A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending March 05, 2015

February 27, 2015 Briefs

  • A tanker unloads Kurdish oil at Ashkelon
    The tanker, the United Kalavryta, which is at the center of an Iraqi government lawsuit against the autonomous Kurdish Republic for exporting oil without Baghdad’s permission, carried more that one million barrels of Kurdish oil to the Israeli port of Ashkelon Friday. The tanker had previously tried to sell the crude in Texas and was rejected.
  • US planning ways to capture of kill JIhadi John
    Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that the US was working on ways to capture or kill "Jihadi John," the ISIS executioner of hostages, revealed Thursday to be Mohammed Emwazi, 27 of northwest London and a graduate of Westminster University. British anti-terrorism officials detained him at least once in 2010 and let him go. debkafile: US intelligence leaked his identity to embarrass the British government in anger over its passive role in the war on ISIS.
  • Kurdish force wrests NE Syrian town from Islamists
    The capture of Tel Hamis in northeastern Syria was announced Friday by the Kurdish YPG militia which has mounted a strong offensive against ISIS in this strategic bridge area between the territory claimed by the Islamic Caliphate in Syria and Iraq. This week, ISIS raided Assyrian Christian villages and abducted more than 200 people including children. Their whereabouts are not known.

February 28, 2015 Briefs

  • Cairo court rules Hamas a terrorist organization
    An Egyptian court Saturday ruled Hamas – and not just its armed wing – a terrorist organization after listening to its leaders congratulating each other on the success of attacks they had conducted together with Al Qaeda against the Egyptian army in northern Sinai. Hamas condemned the verdict as “shocking in dangerous.”

Egypt goes to war on ISIS – in Libya as well as Sinai

28 Feb. Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi has massed his troops for all-out war on ISIS strongholds in Libya, the first Arab ruler to challenge them in a fellow Arab country, debkafile reports.
His initiative dramatizes the spillover of the Islamist State’s threat across the Middle East, and the ineffectiveness of the US-led coalition’s efforts in Iraq and Syria. Egyptian commando and marine forces stand ready for imminent sea landings to seize Darnah and wipe out the Islamist militias located there, coupled with an air and ground campaign against their hideouts in Sinai. This may include air strikes against Hamas’ military arm in the Gaza Strip, whose active collaboration with the jihadis is confirmed by intelligence.

March 1, 2015 Briefs

  • Rival Egyptian and Turkish rulers pay separate visits to Riyadh
    Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi and Tayyip Erdogan, presidents of Egypt and Turkey, landed separately in Riyadh Sunday for talks with Salman, the new Saudi King. El Sisi is daggers drawn with Erdogan over the latter’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood which is fighting to topple the Cairo regime. According to debkafile’s sources, the Egyptian president will lobby the Saudi monarch for new a pan-Arab army to battle ISIS and Al Qaeda’s Arabian affiliate AQAP. Salman has good relations with the Turkish president, unlike his predecessor King Abdullah.
  • Large-scale snap exercise for Israeli military central command
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott Sunday ordered the Central Command to conduct a snap exercise deploying the unusually large number of 13,000 troops plus security personnel of the Shin Bet and police. They were to act out a scenario that simulated a sudden outbreak of violent riots and abductions in the areas under their jurisdiction in Judea and Samaria. The IDF Spokesman said the exercise under the command of Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz was a test of the IDF’s preparedness for rapid responses to unforeseen events.

Netanyahu tries to head off Iran’s machinations after Obama empowers Tehran as favored Mid East ally

1 Mar. Almost the last words Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu heard Sunday, March 1, as he took off for Washington to address Congress on Iran was: “Don’t do it!” They came from a group of 180 senior ex-IDF military officers who tried to stop the speech lest it damage relations with the US. debkafile: Their protest should be addressed to the White House. For six years, Barack Obama has eroded those relations by providing Israel with its material security needs, while freezing it out of a strategic partnership for which he preferred Iran.
Obama’s presidency has left Israel face to face with a nakedly hostile Iran empowered by the United States.

