DEBKAfile Dispatches: 3.15.2014 – 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 7

Lavrov warns Kerry against hasty and reckless steps

In a phone conversation to US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Friday night warned US against “hasty and reckless steps capable of causing harm to Russian-American relations – particularly… sanctions, which would inevitably hit the United States like a boomerang.”

Pro-Russian armed men take Ukrainian military post in Crimea

The Ukrainian defense ministry said 20 armed men thought to be Russian threw stun grenades and seized a Ukrainian missile defense post in Crimea near Sevastopol Friday night. No one was hurt.

Moscow secures Crimean poll with large military drill

Amid spiraling tensions between Moscow and the West over the fate of Crimea, Russia has mobilized its air and coastal defenses and more than 1,000 missile and tank units for a month-long drill in Kapustin Yar, around 450 km from the Ukraine border in the Astrakhan district.

The exercise covers the whole of March and early April, including the March 16 Crimean referendum on secession and its aftermath in case of any Ukrainian or Western attempt to disrupt Crimea’s expected application to join the Russian Federation.

The US has also stepped up military activity in region in the last 48 hours. President Barack Obama, in an hour-long phone call to President Vladimir Putin early Friday, March 7, declared the referendum was a violation of international law. Putin replied that the regime in Kiev and its decisions were “absolutely illegitimate,” but maintained that bilateral ties should not be sacrificed for other issues.

March 8

The 95th Ukrainian paratroop brigade leaves base

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Ukrainian 95th Separate Airmobile Brigade, which counts as the special forces’ backbone of the Ukraine army, departed is base in the west of the country Saturday night, for an unknown destination.

Crimean military office calm after takeover by armed men

The men equipped with automatic weapons took control of the regional military office in Simferopol from Ukrainian staff Friday night saying they belonged to the Crimean self-defense forces. The Russian navy also blockaded Ukrainian ships. As tensions mounted, Poland pulled staff from its consulate in the Crimean port of Sevastopol where Russia maintains a large naval base.

Ukraine crisis: Russia may halt START strategic weapons inspections, reverts to Cold War tactics 

        Russia further ratcheted up international tensions over Ukraine Saturday, March 8, with a statement that “Russia is considering halting foreign inspections of its strategic weapons arsenal, including nuclear-capable missiles, in response to ‘threats’ from the United States and NATO over the Ukraine crisis.

Moscow is warning that it is prepared to revert to the Soviet Union’s belligerent posture unless the US and the West back down on the Ukraine dispute. This would be an abdication from START, which was first signed between the United States and Russian in 1991, to end the Cold War and effectively disband the Soviet empire.

March 9

Forty rockets unloaded from Iranian arms ship in Eilat

Israeli troops Sunday unloaded 40 M302 rockets whose range is 160km, nearly two hundred 121-mm mortar shells and about 400,000 7.62-mm-caliber bullets for Kalashnikovs in the hold of the KLOS C ship from Iran, which Israeli commandos seized on the Red Sea last Wednesday.

Egypt: The Iranian missile ship was bound for Sinai or Gaza

An Egyptian security source reported Sunday that the Egyptian missile ship apprehended by Israeli commandos destined for terrorists in Sinai or the Gaza Strip. The sea route through Sudan is plied routinely by smugglers and illegal migrant traffickers.

US warns Russia against moves for Crimea annexation

In a call to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry “made clear that continued military escalation and provocation in Crimea or elsewhere in Ukraine, along with steps to annex Crimea to Russia would close any available space for diplomacy, and he urged utmost restraint,” the state department reported. Warning shots meanwhile prevented OSCE observers from entering Crimea. Lavrov had earlier said that the crisis in Ukraine was “created artificially for purely geopolitical reasons”.~


March 10

US transfers $429m to support Israel’s Iron Dome

New US-Israel accord “ensures continued US funding for procurement of Iron Dome systems and interceptors, and provides for significant co-production opportunities for US industry.”

Netanyahu: “Tomorrow Iran will hide nuclear suitcases.”

