A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Sept. 11, 2014

September 6, 2014 Briefs

  • Khamenei okays cooperation with the US to fight IS in Iraq – sources
    Sources in Tehran report that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has authorized his top commanders to coordinate military operations with the US, Iraqi and Kurdish forces. debkafile: US special operations troops are already fighting in Iraq alongside Iranian special forces.

Syrian air raid kills 18 foreign ISIS fighters, incl. Americans and Europeans

5 Sept. At least 18 foreign ISIS fighters, including Americans and Europeans, were killed in a Syrian air raid Thursday, Sept. 4, over their Raqqa HQ. A second Syrian air raid killed or injured another group of high ISIS officers at Abu Kamal near the Iraqi border. A day earlier, US jets struck an IS base in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar, killing its commander, Abu Hajar Al-Sufi, and two top lieutenants of ISIS chief Abu Baker Al-Baghdadi. All these actions owed their success to deepening US-Iranian military and intelligence cooperation.

September 7, 2014 Briefs

  • An Israeli injured on Palestinian disturbances spreading in Jerusalem
    Firebomb and rock-throwing Palestinian rioters, some masked, rampaged Sunday night in the Jerusalem districts of French Hill, Issawiya, A Tur and the road to Maaleh Adummim. In the most violent, a Palestinian mob seized the French Hill gas station in the north, ignited it and tossed bottle bombs to fan the blaze. They then broke into the station shop, smashed windows and torched the merchandize. At A Tur in the south, a driver was injured by flying rocks thrown by Palestinian youths. Another mob attacked police on the Jerusalem-Maaleh Adummin road. CityPass which operates the Jerusalem Light rail announced Sunday that seven of the company’s 23 trains are no longer operable after daily Palestinians attacks with rocks from Shoafat for weeks.
  • Israeli NGO sues Hamas for war crimes over summary executions
    The Tel Aviv-based non-governmental Israel Law Center has filed a suit with the International Criminal Court to investigate atrocities carried out in Gaza during the recent conflict, specifically the summary executions of 38 Palestinian men and women accused of collaborating with Israel. Most were gunned down on the street after being bound, blindfolded and forced to kneel. The complaint seeks to put Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal on trial for war crimes. He is a Jordanian citizen and, unlike Israel and the Palestinians, Jordan recognizes the authority of the ICC and is a member.
  • Four US air strikes to protect Haditha Dam against IS
    The four US air strikes Saturday were directed against Islamic State fighters moving towards the Haditha Dam, whose rupture would put Baghdad and its airport at risk of flooding.
  • New leader for Somalia’s al-Shabab amid revenge threats
    Somalia's al Qaeda-linked militant group al Shabab has named Ahmad Umar as their new leader after former head Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed by US drones and manned aircraft last Monday.

Anti-Hizballah spying device in Lebanon self-destructs

7 Sept. Hizballah runs a sophisticated hi-tech optical fiber communications network that links its command centers, its units, its rocket launchers, its senior officials’ homes, storage depots and intelligence branches. Those communications are not only underground by ciphered and hard to intercept and decode. Planting an eavesdropping device sophisticated enough to interface with this network is risky and calls for high technological resources and expertise. Iranian experts, determined to hunt down and dissect one of those spying devices were defeated Friday, Sept. 5, when their prize self-destructed and killed the Hizballah operative examining it.

September 8, 2014 Briefs

  • Jordan will not join US-led coalition fighting IS. Arabs have own strategy
    Jordan will not be part of any coalition for battling the IS, but would continue to coordinate with all countries on facing terrorism and terrorist organizations, a senior minister said in Amman The Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo Sunday also agreed to act jointly against extremist groups, particularly the Islamic state, but fell short of clearly embracing coordination with the US.

US dangles Israeli intel as bait for Arab allies

8 Sept. A “Western diplomat” reported Monday, Sept. 8, that “Israel has provided satellite imagery…in support of the US-led aerial campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq.” This information was “shared by Washington with Arab and Turkish allies after being “scrubbed of evidence of its Israeli origin.” debkafile: This claptrap is clearly part of a deep US game – to break up the Saudi-Egyptian-UAE bloc which backed Israel’s Gaza operation, and draw these Arab powers into the Obama coalition for fighting the Islamic State, using as bait Israeli intelligence available only through Washington.

Will the Gaza truce be shorter than the Gaza war? Hamas said rebuilding tunnels and restocking rockets

8 Sept. The Netanyahu government is caught in the crossfire of two conflicts. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh threatens to revive rocket fire on Sept. 25, the first day of the Jewish New Year Festival, unless the Gaza blockade is lifted by then. This would sorely embarrass Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon who defended the ceasefire by maintaining that Hamas would never shoot another rocket after enduring 50 days of relentless Israeli assaults. Netanyahu and Ya’alon have also launched the highly-charged process for choosing the IDF’s next chief of staff.

September 9, 2014 Briefs

  • Jerusalem Palestinian disorders recur Tuesday
    Palestinians in the Sheafat suburb of Jerusalem launched a fresh rock and firebomb assault Tuesday on Jerusalem”s light train, causing damage to the cars but no casualties. Once again, no one was arrested, although the attacks have been recurring almost daily in recent weeks. Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and District Police chief Yossie Parienti claimed earlier that Palestinian disturbances in the capital were dying down, because of police “restraint” on orders from the government.
    Both officials admitted that the torching of the French Hill gas station and looting of its store two nights ago was “a very serious” occurrence. But they denied the police had avoided venturing into the neighboring Palestinian village of Issawiyeh to arrest the lawbreakers. This village is notorious for its anti-Israel violence.
  • Test of US-Israeli Arrow-2 anti-missile fails
    The test-launch from the Palmachim air base of the Arrow-2 upper tier missile interceptor Tuesday by Israel’s defense ministry and the US Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency was only “partially successful,” security sources reported. Russian sources reported that the Defense Ministry radar recorded a missile falling into the Mediterranean 300 km north of Tel Aviv.
  • Kerry calls together Arab foreign ministers on IS threat
    US Secretary of State John Kerry holds talks Wednesday and Thursday in Jeddah with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and five Gulf Arab states as part of the US effort to build a coalition to fight the Islamic State.

