A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Nov. 28, 2013
November 23, 2013 Briefs
- Egypt and Turkey expel ambassadors, downgrade relations
Relations between Cairo and Ankara went into crisis Saturday when Egypt downgraded its relations with Turkey and declared Turkish ambassador persona non grata. Ankara responded in kind. Egypt accuses the Turkish prime minister of crudely interfering in its internal affairs by is campaign to restore the deposed president Mohamed Morsi.
November 24, 2013 Briefs
- Rebel battle to break out of Damascus siege costs 150 lives
Heavy fighting erupted Sunday when rebel forces tried to break the long Syrian army siege of their strongholds in the Ghouta area east of Damascus. They were brought by famine and desperation to fight to break the stranglehold.
- More than 11,000 children killed in Syria’s civil war
In nearly three years of civil war, more than 11,000 children have died, hundreds targeted by snipers, others killed in summary executions or by torture – some as young as one, the London-based Oxford Research Group reports.
- Tehran will scrap interim deal if Congress enacts new sanctions
debkafile’s Iranian sources report that Iran has warned Washington that if the US Congress legislates new, harsher sanctions, it will treat the interim accord signed in Geneva Sunday as null and void.
- Kerry: The new nuclear accord makes Israel safer
On a visit to London, Secretary of State John Kerry remarked that the interim accord signed Sunday in Geneva would make Israel safer during the next six months of negotiations.
- Putin hails the deal with Iran as a breakthrough
Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the newly-signed first-step nuclear accord with Iran as a breakthrough and “just the beginning!”
- Iran says deal recognizes Iran’s enrichment right. Kerry denies
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced Sunday that the deal reached in Geneva means the world powers recognize Tehran's “nuclear rights.” Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi wrote on Twitter that Iran’s enrichment rights had been recognized in the negotiations.
But US Secretary of State John Kerry denied this, saying, “The first step, let me be clear, does not say that Iran has a right to enrich uranium." Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed the Iranian interpretation.
- Netanyahu: Deal lets Iran gain a nuclear bomb. Israel not bound
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu slammed the interim nuclear deal signed in Geneva early Sunday as “a historic mistake that makes the world a more dangerous place.” Israel is not obligated by this agreement.” Iran is committed to Israel’s destruction, he said and "I want to make clear… Israel will not allow Iran develop a military nuclear capability. For the deal, Iran made “cosmetic concessions that it can do away with in a matter of weeks,” the prime minister said.
Seven loopholes favoring Iran in the new nuclear deal
24 Nov. The first preliminary nuclear deal the six world powers (US, Russia, China, UK, France and German) signed with Iran before dawn Sunday, Nov. 24, failed to address the most suspicious elements of Iran’s nuclear program, i.e. its clandestine military dimensions. The expanded UN inspections were not linked, for instance, to Iran’s concealed nuclear sites or even Parchin, where Iran is suspected of testing nuclear-related explosions. Israel, the Gulf States and others are therefore dubious of the accord’s capacity to freeze Iran’s nuclear program. debkafile lists seven of the most glaring loopholes
Nuclear deal reached between Iran and six world powers in Geneva
24 Nov. After all-night talks, a first-step nuclear deal was struck Sunday in Geneva between Iran and the six powers. Obama said key aspects of Iran’s nuclear program will be rolled back in return for limited sanctions relief. No new centrifuges will added to the enrichment process, work will stop at the Arak nuclear reactor and the UN will expand inspections to daily visits to Natanz and Fordo to ensure that Iran was unable to make a nuclear bomb. The core sanctions architecture will remain in place pending a comprehensive solution to be negotiated in the next s six months, said the president, but no new sanctions will be imposed.
debkafile: None of the measures revealed so far deal with the concealed military features of Iran’s nuclear program, or the details of expanded inspections. Israel is not expected to accept any document with those omissions. Israel and Saudi Arabia said they would not be bound by the deal’s provisions and reserved their military options.
November 25, 2013 Briefs
- Tehran reports US released $8 billion of Iran’s assets
Iranian government spokesman Mohammad-Baqer Nobakht reported Monday night that the US had released $8 bn of Iran’s frozen assets, the day after it reached a first-step nuclear deal with six world powers.
- Netanyahu to send national security adviser to Washington
Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu is sending his national security adviser, Yossi Cohen, to Washington for talks on the nuclear accord just signed in Geneva.
- Syrian peace conference set for Jan. 22
UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon announced Monday that the Syrian peace conference, “Geneva II,” has been scheduled for Jan. 22.
- Saudis warn they will strike out on their own after Iran nuclear deal
Senior Saudi royal adviser Nawaf Obaid Monday accused Western allies of deceit in striking a nuclear accord with Iran and declared Riyadh would follow an independent foreign policy. “We were lied to, things were hidden from us,” he said. “The problem is not with the deal struck in Geneva but how it was done.” In Riyadh, the Saudi government cautiously welcomed the Geneva nuclear accord hoping it was a first step towards a comprehensive solution for Iran’s nuclear program.
