A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending April 16, 2015
April 3, 2015 Briefs
- Netanyahu: Israel’s survival is not up for negotiation
In an address to the nation Friday, PM Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated that the proposed deal with Iran “poses a real threat to the region and the world as well as to Israel’s existence.” The defense cabinet unanimously expressed its opposition to the Lausanne “framework” deal, Netanyahu said. ” A permanent accord with Iran must include the Islamic Republic’s explicit recognition of Israel’s existence.”
April 4, 2015 Briefs
- Hizballah: Obama capitulates to Khamenei
Ibrahim Al-Amin, editor of the influential Al Akihbar newspaper and Hizballah supporter reports “The West has capitulated to Iran. Iran’s enemies heard Obama saying: ‘I am at your service, Khamenei.’”
- Somali Shabaab threatens to “paint Kenya’s streets red with blood”
The al-Qaeda-linked Somali Shabaab terrorists swore Saturday to step up its attacks on Kenya’s main cities, for joining Mogadishu’s war on the Islamists terrorists. Thursday, four gunmen murdered 148 people at Kenya’s Garissa College campus, sparing only Muslim students.
The Lausanne nuclear “deal”: An exercise in spin and counter-spin from Lausanne
4 Apr. The Iranian document disputing Washington’s “fact sheets on the Lausanne nuclear negotiations appeared first in debkafile on March 3 before any other international publication. It accused the US of "spinning" legally non-binding "solutions" to cover up gaps on enrichment, sanctions, research and development and verification, and insisted that all sanctions against Iran be annulled on the same day as an accord and new sanctions banned. The inspections reported in the fact sheets are omitted. The paper asserts that Iran’s nuclear program including enrichment will continue and none of its nuclear facilities shut down, including Natanz, Fordo, Isfahan and Arak. Finally, the “package” stressed that the six powers “does not have legal binding.”
April 5, 2015 Briefs
- Egypt sends large naval-marine force to Bab el-Mandeb
debkafile’s military sources report that Egypt Sunday transferred war ships and marine forces to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait to reinforce its security against Iranian-backed Houthi control. Six Egyptian warships and at least 1,000 marines are now deployed at the vital shipping gateway.
- Iran sends Hamas massive aid to rebuild tunnels – report
Iran has transferred tens of millions of dollars to Hamas's military wing in Gaza to help it rebuild the tunnels destroyed in last summer's conflict with Israel, and fund new missile supplies to replenish the stocks used up in bombing Israeli towns and villages.
April 6, 2015 Briefs
- Kenya says destroys two Al Shabaab camps in Somalia
The Kenyan air force has destroyed two al Shabaab camps in the Gedo region of Somalia, it said on Monday, in the first major military response since the Islamist group massacred dozens of students at a Kenyan university last week.
- Iranian lawmakers: Yemen war will backfire on Saudi Arabia
Iranian lawmakers have unanimously denounced Saudi Arabia’s military intervention against Yemen, warning that it will undoubtedly backfire on Riyadh.
Obama explains why nuclear deal with Iran is good for Israel
6 Apr. “If anyone messes with Israel, America will be there.” This conciliatory message was issued by US President Barack Obama in a New York Times interview Monday, April 6. In it, he urged Israel to accept the nuclear deal as the “best bet” and rely on America to “have its back” against Iranian or any other hostility. debkafile: This message, though important, does not cover Iranian’s ongoing aggressive drive for regional expansion by conventional military means backed by terror, or loosen the noose Iran is already tightening around Israel’s borders.
April 7, 2015 Briefs
- US aids Saudi effort in Yemen with arms, coordination center
Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Riyadh Tuesday: “… we have expedited weapons deliveries, we have increased our intelligence sharing, and we have established a joint coordination planning cell in the Saudi operation center."
- Zarif: Iran can build a nuclear bomb any time
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif Tuesday accused the US of “spreading lies” about the understandings reached in Lausanne. He then said the powers had been informed that Iran was able to build a bomb any time it wished, but refrained from doing so because of religious prohibitions.