March 02, 2015 Briefs

  • Netanyahu praises US friendship and all Obama has done for Israel
    After a tumultuous welcome, Prime Minister Binyamin told the AIPAC annual conference in Washington Monday that he is deeply grateful for all that President Obama has done for Israel. “Our friendship is stronger than ever and will grow stronger still, but no one makes alliances with the weak. WE must be able to defend ourselves.”
  • Ya’alon: Attack on Iran still on the table – as last resort
    Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that the option of attacking Iran is still on the table but military action would the last resort. Speaking to the American TV network Al Hura Monday, Yaalon said that the Gulf states see eye to eye with Israel on the Iranian nuclear threat. Israel would cooperate with any “necessary partners” in handling threats against it.
  • Three Israelis indicted in large smuggling ring for Hamas
    A long joint investigation of Israel Police, Shin Bet, the Israel Defense Forces, the Defense Ministry, and the Tax Authority has rolled up a 25-member smuggling ring to the Gaza Strip, charging three Israelis and a fourth man with assisting an enemy in time of war, terror financing, fraudulent receipt of an item under aggravated circumstances, money-laundering, tax offenses and other crimes. The defendants are accused of providing $30 million worth of raw materials, including large quantities of iron, directly to Hamas for the manufacture of rockets, missiles and the construction of terror tunnels, as well as generators, and electrical equipment. The charges are related to five previous indictments against Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority.
  • White House itemizes Obama’ support for Israel in six years
    The White House Sunday night continued its media ping-pong with the Netanyahu government ahead of his speech to Congress with a list headed “Five facts you need to known about Obama’s relations with Israel.”
  • President Obama has strengthened Israel's defense in concrete and unprecedented ways:
    Expanded military aid of $20.5 bn p.a. From 2011 $1.3bn for developing Iron Dome. Joint military war games.
  • Under President Obama, the U.S. has led global efforts to defend Israel's legitimacy on the world stage:
    In 2014, Obama blocked 18 anti-Israel UN motions, as well as casting vetoes to defeat condemnations at the UN Human Rights Council.
  • The President has strongly supported Israel in its quest for peace with its neighbors:
    Under his lead, Secretary of State John Kerry initiated an intensive, collaborative effort to facilitate negotiations for a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
    The President asked foremost military experts to help develop security arranges to ensure a two-state solution leaves Israel more secure, not less.
  • Under President Obama, the U.S. has a strong and robust commercial relationship with Israel:
    US exports to Israel rose in 2014 by 9.6 percent to $15.1 billion.
  • Under President Obama, the U.S. has invested millions in helping Israeli immigrants including refugees.

March 03, 2015 Briefs

  • Iran’s FM: Obama’s nuclear deal conception is unacceptable
    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed as unacceptable US President Barack Obama's comment to Reuters that Iran would have to freeze its nuclear program at least a decade to close an accord with the world powers. Zarif stressed that Tehran will not give in to “excessive demands.”
  • Death of US defense contractor in Saudi Arabia questioned
    Christopher Cramer, 50, an American defense contractor, was found dead three stories below his hotel room in the Saudi town of Tabuk, while on assignment to provide technical assistance for the sale of advance defense systems. Saudi authorities initially classified his death as suicide. Former coroner Dr. Michael Baden says his injuries point to homicide rather than a fall.

Netanyahu says leave the nuclear deal, but make it tougher for Iran

3 Mar. In the 40-minute speech Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu delivered to a joint session of the US Congress Tuesday, May 3, he listed the iniquities of the “dark, dictatorial Islamic regime” in Tehran, and criticized the nuclear deal in negotiation as marking the “countdown to a nuclear nightmare” that would threaten not just Israel but the world. He proposed “making it better” by confronting Iran with three provisos:

(1) Forego aggression against its neighbors and the Middle East at large, (2) Forego state-sponsored terrorism worldwide, and (3) Stop threatening Israel, the one and only Jewish state, with annihilation.
His speech to a packed chamber was interrupted by 40 standing ovations and long, enthusiastic cheers.
Regarding the guarantee of tight supervisions, Netanyahu pointed out that Iran had stalled international inspections three times in 2005, 2006 and 2010 and could do so again. It is believed to have built hidden nuclear sites, which neither the US or Israel have discovered, due the Iranian practice of what the prime minister called its “hide and cheat” tactics.
Monday, March 2, the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, complained once again that Iran was not answering key questions about its nuclear projects or opening up suspect sites to inspection.
The deal taking shape in negotiations will not prevent Iran gaining nuclear weapons, said the Israeli leader, but clear its path to a bomb in the hands of a regime as radical as ever. Its battle with ISIS does not make that regime a friend of America.

