Vol. 14, Issue 671, July 17, 2015
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After the Nuclear Accord – I: Khamenei’s Double Bluff
Iran Didn’t Need to Build a Nuke. It Outplayed Six World Powers with Nothing but the Threat

After six world powers sanctified Iran’s nuclear threshold status Tuesday, July 14 in Vienna, speculation blossomed across the world media as to whether Iran would need 10 or 15 years to go ahead and build a bomb, and at what point it would start cheating.
Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that, were it not for his tireless campaign to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, there would have been a bomb long ago. The new accord, he charged, opened a pathway for Iran to build a whole nuclear arsenal by the time the accord expired in ten years.
But DEBKA Weekly’s sources in Tehran have discovered that Iran may never cross that threshold at all because its rulers never intended to actually construct a nuclear bomb – at least not so long as Barack Obama sits in the White House. Accused of cheating, they were telling the truth when they protested again and again that they don’t plan to build a nuclear weapon.
This was a double bluff. And it worked.
So why spoil the game by going all the way to a weapon at the risk of American or Israeli military strikes and international opprobrium? Just the existence of an elaborate nuclear program, held ready for weaponizing at any moment, was enough for a canny, hardnosed politician like Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to keep the world on tenterhooks, until he got what he wanted.
After ruling Iran with an iron fist since 1989, the supreme leader achieved his political and imperial objectives without expending a single kilo of Iran’s uranium stockpile.


The Carter intrigue for the Shah’s overthrow


Obama and Khamenei appear to have drawn guidance for their nuclear tactics from a landmark event in the history of US-Persian relations in the years 1977 to 1979, which led up to the Shah’s overthrow 35 years ago.
Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was toppled in 1979 by a Shiite revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini, after twelve years in power as emperor of Iran.
Two figures took a hidden hand in this event: The Democratic US President Jimmy Carter and his National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.
On January 1, 1979, Carter was the guest at a state dinner in his honor held by the Persian Shah at the Niavaran Palace in north Tehran. The President tried to cheer his host up after finding him moping over the rising tide of popular resistance against his rule, incited by Shiite clerics.
Carter raised his glass in a toast and complimented his host by saying: “Iran is an island of stability in the stormy waters of the Middle East.” He promised that the United States would not allow him to fall.
At the same time as he offered this pledge, Carter’s emissaries were with Ayatollah Khomeini at his place of exile in a village outside Paris discussing plans for his return home.
A month later, on Feb. 1, the Shah was overthrown and he and his family went into permanent exile. The ayatollah returned from exile and seized power in Tehran.


Obama-Khamenei use nuclear scare tactics to elevate Iran


The high-powered American pulling the strings behind the Iranian ruler’s overthrow was in fact Brzezinski. He had expounded a long-view doctrine which marked out a future Shiite Iranian democracy as the vehicle for carrying America to dominant influence in the Middle East (against its rival at the time, the Soviet Union).
Soon after the Shiite revolution, the most prestigious Western media ran articles strongly advocating close cooperation between Christendom and the rising Muslim power and hailing “The Marching Soldiers of Allah.”
When in 2009, thirty years later, Barack Obama entered the White House, Khamenei observed Brzezinski back at work, a grey eminence in his team of advisers, and still preaching the same doctrine for White House policies on the Middle East and Muslim world.
Another influential figure by Obama’s side was Brzezinksi’s close associate, Brent Scowcroft, National Security Adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush.
The US president and the Iranian ayatollah spent six years working on the process that led up to the historic détente between the United States and Iran and the eventual nuclear deal. It was structured to elevate the Shiite republic to hegemonic status in the Middle East and Muslim world.
Khamenei was to keep on pushing Iran’s nuclear program forward up to a dangerous edge. International alarm was to provide the impetus for Iran’s leap to the top spot as chief American strategic ally instead of Saudi Arabia and Israel.


