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DEVELOPING: Israel at War, Iran launches missiles

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THIS STORY IS DEVELOPING 

Iran launched dozens of drones and missiles at Israel Saturday, as tensions mount across the globe at the escalating crisis in the Middle East.  Missiles are currently traveling toward Israel as I put this story together and the situation on the ground in the region remains extremely fluid.

Iranian missiles were intercepted over Jerusalem using Israel’s Iron Dome system. In video posted to X, the missiles can be seen clearly over Israel’s Knesset building. Iranian Missiles were also intercepted over the Kotel and Temple Mount, according to Israeli government reports and citizen video.

Israeli citizens and visitors are preparing for the strikes and continuously monitoring the media in the early morning hours in Jerusalem, sources told me. According to U.S. and Israeli military officials the cruise missiles are traveling at slow speeds and expected to reach Israeli territory within hours.

Officials told reporters the missiles could take hours to reach their targets in Israel, however, Israeli military officials and the United States military assets in the region are prepared to intercept them.

President Joe Biden, along with senior officials in his team, have promised to back Israel during this very delicate time. However, reports from CNN  that Biden was going to make an announcement to the nation were unfounded when White House officials stated Saturday afternoon that Biden would not be speaking.

However, it’s the Biden administration’s failure to renew sanctions against Iran’s military and Iran’s continuing oil sales that have emboldened the cult like regime to target Israel on a massive scale, stated one U.S. official.

Here’s my most recent interview with former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, on Biden’s failure to hold Iran accountable and the administration’s actions toward Israel, which I believe emboldened Iran to target our greatest ally.

Friedman said during the Sara Carter Show podcast last week,  the Biden administration’s policy in the Middle East is a complete failure “from start to finish.”

“Look, they, they destroyed America’s credibility generally, which is always kind of the key ingredients to any advancements in the Middle East, because people, you know, in the Middle East are very different than America, you can’t, you can’t talk your way into peace, you can’t talk your way into normalization, you have to, you have to demonstrate that, you know, you bring to the table, a certain strength, a strength, both both a physical strength in a in a in a sense of conviction, where people trust you and, you know, in some respects, they fear you,”  he added.

“And, you know, from the day we left Afghanistan, that was just out the window completely,” he told me. “So people, I don’t think people understand how the withdrawal from Afghanistan set the stage for everything that went wrong after that, in terms of foreign policy from, you know, the the Russian attack on Ukraine, to come US and Iran and it all started there.” 

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, posted on X Saturday, “Our ally Israel is under attack from Iran. America should back Israel to the hilt. Resolution where others waver is a hallmark of leadership among nations and men.”

He is absolutely right.

 

A former Israeli Defense Official told SaraACarter.com stated that the U.S. military succeeded in intercepting a missile that was launched from Iran. According to reports the United States and Great Britain have intercepted and taken down multiple missiles.

Officials working in Israel that spoke to SaraACarter.com said that the nation is preparing for the strike and concern is mounting because of the extraordinary nature of the strike. This is the first time Iran has launched missiles directly from its territory to Israel without the use of proxies, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Foreign Ambassadors and top diplomats in Israel received a message Saturday evening to remain on high alert and prepare for possible incoming strikes.

“Excellencies – you are aware, Iran has launched an aerial attack on Israel,” the warning states. “It is highly advised to stay tonight near a shelter or a safe room and stay tuned to the developing situation. We will update as music as possible and are available for you.”

Fox News is reporting that any missiles flying over Jordanian air space will be shot down by either Jordanian and U.S. forces. However, U.S. Intelligence officials are warning that Iran may be planning on a multi-faceted attack and the current missiles may only be one part of a much larger attack.

“What else do they have in the box, is Hezbollah,” said one U.S. official. “We could see other attacks coming from various other proxies in the region – so Israel has to be monitoring all possibilities. This does open the door for Israel to actually launch a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities as well – which makes one wonder, why begs the question, why did Iran choose to launch from its territory?”

 

 

Since last week, tensions in the Middle East have remained on high alert. U.S. Intelligence agencies have been closely monitoring what they deemed to be “credible” threats of an Iranian attack on Israel, following a strike on Iran’s Damascus consulate, where two top Iranian IRGC Generals were killed.

In response to the perceived threat, the U.S. is bolstering its presence in the region, deploying “additional assets” to bolster regional deterrence efforts and enhance force protection for U.S. forces, according to a U.S. defense official speaking to Fox News. National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby reiterated the seriousness of the situation, emphasizing the U.S.’s commitment to closely monitoring the potential threat posed by Iran.

The evolving situation has prompted U.S. CENTCOM Gen. Michael Kurilla to visit Israel, where he met with top military officials to assess military preparedness amidst growing concerns over Iranian retaliation. However, Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder refrained from speculating on specific threats from Iran, even as Tehran continues to promise action.

The State Department has issued new travel advisories for Israel, warning of potential terrorist attacks in major cities. Meanwhile, Iran has signaled its intent to respond to the attack on its consulate, albeit in a manner aimed at avoiding major escalation.

Amidst the uncertainty, experts weigh in on the potential ramifications of Iranian retaliation. Gen. Jack Keane of the Institute for the Study of War (IFSW) predicts an eventual attack, citing Iran’s desire to avoid escalation while exerting psychological pressure. However, Keane underscores the strength of Israel and the West’s leverage, suggesting a firm response to Iranian aggression.

Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, echoes concerns over the potential fallout from Iranian retaliation, highlighting the risks of escalation for Tehran. Taleblu emphasizes Iran’s strategic challenges in orchestrating an effective response, suggesting that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei faces a pivotal moment in his leadership.

As tensions simmer in the region, the U.S. and its allies brace for potential escalation, mindful of the delicate balance of power and the stakes involved in any confrontation with Iran. Amidst the uncertainty, one thing remains clear: the Middle East remains a powder keg, with the potential for conflict looming large on the horizon.

Alexander Carter Contributed to this report.

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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