- Iranian officials accuse Americans, Zionists, and Hollywood of producing Iranian arms ship carrying advanced missiles
- Hamas official brags that group will blanket Israel with advanced missiles in next war
- US, Israeli officials float possibility of expanding Israeli missile shield to protect U.S. Arab allies
- U.S.-UAE relations in crisis after State Dept. blasts Abu Dhabi for suppressing terror-linked political party
- · Iranian officials have become more vocal and more explicit in airing conspiracy theories regarding last week's Israeli interdiction of the Klos-C, a Panamanian-flagged Iranian arms ship bound for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, with one military figure suggesting that "the Americans and the Zionists probably ordered (from) Hollywood the production of a movie with the scenario of a cargo ship carrying Iranian weapons to Gaza in Palestine." UPI quoted Iranian Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazzayeri making the accusation as part of a longer story detailing the weapons on board the ship, which included 40 M302 rockets with ranges capable of blanketing much of Israel, as well as "180 12mm mortar shells and about 400,000 7.62mm bullets." Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had previously taken to Twitter to question the timing of the vessel’s interception, linking it to the annual AIPAC policy conference and describing the incident as the "same failed lies." Zarif is considered by some foreign policy analysts to be a key moderate figure in the Iranian regime, and a Reuters story on his nomination by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had declared that Rouhani "could hardly do better" than to pick him as a "signal [of] his determination to rebuild relations with the United States." It is not clear to what degree Zarif's public conspiracy theories can be aligned with that image, and observers may instead contextualize his comments within recently published analysis - based on his recently-available autobiography - assessing him "to be every bit as religiously ideological as the radicalized student activist he was in the late 1970s."
- A Hamas official reportedly told Agence France-Presse (AFP) over the weekend that any future war between Israel and the Iran-backed terror group will see Hamas launching missiles at Israeli civilians far in the country's north, a boast bound to deepen increasingly open concerns within Israel's military and political establishments that Hamas is stockpiling an arsenal capable of the sustained saturation bombing of Israeli civilian centers. The comments were occasioned by a Hamas ceremony unveiling a life-sized statue honoring M75 rockets, which Hamas had used in its 2012 war with Israel to reach cities in central Israel. AFP conveyed other boasts from the ceremony, including one by a masked figure who bragged that "Hamas managed to take the battle to the heart of the Zionist entity (Israel) after developing its rocket system." Israel last week intercepted a Gaza-bound arms ship dispatched by Iran and carrying missiles capable of putting roughly five million Israelis under fire. The nature and substance of Hamas's threats, especially coupled with the Palestinian faction’s ongoing efforts to stockpile advanced missiles, are likely to solidify Israeli skepticism toward calls from some corners of the international community that Jerusalem lift its blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
- Reuters on Monday conveyed statements from U.S. Brigadier-General John Shapland, the chief American defense attache Israel, suggesting that Israel could expand its anti-missile umbrella to protect Jordan and Egypt, with the outlet also noting that the head of Israeli Missile Defence Organisation (IMDO) "cautiously welcomed the idea." Shapland, who was speaking at a security conference convened by Israel's Institute for National Security Studies, sketched out "a regional defense capability in, say, Jordan, that... could easily defend Israel, Jordan and even Egypt.” Commenting on the proposal - which Shapland took pains to emphasize was "just one idea to consider" - IMDO head Yair Ramati noted that "the policy of the (Israeli) Defence Ministry is always to cooperate with the countries of the region, including the countries cited." Regionally, any such moves would be seen as evidence of increasingly open cooperation between Jerusalem and the U.S.'s traditional Arab allies. Globally, the suggestion is likely to be read alongside growing international interest - going back to mid-2013 in the case of South Korea, and as recently as last week in the case of India - in acquiring Israeli missile defense assets.
- The Daily Beast assessed on Monday that the alliance between the United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was "straining after a rare outburst from the UAE," which Abu Dhabi unleashed after an annual State Department human rights report criticized the Gulf nation for blocking the formation of a political party that the UAE insists is tied to terrorism. The outlet described the UAE as "angry that the State Department's human rights report makes it appear that the founder of the Ummah Party, Hassan al-Diqqi, is just a regular democratic organizer," while leaving out evidence that al-Diqqi is currently running a jihadist training camp in Syria. Gulf states have taken to expressing open anger at the Obama administration’s Middle East policy, which they accuse of promoting destabilizing Islamist parties at the expense of Washington's traditional allies. Arab leaders expressed open frustration at what they characterized as the White House’s haste to abandon the Egypt’s regime of Hosni Mubarak, and they vented with something close to disbelief at U.S. policies punishing the interim Egyptian government that formed after Mohammed Morsi's subsequent Muslim Brotherhood-linked government was overthrown. The anger extended to the top reaches of the UAE, and the Daily Beast noted that the "UAE’s rulers have quietly seethed at how President Obama has managed affairs in the Middle East and particularly his support for the toppling of America’s former client in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak."
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