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

Cameron back in No.10 with overall majority as three rivals quit

According to almost complete election results, David Cameron’s Conservatives won an overall majority of 325 seats in the 626-seat British parliament. He has called on the Queen who is to formally ask him to form a government. His rivals, Labor’s Ed Miliband, the Liberal-Democrats’ Nick Clegg and UkIP’s Nigel Farage, have all resigned. The Scottish National Party emerged as the third largest party with 56 of 59 seats in Scotland.


US Senate backs bill giving Congress review of Iran nuclear deal

The US Senate Thursday night voted 98-1 for a bipartisan bill that would let Congress review any final deal the six world powers approve with Tehran. Under this deal, Iran would be required to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for relief from the sanctions clamped down on its economy. DEBKAfile: The measure, to be voted on in the House next week, is a watered down version of the original bipartisan bill, which would have subjected the accord to congressional approval.

Terrorists kill two Egyptian soldiers in Sinai

Gunmen ambushed a security checkpoint at the Rafah on the Sinai-Gaza border Thursday night, killing at least two Egyptian soldiers, the day after an Egyptian AH-64 Apache struck an Ansar Bayt Magdis hideout  in the same area, killing some 15 terrorists. This group has pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Exit polls give British Conservatives huge lead over Labor

Exit polls project incumbent Prime Minister David Cameron to have come out far in the lead of the UK election, with 316-325 seats, one short of an outright majority in the 326-member parliament. Before the real tally of votes, Ed Miliband’s Labor trails far behind with 239 seats. The Scottish National Party emerges as the third largest with 58 of 59 seats in Scotland. Cameron may be able to form his second government without a coalition partner.


Saudi Arabia and Turkey in league to topple Assad

US sources report that Saudi Arabia and Turkey are collaborating in a bid to overthrow Syrian ruler Bashar Assad. Officials in both capitals disclosed they had concluded a pact for this purpose, with the Turks giving Syrian rebels intelligence and the Saudis funds for arms. Theyjoined forces, they said, after the US backed out of the campaign to oust Assad because of its rapprochement with Tehran. US sources fear the Saudis and Turks are giving weapons to Al Qaeda’s Syrian arm the Nusra Front. However, DEBKAfile revealed on May 4, that the US, Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE had all jumped into bed with al Qaeda to overthrow Assad.


Obama Offers Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a Kosher Certificate

The US president is trying to separate the IRGC from its Al Qods Brigades, offering the first a clear road to eased sanctions, while leaving them in place for the Brigades. This amputation is too artificial to work.

Iran’s Guards Drum up Armed Incidents to Scuttle Nuclear Accord

Khamenei is all in favor of such incidents as the seizure of a commercial vessel by IRGC’s navy as it gives him levers of control and bargaining chips.

To Win the Oil Contest, Saudis Must First Win in Yemen and Syria

King Salman is putting all his aspiration to stay on top of the world’s oil market in the Syrian and Yemeni war baskets.

No Mosul Campaign So Long as US Denies Peshmerga Heavy Weapons

Obama is dead against army the Kurds lest it upset his Iranian applecart. But Barzani warned him that without the peshmerga he had better forget about a campaign for Mosul.

Netanyahu Needs an Innovative Foreign Minister with Moshe Dayan’s Vision

Netanyahu sets up a new government without appointing a foreign minister in the hope of finding another Moshe Dayan he negotiated the 1979 peace with Egypt.

A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending May 07, 2015

A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending May 07, 2015

Obama congratulates Netanyahu on new government

"The president congratulates the Israeli people, Prime Minister Netanyahu and the new governing coalition on the formation of Israel’s new government and looks forward to working with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his new government,” press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. "The United States places great importance on our close military, intelligence and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and abiding partnership between both countries," Earnest said. He added that the president would continue to consult with Netanyahu on the Iran nuclear talks and "the importance of pursuing a two-state solution" with the Palestinians.

