Iran attack appears to have been coordinated-leaked among all nations concerned

by WorldTribune Staff, April 15, 2024

Of Iran’s more than 300 drones and missiles launched in Saturday’s attack on Israel, 99 percent were intercepted by Israeli and U.S. forces.

They were able to crush Iran’s attack in large part “because Arab countries quietly passed along intelligence about Teheran’s attack plans, opened their airspace to warplanes, shared radar tracking information or, in some cases, supplied their own forces to help,” the Wall Street Journal cited officials as saying in an April 15 report.

The region-wide air-defense cooperation was decades in the making as the U.S. sought to break down political and technical barriers that in the past thwarted military cooperation between Israel and the Sunni Arab governments, the officials said.

Jordanian jets took part in shooting down Iranian drones on April 13. / Jordanian Air Force

The cooperation initiative had pretty much stalled until a breakthrough came with the 2020 Abraham Accords brokered by the Trump administration, which established formal ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

The Pentagon wound up shifting Israel from its European Command to Central Command, which includes the rest of the Middle East, a move that enabled greater military cooperation with Arab governments under U.S. auspices.

“Israel’s move into Centcom was a game changer,” making it easier to share intelligence and provide early warning across countries, said Dana Stroul, who until December was the most senior civilian official at the Pentagon with responsibility for the Middle East.

“The Abraham Accords made the Middle East look different…because we could do things not just under the surface but above it,” a senior Israeli official said. Joining Central Command enabled even more technical cooperation with Arab governments. “That’s what created this alliance,” the official said.

The air-defense alliance had never been battle tested when on April 1 a missile strike in Damascus, Syria, killed several Iranian officers, including Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, who according to Iranian state media and U.S. officials, managed Iranian paramilitary operations in Syria and Lebanon. Israel hasn’t claimed responsibility for the attack.

Related: Israel takes the fight to Iran with killing of top IRGC commander Zahedi, April 2, 2024

Iran vowed to respond, and senior U.S. officials began pressing Arab governments to share intelligence about Iran’s plans to strike Israel and to assist with intercepting drones and missiles launched from Iran and other countries toward Israel, the Journal cited Saudi and Egyptian officials as saying.

Fearing that assistance to Israel could involve them directly in the conflict and risk reprisals from Teheran, the UAE and Saudi Arabia agreed privately to share intelligence, while Jordan said it would allow use of its airspace by U.S. and other countries’ warplanes and use its own aircraft to assist in intercepting Iranian missiles and drones, the officials said.

Two days before the attack, Iranian officials briefed counterparts from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries on the outlines and timing of their plan for the large-scale strikes on Israel so that those countries could safeguard airspace, the officials said. The information was passed along to the U.S., giving Washington and Israel crucial advance warning.

“The challenge was to bring all those countries around Israel” at a time when Israel is isolated in the region, the Journal cited one official as saying. “It was a diplomatic issue.”

The Iranian missiles and drones were tracked from the moment they launched by early warning radars in Persian Gulf countries linked to the U.S. operations center in Qatar, which transmitted the information to fighter jets from several countries in the airspace over Jordan and other countries, as well as to warships at sea and missile-defense batteries in Israel, officials said.

When the slow-moving Iranian drones came within range, they were shot down, mostly by fighters from Israel and the U.S. and in smaller numbers by British, French and Jordanian warplanes, officials said.

At one point, more than 100 ballistic Iranian missiles were in the air at one time heading toward Israel. The overwhelming majority were shot down by Israeli air-defense systems in Israeli airspace and outside it, a U.S. official said.

U.S. aircraft shot down more than 70 drones, and two U.S. guided-missile destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean intercepted as many as six missiles. A U.S. Patriot air-defense system near Erbil, Iraq, shot down an Iranian ballistic missile on its way to Israel, the official said.

Gregory R. Copley, editor at GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs, noted that Iran’s attack on Israel “showed how well the two countries understand each other” and that misleading Western media rhetoric that Shi’ite Iran is the primary financial sponsor of the Sunni/Muslim Brotherhood Hamas movement “obscures realities.”

Copley noted:

1. Primary sponsors of HAMAS, which began the war against Israel on October 7, 2023, are Turkey and Qatar, both Muslim Brotherhood states extremely hostile to Israel. Each has a delicate relationship with Iran, and they would have been happy to have Tehran bear the brunt of Israel’s anger. Having said that, Iran had no option but to respond to the Israeli bombing on April 1, 2024, of the Iranian consulate in Damascus, killing senior Pasdaran (IRGC) officers.

2. Iran’s response was pure political theater: Tehran leaked to the US and Israel the nature, targeting, and timing of the proposed Iranian attack on Israel, clearly indicating that it proposed a symbolic attack designed to avoid human casualties. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei announced when the first salvos of several hundred unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs or loitering munitions), cruise missiles, and light ballistic missiles were fired, giving Israeli anti-missile forces (mainly Iron Dome and David’s Sling systems) and Allied (U.S., UK, and Jordanian) systems time to prepare.

Some 300 Iranian systems (170 UCAVs and 120+ ballistic missiles) were fired, 99 percent were intercepted, and no deaths were recorded by Israel. As well, some 350 rockets were fired from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and by Hizbullah (in Lebanon). No Turkish, Qatari, or Hamas assets were used in the attacks.

3. Iran very pointedly did not use its heavier ballistic missiles, such as the c2,000km range Sajjil or Sajjil-2 MRBMs (almost certainly nuclear capable) in the strike. This would not only have been threatening in terms of imagery (because of its nuclear capability), but would have brought up the Israeli Arrow 3 ABM systems. For Iran to have its Sajjils defeated (even if they were carrying only a conventional payload) would have subjected Tehran to reduced prestige and credibility. As it is now, the Iranian retaliation signaled “honor is satisfied”, even to its regional audience. . . . .

4. Russia almost certainly worked with the Iranian leadership to ensure that Tehran was not drawn in by Israel to a broader response. Moscow has only now succeeded in bringing Iran into its International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) which creates a riverine, rail, and oceanic transport link from the Baltic/Atlantic to the Indian Ocean and India via Iran. It cannot afford to have an Israeli war against Iran jeopardize this.

Meanwhile, the GOP-led House scheduled votes on a series of Iran sanctions bills on Monday.

“In light of Iran’s unjustified attack on Israel, the House will move from its previously announced legislative schedule next week to instead consider legislation that supports our ally Israel and holds Iran and its terrorist proxies accountable,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said in a statement on Saturday before the formal schedule was announced.

Honor their memory: The ‘shot heard round the world’

There were five bills related to Iran on the House schedule for Monday, according to Scalise’s office.

The bills scheduled for votes included H.R. 5921, the No U.S. Financing for Iran Act of 2023, H.R. 5923, the Iran-China Energy Sanctions Act of 2023, H.R. 6245, the Holding Iranian Leaders Accountable Act of 2023 and H.R. 6015, the Iran Sanctions Accountability Act of 2023.

H.R.6408, which is a resolution that would “amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to terminate the tax-exempt status of terrorist supporting organizations,” was also on the schedule for Monday.

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