More Israeli appeasement of Turkey begets four flotilla probes
23 July: The decision to send back the four flotilla boats used by the Turkish IHH terrorist sponsors of Hamas was Israel's fourth gesture in a week of abject appeasement to Ankara, which pursues a policy of undisguised hostility towards the Jewish state, debkafile's military sources report.
A few hours later, The UN Human Rights Council responded to Turkey's demand for an international judicial inquiry into Israel's conduct in the flotilla episode of May 31.
Its very makeup a priori promises Israel a rough ride: Britain's Sir Edmond de Silva, former UN prosecutor into war crimes in Sierra Leone, Karl Hudson Phillips of Trinidad and Tobago, late of the Hague international tribunal and Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia, activist in Asian aid and women's rights organizations.
Israel's two independent inquiry probes were dismissed as of no account.
Even UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon saw another biased Goldstone report coming and announced a second probe to examine both Israeli and Turkish conduct of the flotilla case.
Notwithstanding all the evidence to the contrary, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his defense and foreign ministers appear determined to keep their heads stuck in the sand and delude themselves that appeasement will restore the rosy ties of yore.
July 24, 2010 Briefs
• One of four missiles Palestinians fired from Gaza Saturday was standard military-grade weapon, their first, possibly Iranian-made. Two exploded just short of Ashkelon industrial zone.
• Bombings in southern Afghanistan killed 5 US servicemen Saturday – 4 in one blast.
• North Korea threatens "nuclear deterrent" in response to joint US-South Korean military exercise beginning Sunday.
• Iran launches program to develop nuclear fusion reactor – an ambition which has defeated Western nations. Fusion is used in hydrogen bombs.
July 25, 2010 Briefs
• Israeli troops intercepted five heavily armed Palestinians at West Bank's Beit Fouriq junction Sunday night. They admitted they were on their way to attack Israelis.
• North African Al Qaeda says it has executed a French hostage.
• Taliban says one of the two Americans missing in eastern Afghanistan was killed, the other captured.
Hizballah saber-rattling over expected indictment in Hariri murder
25 July: Hizballah's leader Hassan Nasrallah used threats of violence to toss back the bomb placed under his movement by word that the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon intends to indict high Hizballah security officials for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
debkafile's military sources report that the tribunal's investigators have linked eight of the 20 cell phones found at the scene of the murder to Hizballah's special security and intelligence apparatus and senior commanders.
Nasrallah said; "I don't accept decisions from this court unless they are based on solid and real evidence.
As long as it didn't work on Israeli (involvement) then it's not an honest tribunal. I don't even accept half of a Hizballah member being accused."
Once the court directives are out in late August or September, neither the Lebanese government, which established the court jointly with the UN, nor UNIFIL, the operational unit of the Security Council in Lebanon can ignore them. The Hizballah leader warns he will resist them by force, raising fears of fresh civil violence on a Hizballah attack on Israel.
Ex-CIA chief Hayden: Military action against Iran is "inexorable"
25 July: Ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden said Sunday, July 25, that during his tenure (under President George W. Bush), a strike was "way down the list" of options. But now it "seems inexorable" because no matter what the US does diplomatically, Tehran keeps pushing ahead with its suspected nuclear program.
debkafile reports that the White House's shift in priorities owes more to the Saudi King Abdullah's ultimatum than to Israeli leaders' powers of persuasion.
Gen. Hayden predicted Iran would build its program to the point where it's just below having an actual weapon. In his view, "That would be as destabilizing to the region as the real thing."
debkafile's sources confirm that the Obama administration is no longer willing to tolerate Iran on this threshold. They note that Hayden has added his voice to a growing number of leading American figures and publications which have indicated in the past fortnight that the military option against Iran has climbed the top of President Barack Obama's list of priorities since Saudi King Abdullah told him "We cannot live with a nuclear Iran."
26 July 2010 Briefs
• Fischer raises Israeli bank interest one-quarter percent to 1.75 pc.
• New European sanctions package bans investment in, equipment for, Iran's under-developed energy, gas and refined oil industries, freezes shipping and bank assets. It was approved in Brussels by 27 EU foreign ministers, representing Iran's biggest trading partner.
• A suicide car bomber kills four, destroys Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news station in Baghdad.
• Israeli aircraft struck targets in Gaza Strip Sunday night, retaliation for four Palestinian missiles.
• Barak is in Washington with warning that Israel will hit Lebanese government sites if Hizballah again launches rockets at Israel towns. Israeli defense minister said US and Israel share the same diagnosis that Iran is determined to reach a military nuclear capability – but not on how to handle it or a time frame.
Border tension rises as Hizballah seeks to sabotage four Arab leaders' Beirut visit Friday
26 July: Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri Monday, July 26, consigned another 1,500 troops to the country's southern border with Israel to beef up the two brigades posted there. debkafile reports their mission was not just to defend French peacekeepers against attacks but to fend off a Hizballah border provocation against Israel for disrupting the landmark visit by Saudi King Abdullah, Syrian president Bashar Assad and the Qatari ruler to Beirut Friday, July 30. Hassan Nasrallah has vowed to sabotage the Washington-backed Saudi steps to wean Syria way from its support of is militia, the Lebanese Hizballah.
