A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Aug. 1, 2013
July 26, 2013 Briefs
- Moslem Brotherhood denounces Morsi detention
A Cairo investigating judge Friday ordered deposed president Mohamed Morsi detained for 15 days pending investigation into the charge of his suspected collaboration with the Palestinian Hamas to orchestrate a jailbreak during the 2011 revolution.
Rival mass rallies in Cairo after Morsi charged
26 July. At the huge pro-military rally held in Cairo Friday, July 26, demonstrators shouted slogans against Barack Obama and calls to revive Nasser’s 1960s bond with Russia. “Bye Bye America!” took the place of chants against the Muslim Brotherhood, as huge placards waved over their heads depicting a threesome: Gen. El-Sisi, Vladimir Putin and Gemal Abdel Nasser, who ruled Egypt in the 60s in close alliance with the Soviet Union. Reports in Facebook spoke of Moscow’s offer to send Egypt warplanes in place of the US F-16 fighter-bombers Obama stopped this week.
July 27, 2013 Briefs
- More than 1,000 escape Libyan prison near Benghazi
Libyans protesters stormed the headquarters of a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated political party and another Islamist-allied party. Amid the chaos, 1,000 detainees escaped from a Benghazi jail. Saturday's clashes in Libya came after the assassination of Abdul-Salam Al-Musmari, who was killed as he left a mosque. Musmari. was an outspoken opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose political wing is currently the second biggest party in Libya's General National Congress. "We don't want the Brotherhood, we want the army and the police," some protesters chanted, echoing a slogan used in Egypt.
- Explosions heard in Eilat from fighting in northern Sinai
Eilat woke up Saturday morning to the sounds of explosions. Israel and Egypt have both imposed a blackout on the fighting which broke out Friday night in northern Sinai when armed Salafists attacked three Egyptian military facilities at Rafah and Sheikh Zweid. The Egyptian army deployed Apache gun ships against the assailants after three armored vehicles were attacked. Some sources report three fatalities in the battle; other say the casualty toll is much higher.
Egypt’s Interior Minister: Pro-Morsi sit-ins will be dealt with soon
27 July. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister of Interior, blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the deadly Cairo clashes on Saturday and denied officers had fired live rounds to break up its protest. They had however, suffered wounds from buckshot fired by protesters, said the minister. According to Ibrahim, the officers used tear gas to disperse protesters on a bridge for fear it would collapse. He accused the pro-Morsi camp of exaggerating the number of casualties, which stood officially at 65 killed and 70 wounded and certainly ran into scores.
July 28, 2013 Briefs
- The Israeli cabinet approved release of 104 Palestinian prisoners
The vote went 13 ministers in favor to 7 against and two abstentions. Dozens of Israelis rallied on Sunday in Jerusalem to protest the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners, including terrorists, as a goodwill gesture toward the Palestinian government. They included families of Israelis killed in terrorist attacks. The group has also petitioned the High Court to stop the release.
Kerry builds a US-Arab superstructure to direct peace talks
28 July, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s willingness to “do everything” to avoid giving the Palestinians a pretext for not turning up for their first encounter with Israeli negotiators in Washington Tuesday, July 30, bodes ill for Israel’s bargaining position right from the start. So too does his proposal to include jailed Israeli Arabs among the 104 Palestinian prisoners to be released. He is handing out freebies far too early in the game. debkafile: John Kerry is constructing a kind of US superstructure with Arab components to stand over the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators and their principals in Jerusalem and Ramallah.
July 29, 2013 Briefs
- Kerry presents Marin Indyk as Mid-East peace envoy
The US Secretary of State John Kerry presented two-time ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk Monday as US Special Envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Veteran adviser Frank Lowenstein will assist him as deputy and as his own senior adviser, he said.
- Two Islamist leaders arrested in Cairo
Egyptian officials said Monday that Abul-Ela Madi and Essam Soltan of the Wasat Party, supporters of the ousted president Mohamed Morsi, have been arrested on suspicion of inciting violence.
- Wave of bombs against Shiites kills 55 Iraqis
Seventeen car bombs exploded across Iraq Monday, killing at least 55 people in predominantly Shi'ite areas – most of them in Sadr city of Baghdad. Moe than 820 Iraqis have died in sectarian attacks in July.
- Some 6,000 al Qaeda in Syria, including 600 from the West
Terrorism experts confirmed Israel’s military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, who warned on July 24 that Syria was today the leading jihadist battlefield in the world. Of the estimated 6,000 fighters entering Syria through Turkey, 600 come from Europe, North America and Australia and may return to the West.
Syrian army and Hizballah capture Homs
29 July. Three months after the fall of Al Qusayr, the combined Syrian and Hizballah armies have captured the key city of Homs, 162 km northeast of Damascus. Its fall opens the way for Syrian-Hizballah forces to move in on Aleppo for a decisive victory. debkafile: Washington, Jerusalem and Ankara have run out of time for quibbling over whether to step into the Syrian conflict. The Obama administration must decide fast whether to let Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers win the Syrian civil war or stop them at Aleppo.
