DEBKAfile Dispatches: 4.4.2014 – 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.


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 DEBKAfiles:

March 28

Two armed men killed after breaking through Golan border fence

IDF [Israeli Defense Force] spotters detected two armed men Friday night tampering with the special devices attached to the Golan border fence. When they crossed through to the Israeli side, the soldiers opened fire and killed both intruders.

Obama arrives in Saudi Arabia for dinner with King Abdullah

US President Barack Obama arrived in Riyadh for an overnight visit with only one event scheduled: dinner with King Abdullah at his desert camp outside the capital.

Russian security official: West is hysterical

“There has been a sharp increase in external threats to the state,” said Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) deputy chief Alexander Malevany to Interfax Friday. “The lawful desire of the peoples of Crimea and eastern Ukraine regions is causing hysteria in the US and its allies,” he said, adding that Moscow was taking “offensive intelligence measures” to counter “Western efforts to weaken Russian influence in a region that is of vital importance.”

Obama accuses Putin of reverting to the Cold War

US President Barack Obama Friday urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to “drop his grievance over the breakup of the old Soviet Union” and “take the path forward, not revert back to the Cold War. In a CBS interview capping his six-day trip to Europe, Obama said that if Putin is trying to reverse history and “recreate a dominant, influential nation bursting with nationalism” he is “misreading the West. He is certainly misreading American foreign policy.”

MH370 stays missing for want of data-sharing among intelligence searchers

World intelligence agencies, racing to discover the missing Malaysian airliner, could achieve more by openly sharing their data. However they are using the search to additionally try out 1) their own innovative intelligence and military technology, 2) check out their fellow-agencies’ satellite and electronic cyber resources, 3) determine their outer limits and 4) study their rivals’ strengths and weaknesses in the event of potential sea, air or cyber conflicts in one of the most forbidding areas on earth.

March 29

Obama, Saudi King Abdullah discuss differences on Mid East issues

President Barack Obama and King Abdullah spent two hours Friday night discussing their differences over Iran, Syria and the extremist threat. No other meetings were scheduled for Obama’s flying visit to Riyadh. The king was attended by senior princes led by Crown Prince Salman, the newly appointed second-in-line to the throne, Prince Muqrin, and Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal. Obama’s party was led by Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice. The 92-year old monarch was connected to an oxygen feed, but he impressed his American visitors as sharp-witted and shrewd as ever.

Putin phones Obama to discuss Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned his US counterpart, Barack Obama, to discuss the tenuous situation in Ukraine. The two leaders have been at cross-purposes about what happens next. Putin assured the US president that he is not planning any further military moves after annexing Crimea.

Syrian rebels allowed to attack Latakia from Turkish soil

       Turkey has ratcheted up its intervention in the Syrian war to an unprecedented level. For the first time in the three-year conflict, Turkey is giving Syrian rebel forces, including the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, passage through its territory to attack the northwestern Syrian coastal area around Latakia, the Assad clan’s birthplace. Ankara’s support for the rebels is inclusive, covering provisions of ammo, fuel, food, mechanical repair crews and medical aid. The Turkish air force gives them air cover and Turkish agents arm them with surveillance data on Syrian military movements ahead.

But if the rebels are thrown back, will the Turkish army come to their aid? If it did, this would be Ankara’s first outright military incursion into Syria and NATO’s first intrusion into its civil war.

March 30

Egypt sets presidential vote dates for May 26-27

Egypt’s presidential election will take place at the end of May, with results expected by June 5. A second round if necessary would be held in mid-June, although former military chief Abdel Fattah El-Sissi is expected to win hands down – even if he is contested.

Hamas operatives arrested, suspected of El-Sisi murder plot

Three Hamas militants who infiltrated into Sinai from Gaza were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to assassinate former Egyptian defense minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is running for president. They carried a coded letter with instructions to execute the assassination, passed on to them by a senior Muslim Brotherhood official who escaped to Gaza.

Nasrallah defends sending his troops to fight in Syria

The Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah defended his organization’s costly participation in the Syrian war on the side of Bashar Assad against critics at home. “For us, the Syrian war is a strategic concern,” he said. “If we don’t fight to win this war, the jihadists will prevail and kill us all in Syria and in Lebanon.” As for Israel, he said, “I don’t want war, but if the Israelis do, Lebanon has enough trees for all their soldiers’ coffins.”

March 31

North and South Korea exchange artillery fire

South Korea reported that shell fire from a North Korean offshore military exercise landed on the South Korean side of their maritime border and South Korea responded with K-9 self-propelled guns into North Korean waters.

Erdogan’s ruling party leads in local vote exit results

Prime minister Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party has scored a major victory in Turkey’s countrywide local elections with 47 percent compared with 27 percent for the main opposition CHP party.

Kerry and Lavrov end Paris talks on Ukraine without agreement

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spent four hours in Paris threshing out their differences on Ukraine following the Russian annexation of Crimea. The meeting ended without agreement. They agreed that diplomacy was the way forward to resolving the Ukraine crisis, but while the US insisted on “the legitimate Ukraine government” being part of the negotiations, the Russian side rejected the interim government in Kiev as legitimate.

April 1

NATO suspends cooperation with Russia

NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels decided to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation with Russia over its “illegal” annexation of Crimea. They added that dialogue in the NATO-Russian Council could continue as necessary at ambassadorial level to exchange views.

