A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending May June 14, 2007

Damascus and Tehran are certain a US-Israeli attack is in store


9 June: During most of last week, two high-ranking Iranian delegations spent time in Damascus. One was composed of generals who held talks with Syrian leaders on coordinated preparations for a Middle East war in the coming months.

At the Iranian end, a similar high-ranking Syrian military delegation called in at Iranian army and Revolutionary Guards. Our sources report that last week, Tehran sent Moscow a check for $327 m to pay for assorted missiles consigned to Damascus. A further $438 m has been pledged by the end of June for more hardware to Syria.

Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki’s three days of talks in Damascus at the end of May further consolidated the strategic partnership between the two governments under the mutual defense pact they signed a year ago.

They agreed on –

1. Expanded economic cooperation, i.e. an enlarged Iranian aid package for Syria including monetary assistance and an extra 5 million tons of oil gratis per annum on top of the one million already guaranteed.

2. No military steps by the Assad government without prior notice to Tehran and its assent.

3. More reciprocal visits by Syrian and Iranian generals and political officials.

4. In Iraq, Iran and Syria agreed to jointly intensify their terrorist operations against US and British troops.

The regime heads in Tehran are basing their common front with Damascus on intelligence reports whereby the US and Israel have drawn up plans for coordinated military action against Iran, Syria and Hizballah in the summer. They expect the US will strike Iran first, after which Israel will use the opportunity to go for Syria and Hizballah.


Israel‘s Novel “See-Shoot” Electronic Device Is No Substitute for Human Deterrence


9 June: It was not supposed to happen. Three Palestinian terrorist groups broke through Israeli border fortifications from Gaza in broad daylight and raided an Israeli military position near the key Kissufim crossing Saturday, June 9. Their mission, to kill and kidnap Israeli troops, failed. Troops on the spot fought back and drove the invaders off, killing one. Still, it was chillingly close to the three abductions which plunged Israel into deep crisis barely a year ago.

Israel’s policy-makers and military chiefs have sworn the shortcoming which made enemy incursions possible would not recur. But a band of heavily armed Palestinians did cross the fortified Gazan border – not by tunnels but by driving an armored jeep disguised as a TV truck in midday.

debkafile‘s military sources report these findings:

The automatic device called the See-Shot system, our military sources reveal, which partly reinforces the 60-km Israel-Gaza border fence, did not work. It is designed to hit raiders in their tracks before they reach the border.

Neither did a second-line defense system installed in IDF armored vehicles in the Gaza sector. The raiders breached the border fence unharmed and the soldiers on the Israel side were taken unawares. The Palestinian attackers failed in their objective this time. They also showed up a fatal defect in the hi-tech gadgets in which the IDF is placing its trust.


If attacked, Tehran will strike US and Israeli interests worldwide, says an official. Oil could hit $250


10 June: Iran’s deputy interior minister on security, Mohammad Bager Zolghadr, issued this warning Sunday, June 10, with an eye on the joint US-Israel air maneuver which began the same day in the Negev. The unusually explicit threat by a senior Iranian official was prompted, say debkafile‘s Tehran sources, by his government’s interpretation of the seven-day Negev exercise as a preparatory step for a US-Israeli air attack on their nuclear sites.

His threat to send oil prices skyrocketing to $250 hinted that Iran could block the Strait of Hormuz to oil exports from the Gulf.

Iranian leaders have also taken to heart transport minister Shaul Mofaz’s remark after his strategic talks in Washington last week that no options can be ruled out, including the military option.


Israel‘s Ofeq-7 satellite beams first images to base


11 June: With the successful launch Monday of Ofeq-7 imaging satellite, Israel has acquired an essential intelligence asset for any war contingency. The 300 kg satellite launched westward over the Mediterranean by the home-made Shavit three-stage solid fuel vehicle from the Palmachim aerospace base at 02:15 IT, June 11.

debkafile‘s military sources report that the launching was part of a seven-day US-Israeli air exercise taking place this week in the Negev which, though presented officially as a routine practice, reflects wide expectations of a Middle East war this summer.

Israel thus launched the Ofeq-7 in mock war conditions, displaying a cutting-edge capability reserved to the US and Russia.

Its successful deployment in low Earth orbit was anxiously awaited as strategically essential after the failure of the Ofeq-6 test last September.

debkafile‘s military sources add: The military importance of the Shavit’s successful performance as a deterrent to Iran’s missile threats cannot be overstated. It means that Israeli rockets can be relied on to reach any part of Iran.

Earlier this year, as Syria and Iran built up their missile arsenals, Israel quietly accelerated its military space program with three successful launches in February and March under a news blackout. Russia too reacted by placing a new Cosmos spy satellite in an orbit for keeping a close watch on the Middle East including Israel, Iran and the Gulf.


