Archive for the ‘Religion of Peace’ Category
Straight from the Debka File: “Shortly before she left Egypt for Tunis Wednesday, March 16, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urgently asked the head of Egypt’s military junta Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi for permission to use Egyptian air bases for American military jets to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. This is reported exclusively by debkafile’s military and Washington sources.
Clinton told Tantawi she hoped for UN Security Council approval of the no-fly zone at its special session Thursday March 17. But this might not be enough to stop Muammar Qaddafi’s advance and the US might have to resort to military action against his army. She did not elaborate on this.
But debkafile’s sources say the White House is weighing the option of US aerial strikes for halting Qaddafi’s march on Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city and the primary rebel stronghold. The point of this action would be less to preserve rebel control of the city and more to keep Qaddafi from proclaiming his victory over the opposition to his rule and its foreign champions.
Another part of the plan under consideration in Washington would entail strikes against Qaddafi’s government and military centers in Tripoli, the capital.
Tantawi promised Clinton to convene the Supreme Military Council Thursday before the Security Council session and inform her of its decision before she flies out of the Middle East.
According to our Washington sources, the Pentagon proposes to use the big Egyptian air base at El Mansoura in the Nile Delta for enforcing the no-fly zone and launching air attacks on Libya.
The Obama administration’s U-turn on direct military intervention in Libya was discernable early Thursday morning (Wednesday night Washington time) in the remarks of America’s UN Ambassador Susan Rice:
She said: “The US view is that we need to be prepared to contemplate steps that include, but perhaps go beyond, a no-fly zone, at this point, as the situation on the ground has evolved and as a no-fly zone has inherent limitations in terms of protection of civilians at immediate risk.”
By “the situation on the ground,” she was referring to Qaddafi’s three army columns, reinforced with thousands of fighters from the Warefla tribal federation, which are rapidly advancing on Benghazi.
debkafile’s military sources report that the Saadi and Khamis brigades, the latter being the 32nd Libyan Brigade most of whose troops move in APCs, are approaching the last rebel stronghold.
They are backed by an artillery brigade and a tank brigade. From the west, Libyan missile ships have blockaded Benghazi.
Our sources add that Libyan army units based in Benghazi went into action ahead of the main body’s arrival. Those troops were caught by the onset of the Libyan uprising on Feb. 15 in rebel-held territory. They stood by and waited for Qaddafi’s orders to go into battle.
Another sign of President Obama’s strong inclination to undertake military action beyond a no-fly zone came from the deployment Monday, March 14 of the nuclear attack submarine USS Providence off the Libyan coast.
In the past decade, this submarine has often been called in to support US missile attacks, usually with Tomahawk, whether in 2003 in Iraq or in Afghanistan.
The US fleet present off the Libyan coast includes also the marine assault ship USS Kearsarge, which is a helicopter carrier; the Marine Amphibious Transport Docks vessel and the missile destroyers USS Barry, USS Ponce and USS Mason.
The American aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, now near the Red Sea, could also be called in for an American missile attack on Libya.”
Straight from the Hindustan Times: “Riots broke out on the streets of Pakistan following the revelation that double murder-accused CIA contractor Raymond Davis was released over a ‘blood-money’ deal, and hundreds of protesters attempted to attack the US Consulate building in Lahore on Wednesday evening. Police wielded to batons, fired warning shots and resorted to tear-gas shelling to control the mob trying to attack the consulate, The Nation reports.
The police also badly tortured a reporting crew of a news channel while they were covering the protests live from the site.
Davis’ release sparked countrywide angry protests, and a large number of protesters – mostly belonging to religious and opposition political parties – converged outside the Lahore Press Club soon after the local media flashed the news.
Tehrik-e-Insaaf and Jamaat-i-Islami activists were leading the protests as they blocked the busy road by setting tyres on fire, creating a traffic mess in the highly sensitive and busy location of the city.
As the angry protesters tried to attack the US consulate, dozens of them sustained injuries as the police resorted to baton-charge to disperse the mob.
The surrounding of the press club turned into battlefield as the protesters – who were chanting full-throat slogans against the Pakistan government and US authorities, terming the release as an attack on the country’s sovereignty – pelted stones and water bottles at the policemen.
The mob also set the effigies of top politicians and US President Barack Obama on fire.
In the wake of similar massive protests in several other parts of Lahore, heavy police contingents have been deployed across the City, while armed patrolling has been intensified to keep the situation under control, police sources said.”
Straight from the Debka File: “The Saudi force that went into Bahrain Monday, March 14, along with UAE and Kuwaiti units, to stabilize the royal regime is larger than reported, consisting of a National Guard brigade, a mechanized brigade of the Saudi army and a tank battalion – altogether 3,500 men. Official spokesmen in Riyadh said the units were put up by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council to guard Bahrain’s oil facilities and the financial district of downtown Manama.
Our military sources report that the incoming troops are clearly arrayed ready for clashes, including fire fights with the demonstrators who have seized control of key points in the capital. The Saudi contingents quickly took up positions on the island-kingdom’s main roads and traffic hubs, including the routes to the King Fahd Causeway link to Saudi Arabia to ease the passage of reinforcements should they become necessary.
debkafile reported Monday:
Saudi and United Arab Emirates troops crossed into Bahrain Monday, March 14 to support the king against escalating anti-throne demonstrations and Kuwait soldiers are on the way. A Saudi official said the units come from a special force within the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. debkafile reports that the Saudis also sent tanks.
By this action, both Arab kingdoms flouted US President Obama’s policy of boosting popular movements against autocratic Arab regimes. Saturday, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Bahrain to hold the ruler’s hand against using force to suppress the uprising against him.
The Shiite opposition leading the demonstrations in Bahrain denounced the entry of any foreign troops into the country as an “occupation” and “conspiracy” against unarmed civilians and appealed to the United Nations to take action.
Saudi Arabia and the UA are the second and third Arab regimes to intervene militarily in the uprisings sweeping the Arab world after Syria sent military assistance to Muammar Qaddafi, as debkafile revealed Sunday, March 13.
Rulers regarded as US Middle East allies have turned against President Obama, encouraged by the upper hand Qaddafi has gained against Libya’s rebels and Washington’s constraints from stepping in militarily to support them.
