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

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We will be back as usual on October 5, 2014.

DEBKAfile will be closed temporarily for maintenance work

We will be back as usual on October 5, 2014.

Netanyahu: Israel threatened by Iran’s ability to jump quickly to nuke

Israeli Prime Minster said Sunday night that Iran’s capacity to reach a nuclear weapon capacity in a short time is one of the top threats facing Israel today. Addressing the international cyber conference at Tel Aviv University, he repeated that ISIS, Hamas, Al Qaeda, Alu Nusra, Boko Haram and Hizballah supported by Iran were “branches of the same poisonous tree.” But Iran, he said, was behind cyber attacks against Israel, including during the Gaza conflict. “The cyber field is increasingly becoming a battlefield,” he said. “But Israel has an Iron Dome of cyber security that parallels the Iron Dome against rockets.”


Uganda foils major terrorist attack linked to al-Shabab

The Ugandan authorities say 19 suspects were arrested as members of a terrorist cell believed to be on the point of an imminent attack in the capital Kampala. Police seized a large amount of explosives during raids on suspected al-Shabab militants. Uganda was on high alert for possible revenge attacks against US targets in response to the US air strike in Somalia on Sept. 2 in which al-Shabab’s leader, Abdie Godane was killed.

IDF Northern Command warns Hizballah plans invasion in next clash

A senior IDF officer disclosed in a briefing Sunday that there is concern that Hizballah may provoke a clash with Israel and use it to seize territory – part of an Israeli town, a mountain ridge or an IDF outpost. There is no concrete warning that Hizballah is preparing to launch a surprise attack, said the officer, but the possibility cannot be discounted that a single event with casualties could spark a series of incidents leading to a conflagration. The officer said that the IDF has prepared contingency plans to evacuate border populations at risk. 

Kerry says he is encouraged by pledges of military assistance against IS

US Secretary of State John Kerry says he is "extremely encouraged" by promises of military assistance to tackle the extremist group. But he did not name the countries offering such assistance after his swing round Middle East capitals to drum up support for the US-coalition to fight IS. US officials also reported that several Arab countries had offered to take part in air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq.
Kerry is in Paris for an international conference on Monday on ways to tackle IS and bolster Iraq security.

Australia to send 600 troops to fight ISIS

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced Sunday his country would join the US-led coalition to fight ISIS and was deploying 600 military personnel – 400 air force personnel and 200 SAS special operations troops, as well as 8 FA18 Super Hornets to a US base in the UAR. An Early Warning and Control aircraft and aerial refueling aircraft will also be sent to the Middle East from Amberley airbase next week.

Obama: The US stands shoulder to shoulder with close ally UK

President Barack Obama said Sunday that the US strongly condemns the barbaric murder of UK citizen David Haines and offers condolences. ““The United States stands shoulder to shoulder tonight with our close friend and ally in grief and resolve. We will work with the United Kingdom and a broad coalition of nations from the region and around the world to bring the perpetrators of this outrageous act to justice, and to degrade and destroy this threat to the people of our countries, the region and the world,” Obama said in a statement.  
Prime Minister David Cameron called the murder “an act of pure evil” and pledged “everything in our power to hunt these murderers and ensure they face justice. We will maintain and continually reinforce our counter-terrorism efforts.” Despite the strong words from the British PM, Foreign Secretary Hammond ruled out Britain joining the US in carrying out air strikes against Syria.

The video ISIS released Saturday of the beheading of the British aid worker included a threat to kill a second British hostage.


ISIS Executed David Cawthorne Haines, British Aid Worker

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria-ISIS released a video on Saturday that showed the beheading of a British citizen, David Cawthorne Haines, an aid worker.
The 44-year-old Haines was abducted in March 2013 near a refugee camp in Atmeh, Syria.
He is seen kneeling on a bare hill in a landscape that appears identical to the one where two American journalists were killed by the group in back-to-back-executions in the past month,
Moments before his death, Mr. Haines read a script in which he blamed his country’s leaders for his killing. Addressing Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, he said, “You entered voluntarily into a coalition with the United States against the Islamic State, just as your predecessor Tony Blair did, following a trend among our British prime ministers who can’t find the courage to say no to the Americans.”


