The security plan, which US Secretary of State John Kerry brought with him Thursday, Dec. 5, on his eighth trip for reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, entails deploying a regional international force including US troops along the Jordan Rift Valley and West Bank in a future Palestinian state. This is reported by debkafile’s military and counterterrorism sources.
The plan, drawn up by Gen. John Allen, was presented by Kerry for the first time to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
The security provisions Washington promised Israel under a final settlement of its dispute with the Palestinians are assuming a broader, regional form as a US blueprint, on which the Obama administration is still working, for a Middle East regional force to combat Al Qaeda.
This force would secure parts of Syria, as well as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the future Palestinian state and Israel against Al Qaeda attack from positions in Syria, Iraq and Sinai.
The secretary of state proposed integrating Israeli and Palestinian special forces units in the planned regional counter-terror force, alongside the American, British, French, Saudi, Jordanian, Egyptian and Qatari units enlisted to the new framework
Since its area of operation would be extensive, ranging from southern Syria to Sinai, including Israel and the potential Palestinian state, the IDF would be able to continue performing its security functions in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley, as part of the new force. But by the same rule, Palestinian forces would be allowed by mutual consent to serve in parts of Israel in the same multinational framework.
The public groundwork for this plan is already being laid by means of extensive reporting in Western media which magnify the ever-present menace Al Qaeda poses to the United States and West Europe from its concentrations in Syria and Iraq.
The US and British media have been fed materials depicting thousands of young American, European, Saudi and Jordanian Islamists flocking to Syria to fight with Al Qaeda-affiliated rebel militias against Bashar Assad and their potential as ticking terror bombs on their return home.
British intelligence, not normally forthcoming on terrorist threats, provided detailed information Friday, Dec. 5, about sophisticated, hard-to-detect bombs, newly developed by the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in Arabia (AQAP), and made of non-metallic and low-vapor explosives disguised as harmless objects like shoes, clothing or soft drink bottles to fool international airport and border post scanners.
All these reports lay stress on the operational links between AQAP and Al Qaeda branches in Syria and Egyptian Sinai.
Thursday, the day Kerry arrived in Israel, Al Qaeda staged one of its biggest operations in recent times against the Yemeni Defense Ministry in Sanaa. It claimed at least 52 lives and injured up to 200 people. Suicide bombers rammed the ministry compound’s gates setting off explosives in cars and bomb belts, while gunmen stormed the defense ministry building and hospital annex, gunning down any personnel they met, including foreign staff. Among the dead were six doctors.
US forces across the region, including Jordan, the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, were immediately placed on high terror alert. Friday, as the Secretary of state met the Israeli prime minister for the third time and headed off to the Palmachim Air Force base to inspect the Arrow missile interceptor, US forces in Israel, the embassy in Tel Aviv and General Consulate in Jerusalem were also placed on heightened alert against a major terrorist strike.
The Yemeni attack was viewed by experts as an Al Qaeda demonstration of defiance, to show the visiting American official that Washington’s evolving security strategy was no match for its own ability to launch surprise attacks anywhere in the region on the most heavily guarded facilities.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is reported by debkafile’s Jerusalem sources as open to the new security proposal put before him by the secretary of state, although he was familiar with some of its elements from earlier discussions between US and IDF officers on the situation in southern Syria and Jordan and how to deal with it.
The Palestinian leader, however, was much more reserved. At first he turned the plan down, but then agreed to look into it in consultation with the Saudis and Jordanians.