MIDDLE EAST CRISIS UPDATE – Daily Reports – Cumulative For Your Reference

Posted on June 20, 2010


Ex-CIA chief Hayden: Military action against Iran “seems inexorable”

DEBKAfile Special Report July 25, 2010, 10:41 PM (GMT+02:00)

Tags:  Iran nuclear Michael Hayden US military option

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden

Ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden said Sunday, July 25, that during his tenure (under President George W. Bush), a strike was “way down the list” of options. But now it “seems inexorable” because no matter what the US does diplomatically, Tehran keeps pushing ahead with its suspected nuclear program.
Talking to CNN’s State of the Union, Gen. Hayden predicted Iran would build its program to the point where it’s just below having an actual weapon. In his view, “That would be as destabilizing to the region as the real thing.”
debkafile’s sources take this as affirmation that neither Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf states nor Israel will be willing to live on constant edge with an Iran which can build nuclear bombs or warheads whenever it likes. They note that Hayden has added his voice to a growing number of leading American figures and publications which have indicated in the past fortnight that the military option against Iran has climbed the top of President Barack Obama’s list of priorities.
According to our Washington sources, the US president switched course after hearing Saudi King Abdullah assert explicitly: “We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.”
Abdullah added he no longer believes diplomacy or sanctions will have any effect and made it clear that if the Americans continued to back away from direct action to terminate Iran’s advance on a nuclear bomb, the Saudi and its allies would go their own way on the nuclear issue. [Remainder of article here.]

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Israeli generals win US high-tech ballistic missile tracking system

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 18, 2010, 8:41 PM (GMT+02:00)

Tags:  Active missile defense system Iran US arms for Israel

US AN-TPY-2 radar, coordinated US-Israeli early warning nerve center

A ballistic missile fired at Israeli from any spot in the Middle East, be it Iran, Syria or South Lebanon, can now be tracked from launch by top Israeli commanders by means of the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense System (ALTBMD) developed to protect NATO forces against missile threat and provided Israel by the United States.

debkafile’s military sources report: The system’s interim stage links up radars of early warning sensors, radar, missile interceptors and space-based detectors. This integrated, layered protective network against tactical missile threats will alert Israeli division and brigade commanders in the field and the home front from a combined US-Israel operations center to the launching of a ballistic missile (from up to 3,000 kilometers) against Israel by sea, air or land.
For the first time, Israel’s war commanders will be forewarned in real time of an approaching ballistic missile, its estimated launch point and impact target and be able track the engagement by counter-missiles. The information will give them a sense of whether the incoming missile threatens command bases, military forces or civilian population areas.

Our military sources add that the US Defense Department has decided to arm NATO generals in Afghanistan and Europe with interim ALTBMD capabilities by the end of the year, as part of America’s preparations for war with Iran. It will be delivered by the contractors, ThalesRaytheonSystems.
In the last nine months, the US and Israeli armies have carried out two training exercises in the use of this system – first during the big Juniper Cobra 2010 war game last November just after an intelligence alert that Iran, Syria and Hizballah had doubled their ballistic missile arsenals; again, from June 6-10, when the USS Harry S. Truman Strike Force was anchored 50 miles off Israel’s southern shore. They practiced combined responses to possible Iranian, Syrian or Hizballah attacks on Israel in the event of a war with Iran. [Remainder of article here]

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Hizballah advances 20,000 troops to Israeli border

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis July 11, 2010, 4:42 PM (GMT+02:00)

Tags:  France Hizballah Israel Lebanon

Hizballah ammo bunker in Al-Khiam

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu keeps on vowing that Iran will not be allowed to establish an outpost on Israel’s borders, but he has not lifted a finger to stop this menace ensconcing itself in the north. He cannot realistically expect feeble UN reprimands and the puny French contingent of UNIFIL to blow away the 20,000 Hizballah troops dug in in 160 new positions in South Lebanon, backed by a vast rocket arsenal – even though this is a gross violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701.
Iran’s proxy has therefore won the first round of its drive to recover the forward positions lost in the 2006 war and stands ready for the next. Israel has reinforced its border defenses against this massed Hizballah strength just a few hundreds meters away.
How could Jerusalem let this to happen?
The answer is by a misguided policy of misdirected reliance on international players and diplomacy, as though the military menace existed only in documentary form, instead of real armies led by single-minded terrorists with utter contempt for the rules of international diplomacy.
The guns Israel invoked for dealing with the Palestinian Hamas in Gaza – President Barack Obama and the European Union – were too big for their target and the Middle East Quartet’s envoy former British premier Tony Blair had to be roped in. The guns Israel relied on to deal with Hizballah – the UN and France – are too small and ineffective for the job.

