8 June: Leading Palestinian factions are marking the Aqaba summit period as open season for terror. Sunday morning, June 8, the three dominant groups, Fatah – with suicide arm al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Hamas and Jihad Islami, for the first time publicly admitted acting in unison to murder four Israelis and injure four at the Erez checkpoint between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Each named the gunman it had sent for the strike.
The spot chosen for the attack – the Gaza-Israeli checkpoint through which ten thousand Gazans were allowed to go back to jobs in Israel as a pre-Aqaba summit gesture by Israel – signaled their rejection of any but violent Palestinian interchanges with the Jewish state and their defiance of efforts by Abu Mazen and Dahlan to carry out understandings reached under the aegis of the US president, George W. Bush.
This was first signaled hours after the Aqaba summit broke up on Wednesday, June 4, when terrorists used axes and knives to hack an Israeli couple to death in a Jerusalem wood. From that moment on, as terror threats spiraled, Israel began to reverse the goodwill gestures made for the Aqaba summit.
At Aqaba, the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon shocked many Israeli with three epic concessions:
1. Recognition of the legitimacy of an independent Palestinian state.
2. Recognition of the need for territorial contiguity between the two parts of the Palestinian state, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
3. His assertion: “No unilateral actions by any party may prejudge the outcome of our negotiations.” The reference was to the past and to Jewish settlements – not just the unauthorized outposts. These settlements were established “unilaterally” by democratically elected Israeli governments led by both major parties on land which Sharon recently indicated may be judged retrospectively as “occupied”. Their presence thus becomes an obstacle to a final peace accord and their removal justified.
In return for these concessions, did the Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas say he recognized Israel as Jewish state? Did he renounce the demand for the return of the 1948 Palestinian refugees? He did neither.
But the concession of greatest relevance was the nod he gave to a comprehensive plan formulated by Dahlan for converting terrorists into cops, after the proposal was endorsed by President George W. Bush – even though it was pronounced unworkable or worse by Israeli security and anti-terror chiefs
9 June: Syrian President Bashar Assad’s attempts to hitch a ride on the Middle East road map is aimed at getting something for nothing – an Israeli pledge to restore the Golan before negotiations – to take minds off his troubles. One is the active American attempt to hijack the Hizballah, one of his most powerful levers. For two weeks a senior US official has been in Beirut secretly negotiating the voluntary disarmament of the Hizballah, its withdrawal from the Israeli frontier and parts of southern Lebanon and a pledge to stay out of Iraqi Shiite affairs.
In the longer term, the Americans want guarantees from the group that it will break off operational ties with Yasser Arafat and his Fatah-Tanzim and al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades as well as the Hamas and the Jihad Islami, and stand aside in a potential outbreak of hostilities with Iran.
The middleman for US-Hizballah negotiations is the Lebanese Shiite religious leader, Sheik Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.
Seen from the presidential palace in Damascus, the United States by conquering Iraq knocked away his eastern prop and is now chipping away at his mainstay in the west, Lebanon.
He is also having a hard time executing a government shakeup.
1. Syrian prime minister Mustafa Miro has to go because he is a Kurd and therefore unacceptable in the Arab world since Iraq’s Kurds helped American conquer the country.
2. The hard-line Farouk Shara is fighting for to retain his hold on the foreign affairs portfolio against Assad’s new favorite Dr. Busayana al Shaban, head of information at the foreign ministry. 3. The Syrian president has decided to sack veteran defense minister Gen. Mustafa Tlas to curry favor wit the Americans because his son, Firas Tlas conducted on behalf of the Syrian regime all the transactions for the smuggling of weapons and oil to and from Iraq in Saddam Hussein’s day. He also arranged for the transfer of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction from Baghdad and Tikrit into Syria on its way to Lebanon. Parts of this arsenal were destroyed; the rest buried under an army base in northern Syria and huge pits dug by Syrian engineering units in the Beqaa valley. Assad will sacrifice the father but discreetly keep the son in his employ.
12 June: As the 20-year old human bomb from Hebron, Abdel Muttu Shabana, tore into the packed Jerusalem 14A bus in rush hour traffic opposite the city’s open air market – killing 16 Israelis and injuring more than one 100 – an Egyptian delegation representing the US, Israeli and Palestinian governments sat down opposite a Hamas delegation in Gaza City. The Egyptians were there to solicit the hard-line Islamic terror group’s consent to a ceasefire – and they were having a hard time.
The delegation’s leader, Mubarak’s special emissary, Egyptian intelligence chief, General Omar Suleiman, had spent the afternoon in Ramallah trying to cajole Yasser Arafat into endorsing a truce, only to be turned down by an Arafat reveling in his newfound relevance.
Israelis, stunned by the horror of the attack, listened to President George W. Bush’s words of condemnation “in the strongest possible terms” and his call on the free world to cut off support to the enemies of peace such as the Hamas. They also heard their prime minister Ariel Sharon promise to hunt the Palestinian terror groups and their leaders down relentlessly, while not abandoning the search for peace.
This two-track approach to Palestinian organizations that live by the bomb has found further expression in the presence in Israel and the Palestinian Authority for some days of a CIA mission seeking to arrange a ceasefire, undeterred by advice from Israeli and other counter-terror experts that, the more the negotiations advance, the harder the bargain Hamas will drive and the more intense its terrorist activity. The only way to bring a violent group of this kind to accede to a truce is to break up its structure.
