A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending May 14, 2015
May 8, 2015 Briefs
- Obama congratulates Netanyahu on new government
"The president congratulates the Israeli people, Prime Minister Netanyahu and the new governing coalition on the formation of Israel’s new government and looks forward to working with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his new government,” press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. "The United States places great importance on our close military, intelligence and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and abiding partnership between both countries," Earnest said. He added that the president would continue to consult with Netanyahu on the Iran nuclear talks and "the importance of pursuing a two-state solution" with the Palestinians.
- Security raised at US military bases over jihadist threat
The Pentagon raised its protection from level Alpha to Bravo Friday for military bases across the country after FBI Director James Comey reported that ISIL is recruiting “hundreds, maybe thousands” of potential terrorists across the country.
- Two Palestinians with submachine gun detained on way to Jerusalem
Israeli police detained two Palestinians carrying a loaded Karl Gustav submachine gun after chasing their car on Rte. 60 on the way to Jerusalem.
- Pakistani helicopter crash kills Norwegian, Philippines envoys
A Pakistan military helicopter carrying diplomats to the launch of projects in northern Pakistan crashed on Friday killing six people, including the ambassadors of Norway and the Philippines and the wives of the ambassadors of Malaysia and Indonesia, the army said. Taliban claimed to have shot it down.
- US Senate backs bill giving Congress review of Iran nuclear deal
The US Senate voted 98-1 for a bipartisan bill that would let Congress review any final nuclear deal the six world powers approve with Tehran. debkafile: The measure, to be voted on in the House next week, is a watered down version of the original bipartisan bill, which would have subjected the accord to congressional approval.
- Terrorists kill two Egyptian soldiers in Sinai
Gunmen ambushed a security checkpoint at the Rafah on the Sinai-Gaza border Thursday night, killing at least two Egyptian soldiers, the day after an Egyptian AH-64 Apache struck an Ansar Bayt Magdis hideout in the same area, killing some 15 terrorists.
May 9, 2015 Briefs
- Colossal 70th anniversary WWII Victory parade in Moscow
President Vladimir Puitn staged in Moscow Saturday the biggest parade ever to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s World War II victory over Nazi Germany. In his address, he said: “We have seen attempts to create a unipolar world. Now we call for a new world order that promises security to all nations.
- Saudis lead heaviest coalition air strikes in Yemen to date
Ahead of a five-day “humanitarian pause” in Yemen, there were 130 Saudi-led air strikes Saturday against rebel Houthi positions. Sana airport was put out of action to prevent Iran landing fresh military supplies for the rebels.
Qalamoun battle fateful for Assad, Nasrallah, Soleimani
9 May. The battle for Qalamoun has suddenly become a critical regional contest for the Iran-Syrian-Hizballah alliance at large and its three prime movers, Syrian President Bashar Assad, Hizballah leader Hassan Nastrallah, and Iran’s Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the Al Qods Brigades. The Obama administration is engaged in a new plan to drive a wedge in the Revolutionary Guards leadership by elevating its leader Gen. Jaafari to the regime’s “good guy” and denouncing Gen. Soleimani as the “bad guy.” Degrading his status, it is hoped in Washington, may cause Iran to pull in its horns in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
May 10, 2015 Briefs
- Houthis accept five day humanitarian ceasefire
Iranian-backed Houthi rebel fighters in Yemen Sunday accepted a five-day “humanitarian ceasefire” proposed by Saudi Arabia, but warned they would respond to any violations. Since Friday night, Saudi-led coalition planes have been pounding Houthi positions in the north.
May 11, 2015 Briefs
- Israel’s High Court allows Netanyahu’s bid to expand government
The High Court Monday issued an interim injunction that struck down an opposition Yesh Atid petition to bar Binyamin Netanyahu’s effort to expand his cabinet beyond the 18-minister limit set by a Basic Law.
- Palestinian terrorist stabs Israeli at Adummim junction
An Israeli man was stabbed by a Palestinian assailant at the Mishor Adummim junction early Monday and is in hospital with moderately serious injuries. A hunt is on for the terrorist.
Saudi king, followed by GCC rulers, snubs Obama on Camp David summit. US fails to isolate Netanyahu on nuclear deal
11 May. Saudi King Salman’s last-minute cancellation of his White House summit with US President Obama was seen as a calculated snub for the president’s Iran and Mid East policies. Two senior Gulf rulers then opted out of the Camp David summit Obama scheduled for Wednesday, May 13 at Camp David: Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isaa Al Khalifa and UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The meeting takes place after Secretary of State John Kerry failed to override Gulf resistance to the US nuclear deal with Iran. His success would have isolated Binyamin Netanyahu in the Middle East. Washington and the GCC also remained sharply at odds on the Syrian war and the Bashar Assad’s political future, while the Saudis had a bone to pick with the US on its lack of promised support on Yemen.
May 12, 2015 Briefs
- US monitors Iranian ships heading for Yemen under warship escort
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said Tuesday that the US navy is monitoring the Iranian warships accompanying an Iran-flagged cargo vessel carrying humanitarian aid for delivery to Yemen during the five-day ceasefire beginning Tuesday night. He called on the Iranian ships to change course for Djibouti where the UN has set up a Yemen aid center and warned Tehran not to stage any “sort of stunt” that would sabotage the ceasefire.
