A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending May June 7, 2007
US forces transfer Iraqi Kurdistan’s security responsibility to local peshmerga to sidestep threatened Turkish invasion
1 June: Thursday, May 31, Turkish chief of staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanyt declared his army was ready for incursion into northern Iraq. “There is not only the PKK in northern Iraq,” he said. “There is Massoud Barzani as well”
This incursion unheeding of strains with Washington would have two objectives, according to debkafile‘s military sources: To prevent the rise of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq and the fall of the oil town of Kirkuk into Kurdish hands. “Turkey cannot afford an independent Kurdish state headed by Barzani on its southern border,” said Gen. Buyukanyt.
Sunday, May 27, US Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul discussed the possible outbreak of Turkish-Kurdish hostilities. Immediately after the conversation, the US military command began its preparations. May 30, US commanders and Barzani signed a document transferring security responsibility for the region from coalition forces to the Kurdish peshmerga. American troops were hurriedly pulled out of the Kurdish towns of Irbil, Dohuk and Suleimaniyeh, but remain in force in and around Kirkkuk.
Daily hail of Palestinian missiles spurs 100 IDF reserve officers’ protest against government curb on military action
1 June: The officers who live in Sderot complained in a letter to prime minister Ehud Olmert that they find it impossible to serve their annual reserve stint in combat units when their children at home are in grave danger from unchecked enemy action. More than 300 missiles have hit Sderot from the Gaza Strip in less than three weeks. Yet the prime minister is holding the army back from dealing with the threat destroying their town.
Cairo bribes Hamas for Gaza ceasefire deal with release of arms smuggling bosses
3 June: The offer by Damascus-based Hamas operative Mussa Abu Marzuk of a one-year halt in missile attacks on Israel and hostilities against Fatah was bought by Egyptian intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman at a heavy price, according to debkafile‘s military sources.
Israel’s high command was shocked to learn that the five managers of the arms smuggling tunnel network recently jailed by Cairo are to be released. Four are Hamas and one Jihad Islami. Word has gone out to the Sinai-Gaza smuggling network that it is back in business after a very brief interruption.
The Cairo authorities dragged their feet for years before finally taking action against the Palestinians’ massive arms smuggling operations through Sinai and apprehending the five smuggler chiefs.
IDF intelligence research chief confirms Hizballah is rebuilding strongholds south of Litani and preparing for a summer war
4 June: debkafile reports: Brig. Gen. Yosi Baidatz reported Monday, June 4, that Hizballah is busy restoring its fortified positions south of the Litani under the very noses of UNIFIL international observers.
His briefing to the Knesset committee contradicts assertions by prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni that UNIFIL has prevented the militia’s return to its old positions on the Israeli border.
Regarding Gaza, Gen. Baidatz reported that Hamas, which heads the Palestinian government, is satisfied with the results of its missile offensive. After hundreds of Qassam missiles were fired across the border for nearly three weeks, Israelis are fleeing their battered town and some villages, while no major IDF ground incursion is in sight.
Ahmadinijad’s bluster boosted by secret North Korean offer of Taep’o-dong-2 ballistic missiles
4 June: Iran and North Korea are in advanced negotiations for Tehran’s purchase of Taep’o-dong-2 ballistic missiles, whose estimated range is 3,500-4,000 km.Delivery was promised for late July or early August, as US Vice President Richard Cheney informed Saudi King Abdullah during his May visit to Riyadh.
Israeli military sources say that Iranian president Mahoud Ahmadinejad’s declarations are made more outrageous than ever by knowledge of the deal. Sunday he declared the countdown has begun for the demise of the Zionist state.
Aly Larijani, head of Iran’s Supreme national Security Council said Monday: “The deployment of the US air system in Europe to counter Iranian missiles is the joke of the year.” He said Iran’s missiles could not reach Europe.
That may have been true at this moment – but not after the delivery of the North Korean missiles at summer’s end.
Tensions high in S. Lebanese Palestinian camps near Tyre after fighting breaks out in Ain Hilwa near Sidon
4 June: Two Lebanese soldiers and 2 al-Qaeda fighters were killed in overnight clashes at the southern camp of Ain Hilwa, near Sidon, after Islamist Jund al-Sham (Army of the Levant) attacked army checkpoints with grenades Sunday night, June 3. Lebanese troops responded with artillery and machine gun fire.
In Ain Hilwa, our military sources report Lebanese troops face a coalition of radical Palestinian groups linked to al Qaeda and pro-Syrian terrorist factions, copiously armed with weapons and ammo from Damascus and its Lebanese supporters.