Thus far, however, the Americans have preferred holding off extreme action.
debkafile‘s Washington sources report that President Bush is determined to keep the ceasefire negotiations with the Hamas on track even after the slaughter on the Jerusalem bus on Wednesday, June 11. The Israeli prime minister concurs – so too do Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Abu Mazen.
14 June: Operation Peninsula Strike exposed a large quotient of foreign combatants from Arab countries Saudis, Yemenis, Egyptians, Jordanians, Syrians and Palestinians from Syria or Lebanon mixed in with the Fedayeen Saddam, Baathists and former Republican Guards officers mounting lethal ambushes against US troops in and around Baghdad. But no one says where they are coming from.
The answer, according to debkafile‘s intelligence and military sources, is quite simply Syria, its president Bashar Assad along with chiefs of his military intelligence, which run Syria’s terrorist connections, and Firas Tlas, son of defense minister Mustafa Tlas.
The makeup of the “foreign Islamic legion” Syria is pumping into Iraq to fight against the American presence strongly resembles the al Qaeda combat force deployed on northern Iraq’s Afghan border, in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Dubai and Chechnya – as well as Syria and Lebanon.
Syrian military intelligence is raising this combat force in three places:
1. South Lebanon where several Qaeda operatives have foregathered as guests of Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups.
2. The hundreds medresas springing up in the poor districts of Damascus.
3. The Muslim tourists crowding into Damascus to take advantage of the only Arab city with no entry controls Islamic traffic and traffic hub with no controls on movement.
The Syrians have put their foot through the Iraqi door partly with an eye on the oil-rich Mosul, but mostly to find replace sources of revenue for his contraband trade of weapons and oil with he Saddam Hussein. In May, the Americans intercepted two trucks laden with gold bullion on its way to the Syrian border. Many more trucks must have got through.
Syrian intelligence is also running a steady trickle of fighters, funds, weapons and explosives into the West Bank, aid for the terrorist groups under Yasser Arafat’s command, the primary source of weapons and explosives nourishing the hard-line Palestinian terror organizations.
debkafile‘s intelligence reveal that, shortly before the Aqaba summit of June 4, the Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas secretly sent a high-ranking aide to Damascus to ask Syrian officials to put a stop to this flow of fighters and weapons to Palestinian areas controlled by Arafat. He was rebuffed.
While Syria’s involvement in Iraq and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict can no longer be denied, it is hard to understand why the Bush administration obdurately refuse to point the finger at the Assad regime, when it continues to send across hostile combatants to join the Iraqi resistance that harms US servicemen and actively sabotages Washington’s plans for a new Middle East.
17 June: Very shortly, Israelis will wake up to find their military forces pulling out of the northern Gaza Strip and Bethlehem and handing over the war on terror originating in those regions to Palestinian prime minister Abu Mazen and his internal security minister Mohamed Dahlan.
The key to the truce was provided by the man in the picture. His name is Yousef Qaradawi.
On December 2, debkafile introduced Qaradawi as the author of the Islamic concept of “the good axis” as the antithesis of President George We. Bush’s axis of evil and a popular disseminator of al Qaeda’s doctrines in a regular weekly broadcast over the Arab television station al Jazeera. No links between Qaradawi and Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda have ever been proven, but for 90 minutes every Sunday, he fills his “Sharaya and Life” program with bin Laden’s teachings.
The main burden of his sermons is the justification of suicidal terror.
The document the Egyptian ceasefire brokers presented Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin on Sunday, June 15, was not an American or an Israel guarantee to end targeted assassinations of terror chiefs or incursions, but the far more potent Qaradawi fatwa with permission for the terrorist groups to join the Palestinian Authority in a ceasefire. The document does not state with whom, never mentioning Israel, but it set in motion the following course of events:
1. The Hamas, Jihad Islami and Fatah secretly accepted a truce.
2. It will be announced only after another round of Egyptian-Palestinian Authority talks in Cairo. Until then, all the parties, including Israel, will act as through the Egyptian ceasefire bid is in stalemate.
3. Some of the understandings agreed by the United States, the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas as part of the truce deal will not be published.
4. To avoid the ceasefire being seen to be a Palestinian accord with Israel, the original order of truce first and Israeli withdrawal second was reversed.
Israeli leaders reiterated this week that a truce is in the country’s worst interests. The Sharon government has nonetheless been swept up by the diplomatic dynamic generated in Gaza City this week and is heading for a partial troop withdrawal and a ceasefire without the Palestinians interrupting their terrorist offensive for one moment.
Many Israelis are asking to what Palestinian hands they are entrusting their security from terror assault. The question has been answered on frequent occasions by debkafile – Yasser Arafat, the eminence behind the Abbas throne. Even if by some miracle, Abu Mazen and Dahlan are able to ring down the curtain on terror from the regions under their control, the next source of trouble has already made itself known. This week, for the first time, Palestinian missiles were fired from Rafah and Khan Younes – the southern end of the Gaza Strip at a kibbutz and moshav in the southern Negev. As in the past, the Israeli army will be pressed into the effort to recover lost strategic points for fighting terror and contend with terrorist forces fresh from the respite of a truce and armed with replenished stocks of weapons and energy.