On military action the Ambassador said this:
“I believe a military response, taking out perhaps some of the places where these missions are taking place – the bases from which they’re flying to drop chemical weapons – I think that would be an appropriate response.”
The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are put on full combat readiness
Retired Lt. Gen. Yevgeny Buzhinsky (former chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s international department)
US President Donald Trump’s “major decision” on Syria is contingent on the rallying of sufficient air and naval strength and allied participation. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the only US warship immediately available for the promised US military response to Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Douma is the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook, which sailed from Larnaca Monday, April 9, on its way to the eastern Mediterranean. The USS Iwo Jima strike group, which visited Haifa last month, is now cruising in the Arabian Sea, days away from the scene, whereas the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group only departs the US port for the Middle East on Wednesday, April 11, and is not due in the Mediterranean before next week.
The Trump administration is negotiating with Britain, France and other allies, including Arab governments, for their roles in the Syrian operation. Our Washington sources report that the commander-in-chief is looking at a major operation in Syria, to unfold over several days and lead to a concerted allied assault on the Iranian military presence embedded in that country. This extended goal may give US allies pause.
Trump’s line to UK Prime Minister Theresa May is this: You owe me for supporting you against Russia in the spy poisoning affair; now, back me up in holding Russia and Iran to account for the chemical attack in Syria. Britain maintains an air base in Cyprus. France’s only aircraft carrier, the FS Charles de Gaulle-R 91, is in dock for lengthy repairs. On April 6, 350 French airmen started a joint training exercise aboard the USSGeorge HW Bush in the West Atlantic. Bringing them over would entail complicated, time-consuming coordination between their two headquarters.
Trump has promised to reach a decision on the Syrian operation by Thursday after consulting his security chiefs and allies. What he has in mind is much more than a one-off strike like the Tomahawk assault he ordered on a Syrian air base a year ago to punish the regime for a chemical attack that left 80 civilians dead. This operation is likely to be sustained and continue well into the second half of April.
Tehran’s resolve to make Israel pay for its airborne missile attack on the T-4 air base was conveyed on April 11 by outing the 7 Rev Guardsmen killed in the attack. Iran has never, in all seven years of its intervention in the Syria war, released its military casualties. But on Wednesday, April 11, for the first time, the Iranian Guards mouthpiece, the Tasnim News Agency, ran the names and photos of the seven members of its aerospace unit, who died in the airborne missile strike on the Iranian compound of the big T-4 bases it shares with the Russian and Syrian air forces. The agency also ran pictures of heavily damaged equipment.
By coming clean about its painful setback, the Tehran regime implicitly assured the public that it was not in vain and it was committed to a reckoning with the enemy for the deaths and damage on display. The supreme leader’s senior adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati, said so bluntly when he arrived in Damascus on Tuesday: “Israel’s air strike on the Syrian air base will not go unanswered,” he said, As he spoke, Tehran gained support from its ally in Moscow with the visit of Alexander Lavrentiev, the special Russian emissary on Syria. In a long meeting with Iran’s national security adviser Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, the Russian said Iran’s decision for a military response to the T-4 attack was understandble. He then proposed combining Iran’s action against Israel with Russia’s plans for countering the forthcoming US-British-France operation in Syria.
The Iranian and Russian officials were of one mind that Israel’s T-4 strike was the opening shot for that operation, and the next round of attacks would target Iranian and possibly also Russian targets in Syria. On this point, they cited President Donald Trump who said on Monday, April 9, in response to the chemical attack in Douma: “We can’t allow atrocities like that… If it’s the Russians, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran, if it’s all of them together, we’ll figure it out.”
The Russian veto Tuesday night on the US motion at the UN Security Council for an investigation into Douma attack sent this message to Washington: Moscow has completed its preparations for countering a US-led strike in Syria. It also nixed a scenario advanced by some sources in Washington: They maintained that delaying the US operation for final consultations with London and Paris, would be beneficial, since it would give the Russians time to evacuate the bases they shared with Iran and whisk their troops out of harm’s way.
