Iran Warships to Panama Canal?
IRAN VOWS TO STATION WARSHIPS IN CRITICAL TRADING ROUTE THE PANAMA CANAL: Iran is planning to station warships in the Panama Canal, the latest move in its ongoing campaign to install a presence in Latin America and infiltrate the United States’ backyard.
The commander of Iran’s Navy, Rear Admiral Shahram Irani, announced the plans on Wednesday, January 11, and said they would come to fruition later this year. A presence in the Panama Canal would mark the first time Iran’s navy has sailed in the Pacific Ocean. The move is just the latest in Iran’s ongoing campaign to deepen its ties in Latin America, which has recently included treaties signed with the anti-US Venezuelan dictator Nicholas Maduro, Nicaragua, and increasingly friendly relations with Bolivia. Experts say Iran’s activities are undoubtedly intended to defy the US and demonstrate an ability to build a military presence within reach of American territory. It comes amidst increasing tensions between the two nations. Iran’s plans for the Panama Canal come days after the third anniversary of the assignation of the prominent Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a targeted drone strike by the US on January 3, 2020. Speaking to a crowd in Tehran last week, President Raisi vowed vengeance against the US. ‘We have not and will not forget the blood of martyr Soleimani,’ he said. ‘The Americans must know that revenge for martyr Soleimani’s blood is certain, and the murderers and perpetrators will have no easy sleep.’ (DM / VFI News)
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN PROTESTERS CALL FOR ‘INTIFADA,’ DEMISE OF ISRAEL: ‘A CALL TO MURDER JEWS’: Social media users were shocked and outraged over a recent anti-Israel rally put on by pro-Palestinian protestors at the University of Michigan the previous week.
Clips of the protest depicted marchers, chanting “Intifada, Intifada! Long live the Intifada,” a call to violent overthrow of the Jewish state inspired by Palestinian riots and rebellions against Israel in the late 80s, early 90s, and early 2000s. “There is only one solution!” a female marcher was seen chanting, as the crowd behind her responded, “Intifada! Revolution! Marchers, seen walking around the Ann Arbor campus screaming into bullhorns and waving Palestinian flags, were also heard chanting the infamous anti-Israel call to arms: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” Media reported that the anti-Semitic rally was held to protest Vice President Kamala Harris’ Thursday visit to the campus, where she gave a speech on climate policy and student activism. The protestors appeared to be standing against U.S. government support for the state of Israel. The blatant call to overthrow Israel disturbed prominent Twitter users, who were stunned that such sentiment was expressed so freely on a major American college campus. Jewish media columnist Blake Flayton tweeted, “At the University of Michigan, a call to murder Jews.” Rep. Jared Moskovitz, R-Fla., spoke to the shocking nature of the rally, tweeting, “Using Hitler’s word ‘solution’ is intentional here. Israel has a right to exist. We will never compromise that. The Jewish people have a right to exist. We will ensure.” Former Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, national security advisor Boris Ryvkin condemned the rally, writing, “Terrifying. Echoes of what happened in Charlottesville, except the violent anti-Semites are cut from a different cloth. I expect major media to give this the saturated, wall-to-wall coverage it gave that event with the WH, Democratic leaders and the Squad members condemning it.” (NYP / VFI News)
BRAZIL FIRES PRO-BOLSONARO AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL, AS PART OF WIDER SHAKE-UP: Brazil’s Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira has fired his country’s envoy to Israel, apparently as part of a wider shake-up following the ousting of president Jair Bolsonaro and the subsequent storming of parliament by his supporters.
Gerson Menandro Garcia de Freitas — a retired general — was appointed ambassador to Israel by Bolsonaro in 2020, reportedly with the aim of boosting security cooperation between the two countries. Vieira also removed Brazil’s ambassador to the US and the consul-general in New York from their posts. According to American media, newly inaugurated Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has vowed to take a more “balanced and traditional” approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than his predecessor. On Saturday, January 7, hundreds of supporters of far-right ex-president Bolsonaro stormed Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court in what da Silva condemned as a “fascist” attack. Bolsonaro fled to Florida after he lost the election. An outspoken supporter of Israel, Bolsonaro cultivated close ties with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was seen as one of his key international allies. (TOI / VFI News)
‘IF ISRAEL IS ABANDONED, NETANYAHU WILL BOMB IRAN’S NUCLEAR FACILITIES’: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is prepared to use military force to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, the head of Israel’s National Security Council said Monday, January 16.
