A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending January 17, 2013

January 11, 2013 Briefs

  • Islamists injured 7 Egyptian troops in Sinai
    Al Qaeda or Salifist Bedouin extremists attacked an Egyptian patrol Friday in the Sinai Ouja region near the gas pipeline to Israel and Jordan, and injured one officer and six recruits. They were taken to hospital in El Arish.

US military option for Syria nixed before Hagel’s coming

11 Jan. At a joint news conference Friday, Jan. 11, retiring Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs, Gen. Martin Dempsey, cleaned the Pentagon’s Syrian desk ready for incoming Secretary Chuck Hagel. Boiled down to essentials, their triple message was that Bashar Assad could not be stopped from using chemical weapons if he chose to do so, that securing the CW sites after Assad’s fall was the job of the “international community,” and that no US ground troops would be sent to Syria.
AS debkafile reported in thee third week of November, the White House has resolved to dump the Assad headache into the laps of Syria’s immediate neighbors, Turkey, Jordan and Israel, and cast the rebels adrift.

January 12, 2013 Briefs

  • Israel troops shoot two Palestinian infiltrators dead
    An military border patrol killed a Palestinian attempting to steal through the security fence near Hebron Saturday. Friday, a large group of Palestinians tried to break through the Gaza border fence near Jebalya. The Israeli force first fired warning shots to stop their advance and then aimed at lower limbs when they kept coming. One Palestinian was killed, a second injured.
  • Israeli police evict 150 Palestinians from E1 Area
    A large police force early Sunday evicted some 150 Palestinians who established a “settlement” Friday in the E1 Area between Jerusalem and the town of Maaleh Adummim. They were removed from the area and bussed to the West Bank. Their tents remain in place until it is determined whether they are standing on state or privately-owned land. Saturday night, on orders from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the state prosecution petitioned the High Court to annul an earlier temporary injunction against removing the outpost. E1 was meanwhile declared a closed military zone.
  • Hamas: 885 Palestinians killed in Syrian uprising
    According to Hamas figures published in Lebanon’s Daily Star Saturday, 885 Palestinians have been killed since the uprising broke out against Bashar Assad nearly two years ago. A further 20,500 Palestinian refugees from Syria are trapped in Lebanon, including least 3,500 who fled last month from the fierce outbreak of violence in the Yarmouk refugee camp outside Damascus.

France on national terror alert after African operations

12 Jan. French President Francois Hollande placed the country on high domestic alert Saturday, Jan. 12, in case of retaliatory attacks by al Qaeda for French operations against two of its African wings: a failed mission to rescue a French hostage from the Somali Shabaab, and air and commando aid for the Mali army’s drive to stop advancing Islamists. The Islamists threatened to execute at least eight French hostages one by one, unless French forces pulled out of Somalia and Mali at once.
Hollande said France had intervened in Mali because the wider Sahel region of West Africa was becoming an Afghanistan-like base for Islamist terrorists and threatened to establish a terrorist stage threatening all of Africa within range of Europe and France.

January 13, 2013 Briefs

  • Chief of staff sacks former C-in-C aide Wiener
    Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz has sacked Brig. Erez Wiener, bureau chief of ex-army C-in-C Gaby Ashkenazi over the State Comptroller’s disclosure of his leading role two years ago with disgraced ex-officer Boaz Harpaz in digging out information to malign the defense minister and block Yoav Galant, his appointee’s appointment as chief of staff.
  • Egyptian court orders new trial for Hosni Mubarak
    The court Sunday accepted the former Egyptian ruler’s appeal against his conviction and life sentence for failing to stop the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising that overthrew him. Mubarak was moved to a Cairo military hospital last month.
  • Netanyahu: Iran is my number one task after my reelection
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dismissed allegations by ex-PM Ehud Olmert that he wasted billions of dollars preparing for “illusory security escapades” that did not take place. Obama forced out of office in 2009 over a corruption scandal.

January 14, 2013 Briefs

  • Maj. Gen. Gady Eisenkott takes office as Dep. Chief of Staff
    He assumed the post Monday in a ceremony conducted by Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, after the state attorney ruled that Israel’s security situation demanded that the office be filled without delay – even during an election campaign.
  • Netanyahu: The next government must either cut spending or raise taxes
    In view of the mounting deficit, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a TV interviewer Monday night that the post-election government which he hopes to head will have to decide whether to cut spending or raise taxes. Israelis go to the polls Jan. 22.
  • Syrian rebels forced out of Taftanaz air base
    Syrian rebel leaders admitted Jan. 14, that Syrian forces had forced them to retreat from the big Taftanaz air base in the north. debkafile: They never seized the entire base only a small part of it.
  • Islamists counter French airstrikes, capture Diabaly in central Mali
    Al Qaeda-led insurgents Monday struck the town of Diabaly in government controlled central Mali in retaliation for French airstrikes Sunday. The rebels fought with reinforcements from Mauritania. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said French bombardments had blocked the Islamist advance to the east of Mali, but the situation in the west “remains difficult.”
  • Iran plans “big-budget” film to “correct Golden Globe-winning Argo
    Tehran shot back at Ben Afleck’s thriller about the CIA’s rescue of 6 American diplomats from Islamist Iran by announcing plans to make its own epic film to “correct numerous historical distortions” in Hollywood's version of the 1979 US embassy takeover. Argo is banned in Iran but it bootleg copies have a wide circulation.