Iran now taxed with shouldering the fight against ISIS


The nuclear scare tactic gave Obama the leverage for whipping together five fellow world powers to put the seal on Iran’s elevated international standing without dismantling its nuclear program.
Both leaders, the American and Iranian, grasp that, so long as their alliance endures, Iran will never have to build a nuclear weapon, but can stand immobile on the threshold while reaping the benefits of its restoration to the world community of nations. The US president may claim the deal as the centerpiece of his presidency. For the supreme leader, this too was the crowning achievement of his 26-year rule.
The “marching soldiers of Allah’ are now taxed by Obama and other world leaders with their next mission: to shoulder the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIS.
On his return from Moscow on Tuesday, July 14, from the signing celebration in Vienna, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented: “A broad front can now fight ISIS.”
The next day, Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, still high on the successful conclusion of the negotiating marathon, spoke about Iran and the P5+1 addressing “common challenges” including the ISIS threat in the region.
He said that “the joint fight against the ISIL terrorist group can be part of a possible broader cooperation, which may include fields of trade and finance between the two sides.” (US and Iran)
In fact, the Al Qods Brigades, Hizballah, and the pro-Iranian Iraq, Afghan and Pakistani militias are already fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria – not too successfully. They’ll have to do a lot better if they hope to turn the tide against the Sunni jihadis.
The comments heard from Lavrov and Zarif point to wider Iranian intervention in store. But whether Tehran can meet the US administration’s expectations to contain if not defeat ISIS remains to be seen.


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After the Nuclear Accord - II: US and Sunni Arabs
The Arab World Seen in Washington as Disintegrating in Bloody, Hopeless Wars

The first Middle East leader to comment on the newly-signed nuclear deal in Vienna on July 14 was one of the regional wars’ oldest survivors, Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who said it all in one sentence: “That’s the end of the Arab Ummah (nation).”
Many Arab leaders, including Saudi King Salman, see a straight light connecting the US-backed “Arab Spring” that swept the Arab world in 2011 and Iran’s rise to top Middle East power and Washington’s senior regional ally in 2015. The interim years saw the Arab world increasingly engulfed in bloody wars and sinking on the world stage.
Libya has fallen apart and is mired in domestic warfare, part tribal and part infighting between moderates and extremist militias, more of which join the Islamic State week by week.
Egypt, the most populous Sunni Arab nation with a population of 90 million, is plagued by accelerating aggression, waged by the Muslim Brotherhood opposition, on the one hand, and the Islamic State, on the other. This week, the leader of a Brotherhood clandestine cell called on the movement to join hands with ISIS to topple President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi and the military regime.


Running conflicts outnumber the Arab nations involved


Syria remains mired in endless civil warfare after more than four years, with the Assad regime having lost 30 percent of its territory to the Islamic State terrorists. Fighting alongside the Syria army is a multinational legion led by Iran and consisting of the Lebanese Hizballah and Shiite militias from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Lebanon is poised on a knife’s edge from the spillover of the Syrian war. The only efficiently functioning branch of government remaining in Beirut is the Lebanese army. Since 60 percent of its troops are Shiite and its commanders are Christian and Sunni, it is hard to say how long before the rot of discord sets in.
Jordan is ostensibly a stable enclave among Arab nations. But smoldering beneath the surface are domestic dissent and external menace. The Bedouin tribes’ traditional loyalty to the crown is being undermined and Iran, Syria, Hizballah and ISIS are each poised to move in on Amman.
Iraq is in a full-fledged war with the Islamic State, whose conquests have forced the country into breaking up into three entities between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.
Yemen is in the throes of a fierce civil war, in which Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Gulf Cooperation Council Emirates have intervened to combat the Iranian-backed insurgency. This battle is exploited by two Al Qaeda wings – AQAP (Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula) and ISIS - to seize large swathes of land.


Two pro-Tehran standouts: Oman and the UAE


Saudi Arabia is caught up in three wars - Yemen, Iraq and Syria - and also faces grave domestic challenges: one comes from the large Shiite minority populating the eastern oil regions, which Iran is inciting to greater hostility to the Saudi throne; and its own 16-19-year olds, nearly a third of whom are without jobs and have set up clandestine cells across the kingdom dedicated to toppling the House of Saud.
Two Gulf emirates, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, have lined up behind the nuclear deal with Iran. Oman has always maintained good relations with Iran and provided a bridge between Tehran and Washington - and Tehran and the rest of the GCC. When Hillary Clinton was still Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, Muscat became the first venue for back-door diplomacy between Washington and Tehran that culminated in the nuclear accord signed this month.
The UAE had a vested interest in the six powers and Iran concluding a deal: It is the ambition of Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to restore Dubai as the biggest free port in the Gulf and the main hub for Iran’s post-sanctions import and export trade.


