June 2, 2011 Briefs
• Australia seeks UN action for bringing Bashar Assad to trial for war crimes.
• Ex Mossad chief Dagan: Strike against Iran would count as state violence with unforeseen consequences. I don't know of any plan to attack Iran this year, he said.
• Clashes over dismantling of four unauthorized West Bank structures at Alei Ayin leaves 11 injured.
Cairo shuts Gaza's Rafah crossing to free passage at US insistence
2 June: Just four days after the much-heralded opening of the Rafah crossing between the Palestinian Gaza Strip and Sinai, Cairo virtually shut it down Tuesday, May 31, by a series of tight bureaucratic measures in response to a US warning that since the crossing's opening, Palestinian and al Qaeda terrorists had been roaming at large across Sinai exposing the Suez Canal to attack. After the US informed Jerusalem of the new restrictions, an Israeli defense official, Amos Gilead, arrived in Cairo to discuss security coordination with Egyptian officials, including intelligence minister Murad Muwafi, who briefed him on the new security measures at the Rafah border crossing. Hamas is furious.
Iran has enough enriched uranium for four nuclear bombs
3 June: By April 2011, Iran had accumulated a quantity of U-235 that can be enriched in short order to sufficient 90 percent (weapons grade) uranium to fuel four nuclear bombs – and attained "virtual" nuclear weapon state. This was revealed by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, American's scientific watchdog on world nuclear weapons production in its June 2 report.
By breaking the IAEA seal at the Natanz enrichment plant, Iran gained another 6-7 months for concealing the work there. That is why the military option is back on the table in Jerusalem.
June 4, 2011 Briefs
• Sustained shelling in Yemen capital despite ceasefire mediated by Saudi king Abdullah.
• UK's Hague arrives in Benghazi after first British Apache attack in Libya. Two targets hit near oil town of Brega Saturday.
• Syrian crackdown on protesters Friday leaves 150 dead, 300 injured in Hama, many killed in Deir a-Zur.
Rekindled Syrian protests could revive Syrian-Israeli border tension
4 June. Two unforeseen events Friday, June 3 rekindled Syrian protests with full force – just as Syrian President Bashar Assad was preparing to celebrate his reassertion of authority after suppressing the uprising against his regime with active Iranian and Hizballah help: The leaders of the Syrian opposition-in-exile meeting in Antalya under Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's aegis struck a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood which brought 100,000 Brotherhood loyalists back on the streets in Hama and triggered a fresh bloodbath.
Under the deal, the Muslim Brotherhood consented to introducing a clause in the "National Unity Charter" for the post-Assad regime providing for the separation of religion and state.
The MB made this concession after consulting with the group's leaders in Cairo and under heavy Turkish pressure.
June 5, 2011 Briefs
• In northern Syria, troops kill 28 anti-Assad demonstrators.
• Two Awad brothers indicted for murdering Vogel parents and their three children in Itamar. The killers who stabbed their five victims to death said they had served the Palestinian cause and had no regrets for their action.
• Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi takes over as acting Yemeni president as Saleh flies to Saudi Arabia for treatment.
• President Saleh seriously hurt with shrapnel lodged near heart from missile attack on his palace Friday.
Assad paid Golan demonstrators $1,000 apiece, but turnout scanty
5 June. Syrian President Bashar Assad's security machine is creaking judging by its failure to raise thousands of Palestinian and Syrian volunteers to brave the Israeli troops manning the Golan Sunday, June 5. debkafile reveals that even the few hundred willing to turn out demanded $1,000 for every demonstrator who cut a piece of razor wire from the Israeli border fence and $10,000 for the families of volunteers shot by Israeli troops before they reached their goal.
Assad's home front against a protest movement is sinking fast, which was why he tried to stage a piece of nation-cementing drama on the Israeli border. Syrian security agents captured by protesters were hanged from electricity poles on city high streets Sunday, causing troops and police to flee in panic.
"We are deeply troubled by events that took place earlier today in the Golan Heights," the State Department said in a statement. "We call for all sides to exercise restraint. Provocative actions like this should be avoided. Israel, like any sovereign nation, has a right to defend itself," the US statement added.
