A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending Jan 21, 2010

January 15, 2010 Briefs

  • Global security threat posed by rogue air traffic regularly crossing Atlantic between S. America and West Africa. They carry cocaine and weapons to al Qaeda in Maghreb's bases in Sahel.
  • Iranian cleric Taghi Khalaji, who was close to the dissident ayatollah, the late Montazeri arrested in fresh opposition crackdown. Iran's police chief warns opposition against using text, email to organize rallies. The authorities have taken control of the systems to block messaging, slow down Internet on protest days.
  • Gates: US military's defenses against inside threats outdated, ineffective. He said officers may be held accountable for failure to supervise Fort Hood killer Maj. Hasan.

Mubarak boycotts Saudi summit with Assad

15 Jan. Syria's Bashar Assad turned up when Saudi King Abdullah invited him for a fence-mending summit with his Egyptian opposite number in Riyadh Friday, Jan. 15. Hosni Mubarak did not. He refused to be part of the Saudi monarch's drive, starting in Beirut, to bow to the Iranian-Syrian hegemonic role in the Middle East or apply it to a drive for a Palestinian reconciliation.
The king had planned for the three Arab rulers to get together on the Palestinian feud and apply to the Palestinian quarrel their success in forging a unity government in Beirut, the key to which entailed Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri accepting Hizballah as a coalition partner and going to Damascus to shake the hand of his father's alleged murderer, Bashar Assad.
Syria represented Iran in this process.

Cairo's Al Ahram calls Meir Dagan Israeli "Mossad Superman"

16 Jan. The Egyptian media rarely have a good word to say about Israel or Israelis, but Saturday, Jan. 16, the semi-official Al Ahram, glowingly profiled the director of the Mossad external intelligence agency, Meir Dagan, 65 in epic terms as the Mossad Superman who singlehandedly delayed Iran's advance on a nuclear weapon by "several years," scaled down "Syria's military capabilities" and may have been behind last week's assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mehsud Ali-Mohammadi in North Tehran.
debkafile's Middle East sources report: This commentary appeared the day after Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak absented himself from a summit meeting with Syrian president Bashar Assad in Riyadh called by King Abdullah. By failing to turn up for the meeting of Friday, Jan. 15, and running al Ahram's Dagan accolade the next day, the Egyptian ruler signaled his refusal to be a part of the Saudi monarch's policy of surrendering to Iran's hegemonic role in regional affairs, and his belief that Israel and its Mossad were still capable of putting a spoke in Iran's nuclear aspirations.

January 17, 2010 Briefs

  • Big Israeli field hospital starts treating 500 Haitians a day.
  • Six-power representatives break up Iranian nuclear crisis meeting Saturday without assent.
  • Mortar shells fire from Gaza Strip explode in Israel north of the border fence and open ground.
  • IDF force detains two Palestinians carrying five pipe bombs at the Bekaot checkpoint east of Nablus.
  • Abbas stands by refusal to negotiate peace with Israel, says US must first lay down final-status outline.
  • Scandal in Jerusalem over Abbas' decision to name Ramallah square for Palestinian mass-murderess Moghrabi. He replied it was the same as naming an Israeli street after Rehavam Zeevi, the minister assassinated by Palestinians.
  • Hizballah said training in advanced SA-2 anti-air missiles on Syrian soil. debkafile: Israel has warned that SA-2 transfer to Lebanon would trigger attack on Damascus.

Opposition leader reaches out to Iran's regime

In a gesture of reconciliation toward the regime, Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi conceded Sunday, Jan. 17, that the Iranian scientist Mesoud Ali-Mohammadi murdered outside his home last Monday was the victim of Iran's "enemies," namely the US and Israel.
The opposition had previously blamed his death on the "tyrannical regime's" campaign to wipe out the intellectual elite backing the reform movement. Reversing this position, Mousavi said: "The depressing martyrdom of the renowned physicist and Tehran University academic Mehsoud Ali-Mohammad signifies the harsh reality that enemies of Iran are set to take advantage of today's critical situation to pursue their own interests."
He added: "This criminal action is definitely part of a huge plan that obliges all of us, irrespective of our political tendencies, to give some thought to discover its other aspects."
This comment is seen by debkafile's Iranian sources as a signal to the heads of the regime that Mousavi is willing to discuss lowering the flames of resistance sweeping the streets since the dispute presidential election last June.

January 18, 2010 Briefs

  • Iran's interior minister vows ultimate revenge against Mossad, CIA for "Zionist-style" death of scientist.
  • Merkel will push for tougher Security Council action against Iran. She spoke during Netanyahu's Berlin visit. He arrived with five ministers and NSA for the first joint German-Israel cabinet session.
  • Hackers in Turkey replace Anglo-Jewry's flagship Jewish Chronicle front page with a Palestinian flag and anti-Semitic writings. Its web site was vandalized for several hours.

Taliban fighters hide in Kabul after major coordinated attack on a dozen locations

18 Jan. Gunfire and explosions continued in Kabul throughout the day Monday, Jan. 18, although official Afghan sources claimed the Taliban assault on the city was over after three hours. In the morning, at least ten suicide bombers backed by gunmen attacked the defense, justice, education and foreign ministries and the national bank. Rockets also landed near the presidential palace as Hamid Karzai was swearing in his new cabinet ministers. The attack, say debkafile's military sources, was a severe setback to Barack Obama's new Afghan strategy, US commanders' belief that the military situation was beginning to stabilize and Karzai's third effort to form a government.

