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20 août 2017 7 20 /08 /août /2017 16:41

ISIS Moroccan net primed to strike across Europe

DEBKAfile  Exclusive Report  August 20, 2017, 10:34 AM (IDT)

 

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Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido repeatedly promised on Saturday Aug. 19 that after the Islamic State’s car attacks Thursday and Friday had left 14 dead and more than 130 injured in two Spanish cities, the terrorist network responsible for the violence had been “fully dismantled” and no longer posed a threat.

That assurance was meant to calm the jittery public and visitors, but was far from representing all the facts..

debkafile’s intelligence and counterterrorism sources report that the clandestine ISIS cell which ran those attacks from a base in the small Ripoli, near Spain’s Pyrenean border with France, has indeed gone out of business. But it was only one branch of a broad terror network stretching out from Morocco across at least six European countries: Spain, France, Germany, Belgium Holland, and as far north as Finland, where a Moroccan “refugee” Friday stabbed to death two women in the southwestern town of Turku.

There are troubling signs that the attacks in Spain and Finland were no more than the opening shots of a major onslaught in preparation by this Islamic State network. Unusually, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in Cambrils, Spain, after first claiming the prior outrage on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas promenade. The second claim cited both attacks, substantiating the link in an ongoing chain of events. The bomb-making workshop, which accidentally blew up at Acrona, also provided lethal evidence of an organization bent on sowing death on a massive scale.

In Cambrils, police shot dead all five terrorists, after they used a vehicle to replicate the Barcelona outrage, killing one person and injuring seven. Four suspects are in police custody.

The Spanish Minister did not of course disclose the events leading up to the Catalan attacks. Our sources can reveal, however, that they go back to May 8, when Spanish and Moroccan intelligence agencies working together uncovered a dangerous ISIS network which had sent out shoots across Europe through Moroccan Tangiers and the Spanish enclave of Melilla. Catalonia was to be their new address and theater of operations.

Most of the perpetrators of the Catalan attacks were in fact local residents of Moroccan descent. Some had direct links to ISIS contacts in Syria and Iraq, and some were discovered leaving the country to fight with ISIS in Syria.

On May 22, Spanish and Moroccan anti-terror agencies working in conjunction rounded up a group of suspects in Essaouira on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. They were in possession of large amounts of weapons and preparing to strike a famous music festival in the town that attracts audiences from many countries.
Catalans were found in this group too.

Since the deadly Barcelona terror attack, a pattern has emerged of mass-casualty crimes mostly targeting popular international holiday resorts during this summer. The Spanish authorities knew that the Catalan cell, which operated as part of this multi-armed killing machine, was run by the “Wilaya of the Islamic State in the Maghreb al-Aqsa-Morocco,” which takes its orders from the ISIS central command in Syria.

Nonetheless no high security alerts marred the peak tourism season at Catalonia’s holiday resorts, even though local Muslim extremists had been picked up on their way to Morocco or Syria.

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19 août 2017 6 19 /08 /août /2017 17:35
The ISIS special Al-Kharsha Brigade hits Spain
DEBKAfile Special Report August 18, 2017
 

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Spain this week suffered the biggest Islamic State onslaught to be mounted in Europe since Nov/ 14, 2015, when the jiahdis murdered 140 people in Paris. The Spanish offensive claimed the lives of 14 civilians and 7 terrorists. More than 100 victims are in hospital, 20 with serious injuries.

The first signal came Wednesday night, Aug. 16, with two large explosions at a house in the Spanish town of Alcanar, 190km south of Barcelona. Inside, police found a dead woman, an injured man and 20 canisters of butane and propane gas. It was clearly a bomb workshop.


Thursday and Friday saw attacks in quick succession - first in Barcelona, where a van mowed down hundreds of people on the Las Ramblas Blvd, killing 13 and injuring up to a hundred; then early Friday in Cambrils, south of Barcelona, where five bomb-vested terrorists in a car managed to injure six civilians, one of whom, a woman, died later, and a police officer, before they were all killed in a shootout with the police.

Their bomb belts when examined proved to be harmless fakes.

