DEBKAfile Dispatches: 3.21.2014 – Israel, Iran & other Mideast News Briefs sifts through the weekly dispatches and recaps the items related to Mid-East developments that may be of interest. Articles are written from an Israeli perspective, but in most cases are objective. Israel lives in a tough neighborhood and these dispatches reflect that tension. The long reach of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) often results in Iran’s fingerprints on much of the turmoil and violence. Iran accomplishes this through local militants, (e.g. Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon) they recruit, train and fund  – yet denies any involvement. Iran also participates directly as non-uniformed “resistors” as in Syria, Afghanistan and formerly in Iraq, where they were responsible for 100’s if not thousands of US and NATO casualties. Additionally these stories are often difficult to find in US mainstream media, such as the last item on March 18 … did you know? *


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 14

Discord in Kerry-Lavrov talks on Ukraine sets scene for cold war 

Earlier Friday, March 14 US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ended six hours of talks sharply at odds on the Crimean referendum on secession to Russia, which takes place Sunday. The US and West judge the referendum illegal and a violation of Ukrainian territorial integrity and sovereignty in defiance of the interim government in Kiev, which they recognize as the legitimate rulers of all Ukraine. Kerry threatened “consequences” if the referendum went through. The Russian minister stood by the Kremlin’s refusal to call off the vote and regretted that the two share no “single vision” on Ukraine’s future. But he did not rule out future cooperation on other global issues.

March 15

Sabotage of Arak reactor “neutralized”- Iranian sources

Iranian security forces were able to “neutralize’ several cases of industrial sabotage in recent months before they achieved damage, “including a part of the IR-40 facility at Arak” – the heavy water reactor under construction for producing plutonium.

Russia vetoes UN Sec Council Crimea resolution

Russia Saturday vetoed a Security Council resolution ruling the Crimea referendum invalid.  China abstained. The measure drafted by the US urged countries not to recognize the results of the referendum.

Malaysian PM: Missing plane deliberately flown off course

The missing MH370 flight was deliberately steered off course by someone on the plane, was airborne for more than seven hours, and may have traveled as far as Kazakhstan, the Malaysian prime minister confirmed at a news conference Saturday.

March 16

The Crimean referendum goes forward amid Russian tank movements

Russian military movements and strength around Crimea do not exceed the level for securing the Crimean referendum taking place Sunday, March 16 against possible Ukrainian or Western interference. There are no signs of Russia planning to invade other parts of Ukraine. Neither have Ukraine’s European neighbors or the US bases on their soil declared unusual military preparedness. The Ukraine army is likewise stationary.

Six Egyptian soldiers killed at Cairo checkpoint

The Egyptian government in emergency meeting Sunday heightened security after masked gunmen opened fire on military policemen at a Cairo checkpoint while at morning prayers. They then planted two bombs to target the first responders.  Most terrorist attacks [in Egypt] have taken place in the Sinai, but in recent months they are spreading increasingly to Cairo and the Nile Delta.

Syrian rebel bastion of Yabroud falls to government-Hizballah forces

Syrian state media reported Sunday that government forces backed by Hizballah had taken full control of the rebel stronghold of Yabroud, the key to the Calamoun range, after a more than four-month battle. Rebel fighters were seen fleeing the town at dawn. The fall of Yabroud (pop: 40-60,000) secures Bashar Assad’s land route from Damascus to Aleppo and the Mediterranean coastal cities, and cuts off the main rebel supply route from Lebanon. Syrian state TV said government forces had killed or captured many rebels.

March 17

Final results: 96.7% voted for Russia in Crimea referendum

Crimeans voted overwhelmingly Sunday by a 96.7% vote to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. The turnout was 83.1% of the 1,274,000 eligible voters in a referendum condemned as illegal and unconstitutional by the US and European Union. The Russian Dumas [expected to] approve legislation for Crimea’s annexation on March 21.

 West holds back from harsh penalties for Russia 

Both the US and European Union Monday, March 17, imposed relatively mild penalties on Russia for going through with the Crimean referendum. The US imposed travel bans and froze the assets of seven top Russians and three Ukrainians, while the EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels listed 21 mostly unnamed targets – down from 121 – for the same sanctions, limited to a period of six months. The White House warned sanctions could be broadened if Russia took more steps. Russian officials said Moscow’s response against EU and US officials would be proportional to sanctions. The EU was careful to exclude powerful Russian officials and economic figures.

