Iran not ‘drawing back’ militarily after Saudi attack: US admiral

In this Sept. 21, 2016 file photo, Iran's Revolutionary Guard troops march in a military parade marking the 36th anniversary of Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran, in front of the shrine of late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran. (AP)
Updated 05 October 2019

Iran not ‘drawing back’ militarily after Saudi attack: US admiral

  • The US, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France and Germany have publicly blamed the attack on Iran, which denies involvement in the strike on the world’s biggest crude oil-processing facility

WASHINGTON: Iran has not drawn back to a less threatening military posture in the region following the Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Arabia, the top US admiral in the Middle East told Reuters, suggesting persistent concern despite a lull in violence.
“I don’t believe that they’re drawing back at all,” Vice Admiral Jim Malloy, commander of the US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet, said in an interview.
The US, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France and Germany have publicly blamed the attack on Iran, which denies involvement in the strike on the world’s biggest crude oil-processing facility. The Iran-aligned Houthi militant group in Yemen has claimed responsibility.
Malloy did not comment on any US intelligence guiding his assessment. But he acknowledged that he monitored Iranian activities closely, when asked if he had seen any concerning movements of Iranian missiles in recent weeks.
Malloy said he regularly tracks Iranian cruise and ballistic missile movements — “whether they’re moving to storage, away from storage.” He also monitors whether Iran’s minelaying capabilities head to distribution sites or away from them.
“I get a briefing of movements on a daily basis and then assessments as to what that could mean,” he said.
Relations between the US and Iran have deteriorated sharply since President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord last year and reimposed sanctions on its oil exports.

FASTFACT

US Vice Admiral Jim Malloy acknowledged that he monitored Iranian activities closely, when asked if he had seen any concerning movements of Iranian missiles in recent weeks.

For months, Iranian officials issued veiled threats, saying that if Tehran were blocked from exporting oil, other countries would not be able to do so either.
However, Iran has denied any role in a series of attacks that have followed, including against tankers in the Gulf using limpet mines earlier this year.

‘Deny it if you can’
Asked what the latest attack in Saudi Arabia showed him, Malloy said: “From my perspective, it is a land-based version of what they did with the mines ... quick, clandestine — deny it if you can.”
“Send a signal and harass and provoke,” he said.
His remarks came a week after the Pentagon announced it was sending four radar systems, a battery of Patriot missiles and about 200 support personnel to bolster Saudi defenses — the latest in a series of US deployments to the region this year amid escalating tensions.
Still, the latest deployment was more limited than had been initially under consideration.
Reuters has previously reported, for example, that the Pentagon eyed keeping an aircraft carrier in the Gulf region indefinitely, amid speculation that the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group will soon need to wind up its deployment.
Malloy declined to speculate about future carrier deployments. But he acknowledged the tremendous value of aircraft carriers — as well as the ships in the strike groups that accompany an aircraft carrier.
That includes the contribution of destroyers now accompanying the USS Abraham Lincoln to a US-led, multinational maritime effort known as Operation Sentinel.


Tunisia says militant leader killed in anti-terror raid

Updated 20 October 2019

Tunisia says militant leader killed in anti-terror raid

  • Tunisian armed forces and national guardsmen led the operation
  • A terrorist leader from the Al-Qaeda branch in Tunisia was killed

TUNIS: An Al-Qaeda leader was killed and another wounded during an anti-terror raid in Tunisia on Sunday, according to the country’s defense ministry.
Tunisian armed forces and national guardsmen led the operation against Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in the mountainous Kasserine region near the Algerian border, ministry spokesman Mohamed Zekri told AFP.
“A terrorist leader from the Okba Ibn Nafaa group was killed” and another injured in the ongoing operation, he said.
Okba Ibn Nafaa is the Tunisian branch of AQIM.
Various extremiist groups are active in the rugged frontier region of Kasserine, including the Daesh group-affiliated Jund Al-Khalifa, or “Soldiers of the Caliphate.”
Security forces regularly carry out raids in the area.
Tunisia faced a rise in extremist activity after its 2011 revolution, with attacks killing dozens of security personnel, civilians and foreign tourists.
While the security situation has significantly improved since a series of deadly attacks in 2015, Tunisia has maintained a state of emergency for four years and assaults against security forces have persisted.