Speaking with Israeli media during the ceremony, marking the transfer of control of the IDF from outgoing chief of staff Aviv Kochavi to his successor, Herzi Halevi, National Security Council chief Tzachi Hanegbi said that should Israel find itself isolated and without alternatives vis-à-vis Iran’s nuclear program, Netanyahu would undoubtedly use force to prevent Tehran from realizing its atomic ambitions. “If we are abandoned, Prime Minister Netanyahu will attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.” Hanegbi, a long-time ally of Netanyahu who thrice served as minister in the prime minister’s office and also served as acting prime minister in Netanyahu’s stead, said Israel has been preparing for a scenario in which it must act alone against Iran. “This is not a change, the previous government also said that it is preparing the defense forces…for a situation in which we are on our own.” “The central mission of the prime minister and his primary obligation is to ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons. The alternative to an attack is accepting a reality in which a radical regime has nuclear weapons. No Israeli leader can accept that.” Netanyahu himself hinted Monday at a possible military confrontation with Iran, saying that Israel “won’t wait until the sword is on our neck, but we also won’t be dragged into unnecessary wars.” (INN / VFI News)
REPORT: IRAN STEPS UP AIR DEFENSE DEPLOYMENT IN SYRIA, IN BID TO CURB ISRAELI STRIKES: Iran has invested millions of dollars in an effort to ramp up the deployment of an advanced air defense network in Syria, amid repeated attempts by Israel to target Iranian sites and shipments of weapons to its regional proxies, according to a Tuesday, January 10, report.
Citing an unnamed intelligence source from a nation allied with the United States, media reported that Iran over the past two years has been “promoting the deployment of aerial defense capabilities on its behalf in Syria at a cost of tens of millions of dollars, in order to deal with the Israeli airstrikes.” The source said the deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Aerospace Force, Brig. Gen. Fereydoun Mohammadi Saghaei, is leading the air defense project. Military officials have said in the past that Syria has improved its air defense capabilities with upgraded Iranian-made components. In a 2018 strike, Israel reportedly targeted a soon-to-be-deployed Iranian advanced air defense system. “The promotion of these capabilities is carried out as a project shared with the Syrian army and possibly even with the aim of enabling independent Iranian operation of the aerial defense systems from within parts of Syria,” the source reported. (TOI / VFI News)
SPECTACULAR BYZANTINE CHURCH MOSAICS UNCOVERED NEAR JERICHO: A Byzantine church with elaborate mosaic floors was uncovered in the area of Jericho, in the West Bank, the Civil Administration said in a statement Wednesday, January 11.
The Civil Administration, the government body that oversees activity in the West Bank, did not say when the church was first discovered by its archaeology unit, which has been working at the site. It dated the church to the 6th century CE, and noted it was still being used during the Early Muslim Period a hundred years later. Though Islam bans the display of icons and images in public places, the mosaic floors showed no indications of damage from destructive iconoclasm. The church covers 250 square meters, big enough to have served as one of the larger Christian houses of worship in the area at the time. Its nave was almost completely preserved and is covered with a mosaic depicting vine braids and animal figures. A three-meter-long inscription, containing five lines in Greek and found in the prayer area, commemorates Georgios and Nonus, apparently two public figures who donated to the construction of the church. The building survived a major earthquake in 749 CE that destroyed other churches and constructions throughout the region, though it was abandoned before the landmark event and its entrance deliberately sealed. The Civil Administration said it intends to move the building and put it on display in the mosaic museum at the Good Samaritan site, close to the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. (TOI / VFI News)
NETANYAHU, SMOTRICH ANNOUNCE PLAN TO COMBAT COST OF LIVING IN ISRAEL: Property taxes (arnona) will be frozen for a year in order to combat the continually increasing cost of living in Israel.
This was announced during a live-streamed presentation held by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, wherein they explained the new government’s plan to deal with rising prices in the economy, which “has entered an inflationary spiral,” according to the premier. Also included in the government’s plan is the reversal of the latest increase in gas prices (a net reduction of 10 agorot), and a cut of 70% in the price of electricity and water. Furthermore, those entitled to disability stipends through the “heating grant” will receive NIS 200 of their allotment now, instead of having to wait until October when it is typically distributed. “Since the government I lead puts… the war on the cost of living at the top of its priorities, we are not waiting. Tonight we are announcing a series of first steps to fight the generators of inflation: electricity, water, fuel and property taxes,” said Netanyahu. “These steps will immediately reduce the monthly expenses of every family in Israel, and will do another thing: they will slow down the pace of price increases and start turning the wheel backward.” (JPost / VFI News)
CHEVRON SAYS IT DISCOVERED ‘SIGNIFICANT’ NATURAL GAS FIND OFF EGYPT’S COAST: US energy giant Chevron, which operates Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan gas fields off the Mediterranean coast, announced on Sunday, January 15, that it made a “significant” new gas discovery in an Egyptian offshore field.
“Chevron is encouraged and excited by the success of this first exploration well which encountered high-quality reservoirs and follows from Chevron’s entry into the Egyptian upstream sector in 2020,” said Clay Neff, president of Chevron International Exploration and Production. “The Eastern Mediterranean has abundant energy resources, and their development is driving strategic collaboration in the region.” The new gas discovery is located at the Nargis-1 exploration well, which is part of Egypt’s 1,800 square kilometers Nargis Offshore Area concession. With a 45% working interest, Chevron is the operator of the concession. The Middle East Economic Survey reported in December that the size of the new well was 3.5 trillion cubic feet of gas. “The Nargis-1 well encountered approximately 200 net feet (61 m) of Miocene and Oligocene gas bearing sandstones and was drilled in 1,014 feet (309 m) of water by the Stena Forth drillship,” Chevron said in a statement. (TOI / VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff