A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending July 26, 2007
“This summer will see Muslim victories in the region and the defeat of our enemies!” – Ahmadinejad in Damascus
July 19: The Iranian president trumpeted Iran’s intentions for the Middle East when he arrived in Damascus Thursday, July 19. debkafile‘s Middle East sources reveal that behind the braggadocio, his conversation with Iran’s closest ally, Syrian president Bashar Assad, was acrimonious. In fact, he warned Assad he had better stop signaling his willingness for peace talks with Israel because he was hampering Iran’s plans for a war this summer.
Ahmadinejad reminded Assad of his huge debt to the Islamic Republic. In the last few months alone, Iran put up hundreds of millions of dollars for Syria’s arms purchases from Russia; Syria gets its oil gratis and raw materials and finished goods at subsidized prices.
Assad replied that with all due respect and appreciation for his Iranian brother’s assistance, he is obliged to look after his country’s interests.
Far from pleasant too was the Iranian president’s conversation with Hizballah’s secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah, who drove to the Syrian capital from Lebanon in a heavily secured convoy. Nasrallah, who lives in fear of any Israel attack, rarely leaves his bunker hideout. Ahmadinejad asked Tehran’s protege to try and understand that his government was financially squeezed by its preparations for war and was therefore unable at the moment to remit the one million dollars promised to repair the war damage suffered by South Lebanon last year.
The Hizballah leader said that, while he fully understood Tehran’s difficulty, he too was weighed down by the heavy cost of his pledges to the inhabitants of southern Lebanon.
Ahmadinejad had an easier time with the heads of eight of the nine Palestinian terrorist leaders hosted in the Syrian capital. With them he was upbeat.
Israel is a lot weaker than it pretends, he said, and a concerted struggle with Syria could easily bring down the Zionist state. The coming months, he boasted, would see him marching into Israel shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinian brothers.
Ahmadinejad follows up Damascus talks with a council of war in Tehran
20 July: Our Iranian and intelligence sources reveal that the Iranian president flew out of Damascus Thursday with a group of Hizballah and Palestinian radical leaders saying: “I prefer cooler places, but this region faces a torrid summer of victories.”
As for Syria’s role, debkafile‘s military sources reveal that 20 high-ranking Iranian officers were on the Iran president’s flight to Damascus, headed by defense minister Mustafa Najar. They were driven to Syrian General Staff headquarters, where they were awaited by Syrian defense minister Gen. Hassan Turkmani, chief of staff Gen. Ali Habib and corps commanders.
Our intelligence sources believe this conference was in fact round one of the council of war which continued in Tehran Friday with Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist chiefs.
Problem of Jews and Christians expelled from Arab lands is raised before US Congressional caucus
21 July: Of the million-strong, 2,500-year old Jewish communities of the Middle East, only 8,000 remain in 10 Arab countries, said former Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada Dr. Irwin Cotler in his briefing to the bipartisan Congressional Human Rights Caucus in Washington co-headed by Frank R. Wolf (R.-VA) and Tom Lantos (D-CA), Thursday, July 19. Yet against the 101 UN resolutions passed on the Palestinian refugees since 1947, not one addressed the forcible expulsion of Jews from Arab countries by state-orchestrated oppression, persecutions and pogroms.
This raises serious questions about the appropriateness of the United Nations having a role in the Middle East Quartet. The Caucus decided to promote two resolutions before Congress instructing the President to ensure that in all international forums dealing with Middle East refugees, US representatives must ensure equal time for Jewish, Christian and other refugees expelled from Arab lands with the Palestinian refugees.
Opposition lawmakers urges defense minister to order military operation in Gaza
22 July: Likud MK Gideon Saar criticizes the silent posture of defense minister Ehud Barak. In view of the constant missile attacks from Gaza on Israeli schools, and accumulating Hamas stocks of war materiel, Saar urged swift and effective action against the Palestinian terrorist organizations operating out of Gaza.
US Air Force B-2 Stealth bombers will soon be fitted with newly-developed 15-tonne Massive Ordnance Penetrator bombs
23 July: American military sources say the gigantic new bunker-blaster is designed to hit fortified underground targets such as Iran’s uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz.
It will be capable of drilling through many meters of earth or concrete. When it falls from a high altitude, the MOP – composed of 20% explosives, 80% hardened metal – will punch a hole in the toughest protective casing before exploding in depth.
debkafile‘s military sources reveal that Israel’s RAFAEL has upgraded its SPICE air-to-ground missile, adding a stand-off precision guidance kit. This kit has been cleared for the US-made BLU-109 penetrator warhead, carried by Israeli warplanes, which is rated one of the top-line US weapons capable of hitting fortified targets from the air or warship.
