WORLD NEWS TOMORROW – The battle for psychological ascendancy between the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance and Israel escalated sharply on Friday after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened punishing missile strikes deep inside Israel in case it attacked Iran.
Invoking imagery possibly resulting from counter-strikes against Israel’s nuclear facilities, Mr. Nasrallah said that retaliation by his battle hardened organisation would kill thousands and make life “hell” inside the country. “I tell the Israelis that you have a number of targets, not a large number … that can be hit with precision rockets … which we have,” said Mr. Nasrallah. The Hizbollah Secretary General’s harsh warning follows a feverish advocacy from influential sections in Israel for air strikes that would impair Iran’s nuclear facilities. Mr. Nasrallah pointed out that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak are the chief advocates for a war against Iran, despite massive opposition from the military generals, security veterans as well as senior figures from the past and present administrations.
Mr. Nasrallah’s remarks appear to have a more immediate and specific context. Richard Silverstein, a blogger with a reputation of revealing information that is censored in Israel, has posted details from an alleged “briefing document” about Israeli war-plans against Iran.
These plans include at their core, a massive cyber-assault that would cripple Iran’s communication systems, and impair the country’s electricity grid. Israeli missile strikes would then destroy Iran’s key elements of the nuclear establishment, including residences of the country’s top atomic scientists. “The missiles will strike their targets — some exploding above ground like those striking the nuclear reactor at Arak – which is intended to produce plutonium and tritium —and the nearby heavy water production facility; the nuclear fuel production facilities at Isfahan and facilities for enriching uranium-hexafluoride. Others would explode underground, as at the Fordo facility,” says the blog. Iran’s state-run Press TV citing “Iranian observers” had earlier dismissed the report as “a joint U.S.-Israeli publicity and [psychological] war campaign aimed at inciting fear among the Iranian public”.
Speculation was also rife on Saturday about the alleged defection to Jordan by the Syrian Vice President, Farouk Al Shara; an icon of the Assad regime for the last 30 years. But quickly denying the defection, which would have been a big blow for the regime, Syrian state- television said that Mr. Shara “has never thought about leaving the country or going anywhere”. The statement also hailed the appointment of Lakhdar Brahimi as the new U.N. Syria envoy. The speculation about the Syrian Vice President’s defection followed reports on Saturday that Syrian soldiers had killed a large number of armed fighters who had taken control of a weapons depot in the western city of Homs.
The Syrian government’s successful riposte to the earlier inroads made by anti-regime fighters in Damascus and Aleppo, has now reinvigorated debate in NATO circles about the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Syria. But on Saturday, Russia firmly rejected the proposition. In an interview to Sky News Arabia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lvov said that some countries are using the humanitarian crisis in Syria as an excuse to enforce no-fly-zones. “But if you try to create no-fly zones and safety zones for military purposes by citing an international crisis — this is unacceptable,” he stressed.
The Secretary of State of the United States, Hillary Clinton had apparently discussed imposition of no-fly zones on some parts of Syria during her recent outing in Turkey