In Riyadh and Manama, Saudi King Abdullah and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa have joined forces to put down any popular uprising against their regimes and are no longer listening to advice from Washington to offer their opponents more concessions. The Saudis have stamped down hard not only on minority Shiite disturbances in the oil regions of the east, but in their capital and other cities too. King Abdullah blames Obama’s policy for unseating Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and has no intention of following the American line.
The Bahraini King Hamad believes that the unrest in his kingdom was aggravated by the Gates visit Saturday. Although the American visitor was shown Bahraini-Saudi intelligence attesting to Iran’s meddling hand stirring up the unrest in order to replace their regimes with Revolutionary Islamic Republics, Gates kept in insisting that they must promise more reforms to the protesters and allow them a role in governance.
The Obama administration has made known to the US media its concern about the prospect of Saudi and other Gulf nations buttressing the Bahraini throne – not just with a grant of at least $10 billion, but military contingents, lest it start a fire across the entire region.
Our military sources report that these reports have been overtaken by events. Saudi tanks have been in Manama for almost two weeks guarding King Hamad’s palace. More Saudi tanks and special forces were kept in a state of preparedness at the Saudi end of the King Fahd Causeway, the 25-kilometer bridge that links the two kingdoms by a 40-minute drive.
These forces, joined by UAR units, rolled into Bahrain Monday after protesters blockaded the financial center.
In Sanaa, Yemeni soldiers still loyal to President Abdullah Ali Saleh are battling protesters turned insurgents. In Amman, too, Jordanian King Abdullah II is casting about for a protector against insurrectionists after finding the American shield full of holes. According to rumors circulating in the Jordanian capital, the king paid a secret visit to Tehran. debkafile’s sources have not confirmed this rumor but believe he is desperate enough to seek protection in Tehran and/or Israel.
Damascus made it clear where Bashar Assad stood in relation to the Obama administration by becoming Muammar Qaddafi’s foremost armorer.
Cairo remains the only Arab capital still keeping faith with Washington.
Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi and the rest of his military junta have excellent relations with Washington and are closely coordinating their actions with the Obama administration. How long this will go on is anyone’s guess. If they accede to an American request to intervene military in Libya against Qaddafi, for instance, or if internal security declines further, the protesters are poised ready to go back to the streets of Egypt’s cities.
debkafile’s sources report that from the outside Egypt looks stable since Hosni Mubarak’s departure, but it must be taken into account that the world’s TV cameras are gone from Tahrir Square to hotter stories in other places and both the police and soldiers are scared to show their faces for maintaining law and order. The army is therefore crumbling from within. In these circumstances, the military’s affinity with Washington is loosening its control of the Egyptian street, a growing gap that cannot be sustained much longer.”
Straight from Boing Boing: “The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) this week filed a civil rights lawsuit against the FBI on behalf of Yasir Afifi, a Muslim-American student of Egyptian descent who lives in Santa Clara, California.
Mr. Afifi last year discovered a strange gadget attached to the underside of his car, when he took his car in for an oil change. He was afraid it was a pipe bomb. A friend of his then posted photos of Reddit, asking if anyone knew what it was. With the help of savvy internet observers, and civil rights groups including the ACLU and CAIR, Afifi soon figured out that this was a secret GPS tracking device, placed by the FBI without a warrant to spy on his movements and activities. News of the internet attention spread to FBI agents, who then demanded he return the device to the bureau.
Here is a PDF of the suit, via CAIR.com.
Video, from CAIR.com: Is FBI Using GPS Devices to Spy on Muslims?”
Straight from the Bastian of Truth, Reuters: “The columnist Michael Kinsley once quipped that in Washington a “gaffe” is when a political notable accidentally tells the truth. Intelligence and national security officials are describing the latest controversial statements about Libya by National Intelligence Director James Clapper as that kind of “gaffe.”
At a Congressional hearing on Thursday, Clapper said that rebels trying to oust Muammar Gaddafi from power had lost momentum and that the Libyan leader could well survive for some time to come. “We believe that Gaddafi is in this for the long haul…He appears to be hunkering down for the duration.”
“This is kind of a stalemate back and forth,” Clapper said, but added that, “I think over the long term that the (Gaddafi) regime will prevail.”
White House officials subsequently distanced the administration somewhat from Clapper’s remarks and President Obama repeated on Friday that he wants Gaddafi to go.
Clapper was criticized for his his upbeat assessment of Gaddafi’s prospects. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican member of the Armed Services committee, called his statement “devastating” and while “some of (Clapper’s) analysis could prove to be accurate,” the intelligence czar was unwise to voice it in public.
But intelligence and national security officials defended Clapper’s remarks, saying that they represented an accurate summary of current U.S. intelligence reporting and analysis on the relative military postures of Gaddafi and his opponents. They said intelligence operatives must advise their “customers” and are not supposed to be influenced by wishful thinking or political or foreign policy considerations.
They say Clapper shouldn’t be blamed for laying out professional judgements that don’t fit a party line.
A 47 year veteran of the U.S. “intelligence community,” Clapper is a retired Air Force general who previously served as top intelligence official at the Pentagon and chief of two of the Defense Department’s principal spy agencies, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency (which analyzes spy satellite photos).
But like some of his predecessors as Director of National Intelligence — a supremo job which was created by Congress after 9/11 to supposedly increase cooperation between often fractious U.S. spy units — Clapper, who spent much of his career in the shadows, has faced uncomfortable moments when placed in the public spotlight.
Last December in an interview on holiday terror threats with ABC TV anchor Diane Sawyer, he appeared oblivious to information about a series of arrests in an alleged British terrorism investigation which had taken place earlier the same day. (Aides later said that Clapper closely followed intelligence reporting on terrorism and suggested the question Clapper had been asked was “ambiguous.”)
Then earlier this year, in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Clapper again created a stir when he described Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement as “largely secular.” In that case Clapper committed a real gaffe, not a politically incorrect one. Clapper’s office later issued a clarification saying he was trying to say that the brotherhood in Egypt had worked through the secular political system under the now-deposed regime of former President Hosni Mubarak.
Straight from the Debka File: “As Washington commended the Arab League for approving a proposed no-fly zone over Libya and European powers drew up plans for saving the anti-Qaddafi movement from defeat, Syria began sending Muammar Qaddafi supplies of arms, ammunition and weapons spare parts to sustain his effort to crush the uprising. debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report exclusively that over the weekend a Libyan army general arrived at the Syrian Naval command at Tartous to establish a liaison office for organizing military hardware supplies from Damascus to the Libyan army and arrange shipping schedules.
