Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu posted notes Friday, June 20, to President Barack Obama, King Abdullah of Jordan and Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, debkafile’s exclusive sources in Washington and Jerusalem reveal. They dealt with the rapid advances made by Al Qaeda-related Sunni Islamist fighters in Iraq, now heading towards the Iraqi-Syrian-Jordanian border intersection and how they bore on the security of Israel, the Palestinians and Kingdom of Jordan just next door.
Netanyahu’s main point was that Israel’s armed forces (the IDF) are the only army in the region with the capabilities and counter-terrorism experience for standing up to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and therefore buttressing the rule of Jordan’s King Abdullah and Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah against jihadist incursions.
And so it is essential to maintain the fortifications on the River Jordan border manned by the IDF and continue to work in partnership with the Jordanian army to provide a solid bulwark against a potential ISIS push from Iraq toward the west.
Netanyahu cited Obama’s proposition Thursday, June 19, with regard to the Iraq crisis. The president said: “I think that the key to both Syria and Iraq is going to be a combination of what happens inside the country… and us laying down a more effective counterterrorism platform that gets all the countries in the region pulling in the same direction.”
In the prime minister’s view, one of those platforms is already in place in southern Syria as a result of a combined US- Israeli-Jordanian military effort.
Saturday, June 21, the Iraqi jihadists seized the strategic Iraqi-Syrian border crossing at Qaim (pop: a quarter of a million). Witnesses reported hundreds of Iraqi soldiers dropping their weapons and fleeing in all directions after 30 of their number were killed in battle.
This conquest brought ISIS that much closer to the intersection of the Iraqi, Syrian and Jordanian borders, which is situated in terrain marked by deep wadis and dense foliage, and therefore popular with the smugglers of arms, drugs and oil, who move between Iraq and Jordan.
That being so, the Sunni Islamists’ control of the Qaim crossing point poses a direct threat to Jordan, as well as providing them with an open route for the easy transfer of fighters and heavy weapons between their two battlefields in Iraq and Syria, and of fuel from the Syrian oil fields which they now manage to their brothers fighting in Iraq.
In eastern Jordan, Al Qaeda owns a reserve of adherents, some of whom fought under its flag in Afghanistan, others against American forces in Iraq under the command of their compatriot, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in the years 2003-2007.
In the last three years, Jordanian extremists have fought with Al Qaeda and other Islamist elements in the Syrian civil uprising against Bashar Assad.
debkafile’s counter-terror sources report that thousands of these Islamists, some after advanced combat training, are concentrated in and around the Jordanian towns of al-Zarqa, al-Rusaifa, Salt and Irbid.
Jordanian security services, concerned to stop them heading out for Iraq, this week opened the jail door for the influential Islamic leader, Sheik Isam al-Barqawi – aka as Abu Muhammad al-Maqdis – who is the head of the Jordanian Salafi movement. In the deal for his early release from a long prison sentence, the sheik undertook to use his sermons to preach against the Jordanian Islamists joining up for the ISIS-led jihad.
According to our sources, Netanyahu inserted in his note to Obama a new piece of intelligence, that ISIS liaison officers had recently entered the Sinai Peninsula to embed a branch of their organization in the local Al Qaeda network, known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, which has operational ties with the Palestinian Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip.