The Israeli naval commandos’ seizure of the Iranian missile ship KLOS C Wednesday, March 6, was the second time in ten days that the IDF had poked a finger in the eye of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the al Qods Brigades, the intelligence-cum-terrorist arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The first instance was the Israeli air strike on Feb. 24 against Hizballah’s arms convoys and missiles on the Lebanese-Syrian border.
In reference to the ship carrying dozens of Syrian-made 302mm rockets from Iran to the Gaza Strip, Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Thursday, March 6, “We know who was behind this operation and who ran it from start to finish, the Revolutionary Guards and al Qods.”
Al Qods supreme commander is Gen. Soleimani. His agents and operatives are planted deeply across the Syrian war front and in Hizballah’s organization in Lebanon.
debkafile reports: Israel does not buy the distinction drawn by Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini for international consumption between the two arms of the Islamic regime: President Hassan Rouhani’s government for the respectable handling of diplomacy and foreign relations, and the IRGC, which is purportedly barred from nuclear negotiations and confined to running the regime’s military, subversive and terrorist operations in areas of conflict, such as Syria, Lebanon and Israel.
The IDF regards the two arms as artificial and representing the same regime which denies Israel the right to exist.
This week, Israel saw its chance to show that regime up as two-faced and expose its clandestine arm by a spectacle that played well in the United States and on the world stage.
The capture of the missile ship on the Red Sea shortly before it entered Port Sudan served that purpose.
It was also a chance to show Tehran that for Israeli intelligence, the clandestine agencies Iran had crafted over many years, were an open book and no match for its capabilities.
Gen. Soleimani has long been an object of study by Israel’s army chiefs and security agencies. In their estimation he will have his hands full in the short term with finding and plugging the hole in his organization which enabled hostile penetration. He is already taxed with the urgent task of putting a stop to the spate of suicide bombings plaguing the Syrian government and targeting Hizballah and Iranian institutions in Lebanon.
Therefore, in the short term, Israeli intelligence experts believe the al Qods chief will not have time for revenge on Israel.
debkafile’s security sources beg to differ. Gen. Soleimani is reputedly a brilliant and cautious planner of undercover operations. He was quick to set up low-key yet ominous reprisals within days of Israel’s air strike over the Lebanese-Syrian border. They came as rocket fire and an attempt to rig a bomb on the Israeli border fence – both actions mounted from Syria although Hizballah was held responsible.
The Iranian general may therefore be expected to come up with some form of payback for the ship’s seizure
Our sources discount the overblown claims that this unquestioned IDF success in capturing dozens of Syrian-made 302mm rockets carried by the ship saved four million Israelis from attack.
For two years, the IDF refrained from cutting short the incessant stream of mobile Grad rockets and other weapons systems flooding into the Gaza Strip from Libya via Egypt. Those weapons had already imparted to Hamas, Jihad Islami and the al Qaeda affiliates in Sinai the ability to strike Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Rishon Lezion, an ability exhibited during Israel’s 2012 Gaza operation.
Two puzzling questions are raised by the Iranian missile ship episode suggesting that there was more to it than meets the eye.
The capture of a small merchant with a crew of 17 unarmed seamen scarcely warranted a naval commando force of the size employed, especially as it sailed without an Iranian naval escort; nor was there any sign of Iranian naval units based in Port Sudan coming to its rescue.
It is also strange that, in their comments on the operation, neither Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon nor any Israeli general offered a word of thanks to Washington for its cooperation, after the White House spokesman Jay Carney described how the US military and intelligence had worked with Israel to track the missile ship and were even under orders to arrange its interception, should the Israeli Navy for some reason opt out.
Is this a sign that US cooperation was inconsequential – or even conjured up post factum?