Commentary and analyses on terrorism, intelligence, security, and military and political affairs in the Middle East.
Israeli air force jets scrambled Thursday when a Hamas unmanned aerial vehicle of some sort entered Israeli air space from the Gaza Strip. The UAV was sot down over the border fence on the Israeli side.
The Islamic State Thursday stalled the Syrian Kurdish YPG’s advance 50 km short of the ISIS capital of Raqqa and launched two counter-offensives to reverse a series of Kurdish successes: DEBKAfile: A large Islamist force disguised in Kurdish uniforms stormed Kobani on the Turkish border and regained parts of the town which ISIS lost to the Kurds last October. A second force struck out at the Syrian and Kurdish forces defending the second largest Kurdish Syrian town of Hasaka. Its fall would give ISIS a clear connecting link to the Iraqi town of Mosul which the jihadis rule.
Five former senior Iran advisers to President Obama have written an open letter expressing concern that the nuclear accord pending “may fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a ‘good’ agreement” and laying out a series of minimum requirements of Iran. Among them is former White House adviser Dennis B. Ross, former CIA Director David Petraeus, Robert Einhorn, a former State Department proliferation expert, Gary Samore, Obama’s former chief adviser on nuclear policy, and Gen. James Cartwright, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Among Republicans, the most notable signatory is Stephen Hadley, Mr. Bush’s national security adviser in his second term.
The letter was published Thursday as Secretary of State John Kerry headed for Vienna to attend the last week of negotiations for a final nuclear accord with Iran.
Police are questioning two illegal Palestinian workers in connection with the murder of David Kapra, 70, from Rehovot, who was found badly beaten in his vineyard near Rehovot Wednesday. Kapra later died in hospital. Police are seeking to establish whether the murder was motivated by terrorism or other criminal causes.
Uproar in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has relieved Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Al Qods Brigades chief and supreme commander of Iran's Middle East forces, of his Syria command after a string of fiascos. He remains in charge of Iran’s military and intelligence operations in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. This is revealed exclusively by debkafile. Tehran was shocked to find it was too stretched for troops and funds to uphold its commitments on four warfronts – Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon - without straining the reserves for combating a potential ISIS attack.
In the last two days, the police have rounded up 10 suspects in the attacks on two IDF ambulances carrying injured Syrian rebel fighters from the Golan border to hospital. The charge attached to the second attack is murder following the death of one of the Syrians aboard the ambulance at the northern Golan site of Neve Ativ. More arrests are expected. Jordan has quietly informed Druze leaders in Syria and Lebanon, including Walid Jumblatt, that it cannot admit any more refugees from Syria.
US Ambassador Jane Hartley was summoned to the French Foreign Ministry Wednesday following revelations by WikiLeaks that the US National Security Agency had eavesdropped on the pass three French presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande. President Hollande called an emergency meeting of the Defense Council Wednesday to discuss the leaks, after condemning as unacceptable spying between allies.
Jordan’s King Abdullah arrived in London Tuesday, June 23, on an unpublished mission, which he would disclose only to top American and British officials directly engaged in war on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. DEBKA Weekly has discovered that the Jordanian and Saudi kings have secretly mapped out an original, revolutionary plan for blocking the ISIS threat to their realms. They now seek US endorsement. This deeply hush-hush blueprint will first see the light of day in the coming issue of DEBKA Weekly out next Friday.
To catch this eye-opening issue, subscribe to DEBKA Weekly HERE AND NOW.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei leveled this charge Tuesday night: “America is after destroying our nuclear industry altogether. Our negotiators’ aim is to safeguard Iran’s integrity… and our nuclear achievements during the talks.” White House sources responded by commenting that the chances of a nuclear deal being finalized before June 30 are dwindling.
A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip Tuesday night exploded on open ground in Hof Ashkelo causing no damage. It was the first in the past two weeks.
When Israel spokesmen stated the IDF does not assort by organization injured Syrian rebels reaching the Golan border for treatment, they found that Druze serving in Israel’s armed forces and others living in Golan villages knew better. The two groups were so incensed by such past evasions, that they came together for violent action – hence the attacks Monday, June 22, on two IDF ambulances ferrying injured Syrian rebel fighters to hospital, whom they identified as members of the hated Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.
Australian Islamic State followers Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar were reported killed Monday in an air strike on the ISIS-held Iraqi city of Mosul. Australian warrants for their arrest were issued after the pair were photographed last year holding the severed heads of Syrian soldiers.
Kurdish YPG and rebel forces last week captured from ISIS the key border town of Tel Abyad, thereby linking two Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border to establish a contiguous Kurdish region from Kobani to Hasakah. As the Kurds made further conquests against ISIS Tuesday, Ankara warned the US that a green light for a Kurdish autonomous state in northern Syria would cross Turkey’s red lines.
Monday night, June 22, a Druze mob from the Golan village of Majdal Shams ambushed an Israeli ambulance carrying seriously injured Syrian rebel fighters to hospital, seized the vehicle and beat them up. They attacked Israeli troops who tried to intervene. One Syrian died in hospital; the second is critical. Also Monday night, in South Syria, rebel groups fell out and started killing each other. In this highly heated atmosphere, the Druze issue is being pulled into the roiling heart of the Syrian conflict. The fallout is slipping over into Israel.
Israel’s National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen was invited to join two top US officials for dinner in Washington on June 15 to try and amend the disastrous nuclear accord taking shape between the six world powers and Iran, before it was too late. This meeting, arranged by CIA Director John Brennan, is revealed here for the first time by debkafile. National Security Adviser Susan Rice and senior nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman let Cohen present Israel’s case for a better deal for Israeli and American security - and then turned him down flat.
Jabal Druze and southern Syrian Druze leaders have reached a mutual non-belligerence understanding with the Syrian rebel militias fighting in the region, including Al Qaeda’s arm, the Nusra Front. This is reported exclusively by debkafile. The US and the King of Jordan have guaranteed the deal concluded Friday June 10. On the spot, Jordan opened a corridor for military assistance and supplies to half million Druze in mountain villages. The southern Druze pledged not to allow the 8 Druze militias loyal to Bashar Assad to operate from their territory.
The Revolutionary Guards chief Gen. Jafari convinced Khamenei that Qassem Soleimani as expert on subversion and terror was not the right general for multiple warfronts. He was vindicated by the setbacks in Syria and Iraq.
Iran has chosen to plant Houthi forces with heavy arms on island clusters capable of blocking the Red Sea and Suez Canal to shipping as well as threatening the Saudi eastern seaboard.
Kurdish forces with US aerial backing pulled of an epic victory against ISIS, capturing Tel Abyad a town close which is close enough to the ISIS Syrian “capital” of Raqqa to lay it to siege.
The Americans have stopped referring to King Salman’s “dementia” and now praise his industry, competence and initiative, predicting he will stay on the throne for six-to-eight years.
News source for those seeking breaking information and an alternative voice.