US Seals seize Korean-flagged tanker with Libyan oil

The US Navy took control Monday, March 17 in international waters off Cyprus of a North Korean-flagged tanker carrying Libyan crude oil loaded from a rebel-held port in eastern Libya. Washington called the tanker a pirate or rogue vessel. The operation to return the oil to the Libyan government was ordered by President Obama. Libya’s government is hardly stable and has not governed the eastern region [including Benghazi] since NATO overthrew Muammar Qaddafi two years ago. Armed militias fighting for autonomy run one of the world’s biggest black markets for smuggled weapons.

March 18

Ukraine PM allows soldiers in Crimea to use weapons

The Ukraine interim prime minister allowed the soldiers remaining at a base in the Crimean capital of Simferopol to use their weapons in self-defense after a soldier was killed Tuesday in an attack on the base.

French FM: Russia suspended from G8

Shortly after the Putin speech to the Russian lower house Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that Russia’s participation in the Group of Eight was suspended and the next summit would be a G7.

After anti-US speech, Putin signs Crimean annexation treaty 

After defending Crimea’s “reunification” referendum as adhering to “all international norms,” Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Tuesday, March 18, that Russia would henceforth strongly defend its national interests against the “cold war tactics” practiced by the United States and the West. He complained Moscow had sought dialogue with the West, but was “cheated all the time.” When he accused America of practicing the “law of the strong,” he was cheered by the packed lower house of the Russian parliament. The session ended with the signing of the Crimean annexation treaty.

CIA chief of Iran operations suspended *

The CIA’s chief of Iran operations, Jonathan Bank, 46, was sent home on paid leave over an “open rebellion” in his department, US, Russian and Iranian media reported. This event places in doubt the credibility of US President Barack Obama’s assurances to Israel and the Arabian Gulf leaders that they have nothing to fear from the US-Iranian rapprochement because, they were told, Washington was fully abreast of Iran’s nuclear activities and would know in good time if Khomeini gave the order to build a nuclear weapon. In the middle of high-powered US-led international nuclear negotiations with Iran, the very department supposed to be feeding President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry with up-to-the minute briefings were “in disarray.” “Iran is one of most important targets, and the place was not functioning,” one of the former officials said.

March 19

Russia may revise its position on Iranian nuclear talks

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia didn’t want to use the Iranian nuclear talks to ‘‘raise the stakes,’’ but may do so in response to the actions (sanctions) by the United States and the European Union.

Al Qaeda calls for car bombs in US, other “crusader” countries

In the spring edition of its Inspire Magazine, Al Qaeda urges terrorist affiliates to detonate car bombs in major US cities, including New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles as well as other “crusader” countries like Britain and France, specifying the London Savoy.

March 20

US-Russian tit-for-tat sanctions threaten global banking

The US and Russian presidents locked horns in earnest over their Ukraine dispute with two sets of serious reciprocal sanctions. International financial circles warn that in their determination to outplay one another, the US and Russian leaders risk causing havoc in world trade centers. Whereas Barack Obama’s new executive order covering 20 targets strike deep inside President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and personal financial interests, the Russian president appears to be going for American politicians seen as hostile to Moscow – although this is only his first shot. Obama’s list in particular places a ban on dollar transactions by Bank Rossiya of St. Petersburg, which has some $10 billion dollars in assets and where Putin is believed to hold his personal accounts. The list also includes members of the presidential bureau in the Kremlin and a number of “oligarchs” close to the president. Moscow is widely expected to go at the US and Europe by political and possibly military steps in relations with Iran and Syria.

Al Qaeda-Iraq infiltrates Golan as well as Sinai, plots twin attacks 

The presumption is gaining ground in Israel that the bombing attack on an Israeli Golan [Heights] position Tuesday, March 18, injuring four paratroops, may not have been the work of Hizballah. But [rather] of al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-ISIS, which is revealed now to have infiltrated the Syrian Golan. DEBKAfile reports two more disturbing developments: ISIS-Sinai cells are plotting a big coordinated operation against Egypt and Israel; and Syrian military intelligence is arming and funding Iraqi al Qaeda – both to crush the Nusra front [within Syria] and to hit Israel on the Golan.

March 21

Khomeini: Not clear what happened in Holocaust

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini said Friday that “if the Shoah did indeed take place, there is no certainty about what happened there.” Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the world’s most famous Holocaust denier.