China maintains stance on disputed Gulf islands despite Iran’s anger

“China held its stance on three disputed islands in the Gulf on Monday despite Tehran’s anger at Beijing for describing the Iran-controlled islands as a matter to be resolved with the United Arab Emirates.
In a statement last week, China expressed support for the efforts of the UAE to reach a “peaceful solution” to the issue of the islands – the Greater Tunb, the Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa.

The islands, claimed by the UAE and Iran, have been held by Tehran since 1971 after the withdrawal of British forces from the Gulf.

In a rare show of anger toward its biggest trading partner, the Iranian foreign ministry on Sunday summoned the Chinese ambassador to Iran to protest China’s “repeated support” for the UAE’s “baseless claims”.

“Considering the strategic cooperation between Tehran and Beijing, it is expected that the Chinese government will revise its stance on this matter,” the Iranian foreign ministry said.

China’s foreign ministry on Monday repeated its call for Iran and the UAE to resolve their differences through dialogue and consultation, describing China’s stance on the matter as “consistent”.”

Yemen’s Houthi rebels unveil solid-fuel ‘Palestine’ missile that resembles Iranian hypersonic

“Solid-fuel missiles can be set up and fired faster than those containing liquid fuel. That’s a key concern for the Houthis as their missile launch sites have been repeatedly targeted by U.S. and allied forces in recent months over the rebels’ attacks on shipping through the Red Sea corridor. One such strike hit the Houthis even before they were able to launch their missile.
For their part, the Houthis described the Palestine as a “locally made” missile. However, the Houthis are not known to possess the ability to manufacture complicated missile and guidance systems locally in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, which been gripped by war since the rebels seized the capital, Sanaa, nearly a decade ago.

The Houthis have, however, been repeatedly armed by Iran during the war despite a United Nations arms embargo. While Iran claims it doesn’t arm the Houthis, ships seized by the U.S. and its allies have found Iranian weaponry, missile fuel and components on board.

Iranian media reported the launch of the Palestine and described it as locally manufactured, citing the Houthis. However, design elements on the missile resemble other missiles developed by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. That includes one called the Fattah, or “Conqueror” in Farsi.”

As China and Iran hunt for dissidents in the US, the FBI is racing to counter the threat

“After a student leader of the historic Tiananmen Square protests entered a 2022 congressional race in New York, a Chinese intelligence operative wasted little time enlisting a private investigator to hunt for any mistresses or tax problems that could upend the candidate’s bid, prosecutors say.
“In the end,” the operative ominously told his contact, “violence would be fine too.”

As an Iranian journalist and activist living in exile in the United States aired criticism of Iran’s human rights abuses, Tehran was listening too. Members of an Eastern European organized crime gang scouted her Brooklyn home and plotted to kill her in a murder-for-hire scheme directed from Iran, according to the Justice Department, which foiled the plan and brought criminal charges.

The episodes reflect the extreme measures taken by countries like China and Iran to intimidate, harass and sometimes plot attacks against political opponents and activists who live in the U.S. They show the frightening consequences that geopolitical tensions can have for ordinary citizens as governments historically intolerant of dissent inside their own borders are increasingly keeping a threatening watch on those who speak out thousands of miles away.”

Iran’s hard-line president still missing after likely helicopter crash in foggy, mountainous region

“Iran flies a variety of helicopters in the country, but international sanctions make it difficult to obtain parts for them. Its military air fleet also largely dates back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. IRNA published images it described as Raisi taking off in what resembled a Bell helicopter, with a blue-and-white paint scheme previously seen in published photographs.”

Jordan foils arms plot as kingdom caught in Iran-Israel shadow war

“Jordan has foiled a suspected Iranian-led plot to smuggle weapons into the U.S.-allied kingdom to help opponents of the ruling monarchy carry out acts of sabotage, according to two Jordanian sources with knowledge of the matter.
The weapons were sent by Iranian-backed militias in Syria to a cell of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan that has links to the military wing of Palestinian group Hamas, the people told Reuters. The cache was seized when members of the cell, Jordanians of Palestinian descent, were arrested in late March, they said.”

