DEBKAfile Condensed 2.22.14 – Briefs on Israel, Iran & Mideast Developments

middle-east-satellite-viewFreeAllThree.com 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.

Daniel @ FreeAllThree .com

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From the DEBKAfile:

February 15

 Iran’s “long-range ballistic missiles with multiple warheads” are hot air

Iranian claims to possess long-range ballistic missiles with multiple warheads are unfounded, according to DEBKAfile’s military experts. This claim was made last week by Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan who said that two newly test-launched missiles carried multiple warheads capable of penetrating the anti-missile defenses of the American and Israeli “enemies.” Our sources report that Iran has been trying for two years to develop these weapons – without success.

 

 UN mediator: No date set for another round of Syrian peace talks

International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi apologized Saturday for the failure of two rounds of Syrian peace talks to make any progress. Friday, the UN halted the evacuation of civilians from Homs Old City out of concern for the men of military age held back for detention by government forces. The UN deputy team leader for the Homs mission said while some 1,400 people had been evacuated from the starving city, around 400 men aged 15 o 55 were detained. The fate of some 220 is still unclear.

Abbas to Kerry: No Palestinian recognition of Jewish state

According to sources in London, Mahmoud Abbas gave US Secretary John Kerry his last word on the subject: The Palestinians would not recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. DEBKAfile: This message is only important only as one of the reservations the Palestinians and Israel were invited to append to Kerry’s framework proposal.

Iran sharply excludes missiles from nuclear negotiations

Missiles “are part of our defense industries,” and “by no means negotiable at the Geneva talks with the P5+1 group,” said a prominent member of the Majlis Security and Foreign Committee Thursday. He was reacting to the assurance given by top US negotiator Wendy Sherman at a Senate hearing last week that Iran’s ballistic missile program would be addressed as part of a comprehensive nuclear deal.

February 16

High-profile Al Qaeda figure leaves Iran after years of asylum

Thirwat Shihata, a 53-year old wanted al Qaeda terrorist close to Ayman al-Zawahiri, is reported by US intelligence to have left Iran where he received sanctuary for the past decade and traveled to Libya. Shihata is described as one of the top 13 most dangerous al Qaeda operatives sought by the US. DEBKAfile adds: Western counterterrorism experts have always been baffled by Iran’s readiness to grant asylum to dozens of al Qaeda fighters, giving some the freedom to come and go for terrorist operations.

Israel uneasy over Russian arms to Egypt, Syria

        Israel’s strategists have found a new cause for disquiet. On top of concern over the concentration of al Qaeda fighting strength around its borders, they are beginning to worry about Russian President Vladimir Putin capitalizing on America’s withdrawal from the Middle East, by means of military pacts with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Egyptian strongman Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. Since Egypt’s economic woes are incurable, El-Sisi plans to build a strong regime with Russian and Saudi support and lead a pan-Arab nationalist movement – potentially on a collision course with Israel.

UN: N. Korean officials must face justice for systemic abuse

UN investigators call for North Korean leaders, and possibly Kim Jong-un, to face international justice for ordering systematic torture, starvation and killings, using food as “a means of control over the population” and “deliberate starvation” to punish political and ordinary prisoners.

Iran: Russia could pay for oil with second nuclear reactor

Iranian ambassador to Moscow Mehdi Sanaei said Monday that Russia could build a second reactor at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant in exchange for Iranian oil. He was referring to negotiations for Iran to supply Russia with 500,000 barrels of oil per day for goods.

February 17

Ethiopian Airlines flight hijacker was the co-pilot

The hijacker of an Ethiopian Airlines forced to proceed to Geneva instead of Rome turned out to be the co-pilot in search of political asylum. Swiss police arrested him. [The co-pilot waited until the pilot left the cockpit for a restroom break; then he locked him out.]

February 18

Islamist terrorists give foreigners, including tourists, 4 days to leave Sinai

      Monday night, Al Qaeda-linked Ansar Bayt Al Maqdis, which Sunday blew up the South Korean tourist bus, killing three visitors and the Egyptian bus driver, gave all foreign nationals four days to remove themselves from Sinai by Thursday or face attack. DEBKAfile: After mortally striking Egypt’s tourist trade, the Islamists are now aiming to get rid of Israeli trippers and the hundreds of American peacekeepers of the US-led Multinational Force.

Russian Air Force chief in Cairo over differences on arms deal

Russian Air Force chief Alexander Zelin paid an unscheduled visit to Cairo Tuesday. DEBKAfile reports: He came to resolve differences over the types of Russian weapons to be included in Moscow’s transaction with Cairo. Gen. El-Sisi is holding out for the top-of-line S-300 anti-missile batteries and long-range ballistic surface missiles.

Three US unattainable pledges to Israel ahead of nuclear talks

The six powers and Iran sat down in Geneva Tuesday for talks on a final, comprehensive resolution of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. But first, the Obama administration gave the Israeli government three pledges: The US would insist on the shutdown of the Fordo enrichment plant; the Arak reactor’s conversion to a light water plant; and a cap on 5-percent enrichment. DEBKAfile: There is no chance of Tehran’s acceptance of any of these demands. Binyamin Netanyahu will try to hold out for a ceiling on centrifuges when he meets Barack Obama on March 3.

 February 19

Five dead in explosions at Beirut Iranian culture center

At least 5 people were killed and 80 injured Wednesday by two suicide bombers who blew themselves up at the entrance to the Iranian Culture Center in the southern Beirut. The attack was claimed by the Al Qaeda-affiliated Abdullah al Azzam Brigades.

Netanyahu visits injured Syrians in IDF field hospital, has words for Iran

Israel’s top leaders marked the second round of nuclear talks between the Six Powers and Iran with a visit Tuesday to injured Syrians at the IDF field hospital in central Golan. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: “I would like to tell the world today that Iran has changed neither its aggressive policy nor its brutal character…”

  February 20

Obama’s Iran policy wins key point: Saudis drop its lead antagonist Prince Bandar           Saudi Intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan was reported Wednesday to have been removed from policy-making in Riyadh. Removal of the live wire of the kingdom’s drive against President Barack Obama’s détente with Tehran is one up for Obama. It is a significant loss for Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu of the only other Middle East leader ready to publicly decry US policies on Iran and Syria. Prince Bandar was widely reported in the Middle East to be in secret t[alks] with Israeli intelligence re: shared moves. He crossed the Americans by supplying weapons and money to Syrian rebels belonging to Islamist militias – though not al Qaeda. His main adversary Prince Mohammad bin Nayef, Saudi interior minister, is believed to be taking his place.

 Until next week….

Daniel @ FreeAllThree .com

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