Following a French complaint, the UN Security Council convened Friday, July 9 and passed a resolution “strongly deploring the recent incidents involving UNIFIL peacekeepers which took place in southern Lebanon on June 29, July 3 and July 4.” All parties in Lebanon were urged “to respect the safety of UNIFIL and United Nations personnel.”
The UN was not even asked to address Hizballah’s illegal redeployment in new positions in the South – only the harassment of peacekeepers – nor did it do so. In one instance last week, French troops on patrol were pulled out of their armed vehicles, their weapons snatched and they were beaten with sticks, rocks and eggs.

This was no spontaneous outburst.  debkafile’s military sources report that the “villagers” were instructed by Iran’s new Iranian commander in Lebanon, Hossein Mahadavi, to hit on the French contingent to punish Paris for supporting the UN Security Council’s expanded sanctions for its nuclear violations, while at the same time blocking the peacekeeper’s access to the “closed areas” where the new Hizballah bases have been set up. [Remainder of article here]

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Aid flotilla likely will not sail to Gaza, Israel says

Workers load supplies on to a cargo ship at the Lavrio port,  southeast of Athens, Greece, on Friday.

Workers load supplies on to a cargo ship at the Lavrio port, southeast of Athens, Greece, on Friday

Jerusalem (CNN) — An aid flotilla intended to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza likely will dock at another port, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said Saturday.

The 2,000 tons of aid, organized by the a global charity headed by the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, was to set sail Saturday from the Greek port of Lavrio to Gaza. The food and medication were being transported on a Moldovan ship.

The charity’s website said the cargo displayed “support and solidarity with the people of Gaza and their plight under siege.”

Israel had appealed to the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia — the four parties that have been involved on mediating Israeli-Palestinian peace talks — to stop the ship from sailing to Gaza, according to an official with the foreign ministry.

“The flotilla does not help the people of Gaza, it only helps Hamas,” he told CNN. “If they want to help the people of Gaza they should deliver the aid to Israel and Israel will deliver it to the people of Gaza.”

After negotiations with Greece and Moldova, all indications Saturday were that the ship would sail to another port, said Tzahi Moshe, spokesperson for Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Israel was heavily criticized after its commandos stormed an aid flotilla bound for Gaza on May 31, leaving nine Turkish activists dead and several Israeli soldiers wounded after an melee broke out on one of the aid ships, the “Mavi Marmara.”

Israel denies that its soldiers were trigger happy in the raid, saying the troops were in danger of being lynched and only acted in self-defense after the activists had initiated the violence.

Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza in June 2006 and tightened it the following year after Hamas took control of Gaza. After the May incident, Israel eased restrictions, allowing a flurry of previously banned goods into the Hamas controlled territory. But the naval blockade remains intact.

CNN’s Frederik Pleitgen contributed to this report.

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Two incidents in the Middle East have gained Israel a new ally in Greece; confirmation that US understands their need for defense. [Telegraph via Drudge]

Israel loses Turkey, gains Greece as strategic partner

DEBKAfile DEBKA-Net-Weekly July 4, 2010, 11:09 PM (GMT+02:00)