Our sources report that another Libyan official was in Damascus early last week to negotiate with Syrian President Bashar Assad the types of weaponry required, prices and transport arrangements. After he left, Assad ordered Syrian emergency military stores to be opened and civilian freighters chartered to carry the consignments they had decided on across the Mediterranean to Libya.
The Syrian and Libyan arsenals are fairly compatible: both are dominated by Russian military products, Mig and Sukhoi fighters and bombers, T-72 tanks, BM-21 rocket launchers, the same armored personnel carriers and anti-air and anti-tank missiles.
The Libyan-Syrian arms transaction is a landmark in the sense that it is the first time since the Arab revolts erupted in January that one Arab regime has stepped in to help another suppress an uprising.
Damascus is also in violation of last month’s Security Council Resolution 1970 whichincluded an arms embargo against the Qaddafi regime and by supplying Libya weapons by sea Assad undermines the Western-Arab effort to introduce a no fly zone to curtail Qaddafi’s aerial might.
By this action, Bashar Assad shows contempt for the US President Barack Obama’s policy in support of the popular unrest against authoritarian Arab regimes and scorns the indulgence shown him by the US president.
In the last six months, Washington has gone to extreme lengths to establish friendly relations with Damascus – not only restoring the US ambassador after five years, but quietly accepting fresh Syrian meddling in Lebanon.
The Obama administration had hoped that Assad would respond by being helpful on the Palestinian issue and start distancing himself from Tehran. Instead, he has strengthened his military ties with Tehran, granting Iran its first permanent base on the Mediterranean at Tartous.
Now, by replenishing the regime’s stocks of arms and ordnance, the Syrian ruler has gone directly against US policy of support for the Libyan opposition and spurred Qaddafi on for his final major offensive to crush the uprising without having to stop and wait for fresh supplies of war materiel.
In the last 24 hours, rebel militias were pushed out of the two key oil towns of Ras Lanuf and Brega in eastern Libya after losing their footholds in Tripolitania to the west. Pro-Qaddafi forces were landed for the first time by sea Saturday, March 12, at Agilah, 60 kilometers east of Ras Lanuf, indicating that Qaddafi intends to drop more troops on the coast of Cyrenaica to pursue his thrust into the rebel-held region.
Our military sources report that no obstacles now stand in the path of Qaddafi loyalist troops heading for the rebel center of Benghazi, 200 kilometers from Brega. The rebels have nowhere near the manpower they need to hold Libya’s second largest city against a government offensive. There are first signs of an exodus beginning from the city.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has scheduled visits to Tunis and Cairo this week and a possible rendezvous with Libyan opposition National Transitional Council leaders in Cairo Tuesday, March 15. That timetable is prone to last-minute changes.”
Straight from the Debka File: “The White House on Monday, Feb. 28, said the U.S. “strongly condemns the Iranian government’s organized intimidation campaign…” After a human-rights group reported that two opposition figures had been moved from where they were detained under house arrest to an unknown location, the White House accused the Iranian government in general terms of, “blatant violation of the universal rights of its citizens…” as well as “blocking Internet sites and jamming satellite transmissions.”
The disappearance of Iran’s two most prominent opposition figures, Mir-Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, was not mentioned in the White House statement.
debkafile’s Iranian sources reveal here that both have been secretly jailed at the infamous Parchin prison.
Thursday night, Feb. 24, they were taken from their Tehran homes, beaten, concealed in large sacks and carried in armored police vehicles to one of Iran’s hellhole prisons. Inmates of Parchin are rarely seen again. Their wives have also disappeared to “an unknown location.”
They were seized so suddenly that their fellow activists thought they were still at home under protracted house arrest. They soon discovered that the Moussavi and Karroubi residences were dark and deserted and their families nowhere to be seen. The guards were also gone.
The dreaded “top security” Parchin prison is reserved for the regime’s boldest political and ideological dissidents, as well spies accused of threatening Iranian state security and foreign captives of the regime. According to reliable intelligence sources, the Israeli navigator captured in Lebanon 25 years ago and abducted to Iran was held at Parchin prison and never seen again. So too was the American Robert Levinson, who was arrested four years ago on a trip to Kish Island, although the Iranians deny they know what happened to him..
Situated almost next door to Iran’s most secret nuclear laboratories, the prison’s vicinity is one of the most heavily guarded sections of Tehran.
Before the arrests, large numbers of security and special forces agents cordoned off entire blocks and placed guards armed with anti-riot gear along the streets through which the opposition leaders were driven to the prison. Their wives were taken with them but their whereabouts have not been established.
Our sources have learned that when they were unloaded in the prison forecourt, the two men could not stand unaided and their faces were streaked with blood.
Our sources report Moussavi and Karroubi must have been seriously weakened by enforced hunger while still at home. They and their wives were not allowed to shop for food and obliged to eat food supplied by their guards. They refused for fear of poison. Their children and other relatives sent many letters to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressing deep concern about their state of health and complaining that they were barred from visiting them, but were never answered.
March 1 is Mousavi’s 69th birthday and the two leaders’ followers are preparing to launch broad demonstrations in Tehran and other cities to protest the cruel mistreatment they are suffering at the Islamic regime’s hands. The authorities plan to crack down on their protest with their habitual harshness, encouraged – the Iranian opposition movement is convinced – by the Obama administration’s failure to take action strong enough to save their leaders. Its activists were asking this week how come Western leaders are so ready to push for Muammar Qaddafi’s ouster and offer the Libyan opposition every assistance, when Ayatollah Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rate no more than a slap on the wrist for the savage repression they mete out at the slightest expression of dissent. They point to the orchestrated demands coming from regime extremists in the last ten days for the two opposition leaders to be hanged, including a collective call from 200 deputies of the Iranian parliament.”
Straight from Fox News: “President Obama announced Monday that military trials will resume for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, a move that won praise from Republicans, who say the president has finally “seen the light” on the value of trying such detainees at the facility.
Obama, saying he wants to “broaden our ability to bring terrorists to justice,” issued an executive order outlining the changes Monday afternoon, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates rescinded a January 2009 ban against bringing new charges against terror suspects in the military commissions.
“I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against Al Qaeda and its affiliates, and we will continue to draw on all aspects of our justice system — including Article III courts — to ensure that our security and our values are strengthened,” the president said in a written statement. Article III courts are civilian federal courts.
