July 9, 2010 Briefs
• Sanctions will have no effect on Iran's nuclear program – Ahmadinejad in Nigerian capital.
• Worldwide outcry reprieves Iranian mother of two sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery.
• Lloyd's of London joins US sanctions, will cease insuring petroleum shipments to Iran.
• Tehran Bazaar merchants strike in protest against planned 15 pc business tax. Protests by politically powerful bazaaris are usually sign of regime losing its grip.
• Binyamin and Sarah Netanyahu invite Gilead Shalit's parents to PM's residence upon arrival in Jerusalem Friday from three-day US trip. Noam and Aviva Shalit camped outside the PM residence since end of a 12-day trek to Jerusalem followed by many thousands of sympathizers. They vow to stay there until their son is freed.
• Motorcyclist bomber kills at least 65 people, injures 110 in Pakistani village near Afghan border Friday.
July 10, 2010 Briefs
• Six US soldiers killed in a number of attacks in Afghanistan Saturday.
• Peres calls North Korea "a duty-free shop for missiles, nuclear equipment". Pyongyang supplies Iran and Syria and Syria supplies Hizballah, Israel president tells Yomiuri Shimbun.
• Obama calls Abbas to promise every effort to establish a Palestinian state. In update on talks with Netanyahu, he voiced hope for early direct negotiations. Abbas replied: Only if progress on proximity track.
• UN strongly deplores attacks on peacekeepers in South Lebanon. debkafile: Hizballah incites villagers to harass French troops over UN sanctions against Iran. Paris pledges to keep the French contingent in Lebanon.
US-Russian spy swap started out as a much bigger plan
10 July: Friday, July 9, 10 Russian agents were deported by the United States and swapped in Vienna for four US spies freed by Russia. debkafile's intelligence sources have no doubt that what the public saw as an antiquated Cold War parody was only a fragment of the full story. For instance, why if the White House was briefed in February about a possible deal to swap 11 Russian agents, was all the hoopla over their capture staged only six months later – or at all?
The Russians must have been sounded out on the exchange deal some time ago and its details negotiated well ahead. Russia has never given up on securing the release of its two master-spies, Aldrich Ames of the CIA and the FBI's Robert Hanssen, both serving life sentences without parole. They most probably initiated the swap with the United States for this goal, our intelligence sources believe.
In this bid they failed. But although caricatured as bumbling apparatchiks, Russian security agencies run highly competent, up-to-date spy networks in many parts of the world, including the Middle East.
Ahmadinejad plans to visit Beirut within weeks
11 July: Feverish preparations are afoot in Tehran for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's first visit to the Lebanese capital. Reporting this, debkafile's Iranian sources define the trip's purpose as a confrontational exercise to warn the US and Israel that full implementation of the tough new UN, US and European sanctions will provoke an Iranian war on Israel – waged from Lebanon.
Ahmadinejad's trip is expected to take place before September – with Syrian president Bashar Assad and the Qatari ruler Sheik Al Thani in tow.
Iran's rulers came up with this plan when they saw that the US embargo on gasoline and other refined oil products was for real. Combined with the Obama administration's partial success in closing the US banking system and markets to Iranian firms and the UAE's consent to close its ports to Iranian traffic, the new measures have the potential for throwing a large spanner into the Islamic Republic's normal economic activity.
Hizballah advances 20,000 troops to Israeli border
11 July: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu keeps on vowing that Iran will not be allowed to establish an outpost on Israel's borders, but he has not lifted a finger to stop this menace ensconcing itself in the north. Iran's proxy has therefore won the first round of its drive to recover the forward positions it lost in the 2006 war and stands ready for the next.
He cannot realistically expect feeble UN reprimands and the puny French contingent of UNIFIL to blow away the 20,000 Hizballah troops dug in in 160 new positions in South Lebanon, backed by a vast rocket arsenal – even though this is a gross violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701. Israel has reinforced its border defenses against this massed Hizballah strength just a few hundreds meters away.
How could Jerusalem let this happen?
The answer is by a misguided policy of misdirected reliance on international players and diplomacy as though Israel was not dealing with terrorists with utter contempt for the rules of international diplomacy.
The UN was not even asked to address Hizballah's illegal redeployment in new positions in the South – only the harassment of peacekeepers – nor did it do so.
July 12, 2010 Briefs
• Hizballah has prepared a list of military targets for hitting inside Israel in any future war – S. Lebanon commander.
• Gen (ret.) Eiland at head of military inquiry finds professional faults in the planning, command, intelligence aspects of the Israeli commando raid on the Turkish blockade-busting flotilla in May.
• He did not find negligence or improper conduct and commended the soldiers for bravery.
• A separate commission with international observers is working on the incident's legal aspects.
