A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending February 16, 2012

Feb. 10, 2012 Briefs
• Syrian TV reports 25 killed, 175 injured in explosions rocking Aleppo, Syria's second largest city Friday near military intelligence and security buildings.
• Russia escalated row with West Friday accusing its governments of being "accomplices" in inflaming the Syrian crisis. Moscow holds opposition responsible for ending violence.
• Knesset panel endorses Justice Asher Grunis as new Supreme Court President after Dorit Bainisch retires this month.

Successful US-Israel radar test for US missile shield

10 Feb. A successful joint exercise carried out Friday, Feb. 10, demonstrated the interoperability of the US Aegis and Israel's Arrow 4 ballistic missile defense systems and, most importantly, of their radar systems: the two US AN/TPY-2 X-band stations in Israel's Negev and Turkey's Kurecik air base, and Israel's new EL/M-2080 Super Green Pine.
debkafile's military sources report the test was a key milestone in the development of the US missile shield's Middle East capabilities ahead of a potential war with Iran.

Feb. 11, 2012 Briefs
• Top US soldier Gen. Martin Dempsey arrives in Cairo, holds talks with Egypt's chief of staff Gen. Annan.
• Moscow pledges continued shield for Syrian President Assad at the United Nations.
• A large cache of bombs and anti-air rockets intercepted in N. Sinai on their way to the Gaza Strip.
• The UK to gather war crimes evidence for putting Syrian political and military officials on trial at the Hague, British FM Hague.
• Senior Syrian military doctor Brig. Gen Issa al-Khouli assassinated outside his Damascus home Saturday. He was son of member of Assad elite Gen. Mohammed al-Khouli.

Assad is winning against the opposition

11 Feb. Western intelligence sources concluded Saturday night, Feb. 11 that Bashar Assad's loyal forces had by and large managed to subdue the rebellion against the regime, even though flare-ups are still to come. They are now purging the last pockets of resistance, especially in Syria's third largest city, Homs. The Syrian ruler will go on record as crushing his own people with the help of non-Arab Iran and Russia. For the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia this is a contretemps.
In recent days, mass demonstrations and battles with armed rebels have virtually disappeared from the streets of the main protest centers. In Homs, soldiers of the 40th and 90th mechanized brigades are hunting down rebels hiding in the town and shooting them on sight.
Military intervention is not on the cards for the United States – Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu was told Friday, Feb. 9 when he arrived in Washington to request US participation in organizing a Turkish-Arab operation in Syria or, at least, the supply of Western and Arab arms to the Syrian rebels.

Feb. 12, 2012 Briefs• Syria categorically rejects Arab foreign ministers’ proposal for joint Arab League-UN peacekeepers mission.
• Latest Abbas ultimatum to Israel: Accept pre-67 borders, halt settlement in Jerusalem too – or Palestinian gos back to UN.
• Iranian foreign ministry summons Azerbaijan's ambassador to protest alleged Israeli intelligence activity in the Caucasian state. The protest note claimed "terrorists" linked to the killings of Iranian nuclear scientists escaped to Israel through Azerbaijan.
• UN says Sunday that one of its freelance consultants was fatally shot in the head while driving through an upscale Cairo neighborhood.
• Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood lawmaker: If US cuts aid, we are entitled to revise Camp David peace accords with Israel.

Feb. 13, 2012 Briefs
• Israeli PM said Iran was behind bombing attacks on Israeli missions in India and Georgia. He called Iran the ”world’s biggest exporter of terror”.
• India’s FM S.M. Krishna phoned Israel FM Lieberman to express his shock. Perpetrators would be brought to justice and Israel’s embassy given all the security necessary. Krishna stressed importance of India’s friendship with Israel.
• US Navy is ready today to confront any hostile actions by Tehran in the region, says 5th Fleet chief Vice Adm. Mark Fox. “A wide range of potential option” available for president with “very precise and lethal weapons”.
• Iranian speaker Larijani warns Gulf Arab nations they will not be forgiven for backing new US “plots” against Tehran.

A fatal attack on Israelis abroad could spark war

13 Feb. Straight after terrorists targeted Israeli embassies in New Delhi and Tbilisi, Monday, Feb. 13, Israel’s Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz convened an urgent conference with Military Intelligence Director Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavy, Air Force commander Ido Nehushtan and Operations Division chief Maj. Gen. Yaakov Ayash. Their discussion went beyond the immediate import of the two incidents to focus on the broader ramifications of a potential attack with Israeli fatalities and its impact on the prospects of war. Although most of the latest attacks failed, the odds are on their eventual success. It may be recalled that past deadly terrorist attacks plunged Israel into two major wars.

