A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending July 4, 2013
June 28, 2013 Briefs
- Disturbances sweep across E. Saudi oil region
Despite the news blackout imposed by Riyadh, debkafile reports widespread riots and clashes have been sweeping the oil-rich Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia between Shiite demonstrators and security forces, leaving unknown numbers of dead and wounded.
- Anti-Morsi riots escalate across Egypt
debkafile reports Muslim Brotherhood HQ were torched Friday and hundreds of member wounded , one killed, in street assaults. Fierce clashes between pro- and anti-Brotherhood adherents swept the Delta cities of Mansoura and Tanta, causing several hundred more casualties in the run-up to the big “uprising” against President Morsi Sunday.
- Iron Dome anti-missile battery moved to Haifa
The battery was deployed to Haifa Friday morning amid heightened tensions from the North stemming from the Syrian civil war. At an Air Force pilots’ graduation ceremony Thursday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz said: “The region is shaking from north to south. Syrian is bleeding, In Lebanon, the flames have caught the edge of (Hizballah leader) Nasrallah’s robe.” It was incumbent on Israel, he said, to maintain its highest level of readiness in the face of these challenges. The new pilots, he said, are and integral safeguard of this state of readiness.
Israeli leaders hint at covert operations in Syria
28 June. Senior Israeli officers in the Northern Command estimate that the IDF’s performance is just 40 percent of what is required for defending Israel’s border against the threats building up from the Golan. For too long, Israeli intelligence has been in thrall to the misconception that Bashar Assad’s days are numbered and underestimated Hizballah’s combat effectiveness. Friday, an Iron Dome anti-missile battery was finally deployed to the northern town of Haifa, after a different kind of rhetoric came from Israeli leaders.
Addressing a surprise Golani Brigade drill on the Golan Wednesday, June 26, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said firmly: “This is not a theoretical exercise: The situation around us is volatile and inflammable. “We must scare the enemy to death in order to win.”
Air Force chief, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said that most air force activity was “covert and unseen.”
Assuming he referred to real actions, debkafile’s military sources ask what they have achieved, when Bashar Assad was allowed to array forces in southern Syria opposite the Golan ready for a terrorist offensive against Israel and thousands of Hizballah fighters are ranged at the southern Syrian town of Deraa.
June 29, 2013 Briefs
- Sinai police chief murdered
Armed men ambushed Sinai police inspector Brig. Gen. Mohamed Hani and shot him dead with automatic fire outside his home in El Arish. The brigadier was the highest ranking Egyptian offier killed by armed Salafist Bedouin in Sinai.
June 30, 2013 Briefs
- Big day for massed protesters vowing to topple Egypt’s Islamic government
Egypt’s protest movements gathered in force Sunday, June 30 for a showdown against the Mohamed Morsi government. The US State Department evacuated 45 families of diplomats to Germany, after 21-year old Andrew Pochter, a student from Chevy Chase, Md. was stabbed to death Friday during clashes between supporters and opponents of Morsi in Alexandria.
Kerry winds up fifth shuttle mission optimistic and empty-handed
30 June. US Secretary of State John Kerry wound up his fifth peace shuttle trip for reviving Israel-Palestinian peace talks Sunday, June 30, when Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas turned down Kerry’s blueprint for both sides to forego preconditions and return straightaway to the long-stalled peace talks. Abbas reverted to his three-point ultimatum: Israel must first accept 1967 borders as the basis for negotiations, release Palestinians jailed more than 20 years and freeze West Bank and Jerusalem construction. The Secretary, who left Ramallah empty-handed, says he’ll be back in a few weeks.
Still Kerry was optimistic when he left. “With a little more work, an agreement [for Israeli-Palestinian talks to resume)] is within reach,” he said, reporting “real progress.”
Nasserist-nationalist, anti-US slogans unexpectedly dominate anti-Morsi protests in Cairo
30 June. The demonstrations against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi staged across Egypt Sunday June 30, offered a surprise. Rather than an outpouring of anti-Islamist rage, the protesters voiced pan-Arab, nationalist, socialist and xenophobic slogans – marked by anti-US sentiment -, with which Gemal Abdel Nasser enthused the Arab world half a century ago. The Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt, thrown up by the Arab Revolt, may find itself being challenged by an Arab nationalistic uprising.