• Archeologists uncover oldest document discovered in Jerusalem, a 3,350-year old clay fragment from King Solomon's time near southern Old City wall. Hebrew University archeologist Eilat Mazar believes the letter in Akkadian was part of a royal message from the king of Jerusalem to the Egyptian ruler. It is contemporaneous with the 14th BCE tables found in Amarna archives of Amenhotep IV or Akhneten.
July 13, 2010 Briefs
• Israeli bulldozers knock down three illegal structures in Jerusalem Palestinian village of Issawiya. Washington criticizes.
• Mubarak postpones meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week. He is said in Cairo to be about to set for Germany for ten days of medical treatment.
• French parliament approves ban on wearing the Burka veil covering face in public.
• A rogue Afghan soldier kills 3 British soldiers, wounds 4 others in Helmand province where he was being trained.
• About 100km off the Gaza coast, Israeli Navy warns Libyan ship it will be raided if it continues on course to Hamas-held enclave.
• Kadima lawmaker Tzahi Hanegbi acquitted of charges of nepotism when he served as environment minister, but found guilty of false testimony.
• Ugandan officials recover explosives belt amid probe into bombings that killed 74 people watching World Cup final at two sites. Somalia's al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab claimed responsibility. Among the dead were also foreigners including an American.
Kenya has enhanced security patrols near Somali border since blasts.
Libyan Gaza aid ship is part of succession intrigue in Tripoli
13 July: Since Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi, 68, picked Moatassem-Billah, son number four, as his successor, his eldest son, Seif al-Islam, has schemed tirelessly to stay in the limelight and avoid being passed over as future potentate of this oil- and gas-rich nation. Seif's latest dodge is the privately-launched Al-Amal (MV Amatheia) for breaking Israel's naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. It was sponsored by the Qaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, Seif's personal lobby for promoting his ambitions to succeed his father when he retires in 2013.
Reflecting Muammar's disapproval, an official spokesman in Tripoli denounced the venture as "an adventure and a risk."
The same foundation, backed by British and Russian business interests, promoted the release last year on false pretenses from a Scottish jail of the former Libyan secret agent Mohamed Al-Megrahi, who was serving a life term for his role in the hijack of Pan Am Flight 103, which crashed over the Scottish town village of Lockerbie in December 1988 killing 261 people. Seif used Megrahi to ride home from the exile to which his father had condemned him.
July 14, 2010 Briefs
• In new video aired by Al Arabiya TV, Faisal Shahzad says he was willing to die in bombing attack in Time Square, New York to avenge US attacks in Afghanistan. The would-be bomber escaped after his failed attempt.
• Five US soldiers killed in Kandahar province, S, Afghanistan.
• US hands over 55 detained members of former Iraq regime including Tariq Aziz.
• Russia and Iran sign a statement expanding their business cooperation in energy and setting up joint oil, gas, and petrochemicals projects – in defiance of US embargo.
Gaza ship prompts US senators demand to probe BPs Libyan links
14 July: Muammar Qaddafi's son Seif al Islam may have made too much of a splash by consigning the MV Almathea (Al Amal) to challenge Israel's Gaza blockade: As Israeli warships encircled the ship Wednesday, July 14, a group of US Democratic senators' interest was drawn to his International Charity and Development Foundation which commissioned the expedition and called for its links with the oil giant BP to be investigated.
Following debkafile's tie-in of the ship with Seif al-Islam's claim to succeed his father and the same British and Russian business interests which helped him secure the release of the Pan-Am bomber, US Senator Frank Lautenberg said Wednesday, July 14: "It is shocking to even contemplate that BP is profiting from the release of a terrorist with the blood of 189 Americans on his hands."
The Libyan ship eventually obeyed the Israel Navy and avoided being boarded by turning away from the Gaza embargo waters and docking Thursday at the Egyptian port of El Arish. Seif al-Islam's fiasco was engineered in indirect negotiations between Jerusalem and Tripoli via Cairo.
Moscow pledges Tehran oil products – against US embargo
15 July: Countering the new US energy sanctions against Iran, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and Iranian Oil Minister Masud Mir-Kazemi Wednesday, July 14 signed energy-related agreements, including sales to Iran of Russian petroleum products and petrochemicals.
debkafile's Moscow sources: These pacts offset the impact of Barack Obama's new US sanctions for hitting Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps' prime source of income, refined oil products imports including gasoline. They also void Binyamin Netanyahu's trust in energy sanctions to remove Tehran's nuclear threat.
The accords also set up "a joint bank to help fund bilateral energy projects."
This latter provision bypasses the US ban on the banks and insurance companies involved in funding refined oil supplies to Iran by creating a shared banking instrument for handling the funding of fuel purchases. Russian insurance firms connected with the new joint bank may insure shipments.
Sources on Moscow do not believe Obama will risk upsetting his newly "reset" ties with Russians leaders by closing the US to Russian firms trading with Iran. But once he makes this exception, the US energy sanctions may start unraveling.