July 12, 2019
Operation Seashell was a clandestine Israeli operation to secretly arm Iran in exchange for continued access to Iranian oil. Later in 2009, the same Israeli arms company used as a conduit for secret arms sales to Iran was found to be involved in a major arms scandal in India.
1981 Mystery of Armenia mid-air collision
JULY 24, 1981: A REMOTE ARMENIAN MOUNTAINSIDE
A huge, scorched black crater gaped at the rescue team, which immediately understood there was no one left for them to rescue. All they could do was extricate the remains of eight unidentifiable bodies. The aircraft that had been carrying them had been loaded so full of munitions and fuel that when it exploded in the air and crashed into a mountainside, there was almost nothing left of it or its crew.
Media reports said that the plane had lost its way and entered Soviet airspace over Azerbaijan. One of the Soviet air force jets sent to intercept it was said to have mistakenly collided with it, causing the crash. The truth is much more sinister, and shadowy.
Canadair CL-44 of TAR at Basle Airport in October 1976. The same aircraft was involved in the 1981 Armenia mid-air collision during Operation Seashell
The Argentinean ambassador in Moscow at the time, Leopoldo Bravo, was with the rescue team. Authorities had informed him that an aircraft belonging to the Argentinean cargo airline TAR had penetrated Soviet airspace and collided with another plane. The embassy ran a quick check which revealed that, in fact, a Canadair jet belonging to the company had vanished from radar screens near the Soviet-Turkish border on July 18. But the ambassador had not been able to figure out why an Argentine plane was in that area and what cargo it was carrying. Inquiries in Argentina had turned up nothing.
Israeli arms to Khomeini
In fact, the plane’s mission was well known at the time among a close circle in Israeli intelligence, and certain arms dealers. The aircraft was ferrying Israeli arms to Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime, in secret, to assist in Iran’s war with Iraq.
Saddam Hussein’s invasion was only ten months old. The war would last for eight years, and cost over a million lives, but at the time it seemed likely that Saddam’s superior forces would soon be parading through Tehran. The newly purged Iranian military was dominated by the Revolutionary Guards, and Khomeini badly needed weapons and supplies. Iran’s stockpiles were running low. During the Shah’s regime, Israel and America had kept Iran well armed; but now, following the seizure of the U.S. Embassy and the subsequent hostage crisis, America had declared a general boycott of Iran, and demanded that its allies do the same.
Ayatollah Khomeini in exile at Bursa, Turkey without clerical dress
Not everyone complied with the U.S. demands. The French, for one, weren’t averse to bending the embargo. One French firm, apparently under the protection of a high official in French intelligence, signed a contract with a British firm to supply engines for Scorpion light tanks to Iran. On the bills of lading they claimed the engines were bound for Jordan, although the Jordanian army had no Scorpion tanks. ‘They also approached the Israel Defense Ministry’s representative in Paris, offering to act as Intermediary for sales of Israeli supplies.
Amazingly, Israel responded. Khomeini’s regime openly endorsed the destruction of Israel, yet there were enough people in Israel who thought they should sell arms to him, in secret, for the operation code-named “Seashell” to be born. It puts the later Iran-contra scandal to shame.
There were four main reasons why Operation Seashell went forward. First, Israel could not come to terms with the military, intelligence, and diplomatic losses that it had sustained with the disruption of relations with Iran after the revolution. Arms exports would at least give it a foothold in Tehran. In Israel’s defense establishment, the lesson had been learned from many cases over the years that swiftly supplying weaponry and military know-how to a totalitarian state will bring the supplier as close as possible to the rulers, because the weapons are their means of holding on to power.
Second, it was hoped that the infusion of weaponry would intensify the Iran-Iraq War and lead to the mutual destruction or, at least weakening, of two enemies.
An Iranian soldier wearing a gas mask during the Iran-Iraq War
Third, Israeli officials feared a victorious Saddam Hussein. Finally, more than anything else, the weapons industry wanted to make money. As one Israeli Defense Ministry official, a key figure in Operation Seashell, recalls: “I do not remember even one discussion about the ethics of the matter. All that interested us was to sell, sell, sell more and more Israeli weapons, and let them kill each other with them.”
The Front Companies
Iran’s appeal for arms came through various front companies. The Zurich-based Center for Logistic Support Corporation wrote to SIBAT, the arm of the Israeli Defense Ministry that deals with defense exports, in January 1981. The letter explained that
The continuing war between Iran and Iraq has created an immediate requirement for a continuous and organized supply of spare pans and weapons to back up the anent needs of the Iranian Defense forces. As a result of the Iranians’ initiative, we are in the process of establishing a center for Logistic Support in Europe (US) which will serve the Iranian requirements in the aerospace anti defense fields. This organization is directly connected to the Iranian Ministry of War who would like to use them in its reorganization procedures for future purchases from the Western World...
The Indian Connection
In 2009 a major arms scandal broke out in India. It was revealed that a controversial Israeli arms agent has been playing a crucial role in swinging several defence deals in India. David Kolitz, his partner Israel Yaniv, and their Elul Group are key to many arms deals in India, according to several sources in India and abroad. It was reported that they work as agents for Israeli firms and operate in India through a prominent Indian arms dealer who is related to a Union minister.
That Elul takes commissions on its India deals is no secret. That the costs are loaded on to the Indian taxpayer are less known. In an article as far back as September 2001, Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper quoted Elul Group vice-president Joseph Ravkaie as confirming that the “company has had a commercial agreement with Rafael for five or six years”. He did not give details about the level of commissions paid in deals beyond saying that it was “not 5%”.
The ongoing plot for an Anglo-American Air Base in Kashmir.
— GreatGameIndia (@GreatGameIndia) July 12, 2019
Sources among private players in the Indian defence sector told DNA that they were aware of the power of Kolitz in swinging defence deals. In fact, one of them said Kolitz may have had a significant role in firming up a strong partnership between an Indian industrial house and a leading Israeli defence firm.
According to DNA’s investigation, the Israelis engaged Sudhir Choudhary to handle local political, bureaucratic, and military contacts. Choudhary is related to a prominent Union minister.
Choudhary replaced Suresh Nanda, Israel’s earlier arms dealer, against whom the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) instituted a case. Nanda, son of a former navy chief SM Nanda, came under scrutiny for handling the purchase of Barak missiles from IAI and Rafael in 2000.
The above article is excerpted from the book The Secret War with Iran by Ronen Bergman an Israeli investigative journalist and author. He is a senior political and military analyst for Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s largest-circulation daily. The last section on the Indian Connection is excerpted from the investigation by DNA, an English broadsheet daily.
Join us on WhatsApp | Twitter | Facebook
For more than 2000 years a war is being waged for the control of India and the access routes connected to it. The Turkey Coup is the beginning of the end of the Great Game, as it is known. With Russia slipping out of their hands, the eyes were set on an unfathomably resource-rich country, which even after thousand years of non-stop plunder and looting still captures the imagination of one and all, thugs, thieves and robber-barons alike with her yet-unknown massive economic resources potential — that country is India.
India in Cognitive Dissonance is a hard-hitting myth-buster from GreatGameIndia. A timely reminder for the decadent Indian society; a masterpiece on Geopolitics and International Relations from an Indian perspective – it lays bare the hypocrisy taken root in the Indian psyche because of the falsehoods that Indian society has come to accept as eternal truth.