By then, it was obvious that the terrorist attacks which shook Catalonia for three days were orchestrated from a single control center, with dozens of armed terrorists, supported by as many abettors, at its disposal. Many are still at large and armed, and so the wave of violence may not be over.

The two suspects captured by the Catalan police in Barcelona are being pressed hard to give up information on future attacks and additional terror cells poised for action.


Earlier this month, British media disclosed the existence of the Al-Kharsha Brigade, set up by ISIS in Syria to train terrorists holding European passports for strikes in the continent’s cities. The disclosure was meant apparently to prepare the British public for a further upsurge of terror.

DEBKAfile’s counterterrorism sources report that the full name of this Brigade is Amniyat Al-Kharji. Recruits undertake exceptionally rough training. They are also treated psychologically to survive the first stage of an attack long enough to draw it out for maximum casualties, while accepting their own death for the cause.
Few of the hundreds of recruits joining this brigade finish the course as postgraduate terrorists. Others are sent back to their countries and told to wait for a prearranged signal to go into action.  A few stay on in Syria to act as liaison between the central ISIS command and the clandestine cells spread out in many countries.
According to Western intelligence experts, some 50 terrorists from Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Belgium, have completed the Al-Kharsha Brigade’s course of instruction and are fully qualified for mass murder atrocities in any of their countries.

It is also estimated that of the 5,000 European jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq up until early 2017, one-third, i.e. around 1,600, have returned home. There is no information on how many remain committed to the path of terror. The 3,400 who stayed on in Syria are thought to be engaged in a variety of tasks - either in ISIS combat units or weapons development programs which produce items for arming the organization to stand up to attack. These workshops most likely produced the explosive gliders seen recently over Syrian and Iraqi battlefields.
Security services in Israel and Western countries still find it hard to accept that the Islamic State is running a regular army, whose battle and terrorist operations are orchestrated by a single central command, whether they take place in Syria, Iraq, elsewhere in the Middle East or in Europe. This stance of denial enables the authorities to disencumber intelligence agencies of responsibility when attacks are not prevented.

But it also means that they underestimate ISIS as a fighting machine on the battlefield, although their offensives show the planning of a professional army, as far as tactics and the disposition of strength are concerned. When outgunned, the Islamic State army retreats in orderly fashion, as was seen both in Iraq and Syria.

ISIS does claim some of the terrorist operations carried out by local extremists on their own initiative, without orders from above. But the three-day terror rampage that hit Spain this week bore all the hallmarks of ISIS planning and organization.

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17 août 2017 4 17 /08 /août /2017 22:35
Terrorist kills at least 13 in Barcelona car attack
DEBKAfile  Exclusive Report  August 17, 2017, 7:51 PM (IDT)


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One of the terrorists  who crashed a van into crowds on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas Blvd Thursday, Aug, 17 killing at least 13 people and injuring 56, was reportedly captured holding diners hostage in a nearby restaurant. Ten of the injured are in serious condition. The hostages were led out with raised hands. 
The captured terrorist was identified by Spanish TV as a Spaniard of Moroccan descent. It was reported that he was with one or two more suspects who rented two vans for their combined attack on the Catalan city packed with August holidaymakers, including many families, and the restaurant. The police have set up roadblocks to capture one or more accomplices on the run..

The Spanish police have clamped a shutdown on information. 

debkafile reported earlier:

A white van went careering down the Las Ramblas Blvd in central Barcelona Thursday, Aug. 17.crashing into crowds in massive terror attack which killed at least 13 people and injured dozens. Police are hunting for the driver and another man who fled on foot, and may be holed up nearby. A few minutes later, two armed men entered a restaurant.

The local police said the incident still unfolding is a terrorist attack.  Police have cordoned off the area and shut down the local metro and rail stations. The public has been herded into buildings. The Chief Rabbi of Barcelona reported that the police have ordered all Jewish institutions in the city to close for the emergency and redoubled their guard.

The local shops have shuttered into lockdown mode. There is no further information about the combined terrorist attack. There are also reports of a live hostage incident and gunshots at a Turkish restaurant near the scene. 
According to another report, posted on Twitter, The van hit people outside Barcelona's Kosher restaurant, Maccabi, but also in a much wider area. 

