Israel, the U.S. and the Arab World
September 3, 2010
Tehran and its extremist and terrorist allies, having failed to abort Barack Obama's initiative for direct Israel-Palestinian diplomacy, have hit back with two belligerent steps.
- debkafile's military sources disclose that Syria and the Lebanese Hizballah have set up a joint military command for sinking Israeli warships, and
- Hamas has brought all 13 Palestinian rejectionist organizations under one roof for a sustained bid to intensify terror operations against Israel.
In answer to a question, Abu Obeida said the new policy of expanded attacks may well rain missiles on Tel Aviv.
"From now on, everything is open," the Hamas spokesman said.At that moment, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was on a flight home from Washington, surrounded by an intense PR effort to present him as emerging from his first conversation with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as a super-peacemaker. The Americans, the Palestinians, and his own aides were well aware that the ceremonial inauguration of the talks had yielded very little after their goals were sharply pared down. No accord but only a document of general principles is now expected to come out of the continuation of the dialogue -- once every two weeks in the coming year. This, too, would oblige Israel to withdraw from large sections of the West Bank. Further steps were relegated to the distant future.
In the meantime, Syria, Hizballah and the Palestinian terrorist community are using the very act of diplomacy as the impetus for a violent response.
Whereas the prime minister's rhetoric in Washington laid heavy emphasis on the negotiations measuring up to Israel's security needs, in practice, he refrained from ordering an Israeli reprisal against the Hamas command centers which ordered two attacks on West Bank roads, although four Israeli civilians paid with their lives and two more were injured.
Syria, Hizballah and the Palestinian terrorist commands operating out of Damascus, Gaza, Beirut and Sidon to took this restraint as a starting signal for reviving concerted attacks on Israel.
Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah decided to expand the secret military cooperation pact they recently concluded -- to which no Israeli political or military leader has so far responded -- to the Mediterranean Sea, where their operational and intelligence assets will together seek out and try and sink Israeli missile ships and submarines.
To this end, they have earmarked marine units and their Iranian- and Russian-made shore-to-ship missile force -- the largest of its kind in the world, as well as Syrian assault helicopters flown by crews trained to strike seaborne targets. The Hizballah marine unit was trained and equipped by Iranian Revolutionary Guards marine instructors.
The Mediterranean coastal strip from Syrian Latakia in the north, running through the Lebanese ports of Tripoli, Sidon and Tyre and down south to the Gaza Strip, have been declared a joint sea front dedicated to attacking Israeli targets.
High-ranking Israeli military sources told DEBKA file Thursday night that while it was hard to imagine Syrian or Hizballah managing to hit Israeli submarines, they are quite capable of fomenting violence on the sea and attacking Israeli naval craft and bases. Their joint command means they are sharing intelligence on Israeli naval activity and monitoring the movements of vessels while still in Israeli territorial waters and before they take up stations opposite the Lebanese or Syrian coasts.
Our military sources add that, from the strategic viewpoint, the Washington dialogue and the disproportionate hype surrounding it were counter-productive in that it led to the resumption of Hamas terrorist activities on the West Bank and strengthened the military partnership between Syria and Hizballah for aggression against Israel. Netanyahu's single-minded focus on diplomacy at the expense of neglecting rising threats and blocking military activity allowed these perils to develop and abound.
His restraint did not help Mahmoud Abbas' failing fortunes at home. His standing took a bad knock from the way Hamas managed to pull off two terrorist operations on the West Bank. In a desperate bid to show they were in control, Palestinian security sources reported Thursday night that two suspects were in custody for Monday's drive-by shooting near Hebron and they had leads to the perpetrators.
debkafile's counter-terror sources disclose that the two "suspects" are the used car salesmen who sold the vehicle the Hamas gunmen used in their attack. They had no clues to offer about the identities or whereabouts of the purchasers who have disappeared without a trace.
Netanyahu is scheduled to continue his talks with Abbas in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sept. 14-15 and again at fortnightly intervals during the coming year under Washington's watchful eye. It is hard to see how they can keep going in a climate of rising military tensions and expanding terrorist outbreaks.
September 2, 2010
They have set up a joint military command as a powerful tool of war with red lines for generating Syrian participation in a Hizballah-Israel conflict and advance intelligence-sharing mechanisms.
In its latest issue out last Friday, DEBKA-Net-Weekly's exclusive sources detailed the Syrian-Hizballah pact's twelve clauses.
We also uncovered the outcome of Syrian-Hizballah meddling in Baghdad.
September 1, 2010
Western intelligence and Persian Gulf sources report that on August 30, Hizballah put its forces on a state of war alert and issued a partial call-up of reservists. According to debkafile's military sources, Hizballah appears to be preparing a major attack on Israel straight after the ceremonial start of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Washington Thursday Sept. 2. A second target date is the Jewish New Year festival starting on Sept. 8. The pressure from Tehran for the Lebanese Shiite terrorists to strike Israel has intensified in the wake of the example the Palestinian Hamas gave Tuesday night Aug. 31 in the drive-by murder of four Israeli civilians on a road near Hebron.
A large-scale attack appears to be in the works judging by the heavy influx of armed Hizballah units to southern Lebanon in the last few days. Our military sources report that they include special units trained especially for deep-strike incursions into northern Israel in response to Israeli counter-attacks.