Tags:  Israel-Greece

Greek FM George Panadreou shows interest

Israel has finally moved on from its fractured relationship with Turkey – notwithstanding the impression conveyed by some US and Israeli circles that the damage is not beyond repair. This week, the Israeli Minister of Trade and Labor Minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer made last-ditch bid to save the relationship by initiating a meeting in Zurich with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutolu. It went badly and was hotly debated at the Israeli cabinet meeting Sunday, July 4. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he thought it was worth a try, but most ministers said that given Ankara’s harsh hostility, it should never have taken place.
Meanwhile, as Western and Turkish media outlets harped on Israel’s loss of its only Muslim ally in the Middle East, Jerusalem was busy acquiring a new strategic partner:  Greece, a NATO member like Turkey with plenty of Middle East interests, has shown interest in stepping into Turkey’s shoes and investing in stronger military and intelligence ties.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly 450 reported on June 25 from sources in Athens and Jerusalem that this development was not so much planned in Jerusalem as initiated by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who boasts many Jewish and Israeli friends and business contacts, some of whom hold high political and intelligence positions in Israel. He saw Athens’ chance to slot into Ankara’s place in Jerusalem and transform their present diplomatic, economic, military and intelligence ties into a thriving strategic alliance, that would carry the same advantages to both sides as did Israel’s former relations with Turkey.

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Oil giant BP stops refueling Iranian airliners in Europe – in face of threatened reprisals

DEBKAfile Special Report July 5, 2010, 5:19 PM (GMT+02:00)
Iran Air grounded by US sanctions

The new US sanctions covering the sale to Iran of refined oil products including gasoline and jet oil, which President Barak Obama signed into law Friday, July 2, have gone into action, debkafile’s Iranian and military sources report. Monday, July 5, Mehdi Aliyari, secretary of Iranian Airlines Union, said airports in Britain, Germany, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates had refused to refuel Iranian passenger planes. He said the cutoff affected the national carrier Iran Air and the biggest Iranian private airline Mahan Air, both of which operate several flights to Europe.

Following this announcement, a spokeswoman of the oil giant BPsaid “we will comply with any international sanctions that are imposed.  And that goes also for the new round of US sanctions following a decision by Congress.” Around Friday, BP sent faxes to its refueling operations in some European countries, including those owned with partners, ordering a ban on refueling for several Iranian airlines, including Iran Air.
BP is under US pressure over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The fuel cutoff comes in the middle of the summer holiday rush to and from Iran, forcing holiday-makers to resort to the few foreign airlines putting into Tehran for their overseas flights.

Tehranis particularly put out by the refusal of the United Arab Emirates’ international airport in Dubai to provide fueling services. It is a transit hub for the many of millions of Iranians who fly to Persian Gulf and Middle East destinations. So central is this facility to Iran’s international air connections that it has two terminals, one for ordinary traffic and one just for Iranian flights.
Pervez Sorouri, a lawmaker and member of Iranian parliament’s committee on foreign policy and national security, warned Tehran would take retaliatory action for these sanctions, especially towards the United Arab Emirates. An Abu Dhabi Airports Company spokeswoman later denied it had stopped supplying Iranian jets with fuel.
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority reacted to the Iranian statement by saying this move would be down to individual fuel companies and Germany’s Transport Ministry would not comment on whether individual providers were refusing to fuel Iranian aircraft.

Both commented that US sanctions prohibit the sale to Iran of refined petroleum products worth more than $5 million over a year and were being careful not to exceed this amount.
But all three were clearly prompted by the Iranian threat of retaliation to issue equivocal statements about their actions.
According to debkafile, the Iranian man in the street will very soon feel the rough edge of the new American measures. The cost of foreign air travel will very shortly shoot up, along with domestic flights which are the lifeline of business activity in the country. The rising price of gasoline is bound to affect food prices; so too will soaring insurance rates for shipping fuel and other merchandize to the Islamic Republic.
Since Friday, Iranian leaders have been telling the public that the new US sanctions will not affect their lives and their government has set up alternative arrangements to bypass them. But they will now have a hard time explaining away penalties that affect the life of every individual and family.
Saturday, after learning its passenger flights would be denied fuel, Iran’s leaders held an emergency conference to decide how to react. When President Obama signed the new sanctions Friday, our Iranian sources reported that Tehran was bound to retaliate – either against oil shipping bound for the US, Europe and the Far East from Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf – with immediate effect on world oil prices – or some other means.
For debkafile’s report on the first Iranian threats in response to the new US sanctions, click here

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Iran moves radar to Syria: US official

Jul 2 04:44 PM US/Eastern

Iran has moved radar to Syria that could provide early-warning against a possible surprise Israeli air attack against Tehran’s nuclear sites, a US defense official said on Friday.The radar transfer was first reported in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday and prompted the State Department to voice concerns about cooperation between Syria and Iran.