Israeli woman hurt in Hizballah bombing attack in New Delhi

13 Feb. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday, Feb. 12: “We know exactly who was responsible for attacking Israeli officials abroad and we shall respond.” He referred to the bombs attached to the cars of two Israeli officials. One blew up in New Delhi, injuring Talya Yehoshua-Koren, wife of Defense Ministry representative to India, and three others. The other bomb was discovered in time by the car’s owner, a local embassy employee in Tbilisi, Georgia. Israeli diplomats and foreign officials were ordered to stop using their own vehicles.
In New Delhi, a motorcyclist affixed a magnetic bomb to the car in which the Israeli woman was travelling. It exploded within seconds. Our counter-terror sources report that the attacks on Israeli officials used the same sticky bomb method to kill Iranian scientists in Tehran last year.
In the past month attacks on Israeli embassies in Thailand and Azerbaijan were thwarted with the help of local counter terror authorities’ cooperation.

Saudis aid Al Qaeda move from Iraq to Syria

13 Feb. Saudi rulers, to save the Syrian opposition from defeat at Bashar Assad’s hands, are reported by debkafile’s intelligence sources as taking a hand in turning al Qaeda Iraqi cells loose against him. Saudi agents used their pull with Iraqi Sunnis to persuade al Qaeda leaders that Assad and his Alawite regime were their most dangerous foe and their overthrow the first Sunni priority. Al Qaeda’s Pakistan-based leader Ayman a-Zuwahri broadcast the same call-up to all combat strength in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
Up 1,000 al Qaeda jihadis reported now in Syria.
Monday, Iraq’s acting interior minister Adnan al-Assadi confirmed that “a number of jihadists had gone to Syria,” reporting also that the price of weapons in Mosul had risen because they were being sent to the opposition in Syria “from Baghdad to Nineveh [province].”
The newly-arrived al Qaeda cells were almost certainly behind the Aleppo car bombings Friday, Feb. 10, which claimed the lies of 28 people.
After virtually crushing most of the pockets of resistance to his rule, the Syrian ruler may well find himself up against the new threat of jihadist terror.

Feb. 14, 2012 Briefs• Israel’s police minister raised nationwide terror alert after Indian and Georgian attacks.  Special security measures at all Israel’s embassies.
• Acting on Israeli intelligence feed, Indian police seek two Iranian suspects in the bombing attack which injured an Israeli woman in New Delhi Monday.
• Home Minister P Chidambaram: A very well-trained person committed attack on Israeli woman, after spotters tailed her car.
• Syrian army renews onslaught on rebellious Homs Tuesday. UN human rights chief says tens of thousands including children detained in Syria. Another 25,000 are refugees in neighboring countries, 70,000 displaced.

Feb. 15, 2012 Briefs
• Five Qassam missiles fired from Palestinian Gaza Wednesday night exploded harmlessly on open ground in the Eshkol district, Hof Ashkelon and Sdot Hanegev.
• Assad sets Feb. 26 as date for national referendum on a new constitution.
• Netanyahu tells Knesset that the world must denounce Iranian terrorist activity or it will spread and set red lines for Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran’s push meets slow US-Israeli initiatives

15 Feb. Shrugging off Western sanctions and Israeli recriminations, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad played a starring role in a widely televised spectacle by inserting his country’s first domestically-made fuel rod into the Tehran Research Reactor Wednesday, Feb. 15. The scene came after the announced cutoff of Iranian oil exports to six European countries – Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Portugal. Two hours later, the Iranian oil ministry challenged the announcement, spoiling the show by attesting to differences in high regime ranks.

Feb. 16, 2012 Briefs• The US hit Iran intelligence ministry with sanctions, claiming it had supported Syria's crackdown.
• The US estimates Syria has nerve agents and mustard gas stocks and tens of thousands of portable anti-aircraft missiles.
• Netanyahu in Cyprus: Sanctions against Iran are not working.
• Iran proposes early resumption of nuclear talks with world leaders.
• Nine Palestinian nursery schoolchildren and four adults were killed in a bad road accident north of Jerusalem Thursday. The bus taking them on a trip from the Shoafat village overturned.
Palestinian and Israeli ambulances and fire fighters collaborated in rescue operations.
• Kuwait’s Al-Jarida reports Singaporean authorities netted an Iranian/Hizballah cell plotting assassination of Defense Minister Ehud Barak during the Singapore Air Show.
• Times of India discloses that Mossad chief Tamir Pardo was in New Delhi last week for talks with Indian intelligence officials. He was quoted as stressing that Israelis were safer in India than in Turkey, the Caucasian or South America where Iranian and Hizballah terrorist cells are rampant.
• Netanyahu pays first official visit by Israeli prime minister to Cyprus Thursday.
• They discussedjoint exploration and defense of E. Mediterranean gas fields.

US gets Barak to backtrack on an imminent nuclear Iran

16 Feb. By suddenly stating, contrary to all informed estimates, that Iran’s nuclear arms program has not yet reached the point of no return, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak implied that Israel was in no hurry to strike its nuclear facilities, a message for which Washington has been angling for months. His words Thursday Feb. 16 contradicted the evaluations of the current and former Israeli Military Intelligence chiefs. debkafile attributes Barak’s re-evaluation to reports to US-Iranian assent to resume nuclear talks soon.

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