A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending June 16, 2011
June 10, 2011 Briefs
• Witnesses: Five Syrian helicopters fire machine guns to disperse protesters in Maaret al-Numaan.
• Israeli police used tear gas to disperse stone-throwing Arabs on Temple Mount.
• Norway withdraws from NATO operation against Libya day after appeals for more members to join.
• Karzai on visit to Islamabad at Zardari's invitation.
• Tent cities in Turkey absorb swelling stream of Syrian refugees.
• Erdogan called Syrian crackdown inhumane and barbaric. He said treatment of women's bodies killed by security forces was "an atrocity".
• US Defense Secretary Gates predicts a "dim, if not dismal" future for NATO. On eve of his retirement he blames members' "penny-pinching and lack of political will.
Turkey to send troops into Syria
10 June. The Syrian crisis has taken a dramatic turn: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Friday night, June 10, decided to move his army into northern Syria where battles were blazing in Idlib, Maarat al-Numaan and Jisr al-Shuhour, debkafile's sources report. His government is considering the timeline for the mission, which will most likely be defined as the protection of civilian lives against a barbaric ruler and cite the UN Security Council resolution mandating the NATO operation against Libya.
It is also preparing refugee camps on the Syrian side of the border to stem the flow of refugees into Turkey.
June 11, 2011 Briefs
• US accuses Syrian government of creating humanitarian crisis and urges it to stop offensive.
• At least 25 killed in two blasts in Pakistani town of Peshawar.
• Palestinians stone Israeli car Saturday night near gas station on 443 highway north of Jerusalem. Palestinian gunfire on Israeli soldiers manning Jalameh roadblock near Jenin. No one hurt.
Al Qaeda's dead East Africa terror chief targeted the US and Israel
11 June. For more than 15 years, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, 38, slithered out of every US and Israeli undercover operation to nab him, often with minutes to spare. This week, his luck turned: The Somali sentries who shot him dead at a roadblock outside Mogadishu had no idea who he was. debkafile: His death was a boon for Israel against whose targets he orchestrated several deadly attacks. The most lethal and least reported was the 1996 hijack of Ethiopian Airways flight 961 en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi. During its forced landing opposite the Comoros, Fazul and his men murdered five heads of Israel's Aviation Industries and a security guard, together with the CIA station head in the Ethiopian capital, Leslie Shed, and the deputy commander of the Ukrainian air force.
They were heading for a meeting at the King David Hotel, in Jerusalem, with US, Ukrainian and Israeli teams to clinch a deal for Ukrainian jets for Ethiopia. To this day, all four governments have maintained a tight blackout on the episode. It saw the light of day in only one publication, debkafile.
The Battle of Jisr a-Shughour and Erdogan's election hopes
11 June. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan needs the Sunni Muslims of the embattled Syrian town of Jisr a-Shughour whom he is championing to win the day against Bashar Assad's tanks, helicopters and soldiers, to support his bid for the role of leading Muslim power. The outcome of this showdown is also watched avidly by Sunni Muslims across the Middle East because it is the first Arab uprising in which the Muslim Brotherhood has directly engaged an Arab army in battle.
The Turkish prime minister's decision to send troops into Syria and establish a buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border (as debkafile first reported Friday, June 10) is a gamble that spells finis to the Turkish-Iranian pact and his hopes of serving as a bridge spanning Sunnis and Shiites.
June 12, 2011 Briefs
• Libyan State TV broadcasts pictures of Col. Qaddafi dated Sunday. He told the World Chess Federation Kirsan Ilyumzhinov with whom he played that he had no plans to stand down or leave Libya.
• Jordan's king promies major reform: Future cabinets will be formed according to an elected parliamentary majority.
• Jonathan Pollard's family appeals to President Obama to allow him to visit his dying father.
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood delegation in Gaza amid spy scandal propaganda in Cairo
12 June. The first Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood delegation ever has been allowed to visit the Gaza Strip and meet Palestinian Hamas leaders. An unparalleled wave of anti-Israeli venom in Cairo coincided with the delegation's arrival Sunday, June 12: a "Mossad officer" was accused of plotting to sabotage the Egyptian revolution and "inciting sectarian violence" against Copts; Israel was charged with contaminating farm products for Egyptian consumption and former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon implicated in ex-President Hosni Mubarak's "corrupt" gas transaction.
The prime movers behind this campaign of anti-Israel defamation are named by debkafile's intelligence sources as Gen. Murad Muwafi, Minister of Intelligence and the Supreme State Security Prosecutor Hisham Badawi. The third figure is Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Alarabi, who soon takes office as Secretary General of the Arab League.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and nine members of his government were out of the country on an exceptionally friendly visit to Italy when Cairo dropped its bombshell. A joint session with the Berlusconi government awaited them with other notable events.
