A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending Aug. 6, 2009

US to Israel: Leave us the military option against Iran


31 July: During the weeklong US-Israel marathon in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv ending Thursday, July 30 the Obama administration unveiled a new three-point US diplomatic-military program for Iran and its nuclear threat, presented by US defense secretary Robert Gates and national security adviser James Jones to prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, defense minister Ehud Barak, chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazy, Mossad chief Meir Dagan and military intelligence head Amos Yadlin.

1. Diplomatic engagement as far as it will go, giving it a chance to take off up until early September.

2. Failing diplomacy, the phased introduction of increasingly harsh sanctions against Iran.

3. If Iran continues to forge ahead with its nuclear and missile development, the US will resort to its military options.

Gates and Jones wound up their presentation by urging Israel, as “a friendly nation,” to leave the Iranian issue to the United States which as a leading world power is ready to shoulder it. Israel was to leave its military option on the table in order to keep Tehran under pressure.

Our Jerusalem sources report that the Netanyahu government will study the new Obama administration's program and decide how to approach it.


Former Iranian vice president and ex-officials on trial with poll protesters


01 Aug. At large group of defendants were brought to court in Tehran Saturday, Aug. 1, for the first trial of protesters who turned out in their hundreds of thousands to protest alleged fraud after the June 12 presidential election. Among the men in court were supporters of the opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi who were defeated by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi, leader of the main reformist party Mohsen Mirdamadi, former industry minister Behzad Nabavi and former dep. foreign minister Mohsen Aminzadeh.

According to the official news agency, 100 defendants are on trial, but many more people have been detained than given out by security forces and the number of dead far exceeds the official death toll of thirty.

This first group on trial face 10 charges including rioting, vandalism, acting against national security and conspiring against the ruling regime, as well as maintaining ties with “counter-revolutionary groups” and preparing reports for foreign media. Some have been shown making “confessions” on Iranian state TV showing signs of torture.


Saudis reject Obama's plan for ties with Israel, say Iran threat is top urgency


01 Aug. debkafile's Washington sources report that in closed-door talks with US leaders, including secretary of state Hillary Clinton, the Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal urged the US to get off their backs on the Israeli-Palestinian issue and deal more seriously and effectively with top-urgency action for stopping Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb.

After those talks, Saud said his government would not consider steps suggested by the Obama administration for ties with Israel, until the Jewish state accepted Arab demands “to withdraw from all occupied Palestinian territories.” He said: “Temporary security and confidence building measures will also not bring peace,” rejected “incrementalism and a step-by-step approach” and demanded that the final outcome be defined before negotiations are launched.

Riyadh sees Washington as being sidetracked by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from far more troubling business, such as the entrenchment of the Shiite-ruled government in Baghdad and the restoration of Syrian influence in Beirut. In any case, the bitter rift between the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip and the Fatah faction governing the West Bank is irreconcilable, they think, and therefore an insurmountable barrier to Middle East peacemaking.

Most troubling of all is the looming threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. Until that cloud is lifted, no other initiatives have a chance, a view paradoxically shared by Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu too.


02 Aug. Briefs


·        Second Israeli to die of swine flu is a 24-year old woman in Nahariya.

·        Israeli PM Netanyahu denounces killer of gay youngsters in Tel Aviv, instructs policy minister for prompt action to bring him to book. “As citizens of democracy ruled by law, we are bound to respect every human being.”

·        Police scouring Tel Aviv for gunman who murdered two teenagers, injured 11 at Gay Society HQ-club Saturday night. The masked, black-shirted assailant sprayed all 15 youngsters in the club before escaping.

·        Gay community plans protest rallies against outrage.

·        Ultra-religious Shas spokesman strongly condemned murders and called for maximum penalty for killer.


Israel-Lebanese-UN teams secretly start border demarcation


02 Aug: In deep hush, joint teams of the Israeli Defense forces, the Lebanese army and the UN Interim Peace Force – UNIFIL – with the quiet approval of the Lebanese Shiite Hizballah – began marking out the Blue Line dividing the two countries. Friday, July 31, when Tehran picked up on the project, it called for Arab volunteers to rally “in defense of the Lebanese border.”

The border should regulate three longstanding flashpoints: the divided Ghajar Village, the Shaaba Farms and the sources of Israel's water supply. It should also refute once and for all Hizballah's claims of military encroachments into Lebanon used to justify its own incursions and adherence to “armed resistance” against Israel.

The Blue Line runs down the middle of Ghajar. Both halves have petitioned the Israeli High Court and foreign governments to prohibit Ghajar's partition and partial transfer to Lebanon. The demarcation project can expect to be stalled by Syria when it reaches the Shaaba Farms, whose fate is part and parcel of the disposition of the Golan. Holding Ghajar village and the Shabaa Farms gives Israel control of the Baniyas, Hatzbani and Wazani headwaters of the Sea of Galilee, its main source of water.


Aug. 3 Briefs


·        Liberman says he'll resign as foreign minister and quit politics if indicted.