- Nasrallah: Nuclear deal rules out specter of regional war
Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Monday that the nuclear accord reached in Lausanne “rules out the specter of regional war and world war.” As for Israel, he hinted that Hizballah was preparing for another war, adding, “And there are no longer any agreed rules of engagement.”
- Obama rejects Israel’s call for Iran to recognize Israel’s right to exist
US President Barack Obama has rejected a call by Israel for any nuclear agreement with Iran to be conditional on Tehran's recognition of the Jewish state's right to exist. "The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel, is really akin to saying that we won't sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms," he said. "And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment."
- Saudi king: Security hinges on “non-interference in Arab affairs”
A statement after a weekly cabinet meeting chaired by King Salman said Saudi Arabia "hopes the [nuclear] agreement [between the six powers and Iran] “will reinforce security and stability in the region and the world.” Security hinged on "the respect of the principle of good neighborly relations and non-interference in Arab affairs,” the statement stressed.
Saudis prevent Russian evacuations from Yemen by air, bomb Moscow’s spy center in Aden
7 Apr. debkafile reports exclusively that the Russians were prevented from evacuating nationals from Yemen by air by a Saudi warning banning the landing of Russian flights at any Yemeni airport from March 27, when the Saudi Air Force took control of Yemeni airspace. The evacuations eventually took place by sea to Cairo. Meanwhile, Saudi Air Force F-15s demolished the Russian consulate in Aden which secretly housed a regional spy facility that fed Iran with ongoing data on military movements.
April 8, 2015 Briefs
- Former secretaries of state Kissinger and Schultz pan nuclear deal
“Mixing shrewd diplomacy with open defiance of UN resolutions, Iran has gradually turned the negotiation on its head,” former US Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz wrote in the Wall Street Journal Wednesday. “Iran’s centrifuges have multiplied about 100 since the negotiations began to almost 20,000 today.” The threat of war constrains the West more than Iran, whereas critics question the verifiability of constraints and their long-term impact on regional and world stability.
The two former statesmen note that Iran “permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product,” only placing them under temporary restriction and safeguard. They question whether the IAEA is up to the daunting task of inspecting the declared sites, when Iran has a long history of violating international agreements.
- Iran sends warship flotilla including helicopter carrier to Yemen offshore
The Iranian Navy's 34th flotilla of warships left Bandar Abbas port for the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday amid reports of heavy fighting for control of the center of Yemen’s port town of Aden. It comprises the Alborz destroyer and Bushehr helicopter-carrier warship which are assigned to spend three months in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea off the coast of Yemen.
- Tehran: “Dire consequences” if Saudis don’t back off Yemen
Iran's Head of the Judiciary, Sadeq Amoli Larijani, warned Saudi Arabia to “stop aggression” against Yemen or wait for dire consequences.
- Two Israeli soldiers injured in Palestinian stabbing attack near Shilo
A Palestinian attacked two 20-year old soldiers near Shilo on the West Bank Wednesday. One soldier was critically injured by a deep slash to the throat; the second was slightly hurt but managed to shoot the terrorist dead as he went for more victims.
A sinister new partnership: Assad looses ISIS against Yarmouk Palestinians
8 Apr. Obama’s detente with Iran and recognition of Bashar Assad’s key role in Syria has produced an incredibly sinister new twist in the Syrian war. The Yarmouk refugee camp and its 16,000 occupants face not one enemy, but two: the Islamic State and Assad’s army, which opened the way for the ISIS attack. Assad first agreed to split energy revenues with ISIS and went on to outsource the terrorists for a demonstration in Yarmouk to allies and foes alike that he holds the whip hand in the Syrian war and the fate of the Palestinians. This ad hoc arrangement is giving ISIS its cheapest victory yet.
April 9, 2015 Briefs
- US Air Force refuels Saudi planes on Yemen air strikes
The US Air Force has begun an aerial refueling mission for the Saudi Arabian-led mission engaged in air strikes on Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, at the rate of one per day. A US KC-135 Stratotanker flew its first mission Wednesday, refueling a Saudi-owned F-15 Eagle and an UAE F-16 Fighting Falcon.