Russia raises price of gas for Ukraine by 65 percent

The Russian energy company Gazprom Tuesday announced that Ukraine will be charged $385.50 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas, up from previous rate of $268.50. [Ukraine owes Russia as a result 2.1 Billion dollars due to rate ‘corrections’ since December, 2013.]

Abbas dumps another US-led peace effort, Kerry gives up shuttle – Pollard’s potential release from US prison recedes

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas turned his back on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s effort for peace negotiations with Israel by sending out applications in the name of “the Independent Palestinian State” for membership of 12 UN agencies – in breach of his commitment ahead of the talks.
This was after the Palestinian leader upped his price for meeting Kerry’s request to extend peace diplomacy from April up until the end of the year. He demanded that Israel raise the number of 26 Palestinians due to be released from jail this weekend, to 1,000 including Israeli Arabs and multiple murderers. Abbas was not satisfied with Israel’s consent to free another 400 terrorists and a partial settlement freeze, although to obtain it, Kerry dangled the inducement of Jonathan Pollard’s possible release from American jail after serving 29 years of a life sentence for spying for Israel.

Kerry’s peace effort demonstrated once again that to keep diplomacy moving, Israel must surrender to continual Palestinian blackmail, which in every previous instance also caused its demise.

April 2

NATO military chief: Russia could move swiftly into Ukraine

NATO’s military chief, US Gen. Philip Breedlove, warned that Russian troops could begin moving on Ukraine within 12 hours of being given an order.

US official tries to smooth over breakdown of Israel-Palestinian talks

A senior US State Department official said Wednesday “Both Israel and the Palestinians have taken unhelpful steps over the last 24 hours. But neither party has given any indication … that they want to end the negotiations.” The official’s even-handed statement was issued in Brussels, where US Secretary Kerry is attending meetings.

Egyptian police general killed in Cairo blasts

An Egyptian police brigadier general was killed in Cairo in twin bomb explosions outside Cairo University near a police vehicle. Eight people were wounded.

Malaysia prepares to wind down MH370 airliner search

Prime Minister Najib Razak said the reasons for Malaysian Airlines flight’s disappearance en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing may never be known. Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the criminal investigation could go on and on and in the end, “we still may never know” what happened.

Dempsey says Israel and US are now in unison on Iranian threat – No word from Israel
          Top US military chief Gen. Martin Dempsey left Israel after his visit saying [Israeli] leaders were now satisfied the US was capable of using a military option against Iran. The Israeli officials he met did not confirm this, or the “broad Israel-US agreement” he spoke of on how to deal with the Iranian threat. Dempsey’s remark that the US “will use a military option if the Iranians choose to stray off the diplomatic path,” confirmed that nothing had changed. It exposed the Obama administration’s continued refusal to admit that while Tehran sticks to “the diplomatic path” it uses that path to carry on developing its military nuclear capacity undisturbed.

April 3

Israeli-Palestinian tensions shoot up

Israel announced the fourth batch of 26 Palestinian prisoners was not released Saturday night, March 30, because the Palestinians had meanwhile applied to 15 UN agencies and conventions and threatened to have international courts “convict Israel’s leaders as war criminals.” The Palestinians Thursday upped their price for returning to negotiations, including recognition of the 1967 lines as borders of a future Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital; the release of 1,200 prisoners, including multiple murderers Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Saadat. Israel hit back with penalties, including the suspension of high-level bilateral communications between governments and the relegation of Palestinian affairs to the Government Coordinator Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordecai; a freeze on the release of third-generation cell phone technology to PA-ruled areas and an end to communications equipment exports to the Palestinian cell phone company owned by Mahoud Abbas’s sons. Finally, the 14,000 dunams of Jordan Valley land already allocated to Palestinian farmers would be held up. The Israeli government said further punitive measures were under consideration.

April 4

Russia to back Iran in nuclear talks – Moscow’s “April surprise” for Western sanctions after Ukraine incursion

As the Six Power group [P5+1] and Iran prepare for their third round of nuclear talks in Vienna next week (Tuesday-Wednesday, April 8-9) Tehran frankly admitted to exploiting the holes in the six-month interim deal they forged in Geneva last November by using advanced centrifuges and carrying on with the Arak project. This will be Moscow’s first opportunity to make good on its threat to confront the West and line up with Iran in retaliation for Western penalties for its annexation of Crimea. Moscow and Iran are already close to a mammoth [oil-for-goods] barter deal.

White House sources tell Kerry to wrap up Mid East peace bid

Some circles around US Secretary of State, including inside the White House, are quoted by Washington Post as believing the time is near for him to say “Enough!” of Mid East peace efforts. Some high administration officials speaking on condition of anonymity say, Kerry risks being seen as trying too hard at the expense of other pressing international issues, even perhaps his reputation. “A time will come where he has to go out and own failure.” For now, they say, Kerry needs to “lower the volume and see how things unfold.”Kerry has made 11 trips to Israel in the past year and shuttled endlessly between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. This week, the process blew up when Abbas filed applications for a “Palestinian state” to join 15 UN agencies, in violation of his prior pledge to the US Secretary and Israel. Israel punished him Thursday with a string of sanctions against the Palestinian Authority after cancelling the fourth round of [26 jailed Palestinian prisoner releases].

Until next week……