One “survival threat” scenario Netanyahu hasn’t spelled out: A single Iranian nuke could obliterate Israel’s heartland and half its population

3 Mar. What Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has not spelled out during his unrelenting campaign against a deal that would allow Iran nuclear threshold status is this: It would leave Tehran the freedom to choose when to build a single nuclear bomb or device, that could be dropped over the Mediterranean from a civilian airliner and trigger a tsumani for wiping out the Tel Aviv conurbation. An estimated one million people would be killed and the country’s heartland, with its financial and business centers, its military headquarters and hi-tech industry would be wiped out.

March 04, 2015 Briefs

  • Obama says Netanyahu offered no better plan
    President Barack Obama responded cuttingly to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s warning to Congress Tuesday that the deal under discussion could “pave Iran’s path to the bomb.” Obama said Netanyahu had not offered any “viable alternatives” to negotiating with Iran. “If we’re successful in negotiating, then, in fact, this will be the best deal possible to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Obama said. “Nothing else comes close. Sanctions won’t do it. Even military action would not be as successful as the deal that we have put forward.”
  • Kerry travels to Riyadh to reassure Gulf on Iran nuclear deal
    US Secretary of State John Kerry was traveling Wednesday to Saudi Arabia to try to assure Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members that an Iran nuclear deal would not lead to regional instability. He meets their foreign ministers Thursday at the Riyadh Air Base and Saudi King Salman and Saudi foreign and interior ministers later at the king’s ranch northwest of Riyadh. debkafile: If Kerry hoped to discourage Gulf states from entering into a nuclear race with Iran, he is too late. Saudi Arabia has already signed a nuclear-sharing pact with Pakistan and bought nuclear-capable ICBMs from China.
  • Netanyahu arrives home, encouraged by response to his Congress speech
    Upon landing at Ben-Gurion airport Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the was encouraged by the responses to his speech Tuesday that he heard from lawmakers from both parties. But a faced a barrage of criticism at home.
  • Netanyahu’s political opponents rubbish his performance
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s political opponents and rivals slammed his speech in Congress, unbearably irritated by his success in rocking the US Capitol and striding the world stage two weeks before Israel’s general election. The television images and love of Israel displayed by the US Congress were too powerful to dismiss, but his rivals did their best. They warned that by alienating the White House, he endangered national security. This sort of criticism has in the past played to the advantage of Netanyahu and his Likud. The March 17 vote will determine whether this pattern still holds true, or whether the prime minister’s much-criticized inadequacies in domestic policies prevail with the Israeli public.

March 05, 2015 Briefs

  • US envoy to South Korea stable after knife attack
    US Ambassador Mark W. Lippert was slashed by a 55-year old man screaming demands for Korean unification at a performing arts center in Seoul Thursday morning, just as he was about to give a lecture on prospects for peace on the divided Korean peninsula. The attacker wielding a 10-inch knife inflicted wounds to the diplomat’s face and left wrist. He was rushed to hospital where he is in stable condition. The attacker was detained.

Obama’s Iran strategy pans out in war on ISIS

5 Mar. Barack Obama’s Iran policy, spectacularly challenged by Binyamin Netanyahu in his Congress speech Tuesday, March 3, was manifested in Iraq, 10,000 kilometers from Washington, in the Iranian-led Iraqi battle for Tikrit. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff commented the same day that the “Tikrit campaign… the most overt conduct of Iranian support …could turn out to be a positive thing.” debkafile: The US-Iranian partnership, which is mirrored in Syria, is alarming Israeli military chiefs because it is bringing the Iranian peril closer than ever before.

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