A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Weeks Ending July 7, 2011

Turkey renews strategic ties with Israel ahead of showdown with Syria

25 June. As Turkey heads for a military showdown with Syria, Ankara and Jerusalem have agreed to restore military and intelligence collaboration in the eastern Mediterranean, debkafile reports. The deal worked out between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also returns Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to a role in Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy and gives him a chance to try and bring Hamas aboard. Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon finalized the details in secret talks in Ankara.

June 27, 2011 Briefs
• Two people injured in Beersheba when attacked by an Arab with a pickaxe. He is sought by the police.
• Radical Palestinian Popular Front network smashed in Ramallah, West Bank in joint Shin Bet, Police, IDF counter-terror operation. Jerusalem residents with Israeli IDs were among cell members – some in contact with Damascus and Tehran. They were plotting to abduct an Israeli soldier, shooting attacks on West Bank highways and Jerusalem.
• Qaddafi offers UN-supervised elections to decide if he stays in power.

Iran poised to hit back for US-Turkish attack on Syria. Iron Dome battery moved to Haifa

27 June. Iran's big war game was launched Monday, June 27 ahead of a Turkish operation against Syria's Assad regime anticipated by its military and Revolutionary Guards chiefs, with the unveiling of its first underground missile silo. debkafile reports Tehran expects the Turkish army to have US air and naval support in case of Iranian reprisals against them both.
Israel has responded to Iran's military preparations by positioning an Iron Dome rocket interceptor battery in the northern city of Haifa.
Last week, Iranian warships and submarines deployed in the Red Sea tracked the movements of two big US aircraft carriers, the USS Enterprise and USS George H. W Bush, which crossed each other in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait on June 21 heading in opposite directions through this strategic chokepoint between the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean.
The USS Enterprise was on its way from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean via the Red Sea and Suez Canal, while the USS George H.W. Bush headed in the opposite direction for the Persian Gulf with a crew of 9,000 and 70 fighter bombers. The Los Angeles-class USS Bremerton nuclear-powered attack submarine took up position off Bahrain opposite Iran.

June 28, 2011 Briefs
• A NATO helicopter fired on and killed three terrorists so ending Taliban's 6-hour siege on Kabul Intercontinental Hotel.
• Assad receives US Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Dem.) and delegation visiting Syria and Lebanon.
• Israel arrests four Hamas members, including an MP, in West Bank Nablus region Tuesday, say Palestinian security sources.

Iran tests missiles for hitting Israel, US bases, will launch monkey into space

28 June. Tuesday, June 28, Day Two of its war games, Iran flexed muscle in the direction of the US and Israel. After simultaneously test-firing 14 2,000-kilometer-range missiles at a single target, Com. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards' aerospace division, emphasized: "Iranian missiles can target US bases in Afghanistan and any part of Israeli territory."
debkafile: Iran is working at top speed on missiles capable of reaching West Europe and North America: They are Shahab-4, for targets at a distance of 3,200-4,000 kilometers; the Sejjil (2,500 kilometers) and the Ashura-Ghadr 110A (3,000 kilometers).
Shahab-4 and Ashura/Ghadr 110A are quite capable of hitting central and western Europe. Iran is furthermore developing intercontinental ballistic missiles – Shahab-5 (5,000 kilometers) and Shahab-6 (10,000 kilometers) – which put North America within range. In July, Tehran plans to put a monkey in space.

June 29, 2011 Briefs
• Tehran launches new radar system for detecting cruise and ballistic missiles.
• Israeli Islamic Movement leader Sheikh Raad Salah detained in London. He entered UK against Home Office ban of entry over anti-Semitic rhetoric. The British Home Secretary orders Salah's illegal entry thoroughly investigated.

June 30, 2011 Briefs
• Senior Saudi Prince Turki: "If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, that will be unacceptable to us and we will have to follow suit".
• NATO blamed Pakistani extremist Haqqani network for suicide-shooting attack on Kabul five-start hotel this week. Top network leader Ismail Jan killed later by NATO targeted air strike near Afghan-Pakistani border.
• Pakistan has ended US drone flights out of Shamis base in Baluchistan – Financial Times.
• More than 1,000 injured in Tahrir Square clashes between police and demonstrators calling for speedier reforms.

Another ticking bomb for Assad: UN Hariri tribunal

30 June. The Lebanese capital was only the first stop for a delegation of the UN-backed Special Tribal for Lebanon investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. Thursday, June 30, the group arrived in Beirut and presented four arrest warrants against top Hizballah officers. Its next destination is Damascus with a second batch of warrants against Syrian officials suspected of controlling the Hizballah hit-team in the commission of the murder.
The three wanted Hizballah operatives are Sami Issa and Salim Ayyash, top officers of Hizballah's security apparatus and Mustafa Badreddine, a relative of its late commander, Imad Moughniyeh who died in a bombing attack in Damascus. The fourth is unknown. The Lebanese authorities were given 30 days to execute the arrest warrants.
debkafile reports the Syrian officials most often mentioned as wanted by the tribunal are Gen. Asif Showqat, brother-in-law of President Bashar Assad, former chief of Syrian military intelligence and currently Syrian chief of staff; and Rostom Ghazale, the Syrian strongman behind the Lebanese government at the time of the murder. Today, he is Assad's personal arm in suppressing the uprising against his regime in southern and eastern Syria.