Arab rulers need new regional structure to counteract their deep gloom


Some influential Arabs in the region’s capitals quietly concede that President Obama may have had a point when he turned his back on the strife-ridden Arab nations, whose wars get more ghastly as time goes by. From his standpoint, it made sense for the US to shun inter-Arab turmoil and seek out the only stable Muslim entity in the region.
These officials don’t reject US proposals to compensate the Arab nations for the deal with Iran by approving arms transactions to upgrade their military capabilties. But they point out that the disadvantages pertaining to such transactions appear to outweigh the benefits.
Most Arab armies are in no state to absorb top-scale American weaponry. By purchasing US arms, therefore, the emirates would be giving US arms industries a useful injection of funds, without benefiting their own armies.
In conclusion, it may be said that, overall, the key Sunni Arab rulers need to pull themselves out of their deep depression over the catastrophe which overtook them, and create a new Arab regional structure better suited to their new circumstances than the outdated, ponderous Arab League and more capable of looking ahead. Any such positive action might salvage something from the shock of their demotion in favor of Iran. It would also win respect in Washington.
But for now, Arab governments are still reeling from the blow Barack Obama landed on the region and in no condition for rational consideration of their next steps.


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After the Nuclear Accord - III: US and Israel
Netanyahu Hopes Congress Blocks Obama’s Nuclear Deal, While Striving for a Unity Government

Some Israelis in high positions would be grateful if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would give up his highly-publicized broadsides day and night against President Barack Obama over the nuclear deal concluded with Iran Tuesday, July 14.
For one thing, top officials could get some sleep from the prime minister’s incessant phone calls, in which he asks if they had seen one “scandalous” clause or another in the nuclear document.
And the officials responsible for maintaining solid strategic and military ties with their US counterparts in Washington think it’s time to moderate the tenor of the dispute and get down to rationally charting a new strategy in keeping with the consequences of the Iranian nuclear deal.
But DEBKA Weekly’s Washington and Jerusalem sources see no sign of Netanyahu moderating the fury of his rhetoric, for the simple reason that he still believes that, by fighting hard, he can win over the 13 Democratic senators needed to join the Republicans for a majority to overturn the presidential veto of a negative vote on the accord.
The prime minister is certain he has won eleven senators over. He is still working on the last two for when the deal comes up for review in 60 days.
This tactic naturally irks the US President. But Netanyahu is consumed with fury ever since, in the final month of the negotiating marathon in Vienna, the administration locked Israel out of information and updates on progress – even though he got hold of the information from private and intelligence sources.


Netanyahu offers opposition major perks for unity government


But in between TV interviews knocking the deal, the prime minister has set in motion three steps to soften its impact on the Israeli public and redirect Israel’s regional and military thinking - and that of the most affected Arab nations, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan - into forward-focused channels:
1. He is in intensive talks for setting up an emergency unity government with the opposition Labor Party.
Our Jerusalem sources report that Netanyahu is offering opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog, in their private conversations, what amounts to the sun and the moon for coming aboard.
He is ready to disband his coalition government and give the Labor Party (excluding the Zionist Camp in which Tzipi Livni partners Herzog) the choice of top portfolios, such as foreign affairs, finance, internal security, justice and communications.
Herzog would be foreign minister and acting prime minister.


Using the nuclear deal crisis to build a new cabinet


Netanyahu confided to him that, to free up the best posts, he would not be averse to losing Habayit Hayehudi and its leader, Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, or Kulanu and its leader, Moshe Kahlon, for whom Netanyahu thinks the shoes of finance minister are anyway much too big.
Neither would the prime minister mind adding the Palestinian issue to new government guidelines.
He offered to overhaul his Likud party to bring it closer to the center and suggested that Herzog reciprocate by moving his party back from the left.
If this plan works out, the Israeli voter may be presented with a new centrist party in the next general election in 2019 (if the government survives full term).
Our sources report that Herzog hasn’t turned the prime minister’s proposition down and they are still talking.


Defense and military arms stand ready for US U-turn on Assad


2. Netanyahu has put the defense minister and the Israel Defense Forces High Command on notice to prepare for an Obama administration turnaround on Iran’s allies, Syria’s Bashar Assad and Hizballah, in the wake of revamped US relations with Tehran.
This could come about as a decision by Washington in favor of keeping the Assad regime in power and turning away from the Syrian rebel movement. The prime minister would not be surprised if the Obama administration took this step with a view to consolidating the Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah lineup and its military assets as the mainstay of the international struggle against the Islamic State.
A grouping of this nature, Netanyahu believes, would pursue the war according to US guidelines all the way up to the Islamic State’s defeat. The danger of pushing the jihadis out of their positions in Syria and Iraq is that they may end up on the borders of Israel and Jordan – and beyond. For this. he wants to be ready.
3. As for Israel’s regional policy in the aftermath of the US détente with Iran, the prime minister plans to work hard to deepen his coordination with Saudi King Salman, Jordan’s Abdullah and Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi. They have plenty of common ground to build on, but for a major drawback: the Israeli prime minister finds the three Arab rulers extremely reluctant to go head to head with the US president.