 

Developing…

 

 

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17 août 2017 4 17 /08 /août /2017 00:53
More arrests as terror stalks Jerusalem again
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis August 16, 2017, 3:48 PM (IDT)

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Three major Israeli counter-terror operations in a week (Aug.10-16) are a measure of the intensity of terrorist plots for the commission of mass-casualty strikes in Jerusalem.

On Aug. 10, a combined effort of the Shin Bet, the police and the IDF, led to five Palestinians from Hebron being intercepted in the Palestinian Jerusalem neighborhood of El Azaria on their way to an attack. No details of this plot were released. But it was obvious that the five terrorists, armed with guns and explosives, were only stopped at the last minute from reaching the center of Jerusalem, just 15 minutes drive from El Azaria, and conducting a major attack.

Then, on Saturday, Aug. 12, a Palestinian woman knifed a man on Suleiman Street in East Jerusalem, mistaking him for a Jew. He turned out to be a local Arab Christian and was not badly hurt, before a police patrol nabbed the woman.

On Sunday, Aug. 13, a suspect was shot in the foot while resisting arrest at Bet Tsafafa, in southern Jerusalem. The police later reported they acted on a Shin Bet tipoff that the suspect, a resident of the mixed Abu Tor neighborhood, was primed for a terror operation.

On Monday, Aug. 14, indictments were filed at the Jerusalem district court against three residents of East Jerusalem on charges of plotting a shooting attack, as well as targeting police forces and persistent rock attacks on traffic - all in Jerusalem. They were also accused of planning to loose gunfire and explosive devices on vehicles using the Nablus bypass. This group therefore harbored ambitions for a widespread terrorist offensive in and outside Jerusalem.

Although Israel’s security authorities are cagey with the information they release on the mostly covert war they wage on Palestinian and Israeli Arab terror, three geographical areas may be marked out as significant: They are metropolitan Jerusalem including Bethlehem; Hebron - the city and mountain district; and the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, northeast of Tel Aviv, which was the home town of the three gunmen who shot dead two policemen on Temple Mount on July 14.

Each location occupies a special place on the terror map.

The terrorist networks of Hebron and its environs are mostly tied ideologically and operationally to the extremist Palestinian Hamas. In the past fortnight, Hamas was found to be receiving large sums of money, most of it coming from sources in the United Arab Republic in the Persian Gulf. Some of the cash was funneled to Judea and Samaria and provided those networks with an extra incentive to go into action.

Finding the UAE funding Hamas terror was somewhat of a shocker to Israel.  After all, the emirate formally joined the anti-terror coalition that US President Donald Trump created during his visit to Riyadh and later to Israel in early April.

The terrorist cells operating in Jerusalem mostly belong to Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, or its militia, the Tanzim. Most are fringe groups that are not directly associated with their leaders. But the fact that they are free to perform acts of violence against Israelis is worrying Israeli security authorities.
The networks of Umm al-Fahm and its rural villages appear to be ideologically inspired by the outlawed Northern Branch of the Israeli Arab Muslim Movement (which is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood), or directly tied to the Islamic State command center in Syria.

At least 20 Israeli Arabs are known to have crossed into Syria to fight in ISIS ranks, some of them from Umm Al-Fahm.

Last Friday, Aug. 11, an indictment was filed against two residents of the town, who were preparing to leave for Syria and join the Islamic State. They were being helped by a former resident who had already reached Syria and was fighting with ISIS. One of the accused belonged to the same Jabarin clan as the murderers of police officers on Temple Mount.

Then, on Tuesday, Aug. 15, police arrived at the Umm Al-Fahm home of Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the banned Northern Branch of the Israeli Muslim Movement, with a warrant for his arrest. He was accused of publicly inciting to violence and terror and membership of an illegal organization.

Salah has been in and out of Israeli prisons for years over his fiery hate-filled sermons, which regularly call on his followers to “fight for the liberation” of Al Aqsa. Last year, he was locked up for calling on Israeli Arabs to join a Palestinian uprising against the state of Israel.