Rep. Peter King, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, praised the move as “clearly another step in the right direction.”
“The bottom line is that it affirms the Bush administration policy that our government has the right to detain dangerous terrorists until the cessation of hostilities,” King said.
And House Judiciary Commitee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said the president is affirming Republicans’ belief that terrorists should be treated as enemy combatants rather than criminal defendants.
“Though it took more than two years, I am pleased that the Obama administration has finally seen the light on military commission trials,” Smith said.
But the decision sparked immediate criticism from the ACLU.
“The best way to get America out of the Guantanamo morass is to use the most effective and reliable tool we have: our criminal justice system,” the organization said in a written statement. “Instead, the Obama administration has done just the opposite and chosen to institutionalize unlawful indefinite detention – creating a troubling ‘new normal’ — and to revive the illegitimate Guantanamo military commissions.”
The White House said in a written statement that the tribunals are an “important tool in combating international terrorists.”
The decision was the latest signal that the prison camp will not close anytime soon, despite the president’s pledge when he took office to shutter the facility.
The White House noted that a number of reforms have been enacted to allow for military commissions to restart. The military courts would follow the “rule of law” and only be used “where it has been determined appropriate,” it said. The administration continued to stress the importance of using federal civilian courts when possible, saying they’ve delivered “swift justice and severe punishment to those who seek to attack us.”
“As the administration has long stated, it is essential that the government have the ability to use both military commissions and federal courts as tools to keep this country safe,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a written statement.
The first trial likely to proceed under Obama’s new order would involve Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Al-Nashiri, a Saudi of Yemeni descent, has been imprisoned at Guantanamo since 2006.
Closure of the facility has become untenable because of questions about where terror suspects would be held. Lawmakers object to their transfer to U.S. federal courts, and Gates recently told lawmakers that it has become very difficult to release detainees to other countries because Congress has made that process more complicated.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., said he was pleased with Obama’s decision to restart the military commissions. But he said the administration must work with Congress to create a trial system that will stand up to judicial review.
A sweeping defense bill Obama signed in January blocked the use of Defense Department dollars to transfer Guantanamo suspects to U.S. soil for trial. The White House said Monday it would work to overturn that prohibition.”
Straight from Google News via the AP: “In a major setback to Iran’s nuclear program, technicians will have to unload fuel from the country’s first atomic power plant because of an unspecified safety concern, a senior government official said.
The vague explanation raised questions about whether the mysterious computer worm known as Stuxnet might have caused more damage at the Bushehr plant than previously acknowledged. Other explanations are possible for unloading the fuel rods from the reactor core of the newly completed plant, including routine technical difficulties.
While the exact reason behind the fuel’s removal is unclear, the admission is seen as a major embarrassment for Tehran because it has touted Bushehr — Iran’s first atomic power plant — as its showcase nuclear facility and sees it as a source of national pride. When the Islamic Republic began loading the fuel just four months ago, Iranian officials celebrated the achievement.
Iran’s envoy to the U.N. nuclear monitoring agency in Vienna said that Russia, which provided the fuel and helped construct the Bushehr plant, had demanded the fuel be taken out.
“Upon a demand from Russia, which is responsible for completing the Bushehr nuclear power plant, fuel assemblies from the core of the reactor will be unloaded for a period of time to carry out tests and take technical measurements,” the semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Ali Asghar Soltanieh as saying. “After the tests are conducted, (the fuel) will be placed in the core of the reactor once again.”
“Iran always gives priority to the safety of the plant based on highest global standards,” Soltanieh added.
Calls to the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom for comment were not answered Saturday afternoon.
The spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said the fuel unloading was nothing unusual.
“It’s a kind of technical inspection and to obtain confidence about the safety of the reactor,” Hamid Khadem Qaemi told the official IRNA news agency. He accused foreign media of blowing the issue out of proportion.
The Bushehr plant is not among the aspects of Iran’s nuclear program that are of top concern to the international community and is not directly subject to sanctions. It has international approval and is supervised by the U.N.’s nuclear monitoring agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In a report released Friday about Iran’s nuclear program, the IAEA said that Tehran informed the agency on Wednesday that it would have to unload the fuel rods. The agency said it and Tehran have agreed on the “necessary safeguards measures.”
A senior international official familiar with Iran’s nuclear program said the IAEA had no further details. He said unloading and reloading fuel assemblies is not unusual before any reactor startup. The official asked for anonymity because his information was confidential.
Soltanieh and other officials have not specified why the fuel had to be unloaded, but Iranian officials denied any link to the Stuxnet computer virus.
“Stuxnet has had no effect on the control systems at the Bushehr nuclear power plant,” Nasser Rastkhah, a senior official in charge of nuclear security, told the official IRNA news agency.
Foreign intelligence reports have said the control systems at Bushehr were penetrated by the malware — malicious software designed to infiltrate computer systems — but Iran has all along maintained that Stuxnet was only found on several laptops belonging to plant employees and didn’t affect the facility’s control systems.
Some computer experts believe Stuxnet was the work of Israel or the United States, two nations convinced that Iran wants to turn nuclear fuel into weapons-grade uranium.
The Islamic Republic is reluctant to acknowledge setbacks to its nuclear activities, which it says are aimed at generating energy but are under U.N. sanctions because of concerns they could be channeled toward making weapons. Only after outside revelations that its enrichment program was temporarily disrupted late last year by Stuxnet did Iranian officials acknowledge the incident.
The startup of the Bushehr power plant, a project completed with Russian help but beset by years of delays, would deliver Iran the central stated goal of its atomic work — the generation of nuclear power.
But the inauguration of the facility has been delayed for years. Iran said when it began inserting the fuel rods in October that the 1,000-megawatt light-water reactor would begin pumping electricity to Iranian cities by December. But it pushed back the timing to February, citing a “small leak” and other unspecified reasons.
The Bushehr plant itself is not among the West’s main worries because safeguards are in place to ensure that the spent fuel will be returned to Russia and cannot be diverted to weapons making.
The United States and some of its allies believe the Bushehr plant is part of a civil energy program that Iran is using as cover for a covert program to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Iran denies the accusation.
The Bushehr project dates back to 1974, when Iran’s U.S.-backed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi contracted with the German company Siemens to build the reactor. The company withdrew from the project after the 1979 Islamic Revolution toppled the shah and brought hard-line clerics to power.
