Commentary and analyses on terrorism, intelligence, security, and military and political affairs in the Middle East.

Syrian army captures key jump-off point for Aleppo assault from ISIS
February 25, 2016, 2:37 PM (IDT)

The Syrian army, with the help of heavy bombing by the Russian air force, completed its capture of the city of Khanasser from ISIS on Thursday afternoon. Khanasser, south of Aleppo, is strategically located on the road used for supplying food, medicines, weapons and ammunition to the besieged northern city. Thursday's capture marked the reconnection of the only route from territories controlled by the army to the northern city. Khanasser is expected to be used as a jump-off point by Syrian forces in the operation aimed at capturing Aleppo from the terrorist organization.

Riyadh, Ankara prepare for deployment of Saudi F-15s in Turkey
February 25, 2016, 12:59 PM (IDT)

A delegation from Saudi Arabia's air force arrived Thursday morning at Incirlik air base in southern Turkey to complete operational and logistical preparations for the deployment of four Saudi F-15s at the base on February 29.

Egypt's first resident ambassador to Israel since 2012 presents credentials
February 25, 2016, 12:16 PM (IDT)

Egypt's new ambassador to Israel Hazem Khairat presented his credentials on Thursday to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. During the ceremony, Rivlin praised Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh Al-Sisi and the Egyptian people, saying the two countries can build a common future thanks to their respect for each other even though they do not always share the same views. 
Khairat arrived in the beginning of January to assume the post that had been vacant since his predecessor was withdrawn in late 2012 during Israel's anti-terror operation in the Gaza Strip.

Istanbul on high alert over threat of imminent suicide bombing
February 25, 2016, 10:02 AM (IDT)

Large numbers of Turkish policemen launched a search of subway stations in central Istanbul on Thursday morning after the authorities received intelligence information that a suicide bomber was planning to attack one of the stations. Part of the city's public transportation system has been halted and elite policemen with bomb-sniffing dogs are checking the trains and the platforms. The police have called on the public to remain alert and to stay away from crowded areas until further notice.       

Kerry calls on Senate not to impose additional sanctions on Tehran
February 25, 2016, 8:56 AM (IDT)

In testimony before a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry recommended against placing more sanctions on Iran, saying Tehran's nuclear agreement with Western powers has yet to be implemented. “I don’t think there’s a need to rush here,” he said. “I’d like to see how the implementation goes so we can do whatever we’re doing advised by that process." The sanctions are intended to address Iran's repeated violations of UN resolutions regarding ballistic missile tests and human rights.

UK's Cameron deprecates 'encirclement of East Jerusalem'
February 25, 2016, 8:27 AM (IDT)

UK's Cameron deprecates 'encirclement of East Jerusalem'
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday in a speech before parliament that he had witnessed the illegal building of "settlements" in East Jerusalem and that he was shocked, despite his support for Israel. "I am well-known as being a strong friend of Israel but I have to say the first time I visited Jerusalem and had a proper tour around that wonderful city and saw what has happened with the effective encirclement of East Jerusalem – occupied East Jerusalem – it is genuinely shocking," he said. He made the remark in response to a question from Imran Hussain, a Muslim MP from the Labour Party. 

Iran pledges thousands of $s to Palestinians killed in terror attacks
February 25, 2016, 7:58 AM (IDT)

Tehran has pledged $7,000 to the family of every Palestinian terrorist killed while committing attacks on Israelis and a further $30,000 to the bereaved families of terrorists whose homes were demolished. “The blood of the martyrs will bring the liberation of all Palestine from the sea to the river,” said Tehran’s ambassador to Lebanon Mohammad Fateh Ali Wednesday. Hamas officials met recently in Tehran with Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Al-Qods Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, to discuss funding. The Iranian said he “kissed the foreheads” of all those thousands engaged in anti-Israel activities.

Wednesday night, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to condemn Iran for fueling the fire of anti-Israel terror using money released by lifted sanctions.

IDF reserve officer dies in accidental shooting while neutralizing terrorist
February 24, 2016, 8:06 PM (IDT)

Capt. Eliav Gelman, 31, an IDF reserve officer from Karmei Tsr died Wednesday of gunshot wounds inflicted accidentally by soldiers who opened fire when they saw him struggling with a Palestinian terrorist who was stabbing him. The incident occurred at the Gush Etzion intersection. Intense efforts made at the hospital failed to save his life. Capt. Gerlman is survived by a wife and two small children. He is the 33rd fatality of the current wave of Palestinian terror. 

Netanyahu phones Putin for clarifications on the South Syrian ceasefire
February 24, 2016, 7:16 PM (IDT)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu phoned President Vladimir Putin Wednesday Feb. 24, to find out how the partial Syrian ceasefire due to go into effect Saturday Feb. 27 will affect Israel’s northern border security. He asked for guarantees that Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah forces would not be permitted to take advantage of the lull to advance towards Israel’s Golan border with hostile intent. debkafile: Putin made an effort to allay the prime minister’s fears, without success.

