Global SITREP for Friday, 19 April 2024 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Friday, 19 April 2024

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Friday, 19 April 2024.

  1. ISRAEL LAUNCHES SURPRISE STRIKE IN IRAN: Last night, Iranian news outlets and social media reported explosions in multiple locations in Iran. While initial reports are almost always false, and we’re awaiting exact details, U.S. officials confirmed that Israel carried out airstrikes.
  • The Israelis have not acknowledged the strikes, and senior Iranian officials have either downplayed the extent of the attack or denied any foreign attack occurred. One senior Iranian official said that Israel had launched drones from within Iranian territory, while experts say Israel may have used air-launched cruise missiles from airspace in Iraq or Syria.
  • The target may have been a missile production facility at an Iranian airbase in the vicinity of Isfahan, where the explosions were reported. 

Why It MattersThe hawks of Israel’s war cabinet won the internal debate to launch a surprise but limited attack. Israeli media recently reported that attacks would come later after Passover ended later this month. There were also reports that Israel struck an IRGC meeting near Baghdad, Iraq; so that target of opportunity may have accelerated the strike on Iran. The limited nature of the attack and Iran’s initial response suggests that World War 3 isn’t imminent. For now, Iranian officials say they have no “immediate” plans to retaliate. Iran does not want a conventional war with Israel, so the relatively small attack is unlikely to trigger the “overwhelming” response Iranian officials had promised. In fact, Iran’s foreign minister backpedaled on previous claims this morning, saying that Iran would respond “at a maximum level” if Israel carried out another attack. But I still have concerns that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu does actually want a larger war with Iran as a way to target Iranian nuclear facilities that would otherwise not be targeted. For this reason, I’m not closing the door on further escalation from here. – M.S.

  1. CHINA TO RAMP UP GRAY ZONE WARFARE IN MAY: China appears to be increasing its gray zone warfare activity around its neighbors ahead of a turbulent May.
  • 4,600 Chinese “students” recently arrived in the Philippines’ Cagayan Province. The students applied to enroll at four private universities, but three of the four universities do not have any foreign students for the school year starting in June.
  • China will begin operating two new airlanes near Taiwan on May 16th, Taiwan opposes this as the airlines cross over Taiwanese airspace and nearly intersect their airlanes.

Why It Matters: Cagayan province will host the majority of the Balikatan exercise this month and will likely be subject to observation by the thousands of unenrolled Chinese “students.” China’s new airlanes will begin operation just before Taiwan inaugurates Lai Ching-te as its new President, potentially causing an international incident. We are likely to see increasingly blatant tactics following Lai’s inauguration and ahead of Japan’s annual exercise. – J.V.

  • Global Rollup
    • Argentina formally requested to become a global partner of NATO, similar to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea.
    • Secretary of State Antony Blinken is headed to China next week “to discuss business and education issues.” (Business and Education are odd topics for the Foreign Affairs departments, so this is likely to address the anti-competition accusations laid out by Treasury Secretary Yellen and the recent Chinese students denied entry to the U.S. – J.V.)
    • The Philippines took delivery of its first BrahMos missile today.
    • Australia is extending the service life of its F/A-18s to 2040 to complement its inbound F-35s and Ghost Bat UCAVs. Some of the airframes are just hitting 40 years old.

THAT’S A WRAP: This does it for today’s edition. Thank you for reading. If you know folks who would also like to receive this email, would you please forward it to them? We appreciate you spreading the word. – M.S.

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