In 1992, Iran signed a $1 billion deal with Russia to complete the project and work began in 1995.
Under the contract, Bushehr was originally scheduled to come on stream in July 1999 but the startup has been delayed repeatedly by construction and supply glitches.”
Straight from the Debka File: “Just two days after two Iranian warships reached the Syrian port of Latakia via the Suez Canal, Friday, Feb. 25, an Iranian-Syrian naval cooperation accord was signed providing for Iran to build its first Mediterranean naval base at the Syrian port, debkafile’s military and Iranian sources reveal.
The base will include a large Iranian Revolutionary Guards weapons depot stocked with hardware chosen by the IRGC subject to prior notification to Damascus. Latakia harbor will be deepened, widened and provided with new “coastal installations” to accommodate the large warships and submarines destined to use these facilities.
Iran has much to celebrate, debkafile’s military sources report. It has acquired its first military foothold on a Mediterranean shore and its first permanent military presence on Syrian soil. Tehran will be setting in place the logistical infrastructure for accommodating incoming Iranian troops to fight in a potential Middle East war.
According to our sources, the “cadets” the Kharg cruiser, one of the two Iranian warships allowed to transit the Suez Canal, was said to be carrying were in fact the first construction crews for building the new port facilities. Two more events were carefully synchronized to take place in the same week.
On Feb. 24, as the Iranian warships headed from the Suez Canal to Syria, Hamas fired long-range made-in-Iran Grade missiles from the Gaza Strip into Israel, one hitting the main Negev city of Beersheba for the first time since Israel’s Gaza campaign two years ago – as debkafile reported on that day. Tehran was using its Palestinian surrogate to flaunt its success in getting its first warships through the Suez Canal in the face of Israeli protests. The Iranians were also parading their offensive agenda in deploying warships on the Mediterranean just 287 kilometers north of Israel’s northernmost coastal town of Nahariya.
The second occurrence was a contract announced by Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov for the sale of advanced Russian shore-to-sea cruise missiles to Syria. The Yakhont missile system has a range of 300 kilometers and skims the waves low enough to be undetected by radar. debkafile’s military sources take this sale as representing Moscow’s nod in favor of the new Iranian base at Latakia, 72 kilometers from the permanent naval base Russia is building at the Syrian port of Tartous.
The Russians are willing to contribute towards the Iranian port’s defenses and looking forward to cooperation between the Russian, Iranian and Syrian fleets in the eastern Mediterranean opposite the US Sixth Fleet’s regular beat.
This unfolding proximity presents the United States with a serious strategic challenge and Israel with a new peril, which was nonetheless dismissed out of hand by Israel’s defense minister Ehud Barak. In a radio interview Monday, Feb. 28, he brushed aside the Iranian warships’ passage through the Suez as “an outing for cadets” which did not require an Israeli response. He added, “For now, there is no operational threat to Israel.”
According to Barak, the Suez Canal is open to all of the world’s warships and the two Iranian vessels’ transit could not have been prevented. He omitted to explain how Egypt did prevent it for 30 years and why it was permitted now. The defense minister went on to speak of “fresh signs that President Bashar Assad is willing to resume peace talks with Israel.”
Both Barak’s assessments were knocked down by Damascus on the same day.
Syrian Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Ali Mohammad Habib soon put him right on the “cadets’ outing.” At a ceremony in honor of the Iranian Navy Commander Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, Habib said: “Iranian warships’ presence in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time after 32 years is a great move that is going to cripple Israel.”"
Straight from the Debka File: “During the four days between Thursday March 4 and Monday March 7, the Obama administration switched its Iran policy. As rocketing oil prices triggered by the Arab Revolt wiped out the damage caused the Iranian economy by sanctions, Washington confirmed the worst Saudi and Israeli suspicions that America had no intention of acting to stop the Islamic Republic attaining nuclear weapons, although it held Israel back from doing so when it was more feasible.
This discovery has dealt America’s allies in Riyadh and Jerusalem their second letdown in three months, on the heels of White House encouragement of the uprisings againsta select number of Arab rulers.
The White House laid the ground for its change of heart on Iran with public statements that drew little attention from international media during the Libyan crisis.
The Director of National Intelligence James Clapper presented the Senate Armed Services Committee this week with a “revised” version of the controversial 2007 National Intelligence Estimate which claimed orignally against all the evidence that Iran had halted work on nuclear arms in 2003.
It is now confirmed that the misinformation contained in the original NIE was the pretext for holding back – not only an Israeli attack on Iran but also direct American action for keeping nuclear arms out of Iran’s hands. By revising that erroneous estimate, the Obama administration shows it is willing to catch up and come to terms with the reality of Iran’s wide-open option to develop nuclear weapons.
US official language reflects the administration’s policy turnabout on Iran. March 7, Washington announced that the USS Monterey guided missile cruiser, whose Aegis radar can monitor long- and short-range ballistic missiles and transmit the data to interceptor missile ground stations, would be deployed in the Mediterranean. “The US has started implementing its plan to protect Europe from a potential Iranian nuclear threat.”
debkafile notes that all past references to the US nuclear shield for Europe referred to Iranian ballistic missiles – never a nuclear threat.
Our military sources note that one of the key ground stations to which the Monterey’s radar is linked is the X-band forward radar station located in the Israeli Negev near the Egyptian border, which in turn is connected to Israel Arrow anti-missile missile batteries designed especially to shoot down Iranian ballistic missiles.
The closer the Iranian nuclear menace comes to reality, the further it recedes from Israeli political and media rhetoric. Obama’s fundamental policy shift on the subject is bad news for Israel in general and at this time in particular, because his support for the Arab Revolt is seen by Israeli and moderate Arab rulers as further evidence of a White House decision to strengthen Iran, which profits hugely from their losses.
Shortly before the Monterey announcement, the Washington Times reported: An Annual intelligence report to Congress has dropped language stating that Iran’s nuclear weapons are a future option. A U.S. official insisted there was no “sleight-of-hand” in the change but could not explain why the recent report was altered from two previous versions.
IAEA Director Yukiya Amano was also quoted as describing new information on the military aspect of Iran’s nuclear program in his latest report. An internal report from Feb. 25 stated that recent information disclosed “nuclear-related activities involving military-related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile” as continuing after 2004.
