A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Oct. 3, 2013

Sept. 27, 2013 Briefs

  • Obama and Iranian president talk by phone
    President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani talked by phone in the first conversation to take place between top US and Iranian leaders since 1979 – after Rouhani deliberately avoided meeting him face to face at the UN General Assembly.
  • Iran unveils new attack drone able to carry missiles
    Rev Guards command Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari Friday unveiled Shahed-129 or Witness-129, a new drone that can carry eight bombs or missiles and fly non-stop 24 hours up to 1,700 km. This puts most of the Middle East within its range.

Israel’s military options drowned out by US appeasement of Iran

27 Sept. Thursday, Sept.26, was the day Israeli lost its freedom to use force either against the Iranian nuclear threat hanging over its head or Syria’s chemical capacity – at least, so long as Barack Obama is US president. The Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah axis is safe. The US also promises to start lifting sanctions in December if Iran admits inspectors to the Fordo enrichment plant. At the Security Council, the US finally buried the use of force against Syria’s use of chemical weapons by acceding to Russia’s demand to drop the penalty clause.

Sept. 28, 2013 Briefs

  • Unanimous UN motion to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons
    The UN Security Council voted unanimously late Friday to approve the plan requiring Syria to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction, the first major motion approved in more than two years of the Syrian conflict. While binding Syria to allow its chemical arsenal to be secured and destroyed, the motion was stripped of penalties to win Russian and Chinese endorsement.
    President Barack Obama hailed the motion as a major victory and breakthrough for diplomacy. The work of auditing Syria’s chemical arsenal begins next week.

Sept. 29, 2013 Briefs

  • OPCW says can destroy Syrian CW production equipment by Nov. 1
    Some OPCW inspectors say that after checking the chemical weapons sites and munitions against the Syrian government’s list, they will oversee the rapid destruction of means of production by Nov. 1, using sledgehammers, buzz saws, bulldozers or even tanks. Destroying chemical materials will take longer and is more complicated, especially in the middle of a war.
    debkafile: Assad is not likely to give the international CW inspectors access to his rocket stores.
  • Russian police kill terrorist who shot a rabbi in Dagestan
    Rabbi Ovadia Isakov of Habad is still recovering in an Israeli hospital from the grave injuries he suffered in an Islamist shooting attack in July in Derbent, Dagestan. Last week, the gunman identified as Sherif Ahkhmadov was one of five terrorists killed in a Russian special forces raid in Derbent.
  • Susan Rice: Normalizing US-Iran diplomatic ties ready to begin
    US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Sunday that President Barack Obama’s phone call last week with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani could begin the process of normalizing diplomatic relations. Iran must first follow through on its pledge to seek nuclear power only for peaceful purposes and stop supporting terrorists, she said.
  • One phone call won’t restore relations, says Rouhani’s ally
    Dep Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Sunday: "Definitely, a history of high tensions between Tehran and Washington will not go back to normal relations due to a phone call, meeting or negotiation."
  • Islamist Boko Haram gunmen massacre 50 Nigerian students
    Molima Idi Mato of the Yobe state College of Agriculture in north-east Nigeria told AP that the gunmen had killed as many as 50 students in their sleep after midnight Saturday. They also torched classrooms. Security forces are still recovering bodies. Some 1,000 students fled. Similar school attacks in the region have kept it on a military state of emergency.

Sept. 30, 2013 Briefs

  • Chief of Staff announces new IDF appointments
    Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz Monday announced the appointment of Brig. Gen Nadav Padan commander of the 162nd Ugdah (expanded division); Infantry and paratroop chief Brig. Gen. Itay Weirob takes over the Gaza division from Brig. Gen. Mickey Edelstein, who is named commander of the ground forces training center. Brig. Gen Amikam Merkin is the new Air Force Chief of Staff, ranking number two in the force.
  • IDF shoots dead a Palestinian terrorist on Gaza border
    An IDF force opened fire on a group of Palestinians trying Monday night to surreptitiously cross the border from the Gaza Strip and believed heading for a terrorist attack. One was killed and a second captured. People living around the Gaza Strip were warned to stay in sheltered areas.
  • Iranian-Belgian suspected spy remanded for eight days
    The Petach Tikva magistrate Monday remanded the alleged Belgian-Iranian spy Ali Mansouri for eight days in custody to investigate charges that he was recruited by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to set up a clandestine base in Israel for terrorist operations. News of his detention on Sept. 11 was released Sunday when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was on his way to the United States for a meeting with US President Barack Obama and an address to the UN General Assembly in New York Tuesday.
  • Third terrorist blast in a week kills 40 in Peshawar
  • A car bomb, detonated by remote control, ripped through Peshawar's oldest bazaar Monday, killing 40 people and injuring 90 in the third blast to hit the troubled Pakistani city in a week. Such attacks in the northwestern Pakistani city have claimed more than 140 lives since last Sunday, when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowd of worshippers at a church, killing 85 people.

No showdown, but Obama and Netanyahu did not bridge gaps on Iran’s nuclear program or even uranium enrichment

30 Sept. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s get-together at the White House Monday, Sept. 30 turned into an amicable joust over their differences on how to handle Iran’s nuclear program. Obama did not endorse Netanyahu’s demand that Iran completely dismantle its military nuclear program, halt uranium enrichment and face tougher sanctions if it continues is nuclear development while conducting international negotiations. Obama did agree not to remove any options from the table, including the military one, for preventing a nuclear Iran but did not accept any of Netanyahu’s demands.

