DEBKAfile 2.6.14 -Briefs on Israel, Iran & Mideast Developments

middle-east-satellite-view sifts through weekly dispatches, recaps the items related to Middle East developments that may be of interest to readers. Articles are from an Israeli perspective, but in most cases are objectively written. Israel lives in a tough neighborhood and these items reflect that tension. The long reach of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard  (IRG) often results in that country’s fingerprints on much of the mayhem. Iran does that through proxy militias that it establishes, funds, trains and occasionally participates with – yet often denies such involvement.


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From the DEBKAfile:

January 31

Assad faces “consequences” for non-compliance with chemical arms deal

US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Berlin that the Assad regime was not complying with the US-Russian timetable for shipping his chemical arsenal out of the country. “I would remind Bashar al-Assad that … issues of non-compliance will be referred to the Security Council.Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson bucks anti-Israel ‘BDS’

Scarlett Johanssen cut short her 8 years as ambassador for British Oxfam over a “fundamental difference of opinion in regard to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement” against Israel. The actress was criticized for representing the Israeli soft drinks firm SodaStream, whose factory is located on the West Bank near Maaleh Adumim. Of the more than 1,300 workers employed, about 500 are Palestinian with equal pay for all. Answering critics last week, Johansson said she supported “economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine.” Scarlett Johansson is the highest profile celebrity to publicly defy BDS.Israeli Intel Chief: New Al Qaeda bases in Turkey provide easy jihadist
access to Europe 
Israel’s Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi Wednesday, June 29, revealed three new al Qaeda training bases in Turkey and their proximity to S. Europe on the day that Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan sat down in Tehran with President Hassan Rouhani. The intelligence chief was unusually forthcoming about the bases’ locations to underline the deleterious impact of the Obama administration’s détente with Iran on the Middle East and fellow-NATO members. Iran, which is in the process of forging a new alliance with Turkey, has a history of hosting al Qaeda and then setting its terrorists loose to strike Tehran-designated targets like Saudi Arabia.

February 1

 Kerry takes tough position against Israel

US Secretary of State John Kerry told the Munich Security Conference Saturday: “The risks [of peace diplomacy] are very high for Israel. People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure,” he said. The status quo can’t continue because it threatens the Jewish and democratic nature of Israel and increases the likelihood of Israel’s international isolation. He warned that the current calm and security Israel enjoys at present are an illusion.

Obama visits Riyadh in March to smooth discord over Syria and Iran

President Barack Obama will travel to Saudi Arabia in March to meet King Abdullah about what a senior Arab official called “a deteriorating relationship,” over US policy on Iran’s nuclear program and the civil war in Syria.February 2

Sparring between Netanyahu and Kerry

Responding to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s boycott warning to Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday: “Boycotts of Israel are amoral and unjustified and will not achieve their aims. First of all, they cause the Palestinians to become entrenched behind their intransigent positions, and secondly, no pressure will cause me to give way on Israel’s vital interests.”

Rouhani names hardliner to nuclear implementation team

President Hassan Rouhani has agreed to add Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the hardline head of Iranian parliament panel, to the committee charged with implementing the Geneva interim nuclear deal, as well as the negotiating team for a final accord.

Bullying tactics by Kerry and Europeans fuel anti-Israel terror and boycott threats

Secretary of State John Kerry freely used scare tactics, such as a fresh Palestinian “intifada,” boycott and international isolation, to cow Israel into signing on the dotted line of the framework accord he proposes to submit to Israel and the Palestinians. Such tactics tend to backfire as self-fulfilling prophecies – witness proliferating Palestinian terror attacks and the latest Scandinavian boycott of Israel’s three largest banks for the “crime” of doing business on the West Bank. A small spark could easily ignite a major bonfire in this overheated climate. Israel-Palestinian peacemaking has always had its flip side. The aftermath of a former framework accord, which actually got signed by both sides in Oslo in 1993, vividly illustrated the recurring vicious circle of one peace process after another breaking down under escalating Palestinian terrorist violence that led to expanded settlements.

February 3

 Abbas proposes US-led NATO force in Palestinian state

In a New York Times interview, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas proposed that a US-led NATO force patrol a future Palestinian state indefinitely throughout the territory, at all crossings and in Jerusalem. On recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, Abbas said, “This is out of the question.”

