A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending Feb. 11, 2010
February 5, 2010 Briefs
• Car bombs target Shiite pilgrims in Iraqi shrine city Karbala Friday, killing at least 30, wounding 95. It was the third attack in a week on Shiites celebrating Arbain festival.
• Two bombing attacks kill 25 Shiites, injure 100 in Karachi, Pakistan. Ten of the injured victims died in second explosion at hospital treating them.
• German FM: Iran kept nuclear program running with lies and tricks for more than two years. This is no longer acceptable.
• Iranian FM Mottaki invited to prestigious Munich Security conference despite calls to boycott Tehran •
Swedish FM Karl Bildt favored the invitation.
Iranian missile airlift stiffens Syrian war talk
05 Feb. debkafile Iranian and military sources report that the new war threats from Damascus were fanned by the delivery of 100 new medium-range surface-to-surface missiles from Iran. Fresh supplies have also reached the Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas in Gaza.
Wednesday, Feb. 3, Syrian president Bashar Assad accused Israel of seeking war, while his foreign minister Walid Moallem boasted: "You know that war at this time will come to your cities."
His treat was comprehensive: “….Syria calls on Israel to halt directing threats once against Gaza, another against South Lebanon, then Iran and now Syria.”
His message that all four extremist allies had formed a mutual defense pact against Israel raised temperatures to a dangerous level in the region. It confirmed debkafile's disclosure in December of a secret mutual defense pact binding Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas.
Next day, Feb. 4, hardline foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman was equally outspoken: "Assad must be told bluntly," he said, "that in the next war, not only will Syria be beaten but he and his family will lose power. You will not remain in power, and neither will your family."
While his words were widely reported, the doves of the Israeli Labor party, the opposition Kadima and the left found his tone outrageous and called on the prime minister to fire him.
February 7, 2010 Briefs
• Iran arrests 7 people in crackdown to pre-empt opposition rallies on Feb. 11 anniversary.
• Qassam missile from Gaza misses aims at Sderot, explodes outside Shear Hanegev Sunday.
• Hizballah announces war preparedness across Lebanon. But Hizballah's Naim Qassem denies any information of imminent Israeli attack.
• Israel soldier seriously injured in maintenance work on Chariot 4 Tank. 401st Brigade training exercise halted.
Hizballah receives Syrian Fateh-110 able to destroy Israeli cities
07 Feb. The secret transfer of the Syrian-made Fateh-110 missile able to reach all of Israel's main cities to Hizballah sparked a US official's prediction Friday, Feb. 5 that cross-border arms smuggling from Syria into Lebanon outside state control was "very dangerous" and "paved the way to war."
Our sources disclose: Syria pulled the wool over Israel's eyes for the transfer by openly training Hizballah in the use of SA-2 and SA-6 surface-to-surface missiles. Israel had warned it would deem their passage into Lebanon a Syrian casus belli.
The Fateh-110 is still more lethal, accurate and dangerous than the SA-2 and SA-3. Hizballah now faces Israel armed with a road-mobile, single-stage, short-range ballistic system weighing three tons with a half-ton warhead and a range of 250 kilometers. It is not deployed in surface batteries but fired from mobile launchers, which the solid propellant renders capable of firing at speed with little advance preparation, before returning to the fortified underground silos Hizballah has sunk in mountain areas across Lebanon.
These features make the Fateh-110 a very tough target for Israeli bombers to strike.
Israel warned Syria through at least two diplomatic channels of serious consequences if Hizballah fires the Fateh-110.
February 8, 2010 Briefs
• Iranian defense minister Vahidi inaugurates two plants making "advanced" drones claimed capable of precision-bombing.
• Defense minister Barak: Iran is swindling the whole world.
• French FM Kouchner: Iran cannot make 20-pc enriched uranium despite its boasts . debkafile: Kouchner is wrong.
• Gates discusses Iranian nuclear issues with Sarkozy and French defense minister in Paris.
• France to sell Russia Mistral assault ship-helicopter carrier. This is first advanced hardware sale by NATO member to Russia.
• Hamas' Khaled Meshaal arrives in Moscow for visit.
Iran egged on by limp US-Israel response to enrichment hike
08 Feb. Tehran's decision to raise its uranium enrichment level to 20 percent – taking it weeks away from weapons-grade production – in the teeth of international objections, has raised no cries of outrage in Washington or Jerusalem. Asked Monday, Feb. 7, whether president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's announcement brought military action any closer, US defense secretary Robert Gates pinned his trust on non-existent international unity for pressure.