The two omissions in the original 2007 NIE report are that [US intelligence continues] “to assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons through we do not know whether Tehran eventually decide to produce nuclear weapons” and: “Iran continues to develop a range of capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons if a decision is made to do so.”
Clearly, Tehran does not have the same trouble putting its plans into words as do those US intelligence report writers. It is bent on developing a nuclear bomb, has completed the projects for its development and reserves the right to set the date for assembling the completed components into a weapon.
Wednesday, March 9, the chief US envoy Glyn Davies reported to the nuclear watchdog’s board in Vienna that Iran may be continuing secret work on developing nuclear weapons. In the course of an argument with the Iranian delegate Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Davies warned of “increasingly apparently military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program, including efforts by Iran to develop a nuclear warhead.”
“Iran continues to act very much like a state with something to hide,” he told the board.
But not any longer, says debkafile.”
Straight from the Debka File: “The US is repositioning its naval and air forces around Libya, Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan stated Monday, Feb. 28, indicating possible military steps to break the standoff between Muammar Qaddafi’s army and rebel forces in the fighting for control of the towns commanding the roads to the capital Tripoli where Qaddafi is barricaded. The reported rebel capture of the key towns of Misrata and Zawiya is technically correct. In fact, they are both surrounded by Libyan troops who control their road links with Tripoli. In Misrata, the army has a valuable edge over opposition forces in its control of the local airfield.
The Pentagon spokesman’s indeed remarked that there are “various contingency plans” for the North African country where Muammar Qaddafi’s forces and rebels in the east “remain locked in a tense standoff.”
Most military observers interpreted his remark as referring to potential US military intervention in Libya to break the stalemate. It was strengthened by the imminent redeployment off the Libyan coast of USS Enterprise from the Red Sea and the amphibious USS Kearsarge, which has a fleet of helicopters and about 1,800 Marines aboard.
This US naval movement appeared to be running ahead of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who, speaking in Geneva, Switzerland, earlier Monday said “nothing is off the table” but added “there is no pending naval action planned against Libya.”
debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report that the presence of the two US warships opposite Libya gives Washington and its allies a flexible option for military intervention should Qaddafi be seen to prevail over the opposition or if the standoff lingers too long. Among the 1,800 marines aboard the Kearsarge are units especially trained for guerrilla or covert raids behind enemy lines. They would have air cover from the Enterprise to protect them from Libyan air and helicopter strikes. They primary mission would be to disable the Libyan air force and put its air fields out of commission. The rebels would not then be stalled by the Libyan ruler’s ability to bring in fresh troops and drop them at any point and give them a better chance of carrying the day.
The other “contingency plan” in discussion between Washington and European allies is creating a no-fly zone to protect the people from air assault. The American UN Ambassador Susan Rice said later that Washington is discussing militlary options with its allies but a determination is premature.
On the sanctions front, the US government Monday blocked a record $30 billion in Libyan assets, the largest amount ever frozen, in line with the Obama administration’s decision to impose unilateral and multilateral sanctions on Qaddafi.”
Straight from Fox News: “German scientists said Monday it may be possible to reconstruct one of two giant 1,500 year-old Buddha statues dynamited by the Taliban in central Afghanistan 10 years ago, which prompted a worldwide outcry and left behind only towering cliff caverns.
Researchers have studied several hundred fragments of the sandstone statues that once towered up to 180 feet (55 meters) high in Bamiyan province, and found that they were once brightly colored in red, white and blue, said Erwin Emmerling of Munich’s Technical University.
The professor of restoration and conservation science, who visited the UNESCO world heritage site about 15 times since 2007, says research has shown that the smaller one of the pair — some 125 feet high (38 meters)– could be reconstructed with the recovered parts even though there are “political and practical obstacles” to overcome.
“Conservation of the fragments would require the construction of a small factory in the Bamiyan Valley — alternatively some 1,400 rocks weighing up to two tons each would have to be transported to Germany,” the university said in a statement Friday.
Emmerling is to present the findings at a UNESCO conference on the Buddha statues’ future starting Wednesday in Paris. The Afghan government, whose representatives are also attending the expert meeting, will ultimately decide on the statues’ fate.
The Taliban destroyed the towering Buddha statues in the Bamiyan Valley in March 2001, less than a year before international forces toppled their government.
The Bamiyan Valley, about 260 kilometers (160 miles) west of Kabul at an altitude of some 8,000 feet (2440 meters), once formed a branch of the Silk Road, which contributed to the diffusion of Buddhism from India to the region.
Emmerling’s team says mass spectrometer tests have allowed them to better determine the statues’ age. Organic material in the fragments’ clay layers were found to date from between 544 and 595 for the smaller Buddha and between 591 and 644 for the big one.
The statues’ fragile sandstone fragments left over from the explosions are currently covered on the site or stored in a warehouse in Bamiyan province awaiting the Afghan government’s decision.”
Straight from MSNBC: “A spam message wishing a Russian woman happy new year may very well have killed her, and saved hundreds of intended targets, according to an account by The Telegraph’s Moscow correspondent, Andrew Osborn.
The woman, dubbed “The Black Widow,” who Russian authorities suspect was part of the same militant group that killed 35 people at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport on Monday, was at a house preparing for the attack, which would have occurred on New Year’s Eve at Red Square. Instead, the woman’s mobile phone, which served as the device’s detonator, was activated hours early by a spam message wishing her a happy new year. She was killed, while a man and woman suspected of being accomplices escaped from the house.
Russian security forces told The Telegraph that phones are usually kept off until the last minute for detonation, but in this case, “the terrorists were careless.”"
Straight from the Debka File: “Hosni Mubarak and his family have moved a large part of their assets – guesstimated at between $20 and $70 billion – from European banks to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Republics against personal guarantees from King Abdullah and Sheik Al Nahyan to block access to outside parties.This is reported by Gulf and West European sources. Tunisian ex-ruler Zein Al Abdain Ben Ali received the same guarantee when he fled his country and received asylum in the oil kingdom.
A Swiss financial source commented: “If he had any real money in Zurich, it may be gone by now.”
According to debkafile’s sources, the transfers took place on Feb. 12-13. Although a weekend when European banks are closed, high-ranking officials in Riyadh had their managers hauled out of home to execute Mubarak’s transfer orders without delay.