Iran and Syria are the winners of Hamas’ military coup against Fatah in Gaza Strip


12 June: It was the second triumph in a week for a Palestinian force backed by Iran and Syria, after the Lebanese army failed in four weeks’ combat to crush the pro-Syrian factions’ barricaded in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian camp near Tripoli.

Tuesday, Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Palestinian Authority forces faced disaster. Their inevitable ejection from the Gaza Strip effectively severs Palestinian rule between Ramallah, where Fatah will have to fight to retain control of the West Bank and Gaza, dominated now by an Islamist Palestinian force manipulated from Tehran and Damascus.

The Iran-Syrian alliance has acquired by brute force two Mediterranean coastal enclaves in northern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Its momentum, launched a month ago in both sectors was unchecked. The Fouad Siniora government’s troops failed to break through to the Palestinian camp and crush the pro-Syrian uprising. The Olmert government stood by unmoved as the most radical elements in the Middle East snatched the Gaza Strip on Israel’s southwestern border.

The Bush administration is finding itself forced out of key Middle East positions, its main assets Siniora and Mahmoud Abbas trounced on the battlefield.

Israel’s technological feat of placing the Ofeq-7 surveillance satellite in orbit Monday quickly proved ineffective against the sort of tactics Tehran and Syria employ: mobile, suicidal Palestinian terrorists, heavily and cheaply armed with primitive weapons, who are winning the first round of the Summer 2007 war and preparing for the next.


The anti-Syrian Lebanese MP Walid Eido and his son assassinated by massive explosion in his car which killed 10 people


12 June: The blast which ripped through Beirut’s waterfront Manara district also killed Eido’s two bodyguards and injured scores of civilians. Eido belonged to the ruling party headed by Saad Hariri, whose father, former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, was murdered in similar circumstances in 2005. An international tribunal has been set up to prosecute the crime’s suspected perpetrators, including members of the Syrian Assad regime.


Moscow Releases Nuclear Fuel for Iran’s Bushehr Reactor


12 June: Russian president Vladimir Putin put teeth in his threats and his cynically helpful alternative suggestions regarding the deployment of US missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic.

disclosed on June 8 that the week before the G8 opened in Germany, Moscow released the long-withheld nuclear fuel for Iran’s atomic reactor in Bushehr.

debkafile reports it was actually delivered 24 hours before Israel launched its new military imaging satellite Ofeq-7, bringing forward the Iranian threat to Israel. One immediate result has been the stiffening of Tehran’s negative posture, sparking what nuclear watchdog director Mohammed ElBaradei called Monday, June 11, a confrontation that needs to be urgently defused.


Israel decides to stay out of the Palestinian internecine war in Gaza


13 June: Prime minister Ehud Olmert led the cabinet in a decision Tuesday night to avoid “fighting on the side of the pragmatists against the extremists.” Olmert said an international force is worth considering for securing the Philadelphi border enclave of the Gaza Strip against further arms smuggling. debkafile: This would replicate the situation in South Lebanon where UNIFIL troops have been helpless to halt illegal gunrunning to the Hizballah from Syria. The UN Security voiced concern over this traffic only Tuesday, June 12.


Hamas seizes control of Gaza, trouncing Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah and security forces


14 June: Abbas Thursday night fired Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya, dissolved the Palestinian unity government and set up an emergency government in Ramallah.

Hamas announced a mosque and its government seat would be established in Abbas’ Palestinian compound in Gaza City. A victory prayer to Allah would be sent up from the new Mosque Friday. This will symbolize the Islamist character of the national Palestinian entity supplanting the defeated Palestinian Authority.

Thursday morning, the Hamas Executive Force occupied two Fatah strongholds: the Preventive Security HQ and the National Security compound, dragging personnel out and shooting some on the spot. At least 16 dead are reported.

Half-naked Fatah prisoners were paraded in the streets. Masked Hamas fighters seized their US-made and Israeli equipment and vehicle number plates in the fortified building constructed with US military aid funds after hoisting a green Hamas flag.

Senior Israeli officers described the Hamas victory to debkafile as a greater misfortune for Israel than its Lebanon War setbacks. There, Hizballah was forced by Israeli military action to accept a UN ceasefire and international peacekeepers.

Hamas has no such incentive. In the case of Gaza, the winner takes all and can dictate terms. A radical Islamic enclave with a dominant Iranian-Syrian military presence has sprung up unopposed as a hostile reality on Israel’s southwestern border. It has made the Israeli-Middle East Quartet’s boycott an irrelevance.

The Hamas Executive Force completed the seizure of all pro-Fatah Presidential Guard border positions, including the Karni goods crossing and the Sufa, Kerem Shalom and Rafah transit points, after midnight Wednesday night, June 14. Their commander Col. Musbah Basichi and his 60 officers fled to Egypt.

debkafile‘s military sources report that Hamas’ planning and combat tactics clearly betray the professional hands of Syrian and Hizballah officers who have set up a command center in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas pounced as Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert held a belated conversation with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the deployment of an international force on the Philadelphi route.

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