US military boost aims to contain Iran's Gulf supremacy drive
08 Feb. The Obama administration's decision last week to boost its military presence in the Gulf and supply its Arab allies with tens of billions of new weapons was a bid to win the galloping arms race with Iran, mark out American spheres of influence and contain Iran's drive for regional hegemony – whether or not it attains a nuclear weapon. Washington is closely watching the numbers Iran's opposition can muster on Feb. 11, Iran's Revolution Day.
Since engagement with Iran was first broached last year, non-belligerent options have progressively narrowed to a straight choice between a military strike for crippling Iran's military nuclear facilities, with predicted dangerous repercussions, or living with a nuclear-armed Iran.
February 9, 2010 Briefs
• Netanyahu: For the sake of world peace, crippling canctions must be imposed on Iran right now. He was addressing EU ambassadors, some of whose governments oppose extreme sanctions. The PM also noted Iranian leaders were again threatening Israel with extinction.
• Iran's atomic energy chief said Israel would not survive an attack on Iran.
• Dutch train evacuated after man shouting God is great threatened to blow it up early Tuesday. Man taken into custody at Den Bosch station as police with dogs searched train.
• Iran jails former Dep. FM Mohsen Aminzadeh for taking part in July post-election rallies. Nine journalists detained ahead of protests called for anniversary celebrations.
Iranian militias attack French, Italian, Dutch embassies
09 Feb. In a well-coordinated offensive, pro-government Basijj militiamen in civilian dress hurled rocks and eggs at the Italian and French embassies in Tehran Tuesday, Feb. 9, shouting death to their respective leaders. Some reports say the Dutch embassy was also targeted. debkafile's Iranian sources expect attacks on the West to escalate, designed to raise international tensions around Iran and deter opposition leaders from staging their planned mass protest demonstrations lest they be accused of treason.
The Iranian regime is furious with French president Nicolas Sarkozy for repeatedly citing intelligence to prove Iran is running a program for building a nuclear bomb and for understanding that Israel cannot stand by idly and let this happen.
Tehran's grievance against The Hague stems from the suspicion that the Dutch BVD national security service maintains the farthest-flung network of agents inside Iran of any other agency and its intelligence on happenings in the Islamic republic is of the highest quality.
Iran couples upped uranium enrichment with violent threats
09 Feb. Tuesday, Feb. 9, Tehran started upping its enriched uranium grade to 20 percent which takes it past the hard part of the process to an easy jump to weapons-grade fuel of no more than weeks.
The event was charged with the threat from Iran's spiritual ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to "punch the arrogance [of Western powers] on the 22nd of Bahman (Feb. 11) in a way that will leave them stunned!"
Some Iran-watchers in the West believe he was talking about blood on the streets of Tehran during the coming opposition protest rallies. But others do not rule out Iran's first nuclear test.
In Paris, US defense secretary Robert Gates admitted for the first time that military action was possible to stop Iran developing a nuclear weapon.
Foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki contributed to the heightened tension generated by the war-mongering from Damascus in the last ten days. He pledged that if Israel attacked Syria or any other Arabs, Iran would come to their aid.
Manifesting deep-seated racism, he commented contemptuously: "The Jews are mad and Israel is a nation led by lunatics."
February 10, 2010 Briefs
• The terrorist who stabbed Israeli soldier to death Wednesday is Palestinian Authority police captain Mohammed Hatib. His victim was Sgt. Maj. Ihab Khatib from Maghar village, a Kfir Brigade NCO. He was stabbed twice when his jeep was stalled in a traffic jam at the Tapuach Junction, West Bank • The terrorist was captured.
• Glyn Davies, US delegate to IAEA: Iran risks hundreds of thousands of Iranian lives by rejecting fuel offer for cancer treatment reactor. Iran is not thought capable of turning uranium it began enriching to 20 pc into fuel for medical reactor – only weapons-grade material.
Ethiopian Airline crash off Beirut caused by al Qaeda
10 Feb. Evidence has reached debkafile that the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing which crashed after takeoff from Beirut on January 25, killing all 92 aboard, was blown up in mid-air in an al Qaeda attack, exactly one month after its failed attempt to destroy an American Northwest airliner bound for Detroit. French and Hizballah passengers were also targeted.
The bodies were found strapped to their seats with their heads and limbs blown off, typical effect of an explosion. Yet US, French and Lebanese officials, though deeply involved in the investigation, are doing their best to conceal the fact that the Ethiopian airliner crashed as the result of a terrorist attack. While the Lebanese health minster admitted inadvertently to an explosion in the cabin, French sources blame the dead pilot for human error.