Our intelligence sources report that the Iranian al Qods commander of Tehran's networks and surrogates in Iraq, the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority has spent the last ten days in Damascus. He arrived there on August 19 in the party of Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) chief and stayed on after his boss left the Syrian capital, apparently assigned to oversee an important terrorist or military operation against Israel.
Hizballah's own direct commander on behalf of the IRGC, Hassan Mahdavi is reported by Western intelligence sources monitoring events in Lebanon as leaning hard on Hizballah's secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah to strike IDF forces within a few days in response to US sponsorship of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks. The terrorist chief is reported to be on the verge of a decision about what target to attack and when.
Reluctant to leave the field to the Palestinian Hamas, Nasrallah is additionally badgered by a flock of IRGC officers visiting Beirut and trying to persuade Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Beri to allow his rival Shiite Amal organization to join Hizballah for the first time in a strike against Israel. They want all the Shiite streams in Lebanon to show the flag in unison as a gesture of welcome in advance of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's forthcoming state visit to Lebanon.
The date of his visit is a closely-kept secret both by Tehran and Beirut. debkafile's sources disclose that it is scheduled for Sept. 10-12 when Israel is celebrating Rosh Hashana.
August 26, 2010
A study of the mood among Israeli leaders and military chiefs indicates that at any moment a strike on Iran's nuclear sites must be taken into account. The Israeli media show nothing of this; they are totally absorbed in guessing whether Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will extend the 10-month settlement construction moratorium beyond its Sept. 25 expiry date at the talks opening with the Palestinians next week. The American media, in contrast, are highlighting speculation about a possible Israeli attack on Iran.
debkafile's Washington and Jerusalem sources believe Israel has revived its military option against Iran - especially since Iran activated its first nuclear reactor at Bushehr on Aug. 21, thereby placing Washington under enormous pressure. In addition to the dire predictions of catastrophe planted on various op-ed pages, the Obama administration this week sent two big guns to Jerusalem to try and check an Israel attack.
The first to arrive was International Atomic Energy Agency Director Yukiya Amano, who explained that under his stewardship the nuclear watchdog's treatment of Iran would be quite different from the lenience shown by his predecessor, Mohamed ElBaradei. He promised its inspectors would henceforth clamp down hard on Iran's nuclear activities including the Bushehr reactor.
Thursday, Aug. 26, Amano was joined by Daniel Shapiro, Middle East Director of the National Security Council and close friend of many Israeli leaders. He came laden with offers of security gifts - possible rewards both for restraint on Iran and as a softener for Netanyahu to be generous with concessions to the Palestinians in the forthcoming negotiations.
Shapiro has taken three days to make his pitch on Iran, while Netanyahu has less than a week to decide whether he can again trust the US president's new promises after they were not exactly upheld in the way the Bushehr reactor was allowed to go on stream or the modalities for the negotiations with the Palestinians.
While preparing the Shapiro mission, the administration let it be known that the security gifts on offer would be dramatic and make the IDF one of the strongest and most advanced armies in the world.
Advance notice came in a series of leaks to former CIA officer Bruce Riedel, who is very close to President Obama, for an article he published in the influential The National Interest on Aug. 25 under the caption "If Israel Attacks."
Riedel urged the US to do everything in its power to stop an attack happening as it would spell catastrophe and advised Israel to adjust to the fact that the development of an Iranian atom bomb can no longer be halted.
To make Israel feel secure in the new reality, Riedel "proposed" four steps for strengthening the Israeli armed forces and lending it a second-strike capability - even against an Iranian nuclear attack.
1. The US must spread a nuclear umbrella over Israel that would entail the installation of American nuclear depots in Israel to show Tehran that a nuclear attack on the Jewish state would meet with a US nuclear response.
2. American nuclear submarines would be supplied to the Israeli Navy as the backbone of its nuclear counter-strike capability. There are two categories - ballistic missile submarines and attack submarines.
3. The Israeli Air Force would receive US F-22 Raptor stealth jets, the most sophisticated warplane in the skies today. They would be equipped with all the systems and ordnance needed to strike the Iranian nuclear program.
4. The US would arrange for Israel's full membership of NATO, so rendering an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel subject not just to US retaliation but a declaration of war by the 26-member alliance.
To qualify for these American security perks, Riedel made it clear that Israel would be required to come to terms with a nuclear-armed Iran and eschew military action against it, a provision which debkafile's military and Jerusalem sources say the Netanyahu government is most unlikely to accept.
For the Riedel analysis, which runs to 3,600 words, has a built-in contradiction. He portrays the Iranian leadership as consisting, behind their fiery rhetoric, of reasonable people who, when it comes down to it, will react to military and political pressure situations in a way that will not endanger their regime and their country's very survival.
However, this proposition does not take into account the Islamic Republic rulers' persistent threats to wipe Israel off the map (without regard to the hazards this would incur) or his own and the Obama administration's conviction that if Israel attacks Iran, Tehran will hit back at US targets and interests (even more hazardous).
debkafile's sources ask: Why would a "reasonable" regime risk going to war with America instead of limiting its military action to Israel?
And what good would all the wonderful new military systems be to Israel for a second-strike capability when an initial Iranian nuclear attack would suffice to destroy the tiny Jewish state?