DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 23, 2002
Efforts have been underway in Washington in the run-up to the war in Iraq to improve Saudi Arabia's standing in the eyes of the American public and repair some of the damage caused its reputation by the discovery that 15 of the 19 suicidal hijackers that carried out the 9/11 crime were Saudi nationals. The current tenor of US official references to the oil kingdom is that the relationship has always had its ups and downs, but the two nations always overcame them in the interests of fruitful cooperation. To some extent, this change of attitude has filtered down to mid-level administration officials who report improved cooperation with government circles in Riyadh - especially American commanders and CIA officers in regular contact with the Saudis as the date for the offensive against Iraq advances.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 9, 2002
Both the US-UK-Iranian alliance and Iraq have in the last two weeks beefed up their elite units in southeastern Iraq. The US-led assault force has two primary missions:
A. Within the 60 days assigned to the UN inspectors for completing their report, the troops aim to assert military control over all southeastern Iraq up to the Iranian frontier including the Hawr al-Hammar lake and marshes. They will encircle the great oilfields of Khozistan, but stay outside. This mirrors the situation established earlier in northern Iraq, where US, British, Jordanian, Turkish and Iranian special forces present since April have taken control of much of the region, but came to a standstill at the gates of the two oil cities of Kirkuk and Mosul.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 9, 2002
Friday, November 8, while international attention was fixed on the UN Security Council vote by 15 to nothing in favor of the US-UK-Ireland ultimatum to Iraq to disarm, US aircraft dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets over Iraqi troop concentrations that are building up in southwest Iraq, calling on them not to fire on US and British forces. The leaflets fluttered down over a 250-mile strip running close to the Iranian border from the big Iraqi land and air base at Al Kut, 135 miles southeast of Baghdad in the north, to the Shatt al Arb port city of Basra, Iraq's only outlet to the Persian Gulf, in the south.
In Baghdad's first comment on the UN vote Saturday, November 9, Iraqi foreign minister Naji Sabri praised the UN Security Council for thwarting US plans to attack Iraq, clearly disregarding events on the ground. He promised a detailed response would be forthcoming within days.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 2, 2002
A small group of Iranian Jews - between three and eight - is missing.
After announcing their imminent release from jail, no one in the Islamic Republic now admits to knowing their whereabouts. DEBKA-Net-Weekly's Tehran sources have established that the men never reached their homes, leaving their families gravely concerned.
The closed-door trial in July 2000 in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz which convicted thirteen Iranian Jews of spying for the "Zionist regime" was widely condemned internationally. It was held in a "revolutionary" court, in which the judge is also prosecutor. The sentences handed down ranged from eight to twelve years.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 28, 2002
Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon informed the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee on Monday, October 28, that Iraq has airplanes capable of delivering biological and chemical weapons over Israel. The official "there's nothing to worry about" campaign run from Jerusalem until now is gradually making way for a more realistic assessment.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 14, 2002
The three overriding concerns exercising the Saudi royal family this past year were the state of relations with the Bush administration - the president and vice president, in particular; the handling of its unacknowledged ties with al-Qaeda and other radical Moslem groups - the Palestinian Hamas in the Gaza Strip and extremists in Pakistan, Bosnia and Chechnya; and the coming US war against Iraq.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 7, 2002
Hours after an explosion ripped a gaping hole in the French-owned giant oil tanker Limburg on Sunday, October 6, the various military authorities watching the thick, black plume rising over the Arabian Sea had no doubt it was a copycat attack on the same lines as the ramming of the USS Cole by al Qaeda suiciders in Aden Port. Indeed the ship caught fire on the second anniversary of that attack that cost the lives of 17 sailors - short six days.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 30, 2002
America's failure to enlist UN Security Council members for a tough new ultimatum to Baghdad is misleading. On the quiet, Washington has made important strides in the bid to assemble an Arab-Muslim coalition for its war effort. Egypt and Saudi Arabia were the first to come on board, although they refrain from publicly admitting to having made their sea and air bases available for the American assault.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 26, 2002
According to our sources, a CIA undercover unit has entered Iran through Zabul, in the Sistan Baluchistan province. Its assignment is to stir up dissent among the largest population in the area, the Baluchi tribes. This province is of small strategic value per se