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Britain and ISIS
Cameron Goes to War with Empty Hands and Terror Infrastructure to His Rear

One of the big snags in British premier David Cameron’s new plans for British air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria, as well as Iraq, is their snail-like tempo against a fast-moving enemy. This week, when Cameron advocated more spending on defense, focusing on “more spy planes, drones, Special Forces,” and Tornados, he said he would ask parliament to reverse the decision it reached in August 2013 to exclude “strikes against the Syrian President Bashar Assad.”
But UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said the Government has “made it clear it is a decision for the new parliament to take. We are not planning an early vote on it,” he said.
The debate and a new vote on the Syrian extension will therefore be put off for parliament’s autumn session. Cameron’s plan will not start taking off before the winter of 2015-2016. But then, the region’s harsh weather conditions will keep British bombers grounded for days on end. Therefore, no effective British bombing campaign over Syria may get underway before the spring of 2016.
Even then, it won’t be able to snap into action because of the four insuperable constraints outlined here by DEBKA Weekly’s military and intelligence experts:


Outdated planes, unready Special Forces


1. The British army doesn’t have drones comparable to the American Predator or Israel’s Hermes 3 and Hermes 4 that are capable of shooting missiles with damaging effect on targets.
2. They also lack the right military and intelligence infrastructure for operating the drones on combat missions.
3. The Royal Air Force’s Tornado warplanes are outdated. The Eurofighter’s Typhoon multi-role aircraft, which went into RAF service in 2003, is not new either. The Eurofighter’s stealthy cruise missile will not be fully operational on the Typhoons before mid-2016 at the earliest.
4. The Special Air Service (SAS) commando force is not only a small outfit, but it is scattered across a wide area from Afghanistan to the Middle East. To be effective, it needs substantial infrastructure investment in training, intelligence, means of deployment/insertion/extraction, command and control and support logistics.
Even the much larger US elite SEALs, Delta and Rangers units are rarely directly deployed in action against ISIS in Iraq or Syria, except for tightly focused operations.
The only country deploying more substantial Special Forces in Syria is Jordan - and on a far smaller scale, Israel.


Five years of budget cuts cut military units by 30 percent


These shortcomings are the fruit of nearly five years of budget cutbacks in an effort to solve Britain’s pressing economic problems. The previous Cameron government slashed defense spending by 10 billion euros (roughly $15 billion) and cut manpower strength to the bone by 30 percent in all military units.
Cameron is now determined to haul the wheel back under the shocking impact of the June 26 ISIS attack on a Tunisian beach, which left 38 British and other holidaymakers dead. The massacre was obviously timed for the 10th anniversary of the 2005 London Transport terrorist attack, which killed 52 people and injured 700, and was a flagrant act of war against the UK.
On his orders, the government has committed an extra £1 billion a year for the Ministry of Defense to spend by 2020, with a further £1.5billion split between the armed forces and intelligence agencies.
“As Prime Minister, I will always put the national security of our country first,” he said. “That’s why it is right that we spend 2 percent of our GDP on defense because this investment helps to keep us safe.”
He went on to say: “I have tasked the Defense and Security Chiefs to look specifically at how we do more to counter the threat posed by ISIL (aka ISIS) and Islamist extremism.”
While the added outlay will no doubt eventually beef up the manpower strength and capabilities of the British armed forces, homegrown Islamic extremism is being belatedly recognized as the number one threat to Britain’s security, after successive British governments chose to sweep it under the rug.


Islamic terror – overseas not within


According to DEBKA Weekly’s analysts, the UK is paying in full for its 55-year old policy of welcoming large Muslim communities from the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent to its shores. Anglo-Muslims today number 4.5 million and make up 5 percent of the population of the United Kingdom.
The pursuit of this policy in the sixties had complicated motives. The less obvious one was to gain UK intelligence access to the relocated communities as a strategic asset for preserving British economic and other interests in the source countries, after those countries were decolonized.
London also hoped to show Washington and US intelligence services that Britain alone had the ability to house and control a large Muslim community. This was intended to raise the UK’s value as a NATO ally and enhance its “special relationship” with the United States.
Because of those considerations, British security services neglected to take into account the potential domestic hazards of transplanting large Muslim groups and embedding them into the fabric of life in Britain. They counted on the multicultural creed to maintain social equilibrium. British security authorities were therefore slow to pick up on the first symptoms of dissident violence, certain that Islamic terror was an external threat – not one that lurked within.


