A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Jan. 23, 2014
January 17, 2014 Briefs
- New US arms shipments for Iraq to fight al Qaeda
The US will send “several thousand” M-16 and M-4 rifles, as well as ammunition that should arrive in Iraq in weeks. In discussion too are officials to Jordan to train Iraqi security forces. Baghdad’s request for 100 Hellfire missiles is subject to congressional approval.
- Obama releases 9 pages of Iran nuclear accord – just to lawmakers
President Barack Obama responded Friday to congressional demands for details of the agreement for the implementation of the interim nuclear accord with Iran by releasing nine pages, to be viewed in a secure room in the capital by a restricted audience. Also released was a public version of the accord with sensitive details blacked out – at the request of the UN nuclear watchdog, said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
- Obama to send Egypt Apache copters – after all
President Barack Obama will next week seek congressional approval for resuming arms supplies to Egypt, including Apache helicopters, indicating a change of heart towards the interim government in Cairo headed by Gen. Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi. It follows this week’s national referendum on a new constitution and a decision to hold elections to the Egyptian parliament and presidency.
Putin accepts invitation to visit Tehran. King of Morocco invites Iran to “Jerusalem Committee” – with Kerry’s approval
17 Jan. Tehran’s offensive for establishing itself as the leading Middle East power bar none is in full flight. Foreign Minister Javad Zerif used his Moscow visit to invite Vladimir Putin to visit Tehran, which the Russian President accepted. The King of Morocco offered Iran of full membership in the Al Quds (Jerusalem) Committee of the Organization of Islamic States, with the approval of US Secretary of State John Kerry. Iran also sent out invitations to Gulf rulers for a tour of its nuclear reactor at Bushehr combined with a round table discussion on regional nuclear cooperation.
January 18, 2014 Briefs
- Death toll rises to 21 in Taliban attack on Kabul restaurant
The IMF representative in Afghanistan and three UN officials were among the 21 people killed in a Taliban attack in the most exclusive and well guarded part of Kabul Friday night. First a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Lebanese restaurant popular with foreigners, then two gunmen rained fire on the busy dining room until they were shot dead by security guards.
- Israel mounts counter protest against Europe on settlements
The Foreign Ministry summoned four European ambassadors Friday to complain about their governments’ “perpetual one-sided stance against Israel” on the settlement issue while never condemning systematic Palestinian incitement for Israel’s destruction. Israel ambassadors had previously been summoned to the British, French, Italian and Spanish foreign ministries for a rebuke on Israel’s settlement projects on the West Bank and in Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that it was ‘‘time to stop this hypocrisy’’ and ‘‘to inject some balance and fairness into this discussion.”
January 19, 2014 Briefs
- Canadian premier Stephen Harper in Israel on 1st Mid East trip
The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrived in Israel Sunday with his wife Laureen for a state visit at the head of a large delegation of six ministers and 30 business and community leaders. This is his first Middle East trip and first to Israel since he was elected in 2006. Israel has rolled out the red carpet in honor of this supportive Western leader. Several ceremonies have been arranged for his four-day stay, including an invitation to deliver a speech to the Knesset in Jerusalem and join Binyamin Netanyahu at the head of a joint Israeli-Canadian cabinet session. Harper will also make stops in the West Bank and Jordan.
- UNESCO last minute cancels exhibit of Jewish ties to Land of Israel
Under Arab pressure, UNESCO suddenly called off an exhibit on Jewish ties to the Land of Israel Sunday, the day before it opened at its Paris headquarters Monday. The US and Canada protested the decision, but the State Department opted not to sponsor the exhibit. “People, Book, Land” depicting the 3,500 years of ties between the Jewish people and the Holy Land was organized by UNESCO and the Simon Wiesenthal Center in more than two years’ work.
