A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending April 23, 2009

Obama's charm offensive for radical rulers abandons Israel to Iranian threat


18 April: Even if Israel accepted a two-nation solution to its conflict with the Palestinians and removed every last settlement, Barack Obama would not be diverted from his global courtship of radical rulers led by Iran's Ahmadinejad and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. Washington will seek to make Israel follow its lead in accepting a nuclear-armed Iran and firmly oppose a military strike.

The name and policies of the occupant of the prime minister's office in Jerusalem do not matter – any more than Tehran's determination to complete its nuclear weapons program in defiance of the world, or even its first A-bomb test in a year or two, for which intelligence sources report Tehran is already getting set.

Obama's Washington believes America can live with a nuclear-armed Iran.

But Israel cannot, and may have no option but to part ways with the Obama administration on this point. As a nuclear power, Iran will be able to bend Jerusalem to the will of its enemies, make it unconditionally give Syria the Golan plus extra pieces of territory, tamely accept a Hamas-dominated Palestinian West Bank louring over its heartland and let the Lebanese Hizballah terrorize Galilee in the north at will. All three would make hay under Iran's nuclear shield, while Tehran lords it over the region in the role of regional power conferred by Obama's grace and favor.

In no time, Israel would be stripped of most of its defenses.


US-Iranian reporter victim of Iranian extremists' bid to block talks with US


19 April: In the course of opening up US relations with Iran, the Obama administration was confronted April 18 with an unforeseen obstacle: A Tehran court convicted the US-born American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi of spying for the US and sentenced the 31-year old to eight years in jail. Her attorney was barred from attending the one-day trial behind closed doors.

debkafile's Iranian sources explain the timing of the Saberi case as an attempt by wildly anti-US elements inside Tehran's power structure, possibly in the Revolutionary Guards Corps and clergy, to choke off an Iranian-US rapprochement. Already, some political circles in Washington are up in arms over the heavy sentence, embarrassing the White House at the very moment it is extending a hand to Iran, reported to entail acceptance of its nuclear program.

This policy has encountered little open criticism at home till now.


Twenty-three diplomats storm out of UN Racism conference as Ahmadinejad condemns Israel as “racist”


20 April: Protesters constantly disrupted the speech as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad condemned Israel for “racism” at the Anti-Racism conference which opened in Geneva Monday, April 20.

Some were bundled out. He went on to denounce the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan as an arrogant drive to “expand its sphere of influence.”


April 20 Briefs


·        Israel marks annual Holocaust Remembrance and Heroism Day

·        Events dedicated to one-and a-half million children who died at Nazi hands

·        Netanyahu vows Holocaust deniers will never be allowed to carry out another holocaust against the people of Israel

·        Israel recalls ambassador from Bern for consultations after Swiss president meets Ahmadinejad in Geneva

·        Excavation to begin at Jamlitz on Berlin's outskirts for remains of 753 Jewish inmates of Lieberose subsidiary camp shot by Nazis in 1945

·        This would be largest Jewish mass grave outside main concentration camps

·        President Peres: The Nazis were defeated, anti-Semitism lives and breathes

·        New Holocaust museum inaugurated in Chicago


India puts an Israeli all-weather spy satellite in orbit Monday


20 April: debkafile's military sources report India rushed through its order for the Israeli Aerospace Industries all-weather, 24-hour surveillance TecSAR after 10 gunmen murdered 165 people in Mumbai last November, including five Israelis.

The Israeli satellite is considered one of the most advanced in the market, capable of seeing through clouds and carrying out day-and-night all-weather imaging. It is the first time an acquisition of this nature has gone through within five months of ordering.

The ten gunmen, members of Lashkar-e-Taibe, an operational branch of al Qaeda, landed in Mumbai from the Pakistani port of Karachi after seizing an Indian vessel on the Arabian Sea. Their undetected landing showed New Delhi a big hole remains in its defenses against terrorists.


Cheney steps into row over CIA's grilling methods as Obama moves to calm crisis


21 April: Former Vice President Dick Cheney formally asked for the declassification of legal memos which proved that the CIA's interrogation techniques such as water-boarding worked. He said that last week's decision by Obama to release memos which bared the harsh methods the CIA employed for extracting information from terrorists was a mistake.

