Syria and Iran updates from 4.7.2012 + previous

Barak: A nuclear Iran is taking shape before us. Time for decisions is short

DEBKAfileSpecial Report August 9, 2012, 2:15 PM (GMT+02:00)

Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Stout refutation of reported disagreements over the military option against Iran’s nuclear program between the US and Israel, and himself and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, took up most of a long radio interview given by Defense Minister Ehud Barak Thursday, Aug. 9. He explained that US and Israeli intelligence essentially see eye to eye on this matter and so do he and the prime minister.
Barak referred to the new US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran as confirming that both capitals understand that not much time is left for making decision on whether or not to go on the offensive against Iran’s nuclear facilities and when, because, he said, “a nuclear Iran is taking shape right before our eyes.”
Defense Minister Barak’s key remark was this: “I am aware of an American intelligence finding (not the new National Intelligence Estimate) that brings American intelligence assessments [of the current state of the Iranian nuclear program] very close to ours. This makes the Iranian question [i.e., the issue of the Iranian nuclear program and a possible military operation against it] extremely urgent,” he said without further explanation.
Barak disclosed that the US and Israel have been essentially of one mind for many months in their estimates of Iranian nuclear progress and the factors holding Tehran back from starting to build a nuclear bomb. All options therefore remain on the table, he stressed.
debkafile’s military and intelligence sources add:  American-Israeli talks about a military operation against Iran wound up months ago in early 2012. The administration was made aware that notwithstanding President Barack Obama’s objections, Israel would soon go into action against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
This presumption has been adopted as their working hypothesis by the top US command echelons, from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and down to the head of the US Central Command, Gen. James Mattis, who has both Israel and Iran in his jurisdiction.
Barak stressed that he and the prime minister are in total harmony on this issue.  “What we (the prime minister and I, and the Americans) understand is that there is not much time left for deciding [about an attack on Iran]”
He referred in answer to a question to the comment by former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy made last week: “if I were an Iranian, I would be very worried in the next twelve weeks.”
To this, Barak said “There is some basis to what Halevy said.” He added: “We will soon have to make some difficult decisions.”
As to the public disputes over the media on the wisdom of attacking Iran, the defense minister said some of the debates and public disclosures not only harm Israel’s security but actually aid Tehran.
The price of allowing Iran to attain a nuclear weapon will be much greater than the cost of an attack.  It is already happening, said the Israeli minister. “And we must take into account the dangers and the very steep price in human life and in resources, if Iran goes nuclear. First, we must consider the outcome of first Saudi Arabia, then Turkey, and then the New Egypt becoming nuclear powers in their turn.”
Asked about an unattributed report Thursday that Saudi Arabia had sent a message to the Obama administration threatening to intercept any Israeli bomber planes using its air space to strike Iran, Barak replied he was not familiar with any such message. But, he said, Saudi Arabia is a sovereign state and makes its own decisions like any other country.
He went on to warn that another consequence of Iran’s nuclearization would be the strengthening of terrorist elements in the region, such as Tehran’s proxy, the Lebanese Hizballah.
At the same time, Barak also said: It’s quite possible that we may have to deal with Hizballah anyway.”
This was taken by debkafile’s sources as suggesting that Hizballah is a rising menace – both because of its support for Bashar Assad in the civil war and for performing Iranian-sponsored terrorist attacks on Israelis in different parts of the world.
In discussing the situation in Egypt and Sinai-based jihadist terror, Defense Minister Barak asserted his confidence that Egypt is capable of dealing with it. “But I can’t say whether it has the will to do so,” he added.
For more than a year since Mubarak’s overthrow, “Israel has been readjusting its military and intelligence resources in the areas abutting Egypt and Sinai,” he said. “We have deployed an Iron Dome missile interceptor battery near Eilat in case it becomes necessary in that sector.”
Barak did not elaborate upon what he expects to happen in the Eilat sector, which is the southernmost point on the Israeli map, or against whom the missile defense system was deployed.
He did offer a prediction on Syria, estimating that quite soon “we would see Syrian President Bashar Assad hunkering down with his army in a fortified Alawite enclave” encompassing the Syrian coast and the Alawite Mountains.
“The longer the war in Syria drags on,” he said, “the greater the prospects of total chaos.”
The defense minister underlined the importance of attempts to renew peace negotiations with the Palestinians as quickly as possible. He cited the growing strength of Hamas and its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and in other Arab countries as lending urgency to the revival of the peace process.
“On this issue, time is not on our side,” he said. “But if progress proves evasive, both of us [Israel and the Palestinians] may be faced with having to perform certain mutually-agreed unilateral measures.”

Syrian Army kills leader of Aleppo insurgents

Roy Tov: Syria’s Chief Mole Defects

…He was unlikely to wait for months as a medium-ranking politician despising his president, when he could have run away easily. Riad Hijab waited until his defection would have maximum effect, proving that he had the confidence of a waiting job. The announcement was dramatized by the declarations of the Syrian Free Army that the defection came “after months of preparations” and was widely and gladly promoted by Western media. Reality was slightly different. While a Western mole was taken out of danger, the Western headlines read “Heroic Democratic soldiers won again.”

