A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending August 9, 2012

How diplomacy brought an Iran war closer

3 Aug. An Iran war has become inevitable since international diplomacy gave Iran the time and freedom to accelerate its progress towards a nuclear bomb. While rapidly fortifying its nuclear facilities against bombardment, Tehran is also raising the level of uranium enrichment, developing dirty bombs and sending terrorists to blow up Israelis abroad. Sanctions have failed to force Iran to give up its drive for a nuclear weapon or the development of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.
While talking to the world powers, Iran was able to refine uranium up to 30-percent grade or even a higher and go into advanced preparations for 65 percent grade enrichment. Now they are well on the way to an 80-90 percent weapons grade.
Iran also launched a crash mega-fortification program for sheathing in steel and concrete nuclear facilities whose transfer to underground “immune zones” for escaping bombardment would be too costly, cumbersome and time consuming.
These dangerous developments are generating the current an eve-of-war climate.
Former Israeli Mossad director Ephraim Halevi commented to the New York Times Thursday, Aug. 2, that if he was an Iranian he would be very worried in the next 12 weeks.

August 4, 2012 Briefs

  • New 300km range Iranian missile threatens Israel
    The Fateh-110 ground missile with a range of 300 kilometer, whose successful test was announced Saturday by Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Ahmand Vahidi, is the core weapon in the Hizballah and Syrian arsenals for cross-border attacks on Israel, debkafile’s military sources report.
  • Palestinian Islamists from Gaza fighting in Aleppo
    Members of al Qaeda and other jihadist groups in the Gaza Strip are fighting alongside Syrian rebels in Aleppo, debkafile’s military sources report. A member of the Gazan Durghmush clan killed in Aleppo was brought back home for burial last week.
  • Russia denies plans to land troops in Tartus
    Moscow has denied reports by US and British military sources that Russia has sent three landing craft to Tartus with 120 marines aboard. The Defense Ministry in Moscow said Friday there are no such plans.

Assad rides crest of disintegrating country

4 Aug. Day by day, new Syrian militias spring up to fight the Assad regime – five in the last 24 hours. They fall into three main categories: one Syrian ethnic minority or another – Kurdish, Turkmen and Muslim Brothers; Islamists streaming in from Libya, the Gaza Strip and Sinai; or rebels groups armed and backed by Arab and Muslim intelligence bodies. US intelligence predicts their number will rise to 100 in weeks.
The merger of Syrian and Turkish Kurdish militias with the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga would produce a Kurdish army of 225,000 fighting men. In Aleppo, the FSA has been displaced at the head of the campaign against government troops by a militia established by the Muslim Brotherhood and a rival set up by radical affiliates of al Qaeda, which is a hodgepodge of jihadists from Libya, the Gaza Strip, and Egyptian Sinai.

August 5, 2012 Briefs

  • Eshkol District under heavy Palestinian missile-mortar barrage from Gaza
    After dozens of missiles and mortar rounds were fired form Gaza Sunday night, Israeli tanks turned their guns on Gaza Strip firing positions. Eshkol dwellers were told to stay indoors.
  • Israeli air strike kills Palestinian terrorist in Gaza
    Two motorcyclists, members of the radical Popular Resistance Committees, were hit in Rafah Sunday by an Israeli air force plane One was killed. They were identified as responsible for the June 18 shooting attack from Sinai which killed one of the workmen on Israel-Egyptian border fence.
  • Sudan and South Sudan reach oil agreement
    The two leaders will meet later this month to sign documents governing the export of oil from South Sudan through Port Sudan and the demarcation of their border, said chief mediator Former South African PM Thabo Mbeki. South Sudan announced it had secured low pipeline fees from Khartoum of approximately US$9.48 a barrel.