There was also a strong strain of anti-American sentiment.
The organizers of the “Tamarod” (Rebellion) have laid long-term plans for a civil disobedience campaign to disrupt the government administration until it is forced to quit.
July 1, 2013 Briefs
- Protesters raid Brotherhood strongman’s home backed by army
The protesters broke into the home of the Muslim Brotherhood strongman Khairat al-Shater, confiscated his documents and detained 15 of his bodyguards, taking them to a secret location. debkafile: The papers held in Shater’s home were the movement’s most secret documents which also recorded its leaders’ financial dealings. The raid took place under military protection.
- Egyptian army posts 30 tanks on Sinai-Gaza border – report
Russian and Turkish sources report that the Egyptian army has posted 30 tanks on the Sinai border with the Gaza Strip to seal the Palestinian territory against the spillover of the disturbances sweeping Egypt.
- Russia, Iran, China fork out $500m per month for Syrian war effort
“It’s not that bad to have the Russians, the Chinese and Iranians behind you, Syria’s deputy prime minister Qadri Jamil told the Financial Times Monday. He revealed that the three countries were forking out $6 bn per annum to bankroll the Syrian war.
Army gives Egyptian politicians 48 hours to meet “people’s demands”
1 July. Egypt’s Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi Monday, July 1, gave the country’s politicians 48 hours to “meet the people’s demands” and agree on an inclusive road map, failing which the army would step in and assume power. He spoke after protesters smashed Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo and four ministers quit the Morsi cabinet. The Brotherhood responded with a statement of its intention to set up “self-defense units” to combat opposition “rebel units” – taking Egypt closer to violence and a protracted civil conflict.
July 2, 2013 Briefs
- Tehran: New US sanctions will complicate resolution of nuclear dispute
New US sanctions came into effect Monday targeting trade with Iran’s shipping and automobile sectors, gold sales to Iran and handling of the Iranian currency, in a further attempt to force Tehran to curb its nuclear activities. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman made it clear that “increasing sanctions will have no result, except to make the issue more complex and harder to resolve.”
- Israel’s top general on London visit
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz will meet his opposite number General Sir David Julan Richards and other British officers in the course of a two-day trip to London starting Tuesday..
- Al Qaeda rebels behead Syrian Catholic priest
Vatican sources confirmed Tuesday that Father Francois Murad, 49, was murdered in his church in northern Syria by armed rebels belonging to the Syrian al Qaeda. The killers released a videotape showing armed men executing and beheading two individuals – one of them identified as the priest. According to Syrian sources the atrocity took place on June 23.
Morsi refuses to quit, says army must withdraw ultimatum
2 July. President Mohamed Morsi Tuesday night rejected Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ‘s demand to step down to avert a bloodbath. He said he stood by his “constitutional dignity” and demanded the army withdraw its ultimatum. debkafile: The general acted after Interior Minister Gen. Muhammad Ibrahim offered to place all police, internal security and intelligence forces at the disposal of the army. Seven people died in clashes between pro- and anti Morsi demonstrators.
Obama scrambles to save Morsi
2 July. President Barack Obama and top US soldier Gen. Martin Dempsey intervened in the Egyptian crisis early on its third day, Tuesday, July 2, in a bid to save the besieged President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood regime. Obama offered the Egyptian president his support for steps that would respond to opposition demands, while Gen. Dempsey asked Chief of staff Gen. Sedki Sobhi to moderate the army’s stand against the Muslim Brotherhood. He hinted that the US annul $1.3 m aid package was in jeopardy. The generals turned the Americans down. And Morsi rejected the army’s ultimatum. His regime is meanwhile crumbling: Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr submitted his resignation early Tuesday, the sixth minister to quit the government in the last 24 hours. He follows the president’s military adviser Gen. Sami Anan.. Senior judges and high police officers were seen taking part in the anti-government protest rallies of the last week.
The crash of Morsi’s presidency would seriously undermine the objectives of the Arab Revolt pursued by the Obama administration as the arch-stone of his Middle East policy.