A Muslim cabinet minister: British Muslims refuse to condemn terror


This perception still persists, as was apparent in the British prime minister’s military approach to the war on terror – i.e., ISIL and “Islamist extremism.”
He seemed not have heard the blunt warning coming from his own Business Secretary Sajid Javid, the only Muslim cabinet minister, who said on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show Sunday, July 12: “British Muslims who refuse to condemn extremist attacks like the one in Tunisia, are ‘taking children to the door’ of the terrorists.
He warned that there are Imams in UK mosques who refuse to condemn terrorist atrocities.
“I do think there are too many people – let’s call them non-violent extremists – who feed this ideology. They may not agree with terrorism… but they might agree with the narrative.”
Even while her cabinet colleague called a spade a spade, Home Secretary Theresa May Tuesday, July 14, eschewed the term “terrorism” in a program she launched against what she called the "hatred, bigotry and ignorance" of extremists, who seek to undermine the values of democracy, equality and free speech.
She spoke of a “counter-extremism” policy against radical preachers, to make membership or fundraising for a group that “spreads or promotes hatred” a criminal offence, punishable by a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.


Islamist terrorism – never in he UK, only overseas


In other words, “Islamist terrorism” is only committed overseas; on home ground it is called “hatred” and treated as a crime like any other. Semantics are hobbling the recognition of and struggle against homegrown terror, which an enlarged budget will not curb. In the end, when British bombers start attacking ISIS targets in Syria, the Islamists will hit back with terror attack in UK cities, using British Muslims converted to the jihadist cause. Treating them as criminals rather than terrorists will not stop the two halves of the problem coming together with a huge bang under the same unmentionable label of “Islamist terrorism.”


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Jordan: Tehran’s Next Victim
Troops Heavily Reinforced on Jordan’s Borders against Iranian-Hizballah Menace

Iran seemed to be fully preoccupied with bringing an advantageous nuclear accord with six world powers to a successful conclusion on July 14. That was in Vienna. But back in the Middle East, the Islamic Republic of Iran was in full pursuit of its next venture, a plot to destabilize the Sunni Arab Kingdom of Jordan.
King Abdullah II was alarmed enough this week to order his entire ground and armored corps – three expanded divisions of 45,000 men – to leave their barracks and deploy along the full length of the kingdom’s borders with Iraq in the east, and Syria in the north. He placed the Royal Jordanian Air Force on a high state of readiness.
This was the most extensive border deployment the Hashemite Kingdom had ever staged: Nearly half of its 100,000-strong armed forces were sent to seal the kingdom against infiltration from the Iraqi province of Anbar and from southern Syria - up to the intersection of the Jordanian-Syrian-Israeli borders.
Five brigades were left behind – two to defend Amman, the capital; three to keep the lid on rising unrest in the south, spurred by popular enlistment to the Islamic State. A small number of units were sent to the southern border with Israel to contain smuggling.


Four foes on the kingdom’s borders


The Hashemite Kingdom finds itself beset by four implacable foes poised ready to pounce: Iran, the Islamic State, Syria and Hizballah. Some form of ad hoc collaboration among them is not ruled out.
The intelligence heads-up of the trouble building up against the throne was confirmed in the last week of June, when Jordanian security services caught a would-be bomber belonging to the elite Al Qods Brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. He was captured in northern Jordan with 45 km of explosives for use in terrorist attacks in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The suspect, who held dual Iraqi-Norwegian citizenship, was smuggled into the kingdom from Syria.
A Jordanian security source told the local Al Rai newspaper that, had the plot not been thwarted, it would have unleashed the most deadly terrorist attack Jordan had seen in 10 years, to judge from the quantity and quality of explosives the bomber was carrying.
The king was so furious about the release of this top-secret incident that he shut the newspaper down for several days as punishment for damaging national security.
Then, on July 12, a Jordanian newspaper man called Jihad al-Muheisen was arrested at Jordan’s international airport over “security concerns” on his return from Beirut
Al Muheisen, who was an adviser of the leftist Minister of Political Development Khaled Kalaleda, announced on his Facebook page that he had converted to Shiism. He also said he intended to establish a “resistance pocket” in southern Jordan and let loose a fierce diatribe against the regime in Amman.


