U.S. Pentagon officials said Thursday that Iran fired upon a U.S. surveillance drone over the Persian Gulf on November 1. According to U.S. officials, the unmanned and unarmed drone was conducting classified but routine surveillance over international waters. It was fired upon by two Russian-made Su-25 jets but was not hit, in an unprecedented instance of Iranian warplanes firing on a U.S. surveillance drone. The Defense Department said it did not release information about the incident earlier due to its classified nature, however its timing five days before the U.S. presidential election raising questions for the Obama administration. The chief spokesman for the Pentagon, George Little, said that they sent a message to Iran that the U.S. will continue to conduct such surveillance flights "consistent with longstanding practice and our commitment to the security of the region." He added that the U.S. would use diplomatic and military options to "protect our military assets and our forces in the region" if necessary. On Friday, Iranian member of parliament Mohammad Saleh Jokar told a state owned website, "Violation of the airspace of Iran was the reason for shooting at the American drone." Iran's Fars news agency released remarks from Revolutionary Guard Major General Seyed Masoud Jazaeria saying Iran has the right to "confront" incursions on its territory, but did not confirm or deny the November 1 shooting. The United States has resisted calls, primarily from Israel, for military action against Iran, but has applied multiple rounds of severe sanctions, a new round of which was imposed Thursday. The new sanctions targeted Iran's communications minister and ministry of culture and Islamic Guidance, for its international and opposition media censorship.
Turkey has reported a surge of about 8,000 refugees fleeing from Syria in the past 24 hours as well as 26 military official defectors. The dramatic flood of refugees came after an opposition offensive along the border. Opposition fighters reportedly overtook the Arab and Kurdish town of Ras al-Ain, a border crossing point into Turkey important for resupply. Adrian Edwards, from the U.N. Refuge Agency, said there had been a "large movement" in the last 24 hours of Syrian refugees into Turkey's Urfa province, which borders Ras al-Ain. This latest influx will bring Turkey's total refugee count up to over 120,000. Additionally, 26 Syrian military officials, including two generals defected, bringing their families into Turkey overnight, in the most massive defection in months. Turkish officials also reported six Turks in the border town of Ceyalanpinar were injured from stray Syrian fire. Israeli officials have reported recent mortar fire into the Israeli-held disputed territory of the Golan Heights. Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon warned Syria that it will defend itself if the conflict begins spilling over. Meanwhile, the Syrian National Council is set to elect a new executive and president on Friday, before deciding whether to support the proposed unity Syrian National Initiative, being negotiated in Doha, Qatar this week.
Arguments and Analysis
CNN claims Iran shot at a US drone, revealing the news network's mindset (Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian)
"Barbara Starr, CNN's Pentagon reporter (more accurately known as: the Pentagon's reporter at CNN), has an exciting exclusive today. Exclusively relying upon "three senior officials" in the Obama administration (all anonymous, needless to say), she claims that "two Iranian Su-25 fighter jets fired on an unarmed US Air Force Predator drone in the Persian Gulf last week," while "the drone was in international airspace east of Kuwait . . . engaged in routine maritime surveillance." The drone was not hit, but, says CNN, "the incident raises fresh concerns within the Obama administration about Iranian military aggression in crucial Gulf oil shipping lanes."
First things first: let us pause for a moment to extend our thoughts and prayers to this US drone. Although it was not physically injured, being shot at by the Iranians - while it was doing nothing other than peacefully minding its own business - must have been a very traumatic experience. I think I speak on behalf of everyone, regardless of political views, when I say that we all wish this brave hero a speedy recovery and hope it is back in full health soon, protecting our freedom."
Saudi Arabia: The younger generation, at last? (The Economist)
"IN OTHER places sand trickles through an hourglass at a steady rate. Saudi Arabia has a lot of sand, but it tends to get gummed up with oil or stuck in prickly religious conservatism. Yet now and then something jogs the glass, and those grains of Saudi sand briefly unclog.
Just such a nudge came on November 5th, with the announcement of a sudden change at the top of the kingdom's powerful ministry of interior (its headquarters, a ponderously inverted pyramid in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, actually does evoke the top half of a giant hourglass)."
--By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey
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