In the northern camp of Nahr al-Bared near Tripoli, the Lebanese army has for more than two weeks been battling stiff resistance from Fatah al Islam boosted by pro-Syrian groups. Two Lebanese commando units have inched forward 400m into the camp, to a loss of some 50 men, But the Islamists have not been crushed.
debkafile notes: The Lebanese army’s failure may have grave consequences for Lebanon and outside.
Prime minister Fouad Siniora is shown to be helpless to impose his government’s authority in the rest of Lebanon. Because he is afraid to complain to the UN about foreign interference, the Lebanese army is left looking as though it is no match for a handful of 350 al Qaeda-linked radicals.
Another pro-US leader who looks bad is Mahmoud Abbas. He and his Fatah organization are seen as too weak to meet their formal responsibility over security and law and order in the Palestinian camps.
Fatah-led Presidential Guard repulses 250 Hamas Executive Force fighters in major battle
5 June: The three-hour gunfight over the Karni goods crossing Tuesday was the biggest assault Hamas has ever mounted. Casualties were heavy though not admitted. Its assault on the strategic crossing was preceded by heavy rocket, RPG and mortar fire on the Presidential Guard headed by Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah.
debkafile‘s military sources add: The Hamas offensive failed because its chiefs decided to deploy youngsters aged 16 to 18 lacking in combat experience, which is also why they cannot overcome their Fatah rivals in round after round of factional warfare in the Gaza Strip.
debkafile‘s military sources told debkafile that it is a mistake to allow Hamas to organize large contingents for combat in the Gaza Strip. Today they attack Fatah; had they seized the Karni crossing, they could have surged across the border.
Gates fends off Russian pressure to close America’s Kyrgyz air base
5 June: On arrival in Bishkek Monday, the US defense secretary Robert Gates fought back pressure from Russia and Kyrgyz officials to close the US air facility at Manas which is just a few flying miles from Kabul.
debkafile notes the Russians are upgrading and expanding their Kant airbase, which houses a rapid deployment force special operations unit and warplanes outside the capital of the former Soviet republic. Whereas Moscow operates the facility gratis, Manas with its 1,200 US personnel is an important revenue source for Kyrgyzstan. Closure of the US Karshi-Khanabad facility in Uzbekistan has increased US reliance on the Kyrgyz base for its war effort in Afghanistan.
Turkey imposes three-month martial law on its border region with Iraq, closes region’s airspace to civilian flights, debkafile‘s military sources report
7 June: The announcement appeared Thursday, June 7, on the Turkish General Command’s Web site and mentioned three zones Siirt, Sirnak, where Turkish forces fighting Kurdish PKK rebels are concentrated, and Hakkari.
It followed the outbreak of fierce battles between Turkish army and Kurdish PKK rebels on both sides of Turkish-Iraqi border. A Turkish Black Hawk was shot down over Iraq and several tanks hit. Heavy casualties are reported on both sides.
The PKK Kurdish Workers Party turns out to have been ready for the major Turkish operation, well-armed with anti-tank and shoulder-borne missiles for shooting down Turkish warplanes and helicopters. Despite Ankara’s blackout on the scale of operation against the Kurdish rebels on both sides of the border and the scope of the Turkish incursion of Iraq, debkafile‘s military sources report the situation as of Thursday, June 7:
debkafile‘s military sources reported Wednesday that the several thousand troops which entered N. Iraq were only the first wave of Turkish invaders, with more to come.
Our military sources estimate that some 15,000 rebel Kurdish Workers Party, PKK, are holed up in Iraqi Kurdistan. To destroy their bases would require many more than the few thousand Turkish troops and longer than a cross-border raid admitted by Ankara – especially if the incursion sparked Iraqi Kurdish resistance as has been threatened.
On June 2, debkafile reported US troops had withdrawn from northern Iraq and passed responsibility for the region’s security to the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga. This followed an urgent message Iraqi Kurdistan’s president, Massoud Barzani, sent to Ankara by a personal emissary, Safin Dizai, warning that Turkish tanks would not be allowed to cross into northern Iraq. The Kurdish peshmerga would repel them
Monday, Kurdish PKK rebels killed at least 8 soldiers, wounding 6, in a suicide attack on an E. Turkish checkpoint at Tunceli.
After the attack, Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gulf defended his country’s right to drive into neighboring Iraq to destroy rebel bases.