The sophisticated radar were deployed in Syria last year, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

The move could bolster Iran’s position amid long-running speculation that Israel might stage a bombing raid against Tehran’s nuclear enrichment facilities.

Information from new radar also could potentially help the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah with its missile arsenal and air defenses.

Israel and the United States have refused to rule out military action against Iran over its nuclear program, which Washington says is designed to secure atomic weapons.

Iran has insisted its enrichment effort is purely peaceful and aimed at generating electricity.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley on Thursday said Washington had concerns about the relationship between Iran and Syria.

“We don’t believe that Iran’s designs for the region are in Syria’s best interest,” Crowley told reporters.

While acknowledging that all countries “have the right to protect themselves,” the spokesman said the reported radar delivery would be of concern due to Syria’s relationship with Hezbollah.

President Barack Obama warned Iran Thursday it faced mounting isolation, signing tough new US sanctions he said would strike at Tehran’s capacity to finance its nuclear program.

The measures, on top of new UN Security Council and European sanctions, aim to choke off Iran’s access to imports of refined petroleum products like gasoline and jet fuel and curb its access to the international banking system. [Breitbart via Drudge]

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Iran threatens oil routes as Obama signs tough new energy sanctions

DEBKAfile Special Report July 2, 2010, 10:24 AM (GMT+02:00)

Tags:  Iranian Gen. Vahidi Obama US sanctions for Iran

Obama signs first sanctions with bite

A US-Iran showdown loomed closer early Friday, July 2, when president Barack Obama signed into law a series of energy sanctions, the toughest yet, for arresting Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Iran’s defense minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi warned that searches of its ships or planes would have “dire consequences” for world security and the Middle East in particular.

The law drafted by Congress shuts US markets to firms that provide Iran with refined petroleum products, such as gasoline and jet fuel, invest in its energy sector, or provide financing, insurance or shipping services. Non-US banks doing business with blacklisted Iranian entities, primarily Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps organizations, will be banned from US markets.
These measures complement and strengthen the new UN Security Council sanctions and European measures and will hit every Iranian. The oil-rich country Islamic Republic imports 40 percent of its refined oil needs because of its own inadequate refining capacity. Any investors in projects for developing this sector would be punishable under the new US law.

Article continued here

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Secret Israeli emissary fails to cool Turkey’s animosity

DEBKAfile Special Report June 30, 2010, 10:47 PM (GMT+02:00)

Tags:  Erdogan Flotilla probe Israel

Turkish injured taken to hospital in Israel

Israel’s infrastructure minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer met Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu secretly in Zurich Wednesday, June 30 in an effort to alleviate the crisis in relations. The meeting took place with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s knowledge. It was kept dark from foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who issued a statement Wednesday night that he considered the meeting a betrayal of trust between the prime minister and himself.
debkafile reports that the secret rendezvous ended predictably without results because Turkey’s campaign against Israel is in full flight and it refused to budge an inch from its demands for an Israeli apology over the flotilla incident, its removal of the sea blockade against the Gaza Strip and compensation to the nine Turks killed in the clash with Israel commandos aboard the Turkish Mavi Marmara on May 31.
The initiative for this rendezvous was taken in Ankara as a mark of the Israeli government’s weakness. [More here]

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Third US carrier, 4,000 Marines augment US armada opposite Iran

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 28, 2010, 10:45 PM (GMT+02:00)
Tags:  Iran Persian Gulf USS Nassau

USS Nassau: More US naval-air-marine muscle off Iran

Washington has posted a third carrier opposite Iran’s shores, debkafile’s military sources report. It is supported by amphibious assault ships and up to 4,000 marines and sailors, bringing the total US strength in these waters to three carriers and 10,000 combat personnel.
Our sources add: In the face of the USS Nassau (LHA-4) Amphibious Ready Group 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit around the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, Iran called off its “aid ship” to Gaza.