- Khamenei breaks silence on nuclear deal with equivocal comment
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Thursday delivered a much-awaited comment on the nuclear framework concluded in Lausanne last week with the world powers. He said, "What has been done so far does not guarantee an agreement, or its contents, or even that the negotiations will continue to the end," On no account will Iran rescind its demand for the immediate removal of all sanctions.
April 10, 2015 Briefs
- Pakistan reneges on pledge of military support for Saudis in Yemen
Saudi Arabia had relied on a Pakistani pledge of ships, aircraft and troops to boost the Sunni Arab coalition’s intervention to stem the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel advances in Yemen. Riyadh’s hopes were dashed by the Pakistani parliament’s veto against military involvement.
- Cyber attack claimed by ISIS crashes 11 French TV channels
All 11 French TV5Monde stations were struck Thursday by hackers, their programming replaced on TV screens by messages threatening the producers and lauding the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIS. Also hacked were TV5Monde social media and internet. debkafile’s cyber expert: The hackers appear to have previously planted covert malware in the network’s computer network
Kerry warns Iran: US won’t stand by for interference in Yemen
Secretary of State John Kerry warned Iran Wednesday that the US would not "stand by" as the Middle East became destabilized by Tehran’s support for Yemeni rebels, whose military advances had forced the country’s US- and Saudi-backed president to flee. Kerry justified Saudi Arabia and allied Gulf air strikes against Houthi targets since March 26.
Iran, Saudi Arabia in tense buildup off Yemen’s shore
10 Apr. Saudi-Iranian saber-rattling over Yemen reached a dangerous peak Thursday, April 9: The Saudi army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Al-Assiri, warned that the Iranian flotilla of warships posted to the Gulf of Aden would not be permitted to enter Yemeni territorial waters. Iranians “remaining in Yemen” would suffer the same fate as the Houthi rebels, he said, because they served the rebels as military instructors. debkafile: If the Iranian Boushehr helicopter carrier moved into Yemeni waters, it would hold the western Saudi shore within range of its missiles. Washington has left no doubt that its other understandings with Tehran don’t extend to licensing a clash with Saudi Arabia.
Nonetheless, an Iranian-Saudi clash of arms in the Red Sea can’t be ruled out. Egyptian and Iranian warships have already exchanged fire over the Bab El-Mandeb Strait. Friday, Riyadh banned flights carrying Iranian pilgrims to Mecca.
April 12, 2015 Briefs
- Saudis: Iran is not in charge of Yemen
Dismissing Tehran’s call for a Yemen ceasefire, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal stressed Sunday:: “Iran is not in charge of Yemen.” debkafile: One of the strongest statements coming out of Riyadh highlighted the rising competition between the Sunni oil kingdom and the Shiite Islamic republic over the lead role in the region.
Obama still optimistic in face of a skittish Iran – which is not dismayed by US bunker buster
12 Apr. The Obama administration is swinging between conflicting signals on the Iranian nuclear deal. In the face of tough conditions laid down by Tehran, the US president said in Panama Sunday, April 12: “Iran has it own politics and “hardliners” who need to be satisfied, but “there may be ways to structure the final nuclear deal that achieve core objectives while satisfying Iran’s pride.” Just Saturday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said: “We have the capability to shut down, set back and destroy the Iranian nuclear program.” This confusion is amply exploited by Tehran to dodge commitments.
April 13, 2015 Briefs
- An estimated 6,000 Europeans have joined ISIS
A top EU official estimates that more than 6,000 individuals have left for Syria to fight with ISIS, in an interview to Le Figaro Monday. But the total figure could be much higher because it is difficult to track Europeans who left to fight with the jihadis.
