Iran Is Threatening Iraqi Kurds. America Should Be Worried

The Kurds of northern Iraq, who have a degree of autonomy in their region of the country, have proved themselves loyal allies of the U.S.—leading the fight against Islamic State, maintaining good relations with Israel, and providing a bulwark against expanding Iranian influence. Moreover, the area controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government produces half a million barrels of oil per day, or one-eighth of the country’s total output. But the central government in Baghdad, over which the Islamic Republic exercises increasing control, is now claiming a larger share of that oil. In response to the ensuing legal dispute, writes Hussain Abdul-Hussain:

Tehran and its militias . . . started launching missiles against Kurdish energy fields and the houses of oil and gas tycoons. Iranian excuses have varied between claiming that the attacks targeted Israeli intelligence cells active in Iraqi Kurdistan and blaming Turkey for the attacks.

Iran exports 64 percent of its gas to Iraq and 33 percent to Turkey. As cheaper and more reliable Kurdish gas came online, both Ankara and Baghdad started relying on [Kurdistan] for their gas needs, especially for electricity production. When Iran instructs its Iraqi militias to hit Kurdish energy fields, it is often for reasons of commercial competition. . . . What the Islamist regime of Iran wants to see is a subdued Kurdish government that stops pumping energy, expels Iraqi dissidents, and ends its opposition to Iranian diktats inside Iraq.

President Biden is due to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia in mid-July. The White House said that “deterring threats from Iran” and “ensuring global energy” will be on the agenda during talks with America’s Middle East allies. Biden must remember that confronting Iran’s destabilizing activity should include supporting the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government, its militia, and its drive to get more energy to a desperately starved global market.

Read more at Asia Times

More about: Iran, Iraq, Kurds, Oil, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security