Aware of the Hizballah leader's plans and the danger to Israel, defense minister Ehud Barak, now in Washington, issued one of the sternest warnings ever heard from Israel Sunday, July 25: "If Hizballah fires a rocket into Tel Aviv, we will not run after each Hizballah terrorist or launcher… We will see it as legitimate to hit any target that belongs to the Lebanese state, not just Hizballah."
July 27, 2010 Briefs
• Netanyahu holds talks with Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman.
• US launches criminal probe into sources of leaked classified documents to WikiLeaks website.
• Six Israeli airmen and a Romanian captain die in helicopter crash during joint exercise over Romanian mountains.
• Ahmadinejad says US and Israel conspiring to attack two Mideast countries to pressure Iran.
• Russia criticizes new European sanctions against Iran as detrimental to diplomatic effort in talks scheduled to restart Sept. 1.
• Houthi rebels seize strategic Yemeni army strategic strongholds in the north, take 300 soldiers prisoner.
• British PM Cameron says blockade makes Gaza "a prison camp" in blunt anti-Israel statement in Ankara.
• An attorney representing Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery is missing after his relatives were arrested.
Bodies of seven Israeli airmen, one Romanian captain found at Israeli helicopter crash site in Romania
27 July: Romanian and Israeli search and rescue teams Tuesday recovered seven bodies from the wreckage of the Israeli Air Force CH-53 Yasur transport which crashed Monday afternoon, July 26, in the high Carpathian Mountains of central Romania. The helicopter came down Monday afternoon during a joint Israeli-Romanian Blue Sky 2010 military drill. Six Israeli Air Force servicemen and one Romanian Air Force captain were lost with the craft.
The high ranks of the victims indicate the special nature of the training they carried out – low altitude passes over dangerously rugged terrain – and imparted to the Romanian Air Force. Although radio contact with the CH-53 was lost Monday afternoon, Romanian and Israeli search and rescue teams only reached the Carpathian mountain site Tuesday midday, severely hampered by the precipitous terrain and heavy mist enveloping the 2,200-meter high crash site.
Israel has been conducting joint air force exercises with NATO members Romania, Bulgaria and Greece, using big American Air Force bases in the first two countries instead of the facilities Turkey closed to Israel. They also serve for practicing long-distance flights, an essential element in a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Ahmadinejad: US and Israel plot wars on two countries
27 July: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has claimed "precise information that the Americans have devised a plot, according to which they seek to launch a psychological war on Iran. They plan to attack at least two countries in the region within the next three months," he said, without specifying which countries were the subjects of the alleged conspiracy.
He said the plot had two objectives: "… to hamper Iran's progress and development since they are opposed to our growth," and "…save the Zionist regime, because it has reached a dead end."
Our Iranian and intelligence sources attribute the Iranian president's reference to "precise information" to the intelligence which has also reached Saudi and Gulf governments of a White House decision to follow up on sanctions – if Russia, China and Turkey help Tehran bypass them – by intensifying the squeeze on Iran with military steps.
July 28, 2010 Briefs
• Arab League Monitoring Committee approves transition to direct Palestinian-Israel peace talks in principle. It is left to the Palestinian Authority to decide, provided talks are on final status and tied to a time frame.
• Afghan Taliban captures NATO reconnaissance plane during emergency landing in northern province of Kunduz at Qalai Zal. It is first time Taliban has captured a NATO plane in nine-year war.
• Egypt denies four Iranian lawmakers' request to visit Gaza Strip • They would not be allowed to pass through the Rafah crossing.
• Pakistani passenger plane crashes after takeoff from Islamabad with more than 150 people on board.
• Al Qaeda No. 2 threatens new attacks in US after Times Square and Muslim victories in Iraq and Afghanistan.
• France is at war with al Qaeda, says PM Francois Fillon, after execution of French hostage in the Sahara.
• New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg accuses three Brits of stonewalling on senate panel probe into charge of BP lobbying for Lockerbie bomber's release for Libyan oil contracts. Jack Straw, Scottish PM and BP CEO refused invitations to appear before panel.
• Netanyahu: Extending West Bank construction freeze beyond September would bring down government.
Pirates or rogue Iranian Guards suspected in Hormuz Japanese tanker explosion
28 July: The Japanese supertanker M. STAR carrying 270,000 tons of oil was damaged in an attack near the Strait of Hormuz Wednesday, July 28. One lifeboat was blown off the ship and a large dent created in its starboard hull. A crew member was slightly injured, but there was no oil leak.
debkafile: The most striking feature of the incident, the first attack on a commercial vessel in the strategic straits, was the unusual degree of assent between US Navy and Iranian spokesmen that the damage was caused by an explosion by an unknown hand and must be contained before it gets out of control.
Both ordered investigations after experts at Fujairah port in the UAE found that the tanker had been hit by a projectile, either a missile or a sea mine.
Clearly both Washington and Tehran were taken unawares by the incident and needed time to find out what happened and decide what to do.Both speculate that the perpetrators may be either pirates in the pay of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or even a rogue element in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which is bent on settling scores for the latest UN, US and European sanctions against their country.