By ARIE EGOZIon January 06, 2020
Ayatollah Khamaeini and Qassem Soleimani of Iran
TEL AVIV: The Iranian secret service is busy trying to put its hands on the person or persons that leaked the information that allowed the US to kill Maj. Gen Qassem Soleimani minutes after he got off a plane from Syria. If it was a leak…
Middle Eastern sources say that the Iranians are totally bewildered by the fact that the Americans knew enough about his movements to find him and kill him.
Two days ago an Iranian politician revealed in the press that the country’s security services have launched a massive investigation to locate the security holes and whether there is a “mole” in one of the Iranian
organizations that know details of the travel plans of senior figures.
The logistics of the Friday strike at Baghdad airport certainly raise intriguing questions about where the US got its intel.
Unmanned aerial vehicles need at least three hours to reach Baghdad from Qatar, from whence it’s believed the two Predators flew; Soleimani’s plane needed an hour-and-a-quarter to get from Damascus to Baghdad. Iraqi media have been speculating that this means someone provided real time information on the Iranian general’s flight and actions on the tarmac. That, they argue, would mean a penetration of Soleimani’s inner circle. Of course, if, as we’ve reported, some of the general’s communications were being intercepted, it could be that they knew what flight he’d be on, positioned drones on station, positively identified him and his associates via camera or by someone on the ground, and took the shot.
Meanwhile, Middle Eastern sources say the US and its allies and partners are working those famous diplomatic back channels, desperate to stop or at least understand the rapid escalation of violence in the region.
Qatar’s foreign minister arrived in Teheran. (His country, of course, hosts the Al Udeid Air Force Base in Doha, home of US Central Command’s forward operating base.) In parallel, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have submitted recommendations to the country’s National Security Council, chaired by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Israeli sources say that there are indication that Iran has taken steps to protects some of its sensitive sites. While the sources were not specific it seems the main effort is to protect some above-ground facilities associated with Iran’s nuclear program. News broke this afternoon in Washington that six more B-52s are on their way to the region as part of the US buildup to deter or respond to any Iranian actions.
Meanwhile, the vast American Intelligence Community, working with Israel and many other allies and partners are searching every intercept, every email, every website and pushing every agent for information about when, how and if the Iranians will retaliate for the killing of the Quds commander.
Fires after Iranian strikes on Saudi Arabian oil facilities
Some Israeli experts say that for the Iranians, symmetry is an important rule in their general behavior. If this is correct, then Teheran is unlikely to use its substantial ballistic missile forces for retaliation. Instead, the experts say they are likely to retaliate in Iraq , which would limit their options. Some obvious targets would be American forces, the US Embassy or to try to assassinate a senior U.S defense figure during a visit to Iraq.
The other option, sources here say, is to again attack American and Saudi facilities in the Gulf region, but that could mean many casualties, an act that would force the US to act again and push everyone further up the escalation ladder.