However, this time, the wide publicity given to his arrest so soon after the Temple Mount clashes - in an attempt to press charges serious enough to keep him behind lock and key for the long term - has brought the firebrand sheikh solid sympathy among sections of the Israeli Arab populace.

 Obviously, Israel’s sovereign presence on Temple Mount, which is holy to three monotheistic faiths and claimed by Muslims, is an abidingly explosive issue. Last month’s crisis centering on the shrine, appears to have abated - but only on the face of it. The embers of the conflagration continue to simmer under the surface of the site and the city.

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15 août 2017 2 15 /08 /août /2017 04:57

“ISIS out: Iran in” doesn’t apply to Syria

Debkafile

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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Mossad Director Yossie Cohen asserted separately on Sunday, Aug. 13, that wherever the Islamic State is thrown out, Iran moves in.

This assessment was borrowed from American evaluations of the situation in Afghanistan and Yemen. It does not work as a guiding principle for Israeli security in its immediate neighborhood - certainly not for Syria.

Cohen was correct in stating in his briefing that Iran presents Israel with its greatest peril, and that the Islamic Republic has used its 2015 nuclear accord with the six world powers as an accelerant for developing nuclear weapons.
But that does not make the situation in Syria analogous to Afghanistan, as an examination of the facts show.

ISIS was pushed out of parts of northern Syria by the Syrian army, Turkish troops, Syrian rebel groups and Kurdish militias. But neither Iranian forces, nor Hizballah or the Shiite militias, imported from Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight under Iranian officers, have moved in to take their place.

Neither have they been allowed a role in the ongoing offensive for the capture of Raqqa.  And no Iranian or Shiite presence is to be found in Tabqa, northwest of this former ISIS capital in Syria, or Al-Bab north of Aleppo. Both towns were wrested from the jihadists by other forces.

Had Netanyahu and Cohen noted that Iranian and Hizballah took part in some of the battles fought by Russian and Syrian army forces, they would have been correct.  However, it must be said that the pro-Iranian forces’ participation in battles against ISIS was never more than a by-product of their overriding objective, which was to preserve Bashar Assad in the presidential palace in Damascus. Today, they are closer than ever to achieving their goal in view of the crumbling resistance: the US, Saudi Arabia and Turkey this month signaled they were pulling their support from the Syrian anti-Assad insurgency.

The Netanyahu government’s fundamental misconceptions on the Syria question dates back to 2012, the second year of its civil war, when Israel’s security and intelligence chiefs insisted that Bashar Assad’s days in power were numbered.

This misjudgment prevailed. It was repeated only a few months ago by Maj. Gen. Hertzi Halevy, head of AMAN (IDF military intelligence). It led to another fundamental error, which was Israel’s decision not to impede Hizballah’s entry into the Syrian war in 2013 to shore up Assad’s rule. The thinking then was that Hizballah would come out of the brutal conflict weakened and in no shape for waging war on Israel. To the contrary, Iran’s Lebanese surrogate has come out of the Syrian conflict as a hardened terrorist legion, in better shape than ever before and, moreover, rewarded for its critical support for the ruler with a say in Syria’s post-war future and the strategic asset of an anti-Israel warfront stretching out of Lebanon across into Syria.

Paradoxically, the Russian air force and special operations units are helping Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah forces to vanquish Syrian rebel and ISIS groups, while latterly US special forces began helping Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian and Hizballah forces cleanse the Syrian Lebanese border of the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front presence.

Two world powers are therefore backing the Syrian-Iranian-Hizballah lineup against the extremists. Iranian and the pro-Iranian Hizballah are being enabled to reach Israel’s borders - not as a result of the removal of ISIS but the open door provided them by the coordinated actions of two world powers.
The ratio of one enemy (Iran) replacing another (Isis) is not just an over-simplification of the situation, but a misreading.

Netanyahu certainly meant what he said Sunday that “Our policy is clear. We strongly object to the military entrenchment of Iran and its surrogates, led by Hizballah, in Syria, and we shall do what is necessary to guard Israel’s security. That is what we are doing.”

But what exactly can he do against the jeopardy to Israeli security resulting from the process underway in Syria, which is supported not just by Russia, but by Israel's most stalwart strategic ally, the United States, and supportive Saudi Arabia?