Read more ..click on headline

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Iran cancels plan to send ship to Gaza

AP

Sat Jun 26, 11:42 am ET

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran will not be sending a blockade-busting ship to Gaza in defiance of Israeli warnings, an Iranian lawmaker said Saturday, citing Israeli “restrictions.”

Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash told the semiofficial ISNA news agency that instead of sending a ship, an Iranian delegation of lawmakers would travel to Lebanon and sail on one of the aid ships expected to head to Gaza from there.

The Iranian ship called “Infants of Gaza” had been expected to sail Sunday for Gaza carrying 1,100 tons of relief supplies and 10 pro-Palestinian activists but plans were canceled “due to restrictions imposed by the occupying Zionist regime,” Bighash said.

Iran made the announcement Tuesday prompting Israel to warn its archenemy to drop the plan.

Israel considers Iran a threat because of its suspect nuclear program, its long-range missiles and its support for Lebanese and Gaza militants.

Israeli security officials said the prospect of an Iranian boat headed for Gaza had Israel deeply worried, and that naval commandos were training for the possibility of taking on a vessel with a suicide bomber on board.

After an international outcry over the killing of nine Turkish activists in a May 31 raid on another aid ship, Israel eased its land blockade of Gaza but insisted on maintaining a naval blockade it says is necessary to keep weapons shipments out of the hands of Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Israel imposed the blockade after Hamas overran the Palestinian territory in June 2007.

In Lebanon, organizers of the ship, “Julia,” said they plan to sail in the next few days but said they had nothing to with Iran. A second ship will only be transporting women, while a third ship will include parliamentarians from the Middle East and Europe. It is not clear when that ship will sail.

ME war tensions mount over Gaza-bound “enemy ships.” Hizballah pledges reprisal
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 24, 2010, 1:11 PM (GMT+02:00)

Tags:  Enemy vessels Gaza blockade Hizballah Lebanese PM Hariri

The stop-go Lebanese Julia

Ominous clouds gathered over the Mediterranean Thursday, June 24 after Israel announced that ships bound for Gaza would be deemed “enemy vessels” and halted by its navy by whatever means were necessary. Hizballah shot back with a threat of violent retaliation, while Israel’s northern commander warned that the IDF was prepared to deal with threats from Lebanon by “appropriate means.”

With two ships, one Lebanese and one Iranian, already at sea, the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was reported by debkafile’s intelligence sources as coupling his public support for the sea campaign to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza with a quiet bid to stall it.

He privately asked Cypriot President Demetris Christofias, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and the Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi to deny Lebanese ships bound for Gaza permission to drop anchor, refuel or load provisions at their ports, in order to prevent them from proceeding to Gaza.
Hariri explained that he feared the flotilla campaign to break the Israeli blockade would precipitate a new Middle East war.[Read the remainder of this article here [DebkaFile]

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Iran on war alert over “US and Israeli concentrations” in Azerbaijan
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 23, 2010, 1:23 PM (GMT+02:00)

Tags:  Azerbaijan Iranian war preparations US-Israel

Iran’s land forces on the ready

In a rare move, Iran has declared a state of war on its northwestern border, debkafile’s military and Iranian sources report. Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps men and equipment units are being massed in the Caspian Sea region against what Tehran claims are US and Israeli forces concentrated on army and air bases in Azerbaijan ready to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The announcement came on Tuesday, June 22 from Brig.-Gen Mehdi Moini of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), commander of the forces tasked with “repelling” this American-Israeli offensive. He said: “The mobilization is due to the presence of American and Israeli forces on the western border,” adding, “Reinforcements are being dispatched to West Azerbaijan Province because some western countries are fueling ethnic conflicts to destabilize the situation in the region.”

In the past, Iranian officials have spoken of US and Israel attacks in general terms. debkafile’s Iranian sources note that this is the first time that a specific location was mentioned and large reinforcements dispatched to give the threat substance.