Cheney spoke to Fox News April 20 as President Barack Obama paid his first visit to Central Intelligence Agency headquarters at Langley, Virginia, Monday, April 20, to tell its staff that their work was “more important than ever.” But he insisted that the agency staff must uphold the rule of law and the nation's values in its continued fight on terror.

This morale-booster, unusually broadcast live, came after the criticism voiced by former agency director Gen. Michael Hayden of publication of the memos.

Hayden had insisted that the release would make it more difficult to get useful information from suspected terrorists. “I think that teaching our enemies our outer limits, by taking techniques off the table, we have made it more difficult… for CIA officers to defend the nation,” he said.


Iran could produce first nuke in 60 days with 7,000 centrifuges working 24/7 – Western experts


debkafile's military sources predict that Iran could turn out nuclear weapons some time in the next 12 months. This estimate is based on Tehran's announcement that 7,000 centrifuges are in operation to enrich uranium. If all those machines were to work at top speed day and night, seven days a week, they could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build a bomb in 60 days, say some intelligence sources. According to American experts, given the current rate of the program's development, Iran will be in a position to manufacture as many as 60 nuclear bombs and warheads in 12 to 18 months.

This judgment was confirmed by Israel's military intelligence (AMAN) chief, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin in his latest briefing to the cabinet Monday, April 20. He reported that Iran is going all-out for enriched uranium from overseas to shorten the process.


Barak seeks US anti-Qassam missile Vulcan Phalanx after Israeli Iron Dome fails


21 April: The population of southwestern Israel will remain vulnerable to attack after eight years should Hamas revive the Qassam missile blitz from the Gaza Strip.

Defense minister Ehud Barak, after finally accepting that the Iron Dome still under development will not be up to the task, applied to Washington to purchase Vulcan Phalanx systems worth $25 million each. Raytheon recently tested a new version fitted with a solid-state Laser Area Defense System (LADS). It outdid expectations by intercepting 60mm mortar shells fired from a distance of 450 meters.

Israel's Red Color warning system works for missiles only – not mortar attack. However, Israeli cannot expect to obtain the Vulcan Phalanx any time soon; the US army ordered all the Raytheon manufacturers' product for years ahead and our Washington sources doubt that in the current cool climate governing relations, US defense secretary Robert Gates will be too forthcoming.


Israel shocked by Obama's approval of large Turkish arms sale to Lebanon


22 April: debkafile describes senior Israeli military circles as staggered by the discovery that US president Barack Obama had approved a large Turkish arms sale to the Lebanese army, including the services of Turkish military instructors, without informing Jerusalem. This was taken as further proof that the US president is deaf to Israel's immediate security concerns. When he signed the arms deal in Ankara Tuesday, April 21, Lebanese president Gen. Michel Suleiman once again pledged publicly to place the Lebanese army at the disposal of the Shiite terrorist Hizballah in any confrontation with Israel.

More than 50 percent of Lebanon's fighting manpower are Shiites loyal to Hizballah.

The conviction is growing in Jerusalem that the US president endorsed the transaction as a means of breaking up the long-standing military pact between Israel and Turkey, because it interferes with his Middle East objectives.


Suleiman coordinates Egyptian-Israeli positions for talks with Obama

Invites foreign minister Lieberman to Cairo


23 April: Egypt's senior negotiator, intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman met the prime minister, defense minister, foreign minister, opposition leader and president in Jerusalem Wednesday, April 22, and brought Avigdor Lieberman an invitation to visit Cairo.

After exposing Hizballah's Iranian-backed machinations to destabilize the Egyptian government, Cairo finds it is fighting an enemy shared with Jerusalem. The Egyptian visitor and his Israeli hosts therefore sought to define common interests ahead of the separate White House talks Netanyahu, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will hold between late May and early June.

Barack Obama announced the invitations after his conversation with the visiting King of Jordan, Abdullah II at which he accepted the extended Arab peace plan initiated by Saudi Arabia and reaffirmed at an Arab foreign ministers' conference in Amman this month. He will present this formula to his three Middle East visitors as the starting point for the diplomatic process.

Three major flies in Washington's peacemaking ointment are, one, the rival Palestinian Hamas and Fatah factions failed to achieve a power-sharing accord and so Abbas represents only one Palestinian faction – and not necessarily the largest one. Second, Syria stands opposed to the Arab peace initiative.

Netanyahu will lay emphasis on Iran's aggressive posture, military nuclear program and sponsorship of rejectionist and terrorist Middle East elements as the major impediment to peace in the region.

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