April 16, 2010 Briefs
• Hizballah and Lebanese army gunmen dressed as civilians throw rocks at Israeli soldiers and try to break through border fence Friday. Israel troops ordered not to respond. UN peacekeepers broke up rampage at Mt. Dov after several hours.
• Clinton again lays on Israel onus for peacemaking, praises Palestinian leader Abbas. Netanyahu must do more to prove his sincerity, she said.
• Congressman Eric Cantor: Obama admin is manufacturing fights with Israel to ingratiate itself with Arab world. By confusing firefighter with arsonist, we dilute US moral standing.
• Pro-boycott of Israel advocates dominate Ireland's trade unions conference in Dublin.
• Seven contractors believed British killed by huge suicide bomb in Kandahar early Friday. Car was driven into foreigners' compound in Afghan city marked for next NATO offensive.
Ahmadinejad: Iran is Obama's only way to stay in power
16 April: With typical provocative arrogance, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad revealed he had told the US president in a letter that Barack Obama's power and success depends on Iran and "he should start cooperating with us in practice."
debkafile reveals that the Obama administration is already engaged in behind-the-scenes cooperation with Tehran in arrangements that have begun to acknowledge Iran's regional supremacy – at Israel's expense.
Israeli leaders have failed so far to initiate assertive steps to counter-balance this unspoken process.
Ahmadinejad is clearly encouraged by the anti-Israeli rhetoric he hears from President Obama.
US-Iranian cooperation is already well in progress in Beirut, where Tehran's surrogate, Hizballah, has been co-opted to government and parliament; and in Baghdad, where Iyad Allawi, whose Al Iraqiya part won the general elections, was left no choice but to travel to Tehran to obtain Iran's blessing for his government coalition.
April 17, 2010 Briefs
• Twin explosions kill 41 people at Internally Displaced Persons camp in Kohat, NW Pakistan Saturday. More than a dozen of 64 injured in critical condition from attacks during food distribution.
• Khamenei brands US as world's "only atomic criminal", demands America's suspension from the IAEA.
April 18, 2010 Briefs
• A one-minute siren at 8 p.m. Sunday night will usher in Israel's annual Memorial Day for 22,682 men and women who died in the service of the state or as victims of terror. It opens with the traditional state memorial gathering at Western Wall, Jerusalem. In the outgoing year, 111 Israeli soldiers and security personnel died in the line of duty.
• Independence Day celebrations begin Monday night.
• The West Bank is sealed for those events.
• The Israeli population increased in the outgoing year to 7,575,000, of whom 75.5% are Jews, 20.5% Arabs. The number of births was 159,000.
• Ahmadinejad: Iran is too powerful for any one to dare attack it. He addressed annual military parade showcasing Ghadr, Sajjil and Shahab-3 missiles.
Gates: US has no policy for stalling Iran's nuclear drive
18 April: The New York Times Sunday, April 18, reveals a secret memo from US Defense Security Robert Gates determining that the White House has no effective policy for dealing with Iran's steady progress towards nuclear capability. This confirms what debkafile has been saying for more than a year, while also exposing the hollowness of the assurances of Israeli leaders, current and past, that it was safe to line up behind US strategy for preventing Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.
Syria transforms Hizballah into a regular army
18 April: debkafile's military sources disclose a master-plan charted in Tehran and Damascus for transforming the 25,000-strong Hizballah terrorist militia into an organized, mobile army with a whole range of sophisticated missiles and other weapons. The new Hizballah is being trained to carry out such offensive operations as capturing parts of Israel's Galilee and equipped with the hardware already for knocking out warplanes, warships and armored strength. But their main mission will be to defend the Syrian capital, Damascus, the next time a war erupts on Israel's borders.
The Jordanian king Abdullah linked his forecast of a summer war to the lack of progress in Israel-Palestinian talks because he preferred not to mention his aggressive Arab neighbor to the north. In fact, a Middle East war this summer depends on two actions unrelated to the Palestinian issue: a decision by the US and/or Israel to strike Iran's nuclear facilities together or separately, and a decision in Tehran to unleash its allies against Israel – spearheaded by Hizballah – to preempt such an attack.
Two more Obama U-turns affecting Israel's security
19 April: President Barack Obama has given up on tough UN Security Council sanctions on Iran over its nuclear drive, and gone back on the longstanding American commitment assuring Israel of recognized and defensible borders in any future accommodation with its Arab neighbors.
In congratulating Israel on its 62nd Day of Independence, US Secretary of state Hillary Clinton mentions "recognized borders" while omitting the traditional qualifier "defensible."
This key omission led to another worrying question about Israel's future borders: By whom must they be recognized in the view of the Obama administration?
