DEBKAfile Dispatches: 3.8.2014 – Israel, Iran & other Mideast News Briefs sifts through daily dispatches and recaps items related to Middle East developments that may be of interest to readers. Articles are written from an Israeli perspective, but in most cases are objective. Israel lives in a tough neighborhood and these dispatches reflect these tensions. The long reach of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard  (IRG) often results in that country’s fingerprints on much of the turmoil and violence. Iran does this through proxy militias that it helps to establish, then funds, trains and occasionally participates – yet denies any involvement.



From January 1-July 4, 2014 there are 184 days (6 months and 4 days). Iran has been given 6 months (180 days) to show good faith regarding their nuclear programs. America must insist that no more billions of US dollars, gold or other resources will be unfrozen and transferred to Iran as a result of further sanctions loosening. Nor should oil exports flow freely to other nations, including Russia that has negotiated a side deal worth $1.5 billion per month known as ‘oil for goods.’ In this barter system Russia would continue building Iran’s nuclear facilities in exchange for oil that may be used or sold on the open market. Finally, the main purpose of the current negotiations, the cessation of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, must be realized and continually verified.




From the DEBKAfile:

March 1

Putin wins parliamentary approval to send troops into Ukraine

Russia’s Upper House has given President Vladimir Putin the go-ahead to send troops into Ukraine, despite a warning from Washington that such a deployment would result in “costs” for Moscow.

IDF’s Mt. Hermon position under rocket fire

Hours after powerful explosions were heard on the Golan Heights and north Galilee Saturday morning, the IDF spokesman disclosed that their position on Mt. Hermon had come under rocket fire for the first time since the Syrian war broke out three years ago.


March 2


Putin explains Crimea operation to Merkel

Vladimir Putin explained to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a phone call Sunday that Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Ukraine faced an “unrelenting threat from ultra-nationalists” and the measures Moscow has taken “were completely appropriate” given the “extraordinary situation.”

Ukraine’s Navy chief defects to [Pro-Russia] Crimean government

One day after the interim government in Kiev appointed him head of Ukraine’s Navy, Rear Admiral Denys Berezovsky swore allegiance to the Crimean region in the presence of its pro-Russian leader.

Obama’s national security team met on Ukraine without him

“The President’s national security team met today to receive an update on the situation in Ukraine and discuss potential policy options.” Washington sources noted that President Obama skipped the meeting, which was attended by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, and CIA Director John Brennan. Vice President Joe Biden reportedly attended via videoconference. Obama was briefed later by National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

Gaps wide after Obama-Putin phone call

President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a 90 minute phone call on Saturday that his country sending troops into Ukraine is a “clear violation” of that country’s sovereignty and carried the risk of Russian isolation. His request to de-escalate the crisis and withdraw his forces back to bases in Crimea went unheeded. “Russia maintains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population that lives there,” Putin said. 

March 3

Obama says Russia on wrong side of history; Russia perceives an “imaginary threat”

In Crimea, Ukraine border guards reported that armed men have seized a Ukraine border checkpoint at the ferry terminal and three truckloads of armed men had crossed by ferry to the Ukraine side. Obama says Russia is on the wrong side of history and US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers alleges that Moscow has “responded to an imaginary threat with no legal basis.”

FM Lavrov: Russian troops defending Russian citizens, human rights

As Russian tightened its grip on Crimea, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in Geneva Monday that Russian troops were needed in Ukraine to protect Russian citizens and their human rights “until the political situation is normalized.”

Putin orders/attends large Baltic Sea military readiness exercise

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered and attended a large tactical exercise Monday of Sea Fleet coast guard troops in the Kaliningrad region. More than 3,500 servicemen of mechanized infantry regiments and a naval infantry brigade took part in the drills. Stationed in Kaliningrad are Russian K720 9 nuclear-tipped Iskander missiles (NATO codename SS-26 Stone), which are pointed at advanced US radar posted in central and southern Europe, a reference to one of Putin’s conditions for continuing negotiations on Ukraine.

Putin wants US guarantees for halting military action 

As Washington and the Europeans continued to decry Russian military aggression, the US and Russians began quiet though intense negotiations – through   Berlin – on a deal for settling the Ukraine dispute. Moscow will keep its military forces in Crimea, but will discuss terms for restraining the Russian army from advancing into the Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine. Kiev must stay out of NATO; the US must guarantee not to deploy advanced radar missile shields of ballistic missiles in the country; and local armed bodies will protect Russian-speaking areas.

