DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 10, 2003
After undergoing several metamorphoses since its formulation by the Quartet, the Middle East road map looks rather like a skimpy blanket pulled over Ariel Sharon, Colin Powell, Bashar Assad, Abu Mazen and Yasser Arafat while each keeps to his own bed. Saturday, May 10, the blanket was whisked away, draining of its structural content the heralded visit by US secretary of state Powell to Israel and the Palestinians. Correspondingly, the regional context of his trip swelled in importance, its focus switching from the Israel-Palestinian conflict over to US relations with Iran, Syria and Lebanon - a higher priority in the post-Iraq war period.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 1, 2003
The long-awaited road map charted by the United States, the United Nations, Russia and the European Union was presented without fanfare to the Israeli and Palestinian governments on Wednesday, April 30, only 16 hours after a suicide bomber killed three people and injured 60 at Mike's Place, a seafront Blues club near the US embassy in Tel Aviv. With an eye toward placating an Arab world angered by the US war in Iraq and propping up Washington's main ally, British prime minister Tony Blair, President George W. Bush made good on his promise to hand the peace plan to both sides once the Palestinians' first prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas aka Abu Mazen took office. debkafile's diplomatic sources are beginning to believe that the road map has so many obstacles stacked up against it that it may in the end lead nowhere.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 2, 2003
Ariel Sharon's second government held its first cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sunday, March 2. This is most probably his last term of office as prime minister. Barring an early election before the 16th Knesset runs full term, he expects to bow out in 2007. Above and beyond the urgent task of salvaging Israel's battered economy, Sharon has set himself four long-term goals:
1. Determining Israel's permanent frontiers
This objective Sharon hopes to achieve in partnership with US president George W. Bush, with whom he enjoys a close rapport. In expectation of the US-led war against Iraq and Saddam Hussein's overthrow being but one tile in America's redesigned ethno-geopolitical mosaic for the Middle East and Persian Gulf - as debkafile has been reporting for more than a year - he expects Israel's frontiers with regard to the West Bank and Gaza Strip to be part and parcel of the wholesale transformation of an entire world region. An American victory might even stretch Israel's frontiers, not shrink them, as dictated in every peace plan put forward to date.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 2, 2002
Every few weeks, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak tells Israel it must resume negotiations with the Palestinians that will lead them to a state. But on Sunday, December 1, he went a lot further. Addressing a Muslim clerical group in Cairo at an occasion marking the final prayer of the Ramadan holy month, he declared that international terror is not religious; nor is it the fault of Muslims or Arabs, but their reaction to political injustices meted out by the "international community".
The Egyptian leader thus became the first Arab leader to say out loud what every Arab and Muslim ruler believes - that Islamic terror, including suicide homicides, is a justified means of venting their sense of injustice towards the non-Muslim world.
Mubarak is not just talking. He is in the middle of political action, hauling out the Israeli-Palestinian issue and providing his auspices for a so-called attempt to draw Arafat's Fatah and the fundamentalist Hamas into an accord for ceasing their campaign of murder inside Israel, the pre-requisite for renewed Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
Under cover of this internationally lauded initiative, Mubarak has a quite different - if not opposite - agenda, as revealed in the latestDEBKA-Net-Weekly.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 12, 2002
For Yasser Arafat, suicide attacks in Kibbutz Metzer, at the Karkur Junction or on Jerusalem's Jaffa Street are not enough. In the last few hours, reports have reached debkafile's military and intelligence sources that the three thousands Jordanian special forces and police, after sealing off the southern towns of Ma'an and Kerak for three days and battling local Islamic zealots, are closing in on their quarry: the assassins who shot dead the senior American diplomat, Lawrence Foley, on his doorstep in Amman on October 28, and their dispatchers. The wanted men include Iraqi military intelligence agents and Palestinian members of the Arab Liberation Front, whose leader, Abul Abbas, has his headquarters in Baghdad.
The diplomat, a senior USAID administrator, was shot dead by a professional marksman who fired 8 bullets from a silenced weapon.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 4, 2002
This week, two Egyptian TV channels begin running an extravagantly-produced serial based on the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Jewish document fabricated by the Tsar's secret police in the early 20th century and decisively judged a forgery by historians. It will be aired nightly during the peak viewing period of the Muslim Ramadan, by two Egyptian channels - Dream TV, a private satellite channel, and the state-run Channel 2.
debkafile's Middle East sources report "The Horse without Horseman" was produced by Arab Radio and Television of Saudi Arabia as an epic that was written, directed and played by Egyptians. It portrays the fictional Elders, the purported blueprint for Jewish global domination, as historical fact and, in a mishmash of periods, makes it also the guiding principle of Israeli policy. A director of the program says the series "is based on the history of Zionism".
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 21, 2002
Addressing the French speaking nations' summit that opened in Beirut Friday October 18, the first to take place in an Arab capital, French President Jacques Chirac made an important point: The war on terrorism, he said, should be fought "without mercy", yet conducted "with respect for human rights and the rule of law".