The view William Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, offered the House foreign affairs committee last week was that a UN resolution would clear the way for the European Union and other countries to "amplify the impact" of whatever sanctions are agreed on. Burns avoided mentioning the Security Council and indicated that the administration had little hope of any effective action on Iran by the world body.
April 20, 2010 Briefs
• Israel mortar fire drives away from Gaza border fence three Palestinian gunmen armed with explosives opposite Kissufim.
• In Independence Day message, Obama says Israel remains "our important partner and key strategic ally in the Middle East".
• US hands Syrian diplomat sharp protest over ongoing Syrian arms smuggling to Hizballah.
• Sen. Joe Lieberman subpoenas administration on Fort Hood massacre records. He will take the White House to court over administration's refusal to release documents on case against Maj. Nidal Hassan, a Muslim of Jordanian-Palestinian descent.
• Several F-16 NATO warplanes report flying through ash cloud left glass-like deposits in their engines.
US Air Force to launch mystery unmanned spacecraft
20 April: Blastoff of the unmanned X-37B space plane from Kennedy Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Space Center was delayed until Thursday, April 22, to allow Discovery to return to earth at the nearby Kennedy Space Center. With many of its features kept secret, the US Air Force project has sparked speculation that the little Orbital Test Vehicle is the space version of the US Predator drone and its launch the onset of the "weaponization" of space.
The 4.9-ton spacecraft – which has a wingspan of 4.27 meters and is 8.84 meters long – will be testing the long-duration ability of reusable space vehicles to stay in space for up to 270 days at an altitude of 200-800 km from earth before making an automatic landing at the Vandenberg Air force Base in California.
April 21, 2010 Briefs
• US would regard Syrian transfer of Scud missiles to Hizballah very seriously. High official Jeffrey Feltman warned that if true, US would review full range of tools to make Damascus reverse incendiary course.
US gives up military action against Iran
21 April: US deputy defense secretary Michele Flournoy said Wednesday, April 21: "The US has ruled out a military strike against Iran's nuclear program any time soon." A few hours later, the Pentagon spokesman denied that a military strike against Iran was off the table, indicating confusion and heated debate at the top of the Obama administration on its Iran policy.
Addressing a news conference in Singapore, Flournoy said clearly: "Military force is an option of last resort, it's off the table in the near term" and the US is hoping that "negotiations and United Nations sanctions will prevent the Middle East nation from developing nuclear weapons."
debkafile's military sources report that her statement contradicts every public assertion by president Barack Obama, defense secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the joint Chiefs of staff Adm. Mike Mullen, all of whom have insisted that all options are on the table if Iran fails to curb its current nuclear activities.
This reversal amounts to a beckoning finger at America's open door for Iran to return to the negotiating table.
Fourney's statement that the United States is counting on UN sanctions to deter Iran likewise plays into Tehran's hands, because it removes the second bludgeon hanging over Iran's heads, that of US penalties outside the world body. This wholesale US retreat on Iran leaves Israel as the only country still holding to a military option for putting the brakes on Iran's progress toward a nuclear bomb.
April 22, 2010 Briefs
• A new US Defense Department report says Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. It also sponsors violent groups in several parts of the world. No estimate when Iran could produce a nuke, but DDI officials said it could be soon. But Iran is unlikely to attack the US directly because its current regime might fall.
• Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline damaged by bomb south of Mosul, disrupting one-quarter of Iraq's crude exports.
• Obama aide Dan Shapiro in Jerusalem to discuss with PM Netanyahu agreed approach for restarting talks with the Palestinians. Netanyahu stands by refusal to suspend construction in Eastern Jerusalem, other issues open for discussion.
• Iran's Revolutionary Guards began large-scale three-day military drill in the Straits of Hormuz Thursday.
• The 16th century Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem's Old City is reopened after a two-month renovation and cleaning project. The most popular of the ancient gateways, its restoration was part of a $4 m project to clean up and repair all 4 kilometers of the Old City's Ottoman walls.
Iran's radar-evading, unmanned speedboat debuts in Hormuz exercise
22 April: Thursday, April 22, the first day of their large-scale military exercise in the Straits of Hormuz, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards put their new radar-evading, unmanned Ya Mahdi speedboat through its paces.
Operated by remote control, this vessel is claimed by Iran to be able to track warships and drive 7-meter holes in their hulls with its missiles. Tehran reports that the speedboat is being mass produced.
Thousands of ground, air an naval troops are taking part in the three-day Iranian exercise for "securing" the narrow waterway through which some 40 percent of the world's oil supplies flow.
Our military sources report that Ya Mahdi's design copies the Bladerunner 51 sporting speedboat, which was built for a racing champion who broke world records for speed. In January 2009, Iran managed to beat sanctions and get hold of the original vessel for the Revolutionary Guards.