequences for our security relationship.”
TRT: US may use more drones in Iraq aid Iran threats
Al Ain praises Israel-UAE peace deal.
Israel will not oppose F-35 deal. Netanyahu says he and Gantz agreed on F-35 sales to UAE while Gantz says they didn't. "The first was put out jointly by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz in which the two said they would not object to the American sale of advanced fifth-generation stealth F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates.The second statement came from Gantz alone in which he claimed Netanyahu knew about the sale of the F-35s to Abu Dhabi during the peace negotiations that were mediated by the Trump administration but the prime minister had kept the news a secret, even from the defense establishment."
Fars News highlights Palestinian Islamic Jihad threats to Israel. Hamas and PIJ slam Israel-Sudan relations and also France cartoons. LWJ: Israel increases activity southern Syria. Trump holds conversation with Netanyahu on Sudan deal, slams Biden. Saudi role in Sudan peace deal alleged.
Mossad chief told sources: "If US President Donald Trump wins reelection, there could be an almost immediate announcement" of Saudi ties w Israel, if Biden wins, Saudi would still be interested in ties w Israel, but would wait. - Jerusalem Post. US Coalition says Tanf important after Syria rumors. Alma: Hezbollah continues to violate Israel border.
Sinjar deal pushed by KRG and Baghdad could affect PMU and PKK
"Interesting marks on the Saudi Arabia map at Akram al-Kaabi (al-Nujaba leader) and Yahya Rahim-Safvi meeting. I think the map markings (inside my red circles) include Afif, Al Duwadimi, Abha, and Jazan. All have been attacked in recent years by Houthis missiles and drones."
International Crisis Group publishes article on how Europe can help Lebanon
Nasrallah gives speech
Social media speculates that cyber attack was behind power outages in Israel.
Iran weighs Biden possible win and says it won't bring change, says Iran should look to China.
Israel's Ghost Unit for next war with Hezbollah
Asaib Ahl al Haq has an app.
David Witty: Iraqi MP from Badr Organization: Iraq needs to reconsider its agreements with some Arab countries. We get nothing from these agreements with Jordan & Egypt. They are weak. We should move towards China.
Iran train mobile missile TEL launcher.