Thursday, October 31, 2013

Israel Attacks Military Base in Latakia, Syria

CNN, quoting a U.S. official, reported that Israel has carried our air strikes in Latakia, Syria, targeting a shipment of SA-8 surface-to-air missiles and related equipment that were to be delivered to the Hezbollah. Earlier today, Al Arabiya also reported that Israel was behind the air raid on a military base in the city of Latakia. That attacks reportedly happened on Wednesday.
Eyewitnesses told the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that the explosions took place near Snobar Jableh, south of Latakia.

The official Lebanese news agency reported that Israeli aircrafts were sighted on multiple occasions Wednesday in the south of the country.

Israeli sources declined to comment on the reports.

Latakia is said to house a large number of Quds Force military advisors.

Image credit: Latakia, Syria (Google) 

Reports indicate Khamenei may be chronically ill

Numerous news outlets have speculated that recent events indicate that Iran's Supreme Leader may be suffering from a serious illness.

Hossein Rostami, an Iranian journalist, has reportedly wrote on Facebook that this "is not good news coming our way from our master."

He accordingly urged supports of the Supreme Leader to "pray deeply for him."

The report points out that Mr. Khamenei has not been seen in public since October 5

Last week he did not give his customary greeting to Iranian pilgrims as they set off for Mecca for the Shiite religious festival of Ghadeer.

Rostami has been asked by the Iranian authorities not to discuss or speculate about Mr. Khamenei's health online.

He has however posted a portrait of Mr. Khamenei accompanied by a poem by the legendary Persian poet Hafez on the subject of health. (The Washington Times, October 31)

Iran Chamber Planning Kish-New York Nonstop Flights

Iran’s Chamber of Commerce announced today that it is launching the first nonstop flight between Iran and the United States since the 1979 revolution.

“Preliminary measures have been taken and we are waiting to receive the final permission from the Civil Aviation Organization to launch 13-hour charter flights to the United States,” said Abolfazl Hejazi, an official with the Iranian chamber of commerce. “We have proposed launching the flights between Kish Island in the Persian Gulf and the New York City, because Kish is a free economic zone and there is no need for visa to enter the island,” Hejazi added. (Tehran Times/Xinhua, 31 October)

Iran Air made its last
departure from New York on 7 November 1979.
File Photo: An Iran Air A300 at Mehrabad airport, Tehran, 2010. (Wikipedia)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Iran Blocked Assets in China at $22 Billion

Iran's Vice President Mohammad Baqer Nobakht said today the country's $22 billion worth of assets has been blocked in China. (Trend, 30 October)

China is Iran's biggest oil costumer, and imported 16.01 million tons of Iranian oil during first nine months of the current year, amounting to 428,160 barrels per day, for a value of about $12.3 billion so far this year.

Beijing makes Iranian oil payments through its national currency, the yuan, and deposits it in a local bank account, which is accessible only for purchasing permitted commodities inside China.

During 2007-mid 2011, Iran also reportedly transferred about $25 billion of assets from European banks to China to prevent it from being frozen and this amount is still deposited in Chinese banks. It is not believed that Nobakht’s report of $22 billion worth of blocked assets includes the amounts transferred to China.

The total Iranian assets blocked worldwide are estimated at more than $60 billion. It was reported earlier this month that Obama administration was considering unblocking these frozen assets as part of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. (Trend, 30 October)

Photo credit: IRNA

Kazakhstan Naval Force commander in Tehran

IRIN Commander Rear Admiral Sayyari with Kazakh Naval Force Commander Rear Admiral Zhanzakov 
(photo: FARS News Agency)

According to Fars News Agency:
Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari and his Kazakh counterpart Rear Admiral Zhandarbek Zhanzakov, in a meeting in Tehran on Tuesday underlined the need for boosting cooperation between the two countries in the Caspian Sea.
“… at the meeting we discussed expansion of mutual cooperation in educational fields and exchange of university students as well as repair, maintenance and building warships,” Admiral Sayyari told reporters following the meeting.
Kazakh Naval Force details [source: Wikipedia]:

On 7 May 2003, Kazakhstan’s Naval Forces were established by presidential decree. They operate on the Caspian Sea, based at Aktau. The Kazakh Naval Force has a strength of 3,000 personnel and is equipped with 14 inshore patrol craft.

In 2011, a naval aviation base was opened in Aktau. The 612th air base in Aktau will reportedly include two Sukhoi Su-27 fighter aircraft, seven Su-27 pilots and 12 helicopter pilots presumably operating Mil Mi-24 rotary wing aircraft.

Equipment includes:

1 Kazakhstan class missile boat - 250ton,  with two additions planned
4 Almaty class vessels
1 Dauntless class vessel
5 Guardian class vessels
2 Project 1400M Grif class patrol craft - 39 ton
2 AB-25 class (Türk type) large patrol craft

Below: AB-25 class (Türk type) large patrol craft (Turkish Navy) of type operated by Kazakh Naval Force (photo: Bibikoff Leonid)

Iran Denies Recent Report of Sabotage on Nuclear Facilities

Iranian Minister of Intelligence Mahmoud Alavi today dismissed news of sabotage on the country's nuclear facilities, the Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency (ICANA) reported today.

Early in October, director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi announced that Tehran has arrested four people in connection with a plot to sabotage the country's nuclear facilities.

The intelligence minister was quoted by ICANA, however, that the four people who had been arrested in one of the nuclear facilities were scrap metal thieves.

Upon hearing the verdict by the minister, AEOI’s Salehi said, “What interesting thieves they are to have dug under a concrete wall in that difficult situation and attempted to enter the nuclear site (for scrap metal.” (ICANA/TREND, 30 October)

File photo: Iranian Minister of Intelligence Mahmoud Alavi (ICANA/TREND)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Iran’s Secret Night Flights to Arm Assad’s Military - Report

The National, a state-run English-language daily newspaper published in Abu Dhabi, quoting an unnamed official in Syria, reported this week that Iran provides military support to President Bashar Al Assad by way of several weekly flights between Tehran and Damascus.

Up to three supply flights occur each week between the two cities, none of them appearing on public timetables, said an official with access to air traffic information in and out of Damascus International Airport. The flights reportedly take place at night.

“There are private flights every week, sometimes three a week, and they are controlled by an Iranian officer in Damascus,” the Syrian official said.

“We have not been told openly, but we know the flights are being organized by the [Iranian] Revolutionary Guard,” the official said. “Everyone must follow an [Iranian] officer’s orders. We have been told he is the second most important man in Syria and that we are to do as he says without question,” added the official. (The National, 27 October)

To read the full National article, please click here.

Note: The report says the flights from Tehran to Damascus pass through Iraqi airspace. Last July, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said in an interview with pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that Iraq was unable to stop Iran transferring weapons to Syria through its airspace.

“We reject and condemn the transfer of weapons through our airspace and we will inform the Iranian side of that formally. But we do not have the ability to stop it,” Zebari said. (Asharq al-Awsat/Reuters, 13 July)
Photo credit: Syrian soldiers in a town west of Damascus. (Sana/AP/The National)