Netanyahu won’t regain Israel’s voice in US-Russian nuclear diplomacy

30 Sept. Although a face to face between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama is obviously worthwhile for both, the prime minister did not expect to deflect the president from his determined pursuit of a nuclear deal with Tehran. Obama is intent on proving that international problems can be solved without military force and his partnership with Vladimir Putin is the best path. Together, they are jumping forward at speed from a Syrian accord toward an Iranian nuclear settlement. Netanyahu will not be given a voice on either track.

Oct. 1, 2013 Briefs

  • Netanyahu at UN revives Israel’s military option
    In his address to the UN Assembly Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon – even if it has no choice but to stand alone to prevent it. Pointing to failed diplomacy with North Korea, Netanyahu said a nuclear-armed Iran would be equal to 50 North Koreas in terms of its threat to the world. debkafile: He was referring to Iran’s plan to build an arsenal of 50 nuclear warheads.
    The prime minister said for diplomacy to work, the international community must stand by four conditions: Keep international sanctions in place; reject any partial deals; stand by the dismantling of Iran’s entire nuclear infrastructure; and preserve a credible military threat.
  • Iran is building remotely-operated unmanned subs
    Rear Admiral Habibollah, commander of the Iranian Navy, reported Tuesday that his government is building a fleet of unmanned submarines to guard the Iranian coast. He said the remotely-controlled Kaman-class Tareq submarines, armed with rockets, would be ready for launching on the high seas before the end of the year.
  • Iranian FM: Obama “flip flops” – Netanyahu tells lies
    Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, addressing the UN, accused the US president of imposing illegal sanctions on his country and performing a “flip flop.” He denied sanctions had brought Iran to the table. He charged the Israeli prime minister with telling lies when he called Tehran’s nuclear claims a “charm offensive.”

Egyptian army tackles Al Qaeda’s in its Sinai “Tora Bora”

30 Sept. Egypt Monday, Sept. 30, launched an offensive to confront Al Qaeda and its Salafist allies for the first time in their lofty strongholds in the rugged central Sinai range of Jabal al-Halal, debkafile reports. Egypt’s military ruler Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ordered a systematic campaign by elite forces to flush Al Qaeda and allied Salafists out of the “Torah Borah” of Sinai, after two terrorist rocket attacks on Suez Canal shipping. There were also concerns that Al Qaeda would copy-cat the Nairobi shopping mall attack against an Egyptian town or Israel location.

Oct. 2, 2013 Briefs

  • US government shutdown impairs spy agencies’ work
    Senior US intelligence officials have warned the shutdown of the US government "seriously damages" spy agencies' ability to protect the country. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a Senate panel that an estimated 70% of intelligence workers had been placed on unpaid leave. Also, the head of the US electronic spy agency said morale had been devastated.
  • Ya’alon: Relations with US excellent, but not policy on Iran
    Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon praised “excellent” US-Israel relations, but sharply criticized the West’s approach to Iran, including the US, Wednesday. At a paratroop exercise on the Golan, the minister commented: “Some people in the West prefer to not to look at reality with open eyes.” Iran runs terrorists in Afghanistan, trains and arms Hizballah, tries to smuggle arms into Gaza, builds terrorist networks in South America and Asia, and continues to enrich uranium.

Israel and Saudi Arabia coordinate policies to counter US détente with Iran

2 Oct. Associates of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday, Oct. 2, leaked word to the media that high-ranking Gulf emirate officials had recently visited Israel, signaling a further widening of the rift between Israel and President Barack Obama over his outreach to Tehran. These visits were in line with the ongoing exchanges Israel is holding with Saudi and Gulf representatives to align their actions for offsetting any potential American easing-up on Iran’s nuclear program. debkafile reports that this is the first time Israel official sources have publicly aired diplomatic contacts of this kind in the region. They also reveal that Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates have agreed to synchronize their lobbying efforts in the US Congress to overrule the Obama administration’s moves on Iran.

Netanyahu must now rebuild credible Israel military option

2 Oct. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu needs to repair his credibility and show he meant seriously his statement at the UN Tuesday, Oct. 1, that Israel will stand alone to prevent Iran gaining a nuclear weapon if diplomacy fails. For five years he waved Israel’s military option but never lived up to it. Tehran appreciates the IDF’s high military, technological and cyber warfare capabilities, but believes Israel like the United States has lost the will to fight. Netanyahu must convince them he means what he says.
AT the UN, he painted Washington’s new partner in détente in the blackest colors, even though he knows there is no chance of swaying the US President from his pursuit of Tehran and the sanctions, which he believes to be the only effective deterrent for giving the Iranians pause, will soon start unraveling.

Oct. 3, 2013 Briefs

  • Rev Guards deny cyber war chief assassinated
    T
    he Revolutionary Guards of Iran Thursday denied that the head of the country’s cyber warfare program, Mojtaba Ahmadi, was assassinated. They said they were investigating the circumstances and motives surrounding his death. Ahmadi, last seen leaving his home for work Saturday, was found dead with two bullets in his heart in a wooded area near Karaz, northwest of Tehran. The local police chief said two people on a motorbike were involved in the shooting.
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