Commentary and analyses on terrorism, intelligence, security, and military and political affairs in the Middle East.
Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov announced Monday, Dec. 4, the formation of a special unit to deal with “Syrian radicals” wiithin the North Caucasus republic and abroad. “Members…will be ready to interfere in the Syrian conflict if authorized by the Russian president.” Russian and Syrian intelligence fear al Qaeda in Syria is plotting a spectacular attack on the Sochi Winter Olympics in February, possibly using sarin, which US intelligence thinks al Qaeda has obtained. This was a prominent item in talks between Binyamin Netanyahu and Vladimir Putin in Moscow Nov. 20.
In a video broadcast speech to the Saban Forum in Washington Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu replied to US President Barack Obama’s comments Saturday. Iran's acquisition of nuclear arms would "literally change the course of history," he said, because of its insane ideology and appetite for power.
Israel must be assured that Iran will never be a “threshold nuclear weapons state.” The negotiators of a final accord with Tehran must also “demand a change to its genocidal policy, as a minimum.” Iran must change its genocidal policy toward Israel, he stressed.
Netanyahu thanked the US president for “an indispensable alliance” and “unprecedented cooperation in defense, security and intelligence."
On the Middle East peace talks, he repeated that the "minimal requirement for peace" with the Palestinians was their recognition of the state as home to the Jewish people with equal right to self-determination as themselves.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrived in Tehran Sunday at the head of a large delegation and was received by President Hassan Rouhani. The trip was an act of defiance against Obama administration in the crisis over his refusal to sign an agreement covering a US military presence in the country after the bulk of the force leaves next year. Saturday, when US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Kabul, Karzai made no attempt to see him. A complete US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan would leave a security void in the country and invite the bloody chaos to which Iraq has succumbed.
According to a British report an RAF Chinook helicopter flying from Amman in Jordan to Cyprus has made a forced landing in the Jordan Valley near the West Bank town of Jericho due to engine failure. DEBKAfile’s Israeli sources: Israeli Air Force fighters forced the British helicopter to land in the Jordan Valley near the Israeli settlement of Naama to investigate its intrusion of Israeli air space. Some of the passengers were slightly hurt.
The two IAEA atomic experts have arrived in Iran after receiving permission denied for years to inspect the Arak heavy-water nuclear under construction in Arak for the production of plutonium. This followed the nuclear accord Iran and the six world powers signed last month and President Barack Obama’s comment Saturday night that for a peaceful nuclear program, Iran doesn’t need the heavy water reactor.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report exclusively that the roadside bomb planted Friday against an IDF unit patrolling the border fence separating northern Golan from Syria on the Hermon mountain slopes, was detonated remotely from the Syrian side of the border. No one was hurt. The bomb was activated by Ahmed Jibril’s Palestine Front-General Command, as a warning from Bashar Assad and Hassan Nasrallah to Israel to stay away from southern Syria. Three days earlier, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon disclosed that Israel was providing Syrian villages on the Golan with humanitarian aid, food and essentials for withstanding the winter.
Behind the ballyhoo of the Geneva nuclear accord, Washington and Tehran have begun sharing out their areas of influence in post-war Syria in tacit concurrence. They have the same two goals: Blocking al Qaeda’s advance in Syria and keeping Bashar Assad in power. The details of this under-the-counter arrangement between Washington and Tehran are revealed in the latest issue of DEBKA Weekly out Friday, Dec. 6.
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President Barack Obama addressed the Iranian nuclear and Palestinian issues in terms sympathetic to the Israeli case at the Saban annual forum in Washington Saturday, Dec. 7. On the final accord with Iran, he spoke of constraints to ensure Iran was prevented from attaining a nuclear weapon. The Palestinians must accept that the current talks with Israel will produce, at best, a framework accord without full details. It would also omit the Gaza Strip and provide for a transition period before a final settlement.
A deal was signed the sale of two German guided missile destroyers to the Israel Navy at a cost of 2 bn euros, Der Spiegel reports. National Security Adviser Yosef Cohen signed for Israel. The vessels will be part of the air-naval force guarding Israel’s Mediterranean offshore gas fields. DEBKAfile: This is will be its first purchase abroad missile destroyers. Until now the Israeli Navy consisted of a fleet of missile boats of home manufacture.
Hundreds of events broadcast live on television will commemorate the legacy of South Africa’s first black president, who died aged 95 last week. As tributes poured in from the nation and world leaders, the date for his state funeral was set for Dec. 15. Mandela, one of the world’s most revered politicians, led South Africa’s transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s after 27 years in prison for fighting apartheid.
Scores of world leaders and international celebrities will attend his funeral in the Thembu tribal tradition in at his home village of Qunu in Eastern Cape. Facing a monumental security challenge, the South African military will lock the village down with a tight security cordon. The service will be broadcast across the world.
The Democratic heads of three powerful Senate committees have asked National Intelligence Director James Clapper for public disclosure by Dec. 12 of assessments of the effects a new round of sanctions may have on Secretary of State John Kerry’s current nuclear negotiations with Iran. They also demanded briefings on Iran’s compliance with the six-month agreement it reached with the P5+1 in Geneva to temporarily scale back its nuclear ambitions in return for a brief lifting of sanctions.
The request was sent to Clapper jointly by Senate Banking Chairman Tim Johnson, Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin.
“If the extensive inspection and verification system provided for in the agreement is executed faithfully, this will help to build confidence that, at least in the short term, Iran will be unable to pose a credible military threat to its neighbors in the region, including Israel,” the three senators wrote.
Israeli border forces used crowd control measures to disperse hundreds of Palestinian rioters who were throwing stones and Molotov Cocktails at the Rachel Tomb shrine in Bethlehem Friday. Several Palestinians were injured.
Months after a coup in Bangui touched off waves of chaos and violence in the Central African Republic, a French military operation has begun, France’s Defense Minister reported Friday. The deployment along with that of African forces was unanimously approved by the UN Security Thursday. That day, 50 people died in violence in the troubled African state.
Secretary of State John Kerry put before Israelis and Palestinians Thursday, Dec. 5, a new security plan combining the US war on al Qaeda with the security provisions promised Israel in a settlement with the Palestinians, debkafile reports exclusively. Israeli and Palestinian units would be integrated in a planned regional US-led force for securing parts of Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Palestinian territory and Israel against terror. It would consist also of US, British, French, Saudi, Jordanian and Egyptian units. Netanyahu was open to the idea; Abbas had reservations.
Two US war rooms were necessary in view of various Obama commitments to different Middle East allies. The area marked out as US area of influence is designed also to impede al Qaeda’s advance.
As it moves in on Syrian Kurdistan, Iran is taking all the various national Kurdish separatist movements under its wing and protection and filling its arsenals with arms and ammo.
Shunned by the Saudis, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made lavish officers to the Gulf Arab emirs, including mutual defense pacts with Iran, but failed to elicit a single clear yes.
After failing to prevent Iran becoming a nuclear threshold state, Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu has practically run out of options.
A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Dec. 05, 2013
Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif bitterly complained Wednesday, Dec. 4, that his country’s media preferred to quote debkafile instead of himself. “Who tells the truth? I, the foreign minister of Iran? Or the Zionist website DEBKA which runs falsehoods?” It was the second time that Zarif vented his frustration with DEBKA’s popularity in Iran. Tuesday, he accused the non-official media of drawing heavily on foreign sources, such as “the Fact Sheet put out by the White House in Washington and the Israeli debkafile” while neglecting official statements.
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