Danish boycotter of Israel funded North Korean missiles for Iran

Danske Bank helped finance the North Korean Tanchon company that sold ballistic missiles to Iran, according to a State Department cable of 2009, first revealed by Wikileaks. Last week Danske Bank cut off banking business with Israel’s Bank Hapoalim on “legal and ethical grounds.” The missiles it financed were sold to the Shahid Hernmat Industrial Group, which develops Iran’s liquid-fuel ballistic missile program and was designated under UN Security Council Resolution 1737 for an asset freeze. After two reminders, Dankse finally declared in 2010 it had cut off ties with the North Korean company.Jordan invokes 1994 peace treaty with Israel for a say in Kerry’s Jordan
Valley security and Jerusalem plans 

Secretary of State John Kerry has ordered a reassessment of Gen. John Allen’s Israeli-Palestinian security plan – especially for US electronic surveillance devices to replace IDF units
along the Jordan Valley border shared between Israel, Jordan and a future Palestinian state.

Not only does Israel emphatically object, so too does Jordan’s King Abdullah, who refuses to hear of his kingdom’s exposure to US electronic devices or Palestinian forces. He also wants Jordan’s special status in Jerusalem’s holy places.

February 4

US Intelligence Director: Assad strengthened by chemical deal

Intelligence Director James Clapper said Tuesday “The prospects are right now that [Assad] is actually in a strengthened position by virtue of his agreement to remove the chemical weapons, as slow as that process has been.” Clapper was briefing the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. DEBKAfile predicted this very outcome last September when US Secretary of State and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reached an understanding on the elimination of Syria’s chemical arsenal.State denies Kerry admitted US Syrian failure. Israel shoots down US-led NATO force for Palestinian State 

January set a record as the bloodiest month of the Syrian conflict amid a strenuous US bid to bring diplomacy to bear for a political solution. Nearly 6,000 people died that month and the total three-year death toll shot up to at least 136,227. US Secretary John Kerry was quoted by US Senators McCain and Graham as admitting that administration policy for Syrian policy had failed and a new strategy was indicated. They were accused by a State Department spokeswoman of “mischaracterizing” his remarks. NSA Susan Rice rose to Kerry’s defense to reprove Israelis for criticizing him.

Jerusalem has rejected the proposal for US-led NATO forces to take over security in a future Palestinian state. Would these foreign contingents fight their way through the alleys of the Bethlehem or Jenin refugee camps to chase down Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists? And if not, would they let Israeli troops cross the border to do the job?

February 5

Pro-settlement group’s John Kerry spoof video draws US rebuke

The US has denounced the video posted by an Israeli pro-settlement group in which an actor portraying US Secretary John Kerry shows him riding a camel and making preposterous proposals which ridicule his peace efforts. When shown the Western Wall, he asks: Why fight over an old wall? I’ll build you a new one near the beach.” Another of his “ideas” is to give Israeli soldiers cameras instead of guns to fill terrorists with shame instead of killing them.State Dept spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki commented Wednesday that John Kerry would not be deterred from continuing his peace efforts. She also denied the veracity of the reports published on the US framework accord’s contents because, she said, the text was still unfinished and nobody knew what was in it.

US grants Iran a seat at the Geneva II conference on Syria- round two 

The second round of the Geneva II conference on the Syrian conflict opens Monday, Feb. 10 – this time with a seat at the table for the Iranian delegation granted by Washington, DEBKAfile reports exclusively. Last week, the US banned Iranian participation. Washington’s abrupt turnabout was relayed to the Iranian officials at the secret alternative conference taking place behind closed doors in Bern, where the real business is contracted – not at Montreux.

This US concession awarded Iran major power status for the first time at an international event determining an important Mid East issue. But no one in Moscow, Tehran or Damascus believes the nuclear deals with the big powers will not turn out any differently from the delayed agreement for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons.

February 6

US warns airlines of toothpaste bombs on Sochi flights

American authorities warn airlines flying to Russia for the Olympic Games to be on the lookout for bomb ingredients in toothpaste containers or tubes of cosmetics for assembling aboard the flight.

 Cameron to raise Syrian chemical arms holdup at UN Sec Council

The bulk of Bashar Assad’s chemical arsenal is still in the hands of his army. The US and Russia turned down his request for military assistance to secure the transfer of his stockpile from Damascus to the port of Latakia on its way to destruction at sea.[Underlines added for emphases]