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12 août 2017 6 12 /08 /août /2017 17:28
Trump-Putin deal imperils Israeli, Jordan borders
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis August 12, 2017, 5:12 PM (IDT)

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The transformation of a small, strategic wedge of land between the Syrian, Israeli, Jordanian and Iraqi borders is going forward apace without arousing much interest - even in Israel, where it should cause the most concern, debkafile reports.

On Wednesday, Aug. 8, two Russian army companies of Ingushet troops from the northern Caucasus set up a command post in the Syrian village of Tal al-Shahm, 13km from Israel’s Golan border. Its commander, Col. Alexei Kozin, has thus taken charge of Syria’s border with Israel. As debkafile reported last month, his task is to set up 10 control checkpoints along that border.
This border area was designated as one of four de-escalation zones agreed on between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at their meeting in Hamburg on July 7.

According to understandings reached between Washington, Moscow and Jerusalem, the UN separation force (UNDOF) will return to its Fawar base opposite Quneitra as a buffer between IDF and Russian forces. Its past history in this role between IDF and Syrian forces was never exactly impressive.

A piece of diplomacy consistent with this process was contributed by Russian foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday, Aug. 11. It was an assurance that Russia would take into account Israel’s interests in Jerusalem in the framework of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

It also fits in with the surprising statement from Washington on the same day, namely, that Donald Trump, although in the midst of a fearsome crisis with North Korea with military overtones, is planning to send his senior adviser, son-in-law Jared Kushner and Israel-Palestinian peace broker Jason Greenblatt, on an early visit to the Middle East to continue this mission.

To see how these disparate elements fill out the whole picture, we turn 70km east from Quneitra on the Syria Golan to the battles ongoing at Sweida in southeastern Syria opposite the Jordanian and Iraqi borders. Russian troops moved into the key town of Daraa, abutting on the Jordanian border on July 13. Like in Quneitra, a month later, they set up command posts to monitor the first de-escalation or ceasefire zone to be set up under the Hamburg accord.
The Russian troops’ assignment was to stop the fighting there and execute the withdrawal of the combatant forces, the Syrian army, Iran, and its foreign Shiite militias, including Hizballah, to a distance of 40km from the border.
But that arrangement never stood up.

Nearly four weeks later, on Wednesday night, Aug. 9, on the same night that Russian troops moved into Quneitra, the Syrian army and Hizballah launched a major offensive in Sweida province. Three days later, by Saturday, they had forced the local rebel forces to retreat into Jordan and seized 57km of Syria’s southern frontier with the Hashemite Kingdom.

Neither the Russians nor the American interfered with the Syrian-Hizballah-led push, although the Russians took responsibility for maintaining the ceasefire, and US special forces were and still are posted to the east of Sweida at Al-Tanf in the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi border triangle.  

(See attached map)

debkafile’s military sources add that the Syrian-Hizballah offensive violated the ceasefire deal. Local US-backed Syrian rebel groups disbanded without a shot, went over to the Syrian government side and handed in their US-supplied weapons to Syrian army and Hizballah fighters.
The Sweida episode demonstrated how the Syrian-Iranian-Hizballah alliance sees its way to using the Trump-Putin ceasefire zones accord as an open door for seizing control of southern Syria and grabbing the Jordanian and Israeli borders.
The Syrian rebel movement is disintegrating at an alarming rate following the “Jubeir earthquake,” as it has become known - another momentous event which Western and Israeli front pages have chosen to ignore.

Last week, Saudi Foreign Mniser Adel al-Jubeir reportedly informed a delegation of Syrian opposition leaders invited to Riyadh that his government was pulling its support from their fighting militias, in the wake of President Trump’s decision to reduce US military action in Syria solely to the war on ISIS - and therefore end US resistance to the Assad regime.

Saudi officials did not deny the report, only termed it “inaccurate.”

But meanwhile, the decisions by Riyadh and Washington to abandon the anti-Assad cause spread like wildfire among Syrian rebel groups. Many responded by laying down their arms and surrendering.