Iraqi PM orders air force to halt strikes on civilian areas

Iraq's Shi'ite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday that he had ordered the Iraqi Air Force to halt shelling of civilian areas - even in those towns controlled by ISIS - in order to protect civilians. He acted the day after a visit to Baghdad by US Secretary of State John Kerry. Sunni Muslim tribal figures, whom the US hopes can be persuaded to turn against the jihadists, have demanded a freeze on military action in civilian areas as one of their conditions for their support of the Shi'ite-led government. Herak, a Sunni opposition grouping, said they "positively welcomed" Abadi's comments.

Pope Francis says World War Three has began

Pope Francis said Saturday that the conflicts around the globe today were effectively a “piecemeal Third World War.” During a visit to Italy’s war memorial to the World War One dead, he blamed the arms trade and “plotters of terrorism”for  sowing death and destruction. “This is the time to weep,” he said.

US Gen. John Allen named to lead coalition war on ISIS, but allies deterred by Obama’s ambiguities

“We’re going to build the kind of coalition that allows us to lead, but also isn’t entirely dependent on what we do,” said President Barack Obama at a fundraiser in Baltimore Friday, Sept. 12. That was exactly the kind of ambiguous comment which the governments America is wooing to join the coalition find so off-putting. And so, US Gen. John Allen, appointed Friday, Sept 12, to lead the coalition, learned that 10 Arab and Muslim leaders were just as equivocal when Secretary of State John Kerry’s asked them for combat troops.

The US Military Comeback to the Mid East through Air Strikes

Barack Obama set out a four-point strategy for fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria, starting with a systematic air campaign in Iraq, followed by Kurdish and Iraqi ground offensives and after they roll ISIS back, US air strikes over is Syrian strongholds.

Rev Guards Intercepted Plane with US Troops in Plot to Disrupt US-Iranian Ties

The Revolutionary Guards air force interception of a chartered plane carrying US troops from Afghanistan was part of a radical contest with the pro-diplomacy president over Iran’s nuclear program and ties with Washington.

US Prepares Air Strikes against Libya’s Most Powerful Militia. Egypt and UAE Join in

The US, Egypt and UAE are ready for a concentrated air campaign to crush Libya’s most dangerous militias and restore stable government to Tripoli.

US Draws Zero Response to Bid for Regional Troops to Fight ISIS

The Obama strategy has drawn criticism for investing too little to achieve a short, sharp campaign to eradicate ISIS. Regional governments have too few troops to spare.

The Regional Coalition for Beating IS Begins Breaking up 12 Hours after Its Launch by Obama

Turkey stuns Washington by dropping out of the US-led coalition, refusing to fight jihadis or let its bases be used for air strikes.

A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Sept. 11, 2014

A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Sept. 11, 2014

Grave setbacks for Obama’s strategy: Turkey backs out of US-led war on IS. Germany, UK say no to air campaign

Turkey inflicted a stunning blow Thursday, Sept. 11 at President Barack Obama’s strategy for a broad US-led coalition for tackling and defeating the Islamic State, and the potential 11-member group which US Secretary of State John Kerry established in Jeddah that day. Ankara said its air bases would be unavailable for US-led attacks on “jihadists in Iraq and Syria.” Turkey would also “not take part in combat operations against militants.” This knocked out one of the props from under the Obama plan. The UK and Germany also said no to air strikes in Syria..

Secret US-Syrian dialogue for coordinating counter-ISIS operations in Syria led up to Obama speech

Shortly before President Barack Obama was to unveil his strategy for tackling ISIS in Iraq and Syria Wednesday, Sept. 10, US and Syrian officers held secret talks for coordinating their military efforts in Syria against the common foe, debkafile reveals exclusively. The Syrian officers, on the authority of President Bashar Assad, met on the quiet several times with American officers in the capital of one of the Gulf emirates – probably Muscat in Oman. The Syrian side of the US campaign is judged to be more complicated than the operation in Iraq.

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