Barak hears Turkish requiem for direct military ties with Israel

18 Jan. Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak was received with full diplomatic honors and courtesy when he visited Ankara Sunday, Jan. 17, after the Israeli deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon's apology for humiliating the Turkish ambassador had been accepted. debkafile's military sources note that the Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu spent more than two hours with the Israeli visitor and defense minister Vecdi Gonul announced after their meeting that Turkey and Israel would remain "strategic allies" as long as their interests coincide.
But Barak's day in Ankara did not include president Abdullah Gul or prime minister Tayyep Recip Erdogan
Nor did he see chief of staff Gen. Ylker Bapbuo. Ankara was setting the diplomatic relationship back to its normal track after an unfortunate incident while taking care to underscore an important caveat: Security ties would henceforth be based on common diplomatic-economic interests while Ankara's military alliances were now oriented on Tehran and Damascus, no longer Jerusalem.

Israeli field hospital treats, operates on hundreds of Haitians a day

18 Jan. The only facility in Haiti with a fully-functioning operating theater, the large Israeli field hospital treated many hundreds of patients in its first four days and helped at least one woman give birth.
Two men pulled out of the rubble – one a Danish UN officer and a Haitian by the Israeli rescue team working for eight hours to extricate him – may be among the last to have survived more than five days in their concrete traps.
The Israeli military team of 250 is working flat out in a fully-equipped field hospital. One-third of the medical team of 40 doctors, 20 paramedics and nurses plus technical staff are reservists who volunteered for the Haiti disaster relief team. They are treating 500 patients a day.
A small Zaka team, which flew in earlier from Mexico, pulled eight survivors out of the ruins of Haiti University on Saturday.

January 19, 2010 Briefs

  • Muslim-Christian riots in Nigeria leave 200 dead Monday.
  • Iran will strike back at Western warships in Gulf if attacked over its nuclear program, defense minister Ahmad Vahidi. debkafile: This was direct threat to world's vital oil shipping route.
  • Five Britons arrested at Islamabad airport trying to hand over their boarding passes to five others.
  • Zakaria Amara, 24, key figure in Islamist plot to explode three truck bombs in Ontario province, Canada in 2005 gets life in jail. Plotters planned to storm parliament building, behead prime minister.

Israel teams extend stay in Haiti by another month

19 Jan. Israeli paramedics are out and about, treating survivors on the spot before they are carried to the field hospital. There, 90 life-saving operations have been conducted in six days, five births and hundreds treated. Special equipment and medication are also saving the lives of preemies.
The IDF Homeland and Medical commands have decided to keep the Israeli teams in place for another month. They were originally assigned a two-week stint in quake-stricken Haiti.
Nearly a week after the quake, the Israeli IDF field hospital at the Antoine Izmery soccer field is still the only medical facility with a fully-equipped operating theater, intensive care units, child and maternity wards, laboratories and an X-ray facility operated by 250 staff.

January 20, 2010 Briefs

  • Defense minister Barak accredits Ariel College as university center in northern West Bank.
  • Yadlin: Iranian nuclear progress continues for lack of significant international pressure. He holds Tehran responsible for derailing dialogue with world powers.
  • Tehran formalizes its rejection of world powers' enriched uranium swap proposal. State Dept still insists Iran's no is not final.
  • Yadlin: Turkish rift with Israel more far-reaching than diplomatic spat.
  • US team digs two children out of Haiti rubble, brings them to Israeli field hospital.

Cairo turns screw on Hamas: Execute snipers who killed Egyptian soldier

20 Jan. Cairo has warned Hamas' Damascus-based leader Khaled Meshaal in its toughest language ever that Egypt will have no more truck with his Palestinian extremist organization until the snipers who shot dead an Egyptian soldier on the Gaza-Sinai border on Jan. 6 are tried and executed.
The ultimatum was relayed through Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which are trying to patch up the quarrel between Cairo and Hamas. Egyptian intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman told them that the Palestinian fundamentalist group's leaders had become too uppity and begun addressing Egypt as an equal. President Hosni Mubarak decided to teach them some respect for the region's real boss.
Egypt tightened its siege of the Gaza Strip, regardless of the torrential rains and flashfloods which swept the region this week. Some 12 Egyptians and tourists died and more are missing, while two Israelis were swept to their death by the raging waters which devastated roads and infrastructure in Sinai and the Negev.

Netanyahu: Israel must keep military presence in Jordan Valley

20 Jan. Even after the establishment of a Palestinian state, Israel should keep a military presence in the eastern West Bank, along the border with Jordan, said Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday, Jan. 20. Netanyahu stressed that Israel could not afford to replicate the Hamas missile launching base of Gaza Strip on the West Bank. To stop rockets from entering the territory bordering on Israel's heartland from Syria, "an Israeli presence was necessary at the eastern edge of a Palestinian state," he said.
Palestinian Authority spokesman Saeb Erekat replied: "The Jordan Valley is Palestinian."
They spoke as US President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, arrived in Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah after talks in Damascus with Syrian president Bashar Assad.
debkafile adds: The Likud prime minister has redrawn the lines of the "Alon Plan" which followed UN the clause in Security Council Resolution 242 which promised Israel "secure and recognized boundaries" after the Six-Day War.

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