The ousted Egyptian ruler was on the phone to Saudi King Abdullah Friday, Feb. 11, immediately after his vice president Omar Suleiman went on state television to announce his resignation and handover of rule to the army. Mubarak called it a military putsch conducted under pressure from Washington. He denied he had resigned or passed any powers to the army. “I had no idea Omar Suleiman was about to read out that statement. I would never have signed it or allowed it to be published,” said Mubarak.
The Saudi king voiced understanding for the ex-president’s plight and said the Riyadh government was under orders to meet any requests for assistance received from him.
Mubarak views himself still as the rightful president of Egypt. Aware of this, the High Military Council Sunday, Feb. 13, abolished the constitution. Otherwise, Mubarak would have been correct and the military would have had no authority to issue decrees and pass laws without his signature.
The military junta’s Western sympathizers were quick to read in the military statement a pledge to call an election in six months. This was not exactly stated. The military council announced that the incumbent (Mubarak-appointed) cabinet would stay in office “for six months or until elections.”
Elections cannot be held until a new a new constitution is enacted because the old one has been abolished leaving a void which is filled by martial law and no clear obligation for an election date.
One major obstacle confronting orderly transition to civilian rule is the opposition’s clamor for an all-inclusive investigation of corruption within the Mubarak family and its ruling circle. As one of the opposition leaders George Ishak put it: “We will research everything, all of them: the families of the ministers, the family of the president, everyone.”
Prof. Samer Soliman, of the American University in Cairo said: “The corruption of the Mubarak family was not stealing from the budget; it was transforming political capital into private capital.”
debkafile’s military sources stress that all 25 generals serving in the High Army Council can be relied on to raise a high wall against any such probe. Members of Egypt’s high officer class are heavily invested in Egyptian industry, financial institutions and banks, having built their personal fortunes by the same methods as the Mubarak clan and its hangers-on.
An exhaustive investigation might also bring to light American and Israel capital interests linked to businesses close to the Mubarak regime. The military will not doubt use its powers under martial law to put a spoke in the opposition’s demand for an inquiry.”
Straight from the Debka File: “Israel’s security leaders ought not to have been surprised when Hamas fired two long-range Iranian-made Grad missiles Wednesday night, Feb. 23 at the Negev cities of Beersheba and Netivot. The attack occurred exactly when Iranian Navy commander Adm. Habibollah Sayyari was due in Syria’s Latakia port to attend the welcoming party for the two Iranian warships which made it through the Suez Canal without US or Israeli interference. It also marked a fresh, redoubled Hamas offensive against Israel.
The occupants of the Beersheba home, hit by the first long-range Grad surface missile to reach the Negev city from the Gaza Strip (30 km away) since Israel’s Cast Led campaign of 2009, saved themselves by using the seconds between the warning siren and the explosion to take shelter in a bomb-proof room. That was the only part of their home to survive the blast. Eleven shock victims were hospitalized along the battered street.
The town of Netivot was spared by the Grad falling outside the built-up area. Earlier that day, a shoot-out flared at the Karni crossing when a Palestinian gang laid explosives at the border fence and followed up with mortar fire. IDF border patrols and tanks crews returned the fire, injuring 11 Palestinians. A second round of Palestinian mortar fire followed against a Shaar Hanegev kibbutz.
No Israelis were hurt in this round of incidents.
Wednesday night, Israel put the communities within range of the Gaza Strip, including the cities of Beersheba, Netivot, Ofakim, Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod, on heightened alert status for further Palestinian attacks. That night, Israeli air strikes hit a Jihad Islami missile team and then spread out to bomb Hamas command centers, which had meanwhile been hurriedly evacuated in expectation of Israel’s routine aerial reprisal.
debkafile’s military sources report that more aggression from the Gaza Strip is inevitable given the Netanyahu government’s feeble or non-response despite the urgent need to shore up Israel’s security situation continuously eroded by the turbulence in Arab capitals.
Even though it was obvious that Hamas had been strengthened by Hosni Mubarak’s fall in Egypt, Israel stood by as Hamas rampaged out of Gaza and into Sinai and the Egyptian-Israeli border areas – even when a Hamas special team on Feb. 5 blew up the Egyptian pipeline which conveyed 43 percent of Israel’s gas needs. Replacement sources have added close to $400 million a month to Israel’s energy bill.
All Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did was to permit an additional Egyptian troop brigade and a half to enter Sinai, some of them to guard the pipeline, which Cairo shows no sign of repairing.
Western military sources report that the Iran-backed Palestinian Hamas is further exploiting the shaky situation in Cairo and Israeli inaction to double or even triple the quantities of weapons smuggled via the Suez Canal and Sinai into the Gaza Strip. One Israeli officer said he had never before seen surface-to-surface missiles, anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank missiles secreted into Gaza in such bulk.
The free passage afforded the two Iranian warships for transiting the Suez Canal Tuesday, Feb. 22 – without Egypt or US and Israeli warships even inspecting their cargoes – has encouraged Tehran to press on with its expansionist ambitions. Hamas understood that its redoubled offensive against Israel would be most welcome. The Palestinian extremists held their fire until Tehran announced the warships had put into Latakia Wednesday and the arrival of Iran’s navy chief that night. And then they went into action – first against an IDF border patrol, then to fire Grads at Beersheba and Netivot.
Israel’s policy-makers have chosen to ignore the role of those two vessels as the thin edge of a wedge: They are to set up a permanent base on the Mediterranean with more Iranian naval vessels continuing to pass through the Suez Canal and joining them at Latakia.
Hamas is counting on Iran building up its military presence and on Israel to stand by helplessly – just as it did when its request to the new military rulers of Egypt to stop the Iranian flotilla’s passage through Suez went unanswered.
The Palestinians ruling Gaza are sending Grad missiles as messengers to Israel that they now enjoy Iranian support close by in the Mediterranean. debkafile’s military sources wonder if this message will not finally act as a wakeup call for Jerusalem.”
Straight from Fox News: “Israeli tank fire wounded 11 people, including at least six militants, in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday following an attack on an Israeli patrol, the military and Palestinian officials said. One of the wounded later died in a hospital.
The Israeli military said its tanks opened fire after the militants detonated a bomb targeting the Israeli patrol near the border and then fired mortars at the soldiers.
Gaza health officials said one of the wounded militants died and another was in serious condition. Both Islamic Jihad and Hamas militants said they fired mortars at the troops. No Israeli soldiers were hurt.