Jordanian journalists subverted by Iran, Hizballah


Additional Jordanian suspects, recently detained, admitted under questioning to contacts with Iran’s Lebanese surrogate, Hizballah. This group was organizing visits to Beirut by likely “Jordanian activists” and also sending some on trips to Tehran.
Jordanian intelligence agencies are anxiously watching the intensive campaign conducted by Iran, Syria and Hizballah to reach the shapers of public opinion in the Kingdom and persuade them to work against mounting Saudi influence in Amman. All three view the Saudi-Jordanian master plan for stretching Jordan’s borders into Iraq and Syria as a threat not only to ISIS but to their own interests.
(See DEBKA Weekly 668 of June 26: The Greater Sunni Kingdom of Jordan: Kings Salman & Abdullah plan to redraw the Mid East Map to Contain and Shrink ISIS).
Tehran also has a reckoning with Jordan over its joint plans with Turkey to establish security zones in southern and northern Syria.
Iran, Syria and Hizballah are getting at journalists in particular in order to plant subversive material for publication and harness them for inciting popular dissidence against the crown. The journalist Al-Muheisen was arrested at Amman airport after he had led a “pro-Iranian popular gathering” before his trip to Beirut.


Menace and intimidation to hold Abdullah in check


On June 6, Hizballah pressed its mouthpiece, Al-Akhbar, into service for an op-ed piece by Nahed Hetr which advised the Jordanian King on the direction he should take and hinted at punishment for failing to toe the right line.
The article accused the Jordanian palace of an intrigue for invading Syria. The king was accused of failing to exercise the necessary restraints to nip this intrigue in the bud. He preferred to wait, said the writer, until Washington and Riyadh “pulled their heads out of the sand” and effected “a 180-degrees turn” in favor of supporting Bashar Assad.
The journalist recalled that Bashar’s father, President Hafez Assad, had maintained good relations with Amman, which Abdullah’s father, King Hussein, “had the wisdom” to reciprocate. The current rulers do not entertain the same “feelings of responsibility,” the A-Akhbar writer regretfully concluded.
Abdullah and his intelligence advisers read into the Al Akhbar article a flat threat to the kingdom, and a go signal to the Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah forces in southern Syria and the pro-Iranian militias operating in Anbar. Their orders were to go into action against Jordan to preempt the royal army’s invasion of southern Syria and western Iraq.
Amman responded with a massive troop build-up on Jordanian borders to thwart a potential incursion. Jordan is also bracing for mayhem to be set loose by Tehran by means of subversion and incitement, terrorism and any other machinations for destabilizing the throne.


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HOT POINTS
A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending July 16, 2015

US sends mobile sensors, electronic fences to block further ISIS Mid East expansion


10 July.
American experts are overseeing a lightning operation for providing Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel with either mobile sensor towers or electronic fences in a desperate bid to seal their borders off against the fast-moving ISIS. Its reign of terror is spreading out from Iraq and Syria and creeping into southern Jordan, the Israeli Negev and Egyptian Sinai, then on to Libya and over to Tunisia and Algeria, covering a distance of 4,000 km.


July 11, 2015 Briefs

  • ISIS claims Italian consulate bombing in Cairo
    "Islamic State soldiers were able to detonate a parked car bomb carrying 450 kg of explosive material against the Italian consulate in central Cairo," ISIS reported Saturday. "We recommend that Muslims stay clear of these security dens because they are legitimate targets for the mujahideen's strikes." The huge explosion killed one person and injured four, causing heavy damage to the consulate building and shaking the street.
  • Lebanese army: Israeli drone crashes in sea off Tripoli
    The Lebanese army said in a statement Saturday that a surveillance plane “belonging to the Israeli enemy” went down that morning into the sea off the northern town of Tripoli, in the second such incident in three weeks. The spokesman did not elaborate and there was no comment from Israel. .


July 12, 2015 Briefs

  • NYT: Hotel venue of Iranian nuclear talks hosted Hitler in 1938
    The Imperial Hotel of Vienna, the venue of the current nuclear negotiations between the six world powers and Iran, hosted Adolf Hitler in 1938, after the Nazi annexation of Austria.
  • N. Israel siren incorrectly dismissed as “technical glitch”
    The alert sirens heard in more than one area of northern Israel Sunday were dismissed by the army spokesman as a ”false alarm” that was caused by a technical malfunction of the siren system. debkafile: This depiction is inaccurate. Sirens going off in two separate adjoining geographical areas can’t be caused by a technical malfunction or be dismissed as a false alarm. They were either triggered by some projectile coming in from Syria or Lebanon – or, as in this case, by a flying object during a large-scale IDF war game.