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Wartime tasks split: US to smash Iran’s missiles, Israel tackle Syria, Hizballah

DEBKAfileExclusive Report August 5, 2012, 1:38 PM (GMT+02:00)

Iran’s Fateh-110 missile

An authoritative US military source told debkafile Sunday, Aug. 5 that the American armed forces are standing ready for war with Iran. Without going into the thorny question of who should lead the operation to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program, the US or Israel, it is understood that one of the US Air Force’s tasks will be to destroy Iran’s Shehab-3 ballistic missile batteries which have Israel and Saudi Arabia within range.
This task is not as formidable as Iranian spokesmen would have the world believe. Tehran’s entire stock of those missiles is no more than 30-40. That quantity is not nearly enough to take on the entire gamut of potential wartime foes, the United States Middle East bases, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Turkey. They would quckly be picked off by American Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Systems and Israeli Arrow guided interceptor rockets, which are synchronized through the advanced US X-Band radar systems installed in the Israeli Negev and southeast Turkey.
In any case, it is hard to believe that Iran would empty its entire ballistic missile arsenal in a single blazing assault at the start of war. “They are too canny to leave themselves without some Shehabs in reserve for crises even more acute than the outbreak of war,” said the US military source.
He went on to explain that by wiping out the Shehabs, the US high command would leave the Israeli Air Force free to take on the thousands of rockets Syria, the Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas and Jihad Islami have stored ready for shooting in support of an Iranian missile offensive – not just against Israel, but Turkey and Jordan as well.
Saturday, the Iranian Defense Minister, Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, announced that his ministry’s aerospace industries had successfully test-fired the fourth generation of high-precision Fateh-110 missiles with a range of over 300km.
He said that the new missiles can hit and destroy both land and sea targets, enemy concentration points, command centers, missile sites, ammunition dumps, radars and other targets with 100 percent precision.
debkafile’s military sources add that the Fateh-110 is the core weapon Syria and Hizballah have stocked for destroying strategic targets in Israel, Jordan and Turkey.
Sunday, Aug. 5, a senior Israeli defense official reported that Israel is upgrading its Arrow II ballistic missile shield, designed to intercept medium range rockets and fill the gaps left by Iron Dome. The announcement in Tehran was taken in Israel as a threat and an indication that the improved Fatah-110 had already been dispatched to its Damascus and Beirut destinations, so exacerbating the perils of Syria’s Scud missiles and chemical weapons which its government has threatened to use against external enemies.


Syrian fighter jets strike Aleppo, Assad rides crest of disintegrating country

DEBKAfileSpecial Report August 4, 2012, 4:04 PM (GMT+02:00)

Tags:  Syria   militias   Aleppo   Kurds   Islamists 
Syrian MiG bomber-fighters hit Aleppo

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was voicing the general consensus when he said Friday, Aug. 3, “The conflict in Syria is a test of everything this organization stands for.” He stopped short of giving the UN a failed mark. “World powers must overcome their rivalries to end the proxy war in Syria dividing the country into parts, in which different militias fight each other,” he said,
Nonetheless, the resolution approved by the general assembly roundly condemned the Assad regime and rapped the Security Council – but had no teeth.
Ban was speaking of a future danger. debkafile reports it is already happening. Day by day, new militias spring up to fight the Assad regime – five in the last 48 hours. They fall into three main categories: they represent one Syrian ethnic minority or another, Islamists streaming in from across the Middle East, or rebels groups armed and backed by Arab and Muslim intelligence bodies.
Common to them all is contempt for the mainstream Free Syrian Army which insists it is the umbrella organization for the entire rebel movement.
The biggest new paramilitary group rising from Syria’s war-torn landscape is the Kurdish coalition formed by the Syrian Democratic Union Party and elements of the Turkish PKK, which continue to arrive from Iraq and are taking up position on the Syrian-Turkish border. Kurdish fighters are occupying one northern Syrian town and village after another, laying the foundation for an independent Syrian Kurdish state which plans to link up with the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq.
The merger of Syrian and Turkish Kurdish militias with the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga would produce a Kurdish army of 225,000 fighting men.
Terrified that the separatism sweeping its brothers will infect the Turkish Kurdish minority – and suspecting Washington of surreptitiously supporting it – Turkish intelligence, the MIT, was instructed to establish and arm two Turkmen militias in the Syrian Kurdish region: Brigades of Mehmet the Conqueror and Brigades of Sultan Abdulhamid.
In Aleppo, the FSA has been displaced at the head of the campaign against government troops by a militia established by the Muslim Brotherhood and a rival set up by radical affiliates of al Qaeda, which is a hodgepodge of jihadists from Libya, the Gaza Strip, and Egyptian Sinai. Saudi and Qatari intelligence services are competing for the favors of these militias by supplying them with arms.
American intelligence analysts keeping watch on Syria warned Saturday, Aug. 4, that if the proliferation of fighting militias taking part in the conflict goes on, Syria will soon have more than a hundred mini-armies, some of them Christian and Druze. In no time they will be fighting each other.
American and European military sources explain their reluctance to provide the Syrian rebel movement with heavy anti-tank and anti-air weapons capable of tipping the scales of the fighting in Aleppo by their uncertainty about whose hands they will end up in.
Saturday saw the state of battle in Aleppo undecided. In an attempt to break the tie, Assad sent MiG fighter-bombers to bomb rebel positions in the northern sector of the city. He hopes to recover control of Aleppo well before external powers reach a decision on supplying the rebels with heavy arms.
In Damascus, Syrian troops backed by dozens of tanks and armored vehicles Friday night stormed Damascus’ southern district of Tadamon, the last rebel bastion in the capital. Activists reported that troop were conducting house to house raids and had executed at least 12 people.

By piotrbein