The fate of the rebel movement after six years of cruel warfare against the dictator Bashar Assad should be an object lesson to other recipients of American and Russian promises. Therefore, Lavrov’s pledge to take Israel’s interests in Jerusalem into account should be taken with a pinch of salt. He was most likely shooting a line to allay Israeli skepticism about the prospect of Russian troops keeping Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah troops at bay from its northern border - even through this pledge was underwritten by Washington.
Instead of taking the two powers at their word, Israel need only watch what is going on in the last few hours just across the border at Sweida, to appreciate the value of such promises.

Sooner or later, the Sweida model will be replicated in Quneitra. Neither the Russian troops nor UN peacekeepers will fight to stop it happening. By then, the Syrian rebel groups, in whose support Israel invested for years as a buffer against hostile Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah forces, are already falling apart. Disowned by their Saudi backers, they are being crushed by the US-Russian “de-escalation” steamroller. Israel like Jordan will soon find three hostile forces sitting pretty just across its border, far too close for safety

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10 août 2017 4 10 /08 /août /2017 04:52

Mattis warns NKorea to stop before it is destroyed

DEBKAfile Special Report August 9, 2017, 9:23 PM (IDT)

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Wednesday, Aug. 9 to stop any action that would lead to the “end of its regime” and the destruction of its people.”

He said in a statement: "The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people."
Mattis pointed out that the DPRK regime's actions “will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates."

Mattis added that while the State Department was making diplomatic efforts, the United States and its allies have the most "precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth."

Tuesday, President Donald Trump warned:  "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen."

 

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8 août 2017 2 08 /08 /août /2017 19:48

North Korea at nuclear threshold. What about Iran?

DEBKAfile  Exclusive Report  August 8, 2017, 10:01 PM (IDT)

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In a White Paper published last week, the Japanese Defense Ministry concluded that there is evidence that North Korea had achieved miniaturization of nuclear weapons, meaning that it could build a nuclear warhead small enough to fit onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. “North Korea’s development of ballistic missiles and its nuclear program are becoming increasingly real and presenting imminent problems for the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, as well as the rest of the world,” said the Japanese report.

The report caused more shock than it should have when it finally reached the world media on Tuesday, Aug. 8, because their US intelligence sources were fully aware of what was going on for some time. They are now reporting that there may be as many as 60 nukes in the North Korean arsenal.

It was time to take seriously Kim Jong-un’s threat Monday of “physical action" in response to the sweeping sanctions the UN Security Council passed in punishment for Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. President Donald Trump tweeted back: “After many years of failure, countries are coming together to finally address the dangers posed by North Korea. We must be tough & decisive.”

US intelligence also estimates from recent tests that North Korea is likely to be able to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles by next year.  So America now faces is a ruthless, unpredictable dictator who will soon be capable of of launching a nuclear attack on its mainland. This threat confronts President Trump with a scary test..

But while all eyes were fixed on the burly dictator in Pyongyang, hardly anyone noticed that North Korea and Iran this week signed a series of new military accords which are no less dangerous to world peace.

Parliament Speaker Kim Yong Nam, who is rated No. 2 in the Kim regime, ended a 10-day visit to Tehran on Monday, Aug. 7 by inking the new agreements. His official errand in Tehran was to represent Pyongyang at the swearing-in ceremony of President Hassan Rouhani and inaugurate the new North Korean embassy building in the Iranian capital. But he came with a large delegation of North Korean military officers who spent hours in conference with the heads of Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, as well as the leaders of the powerful Revolutionary Guards.

The precise details of Pyongyang’s continued contribution to the upgrade of Iran’s technology in those areas under close wraps. But for Kim, the important thing is Iran’s multibillion dollar investment in the partnership in return in return for allowing Iranian engineers and scientists to work alongside North Korean experts in the two fields.

The irony is that, while the Security Council unanimously approved tough economic sanctions estimated to cost North Korea an estimated $1bn in state revenue - for which President Trump praised the world powers - Kim has managed to lay his hands on enough cash from Tehran to keep his nuclear and missile programs moving apace.  Some of that cash comes from the sanction relief the Americans and Europeans granted Iran for signing its 2015 nuclear deal.