Wartime tasks for destroying missiles divided up between US and Israel

5 Aug. An authoritative US military source told debkafile Sunday, Aug. 5 that US armed forces stand ready for war with Iran. Without going into who would lead the operation to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program, the US or Israel, the US Air Force will undertake to destroy Iran’s Shehab-3 ballistic missile batteries aimed at Israel and Saudi Arabia. The Israeli Air Force free would be left free to tackle the huge rocket arsenals of Syria, the Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas and Jihad Islami.
This task is not as formidable as Iranian spokesmen would have the world believe. Tehran’s entire stock of those missiles is no more than 30-40 not enough to take on the entire gamut of potential wartime foes, the United States Middle East bases, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Turkey. They would also face American Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Systems and Israeli Arrow guided interceptor rockets, synchronized through the advanced US X-Band radar systems installed in the Israeli Negev and southeast Turkey.
A senior Israeli defense official reported that Israel is upgrading its Arrow II ballistic missile shield, designed to intercept medium range rockets and fill the gaps left by Iron Dome.

August 6, 2012 Briefs

  • Egypt’s MB accuses Mossad of Sinai border attack
    The Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo accused the Israeli Mossad of carrying out the Sinai border attack Sunday in which 16 Egyptian commandos were killed and the Israel border breached by terrorists. The communiqué alleges that Israel seeks to undermine the rule of MB President Mohammed Morsi.
  • Palestinians keep up missile fire from Gaza
    Two Qassams launched against Ashkelon Monday morning exploded harmlessly in the Hof Ashkelon district.
  • Terrorists who crashed Israel border Sunday grabbed three APCs –Updated Version
    The Islamist terrorists who Sunday night stormed the Egyptian Sinai position, killing 16 commandos, before crashing the Israeli border, seized three Egyptian APCs, not two as previously reported, according to intelligence sources. It now transpires that they packed one of the vehicles with half a ton of explosives and detonated it to break through the barrier at the Israeli Kerem Shalom border terminal. The second APC followed and drove as far as1.5 kilometers inside Israel before it was blown up by the Israel Air Force. The third vehicle got away before crossing over. It is the subject of a massive Egyptian hunt in the hope of catching live terrorists able to reveal who exactly sent the gunmen on their dual mission against Egyptian and Israel military targets.

Was Iran behind Sinai attacks on Egypt and Israel?

6 Aug. The initial Egyptian and Israeli accounts of the attacks in which 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed and the Israeli border crashed Sunday night, Aug. 5, don’t match up: Egypt points the finger at the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip; Israel at Sinai. debkafile postulates a third option: Tehran harnessed its Gaza Strip proxies and a Sinai al Qaeda cell for a coordinated attack on Egyptian and Israeli military targets to avenge the Al Qaeda’s enlistment to the Western-Arab-backed revolt against Bashar Assad. It would have been orchestrated by the Al Qods Brigades center in Beirut.

August 7, 2012 Briefs

  • Cairo will look after its interests in international accords
    Egyptian presidential spokesman said the new government will respect all its international accords but also act according to its national interests, when asked if amendments to the Camp David peace accords would be sought. The spokesman said Egypt still had no precise information as the identities of the gunmen who Sunday murdered 16 Egyptian soldiers on the Sinai border with Israel.
  • British bank accused of scheming with Iran to launder money
    The New York State’s financial services superintendent accuses the London-based Standard Chartered Bank of scheming with Iran to launder $250 billion from 2001 to 2007, leaving the US financial system “vulnerable to terrorists.” The New York authorities are questioning the British bank about alleged “wire stripping” – i.e. deleting names in some 60,000 financial transactions conducted with Iranian clients through its New York branch in violation of international sanctions.

Sudden Iranian official arrival in Beirut

7 Aug. Monday, Aug. 6, the head of Iran’s National Security Council Saeed Jalili touched down in Beirut shortly after Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani declared: "The fire that has been ignited in Syria will take the fearful (Israelis) with it. Jalili came for urgent on-the-spot military coordination with Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah before continuing Tuesday to Damascus.

Jalili in Damascus vows Iran won’t let Assad fall

7 Aug. Tehran gave Bashar Assad its strongest avowal of support yet Tuesday, Aug. 7 when Saeed Jalili, head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, stood alongside the Syrian ruler in Damascus at the end of their talks and vowed not to let Iran’s “close partnership with the Syrian leadership be shaken by the uprising or external foes” or the “axis of resistance (Iran, Syria, Hizballah) be broken.”
He arrived from Beirut after a conference Monday with Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah. The Iranian official most likely laid before the Syrian ruler plans for the responses of the three allies to coming events in the Syrian conflict.