French commandos operating covertly in Libya against ISIS: report
February 24, 2016, 7:11 PM (IDT)

France's "Le Monde" newspaper reported Wednesday that members of the French special forces and the country's DGSE overseas intelligence service, supported by attack helicopters, are engaged in a small-scale guerilla war in Libya against ISIS, which is gaining strength in the country. The secret operation authorized by French President Francois Hollande is being directed from a forward base in Niger on Libya's southwestern border, according to the report.  Both signal intelligence (SIGINT) and human intelligence (HUMINT) assets are said to be part of the operation.

Leave Lebanon immediately, three Gulf states advise citizens
February 24, 2016, 6:56 PM (IDT)

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE on Tuesday issued a joint call on their citizens in Lebanon to leave the country immediately and to avoid flying to Beirut unless for special circumstances. The announcement came after Riyadh announced last Friday that it was suspending its $4 billion aid package to Lebanon and its army, following what it called Beirut's surrender to Hizballah. 

Abu Mazen rebuffs Kerry’s appeal to cool Palestinian terror against Israelis
February 23, 2016, 1:40 PM (IDT)

US Secretary of State John Kerry came away empty-handed from his latest meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in Amman on Sunday, Feb. 21,- which shouldn’t have surprised him. debkafile reports that Kerry was finally persuaded that Abbas would not give Israel an inch on any political or security-related matters. The Palestinian leader has never swerved from his conviction that it is the duty of the international community to force Israel to present the Palestinians with a state - without negotiations.


Shoigu in Tehran to rescue Putin’s plan from Assad’s Iranian-backed obstructionism
February 22, 2016, 12:26 PM (IDT)

President Putin this week sent Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to Tehran to unsnarl his blueprint for a solution of the Syrian crisis from the blockage placed in its path by none other than Bashar Assad, who refuses to hear of Moscow’s proposals for a political formula for ending the war, or even a ceasefire. debkafile reports that Assad has quietly gained Tehran’s support for his negativism, causing strains between Moscow, Damascus and Tehran that are blowing back on the working relations between the Russian, Iranian and Syrian commands running the Syrian war.

Russia air strikes seal Jebel Druze against attack and refugees
February 21, 2016, 12:48 PM (IDT)

Over the weekend, Russia ramped up its air bombardment of southern cities and towns, especially Daraa and Nawa. Moscow aims to restore Bashar Assad’s control to the South and defeat the rebels. Thousands of fleeing rebels with their families and other civilians, turned away from the locked Jordanian border, are headed towards the Golan on Israel’s doorstep.

Iran to Russia: Take $14bn and build us a modern army
February 19, 2016, 10:00 AM (IDT)

Iran’s Defense Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan arrived in Moscow this week at the head of a large military delegation and laid before President Vladimir Putin and his Defense Minister Gen. Sergei Shoigu a $14 billion check. Now, make our Revolutionary Guards Corps and regular forces into an up-to-the-minute modern war machine, the best in the region, he said. The plan was approved by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to be funded from moneys released by lifted sanctions.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s Secret Career as KGB Double Spy and Agent
February 18, 2016, 7:37 PM (IDT)

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was never caught out in his clandestine role as a faithful Russian double spy and agent, during which he surreptitiously subverted US interests in one international crisis after another.

Close Air-Ground Coordination Is Russia’s Secret Weapon in Syria
February 18, 2016, 7:37 PM (IDT)

The Russians don’t waste time and money on training local troops as professional soldiers but adjust their aerial campaign tactics to the capabilities of the local ground forces available.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia Talk Big, But Are Peripheral to Syrian Crisis
February 18, 2016, 7:37 PM (IDT)

Obama and Putin have no intention of cutting Turkey and Saudi Arabia into their joint plans for the Syrian military conflict or future. Erdogan, while bitterly opposed to their sponsorship of the Kurds, will think twice before stepping into Syria.

More Russian T-90 Tanks & MRLS Bring Extra Punch to Aleppo Offensive
February 18, 2016, 7:37 PM (IDT)

A massive Russian air and sea lift is under way with large numbers of T-90 tanks and MRLS added to the northern Syrian front to speed the offensive for retaking Aleppo from rebel hands.

Putin Snubs Iran on Advanced Tungsten for Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missile
February 18, 2016, 7:37 PM (IDT)

The Iranian defense minister’s temper tantrum over Putin’s refusal to sell advanced tungsten for Iranian nuclear-capable ICBMs ended in Russia delaying the handover of S-300 anti-air missiles and the minister’s humiliation.

News source for those seeking breaking information and an alternative voice.