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

Israeli cabinet approves gas deal with US-Israel consortium - Sun, 16 Aug 2015
August 16, 2015, 4:41 PM (IDT)

By a majority of 17:1, the Israeli cabinet Sunday approved a much debated deal with the US-Israeli consortium – Noble Energy and Delek Group – for developing the huge Leviathan natural gas field off Israel’s Mediterranean coast. It still requires Knesset endorsement. After weeks of talks – and strong criticism - the deal will allow the consortium to keep ownership of the largest offshore field, Leviathan, and sell off other assets, including stakes in another large deposit called Tamar. Netanyahu fought hard for the deal that would allow Leviathan - one of the world's largest offshore discoveries of the past decade - to be developed “for Israel’s industry and the Israeli economy - for the benefit of the citizens of Israel.” 

Leviathan, with estimated reserves of 22 trillion cubic feet (tcf) or 622 billion cubic metres, is slated to begin production in 2018 or 2019 and expected to supply billions of dollars of gas to Egypt and Jordan in addition to supplying Israel.

Iran prepares four-point peace plan for Syria - Sun, 16 Aug 2015
August 16, 2015, 4:13 PM (IDT)

Mid East sources report that Iran is preparing to submit a four-point peace proposal for Syria to the United Nations Assembly next month. It includes a national unity government – code for Bashar Assad staying in power; elections under international supervision; prominent representation in the regime for “moderate” opposition parties; and constitutional reform to protect minorities.

Small student rally at Iran’s parliament protests nuclear deal - Sun, 16 Aug 2015
August 16, 2015, 4:05 PM (IDT)

Around 50 hardline students and activists rallied Sunday outside the Iranian majlis demanding that the lawmakers reject the nuclear deal reached last month between Iran and six world powers. Lawmaker Zohre Tayebzadeh claimed the deal crosses "red lines" by allowing the US to supervise Iran's uranium enrichment program.

Head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Israel intelligence desk is executed as Israeli spy - Sun, 16 Aug 2015
August 16, 2015, 3:22 PM (IDT)

Highly credible Iranian exile sources in Europe have revealed to debkafile that the Director of the Israel Desk of the Revolutionary Guards clandestine service was executed by a firing squad in late June or early July as an Israeli spy. Aged 46, Seyyed Ahmed Dabiri was his codename. His real name is not known. The sources report that a Guards martial court found him guilty of tipping Israel off on top military secrets, including the movements of Iranian military commanders in Syria, Iranian arms shipments to Syria and arms convoys bound for Hizballah in Lebanon.

Iran to permit only one IAEA visit to Parchin - Sun, 16 Aug 2015
August 16, 2015, 9:50 AM (IDT)

Iran has presented to the UN nuclear watchdog documents regarding its nuclear program, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced Sunday. They are part of the “roadmap agreed in the deal with six world powers in Vienna on July 14, for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program,” the IAEA reported. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said earlier that with the cooperation of Tehran, the watchdog could make an assessment of issues relating to its possible military dimensions by the end of 2015.

This road-map envisages consultations with technical experts of Iran's nuclear sector, but only permits one access to the military facility in Parchin where Iran is suspected of having tested nuclear detonators..

Second Palestinian stabbing attack Saturday - Sat, 15 Aug 2015
August 15, 2015, 7:14 PM (IDT)

An Israeli border police officer was slashed in the neck Saturday by a Palestinian near the Tapuach junction on the West Bank. The attacker was shot dead. His victim is not in serious condition. In an earlier attack, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli soldier in the arm at the Ofer checkpoint on Route 443. Soldiers manning the checkpoint shot and injured him.

Palestinian shot after stabbing a checkpoint soldier - Sat, 15 Aug 2015
August 15, 2015, 11:54 AM (IDT)

First report: A Palestinian terrorist stabbed an Israeli soldier Saturday at the Ofer checkpoint on Rte 443, one of the two main highways to Jerusalem.  The victim was injured in the arm. Soldiers manning the checkpoint shot the terrorist and injured him. The highway is closed to traffic until further notice.

Hizballah lost 1,000 dead, 10,000 injured in Syrian war – report - Sat, 15 Aug 2015
August 15, 2015, 10:52 AM (IDT)

A Lebanese intelligence source reports that Hizballah lost more than 1,000 dead and 10,000 wounded in its three-year intervention in the Syrian war. These were the first estimates any Middle East intelligence source has released on Hizballah’s casualties in the fighting alongside the Syrian army. The same source explained that the Syrian rebels had studied Hizballah's urban guerrilla tactics and were forcing the Lebanese Shiite fighters to fight “every inch” of the way.
Friday night, the Hizballah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said that Israeli armed forces lacked the right strategy for winning another war against his group. Speaking on the ninth anniversary of the 2006 Lebanese war, he accused the US of backing ISIS as its front to attain the goals of partitioning Syria and Iraq.

