DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 20, 2008
Former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, energized by more than two years in opposition, is launching his Likud party into Israel's general election campaign with a new look and a new top echelon.
debkafile's political sources report he is remolding it into a center-right party with a new leadership made up of the middle generation of Likud stalwarts and an infusion of outsiders from non-political occupations, rival parties, and at least two ex-generals.
Yaalon, designated for the key slot of defense minister, is a critical piece in Netanyahu's jigsaw puzzle.
A member of Kibbutz Grofit, the former chief of staff may bring Likud its first substantial contribution from the kibbutz movement. It consists of the Labor and Kadima factions, which seriously question the two-state solution of the Israel-Arab dispute propounded by President Bush and embraced by prime minister Ariel Sharon and his leading disciples, foreign minister Tzipi Livni and Ehud Olmert.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 11, 2005
Ibrahim Jaafari's government in Baghdad has issued arrest warrants for 27 senior officials, members of the preceding interim government headed by Iyad Allawi.
They are suspected of embezzling $ 1.3bn dollars of military procurement funds. The Iraqi Board of Supreme Audit in a report reviewed by Knight Ridder accuses these officials of using their eight months in office (June 28, 2004 to February, 2005) to set up three intermediary companies to hide the kickbacks they received from contracts involving unnecessary, overpriced or outdated equipment.
debkafile's Baghdad sources refer to rumors that the charges leveled by the Jaafari government may be politically-motivated. The prime minister, who heads the religious Shiite Dawa party, may be seeking to discredit his predecessor, Allawi, who is a secular Shiite and General Shaalan, who plan to run at the head of an independent list in the December 2005 general election.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 13, 2005
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani's United Iraqi (Shiite) Alliance of 16 parties pulled ahead of the pack in Iraq's first democratic election, earning 48% and a block of 132 seats in the new national assembly - but not an absolute majority. In an earlier report published on February 4, debkafile predicted that the UIA would not win a majority of the new house despite its claim of 60 of the electorate. Iraq's 8.55 million voters (58% turnout) awarded 25.4% to the United Kurdish List, placing it in second place, followed by interim PM Allawi's list with a disappointing 14%. The message the Iraqi voter broadcast loud and clear, therefore, was that any future regime in Baghdad must be based on a Shiite-Kurdish coalition. No single faction can rule alone. Ambassador John Negroponte and Ford are making every effort to keep Iyad Allawi in the job of prime minister. Intense wheeling and dealing has been afoot in recent days to enhance his chances leading to an offer of the presidency to Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 4, 2005
By Thursday night, February 3, 15% of the 8 million ballots (representing a 57% turnout according to official figures) cast in Iraq's January 30 general election for 275 national assembly seats had been counted.
Although it is early days for extrapolation, debkafile's Iraq specialists list interesting preliminary results: App. 20% is a better-than-predicted gain for the group headed by pro-American Allawi and outgoing president Ghazi Yawar and has raised Allawi's hopes of staying in office. The prime minister and president need a two-thirds majority in the national assembly to be confirmed. The Allawi-Yawar group came out in top place in the northern city of Mosul; in second spot behind the UIA in large Shiite constituencies like Baghdad, Najef and Karbala. Comment: This windfall owes much to Allawi's successful performance as prime minister and his widespread popularity.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 31, 2005
Iraq's epic general election for a 275-member national assembly Sunday, January 30, was a success by the very fact of its taking place. Despite the violence leading up to the event and promised bloodbath, a surprising number of Iraqis were not intimidated and turned out in larger or smaller numbers almost everywhere. Iraq's Baath loyalists and al Qaeda's three organizations - the Iraqi group led by Abu Mussab al Zarqawi, Ansar al Sunna and Ansar al Islam - managed by a concerted effort to pull off some 16 suicide attacks killing more than 30 Iraqis. Yet they failed to derail the election and therefore reduced their leverage in post-election Iraq. debkafile's Iraq experts reveal that, while the turnout is officially estimated at 60%, the real figure will probably turn out to be quite a bit lower, no more than 40-45% - in itself an exceptional feat. The other surprising manifestation was the high proportion of Iraqi women voters - appraised at more than 55% of the total.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 9, 2004
The UN Security Council resolution that stamped Iraq's provisional government with international approval threatens to confront that government with its first crisis. The Kurds are threatening to walk out, dismayed by the omission from the text of any reference to the interim constitution which enshrined Kurdish autonomous rule in three northern Iraqi provinces. The crucial provision was excluded - notwithstanding the Herculean efforts of the two Kurdish leaders Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani - thus satisfying Iraq's majority Shiites and most of the Arab world. Iraqi's new public works minister, Nasreen Barwari, a Kurd and one of six women in the 33-member government, expressed shock at the UN decision. "All the struggles we made last year are lost...I question how the document stands up legally. If the leadership calls us to withdraw from the government, we will do so."
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 12, 2003
The Palestinian legislative council set their faces to confirm the new cabinet presented by Ahmed Qureia Wednesday out of a sense of fatalism, although many lawmakers openly called it "Arafat's government", deeply disturbed by the control he retained over Palestinian security forces and presence of former administration members accused of corruption. Powerless to stand up to the ageing Arafat, Abu Ala followed his dictation to be sworn in as second Palestinian prime minister after ceding most of the authority needed to arrest the rapid breakdown of Palestinian governance into terror-generated chaos. The keynote speech Arafat delivered to the council was described as the Qureia government's "mandate."
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 2, 2003
Israeli governments have never formulated any clear, consistent policy towards the country's Arab citizens, who today number some 1.3 million, representing one fifth of the population. This evasiveness is reflected in the justice meted out by the judicial system to the members of this minority. Many Israel Arabs admit freely to living in an intolerable no-man's land betwixt and between their Arab and Israeli identities, especially in times of conflict. At the same time, justified or not, policy-makers in Jerusalem claim "security considerations" as their rationale for selling Israeli Arabs short on civil rights and equality of opportunity. At least three generations of this minority have learned to view "Israeli justice", as a synonym for separate codes of justice for Jews and Arabs.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 20, 2003
Israel's Labor Party, whose walkout from Ariel Sharon's national unity government on October 31 forced the early election taking place in eight days time, has fallen victim to its own stratagem. The historic party, at the head of which David Ben Gurion founded the state of Israel in 1948, is dying on its feet, a process speeded by its wet firecracker election campaign for the 16th Knesset election. Likud is fast recovering lost ground, reaching 33 at the last sampling, while Labor has sunk to 19. The crosscut of Israelis canvassed are bent on punishing Labor for the sin of breaking up the national unity government in a period of emergency and for its choice of leader.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 8, 2001
In turning down US-Euro mediation efforts, Arafat is therefore saying in effect: I, Yasser Arafat, will not destroy Palestinian unity while U.S. vice president Richard Cheney as long as defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld plan to shift the global anti-terror war to Lebanon and Iraq.
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