Other Iranian sources report that in the last few days, Israel has secretly transferred a large number of bomber jets to bases in Azerbaijan, via Georgia, and that American special forces are also concentrated in Azerbaijan in preparation for a strike.

No comment has come from Azerbaijan about any of these reports. Iranian Azerbaijan, the destination of the Revolutionary Guards forces reinforcements, borders on Turkey, Iraq and Armenia. Witnesses say long IRGC convoys of tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft units and infantry are seen heading up the main highways to Azerbaijan and then further north to the Caspian Sea. [Read remainder of the article here.]

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US-led armada secretly drilled bombing Iranian targets, missile defense with Israel
DEBKAfile DEBKA-Net-Weekly June 21, 2010, 6:54 PM (GMT+02:00)

Tags:  Israeli Air Force Robert Gates USS Truman

SuperHornets taking off from US carrier

The armada of 10 US warships plus an Israeli and German battle vessel each, which transited the Suez Canal Friday, June 18, has reached the Persian Gulf, debkafile’s military sources report.
But first, from June 6 through June 10, the USS Harry S. Truman carrier Strike Group was deployed 50 miles off the shore of southwestern Israel, secretly drilling the interception of incoming Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah missiles and rockets against US and Israeli targets in the Middle East.
This was first revealed by DEBKA-Net-Weekly 449 on June 18.

The fleet let by the Truman then headed for the Persian Gulf through the Suez Canal accompanied by an Israeli missile ship (not identified) and the German missile frigate FGS Hessen F221.

For five days and night, the Truman’s sixty F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter bombers took off on simulated bombing missions against targets set up by the Israeli Air Force at its firing range on the Nevatim Base-28, in the Negev desert southeast of Be’er Sheva – one of its three big air bases.
The exercise was prompted by rising tensions from Syria’s deployment of advanced Scud missiles for Hizballah on its border with Lebanon. it took place not far from the spot where Israeli commandos subsequently raided the Turkish Mavi Marmara on May 31.
The exercise had 60 American F-16 fighter jets landing at Israeli Air Force facilities from bases in Germany and Romania, refueling and taking off with Israeli fighter bombers to practice long-range bombing missions over the Red Sea and the Mediterranean and drill air-to-air combat along the way.

Read the remainder of this article including warning about Iran’s capabilities by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at [DebkaFile]

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'Mariam' gets green light to set sail
Photo by: Associated Press

‘Mariam’ gets green light to set sail

By JPOST.COM STAFF
06/21/2010 11:44

All-female Lebanese aid ship to head to Cyprus first, says minister.

Lebanon has given permission for another flotilla to leave Tripoli for Gaza, according to a Beirut minister quoted by an-Nahar Monday morning.Lebanese Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi said that the vessels would make an intermediate stop in Cyprus in order to abide by UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which calls for a full cessation of hostilities by both Lebanon and Israel and forbids any paramilitary activity south of the Litani River.

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Aridi said the voyage of the ship, the French-registered Julia, would not violate the terms of the cease-fire resolution. To clear the confusion over the latest Gaza flotilla initiative, Aridi added that while the ship was named Julia, the voyage itself was named Mariam.

He stressed that Lebanon’s government would take full responsibility over the ship’s course, its cargo and the female activists – both foreign and Lebanese – on board.

On Saturday, Lebanese voyage leader Samar Alhaj told an Arabic-language Nazareth radio station that the women on board the Julia were “the new secret weapon” in use against Israel, which she termed the “thieving enemy.”

Tovah Lazaroff and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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Eleven US warships, one Israeli vessel transit Suez Canal to Persian Gulf

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 19, 2010, 7:54 PM (GMT+02:00)

USS Truman

USS Truman heads for Suez Canal

An armada of 11 US warships and one Israeli vessel passed through the Suez Canal Friday June 18 on their o the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, debkafile reports exclusively from its military sources. The fleet, the first of this composition to navigate the Suez Canal, is led by the USS Harry Truman carrier and its Strike Group of 60 fighter-bombers and 6,000 seamen and marines.
Egyptian port authorities imposed exceptional security measures for the ships’ passage. All commercial and civilian traffic through the Suez Canal was halted and beefed-up security forces posted along both its shores. Egyptian fishermen were recalled to port from their grounds in the Bitter Lake.
The massive movement of this large US naval-air force plus an Israeli contingent is a strong new factor in the continually rising Middle East tensions of the last two weeks, to which Iran has not so far responded.