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7 août 2017 1 07 /08 /août /2017 22:10
A pilot killed, 2nd injured in IAF Apache crash
DEBKAfile Special Report August 8, 2017, 12:46 AM (IDT)

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The IDF spokesman reported Monday night, Aug. 8 that an Israeli Air force Apache helicopter had crashed on a test flight for checking the Apache fleet’s fitness for operations upon returning to the Ramon Air Base in the Negev.  The helicopter belonging to the 190th Squadron reported a technical misfunction and a few minutes later at 21:01 hours crashed between the two runways of the base. It came down from roughly the same altitude as the control tower of the Ramon base.

The forward pilot, a reserve major was killed on the spot. The rear pilot, a young lieutenant, was critically injured. His family previously lost a member in an air force action.

The Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel took charge of the incident from the base’s situation room. He appointed a panel of experts to investigate what caused the disaster, led by a senior helicopter engineer and representatives of Boeing, the manufacturer of Apache helicopters. Eshel ordered the entire Apache fleet grounded for the second time in two months - the first time when a rear rotor of one of the craft developed a crack.

 

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6 août 2017 7 06 /08 /août /2017 15:21
Abdullah in Ramallah will strike anti-Israel stance
DEBKAfile Special Report August 5, 2017, 9:58 PM (IDT)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jordanian King Abdullah’s forfhcoming visit to Ramallah Monday, Aug. 7, for talks with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, bodes ill for Jordanian-Israeli relations at an especially jarring moment.

The Israeli embassy security officer Ziv Moyal, who on July 24 shot dead two Jordanians in the embassy compound when he was attacked with a screwdriver, left a trail of Jordanian ill will in his wake, especially since the incident occurred in the middle of the Temple House crisis in Jerusalem.

King Abdullah proposes to turn this unfortunate incident into a springboard for persuading the Palestinian leader to work with Jordan in the framework of the peace initiative US President Donald Trump is trying to resuscitate between Israel and the Palestinians.


Abdullah also plans to take advantage of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at a moment of political and personal weakness. He is under a barrage of reported police investigations into allegations of corruption. Netanyahu has brushed the reports aside as “background noise.”

Jordan and Israeli signed a peace treaty in 2004. But since the shooting at the embassy, the Israeli ambassador and staff have not returned to Amman. And with tensions still running high, there is no sign that normal diplomatic business will be resumed any time soon.

In Ramallah, security cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel is still suspended, since Abbas ordered a freeze in the heat of the Palestinian disturbances over the security measures Israel put in place after the murder of two of his police guards.

The Jordanian king believes that there is plenty of common fodder for him and the Palestinian leader to build a united front that will boost him politically and personally at home. The Hashemite throne is in urgent need of shoring up after the shaking it took from an event that had nothing to do with Temple Mount, Jerusalem or Israel.

Abdullah had to sign a life sentence handed down by a Jordanian court against Marik al-Tuwayha, a Jordanian soldier who fired 70 bullets into vehicle of carrying US military instructors, killing three of them.

The court also booted the shooter out of the royal armed forces.
This judgment was a direct hit at the Tuwayha, a Bedouin tribe that by tradition sends its sons to the royal army and is historically loyal to the Hashemite throne. The fact that one of those sons attacked American soldiers carried the dread message that extremist ISIS ideology has penetrated deep into the king’s most solid power base.

The monarch is therefore in an extremely tight spot: He can’t afford to lose the Tuwayha tribe’s allegiance, on the one hand, but neither can be afford to alienate the Americans, when the US along with Israel, are his regime’s economic and security mainstay.

Netanyahu’s warm hug for the security officer on his safe return from Amman put up too many backs in Jordan and its streets for its king to weather the storm without striking a strong anti-Israeli posture. The Palestinian leader will no doubt take advantage of this situation to stir up the crisis between Amman and Jerusalem and so and lift his own plummeting fortunes in the Palestinian street. The royal visit to Ramallah, the first Abdullah has made in five years, will most likely produce a stream of invective against Israel and tough statements assailing Israel’s right to sovereignty over Jerusalem and Temple Mount.

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