Those sources misread Moscow’s intent. The Russian ambassador to Beirut put them straight on this when he said on Wednesday. “If there is a strike by the Americans then … the missiles will be downed and even their launch sites would be targeted.”
Equally out of sync was the theory put about in the last 24 hours by some sources in Jerusalem, that Israel has no part to play in the US-British-French punitive operation against the Assad regime in Syria, since its only interest lies in preventing Iran from establishing a military presence in that country.
That theory is no longer relevant, because whatever Israel does now, it is not off the hook. For Moscow, Tehran and Damascus, Israel is an integral part of the US-led alliance and is seen to have fired the first shot for the main operation against Syria. Therefore, while Israel geared up initially for a limited Iranian strike from its northern border, it is now feared that a military location deep inside the country may be targeted. During Wednesday, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu conducted back-to-back consultations with his top security advisers: Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenklot, Air Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Amikam Nurkin, Military Intelligence Director Maj. Gen. Tamir Heiman and head of the National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat.
Iranians Panic – “Can’t Find Dollars” After Government Enforces Currency Controls
This prompted an angry response from Iran’s First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri who said in a statement recorded for state TV and published on its website that enemies of the Islamic Republic and of the government were behind the instability.
As Bloomberg reports, Jahangiri said the sudden decline was “unnatural and unprecedented” because tens of billions of dollars worth of foreign currency had flowed into Iran in recent weeks from the country’s export revenues and this showed that a wider political plot sought to discredit the government of President Hassan Rouhani and foment instability.
“It’s natural that our enemies and opponents, especially the Americans, after the nuclear deal was agreed and after Trump took office, have made great efforts to try and present Iran’s economy as turbulent and try to discourage anyone from working with Iran,” Jahangiri said.
And so Iran enforced a rate of 42,000 Rial per USD warning that anyone found selling the dollar at rates higher than 42,000 rials “will be dealt with severely” by judicial authorities and the police, Jahangiri said.
“We do not officially recognize any other rate than this one,” he said.
“From tomorrow, any other price that’s offered in the market will be considered contraband, in the same way that illegal drugs are contraband.”
Still, things remain ugly for those holding Rials…
As one would expect, this news prompted widespread concern among Iranians who flocked to exchange offices on Tuesday only to find there were none to buy.
As GulfNews reports, on Ferdowsi Street in central Tehran, home to dozens of banks and currency exchanges, many had hoped to find much cheaper dollars than the day before.
But all along Ferdowsi Street, exchangers were turning hundreds of people away or had signs up saying: “We have no dollars to sell”, while rate boards showed blank spaces for US and European currencies.
“Last night on TV I heard it’s 42,000 so I came here to buy some for my son who is overseas. I’ve checked every exchanger but I couldn’t find any dollars,” said Tahmoores Faravahar, a 71-year-old retired oil sector worker.
Many businesses were forced to halt work amid the uncertainty created over prices and the availability of imported materials.
“After speaking to my usual printer, I’ve had to cancel a project because they weren’t selling anything,” said Payam, a 38-year-old in Tehran who owns a small advertising and publishing company. “I was also planning to advertise for new personnel on Saturday — I’ve also canceled that plan now.”
Some said this had only created fear and confusion.
“People don’t have hope in the political and economic situation in this country. People are confused and just want to keep their money safe by turning it into dollars.”
One exchange office said it was never clear when the central bank would deliver dollars for them to sell.
“I don’t know why they haven’t come yet today,” he said in the early afternoon. “But the new rate is good. The price was not normal these last few days.”
But this seemed to sum things up well…
“The truth is that the people can’t trust the word of the government that their money will be safe,” said a trader who sold currency on the street and asked to remain anonymous.
One street trader said exchangers would find ways to fiddle the system to get round the new fixed rate, even though Vice-President Eshagh Jahangiri warned this would be considered smuggling.