- Canada deeply skeptical of the six-power nuclear deal with Iran
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Sunday that Canada will not lift any of its sanctions against Iran until the Islamic regime fully abandons its nuclear weapon ambitions. He said he is deeply skeptical of the deal closed in Geneva between the six world powers and Iran, given Tehran’s record of defying the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In Washington, the White House announced after a telephone call from President Barack Obama to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that they had agreed to stay in close touch during the next six months of negotiations on a comprehensive solution of the Iranian nuclear issue.
- France backpedals, doesn’t expect Israeli strike on Iran
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius estimates that Israel will not now take preemptive military action against a nuclear Iran while the world was in mid-negotiation with Tehran on a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Two Arab emirates break ranks with Saudi Arabia: The UAE said that the interim deal could support “the stability of the region,” and Bahrain found it “removes fears from us, whether from Iran or any other state.”
Jerusalem, Riyadh stunned: Obama makes Iran 7th world power
25 Nov. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have secretly agreed to elevate Iran to the status of seventh world power for signing the interim nuclear accord in Geneva Sunday, Nov. 24, promising to live up to its obligations in the coming six months and for then signing a comprehensive agreement. While demanding respect as a regional power, never in its wildest dreams did Tehran expect big power standing with a recognized authoritative role in the wider Middle East, including the Palestinian issue. Jerusalem and Riyadh are aghast.
November 26, 2013 Briefs
- Israel’s security cabinet discusses nuclear accord with Iran
The security cabinet held a special meeting Tuesday to consider the implications of the new nuclear accord with Iran, the Syrian war, Hizballah and other current threats to national security. The session was unusually long and is expected to be carried over to Wednesday. IDF and intelligence chiefs gave the ministers special briefings.
November 27, 2013 Briefs
- Iran FM Zarif: Iran will continue building Arak reactor
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Wednesday, Iran will pursue construction at the Arak heavy water reactor despite the deal he signed with world powers Sunday to shelve a project capable of yielding plutonium for nuclear weapons, reversing a concession hailed by Barack Obama as key to the deal. France called it a violation. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said she wasn’t sure what Zarif meant but road or building work might be allowable.
- Ten Palestinian youths indicted for Jerusalem attacks
Dozens of complaints of Palestinian rock and firebomb attacks in and around NE Jerusalem, targeting Hadassah Hospital, the Hebrew University and road traffic, led the Jerusalem police to the neighboring village of Issawiya and the break-up of two gangs of assailants. Its 10 members, all teens, members of the radical Democratic Front terrorist organization, were indicted Wednesday.
- Assad regime will attend Geneva II
The Assad government said Wednesday that it will send representatives to the Syrian peace conference opening in Geneva on Jan. 22. The Syrian opposition refuses to attend unless the agenda provides for Bashar Assad’s ouster.
- Two Britons arrested in Kenya
The two Britons were arrested by anti-terror police in the southern beach resort of Diano two months after Islamist gunmen stormed a Nairobi shopping mall and killed 67 people. An Interpol Red Notice warrant is still out for the suspected mastermind British Samantha Lewthwaite, known as the “White Widow.”
- Tehran: White house is lying about nuclear accord details
In the first major crisis of confidence, the Iranian foreign ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham Wednesday rejected the White House version of the nuclear deal agreed in Geneva four days ago, and accused Washington of releasing a “fact sheet that is a one-sided version of the agreed text” to “mislead the American public.” This version, said Tehran, was “invalid.”
Washington decides to “embrace” Israel with benefits
27 Nov. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have decided to end the row with the Netanyahu government over the interim nuclear accord signed with Iran Sunday, Nov. 24 in Geneva, partly to gain the prime minister’s cooperation for bringing the peace process with the Palestinians to a resolution. On this they are set. Instead of hitting back at Binyamin Netanyahu, Washington is lining up a package of benefits, including an upgrade of the Israeli Air Force with new offensive measures currently not in its possession. This upgrade will be affected by the level of Iran’s compliance or non-compliance with its obligations under the first-step accord.
November 28, 2013 Briefs
- Palestinian rocks strike Jerusalem car, injure Israeli baby
The baby was hospitalized with a serious head injury when cars driving in the Jerusalem district of Armon Hanatziv came under a hail of rocks thrown by Palestinians Thursday night.
- EU: Iran's six-month nuclear freeze not yet started
Iran's six-month temporary rollback of its nuclear activities agreed to in Geneva Sunday has not begun, said Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. "It will also depend on the outcome of technical discussions with Iran.”
- Obama calls Saudi King amid deteriorating elations
President Barack Obama phoned Saudi King Abdullah on Wednesday to discuss the interim nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. In the face of bitter Saudi criticism, Obama emphasized that it would be important for Iran to follow through on commitments made in the deal, the White House said.
First Sinai-based al Qaeda cell infiltrates the West Bank
28 Nov. The three terrorists killed by Israeli forces in the south Hebron village Yata Tuesday, Nov. 26, belonged to the first al Qaeda cell to infiltrate the West Bank from Sinai, most likely through Jordan, debkafile reports. They came to establish a major new network for attacking Israel and the Palestinian Authority – hence the combined army, Shin Bet and special anti-terror force’s expeditious action to terminate the cell. It is now feared to be the harbinger of more such cells currently embedded around Israel’s borders in Sinai, Gaza, Syria and Lebanon.