Iran threatens oil routes as Obama signs tough energy sanctions
02 July: A US-Iran showdown loomed closer early Friday, July 2, when President Barack Obama signed into law a series of energy sanctions, the toughest yet, against Iran's nuclear weapons program. Iran's defense minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi warned that searches of its ships or planes would have "dire consequences" for world security and the Middle East in particular.
The law shuts US markets to firms that provide Iran with gasoline and jet fuel as well as shipping and insurance services.
Syria posts Iranian radar atop tall Lebanese peak
03 July: Syria has posted the advanced early warning radar received from Iran – not on its own soil but on the highest peak of neighboring Lebanon, according to debkafile's military and intelligence sources. From Mount Sannine in central Lebanon, the new facility provides early warning against a possible Israeli surprise attack on Iran's nuclear facilities and extends the span of Iranian and Syrian electronic surveillance to Israeli air space in the south and the eastern-central Mediterranean to the west.
On July 12, 2008, debkafile first revealed that Hizballah had commandeered the 7,880- foot Mt. Sannine northeast of Beirut at the behest of Tehran and Damascus, followed by Mount Barukh, which is half the height and situated in the Chouf Mountains much closer to South Lebanon (and the Israeli border).
In late 2009, the radar position was put in there and Iranian mobile systems installed on Mt. Barukh – in line with the strategy agreed by Iran and Syria to extend their watch on Israel and the US Sixth Fleet.
Israel's leaders held back from interfering with the Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah seizure of these strategic positions across its northern border – just as they have since avoided blocking Hizballah's massive armament with smuggled Iranian and Syrian ballistic missiles.
July 4, 2010 Briefs
• Syria's Assad promises to back Argentine claim to Falklands in return for Argentina's offer of support for Syrian claim to Golan.
• Suspected PKK bombing halts pumping through the Iraqi-Turkish Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline in S. Turkey.
• Clinton in Azerbaijan and Armenia to mediate their long-running dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh. US Secretary arrived from Warsaw where she signed agreement for deployment of US mobile anti-missile rockets on Polish soil from 2018.
• French Total oil firm president pledges to abide by US refined oil sanctions against Iran.
• New Afghan US commander Gen. Petraeus warns of tough times ahead at July 4 celebrations in Kabul embassy.
• US VP Biden celebrates US National Day with troops in Iraq.
• Senior Putin aide Igor Sechin will lead negotiations with France for purchase of Mistral helicopter carriers. debkafile: Putin is determined to outfit Russian Navy with top-of-line air and helicopter carriers.
• Lebanon's most influence Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah dies aged 75.
July 5, 2010 Briefs
• BP orders its outlets – especially in Europe – to stop refueling Iranian jets – in line with international sanctions.
• Barak meets Palestinian PM Fayad in Jerusalem Monday a day before Netanyahu's White House talks with Obama.
• Turkish FM again threatens to cut ties unless Israel apologizes for flotilla raid.
• Netanyahu earlier: Israel has no reason to apologize for its soldiers defending themselves from a lynching in performance of their duty.
• Marchers in aide of release of Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit from Hamas captivity gather in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv.
• Israeli officials show new list of banned items for Gaza to Egyptian intelligence minister Omar Suleiman.
• Biden urges rival Iraqi leaders to form unity administration.
• Government majority defeats bill transferring to Knesset authority for imposing settlement construction freeze. Netanyahu cagey about extending 10-month freeze beyond September 26.
Oil giant BP stops refueling Iranian airliners in Europe
05-06 July: Mehdi Aliyari, secretary of Iranian Airlines Union, announced two airlines were refused permission to refuel at airports in Britain, Germany, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, in line with new US sanctions. All of them, including Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, later contradicted this statement or withheld comment. However, the giant BP spokeswoman announced its outlets and partners in some European countries were instructed to ban the refueling of several Iranian airlines.
The fuel cutoff came in the middle of the summer holiday rush to and from Iran.Tehran was particularly put out by the refusal of the United Arab Emirates' international airport in Dubai to provide fueling services. It is a transit hub for the many of millions of Iranians who fly to Persian Gulf and Middle East destinations.
According to debkafile, the Iranian man in the street will very soon feel the rough edge of the new American measures.
July 6, 2010 Briefs
• The EU bans most of Iran Air's jets from flying to Europe because of safety concerns.
• Roadside bomb kills 5 US servicemen on Bagram-Kabul highway in Afghanistan.
• Finance minister Steinitz presents 2011-2012 state budget marked by 30% cut in defense outlay and new indirect taxes.
• C-in-S Ashkenazi: IDF scenarios for boarding ships illegally bound for Gaza take into account armed suicidal activists. These "aid" expeditions even less justified since Israel lifted restrictions on civilian supplies to Gaza. Cartridges of unknown origin found on the Turkish Marmara sent for forensic testing.
• Ashkenazi reported another voyage in the works from Libya.
• Ankara's policies are not always accepted by the Turkish army, said Ashkenazi. He said he stays in touch with Turkish army chief.