January 20, 2014 Briefs
- Harper pledges to continue sanctions on Iran
In the first speech delivered to the Knesset by a Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper declared Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state was “absolute and non-negotiable.” Canada’s support of Israel was, he said, “a moral imperative.” Harper was warmly applauded by a packed House. Harper went on to pledge that his government would maintain sanctions against Iran until that country proves it’s no longer pursuing nuclear weapons. Israel is being targeted by a “new anti-Semitism,” said the prime minister and went on to call on the Palestinian people to “choose a viable, democratic” state that is “committed to living peacefully alongside” Israel. He was loudly heckled by two Arab Israeli lawmakers, who walked out of the chamber.
- Two Palestinian rockets explode in Shear Hanegev. No one hurt
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired two missiles at Shear Hanegev early Monday, hours after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon publicly warned that these attacks would not be tolerated.
- The UAE introduces compulsory military service for men
All men aged between 18 to 30 will serve a minimum nine months military service, under a new bill ordered Monday by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan for the establishment of a new national defense and reserve force.
- Harper makes side-trip to Ramallah
Visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced at a news conference with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah Monday that his government would extend $66 million in new economic aid to the Palestinians. Abbas said, when the time comes, he believes Canada will help absorb Palestinian refugees. Meanwhile, he said there had been no progress in the peace process. The Canadian prime minister said he supported the two-state solution, but refused to be drawn into criticizing Israel. Canada has provided more than $650 million in development assistance to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
- Hanegbi: Even after accord, Iran is enriching uranium
Even after Natanz and Fordo closed production of 20-percent enriched uranium Monday, thousands of centrifuges continue to turn out enriched uranium of less than 5 percent, said Israeli lawmaker Tzahi Hanegbi. Iran has accumulated 7.2 tons of this low-grade enriched material which within months can be transformed into enough weapons-grade uranium for six nuclear bombs.
- Three people die in domestic gas explosion in Jerusalem
A young couple and their baby were killed and 11 people were injured, three seriously, when a gas leak exploded in the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo Sunday night. Twenty-four apartments were seriously damaged and were evacuated.
January 21, 2014 Briefs
- Moving car blows up in Hizballah’s Dahya stronghold of Beirut
A suicide bomber blew himself up at the wheel of a moving car Tuesday on the main street of Beirut’s Dahya district killing at least five people, wounding 27 and causing heavy damage to buildings. It was the second time in two weeks that a bomb blast hit the busy Shite district known as Hizballah’s stronghold.
- Sinai Salafists claim rocket fire on Eilat
The extremist Salafist Muslim group Al-Ansar Beit Al-Makdis, which is allied with al Qaeda in Sinai, Tuesday claimed the rocket fire Monday night on the southern Israeli city of Eilat. The two rockets exploded harmlessly on open ground outside the town.
- US has plans ready for Sochi Olympics security aid
The US military has air and naval assets, including two ships in the Black Sea, available if needed during the Sochi Winter Olympics to support Russia and to evacuate US citizens in the event of an attack.
Would-be bombers may already be inside Russia’s anti-terror “ring of steel” for the Sochi Olympics
21 Jan. Russian security services launched an intensive hunt Tuesday, Jan. 21 for suspected Islamist bomber Ruzana Ibragimova, 22, known also as Salima or the White Widow, who was last seen on a street in Sochi, which hosts the Feb. 7-23 Winter Olympic Games. Some Russian sources report that not one but three female bombers are sought. US forces are assisting Russian security to secure the Games, in keeping with the cooperation they agreed on after the Boston Marathon attack. A vast 2,400-kilometer “ring of steel” enclosing Sochi and manned by 40,000 Russian personnel is the broadest security area ever provided for an Olympic event.
January 22, 2014 Briefs
- Hungary Slovenia warned off sending athletes to Sochi Olympics
The Olympic committees of Hungary and Slovenia and other countries have received letters in Russian threatening them with terrorist attacks if they send athletes to the Olympic Winter Games opening in Sochi next month.