Israel and Hamas have largely observed an unofficial cease-fire since an Israeli military offensive in Gaza two years ago. But clashes sporadically flare up along the volatile border as Gaza militants fire rockets and mortars into Israel, drawing military reprisals.
Wednesday’s incident marked the first time in weeks the clashes have produced casualties.
After nightfall, two rockets exploded in Israel’s south. No one was hurt. One exploded in the Israeli city of Beersheba, 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Gaza, police said, setting a house on fire.
Another rocket landed near the town of Netivot.
The rockets were Grads, which have a longer range than the homemade rockets often fired from Gaza.
Israel Radio said it was the first rocket attack on Beersheba since Israel’s bruising invasion of Gaza two years ago to try to stop daily rocket salvos.
Israel hit back with an airstrike in eastern Gaza City, Palestinians said, wounding three Islamic Jihad militants. The Israeli military said it targeted the squad that fired the rockets.
Also Wednesday, a large explosion in the southern Gaza Strip killed a 10-year-old girl and wounded two others. Militants from the Hamas-linked Popular Resistance Committees said the explosion was accidental. They identified the dead girl as the daughter of the PRC’s local commander.
Internal explosions are common in Gaza. They often take place in the homes of militants where explosives and other armaments detonate prematurely.”
Straight from Fox News: “A second suspected nuclear installation has been identified in Syria, according to commercial satellite photos, providing new evidence that Damascus may have been pursuing atomic weapons before a 2007 Israeli military strike.
The publishing Wednesday of the photos by Washington’s Institute for Science and International Security could increase pressure on the United Nations to demand expansive new inspections of suspect Syrian facilities during a March board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
IAEA inspectors visited eastern Syria in 2008 and reported that they recovered traces of processed uranium from a site called Dair Alzour, which the Bush administration alleged housed a nearly operational nuclear reactor. Israeli jets destroyed the facility nearly eight months before the IAEA’s visit.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government has rebuffed repeated IAEA requests to conduct additional inspections of the site as well as three other facilities the U.N. agency believes could be related to a covert Syrian nuclear program. Damascus’s rejection of IAEA inspections could result in Syria being declared noncompliant with its U.N. commitments and referred to the Security Council for formal censuring.
Mr. Assad denied in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last month that his government has pursued a nuclear program. He also said he wouldn’t allow the IAEA expansive powers to inspect his country.
The photos published by the ISIS think tank identifies what it says are one of the three additional sites the IAEA believes could be connected to the Dair Alzour facility. In a series of photos, ISIS displays what it alleges were apparent Syrian attempts to disguise the activities of site after the Israeli attack.
“Laying down a new foundation could be an attempt to defeat the environmental sampling the IAEA inspectors would like to carry out to see if uranium was present,” the ISIS report reads.
ISIS says the location and contours of the building suggests it housed uranium-conversion equipment that is used to produce nuclear fuel. The facility, in a town called Marj as Sultan, is on the outskirts of Syria’s capital, Damascus.”
Straight from the Debka File: “Less than 24 hours after the breakdown of its nuclear dialogue with the six world powers in Istanbul, Iran announced plans Sunday, Jan. 23, to senda fleet of warships, including a home-made destroyer, on operational and intelligence-gathering missions to the Red Sea and on to the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal. debkafile’s military sources: Parts of the fleet will in fact be deployed in the three waters around Israel’s southern and western shores.
Tehran is taking advantage of the lack of military and diplomatic momentum on the part of US and Israel for a naval thrust to expand its range of operations and encroach on their areas of control.
It is also a rapid response to the arrival of the USS Enterprise carrier with a strike group carrying 6,000 sailors and marines and 80 warplanes in the Mediterranean at the end of last week on its way to the Arabian Sea opposite Iran. British ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s call on the West to stop apologizing and react to Iran with force was not lost on the rulers of the Islamic Republic.
The Navy Commander, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari spoke of three or four vessels including Iran’s first home-made destroyer, Jamaran, with back-up operational units standing by for urgent support missions.
His deputy, Rear-Admiral Gholam Reza Bi-Gham said the deployment would last about a year and at some future time, long-distance submarines would join the fleet.
Since Nov. 2008, the Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols between the Gulf of Aden Straits of Bab al-Mandeb off Yemen so some of its units are not far away.
Both admirals reported that a flotilla of Iranian naval officer cadets would soon be dispatched to the Mediterranean and Red Seas to gain experience in these new areas and gather intelligence.
Iran recently purchased three Kilo class submarines from Russia and is using them in the Persian Gulf. debkafile’s military sources report they belong to a bygone generation of subs and lack advanced electronic systems, making it hard for them to stay deep down underwater for long periods without surfacing.
For two years, Iranian military shipyards have been building miniature submarines, war ships and fast assault craft. Most Western naval give them low ratings in performance especially in view of their outdated electronics.
debkafile’s military sources, however, estimate that if deployed in support of the warships assigned to the Mediterranean and Red Seas, those mini-submarines and assault craft could be extremely troublesome and give plenty of headaches to American, Israel and Egyptian naval commanders.”
Straight from the Debka File: “Iran has blocked thousands of fuel trucks from crossing into Afghanistan as its initial reprisal for US fuel sanctions and the US-Israeli partnership reported by the US media in planting the Stuxnet virus in its nuclear production systems, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report. More Iranian retribution is ahead.
In the last week of December, Iran began its blockade by stalling some 2,500 trucks on the border. Since roughly one-third of Afghanistan’s gasoline and diesel consumption comes from Iran, the blockade has sent prices soaring by up to 70 percent.
US and NATO forces in Afghanistan which have been relying on the Iranian fuel shipped to Afghanistan have been forced to look for other sources of supply.
Our military sources report that the fuel shortage caused by the Iranian blockade and insurgent attacks on fuel convoys coming in from Pakistan are beginning to show their mark on the US-led war effort, slowing it down and diverting NATO to covering the Afghan population’s heating needs in a particularly harsh winter. The average Afghan cannot find enough heating oil and when he does, he can’t afford to pay for it.
Stormy anti-Iranian protest rallies have taken place in Kabul and Herat near the Iranian border.
Tuesday, Afghan businessmen, urged by President Hamid Karzai and American commanders, declared a boycott on business with neighboring Iran until the thousands of fuel trucks are allowed to cross.
The boycott resolution by the Afghan Chamber of Commerce is mostly symbolic since it is unlikely the eastern Afghans whose livelihood depends on trade with Iran will hold out for long.”