- Saudis to leave Yemen blockade in place
The Saudi-led coalition, accusing Iran of arming the Houthi rebels, have imposed inspections on all ships destined for Yemen ports. debkafile: The naval and aerial blockade of Yemen will remain in place during the ceasefire as Saudi and Egyptian warships patrol international waters off Yemen.
- Saudi “strike force” posted on Yemen border
Saudi Arabia is sending a "strike force" to its border with Yemen after its Najran border villages came under heavy mortar shelling by Yemeni Houthi rebels causing casualties.
- Israel’s relief team arrives home as Nepal struck by another powerful quake
The Israeli medical aid and rescue team returned home after 17 days in Katmandu. The IDF field hospital treated 1,600 disaster victims.
- Former CIA official: Keep pressure on ISIS or face another 9/11
Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell warned in a CBS interview Monday that, unless the pressure is kept up on ISIS and Al Qaeda, “we are going to see another 9/11 style attack.”
- Kerry in Sochi for talks with Putin on Syria
Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Sochi Tuesday for his first visit in two years to meet President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. US officials said he will be seeking Russian cooperation in a political solution for the Syrian crisis. With US-Russian ties especially low, Putin commented, “Let’s hope he comes with new ideas.” From Sochi, Kerry travels to Turkey for a key NATO foreign ministers’ meeting and then home for Barack Obama’s Gulf summit at Camp David.
May 13, 2015 Briefs
- Tehran: Attacking Yemen-bound aid ship will “ignite war”
Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri warned Wednesday that attacking the Iranian aid ship heading for Yemen will “ignite the flames of war” in the region. A Saudi-US blockade “will start a fire which they cannot put out,” he added. Iran would not allow Saudi-led naval forces to inspect the Nejat (Rescue) cargo ship, bound for Hodeida port under warship escort.
- Gunmen on motorbikes kill 47 on a Karachi bus
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack Wednesday by gunmen on motorbikes on a bus in the southern city of Karachi. They killed 47 people. Police believe the victims were members of the Ismaili Shiite Muslim minority. Tehreek-e-Taliban has in recent weeks directed violence against religious minorities.
- Merkel: Nuclear deal with Iran unlikely
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told President Reuven Rivlin when they met in Berlin Tuesday that the current reality shows no promise of a nuclear deal between the world powers and Tehran. She said Iran’s nuclear technology had advanced considerably over the last decade, but if a comprehensive accord could be reached, it might prevent further development. Germany rolled out a red carpet for the Israeli president visit to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Germany remains completely committed to the safety and security of the state of Israel, said the Chancellor. This week, Israel and Germany signed an agreement for the purchase from Germany of four new naval vessels to protect Israel’s Mediterranean offshore oil and gas rigs.
- Obama still hopes for two-state Israel-Palestinian solution
President Barack Obama said he has not given up hope for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, although simmering tensions in the region and "serious questions" about overall commitment have stifled progress. In an interview Tuesday with the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Ashaq al-Awsat, Obama said he expects the new Israeli government and the Palestinians to demonstrate a genuine commitment to a two-state solution.
At least 250 Hizballah losses in Qalamoun battle. Nasrallah pushes for Lebanese army to enter Syrian war
13 May. Amid Hizballah’s rising war losses – estimated as at least 250 in the past week – its leader Hassan Nasrallah strongly urged the Lebanese chief of staff Gen. Jean Kahwagi to send his troops into battle over the strategic Qalamoun Mountain, alongside Hizballah and the Syrian army, debkafile discloses. The Lebanese general gave him a flat no, saying the Lebanese army would not “slip” into any war inside Syria. Despite local gains by Syria and Hizballah, rebel jihadists have grasped that they can slip across into Lebanon unopposed. For now, Qalamoun battle has no foreseeable resolution, while laying Lebanon open to jihadist spillover from Syria.
May 14, 2015 Briefs
- Iranian boats fire at Singapore-flagged ship in Gulf
Five Iranian boats fired shots across the bow of a Singapore-flagged cargo vessel in the Persian Gulf Thursday, hailing it to halt. The location of the incident was not disclosed.
- Palestinian rams car at Israeli youngsters, injures three
One of the three victims was seriously injured, two more lightly, when a Palestinian smashed a car into a group of 16-year old youngsters waiting for a lift at the Alon Shvut junction of Gush Etzion, southwest of the West Bank town of Bethlehem. The attacker, who came from Hebron, was apprehended.
- Palestinian terrorist network busted in Silwan, Jerusalem
A network of dozens of terror activists has been uncovered in the Jerusalem suburb of Silwan. It is held by the police and Shin Bet responsible for the plague of firebomb, fire cracker and rock attacks in the city on Israeli security forces and civilians as well as private homes. Among the suspects was Muhammed Abbasi, Popular Front activist, who admitted under questioning that he manufactured pipe bombs and collected rocks and other weapons for handing over to terrorists he recruited. Thursday, a knife attack on a guard at a Jewish home in Silwan was thwarted.
- Russia opposes restoring sanctions for Iranian violations
Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said Wednesday night that Moscow is against the automatic imposition of sanctions on Iran for its violation of the nuclear agreement due to be finalized by June 30.
- Iran complains to the UNSC against Saudi Yemen blockade
Iran complained to the United Nations Security Council over Riyadh’s blockade of Yemen as an Iranian cargo ship neared the Yemeni port of Hodeida under warship escort. Iran’s Defense Ministry denounced the US as “an accomplice of war criminals” and “genocide" after the Pentagon slammed the Iranian initiative to deliver aid directly to Yemen as "unhelpful and unnecessary."