- Montreal Gazette condemned for cartoon defacing PM Harper with Israeli flag
B’nai Brith Canada Wednesday strongly condemned an editorial cartoon by Aislin published in the Montreal Gazette, which showed Prime Minister Stephen Harper defaced with an Israeli flag. “The cartoon is vile, grotesque and simply offensive,” said Frank Dimant, CEO, B’nai Brith Canada. "It is disrespectful, not only to the Prime Minister, but everyone who supports the democratic principles highlighted in his speech in the Knesset” and “is all too similar to the perverted images seen in the Middle East.” Dimant demanded an immediate and unqualified apology to “the broader spectrum of Canadians supporting Israel, and the Jewish community in particular.”
- Kerry disqualifies Assad for transitional government
Opening the Geneva 2 conference in Switzerland Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said there can only be one outcome: a negotiated transition government set up by mutual consent. Bashar Assad can’t be part of that transitional government.
- Israel air strike killed Gaza terrorist who fired rockets after Sharon funeral
Ahmed Za’anin was killed in an Israeli air strike over Gaza early Wednesday. He was blamed for firing two rockets shortly after Ariel Sharon’s funeral last week and a large number of terrorist offences in recent years as a member of the radical secular PFLP.
Ayman Zuwahiri tried plotting Palestinian-Caucasian terrorist attacks targeting US embassy, Jerusalem Convention Center
22 Jan. The Shin Bet disclosed Wednesday, Jan. 22, that three Palestinians were in custody, having been recruited by al Qaeda for three suicide operations in conjunction with five North Caucasian terrorists arriving on fake Russian passports. The plot was planned and to be orchestrated by Ayman Zuwahiri. It targeted the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, the Jerusalem Convention Center and Jerusalem-Maaleh Adummim buses. debkafile: It was the first time Zuwahiri took a personal hand in setting up attacks inside Israel and tried to use mixed teams of terrorists from the Caucasus, the Gaza Strip, Syria and local Palestinians.
Syria conference opens in Switzerland with secret Iranian presence. Obama and Putin aim for local ceasefires
22 Jan. The conference of 30 foreign ministers opening Wednesday, Jan. 22, in the Swiss town of Montreux got off to a shaky start. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Bashar Assad’s presidency was a ”red line” and information minister Omran al-Zoubi said there was no civil war – only “a fight between government and terrorists.” After the fiasco of UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon’s withdrawal of his invitation to Tehran, an Iranian delegation arrived under cover. Presidents Obama and Putin agreed to limit conference goals to local ceasefires and humanitarian corridors.
The Syrian opposition is seriously under-represented by the divided Syrian National Coalition.
January 23, 2014 Briefs
- Five killed in armed attack on S. Egyptian checkpoint
State TV reported Thursday that an armed attack killed five people at a security checkpoint in the southern Egyptian town of Beni Suef.
- Rouhani: No place for nuclear weapons in Iran’s security strategy
President Hassan Rouhani, describing himself as a prudent moderate, assured the Davos Economic Forum Thursday that his country had no intention of “acquiring nuclear weapons.” He referred to recent cooperation with the US and other powers Iran’s nuclear program as a major development and urged US leaders to accept Iran’s Islamic revolution as ending “a struggle for freedom.” Rouhani predicted that Iran would become one of the ten leading world economies. He also favored good relations with all Iran’s neighbors. When pressed to say if this included Israel, the Iranian president prevaricated: “Only those we recognize.”
- Israeli leaders’ riposte for Iran’s Rouhani at Davos
If Iran has no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons, then why is it developing long-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missiles? Israel’s President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asked Thursday, in response to the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s speech to the Davos Forum. As a “prudent moderate,” they asked, how does Rouhani justify sending arms and Hizballah units to Syria and financing terrorist networks across the world? Is this how the Iranian president conducts his avowed goals of peace and stability? They asked.
Netanyahu urged the world not to be gulled by Iranian deceitful attempts to deny any intention of developing nuclear weapons.
- US designates Palestinian Ziyad al-Nakhalah wanted terrorist
Deputy Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Ziyad al-Nakhalah been listed by the State Department as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, following the Dec, 22, 2013 bus bombing in the Israeli town of Bat Yam. Islamic Jihad, which is financially assisted and trained by Iran, is held responsible for numerous attacks against Israel and the killing of Americans abroad.