·        Netanyahu's controversial state land privatization bill is carried by Knesset.

·        US criticizes police eviction of two Arab families from Jewish homes in E. Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah.

·        US archeologist finds very rare 2,000 year-old limestone cup inscribed with 10 lines of Aramaic or Hebrew script in Jerusalem Old City.

·        Burma is building secret nuclear reactor and plutonium plant under northern mountain with North Korean help.


Pentagon speeds giant “bunker buster” production to meet Iranian, North Korean nuclear concerns


03 Aug. The Obama administration has indicated for the first time that diplomatic engagement is not its only option for grappling with Iran's nuclear weapons drive, debkafile's military sources report. The US Air Force spokesman Andy Bourland announced Monday, Aug. 3 that if Congress shifts enough funds to the program, Northrop Grumman Corp's radar-evading “stealth” B-2 bomber would be capable of carrying the non-nuclear, 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator, MOP which is designed to destroy deeply buried bunkers, by July 2010.

The precision-guided weapon carries more than 5,300 pounds of explosives and would be the biggest conventional bomb the US has ever used. It can deliver more than 10 times the explosive power of its predecessor, the 2,000-pound BLU-109, and penetrate to a depth of 61 meters. Boeing could be put on contract within 72 hours to build the first models if Congress signed off.

The US military commands for the Pacific and Middle East appear to be backing the acceleration request, intent on sending a signal to both North Korea and Iran that America is developing a military option for almost instantaneous deployment against the military programs they have buried deep underground to escape detection.


Known Palestinian terrorists among hundreds of delegates admitted for Fatah Conference


03 Aug. Israel has permitted the entire Fatah leadership of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan – some 500 functionaries – to enter the country for the Fatah general conference opening Aug. 4 n Bethlehem.

Israel's security agencies are highly critical of prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak for surrendering to extreme US pressure to open the door to this large influx of Palestinian hardliners and notorious terrorists responsible for multiple-murder attacks on Israelis.

Sunday, Aug. 2, a group of mid-level Fatah activists from the West Bank decided not to run for the places on the central committee and revolutionary council because they were outnumbered by the outsiders. debkafile's senior intelligence sources report that the US national security adviser James Jones dictated to Barak a list of Palestinians whom he said the Obama administration wanted to be present at the Fatah event in order “to save the conference and Abu Mazen.”

Netanyahu signed it after crossing off only two names: One of the Palestinians responsible for the massacre of Israeli sportsmen at the1972 Munich Olympics and Col. Moneir Maqdach, the Lebanese Fatah's liaison man with Hizballah and al Qaeda.

However, Khaled Abu Esba, one of the 11 Fatah killers who blew up an Israeli bus on the Tel Aviv highway in 1978, killing 35 Israelis was admitted.


Aug. 4 Briefs


·        Jordan joins Saudi Arabia in refusing to improve ties with Israel to encourage Middle East peace moves.

·        Iran State TV: Three Americans detained in Kurdish region for illegal entry are under interrogation.

·        Australia thwarts suicide terrorist attack connected to Somali al Shabaab on army base near Sydney. Four native-born Australians of Somali and Lebanese descent detained.

·        At least 5 rockets fired into Kabul's diplomatic area Monday, injuring a child.

·        A bomb attack in western city of Herat Sunday left 12 dead, injured 20.

·        Abbas' Fatah conference opens in Bethlehem to choose new institutions, approve new platform.

·        Jibril Rajoub: Armed resistance will not be neglected. He spoke under huge poster of Palestinian boy holding a gun.

·        Israel permitted foreign delegations to attend including known terrorists.


Russian secret service helped Hizballah bust Israeli spy rings in Lebanon


05 Aug. Western intelligence sources in the Middle East disclose that a special unit of the Russian Federal Security Service – FBS – commissioned by Hizballah's special security apparatus earlier this year, was responsible for the massive discovery of alleged Israel spy rings in Lebanon in recent months with the help of its super-efficient detection systems.

This is the first time the Russian agency has engaged in anti-Israel activity in the service of an Arab terrorist organization, a turn of events described as grave by an Israeli security source especially when Moscow is deepening its strategic involvement in Syria.

Israel's massive clandestine infiltration of Lebanon began shortly after its 2006 Lebanese conflict when Hizballah, after sustaining heavy casualties, conscripted thousands of young Shiites without checking their backgrounds. Israel used the opportunity to recruit agents in large numbers.


Ahmadinejad's swearing-in dogged by protesters facing riot police


05 Aug. Empty seats dotted the Iranian parliament for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's swearing-in for a second term as president Wednesday, Aug. 5, as the opposition and their supporters boycotted the ceremony. Outside, hundreds of protesters faced large contingents of riot police. Ahmadinejad criticized “oppressive foreign powers” for casting doubt on the validity of his election and vowed to resist them.

The White House, German chancellor's office, Downing Street and the French Elysee refrained from congratulating him. The president has run into difficulties in forming a viable government as former allies among the conservative factions refuse to serve in his cabinet – even after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei endorsed him Tuesday.

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