Israeli troops on night alert on Syrian border
5 June. Israel border units went on night alert Sunday, June 5 after a day spent beating back hundreds of Syrian-Palestinians attempting to storm the Golan border. Syrian TV reported a sit-in protest, claiming Israeli fire killed 20 people and injured 150 injured in round after round of assaults. Twice they breached the fortified border fence at Majd al Shams and Kuneitra during a ceasefire requested by the Red Cross but refrained from stepping across. The intruders cut through strands of barbed wire that Israel placed in an area between the fence, which is located inside Israeli-occupied territory, and the Syrian frontier designated by UN stone markers.
Sunday night, Israeli troops were attacked from behind by Majd al-Shams residents hurling rocks.
Israeli troops were instructed to shoot only after tear gas, shots in the air, fire aimed at legs and loudspeaker warnings in Arabic that they approached the border on pain of death failed to stop the advance.
The Netanyahu government earlier warned neighboring Arab leaders that Israel would not tolerate any more assaults on its borders.
North of Jerusalem, police used rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas to push hundreds of stone-throwing rioters back from the Kalandia crossing from the West Bank side. The Palestinians reported 20 minor injuries.
In Lebanon, the army and UNIFIL combined forces to prevent disturbances near the Israeli border.
June 6 2011 Briefs
• Clinton stresses need to restart Israel-Palestinian talks. Washington is testing ground for reviving direct talks as debkafile reported on May 27. PM's adviser Molcho and Palestinian negotiator Erekat in Washington.
• Syrian police blocked approach to Israeli border of small number of demonstrators Monday.
• Five US troops killed in an attack in central Iraq. An Iraqi source said they died in a rocket attack on an E. Baghdad police base where they worked as advisers.
• Turkish FM: Second thoughts about blockade-busting international flotilla to Gaza.
• Israeli Defense Minister: Bashar Assad's time is up.
• Barak: We'll have to get used to a volatile Syrian border. But we are firmly determined to keep it safe from intrusion.
• Berber tribesmen claim to have captured a town in western Libya.
• Several US drone strikes kill 17 Monday in South Waziristan. They aimed at a compound, Islamic seminary and vehicle. Several terrorist leaders including Arab nationals among the dead.
• Noam Shalit calls on France to probe Hamas kidnap of his son 5 years ago. Gilead Shalit holds dual Israel-French citizenship.
• After surgery in Riyadh Yemeni president Saleh says he will return home in two weeks.
Anti-government rebels capture parts of NW Syria, kill 120 security officers
6 June. Thousands of paramilitary rebels wielding guns and explosives have seized the northwestern Syrian region between the towns of Homs, Hama and Latakiya. Syrian State TV interrupted its broadcasts Monday, June 6, to announce that "terrorist gangs" had killed at least 120 troops and security officers, most of them in the embattled town of Jisr al-Shughour.
debkafile reports: Syrian President Bashar Assad has dispatched strategic reserve Brigade 555 and the army's 85th Brigade to regain control. A mass flight of refugees from the area headed for the Turkish border ahead of a punitive massacre.
Monday night, the rebels seized the army's explosive stores near the big dams on the Orontes River. They used a part of the five tons of explosives they gained control of to blow up the river bridges linking central and southern Syria to the northwest, to block the passage of tanks and commando reinforcements.
June 7, 2011 Briefs
• Qaddafi on State TV says he will stay in Tripoli dead or alive. We will not surrender. We welcome death," he said.
• NATO airstrikes causing 25 explosions in Tripoli hit a military base and Qaddafi's compound, according to Libyan State TV.
• Egypt to restart test pumping of gas to Israel and Jordan this week with improved security. Supply halted for weeks after two explosions. Cairo oil ministry officials say resumption would improve better price bargaining position against Israel.
• A gunman killed two Saudi police who tried to stop him crossing border into Yemen. The unidentified man was then shot dead himself.
• British Royal Marines on standby off Yemeni coast to help evacuate British nationals.