Iran has conducted 4 nuclear-missile tests – 3 successful

30 June. debkafile offers exclusive details on the British Foreign Secretary William Hague's allegation Wednesday, June 29, that Iran has carried out secret tests of missiles capable of delivering a nuclear payload in breach of UN resolution 1929: Three of those tests, four in all, were carried out between October 2010 and February 2011and the fourth on Tuesday, June 28, in the course of the Prophet Mohammed war games currently in progress. Three tests by Sejjil and Shahab-3 Kadar were successful.

July 2, 2011 Briefs
• Libyan rebels now say Qaddafi can retire on Libyan soil under international supervision.
• Iran has smuggled new munitions to militia allies in Iraq and Afghan. Rocket-assisted exploding missiles have already killed US troops in Iraq. Long-range rockets will help Taliban hit US targets from a safe distance.
• Israel's transport minister Israel Katz warns hundreds of Hamas supporters heading for Israel on July 8 for anti-Israel riot at airport. They plan to arrive separately from several countries.
• Assad sacks Hama governor for failing to break up demonstration of half a million Friday. At least 28 killed by Syrian security forces and troops across country.

US and NATO prepare end game for Qaddafi. He threatens terror

2 July. Libyan Ruler Muammar Qaddafi's threat to "throw ourselves on Europe like swarms of locusts or bees" to attack "your homes, your offices, your families" may be meant to scare NATO off its coming all-out military offensive to kill or oust him – or may be for real. If forced to quit, debkafile reports he could seek asylum with friendly African Sahel tribes like the al Qaeda-linked Tuareg, which also provide him with mercenaries. From there, he could orchestrate a campaign of terror.
But the threat he relayed by audio to a huge pro-government rally in Tripoli Friday, July 1may be his last warning for NATO as its all-out military bid him reaches its last stage of planning. US forces will take part despite US President Barack Obama's denials of direct military intervention in the Libya war.

Israel, Greece, Turkey join hands to stall Gaza flotilla

2 July The organizers of Freedom Flotilla II against Israel's naval blockade on Gaza – among them Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal's son-in-law Hamoud Tareq – never dreamed the stalling of their expedition would be served up as the founding step of the nascent pro-US Israel-Greek-Turkish alliance. The organizers discovered their mistake Friday, July 1, when fast Greek coastguard commando boats escorted the American "Audacity of Hope" back to port and Athens announced any vessels departing for Gaza would be stopped.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou though fighting for his life against furious domestic protest found time to scotch the anti-Israel flotilla. He was not alone: The Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan withheld permission from the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish vessel which led the first pro-Palestinian flotilla last year, to sail for Gaza. Flotilla vessels were mysteriously sabotaged in Greek and Turkish ports.
debkafile explains their cooperation with Israel by the US President Barack Obama's close understanding with the Turkish prime minister and their decision to establish a new Turkish-Israeli-Greek bloc in the eastern Mediterranean.

July 4, 2011 Briefs
• Missing British soldier found dead Monday in S. Afghanistan hours after UK PM Cameron arrived In Kabul. Taliban claimed to have snatched him.
• Turkey freezes Libyan bank assets Monday after recognizing Libya's rebel administration, quietly removing ambassador from Tripoli.
• Second day of gunfire and mass arrests in Hama after half a million protesters turned out against Assad Friday. Tanks move out and advance on Idlib.
• At least 20 arrested in small demonstration outside Saudi interior ministry for release of political detainees.
• Heads-up on violent pro-Hamas outbreak this month prompts extraordinary security measures at Ben Gurion for arrivals from Europe. Passport checks carried out before passengers reach terminal passport control.
• Lebanese source say UN-backed Tribunal to release another 14-17 indictments and arrest warrants against Hariri murder suspects this month. Four Hizballah leaders already named.
• Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood splits into five parties to run separately in September general election.
• Last-ditch bid to avert NATO's final attack on Qaddafi takes place at Sochi where Russian FM Medvedev met with NATO chief Rasmussen and African Union President Zuma Monday. Qaddafi's son Saif a-Islam repeated warning of reprisals against Europe for NATO war.

Hamas blows up gas pipeline in revenge for flotilla failure

4 July. The pipeline carrying Egyptian natural gas to Israel and Jordan via Sinai was blown up early Monday, July 4, for the third time in six months. All three attacks were carried out according to debkafile's military sources, by a special Hamas pipeline sabotage unit working with al Qaeda-allied Bedouin smugglers in Sinai. This time, the Hamas retaliated for the stoppage of the international flotilla before it could set out to break the Israeli naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Israel and Egypt again failed to guard the vital gas line against attack any more than Hamas has been prevented from seizing control of much of northern Sinai since Hosni Mubarak's overthrow. For Monday's attack, the terrorists parked a bomb car near the pipeline in the Bir al-Abd area and activated it remotely before driving off in another vehicle.