Obama weighs giving Riyadh bunker buster bombs

US Secretary of State John Kerry was set to offer Saudi Arabia GBU-28 bunker buster bombs during his visit Wednesday and Thursday to Riyadh. Washington has so far only been willing to provide Israel with those weapons. Kerry’s mission is to ease regional fears over the nuclear deal shaping up with Iran by the June 30 deadline – ahead of the Gulf summit convened by President Obama at Camp David on May 13. However, Saudi leaders, like the rest of the Sunni Arab world, doubt whether the deal will stop Tehran acquiring a nuclear bomb.
Washington is leading the discussion to set up a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) to shield the Gulf nations and their oil resources.

Netanyahu meets deadline for forming a cabinet coalition

Binyamin Netanyahu was just able to meet his Wednesday midnight deadline for forming a coalition government based on 61 MKs out of 120 after winding up negotiations with Habayit Hayehud in the nick of time. They will discuss the details before signing their deal Thursday. Naphtali Bennett is Minister of Education and Diaspora, Ayelet Shaked Justice Minister and head of the Legislative Committee – but will not chair the committee for appointing judges. Uri Uriel keeps the agriculture portfolio. Bennett and Shaked will have seats on the security cabinet.  The party also received the post of deputy defense minister. Netanyahu has still to assign 10 portfolios to his own Likud, before presenting the complete lineup to the Knesset.

Exclusive: Obama to back Palestinian state at Security Council – payback for Israel’s right-wing cabinet

debkafile exclusive from Washington: President Barack Obama is to give Europe a green light to file a UN Security Council motion proclaiming an independent Palestinian state. Without waiting for Binyamin Netanyahu to present his new government at midnight Wednesday, May 6, Obama decided to punish him for building a right-wing coalition, minus a moderate figure for talks with the Palestinians. French President Francois Hollande and US Secretary of State John Kerry have already briefed Saudi and Gulf rulers on Obama’s new policy. 

Saudis step up air strikes against Yemen Houthi rebels

Saudi-led coalition warplanes targeted more than 30 locations in the Yemeni provinces of Saada and Hajjah Wednesday following a cross-border attack on the Saudi border town of Najran Tuesday which left three people dead. Around 80 people have died in Yemen in the last 24 hours – 40 civilians hit by Houthi fighters while trying to flee Aden in a boat, and a similar number, including a senior army officer and 30 Houthi fighters, in battles for Aden. After 22 aid agencies warned that food and fuel shortages had become acute, US Secretary of State John Kerry, on his way to Riyadh, appealed for a humanitarian pause in the fighting to allow deliveries of aid. 

Sudan claims downing an Israeli drone

A senior Sudanese military source claimed that Sudan’s air defense system had downed an Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle. A short time earlier, Arab sources reported an air-missile strike had been conducted before dawn Wednesday against a facility near Khartoum, which housed a weapons store or plant for the production of missiles. This has not been confirmed. It appears that the warplanes which carried out the attack were escorted by UAVs able to cover long distances that were fitted with night vision and precise targeting instruments.

The Texas ISIS attack was not averted owing to US “human intelligence” deficit

The two gunmen who Sunday, May 3, tried - and failed - to shoot up an exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, northeast of Dallas, sounded a wakeup call for US counter-terrorism agencies - even before the Islamic State warned that this first attack on US soil would not be its last. Both homegrown Islamist terrorists were shot dead. But the incident betrayed the “human intelligence” weakness of US and Western agencies – a shortage of undercover agents to mingle in communities which may produce terrorists.

Assad loses battles as US, Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and UAE arm Al Qaeda’s Syrian branches

For the first time in the Syrian war, opposition forces, such as the Army of Conquest and the Free Syrian Army, are receiving substantial quantities of heavy weapons including tanks and antitank missiles, from the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. debkafile:. The opposition is winning battles as the balance of strength shifts away from the Syrian army. At the same time, since most of these rebel militias are associated with al Qaeda, Assad’s fall could consign Syria to radical Islamist rule.

Obama turns a smiling face to Israel. Biden: Iran has enough material for 8 nuclear bombs

 President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have gone out of their way in the last fortnight to shower friendly gestures on Israel and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, devoting more time to repairing the relationship than on world crises in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Ukraine. debkafile: Instead of sparring with the Israeli leader, whose speech in Congress placed him at the forefront of international opposition to the nuclear deal, the White House decided to try and convert him – and also Congress - by meeting him on certain points.

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