Al Qaeda warns Muslims to stay away from government sites in “enemies of Allah” countries of North Africa
24 July: The Al Qaeda Movement in the Islamic Countries of the Maghreb claims over the Internet: “The mujahedin have many hidden surprises…in the countries of the Islamic Maghreb, which will come in an escalating sequence.” It warns “our Muslim brothers” to stay away from “centers of the official apostates as well as security gatherings of army and police.” They will be attacked with all available means of detonation, bombing and demolition.”
Paris launches new Middle East initiative for Lebanon
24 July: Middle East sources highlighted to debkafile Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s praise for French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner as “a clever man” in the speech he aired by the Arabic TV al Jazeera network Monday night, July 23.
debkafile‘s sources note that Paris cleverly saw its chance to ride into center stage of Lebanese politics on the back of the desperate appeal from the families of two Israeli soldiers in Hizballah’s hands.
The former French ambassador to Damascus, Jean-Claude Cousseran, who is in and out of Beirut these days, has not lifted a finger to find out if the two soldiers are alive, least of all to obtain their release. Monday, Israeli defense officials accused Syria and continuing to send arms to Hizballah with the cooperation of the Lebanese army and behind the backs of the UN police force. debkafile reports that the UN peacekeepers have switched to acting in the interests their governments rather than upholding their mandate under UN Security Council resolution 1701.
Nasrallah will not release a scrap of information on abducted Israeli soldiers “for nothing”
24 July: In a recorded speech aired by the Arabic al Jazeera TV network Monday night, the Hizballah leader said only he was competent to give out information on the Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev [kidnapped a year ago on the Israeli side of the Lebanese border.] But he said he would reveal nothing about their condition without something in return.
Nasrallah confirmed reports that he takes the precaution of not appearing in public.
“We extend the hand of peace on behalf of all the nations of the region”
25 July: debkafile reports: Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Ilah al-Khatib, representing the only two Arab governments which have signed peace with Israel, pointedly avoided issuing this statement on behalf of the Arab League, which has never recognized Israel. However, in their talks with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, they pushed forward the League’s Middle East peace plan, which confronts Israel with three conditions for normal relations. Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu told the two Arab ministers that Israel’s 2005 unilateral pullout from Gaza had failed. “Wherever Israel hands over territory, the place immediately turns into a terror base for radical Islam.”
200 defiant Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades terrorists threaten fresh wave of anti-Israel violence
25 July: They are up in arms against the deal struck by prime minister Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas a week ago to waive Israeli military pursuit of 179 wanted al Aqsa Brigades gunmen for three months, against a pledge to renounce terrorism and surrender their side arms. The mutineers have informed Palestinian Authority chairman Abbas and their commanders that as long as they are subjected to IDF pursuit and detentions, they will not hold back on terrorist activity against Israelis on the West Bank.
A faction of this group has broken away and formed the Yasser Arafat Brigades.
Israeli military sources warn that these embittered Palestinian operatives are dangerous enough to be taken seriously, especially when their comrades who took the pledge pocketed grants averaging $22,000 plus a regular wage.
The Olmert government reasoned that the temporarily pardoned terrorists would join up with the Fatah campaign to suppress Hamas on the West Bank. debkafile‘s sources report that this plan has gone by the wayside.
USS Enterprise Strike Group and French Charles De Gaulle carrier hold maneuver in Mediterranean
26 July: The USS nuclear carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65), en route for the Persian Gulf, entered the Mediterranean Sea Monday July 23 for joint maneuvers with the French Charles De Gaulle carrier. Rafale M fighters took off from its deck, touched down briefly on Enterprise runways and returned to the parent ship. This is the first time ever that French fighter-bombers have landed on an American carrier and used its facilities.
debkafile‘s Middle East and Washington sources say the closely integrated maneuver is part of the growing cooperation between the Bush administration and the Nicolas Sarkozy presidency on burning Middle East issues.
debkafile‘s sources have previously pointed to a dramatic opening-up of interchanges between Paris, Tehran and Hizballah. They now affirm that this new track was launched with tacit approval from Washington. The evolving Washington-Paris track has a negative potential for Israel, which the Olmert government has not yet appreciated.
Russia to deploy new S-400 missile systems around Moscow
26 July: debkafile‘s military sources report: The SA-400 Triumf, (codenamed SA-21 Growler), a battalion of which will be positioned around Moscow on Aug. 6, is the most advanced air defense system in the world.
The S-400 is capable of intercepting and destroying stealth aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles with a 3,500-km range, moving at 4.8 km per second at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles). debkafile adds: Successful live firing tests of the S-400 were conducted as recently as July 12-13. The haste with which these missiles are being stationed around the Russian capital shows Putin going all-out to beat Bush to the draw before the US missile shield is in place in Poland and the Czech Republic.