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Navy braces for next flotillas
Photo by: AP

Navy braces for next flotillas

By YAAKOV KATZ
06/15/2010 04:51

Commander: We’ll assume provocateurs on board; Iran ships on way.

The navy will operate under the assumption that groups of provocateurs are aboard any future ships that try to break the Israel-imposed sea blockade on the Gaza Strip, Deputy Commander of the Navy Rear-Admiral Rani Ben-Yehuda told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Two Iranian cargo ships carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza will leave next week, and one of them will be sailing via Istanbul, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported on Monday. Another flotilla is also expected to soon leave Lebanon for the Gaza Strip.

Ben-Yehuda said that while Israel did not have intelligence indicating that the Iranian ships were carrying weaponry, he said that the navy’s assumption would be that provocateurs are onboard.

“I recommend that humanitarian activists who are planning on participating in these new flotillas think very hard because they cannot know who is on these ships,” he said. “We believe that there will be groups that will try to cause provocations and repeat what happened on the Marmara.”  ‘There are growing signs dozens had terror ties’

In a wide-ranging interview that will appear in Friday’s Frontlines section, Ben-Yehuda defended the Navy commando raid on the Mavi Marmara Turkish passenger ship two weeks ago, which ended with nine dead passengers, all of whom, according to the IDF, were hired mercenaries.

“There are growing signs and proof that there were dozens of people on the ship who had connections with terrorist organizations from around the region and the world,” Ben-Yehuda told the Post. “Some of them were even known to us from past incidents they were involved in.”

Ben-Yehuda said that the nine passengers killed were all Turkish and members of the violent group that attacked the navy commandos from the Navy’s Shayetet 13 (“Flotilla 13”).

The outcome of the operation, Ben-Yehuda said, was not what the Navy had anticipated.

“We expected light resistance but never expected to meet a group of terrorists,” he said, adding however that in the final analysis the operation could be deemed a success.

“No innocent people were killed, only the terrorists,” he said. “When you go into a building that terrorists have taken over and you kill the terrorists, this is also a success.”

In addition, three Iranian parliamentarians are planning to visit Gaza via Egypt, Iranian news agencies reported Monday.

Lawmaker Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash was quoted as saying that he and two other members of the Majlis, the Iranian parliament, would travel to Gaza by way of Egypt later this week.

Bighash said that some 200 of the 290 Iranian MPs had wanted to make the visit, but the three-man team would go instead. He said the Egyptians had expressed a willingness to allow the Iranians to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing.

Iranian MP Mahmoud Ahmadi-Biqash said on Sunday that the Egyptian government has agreed to issue visas to 70 Iranian parliamentarians who have registered to travel to the Gaza Strip. [Jerusalem Post]

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'Flotilla activists' credit cards used'

‘Flotilla activists’ credit cards used’

By JPOST.COM STAFF
06/19/2010 13:22

‘Guardian’ cites bank statements; Israel: Register a complaint.

IDF soldiers have used credit cards confiscated from international activists following the recent raid on the Gaza flotilla, The Guardian reported Friday.According to the report, the cards were confiscated along with much of the activists’ possessions when they were taken into custody by Israeli authorities.

Two activists presented the newspaper with bank statements showing that the cards had been used to purchase merchandise following their confiscation.

“We were held hostage, we were attacked, and now there’s been theft,” Ebrahim Musaji of Gloucester said. “If the police confiscate your goods in the UK, they’re not going to use your goods and think they can get away with it.”

Israel’s embassy in London encouraged the activists to submit a formal complaint.

“We regard any misconduct as described in Mr Musaji’s allegations to be utterly unacceptable and intolerable, and suggest waiting until this subject matter is clarified,” a spokeswoman said.

Posted in: Iran, ISRAEL, MIDDLE EAST