• Canadian Lebanese Hassan Diab accused of killing 4 people in 1980 bombing of Paris synagogue to be extradited to France to face murder charge.
Iranian subs to the Red Sea – a riposte to UN nuclear watchdog's indictment
7 June. The deployment of Iranian "military submarines" in the Red Sea, announced Tuesday June 7, was Tehran's response to the latest International Atomic Energy Agency's report accusing Iran of nuclear work with "possible military purposes." It was also a pointed comment on the controversy in Israel over whether or not to go for the military option. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad then delivered his most uncompromising statement yet on Iran's nuclear program, calling it "a train with no brakes or reverse gear."
According to our Iranian sources, the Iranians felt bound to respond to the information that the Israeli Navy has taken delivery – or will shortly – of two new Dolphin submarines armed according to foreign sources with nuclear missiles. The arrivals will expand Israel's nuclear-capable sub fleet to five – or a 66 percent increase.
Ahmadinejad's hardnosed comments were aimed too at the US President and German Chancellor's agreement to pile more sanctions on the Islamic Republic if it continued to forge ahead with its nuclear weapons program.
June 8, 2011 Briefs
• NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels failed to carry motion for expanding Libyan offensive.
• Ayman Zuwahri pledged to follow Bin Laden's path and carry on jihad against the crusaders and Israel.
• Nato drops 60 rockets on Tripoli Tuesday night and Wednesday morning after Qaddafi appeared on state TV receiving tribal leaders. Government reports 30 dead from the bombing of his Bab al Aziziyah compound.
Iran's transfer of enrichment to Fordo is slap in face for Obama, IAEA and Israel
8 June. Iran has struck another blow in its nuclear offensive against the world. Wednesday, Iran's atomic chief Fereydoon Abbasi Davani said Iran's 20-percent uranium enrichment would be transferred from Natanz to Fordo near Qom this summer. Improved centrifuges would triple purification capacity, he said.
debkafile reports that this move will substantially shorten Iran's road to weapons grade uranium of 90 percent. The Fordo facility, burrowed deep in a mountainside and protected by anti-air missiles, is all but invulnerable to air attack.
In Pittsburgh on Sept. 25, 2009, Obama, flanked by the British prime minister of the day, George Brown, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, publicly gave Iran two weeks to open up the surreptitious new enrichment facility at Fordo to full International inspection, failing which Washington, London and Paris would pursue joint action against the Islamic Republic.
Iran replied that the allegations were baseless and the nuclear watchdog inspectors were welcome.
June 9, 2011 Briefs
• Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat: US told us it will veto Palestinian application for full UN membership.
• Charges of murder, 6 murder attempts, endangering a public thoroughfare filed by Tel Aviv prosecutor against Islam Ibrahim Issa. On May 15, Issa, 23, from the Israeli Arab village of Kafr Kassam, rammed cars and passers-by in a 2-kilometer rampage aimed at murdering Jews. Aviv Morag died in the attack and 17 others were injured.
• UK, France, Germany Portugal condemn Syrian repression, demand humanitarian access in draft resolution to UN Security Council. Russian veto expected for sanctions or intervention against Syria.
• Refugees flee to Turkey in fear of massacre.
Moscow opposes Western anti-Syrian motions because of Libya
9 June. Russia cited NATO's "inclusive bombing of Tripoli" as grounds for objecting to the new UK-French-Portuguese motion condemning Syria for its violent crackdown on protest. After spending more than $4 billion, debkafile reports NATO's campaign against Muammar Qaddafi is running short of funds and suffering war "fatigue." The US, Britain and France consider dipping into the estimated $45 million of frozen Qaddafi funds in their banks. Qaddafi' commands about $1 trillion in cash.
The eight governments running the operation against Qaddafi failed at the NATO defense ministers' meeting in Brussels Wednesday to prod any of the other 20 members into joining in. debkafile's military sources report that this week saw a noticeable decline in Qaddafi's military and political situation. Both sides are losing ground but neither seems inclined to throw in the sponge. The conflict therefore looks like being drawn out.