- ISIS threatens America with 9/11 repeat
“America thinks it’s safe because of its geographical location,” says the voiceover in a new ISIS video presentation. “But this dream is a mirage.” The video reprising the 9/11 attacks on America shows beheadings of American journalists and Syrian captives. It highlights the role of Ahmed Coulibaly, who murdered four Jewish hostages in a French kosher supermarket in January, but omits mention of the Charlie Hebdo massacre on the same day.
El-Sisi reshuffles top counter-terror Sinai, Navy, Suez commands
13 Apr. President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi was spurred Sunday, April 12, to make a clean sweep of his top military intelligence, Navy and Second Field Army command by two more deadly attacks in northern Sinai by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the lslamic State’s local branch. They claimed 13 deaths, seven of them Egyptian troops, including two officers, and injured more than 50. To stem the attacks and smuggling of arms and fighters, the military intelligence chief was sacked, the Navy commander replaced, the Sinai force given a new top officer and the Suez Canal Administration strengthened.
Sniper fire from Gaza as part of Hamas buildup for war
14 Apr. Hamas snipers have begun harassing Israelis living and serving security functions around the Gaza Strip in recent weeks – a scare tactic apparently evolving into a major offensive as the Palestinian terrorists make massive preparations for the coming showdown. debkafile: They have got hold of the new-generation Austrian Steyr HS.50 sniper’s rifle, with an effective range of more than 3 km and a thermal laser range-finder for night combat. Its extensive use may be the terrorist group’s next surprise tactic, while also working round the clock on new tunnels and testing new rockets out at sea. If and when the Steyr rifle reaches such West Bank towns as Tulkarm and Qalqilya, Hamas would have a weapon capable of immobilizing Israeli life within its range. Its easy mobility would present IDF counter-terror units with a new predicament.
April 15, 2015 Briefs
- Israel marks annual Holocaust Remembrance Day
Memorials and ceremonies were conducted in Israel Wednesday night and continue Thursday to mark the national day of mourning for the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust and remember the many acts of heroism. President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu joined survivors and their families at the central state ceremony at the Yad Vashem center in Jerusalem Wednesday.
At 10 a.m. Thursday, the country observed two minutes silence.
People from all over the world gathered in Poland for the annual March of the Living from the Auschwitz extermination camp to Birkenau. This year event marked 70 years since the end of World War II and the Holocaust.
Pope Francis sent a message of support to the marchers, the first pontiff to do so since the event was established 27 years ago.
Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry recorded more than 770 violent anti-Semitic attacks worldwide in the past year, a 40 percent increase over the previous year. Most attacks took place in western European countries.
There are 189,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel, 45,000 of them live in poverty, the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims says in its annual report. Their average age is 83.3.
- A rocket or mortar shell from Syria explodes on Golan
The projectile fired from Syria exploded near the IDF Tel Hazaka position on the Golan Wednesday night. Military sources suggested it was a stray shell or rocket from heavy fighting in southern Syria.
Moscow has no S-300 missiles available for Iran
15 Apr. Moscow does not have any S-300 air defense missiles available for Iran, despite President Vladimir Putin’s decree for ending their embargo, debkafile reports exclusively. The Russian arms industry can’t keep up with Russia’s own army’s rising needs of this advanced system for knocking out warplanes and missiles for use in the Ukraine war. Another hurdle is the lack of Iranian teams capable of operating any of the S-300 categories. Moscow and Tehran have yet to decide which of those categories is right for Iran, a process calling for many more months of negotiations.
April 16, 2015 Briefs
- Man killed, woman injured in Jerusalem terror attack
A car driven by a Palestinian swerved onto a bus stop at the French Hill junction in Jerusalem after midnight Wednesday, striking Shalom Yohai Cherki, 25, a local resident, who later died in hospital, and a woman in her twenties, who was gravely injured. The driver from north Jerusalem was also hurt and hospitalized. He is being interrogated along with his passenger as suspects in a terrorist crime using a vehicle as a weapon. After knocking the two victims to the ground, the driver reversed his car in an attempt to trample them under his wheels. The car crashed into a pole injuring the driver.