June 13, 2011 Briefs
• Jordan's King Abdullah II was unharmed when a group of young men attacked his motorcade in the southern city of Tafileh with stones and empty bottles.
• debkafile: 4,000 soldiers defect from Syrian army and cross over to the rebels.
• Syria begins to seal Turkish border to block Ankara's unilateral cordon sanitaire plan.
• Second day of anti-Israel propaganda in Cairo Monday after "Israeli Mossad officer" detained as alleged spy.
• Iranian riot police and militia used batons and tear gas to break of hundreds of protesters in a silent rally in Tehran. They marked second anniversary of protests against rigged presidential election.
US-Israeli backdoor exchanges to free alleged Israeli spy
13 June. debkafile: The US and Israel are seeking the quick release of the US-Israeli Ilan Grapel, detained as an alleged Mossad spy before the agitation against him as an alleged fomenter of Muslim-Coptic strife makes this impossible.
As debkafile reported Sunday, Egyptian Intelligence Minister Murad Muwafi and State Security Prosecutor Hisham Badawi have smeared the "Israeli spy scandal" on front pages worldwide as part of a calculated campaign to blacken Israel's name.
14 June 2011 Briefs
• Abbas has made a date to meet Hamas leader Meshaal in Cairo next week after talking to visiting US officials on the restart of negotiations with Israel.
• Foreign Ministry: Israeli embassy staff visited Ilan Grapel in place of detention, discussed charges against him with Egyptian prosecution and will continue to look after his interests. US Embassy representative visited him Monday.
• At least 9 killed, 32 injured in three-hour siege of Diyala government compound in Baquba east of Baghdad. The attackers detonated two suicide car bombs, then stormed the compound taking hostages. Past al Qaeda attacks in Iraq followed similar pattern.
• More than 12,000 Syrians flee to Turkey and Lebanon.
• Germany recognizes Benghazi rebel government, may send peace force post Qaddafi.
• Netanyahu and nine ministers end Rome visit with joint statement with Berlosconi rejecting Palestinian UN initiative for state recognition.
US naval movements around Syria. Hizballah moves rockets
14 June. Iran Tuesday, June 14, warned the US against military intervention in Syria. debkafile reports an American naval and ship-borne missile interceptor build-up in the Mediterranean along with US fleet movements in the Aegean, Adriatic and Black Seas. The US Bataan with 2,000 marines, 6 fighter-bombers and 27 helicopters aboard is deployed opposite Syrian shores. The USS Monterrey cruiser armed with Aegis surface missile interceptors has been stationed in the Black Sea. Western sources additionally report a build-up of ship-borne anti-missile missile strength in the Mediterranean basin. Warned of a possible US operation against Syria, Hizballah is moving its ground-to-ground rocket arsenal from northern Lebanon to the center.
Western intelligence sources in the Persian Gulf are sure Washington is coordinating its military movements with Ankara and that Erdogan quietly agreed to place Turkish bases at US disposal for an operation in Syria.
June 15, 2011 Briefs
• Iran has launched the Rasad 1 satellite into orbit by the home-made Safir 2 rocket.
• debkafile: Its mastery of satellite technology means Iran has missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads anywhere on the planet.
• UK PM Cameron summons Royal Navy chief Adm. Mark Stanhope for dressing-down. Tuesday, the admiral warned UK participation in Libya conflict is unsustainable.
• Changing of the guard on Israel's northern borders with Syria and Lebanon. Maj. Gen. Gady Eisenkott hands over to Maj. Gen. Yair Golan.
• Libya has bought a thousand tickets to the 2012 Olympics in London. Muammar Qaddafi's son Muhammad is head of Libya's Olympic committee.
Last preparations for restart of Israel-Palestinian talks
15 June. The final touches on US President Barack Obama's push to revive Israel-Palestinian negotiations are being put in place by his Middle East advisers David Hale and Dennis Ross and the legal adviser to the National Security Council Jonathan Schwartz who arrived in Israel Tuesday, June 14. After tying up arrangements in Jerusalem, the group moved on to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
debkafile reports that Israeli and Palestinian leaders have dropped their pre-conditions and agreed to sit down and talk.
Complete secrecy will be observed. To avoid another breakdown, it has been agreed that if the talks run into an impasse on any issue, the parties will move on to an easier item. This mechanism should keep the talks afloat well into the US presidential campaign year of 2012. Obama also hopes Abbas will be deterred from
going ahead with his quest for UN recognition of a state within the 1967 lines. Quiet diplomatic activity has netted pledges to oppose his motion from major powers on every continent.