A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Weeks Ending Sept. 20, 2013

September 13, 2013 Briefs

  • Rouhani and Putin get together at Bishbek Summit
    After a meeting with Vladimir Putin, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Friday that his government is keen on cooperating with Moscow in international affairs and noted Russia’s long experience in the conduct of diplomacy. They talked on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Bishbek. debkafile: The two presidents are building on the momentum Moscow has generated on the Syrian chemical issue to open up a similar track for resolving the Iranian nuclear controversy.
  • Putin’s Syrian policy wins Chinese, Iranian approval
    Chinese and Iranian delegates to the Bishbek Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization-SCO issued statements Friday pledging support for Moscow's diplomatic steps to avert a further decline in the Syrian civil war.
  • Israel’s borders closed for Yom Kippur, which falls on 40th war anniversary
    The West Bank (Judea and Samaria) is sealed and Israeli air space closed for most solemn day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which this year also coincides with the 40th anniversary of the war which erupted on that day in 1973. The military remained on high readiness in view of border tensions in the North and the South.

September 14, 2013 Briefs

  • Increased Israeli Air Force flights over Lebanon
    Western and Arab military sources report an unusual volume of Israeli aircraft in low flights over Lebanon Saturday. They are seen as a cautionary measure to warn Syria against trying to divert parts of its chemical weapons stocks to Hizballah in Lebanon.
  • Obama: If diplomacy fails, US may return to military option
    After praising the Kerry-Lavrov accord reached in Geneva Saturday, President Barack Obama said it would be necessary to wait and see if it is implemented. If diplomacy fails, the US could return to the military option.

Scant punishment in Kerry-Lavrov Syrian accord for non-compliance, frees Assad to continue war

14 Sept. The accord for destroying Syria’s chemical stockpiles, which US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov presented in Geneva Saturday, Sept 14, leaves important issues unaddressed. It leaves Assad in power long term with responsibility for its implementation while waging war. Kerry will not find it easy to convince Israel leaders when he arrives Sunday that Syria won’t divert some its chemical weapons to Hizballah, away from international control, or that the Syrian chemical deal is not a template for Iran’s nuclear program.

September 15, 2013 Briefs

  • Netanyahu: Diplomacy must be coupled with credible military threat
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that for diplomacy to have a chance to work it must be coupled with a credible military threat. He spoke in Jerusalem Sunday at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry after he received a briefing on the chemical agreement Kerry reached with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva Saturday.
  • Obama: Iranian nuclear issue far larger that Syrian chemical arms
    President Barack Obama says his administration’s approach to Syria’s chemical weapons should show Iran that there’s the potential for diplomatic solutions to arms standoffs. Talking to ABC, he said that Iran shouldn’t assume that his preference for diplomacy means the U.S. won’t strike Tehran.

Obama pushes Syrian diplomacy for nuclear Iran, despite Israel’s concerns

15 Sept. US President Barack Obama did not wait for the Kerry-Lavrov agreement of Saturday, Sept. 14, for the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons. He jumped in the next day to tell Tehran over ABC that “there’s the potential for diplomatic solutions to arms standoffs.”
debkafile: The Obama administration won’t let Israel’s concerns slow its diplomatic momentum on Syria and Iran alike.