Israel pulls back from anti-Assad policy, as IDF redeploys against Islamist seizure of Golan

9 Sept. The Israeli government has radically changed its tack on Syria, reversing a policy and military strategy that were long geared to opposing Syrian President Bashar Assad, debkafile reports exclusively. The IDF will be less supportive of the rebel struggle and more inclined to help Syrian troops in fending off rebel attacks. This reversal was prompted by the increasing preponderance of Al Qaeda’s Syrian Nusra front in the Syrian rebel force fighting Assad’s army in the Quneitra area since June. It calls for a delicate balancing act in Jerusalem. While loath to see Assad winning the Syrian war, Israel has no desire to see Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Al Nusra in control of the Syrian sector of the Golan, including Quneitra.

September 10, 2014 Briefs

  • Before his speech, Obama talks by phone to Saudi King Abdullah
    US President Barack Obama held a phone conversation with Saudi King Abdullah Wednesday, just hours before he unveiled his strategy for defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria. debkafile: They almost certainly discussed the US President’s bid to bring regional powers led by Saudi Arabia into the broad coalition for fighting the Islamic State.
  • Netanyahu consults with key ministers on Al Qaeda inroads on Arab community
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a special consultation Wednesday on the rising influence of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State on the Israeli Arab community with the relevant ministers: Yitzhak Aharonovich, Internal Security, Tzipi Livni, Justice, Yehuda Weinstein, State Attorney and a Shin Bet official.
  • Israeli military opens five criminal probes of Gaza civilian deaths
    The Chief Military Prosecutor Dani Efroni military prosecutor has set up two special teams for criminal investigations into five incidents during the Gaza War which led to Palestinian civilians being killed by Israeli fire. Two of them are the Israeli warship’s shelling of the Gaza beach on July 17 killing four children and the strike on the UNWRA center in northern Gaza on July 24 in which 24 Palestinian civilians were killed.
  • Ukraine president says Russia has withdrawn bulk of forces
    Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said on Wednesday that Russia had moved 70 percent of the troops said to have invaded eastern Ukraine back into Russian territory, raising hopes for the peace process.
  • A Palestinian shot dead in West Bank riot
    A Palestinian of 22 was shot dead hurling a fire bomb at Israeli troops who entered the Al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah to arrest a wanted Hamas operative. Some 50 Palestinians took part in the riot, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli soldiers. Five more Hamas operatives were detained in other parts of the West Bank.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Americans back US attack on IS
    Almost two-thirds of respondents in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll believe it is in the nation's interest to confront ISIS or ISIL. Only 13% said action wasn't in the national interest. In a meeting with leaders of Congress, US President Barack Obama said he would welcome their action to demonstrate a united American for defeating the threat from ISIL. But he doesn’t need congressional authorization for such action.

Secret US-Syrian dialogue for coordinating counter-ISIS operations in Syria

10 Sept. Shortly before US President Barack Obama was to unveil his strategy for tackling ISIS in Iraq and Syria Wednesday, Sept. 10 to the American people, US and Syrian officers held secrets talks for coordinating their military efforts against the common foe, debkafile reveals exclusively. The Syrian officers, on the authority of President Bashar Assad, met on the quiet several times with American officers in the capital of one of the Gulf emirates – probably Muscat in Oman and almost certainly with Iran’s knowledge and support. The Syrian side of the US campaign is judged more complicated than the operation in Iraq.

Obama: No safe haven for those threatening US – even in Syria

10 Sept. President Barack Obama Wednesday, Sept. 10, unveiled a four-point strategy for the US “to degrade and ultimately destroy” IS, at the head of a broad coalition: The US would conduct air strikes, while local forces fought IS on the ground. “We will not hesitate to take action against IS in Syria,” said Obama. “There will be no safe haven for anyone threatening America.” He called on Congress for more resources to provide arms hitherto withheld for Syrian opposition forces to take part in the war on IS. Obama warned, “It will take time to eradicate IS.”

September 11, 2014 Briefs

  • Rocket alert sirens in northern Israel
    Just after 20:40 hours Thursday, red alert sirens sounded in the northern Israeli border towns of Kiryat Shemone and Metula and the slopes of Mt Hermon. No word yet on the reason for the alert.
  • Arab sources: 45 abducted Fijian UN observers released
    The 45 Fijian UNDOF observers kidnapped by the Islamist Nusra Front on the Golan and held hostage since last month have been freed, according to Arab sources. This report is not confirmed by any independent source.

Turkey backs out of US-led coalition against IS. Germany, UK say no to air campaign

11 Sept. Turkey inflicted a stunning blow Thursday, Sept. 11 to President Barack Obama’s strategy for a broad US-led coalition for tackling and defeating the Islamic State, and the potential 11-member coalition which US Secretary of State John Kerry hoped to establish in Jeddah that day. Shortly after a mention in Obama’s peech Wednesday night, Ankara said its air bases would be unavailable for US-led attacks on “jihadists in Iraq and Syria.” Turkey would also “not take part in combat operations against militants.” This knocked out one of the props from under the Obama plan. Another setback were the German and British refusals to take part in US air campaigns in Syria.

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