July 13, 2015 Briefs

  • Netanyahu: More than ever committed to stop a nuclear-armed Iran
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told his parliamentary faction Monday that he had never promised to prevent a nuclear deal with Iran, only Iran’s attainment of a nuclear weapon. That commitment is stronger than ever, he said. The prime minister was responding to opposition spokesmen who accused him of a failed campaign to prevent the “bad deal.” Were it not for that campaign, he said - especially on tough sanctions - the deal would have been a lot worse.
  • Sanctions against Iran start unraveling
    Iran’s Day Bank has been re-admitted to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), Brussels announced. Discontinuing the access of Iran’s 30 banks to SWIFT in 2012 was one of the harshest sanctions imposed on the Iranian economy. Access was restored even before the nuclear deal was finalized in Vienna.
  • Iraqi troops, Shiite militias launch operation to recapture Anbar
    The Iraqi military command announced Monday operations launched to recapture the country’s largest province of Anbar from Islamic State ISIS control, nearly two months after its capital Ramadi fell to the Islamists. The force, composed of the Shiite Hashid Shaabi militia, Iraqi special forces, police and local Sunni Muslim tribal fighters. debkafile: None of the past offensives against ISIS announced by the Iraqi high command has ever reached a resolution.


Hillary Clinton is the X-factor for the Iranian nuclear deal’s congressional survival. Israel girds up for next Washington battle


13 July.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu played back President Bill Clinton’s words upon signing the nuclear deal with North Korea 21 years ago: "North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program,” Clinton announced then. “The entire world will be safer as we slow the spread of nuclear weapons.” This clip was intended to highlight the leverage held by his wife, Hillary Clinton, as the key to determining whether the deal goes through the US Congress.
Iran, for its part, has drafted legislation empowering the Majlis to annul the deal if US compliance is deemed unsatisfactory.


July 14, 2015 Briefs

  • Rocket alerts in Israeli districts around Gaza
    Red rocket alerts were sounded Tuesday night at all the Israeli locations abutting on the Gaza Strip. No details available yet.
  • Obama calls Netanyahu, King Salman to explain deal
    US President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi King Salman and European allies to explain the Iran nuclear accord, the White House announced Tuesday. Netanyahu and the King Salman are the leading opponents of any deal with Iran.
  • Netanyahu: Iran gained a short path to nuclear weapons
    In his first comment on the comprehensive nuclear deal concluded Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called it “a bad mistake of historic proportions.” Iran has gained a “short path to nuclear weapons,” many former restrictions have been eased, and Tehran has won a “jackpot of hundreds of millions of dollars” while allowed to pursue aggression and terror in the world. Netanyahu said. Iran’s support for terrorism will increase, along with its threat to destroy Israel.
  • Obama hails deal “as averting a ME nuclear race”
    In a statement from the White House on the new nuclear deal with Iran, President Barack Obama said that it had stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. debkafile: The region is already well into a nuclear race as a result of Obama’s lax policy towards Iran. Flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, Obama listed the deal’s most important achievements: Without it, he said, Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile was sufficient to build 8-10 nuclear bombs. Under the deal, Tehran has agreed to give up 98 percent of this stockpile.