September 16, 2013 Briefs

  • No truth in claim of Netanyahu advice to Kerry to go with Putin
    debkafile: No truth in Wall Street Journal report Monday claiming Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu advised Secretary of State John Kerry to go along with the Russian proposal for Assad’s chemical disarmament. Israel had no knowledge of the Kerry-Putin deal either before or when it was in the making.
  • Iranian commander: Syrians must decide own fate
    Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces for Cultural Affairs and Defense Publicity Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri Sunday said that direct talks between the Damascus government and the opposition forces seeking stability would be the only solution to the Syrian crisis.
  • Syria to implement US-Russia deal only after Sec Council approval
    Syrian information minister Omran al-Zoubi said Monday that the US-Russian deal will only be implemented when it “turns into something more concrete” following a UN Security Council vote. debkafile: The Assad regime is dictating the timeline instead of complying with US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Sept. 21 deadline.
  • Egypt seizes big stockpile of anti-aircraft missiles in Sinai
    A large stockpile of anti-aircraft missiles and motorized paragliders were found in the ongoing Egyptian armed forces’ counter terror operation in Sinai in the last ten days, a military spokesman revealed in Cairo. Egypt has accused the Palestinian Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip of teaching Islamists in Sinai how to plant bombs and giving them landmines. The spokesman said two bombs were found under a security observation tower with detonation fuses running through a tunnel into Gaza. He said the army had destroyed more than 154 tunnels on the border with Gaza.

September 17, 2013 Briefs

  • Netanyahu’s new red lines for Iran
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet session Tuesday that he will discuss the means for stopping a nuclear Iran when he meets President Barack Obama in Washington on Sept. 30. His new red lines were: 1) Complete halt of uranium enrichment; 2) Removal of enriched fissile materials from Iran; 3) Closure of the Fordo enrichment plant; 4) Termination of plutonium production at Arak.

Assad concocts obstacle to chemical weapons handover by sending helicopter over Turkey

17 Sept. Bashar Assad sent a Syrian M-17 helicopter into Turkish air space Monday, Sept. 16, with deliberate intent. Ankara fell into the trap by sending the Turkish Air Force to down the intruder, instead of chasing it back to Syria. The incident sent border tensions spiraling and gave Damascus and Moscow the pretext for backing out of the chemical weapons deal under the oversight of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, so long as the OPCW was headed by a Turkish official, Ahmet Uzumcu.
debkafile: Before consenting to dismantle his poison gas arsenal, Assad obtained Moscow’s promise in advance to send his army without delay large consignments of advanced weapons systems.
So it is hard to see the point of Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s remarks that the US-Russian deal for Syria “proved that a credible threat of force could bring about diplomatic solutions for disarming dangerous rogue regimes of weapons of mass destruction.”

Obama softens on nuclear Iran Keep components, just promise not to weaponise them

18 Sept. President Barack Obama has only one demand of Tehran: “Iran would have to demonstrate its own seriousness by agreement not to weaponise nuclear power,” he said Wednesday, Sept. 18. He thus took at his word Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who declared the day before: “We are against nuclear weapons. And when we say no one should have nuclear weapons, we definitely do not pursue it ourselves either.” debkafile: This exchange was choreographed in advance through secret exchanges brokered by Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman.
Obama’s diplomacy leaves Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu trailing behind and in the dark.

September 19, 2013 Briefs

  • Rouhani: My administration will never develop nuclear weapons
    In his first interview with a US outlet as Iranian president, Hassan told NBC News Wednesday that his administration with never development nuclear weapons and that he has full authority to make a deal with the West on the disputed atomic program. debkafile: His administration may not need to develop nuclear weapons; the work was completed by his predecessors.
  • Moscow insists Syrian rebels used chemicals – not Assad
    The Russian government said Wednesday that the UN experts’ report on the Aug. 21 chemical attack on the eastern outskirts of Damascus showed “bias.” Moscow had received new materials from Damascus proving the rebels’ responsibility.
  • Palestinian Muslim Temple Mount rioters injure two police
    Two Jerusalem policemen were injured when they tried to break up Muslim Palestinian riots on Temple Mt., Jerusalem, and stop them hurling rocks at Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall below.
  • UN warns of risk that Israel will be drawn into Syrian war
    UN Mideast Envoy Robert Serry warned Tuesday that the clashes between Syria’s army and rebels on the Golan risked drawing Israel into its civil war. The artillery shells landing on the Israel side could "jeopardize the ceasefire" between Israel and Syria.
  • Obama will see Abbas ahead of his meeting with Netanyahu
    President Barack Obama will meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in New York on Sept. 23, a week for he sees Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the White House on Sept. 30.
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