July 3, 2013 Briefs
- Global oil prices go above $100 on Egyptian concerns
US light crude rose above $100 the barrel Tuesday for the first time since last September on concerns that the Egyptian crisis could affect Suez Canal supply routes. In a televised speech President Mohamed Morsi Tuesday night, dug in his heels against army-backed opposition calls for him to step down. He declared he had been freely elected and would defend his “constitutional legitimacy” with his life. A Muslim Brotherhood source later threatened: ”The people will not remain calm in face of ‘military rebellion.’
Army deposes Morsi. In TV statement, army chief names judge provisional president
3 July. In his tensely-awaited televised statement, Defense minister Gen. Abdul Khalil El-Sisi announced Wednesday night, July 3, that the head of the constitutional court will act as provisional president and form an interim government of technocrats to run the country until early presidential and parliamentary elections. He was flanked by Christian, secular opposition and Muslim leaders.
El-Sisi said that the army’s long efforts to bring about a national dialogue and reconciliation were welcomed by all factions except for President Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. On hearing that Morsi had been deposed, Tahrir Square exploded in a frenzy of fireworks and shouts of jubilation. Muslim Brotherhood followers are in shock. Some are weeping.
Egypt’s military coup d’etat of Wednesday, July 3, has proved bloodless for now. President Mohamed Morsi was taken from his palace to a military barracks. Muslim Brotherhood officials were detained and issued with travel bans. Army tanks, APCs and troops, including commandos, are deployed at key facilities in the capital and positioned so as to seal off and separate rival groups of demonstrators.
July 4, 2013 Briefs
- Egyptian Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie arrested
Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and its senior strategist and treasurer, Khairat Shater were arrested Thursday. President Mohamed Morsi was taken into army custody Wednesday in the course of the military coup which deposed him.
- Cairo sources: ElBaradei in line for provisional PM
Dr. Mohamed ElBaradi is in line for provisional prime minister of Egypt until new elections, debkafile: Dr. ElBaradei, as Director of the UN Atomic Energy Agency for 10 years, was anti-Israel and let Iran off with lax inspections of its nuclear program.
- Exclusive: Four Egyptian armored divisions took part in coup
debkafile’s military sources disclose exclusively that the army deployed four armored divisions for the coup to topple President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government Wednesday. The 2nd and 9th Divisions were posted to Cairo and two divisions of the Third Army stood on the capital’s main road entrances ready to enter Cairo if necessary.
- Top judge Adly Mansour sworn in as Egypt’s interim president
After deposing Mohamed Morsi Wednesday and suspending the constitution, the Egyptian army Thursday swore in the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court Adly Mansour, 67, as interim president.
- At least 14 Egyptians killed in first post-coup clashes
At least 14 people were killed and 700 injured in clashes in different parts of Egypt Wednesday night in the hours after the army ousted the Morsi government. Morsi is being held at a Defense Ministry facility in Cairo. He refuses to accept his removal and insists he is still Egypt’s legitimate president.
- Army takes Egypt’s Islamist TV channels off the air
Military authorities shut down the Muslim Brotherhood’s TV channel Misr 25 and the Al-Hafiz and Al-Nas channels affiliated to the strict Salafi movement/ They also raided Al Jazeera’s Egyptian news channel and detained five of its staff. Four were later released.
- US diplomats evacuated from Cairo
Washington ordered US diplomats and their families to leave Cairo at once, leaving at the embassy only a skeleton staff for emergencies.
Saudis, Gulf emirates actively aided Egypt’s military coup
4 July. The putsch which Wednesday, July 3, overthrew Mohamed Morsi set back the Obama administration’s sponsorship of the Muslim Brotherhood as a moderate partner for its Middle East policies. debkafile: The Egyptian military could not have managed their clockwork coup without Saudi and Dubai aid in intelligence and funding. They aimed to put a spoke in the US-sponsored Arab revolt, as well as settle long scores with Barack Obama, especially over Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow.
For Israel, Morsi’s downfall eases the security threat from the south and spells disaster for Hamas.
President Barack Obama Thursday cautiously expressed deep concern over the ousting of the Egyptian president and the suspension of its constitution. He urged the military to restore government to civilian hands – without accusing them outright of a coup d’etat – and ordered his administration to assess US foreign aid to Egypt.