March 4

Russia test-fires intercontinental ballistic missile

Russia fired a Topol RS-12M intercontinental ballistic missile the Caspian Sea area to Kazakhstan Tuesday night, having warned Washington in advance. This was announced just hours after Vladimir Putin accused the interim government in Kiev of carrying out an unconstitutional coup d’etat against the legal president as well as US Secretary of State John Kerry parading its support for the new leaders of Kiev, accusing Russia of seeking a pretext for its aggression.

Kerry: If Russia doesn’t de-escalate, it will face isolation

At a news conference in Kiev, US Secretary of State condemned Russian “aggression” and denied Moscow’s claim that the Russian-speaking population of Crimea and Ukraine were in danger. Russia must de-escalate and withdraw its forces to the barracks and engage directly with the government of Ukraine, or face isolation, he said.

Netanyahu: Why does Iran need to develop nuclear-capable missiles?

In the most pro-American speech heard from any Israeli leader of late, Binyamin Netanyahu praised President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry when he addressed the AIPAC conference in Washington Tuesday. US-Israeli friendship was at its highest point, he said. We work night and day for a lasting peace, and called again on the Palestinians to acknowledge Israel as the Jewish national state. On Iran, Netanyahu asked: “If Iran has nothing to hide, why are UN inspectors denied access to its nuclear facilities, and why does it insist on developing ballistic missiles whose only use is the delivery of nuclear-armed warheads?”

Putin: Sanctions will be counterproductive

At his first meeting with reporters in the Ukraine crisis, Russian president Vladimir Putin warned that western sanctions would be counterproductive and “cause harm elsewhere.”

March 5

Israel navy seizes Iranian missile ship on the Red Sea

Israel’s elite Shayetet 13 (Flotilla 13) early Wednesday, boarded an Iranian Panama-registered cargo vessel KLOS C. Concealed in its hold were dozens of 302mm rockets with a range of 150 km, manufactured in Syria and destined by Iran for the Gaza Strip via Sudan. The Israeli commandos seized the vessel on the Red Sea, 1,500 km south of Israel and have set it on a course for Eilat. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu commented that this episode showed Iran’s true colors – in contrast to its diplomatic posture in nuclear negotiations with the West. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon commented that Iran is again exposed as the biggest exporter in the world of arms to terrorist organizations.

First US- Israeli intelligence collaboration in four years against Iranian missile shipment

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday night that US intelligence services and military had worked with Israel to track the Iranian Panama-flagged ship KLOS C, which was apprehended by Israeli naval commandos on the Red Sea earlier that day carrying missiles for Gaza via Sudan. It is now on its way to Eilat. He said that President Barack Obama also directed the US military to work out contingencies in case it became necessary to intercept the vessel. “Our Israeli counterparts ultimately chose to take the lead in interdicting the shipment of illicit arms,” Jay Carney said. “We will continue to stand up to Iran’s support for destabilizing activities in the region in coordination with our partners and allies. These illicit acts are unacceptable to the international community and in gross violation of Iran’s Security Council obligations.”

March 6

Israeli intel chief: Revoltionary Guards ran Iranian missile ship

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and al Qods Brigades were in charge of the missile-running expedition by the vessel that Israeli commandos apprehended on the Red Sea Wednesday, said Military Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi.

US imposes visa and property sanctions against Russia

As EU hesitated over sanctions against Russia in view of its members’ broad trade ties with Moscow, US President Barack Obama signed an executive order for visa and property sanctions against ‘individuals and entities responsible for undermining the democracy and the territorial integrity of Ukraine.” He acted after Crimea’s pro-Russian parliament announced a March 16 referendum on whether the region should secede from Ukraine and become part of Russia.

House passes US-Israel strategic partnership bill

The House of Representatives on Wednesday adopted in a 410-1 vote the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013. The passage of the bill comes after AIPAC held its annual policy conference this week in Washington, D.C. The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Ed Royce (R-CA), and Eliot Engel (D-NY), declares Israel is a “major strategic partner” of the U.S.March 7

Israel’s capture of the Iranian missile ship is one down for Gen. Soleimani

Israel’s seizure of the Iranian missile ship KLOS C Wednesday, March 6, was the second time the IDF had poked a finger in the eye of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the al Qods Brigades, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence-cum-terrorist arm. The first was the Israeli air strike on Feb. 24 on Hizballah’s arms convoys and missiles on the Lebanese-Syrian border. Soleimani was quick to set up low-key yet ominous reprisals within days of Israel’s air strike and may well come up with payback for the ship’s seizure.