No Egypt-Israel hot line after Egypt hosts al Qods chief

14 Jan. The IDFs’ closure to civilian traffic of a 182-kilometer long security strip, 300 meters deep, along the Israeli-Egyptian border, resulted, debkafile reports, from the failure of US Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers to breathe life into the US-Egyptian-Israeli partnership for combating terror during his Cairo trip earlier this month. Refusing to reactivate the Cairo-Jerusalem “hot line” for terror, the Egyptians were instead engaged in détente with Iran after Al Qods chief Gen. Qassam Soleimani paid them a secret visit. Deeply impressed with his feat for keeping Bashar Assad in power, President Morsi invited him for expert advice on hanging onto office. Cleansing Sinai of Islamist terrorists was far from his mind.

January 15, 2013 Briefs

  • Hollande: 750 French troops in Mali to increase
    French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday that a total of 750 troops are taking part in the offensive against Islamist rebels in Mali and their number would increase. During a visit to the French Middle East military base, Peace Camp in Abu Dhabi, Hollande said French overnight strikes “achieved their goal.” French sources commented that the rebels’ conquest Monday of the western town of Diabali "was not a setback.” US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed that the US was backing French forces in Mali.
  • New secret tunnel from Gaza runs 600m into Israel
    A tunnel, of the type used by Gazan Palestinian terrorists to infiltrate Israel or pack with explosives for remote detonation, was discovered by a routine IDF patrol Monday. It ran 600 meters into Israeli territory from a point in southern Gaza.

Iran to send monkeys into space

15 Jan. Iran will parade its ballistic rocket achievements by sending monkeys into space next month. This was announced by Hamid Fazeli, head of the country’s space agency Tuesday, Jan. 15. debkafile: Since firing the first Iranian-made satellite, the 27-kilogram Omid, in February 2009, Tehran has developed a rocket with a payload capacity of 330 kilograms, capable of placing nuclear warheads anywhere on the face of the earth. The Iranians habitually mask advances in their nuclear and missile programs as pure scientific research.

Obama ready for first Iranian nuclear test

15 Jan. After US intelligence admitted it cannot detect or stop a Syrian chemical attack, US experts now estimate that Iran will not be able to produce enough weapon-grade uranium for one or bombs before mid-2014 “without detection by the West.” debkafile: Barack Obama is preparing the world for the “surprise” of an Iranian nuclear test. The new, delayed dateline, moreover, is based on a false supposition. Already today, Iran has acquired or produced enough enriched uranium to build five nuclear bombs.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told an Israeli TV interviewer Monday night, Jan. 14 that his government had spent billions of shekels to outfit Israel’s Defense Forces with offensive and defensive options hitherto lacking. He stressed Israel is obliged to be extremely strong – whether to stand up to the Iranian nuclear threat and the extremist Islamist wave lashing the Arab world – or to make peace.
The new nuances in Netanyahu’s reference to the Iranian nuclear threat suggest that he too is aware of the new winds blowing in Washington. In his latest statement, he departed from his standard assertion that his government would not permit Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and said instead: “The government which I head has invested billions to prepare the country for the Iranian threat.”

January 16, 2013 Briefs

  • Washington ignores “compelling” evidence of Syrian chemical warfare
    A leaked State Department report by US diplomats in Turkey, which made a “compelling case” that Bashar Assad’s forces had used poison gas, was dismissed by National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, who said there was no such evidence.
  • Netanyahu: No return to 1967 borders
    Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he stands by his refusal to return to the pre-1967 war borders and will make certain to keep Jerusalem united, against international pressure. This was his associates’ comment on the an article by Jeffrey Goldberg quoting Barack Obama as saying Netanyahu does not know what Israel’s best interests are and is driving Israel into grave isolation. Israelis go to the polls for a new parliament and government in six days.
  • France must triple troops in Mali after no agreement on African force
    France pledged to triple the size of its 750-strong force fighting an Al Qaeda-rebel force threatening to overrun Mali, after West African army chiefs failed to agree on the deployment of the 3,300 troops promised by the region at a meeting in Bamako Tuesday. The regional force was to have taken over from France. debkafile: This number is a drop in the sand for contending with well-trained, highly mobile al Qaeda and rebel forces equipped with high quality weaponry in broad desert regions.

France in Mali fights the unfinished Libyan War

16 Jan. Neither France nor the US has learned from the Afghanistan War that aerial warfare won’t defeat al Qaeda – certainly not when they are highly-trained in special forces’ tactics and backed by mobile, well-armed local militias with advanced anti-aircraft weapons. Those militias are Touareg tribesmen, trained and armed by the US in Libya as a spearhead against al Qaeda in Africa, who instead defected to the enemy.

January 17, 2013 Briefs

  • The Algerian operation at the gas field hostage site is over
    The operation ended Thursday night with no definite figures on the number of 41 hostages held by al Qaeda for two days survived and how many were freed. Many were used as human shields by their kidnappers, the al Qaeda (AQIM) Islamists who took them hostage Wednesday. Washington reported a US drone joined the Algerian air operation at the embattled Algerian gas field, where the Islamists had threatened to blow up the BP-operated gas facility with their Norwegian, British, Japanese, American, French and other foreign hostages unless France ended its military operation in N. Mali.
  • Somali Al-Shabaab says French captive killed, fears for 41 hostages
    The Al Qaeda-linked Somali al-Shabaab rebels claimed Thursday they had executed Denis Allex, the French secret agent held since 2009, after a French mission to rescue him failed Saturday. Al Qaeda’s African wings have threatened to execute all 10 French hostages they are holding unless France ends its Mali offensive. Paris has repeatedly claimed that Denis Allex died in the failed French rescue mission, in which two French soldiers were killed. As debkafile reported earlier, the French intervention in Mali has united al Qaeda’s African factions.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email