       Binyamin Netanyahu warned Monday, March 10, that because the world chooses to ignore Iran’s concealed nuclear program, the next Klos C ship may not carry missiles but “nuclear suitcases.” He was the first Western leader to acknowledge Iran’s possession of nuclear suitcases, which were part of a ten-year old illicit Ukrainian shipment to Iran of six X-55 nuclear capable cruise missiles with a range of 2,000km.

         A nuclear suitcase can enable terrorist organizations to quickly transport a tactical nuclear or dirty bomb from place to place. In presenting the illicit cargo [from last week’s raid], Netanyahu also implicitly rebuked EU Foreign Policy Executive Catherine Ashton for failing to raise the Iranian weapons ship in her talks [while she was in Tehran], when he said, “There is a shrill chorus of international condemnation when we build a balcony in Jerusalem, but scarcely a word when Iran tries to smuggle missiles into Gaza.”

March 11

Saudis threaten to blockade Qatar by air, land and sea

If Qatar fails to cut its ties with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, shut down Al Jazeera global television channel and expel local branches of the US Brookings Institution and Rand Corporation think tanks, Saudi Arabia will blockade the emirate by air, land and sea.


Russia launches paratroop exercise east of Ukraine.

         Russia launched its biggest military exercise in 20 years. It encompasses command elements, rapid deployment forces and paratroops and takes place in western Russia not far from the Ukraine border. Ivanovo paratroops’ formation of 4,000 troops and 36 military air transports are taking part in the maneuver. Also this week, the Russian army had moved mobile coastal defense batteries from the Russian base of Novorossiysk to its Crimean base of Sevastopol. The K-300Ps (Nato codenamed SSC-5), the most advanced of their kind, were deployed for any contingency such as fighting off naval units or repelling landing forces and engaging in cyber war. By Tuesday Moscow fielded a total of 60,000 troops – either in exercises in areas adjoining Ukraine or in military movements in and around Crimea.

         The US, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria also launched a series of military drills Tuesday on the Black Sea and along the Polish borders with Russia. They are on a far smaller scale than the Russian show of strength.

Moscow tycoons move assets from West to Far East  

         As the West started working on sanctions, tycoons close to President Putin had already begun moving their assets from the West to the Far East two months ago.

March 12

Cameron to Knesset: Together we’ll defeat delegitimizers of Israel

In a speech to the Knesset Wednesday, British premier David Cameron said, “Britain opposes boycotts” whether by trade unions or universities. He said peace dividends would entail a better quality of life for both nations and lead to “an end to the outrageous lectures on human rights that Israel receives at the United Nations from the likes of Iran and North Korea; an end to the ridiculous situation where last year the United Nations general assembly passed three times as many resolutions on Israel as on Syria, Iran and North Korea put together.No more excuses for the 32 countries in the United Nations who refuse to recognize Israel.” Cameron said that his belief in Israel is “unbreakable and his commitment to Israel’s security rock solid. I will always stand up for the right of Israel to defend its citizens.”~~

March 13

Another 14 rockets fired from Gaza after Jihad Islami claims ceasefire

14 Qassam missiles were fired against Israel from the Gaza Strip, shortly after Jihad Islami announced that a ceasefire had been brokered by Egypt. This was the second round of the day. In the morning, at least three rockets targeted Ashkelon and Ashdod and the Israeli Air Force struck seven terrorist targets in southern Gaza. No casualties were reported.~The undeclared Iranian-Israeli war – the Jihad missile offensive – continuesOver 70 missiles [have been] fired on orders from its boss, Al Qods Brigades chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, to punish Israel for capturing the Iranian missile ship last week.

March 14

Kerry: Serious steps if Crimean referendum goes ahead

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that contingencies are in place in case Russian forces move further east into Ukraine. He said if the Crimean referendum goes ahead, there will be serious steps taken Monday by the US and Europe. Kerry spoke ahead of his meeting Friday, March 14, with Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.