Palestinian financial crisis puts squeeze on Abbas to drop UN initiative

4 July. The Palestinian Authority is broke. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad appealed to "donors and our Arab brothers" Sunday, June 3, for urgent assistance after being forced to halve civil servants' July wages. PA finances are suffering from the backlash of recession in the West and the Arab revolts. The US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia could save the PA from bankruptcy – in theory. But, debkafile reports, the Saudis prefer to channel cash to Jordan and Washington's bailout is conditional on Mahmoud Abbas dropping his unilateral UN initiative and going back to negotiations with Israel.
To obtain even crumbs of Saudi largesse, the Ramallah-based Palestinian government would have to follow Jordan's lead and break away from America's Middle East orientation. This PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas is deeply reluctant to do.

July 5, 2011 Briefs
• Home Front Minister Vilnai predicts thousands of missiles will hit Israeli towns in next war.
• AMAN chief Brig. Kochavi: Iran is running 5,000 active centrifuges aiming for 8,000 and capable of building a nuclear warhead within a short time.
• In briefing to Knesset security and foreign affairs panel, the intel chief confirmed Iran and Hizballah were actively aiding Syrian crackdown on protest.
They were exploiting unrest to influence the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and meddling in Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen and other places.
• Israel air force kills at least two members of Qassam missile team in Khan Younes, S. Gaza. Gunfire from Gaza injures an Israeli army civilian employee.
• Barack says the bodies of Hamas and Gazan terrorists will not be handed to the Palestinian Authority • He earlier countermanded the prime minister's approval of the transfer of 84 bodies.

US-Turkish plan for Assad's survival

5 July. The United States, Britain, France and Turkey are spearheading a plan to preserve Bashar Assad as Syrian president while cutting away his support system of relatives and political and military chiefs and replacing them with "moderate opposition" figures, debkafile reports exclusively. But the process is marred by profound mutual mistrust: The West suspects he has no intention of abandoning his savage crackdown on protest, while Assad suspects he is being set up for a Turkish invasion.
Meanwhile, Assad is lending the move qualified cooperation. The enterprise will be shot down if Hama continues to hold out against the regime. Its resistance to the Syrian army would spark a bloodbath and refugee exodus on a scale that might precipitate Turkish military intervention and seriously rock Assad's regime. Turkish troops are on standby on the Syrian border ready to cross at a moment's notice.

July 6, 2011 Briefs
• New US Transport Security Administration warning Wednesday of terrorist interest in surgically implanting bombs in people to blow up planes. This would circumvent current detection procedures. Foreign airports and airlines asked to cooperate in adding random screening measures for passengers flying to the US.
• Police on high alert at Ben Gurion airport for fly-in of pro-Palestinian activists from Europe. A handful admitted under surveillance. Another group was turned back. Many more expected before Saturday.
• At least 22 Syrians died in Hama when security forces opened fire on protesters Wednesday. London rights group reports of scores round up in Talkalakh, 9 died of torture.
• Egypt's secular Wafd Party leader says 9/11 was "made in USA," Holocaust is a lie and Anne Frank's memoir a fake. Ahmed Ezz El-Arab spoke to Washington Times ahead of Egyptian elections in September.

US-French plan: Israeli-Palestinian Paris peace summit Sept. 2 after ending Libya war

6 July. The summit would also be attended by Presidents Obama and Sarkozy. They plan for it take to place shortly after the Libyan war ends – either in a power-sharing accord, failing which NATO proposes to deal Muammar Qaddafi a knockout blow. Meanwhile, Washington has pre-empted a Palestinian attempt to convene the UN Security Council next week to approve their application for membership of the world body as an independent state.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent back Barack Obama is revised formula for the starting-point of negotiations: Israel's acceptance of 1967 borders with territorial swaps in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people. Netanyahu replied he accepted provided Obama affixed his signature to the Bush letter affirming UN Resolution 242 (defensible borders) and demographic changes since 1967.

Erdogan shuts the door on Israel when UN confirms legality of Gaza blockade

6 July. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan applied the brakes to fence-mending with Israel when he learned Wednesday, July 6, that the UN inquiry commission into last year's Turkish-led flotilla had ruled Israel's naval blockade on Gaza legal. Eight Turks and a Turkish-American were killed in a clash with Israeli commandos who boarded the Mavi Marmora. The UN ruling meant that Israel was within its rights and the Turkish vessel's attempt to break the blockade was illegal.
Israel says it has nothing to apologize for. The talks between Israeli and Turkish delegations this week prior to the publication of the UN's Palmer report broke down for lack of agreement and its release was delayed indefinitely.
debkafile's sources report the conviction of Middle East observers that the Turkish prime minister will get back to restoring ties with Israel after the flotilla report storm blows over. As US ambassador to Turkey Francis J. Ricciardone put it Wednesday: "We believe that the two countries will work together again… "

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