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 8, 2002
The importance of the massive US-UK air raid over Western Iraq Friday night, September 6, cannot be exaggerated. Although the Bush administration is bidding hard for broad international support for the US offensive against Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction, debkafile's military sources report that, since last month, a combined American-British air blitz has been proceeding to systematically knock out the first line of Iraq's air force and air defenses.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 2, 2002
A select group of Iraqi district governors was ushered into Saddam's palace-bunker late last month expecting a last briefing from their president on contingencies for a US offensive. But DEBKA-Net-Weekly's sources in the Gulf report they were treated instead to a long harangue from Saddam on public sanitation in their respective districts.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 20, 2002
Abu Nidal - once Yasser Arafat's best friend; later turned fierce foe - was shot dead early Friday, August 16 by gunmen who burst into his home in Baghdad. debkafile's intelligence and counter-terror experts have no doubt that the ailing 65-year old terrorist was murdered by Iraqi military intelligence.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 10, 2002
America's offensive against Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq has begun as an exercise in gradualism rather than a D-Day drama. debkafile's military sources report that tens of thousands of US, British, French, Netherlands, Australian troops may take part in the campaign, openly or covertly, but not in massive waves that fling themselves telegenically on Baghdad.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 28, 2002
Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has decided after much agonizing and consultation to keep Egypt out of the upcoming American campaign against Iraq. This exclusive information reaches debkafile from sources in Cairo and Madrid - Mubarak's last port of call. He has also decided not to permit the US to use Egyptian military bases for the campaign. The Egyptian ruler thus places himself on the same Middle East square occupied by Saudi crown prince Abdullah since last year.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 24, 2002
Saudi Arabia denies it has massed 8 brigades on its Jordanian border following secret intelligence reports of Israeli troop concentrations onits frontier with Jordan. (The Kingdom of Jordan is wedged between Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq and Syria.) Israel denied the Saudi claim Tuesday, April 23. The comeback was fast: "A responsible source" at the kingdom's defense and aviation ministry stated that Saudi armed forces units are merely conducting "routine exercises" in the northwestern region, not beefing up their troop presence there.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 28, 2002
Our military sources report that the Americans have completed the relocation to Qatar of their biggest Saudi air base at Prince Sultan. With the removal of most of the base's operational elements, Prince Sultan is no longer a part of the American operational deployment in the Persian Gulf and its preparations for war against Iraq. At the same time, the Saudi rulers have set their own military preparations in train. The Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz floated his Middle East peace initiative in the first place to enhance his standing in American eyes and also win points inside the royal house. As it turned out, his effort bounced back against him.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 23, 2002
America's promised full-scale offensive against Iraq has been launched with small, discreet military steps. On January 4, our intelligence newsletter DEBKA-Net-Weekly (Issue 43) predicted the campaign would begin in February. On Friday, February 15, the first American Special Forces moved into northern Iraq from Turkey, a development first picked up by the Japanese paper Sankei Shimbun on February 20 and confirmed by our sources.
DEBKAfile Special Report January 27, 2002
Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and intelligence director Prince Nawwaf are trying to extricate Yasser Arafat from Israeli confinement in Ramallah. The Saudi Press Agency quotes the crown prince as remarking: "Imprisoning a leader is a very strange situation." As to President Bush's harsh criticism of the beleaguered Palestinian leader, Abdullah advised the US President ominously "to pursue the interests of America and this would be sufficient for us."
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 24, 2002
Two senior Israeli cabinet ministers responded instantly to the out-of-the-blue Hizballah mortar and missile barrage Wednesday evening against Israeli frontier positions on the Shaaba Farms sector, after three quiet months. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres held Iran responsible for provoking the Hizballah attack, while defense minister Binyamin ben Eliezer declared angrily that Israel would not stand for its northern border becoming a second front.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 19, 2002
The prize for which Osama bin Laden launched al Qaeda and his terror campaign in 1990 is now within his reach: the eviction of US forces from sacred Saudi soil. TheWashington Post and the Financial Times report that Saudi rulers think the US has "overstayed its welcome", a disclosure appearing earlier in debkafile.