Why You Can’t Be an Iran Hawk and a Russia Dove

“A Russian victory is an Iranian victory. Moscow and Tehran have formed a military bloc with the aim of defeating the United States and its allies in the Middle East, Europe, and around the world. Russian and Iranian military forces have been fighting alongside one another in Syria for nearly a decade. The Russians have given Iran advanced air defenses and access to other military technologies and techniques, in addition to a front-row seat observing their efforts to defeat American and NATO missile defenses in Ukraine.[1] The Iranians in turn have given the Russians drones and access to drone technologies, including assisting with the construction of a massive factory to turn out thousands of Iranian drones in Russia.[2] Furthermore, Russian support to Iran has been limited in part because of the setbacks Russia has suffered in Ukraine. A victorious Russia will be free to give Iran the advanced aircraft and missile technologies Tehran has long sought.[3] If Russia gains control of Ukraine’s resources, as it seeks to do, it will be able to rebuild its own military and help Iran at the same time. Those concerned with the growth of Iran’s military power, ambitions, and aggression in the Middle East must recognize the degree to which Iran’s fortunes rise and fall with Russia’s.
The Russo-Iranian military coalition was formed in 2015 when Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani went to Moscow to seek help in keeping Bashar al Assad in power in Syria.[4] The Russians sent their own combat aircraft, intelligence and electronic warfare assets, and SPETSNAZ (special forces), along with a limited contingent of ground forces to help Soleimani.[5] Russian forces provided air support to Iranian troops and proxies, including Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian-controlled Iraqi militias, fighting against the anti-Assad opposition—especially the part of that opposition that the United States supported.[6] Russian forces remain in Syria to this day, operating in support of the expanding Iranian presence there.[7]

The Iranians learned a great deal from the combined military operations they conducted with the Russians in Syria, including how to plan and conduct complex ground campaigns and how to incorporate fixed-wing air support with ground troops.[8] The Russians benefited in turn by establishing a major airbase near Latakia and a naval base at Tartus, both effectively defended by the ground forces of Assad, Iran, and Iranian proxies.[9] Russian air and naval forces remain in both locations.”

“Russo-Iranian military cooperation has expanded dramatically since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The Iranians began sending hundreds of reconnaissance and long-range attack drones to Russia in August 2022 as the Russians exhausted their supply of missiles.[14] Those drones let Russia maintain and increase its pressure on Ukrainian air defenses even as it worked to expand production and modification of its own missile systems. The Iranians even helped Russia build a massive factory in the Republic of Tatarstan able to produce thousands of such drones.[15] Iran will use that system to defend against any US or Israeli operation should conflict escalate in the Middle East. The Russians have given Syria short-range air defense systems such as the Pantsir, which Syrian forces reportedly used in vain attempts to shoot down Israeli aircraft.[16]”

“Constraints on Russia’s ability to supply Iran with advanced weaponry will also begin lifting if Russia defeats Ukraine.”

“The primary constraint on Russian support to Iran, therefore, is Russia’s weakness. A Russia battered by failure in Ukraine, licking its wounds, and facing a strong and independent Ukrainian state will have limited resources and energy to devote to helping Iran. A Russia triumphant over the United States and NATO in Ukraine and with the resources of Ukraine at its disposal, on the other hand, will have ample capacity to repay its friends and support them in their efforts to achieve an aim Russia shares — defeating the United States and expelling it from the Middle East.

The notion that the United States should allow Russia to win in Ukraine in order to resist Iran in the Middle East is thus indefensible. Americans must internalize the unpleasant reality that the Russo-Iranian military bloc is a real and vibrant thing, that Moscow will support Tehran against us and our allies as best it can, and that Russia’s victory is Iran’s victory. Russia’s loss, contrariwise, is Iran’s loss. Those wishing to contain Iran therefore must also support helping Ukraine against Russia.”

Iran’s stealth drones have become the new blueprint for international warfare

In January, an Iranian exploding drone hit a US military base in Jordan, killing three US service members. The Washington Post cited a defense source who said the weapon was a small attack Shahed-101.

The drone was able to sneak past American defenses by shadowing a US drone also landing at the base — a trick believed to have been picked up from Russia, Bloomberg reported.

“Russia and Iran are learning from each other. That is almost as important as the technology-sharing itself,” Matthew McInnis, a Pentagon intelligence officer who was a State Department representative for Iran, told the outlet.

But Iran’s influence goes beyond Russia. Iranian-backed Houthis have curtailed trade in the Red Sea in recent months by perpetrating drone attacks on cargo ships.

Bloomberg reported that Ethiopia had used Iranian drones to squash rebellions in the country, while Tajikistan, Algeria, and Venezuela were also partnering with Iran.

White House says Iran did not provide early warning of Israel attack — and didn’t mean for it to fail

“The White House is strongly denying reports that Iran provided any advance warning of the massive aerial attack it sent towards Israel on Saturday, calling the suggestion that Tehran would have provided any information on its military plans “ridiculous”.
John Kirby, the president’s national security communications adviser, also took a page from President Joe Biden’s book of oft-used phrases by referring to reports of such warnings — through back channels or otherwise — as “malarkey”.

“We did receive messages from Iran, and they receive messages from us too, but there was never any message to us or to anyone else on the timeframe, the targets, or the type of response,” he said during a White House press briefing on Monday.

“I want to be clear, this whole narrative out there that Iran passed us a message with what they were going to do is ridiculous,” he later added.”