July 30, 2013 Briefs
- Kerry: Israeli-Palestinian talks continue in two weeks
Reporting on the opening round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Washington, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the parties had agreed that “all of the final status issues, all of the core of the issues and all other issues are all on the table for negotiation with one simple goal, ending the conflict and ending the claims. Our object is a final status agreement in the next nine months,” he said. The next meeting would take place within the next two weeks in Israel or the Palestinian territories. Kerry added: “The two sides agree to keep the content of the negotiations confidential. I will be the only one competent to comment publicly on the talks. No one should consider any other information reliable.” He promised the US “will continuously accompany both parties as facilitator every step of the way.” The goal of the talks, he said, is the establishment of two states side by side. “The talks are off to a good start.”
- A Qassam rocket fired into Israel from Gaza
The rocket landed harmlessly on open ground in southern Israel hours after Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resumed in Washington Monday night.
- Ashton talks for two hours with ousted Egyptian president
Continuing her efforts to broker the Egyptian crisis, EU foreign policy executive Catherine Ashton flew out of Cairo in a military helicopter late Monday to meet ousted president Mohamed Morsi at an undisclosed location. She said Morsi was in good health and had access to the news. Tuesday, she met interim president Adli Mansour and military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to urge his release.
- Taliban breaks 250 prisoners out of NW Pakistan jail
Disguised as police and armed with dozens of bombs and small explosive devices, Taliban gunmen freed more than 250 inmates from the central prison of Dera Ismail Khan near South Wazirstan. Taliban Pakistan claimed 150 fighters were used including a suicide bomber squad.
Kerry’s secret track on core issues with Netanyahu and Abbas
30 July. The ceremonial launch of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Washington early Tuesday, July 30, made a photogenic front for the real-brass tacks bargaining on core issues of the long Middle East dispute, which Secretary of State John Kerry has been handling discreetly with the principals, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. That track covered borders, security, the Jordan Rift Valley and Jerusalem on which Kerry has been quietly pushing hard for answers.
When he asked about an international force for the West Bank, Abbas shouted back from Cairo he was amenable so long as “Not a single Israeli must remain in the Palestinian state, whether soldier or civilian.”
July 31, 2013 Briefs
- Putin receives Saudi intelligence chief in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Moscow with Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar Bin Sultan on Wednesday. They discussed “a broad range of issues in bilateral relations, the situation in the Middle East and North Africa.”
- Israel’s new central bank governor is Prof. Leo Leiderman
Prof. Leiderman, Bank Hapoalim’s chief economist is named new Governor of the Bank of Israel Wednesday, two days after Prof. Yaakov Frenkel decided against taking up the post. Argentine-born Leiderman migrated to Israel aged 17, has a degree in economics from the Hebrew University and masters and PhD from Chicago University. He is married with two children and three grandchildren.
- Lapid: A Palestinian state will rise on most of Judea and Samaria
Finance Minister Yair Lapid said in a radio interview Monday that the purpose of the current peace negotiations is the establishment of a Palestinian state on most of the land of Judea and Samaria (West Bank). Asked about the validity of the 1967 borders, Lapid said: You don’t give anything away at the start of negotiations. The Palestinians, he said, would have to accept the settlement blocs. “They have no choice.”
- Iran grants Syria oil credit to promote economic takeover
An agreement was signed (on Monday) in Tehran by the Iranian and Syrian central banks, granting Syria a credit line worth $3.6 billion for oil. Dmascus will repay Tehran by means of Iranian investments. debkafile: Iran is moving step by step to control the Syrian economy in furtherance of a scheme to draw Syria, Iraq and a Hizballah-dominated Lebanon into a Shiite economic bloc.
Tehran predicates aid on restored Hamas support for Assad
31 July. Israel has twice switched its orientation with regard to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip: In November 2012, Muslim Brotherhood-ruled Egypt, Qatar and Turkey, negotiated a ceasefire which ended Israel’s Pillar of Defense operation against Hamas missiles. From July 2013, Israel has been cooperating with the Egyptian military and its champion, Saudi Arabia – witness permission for Egyptian Apache gun ships to fly over Gaza. But what happens when the Egyptian military launches a major operation against Hamas – in defiance of the US and Palestinian Authority, with whom Israel launched peace talks this week?
Meanwhile, a Hamas delegation is in Tehran to mend its fences with Iran and Hizballah. The visitors were told that to recover Iranian aid, Hamas must revive its support for Assad and endorse Hizballah’s intervention in the Syrian war.
Aug. 1, 2013 Briefs
- Israel foreign ministry slowdown ends
The six-month partial strike of foreign ministry personnel over claims for better wages and conditions was temporarily lifted following a compromise deal reached at the Jerusalem District Labor Court Wednesday. The office will resume handling Israeli officials’ overseas visits and those of foreign envoys and officials to Israel as well as issuing diplomatic passports and rendering consular assistance to traveling Israelis.
- NYT report of failed Israeli air strike in Syria is unfounded
The New York Times report that a recent Israeli air strike in Latakia failed to destroy all the Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles is incorrect, says debkafile: Israel never did attack Latakia.
Egyptian military strongman to run for president
1 Aug. Egypt’s Defense Minister and coup leader Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has decided to run for president – possibly before the end of the year. He is deep in preparations for launching his election campaign Thursday August 15. The general is planning to keep campaigning short. In defiance to pressure from the United States and Europe, he plans to restore the Egyptian army to political center stage in Cairo by means to a careful democratic process. Like the presidents before him, Gemal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, the defense minister will persecute the Muslim Brotherhood he unseated on July 3 before cutting a deal with its leaders allowing them a restricted measure of political activity.