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Egypt To Add Russian Su-35 Jets To Its Air Force Despite ‘Stern’ US Warnings

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The Egyptian government will add the Russian Su-35 jets to its military arsenal despite U.S. warnings. Cairo is not backing down as it looks to reduce dependency on American imports for its military needs.

Experts say that an alliance between Russia and Egypt can lead to tensions between Cairo and Washington.

Egypt and Russia inked a $2 billion deal in 2018 with 24 Su-35 heading towards Cairo. The Egyptians will get the delivery of the 4th generation fighter jet near the third or fourth quarter of 2020 as production has been delayed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The U.S. had warned Egypt of sanctions if it signed a deal with Moscow but the deal was signed regardless of threats. The U.S. is worried about the arrival of the Russian planes since they pose a threat to American air superiority in the region. The Su-35 is cheaper, can carry more missiles and fly farther than some American jets.

The Egyptians remain undeterred in the face of US warnings. Maged Botros, a professor of political science and the chairman of Egypt’s Helwan University, says Egypt has nothing to worry about. He believes that the Americans are bluffing as they did with Turkey over the purchase of S-400s from Russia and that the Egyptians will not be dictated to work on American terms.

Washington and Cairo have been staunch allies since the 1970s and not only have the Americans poured money into the Egyptian economy, they have also sold military equipment worth $50 billion to Cairo. However, the relationship turned sour in 2013 when Washington froze the sale of Apache helicopters.

The Egyptian government needed the Apaches to track and eliminate terrorists hiding in Sinai. Egypt’s call for the helicopters fell to deaf ears and Cairo learned a lesson. Since the debacle with Washington, Cairo has inked deals with Germany, France,  Russia and China to diversify the sources for its military equipment and reduce its dependency on Washington.

While analysts suspected Egypt bowing down to US pressure eventually, these suspicions have proved wrong. In addition to the sanctions, the US also threatened to end the joint military drills and stop all financial aid to Cairo. However, according to Botros, Egyptian spirit will not be broken.

‘Egypt has a number of sources of income so we will still be able to pull through even if the worse comes to worst,’’ he said. Egypt maintains leverage over the Suez Canal and the Gulf States, one of Washington’s main market.

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Middle East

Iran Hints At Cyber Attacks By Israel or US at Natanz Nuclear Facility; Vows Retaliation

The Natanz nuclear facility is primarily used for uranium-enrichment and is under the watch of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

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Iran has threatened to retaliate after an attack on its Natanz nuclear factory. A fire broke out at the Natanz nuclear facility earlier this week and the Iranian government has vowed to retaliate against any country, including Israel and the US.

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According to reports, Iran believes the attack on Natanz possibly involved the use of cyber warfare. Gholamreza Jalali, the head of the civilian defence, said that responding to cyberattacks is part of Iran’s defence might. ”If it is proven that our country has been targeted by a cyberattack, we will respond,” he said.

The Natanz nuclear facility is primarily used for uranium-enrichment and is under the watch of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog. The IAEA confirmed that the location of the fire did not contain nuclear materials and that none of its inspectors was on-site at the time of the incident.

Tehran’s top security body announced on Friday that an incident had been reported at the nuclear facility and it would reveal full details at a convenient time “due to security considerations”. Images published by Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation suggests that there had been an explosion inside the building.

An article by Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), addressed the possibility of sabotage by enemies such as Israel and the United States and warned enemy countries to revise their foreign policy against Tehran.

“So far Iran has tried to prevent intensifying crises and the formation of unpredictable conditions and situations,” IRNA said. “But the crossing of red lines of the Islamic Republic of Iran by hostile countries, especially the Zionist regime and the U.S., means that strategy … should be revised.”

Suspicion on US and Israel

Iranian officials who spoke to Reuters believe that the fire was the result of a cyberattack, but did not cite any evidence. One official said that the attack had targeted a centrifuge assembly building and that adversaries of Iran had carried out similar attacks in the past.

The 2010 Stuxnet computer virus is a case in point. The virus, which is believed to be developed by Washington or Tel Aviv, was discovered after it was used to attack the Natanz facility a decade ago.

However, cybersecurity experts such as Lukasz Olejnik argue that incident at Natanz did not necessarily say much about what transpired on Thursday. “Events taking place more than 10 years ago, and once, in themselves cannot form any evidence about things happening today,” Olejnik said.

Two Iranian officials even pinned the possible cyberattack on Israel but did not offer any evidence for their claim. Upon being quizzed about the attack on Natanz, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu told reporters: “Clearly we can’t get into that.”

Israeli military and Netanyahu’s office, which oversees Israel’s foreign intelligence service Mossad, did not immediately respond to Reuters queries on Friday.

Iran’s nuclear program has been the bone of contention between Washington and Tehran. After the Donald Trump administration pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran’s nuclear situation has been left in limbo.