Hawkish Danny Danon name Israel’s UN ambassador - Sat, 15 Aug 2015
August 15, 2015, 10:41 AM (IDT)

Binyamin Netanyahu has named Science and Space Minister Danny Danon as Israel’s new ambassador to the United Nations, making way for a new cabinet member and a fresh head of Likud’s Central Party and a clutch of other key functions held by the designated UN envoy. Danon was fired as Deputy Defense Minister during the 2014 Gaza operation for criticism of government strategy to too lax. Netanyahu’s foreign media spokesman Mark Regev is expected to be named next Israeli ambassador to London.

Israel’s first ever arms deal with an Arab country – drones for Jordan to fight ISIS - Sat, 15 Aug 2015
August 15, 2015, 9:31 AM (IDT)

In its first arms sale to an Arab country, revealed here by debkafile, Israel has sold Jordan 12 advanced unmanned aerial vehicles of the Heron TP and Skylark types. They are urgently needed by the Jordanian Royal Air Force to beef up its cross-border counter-terrorism campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Like other joint US-Israeli-Jordanian operations ongoing against the Islamic State, the Herons and Skylarks are almost certainly being operated by officers at the US Central Command Forward-Jordan war room north of Amman. Israel earlier donated 16 Cobras to Jordan’s air force. 

Palestinian firebombs ignite fire at Israeli gas station - Fri, 14 Aug 2015
August 14, 2015, 9:38 PM (IDT)

A Palestinian car drove into the Sonol gas station on West Bank Rte 60 near Elei Friday night and hurled firebombs before driving off. Firefighters are battling the blaze. The damage is heavy but there were no casualties.

Kerry reopens US Cuba embassy after 54 years - Fri, 14 Aug 2015
August 14, 2015, 6:26 PM (IDT)

John Kerry, the first US Secretary of State to visit Cuba in 70 years, presided over the reopening of the US embassy in Havana Friday. The same US marines who brought the US flag down in 1961 were there to see it raised again. While trade and travel restrictions have been eased since Barack Obama and the Cuban leader agreed to restore ties last year, the US Congress has kept the trade embargo in place. Fidel Castro, 89, who handed over power to his brother Raul in 2008, wrote an open letter saying that the US owed Cuba millions of dollars over its 53-year embargo.

After Zarif’s visit, Hizballah troops pulled back from Zabadani in first retreat from Syrian war - Thu, 13 Aug 2015
August 13, 2015, 8:16 PM (IDT)

A 200-truck convoy rolled out of the Hizballah-Syrian positions around the strategic town of Zabadani, early Thursday, Aug. 13. debkafile: Their exit, after failing to break the Syrian rebels’ grip on the town, marked the Hizballah’s first retreat from a major Syrian battleground in the three years of its intervention in the Syrian war alongside Assad’s army. The withdrawal followed visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif’s talks in Beirut Tuesday with Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah and with President Bashar Assad in Damascus the next day.

Obama Puts Moscow & Iran at Helm of Their Next Mid East Venture. Saudis Opt out - Thu, 13 Aug 2015
August 13, 2015, 7:30 PM (IDT)

The US, Russia and Iran combine to launch a new Middle East venture for resolving current conflicts in ways that are expedient to all three. The Saudis prefer their own path and choices.

The Islamic State Is Not Falling Back But Gaining - Thu, 13 Aug 2015
August 13, 2015, 7:30 PM (IDT)

A year into the US-led coalition war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria, finds the jihadis holding onto most of the territorial gains against an almost-stalled offensive, while keeping their manpower stocks replenished with volunteers and expanding their terror fronts.

ISIS and Hamas Play Ball in Sinai Facing No Resistance - Thu, 13 Aug 2015
August 13, 2015, 7:30 PM (IDT)

ISIS-Sinai disclosed its first beheading atrocity of a western hostage the day after Washington announced the disbanding of the Multinational Force and Observers after serving in Sinai for decades.

Desperate El-SISI Ready to Loose ISIS Terror against Israel to Save Egyptian Troops - Thu, 13 Aug 2015
August 13, 2015, 7:29 PM (IDT)

Despite his warm relations with Netanyahu and close cooperation with Israel in fighting terror, El Sisi is desperate enough to throw Israel as a bone to ISIS to get the terrorists off the backs of Egyptian troops in Sinai.

Two Princes, Two Wars: Who Is Going to Win? - Thu, 13 Aug 2015
August 13, 2015, 7:29 PM (IDT)

The Crown Prince leads the war on domestic terror, while his deputy heads the war on Yemen. But the latter is also the king’s son and the Yemen war may be easier to crack than the pervasive attraction of young Saudi men to the radical lure of ISIS.

A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Aug. 13, 2015 - Thu, 13 Aug 2015
August 13, 2015, 7:29 PM (IDT)

A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Aug. 13, 2015

New rules: Israeli troops must fire in the air when engaging terrorists - Wed, 12 Aug 2015
August 12, 2015, 10:14 AM (IDT)

New rules of engagement were handed down Tuesday, July 11, to the Israeli military, police and Border Guard units serving in Judea and Samaria, effectively prohibiting them from shooting Palestinians found hurling firebombs, carrying out knife attacks or other acts of terror. Security forces are restricted henceforth to firing in the air, except when their own lives are in danger. debkafile: The new rules are designed to curb the rising death toll of Palestinian terrorists engaged by Israeli troops. But some senior officers fear they will lead to more Israeli casualties.

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