Iran now threatens Turkey, after Israel

7 Aug. Tuesday, Aug. 7, Iranian Armed Forces Chief Gen. Hassan Firuzabadi set his sights on Ankara and other Middle East capitals when he declared: “Turkey will be next in line for violence after Syria if it continues to work on behalf of Western (American) interests.” Turkey would then be accountable for the bloodshed in Syria. Tehran also held the US responsible for the lives of the 48 Iranian hostages whom Syrian rebels threaten to execute unless the Syrian army stops shelling Aleppo. Tehran now holds at least three nations, the US, Turkey and Israel, in peril of military action in the context of the Syrian conflict. Israel was threatened first.

August 8, 2012 Briefs

  • Egypt’s upper house names new editors-in-chief for state-run newspapers
    President Mohamed Morsi’s government has begun packing the news industry with Islamists and supporters of the current and old regimes by appointing new editors-in-chief for the official Al Ahram and Al-Gumhuriya. Also Wednesday, the new Islamist information minister Salah Abdel-Maqsoud banned state-run media from interviewing Israeli commentators and ordered an investigation into the Nile News broadcast of comments by an Israeli commentator Tuesday as “unidentified militants” killed 17 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai.
  • Syrian army retakes Aleppo frontline district of Salaheddine
    The rebels abandoned their last stronghold in the key city of Aleppo, its southern gateway, after days of relentless battering by the Syrian army. Assad used all possible means to recover Syria’s largest city whose fall would have threatened the survival of his regime.

Morsi axes military, intelligence chiefs

8 Aug. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, in conjunction with military chief Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, fired a row of top military, intelligence and police officials Wednesday, Aug. 8, after more armed Islamist attacks on Egyptian troops. Morsi replaced Intelligence chief Gen. Mourad Mowafi with Maj. Gen. Mohamed Shehata, and fired the governor of North Sinai, Abdel Wahab Mabrouk, as well as other officials. The president acted expeditiously to quell street protest over declining Sinai security but is not yet grappling with its root cause, Islamist terror.

More terrorist attacks on Egyptian Sinai forces

8 Aug. debkafile’s military sources report the second terrorist attack on Egyptian checkpoints in three days
In their first attack, the Salafi gunmen who broke through to the Israeli side of the Sinai border in a truck packed with half a ton of explosives were not after Israeli civilians but the IDF’s Bedouin Reconnaissance battalion nearby, planning to repeat the massacre they had just perpetrated at the Egyptian Mansoura base on the other side of the border. Had they succeeded, they would have accomplished three feats:
1. The first simultaneous terrorist attack on two armies, toppling Egyptian and Israeli security deployments along their common border in Sinai;
2. A mortal blow to the Bedouin unit, which is an important buttress of Israel’s combat array around the Gaza Strip;
3. A triumph of Bedouin versus Bedouin, sparking a vendetta between the tribes of Sinai and the Israel Negev.

August 9, 2012 Briefs

  • Armed Salafis in third attack on Egyptian target Sinai
    Salafi gunmen shot up an Egyptian police post at El Arish in northern Sinai from a drive-by car Thursday. The policemen returned the fire. This was the third terrorist attack on Egyptian targets in northern Sinai in less than a week with no sign of a serious Egyptian counter-offensive against the assailants.

Barak: Time for an Iran decision is short

In a radio interview Thursday, Aug. 9, Defense Minister Ehud Barak stoutly refuted reported disagreements between the US and Israel, and himself and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over a military attack on Iran’s nuclear program. Both see eye to eye on the matter, he said, while US and Israeli intelligence evaluations have never been closer. “A nuclear Iran is taking shape before our eyes” Barak stressed, and new US intelligence findings make a decision on a possible attack “extremely urgent.
He added: "And we must take into account the dangers and the very steep price in human life and in resources, if Iran goes nuclear. First, we must consider the outcome – first Saudi Arabia, then Turkey, and then the New Egypt becoming nuclear powers in their turn.”
Barak also predicted that quite soon we would see Syrian President Bashar Assad hunkering down with his army in a fortified Alawite enclave encompassing the Syrian coast and the Alawite Mountains.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email