Monday, 2 September 2013

Dubious Intelligence and Iran Blackmail: How Israel is driving the US to war in Syria

President Barack Obama’s August 31 announcement that he would seek congressional authorization to strike Syria has complicated an aggressive Israeli campaign to render a US attack inevitable. While the Israelis are far from the only force in bringing the US to the brink of war – obviously Assad’s own actions are the driving factor – their dubious intelligence assessments have proven pivotal.

On April 25, the head of the Israeli army’s Military Intelligence research and analysis division, Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, delivered a high profile lecture at the military-linked Institute for National Security Studies. “To the best of our professional understanding, the [Syrian] regime has used lethal chemical weapons,” Brun declared, referring to March 19 attacks near Damascus and Aleppo.

“The very fact that they have used chemical weapons without any appropriate reaction,” Brun said, “is a very worrying development, because it might signal that this is legitimate.”

The stunning statement by the Israeli army’s top intelligence analyst was significantly stronger than suspicions expressed days before by the UK and France about the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons. It was clearly aimed at Obama, who had declared in the summer of 2012 that chemical weapons attacks on civilian targets would transgress a “red line” and trigger US military action. But the White House pushed back against the Israeli ploy, dispatching Secretary of State John Kerry to demand Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supply more conclusive evidence.

“I don’t know yet what the facts are,” Kerry said after a phone call with Netanyahu, “I don’t think anybody knows what they are.” more

Egyptian army demolishes homes, tunnels along Gaza border

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Egyptian forces have demolished six tunnels and 20 homes near the Gaza border since Sunday, an Egyptian security official said Monday.

Egyptian forces used explosives to destroy four smuggling tunnels in the Sarsuriyya neighborhood on Sunday and two tunnels in Hilwat on Monday, the security official told Ma'an,

Twenty homes near the border have been destroyed, he added.

The official said Egyptian forces had destroyed over 350 smuggling tunnels since the army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in early July.

Egyptian forces have tightened control of Rafah, a town that straddles the Egypt-Gaza border, as well as the waters by the border to prevent smuggling by sea.

Egypt's navy has deployed lightly-armed warships off the coast of the border and banned fishing near Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid. more

Israeli military detonates bombs along Gaza border

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli military forces detonated two bombs along the border with the Gaza Strip on Monday, Israel's army said.

"IDF soldiers exploded two concealed explosive devices in the northern Gaza Strip," an Israeli army spokesman told Ma'an.

"This is the second incident of its kind in two days. There were no injuries caused." more