July 15, 2015 Briefs

  • Saudi-backed Yemen forces recapture Aden port in surprise attack
    Yemeni forces recaptured Aden's international airport and some city districts from Houthi militia fighters on Tuesday, in a sudden advance after months of stalemate, the exiled government said. Houthi-run Maseera television reported that the rebels had chosen to quit the city after "cleansing it of al Qaeda and Islamic State" in an apparent admission of the militia's retreat.
  • Iran, world powers can now fight ISIS together – Zarif
    Following the conclusion of a nuclear accord between the six powers and Iran Tuesday, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Zavad Zarif said that Iran and the P5+1 can now fight ISIS together. That joint plan could lead to a broader cooperation which may include the fields of trade and finance he said. Tuesday night, there were street celebrations in Tehran on the conclusion of the accord in Vienna.
  • An international ring of Arab-Israeli hackers uncovered
    The Israeli police’s cyber department has uncovered an international ring of Israeli Arab hackers operating in eighteen countries, where arrests have been made.The American FBI was part of the investigation. The Rishon Letzion court Wednesday issued arrest warrants and gag orders on the suspects’ identities. Two are brothers in their twenties who lived in Holon. They are charged with acquiring assets by criminal means, blocking computer operations and deleting incriminating data. A third suspect from Umm al-Fahm is accused of obtaining funds by fraudulent means and passing them to terrorist groups to fund their operations.
  • French foreign minister to go to Tehran for trade talks
    Less than 24 hours after a nuclear accord was announced between six world powers and Iran, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Wednesday accepted an invitation to visit Iran. He denied that the historic nuclear deal was struck with an eye to business opportunities opening up with Iran.
  • Palestinians apprehended for murder of Israeli hiker Danny Ganon
    In a joint operation, the IDF Duvdevan unit, the Binyamin Brigade and police caught up with the suspected murderers of Danny Ganon, who was killed and a second Israeli seriously wounded on June 19 while hiking near the Dolev junction on the West Bank. Captured with the suspect, Mahmoud Abu Shahin, 30, from Kalandia, north of Jerusalem, were four Palestinians from Ramallah, who confessed to complicity in the crime. All five have spent years in Israeli jails for terrorist attacks and were found in possession of firearms and surveillance instruments. They also admitted to carrying out additional attacks.


Nuclear deal pushes Israel aside in Washington, raises Iran to leading US partner and ally


15 July.
The Netanyahu government like Saudi Arabia and Egypt can only beat their heads futilely against the iron wall Barack Obama built for Iran with the nuclear accord the six powers signed in Vienna Tuesday, July 14. Israel has the most to lose. It has been downgraded from its favored status in Washington and replaced by Iran. By his big geopolitical step, the US President has shifted the ground in the region, not only dumping Israel but the Arab world as a whole and, incidentally, the Palestinians as well.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu bitterly accused the “leading international powers of gambling our collective future on a deal with the foremost sponsor of international terrorism” – roundly condemning all six world powers who signed the nuclear deal with Iran in Vienna Tuesday, July 14.


July 16, 2015 Briefs

  • ISIS missile torches and sink an Egyptian naval ship off Rafah
    In a grave development in Egypt’s fight against terror in Sinai, ISIS missiles Thursday sank an Egyptian Navy cruise and transport vessel off the Sinai shore of Rafah after setting in on fire. The vessel, able to carry 70 men and crew as well as freight, was used to transport police officers, soldiers and military supplies to the Egyptian forces fighting terrorists in northern Sinai. debkafile: The fact that Egypt was moving in men and supplies by sea attests to the extensive ISIS control of northern Sinai and its highways. The Egyptian army denied casualties, but witnesses saw a big explosion and no survivors in the water.
  • Two Palestinians detained for murdering elderly Israeli farmer
    Two Palestinians who beat the farmer David Bar-Capra (70) to death outside his home in Moshav Pedaya last month were apprehended in a joint police-Shin Bet operation. This was disclosed Thursday. The suspects are Palestinian cousins, Majd Ali Aatzi and Alaa Harbi Aatzi aged 21 from Beit Laqiya. Both have a long record as terrorists. They entered Israel illegally from the West Bank and worked for the late Bar-Capra.
  • UK Foreign Secretary travels to Israel, prepares to reopen Tehran embassy
    Before heading for Tel Aviv, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond announced that he UK embassy, closed in 2011 after being ransacked by a Tehran mob, would reopen by the end of the year. He reproved Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his angry comments on the deal, accusing Israel of not wanting any deal with Iran but rather a permanent state of stand-off.
  • Rocket from Gaza explodes south of Ashkelon
    Another rocket exploded Wednesday night on open ground south of the Israeli town of Ashkelon. No casualties or damage are reported. Israel reacted with an air strike against two Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.


Iran keeps dark loss of top general in Syria. Syrian Army starts closing in on ISIS-held Palmyra


16 July.
Abdel Karim Rubash, Deputy Commander of the elite Al Qods Brigades, was the third Iranian general killed in Syria this year and the most senior to die on the Syrian battlefield in four years. His death, kept dark by Tehran, Damascus and Hizballah, is disclosed here by debkafile. Gen. Rubash initiated Hizballah’s introduction to the Syrian war effort. He also organized the Iranian arms convoys to Hizballah via Damascus, some of which Israel bombed from the air. When he died, a combined Syrian-Shiite militia force he had set up had begun advancing on ISIS-held Palmyra.


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