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 26, 2002
The construction of a new ring road around Damascus was the pretext for an outbreak of popular anti-government fury in the Syrian capital this week. Until now, stringent measures by the Syrian authorities have kept any hint of the unrest from leaking out.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 3, 2002
Iran has drawn up an elaborate war plan of its own to counter the approaching US campaign against Iraq. Syria, Lebanon, the Hizballah and the Palestinians have been enlisted to provoke a massive confrontation with Israel that will serve as a second front and hamstring the US offensive. This is revealed exclusively by debkafile's Iranian and Middle East sources, in the wake of a secret visit that Iran's deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, Mohammad Sadr, paid to Syria and Lebanon this week.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 2, 2002
Informed Arab circles, including high Saudi and Egyptian officials, are wondering what lies behind an order the Syrian president Bashar Assad has just issued to the radical Damascus-based Palestinian "Fronts" to break off all operational ties with Yasser Arafat. debkafile's Middle East sources say the directive applies to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front from the Liberation of Palestine; the Hamas and Jihad Islami, both of whom maintain headquarters in the Syrian capital, turned their backs on Arafat some time ago. The Palestinian leader finds himself ostracized, therefore, not only by the Americans and Israelis, but also by Syria and its Palestinian proteges.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 2, 2002
In a pivotal through unannounced development last week, 300 troops of the Jordanian Army's Palestinian Al Bader Brigade crossed the Allenby Bridge into the West Bank as the harbingers of the US program for displacing the Palestinian Authority's terror-tainted security force operated by Yasser Arafat. According to debkafile's military and Palestinian sources, within 24 hours of its arrival, the vanguard Jordanian force took charge of security in the Bethlehem-Beit Jala-Beit Sahur area abutting south Jerusalem, deferring directly to the new Palestinian interior minister Gen. Abdel Razzek Yahya and collaborating with US CIA and Israeli liaison officers.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 12, 2002
Notwithstanding official denials, the 4,000 US troops who began landing in Aqaba Monday, August 12, will be transferred to the northeast Jordanian desert region bordering on Iraq. Officially, they have come for a three-week joint exercise with the Jordanian army. But debkafile's military sources report that the American increment supplements the US force already stationed in Jordan, raising the total to close to 8,000 US troops.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 3, 2002
The economic promise presented by the new Middle East strategy stays firmly under wraps - no less than the covert start of military operations. Israeli's deep budget cutbacks, the spreading poverty and agonies of unemployment are profoundly demoralizing - and there is more to come. Critics of the Sharon government, like former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, have been encouraged to look forward to is imminent demise.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 3, 2002
Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has quietly assembled a new, trusted team to assist in the charting of Israel's Middle East role in the post-Saddam, post-Arafat era. Sharon's planning, a closely guarded secret not shared with his own ministers, is tightly woven into the design for the defeat of global terror which President George W. Bush began plotting after America's September 11 shock.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 13, 2002
An assessment of the current Turkish political turmoil's potential for holding up the US campaign against Iraq, is the errand bringing US deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz to Ankara next week. Incirlik and Adana, where the US air force bases its F-15, F-16 and AWACS aircraft, are important launch pads for striking at northern Iraq and providing air cover for the pro-US Kurdish and Turkoman contingents recruited for the US offensive to topple the Saddam Hussein regime in Baghdad.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 15, 2002
On Wednesday, June 12, out of the blue, the Iraqi foreign ministry issued a far from routine communique: It vilified Israel's launch of a new spy satellite (Ofek-5 on May 28) as posing a "threat to Arab national security as a whole...providing additional evidence" of Israel's "hostile and aggressive intentions towards Arab states" and exposing its quest to expand its "alien" presence and spread its hegemony over the region. Arab states were urged to "take all necessary measures to face and contain the repercussions" of the missile launch.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 21, 2002
Jordan's King Abdullah II flew to Cairo Sunday, April 21 to confer with President Hosny Mubarak of Egypt on the current Middle East crisis and the rising ferment in their countries. The two leaders are in close coordination on the problem of Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 5, 2002
Friday, April 5, Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on Arab states to enforce a one-month oil embargo against Western countries, to pressure them to stop supporting Israel. A similar call issued from Baghdad on Monday, April 1. This following passage comes from the DEBKA-Net-Weekly, Issue 55, which was published earlier: As oil prices soared to a six-month high, Iran and Iraq began muttering this week about a Muslim-Arab oil embargo for bending America to their will. Now, they are not thinking terms of the 1973-4 all-Arab oil embargo - but rather of combining in an Iranian-Iraqi-Saudi bloc to stand against the US-Russian partnership. This embargo would only target the United States, Russia and Israel, but not affect Japan, China and West Europe.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 29, 2002
In an all-night session, the full Israeli coalition government approved an all-out, extended military offensive against terrorists, its instigators and supporters in every part of Palestinian territory - though not to deport Palestinian leader Arafat, as prime minister Ariel Sharon demanded. Instead, for "formulating terror strategy and building a coalition of terrorist forces", he was sentenced to be totally isolated "at this stage".
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 25, 2002
Probably no one was more surprised than Saudi Arabia's virtual ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, by the furor - including Israel president Moshe Katsav's offer to fly to Riyadh - raised by a single sentence he uttered in an interview to the New York Times columnist Thomas L, Friedman, after it was published February 18: "...this is exactly the idea I had in mind - full withdrawal from all the occupied territories, in accordance with UN resolutions, including in Jerusalem, for full normalization of relations. I have drafted a speech along those lines [for the Arab League summit meeting in Beirut on March 28]."