Washington and Tel Aviv allege that Tehran is using the nuclear facilities for developing nuclear weapons. Iran claims that the nuclear facilities, including the one at Natanz, are being used for peaceful purposes. After the US pulled out of the JCPOA, Iran announced that it would suspend implementation of some parts of the agreement, thus escalating the rift between the two rivals.

Armaan Srivastava

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Iran’s Arrest Warrant Against Trump: Can Iran Detain Donald Trump If He Loses US Presidential Elections?

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Iran recently issued an arrest warrant against US President Donald Trump and 35 others over the killing of Iran’s top general – Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Republic’s Quds Force. 

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Donald Trump ordered an airstrike in Iraq on January 3, 2020, that killed Qasem Soleimani. “The strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” said Pentagon in a statement. It accused Soleimani of masterminding an attack on American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.

Iran has requested France based Interpol to detain Donald Trump and others who they believe were involved in carrying out the drone strike. The request has been rejected by Interpol.

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“Under Article 3 of INTERPOL’s constitution ‘it is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character’,” the Lyon-based international organization said in the emailed statement.

Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran called the arrest warrant as a “propaganda stunt” that “nobody takes seriously”. However, according to Dr Wang Jin, a research fellow of Charhar Institute in China and an associate professor from Northwest University in China, said that there is a possibility that Iran can detain the US President.

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It is still unknown whether Donald Trump could win the upcoming US presidential election late this year. Without his presidential status, it is hard to say whether Trump would be under well-trained protection to prevent possible captures or attacks implemented by Iran security staff – he wrote.

He argued that Iran possesses the capability to launch and organize attacks against Donald Trump and other major figures on the warrant list like it did in Paris when the French security establishment foiled an attack led by Iranian cell targeting Iranian political dissents in February 2018.

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“Although the plan was not successfully implemented, it suggested the capability of Iran’s intelligence network to penetrate Europe to organize possible attacks,” he said.

He further explained that Iran’s strong influence in the Middle East, especially in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria where Iran’s Quds Forces support and lead various military and political groups, can be easily used to detain Tehran wanted figures.

“Although the chances for Tehran to detain Donald Trump is relatively low, the intention behind the warrant should not be underestimated. The warrant should be understood as the challenge of Iranian hardliners towards Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who was the major figure of moderate camp in the Iranian political arena,” he said.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for talks with Washington on conditions that Trump apologizes for exiting the nuclear pact in 2018 and compensate Iran for its losses. “We have no problem with talks with the US, but only if Washington fulfils its obligations under the nuclear deal, apologies and compensates Tehran for its withdrawal from the 2015 deal,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.

The issuance of the warrant by the Iranian justice department now prohibits the talks between Rouhani and Trump. “The warrant should be understood as the challenge of Iranian hardliners towards Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who was the major figure of moderate camp in the Iranian political arena,” wrote Jin.

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Jin concluded with saying that the issuance of the warrant blocks Tehran’s cooperation efforts with Washington by labelling Trump as a “murderer”.

“The year 2021 would be the presidential election year in Iran. Hassan Rouhani, an important figure from moderate camp, would finish his two consecutive four-year terms, and the hardliner-conservative camp hopes to replace Rouhani’s presidential office with a more assertive leader,” he added.

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Middle East

Turkey Begins Constructing Advanced Warships For Pakistan Navy To Achieve ‘Balance Of Power’ In Indian Ocean

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Pakistan Navy had inked a deal in July 2018 to procure four MILGEM-class ships from Turkey’s state-run defence firm ASFAT. Based on the agreement, two MILGEM-class ships will be developed in Turkey and the remaining ones in Pakistan.

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The ground-breaking ceremony to commence the construction of the MILGEM-class ships by Turkey was held in Karachi, the Pakistan Navy said. The ceremony at the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW) was attended by officials of Pakistan Navy, and ASFAT officials.

The keel-laying or the ceremonious acknowledgement of the construction of the first MILGEM Ada class corvette was held in Istanbul last week.

MILGEM vessels are 99 meters long with a displacement capacity of 24,00 tons with a speed of 29 nautical miles. MILGEM anti-submarine combat frigates can reportedly be obscured from the radar which can significantly improve the defence capability of Pakistan Navy.

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The MILGEM Class Corvettes will be state-of-the-art platform outfitted with the latest surface, subsurface and anti-air weapons, sensors, and combat management system. These vessels will be among the most technologically advanced platforms of the Pakistan Navy and will immensely assist in securing peace, stability, and balance of power in the Indian Ocean region – the statement said.

Commodore Jahanzeb Ahasn, the GM Ship Building, emphasised the historical alliance between Turkey and Pakistan in the field of indigenous warship development and other vital defence areas.

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Earlier in 2019, Turkish President Erdogan had stated that he wished that Pakistan benefited from the naval warship that was being provided to it by Turkey. “Our navy, rich with glorious victories, is carrying this legacy into the future by further strengthening it,” he was quoted as saying. He added that Turkey was proud of the accomplishments of the defence sector.

Via: AA

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