• IDF Advocate General brings manslaughter charge against soldier alleged to have killed two Palestinian women waving white flags in 2009 Gaza operation. Three other cases face disciplinary action. Israel has sent UN interim report on its inquiry.
• Mexico reportedly breaks up Hizballah cell plotting strikes against Israeli and Western targets in the US and Latin America – Kuwaiti A-Sayassa. Its members were of Lebanese-Shiite origin.
Obama recognizes Israel's unique security needs with regard to NPT
06 July: President Barack Obama and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu ended a meeting which both called "excellent" at the White House Tuesday July 6. In a carefully-worded comment, the US president indicated he would continue to respect Israel's nuclear stance and ambiguity about its reported arsenal.
The US president stressed that given its size, history and the levels of threat Israel faces: "We will not ask Israel to take steps that endanger its security."
He avoided pressing Israel on extending its 10-month settlement and Jerusalem construction freeze expiring on Sept. 26, but rather voiced the hope that face-to-face Israel-Palestinian talks could go forward by September.
Netanyahu praised the latest round of UN sanctions against Iran and the new US measures. He urged other countries to follow the US president's lead and initiate much tougher sanctions. Only then will it be possible to tell if they are biting enough to prevent Iran attaining a nuclear weapon.
While the US president denied any rift with Israel, Netanyahu praised cooperation with the US in fields which they both listed as economy, military, maintaining Israel's military edge and intelligence-sharing -in ways not always made public.
The Israeli prime minister and his wife spent three days in the United States. He met with Secretary of state Hillary Clinton, defense secretary Robert Gates and then, in New York, former president Bill Clinton and American-Jewish leaders. Sarah Netanyahu was hosted by the First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Suitcase with 4 handguns of Netanyahu's bodyguards stolen at JFK
07 July: debkafile reports from New York that a suitcase containing four Glock 9mm handguns belonging to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's security detail was stolen from his chartered El Al aircraft after it landed at JFK airport, New York. The bag was supposed to be on a flight to Washington, where Netanyahu met President Obama at the White House Tuesday, July 6. It was discovered later at Los Angeles airport but the guns were missing.
The suitcase is reported to have been stolen when American Airlines workers at JFK lost it. Authorities are investigating whether the handguns were removed in New York or LA.
debkafile's sources report that Netanyahu's guards are members of a special Shin Bet special protection unit. The incident is seen as a serious security lapse on the part of Israeli and American security officials.
July 7, 2010 Briefs
• Russian scientist Igor Sutyagin serving 15 years as a US spy expects to be swapped for the alleged Russian spy ring members held in the US.
• Warsaw court orders Israeli named Uri Brodsky extradited to Germany to face charge of forging passport used by one of Hamas leader's killers in Dubai. debkafile: Berlin prosecutors convinced he is one of Mossad's top agents in Europe but he won't be charged with espionage.
• UAE's US ambassador: Eliminating Iran's nuclear threat to Persian Gulf states calls for military strikes on its program. He later claimed he was quoted out of context.
• Iran's nuclear negotiator Salehi says sanctions will slow its nuclear progress but not stop it outright.
• Netanyahu ends his Washington visit in meeting with Gates before leaving for New York.
• Israeli military spokesman says Hizballah has scattered hundreds of new posts across S. Lebanon which the IDF will have to destroy in another war. Most are located alongside schools, hospitals, residential areas.
• Erdogan phones Hizballah's Nasrallah to convey Turklsh people's condolences for death of Lebanese Shiite leader Ayatollah Fadlallah. This is Turkish PM's latest move to cultivate Hizballah.
• Turkish Airlines reduces passenger flights to Israel, confines them to small craft.
• Hamas says five Gazans will be tried for treason over alleged collaboration with Israel.
Mubarak has cancer of the esophagus
07 July: Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, 83, arrived in Paris this week – officially for meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri. But our sources say he went for medical tests at the exclusive Percy Military Hospital of Clamart, outside Paris, debkafile's Middle East sources report. The tests were to show how urgent temporary surgery was to contain the cancerous cells which appear to be spreading.
His son, Gemal Mubarak, 52, has been quietly endorsed as successor by Egypt's military and intelligence leaderships. He must now show he is fit to fill his father's shoes.
July 8, 2010 Briefs
• Three suspected al Qaeda operatives arrested in Oslo, foiling an alleged terrorist plot linked to similar plans in New York and UK. They are said to have planned powerful bombing attacks like the NYC subway suicide attack thwarted last year.
• Many thousands marched in Jerusalem Thursday to highlight the plight of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held by Hamas for four years in total isolation. His parents Noam and Aviva Shalit end the 12-day protest march by camping outside the PM's residence until the soldier is freed.
• Iran convicts woman to death by stoning for adultery. She confessed after 99 lashes.
Moscow will finish Iran's nuclear reactor before schedule
08 July: Moscow and Tehran have announced that the nuclear reactor Russia is building Iran at Bushehr has completed all its test-runs and the plant will be up and running in early September – before schedule.
debkafile's military sources reported several times in recent months that the Iranian reactor at Bushehr also has military applications. Chief among them is the reuse of its fuel rods to produce plutonium for powering atomic weapons.