Vol. 15, Issue 681, October 9, 2015
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Moscow Embarks on Electronic Warfare
New Russian Cyber War System atop a Syrian Peak Exposes US F-35s and Israel’s Golan Defenses

In one fell swoop, Russia may have made it nearly impossible for non-friendly warplanes or forces to operate unhindered and undetected around Syria without being subjected to electronic war attacks.
In DEBKA Weekly 680, on Oct. 2, we reported exclusively on the arrival in Syria of the Ilyushin-20 (IL-20 Coot) surveillance plane, capable of intercepting and processing huge amounts of intelligence data and forwarding it in real time to the Russian command and units in the field.
Just a few days later, on Oct. 5, debkafiles military sources reported the deployment of the Navy cruiser Moskva, armed with 64 advanced S-300 ship-to-air missiles, to waters off the coast of the Syrian city of Latakia. Without saying so, Russia had imposed a no-fly zone over most of Syria, northern Israel, southern Turkey, Cyprus, and Jordan, as well as the British air base in Cyprus.
Our sources now reveal that on Oct. 4, Russian cargo ships brought to Syria nine MT-LB armored personnel carriers that were fitted with the Borisoglebsk 2 electronic warfare system, which is one of the most sophisticated of its kind in the world.
At the port, the APCs were loaded onto tank carriers and driven secretly to the highest peak of the Alawite mountains, which run parallel to the coastal plain in northwestern Syria, Their position atop the Nabi Yunis peak, located 1,562 meters (5,125 feet) above sea level, provides the system with an optimal location for control over radio frequencies while being protected from attackers.

A mobile electronic warfare system built inside the APCs

This top-of-the-line system in Syria has been given the mission of enabling the Russian air force to operate unhindered in Middle Eastern skies and, just as importantly, to neutralize US-led coalition special forces operating deep within Syrian territory, and block or disrupt the operations of rebel groups and Islamic State forces.
DEBKA Weekly’s electronic warfare experts point out that the highly complicated Borisoglebsk 2 device is fitted into the interior and walls of the nine APCS, along with receivers that can pick up transmissions on a wide range of frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum. Antennas and powerful transmitters are designed to intercept and jam almost any radio signal carried by the electromagnetic waves in military or civilian use.
The Borisoglebsk 2 system has only just started rolling off top secret Russian assembly lines. It took five years to plan and manufacture the system which was put into service for the first time at the beginning of this year on the Ukraine battlefield.

Effective blocking, jamming range of 100km

The system is capable of blocking and jamming data, video and speech transmission systems; satellite and any other navigation systems which uses GPS technology; two-way radio systems. Just as exposed are communications between control towers and military or civilian aircraft; drone control and management systems; and civilian or military cellular communications, even when encoded.
The nine MT-LB APCs, arrayed in a cluster formation, are highly resistant to light weapons fire and capable of operating in muddy, sandy or mountainous terrain. They serve as a mobile electronic warfare base and are attended by an astonishing large retinue of about 100 engineers, technicians, and infantrymen as well as intelligence, maintenance and logistics troops.
The system’s ideal range depends on several factors, among them the location of its battery, the weather, the climate and the tasks that it is performing, based on the connection with the frequencies it is blocking, the distance from its target and the force of its transmissions.
The effective operational range of the system is estimated to be about 100 kilometers.

US F-35 stealth fighter, Israel’s northern defenses are vulnerable

Meanwhile, as mentioned previously, the presence of the recently-deployed S-300 missiles has created a virtual no-fly zone over a large swath of the Middle East. The only aircraft capable of evading the state-of-the-art missiles is the US F-35 stealth fighter, which is not present in the region.
But the advantages of its deployment would be sharply reduced by the presence of Russia’s new electronic warfare system in Syria. This system can silence or at least jam the stealth fighter’s transmissions, thereby diminishing the air superiority the F-35 would give US forces in the region.
The performance of Israeli intelligence and communication networks, arrayed across the Golan and along the northern border in the upper and western Galilee, may also be badly affected. The Russian system could run interference against the IDF’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles (unless they were autonomous), or the presence in the field of Israeli special forces and air and naval networks, which depend on communications networks to function in their defense of the country’s northern borders.
They have all become vulnerable to the jamming, blocking and interception capabilities the Russians can wield henceforth from their newly-installed electronic warfare station atop the Nabi Yunis peak in Syria.

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The Uyghur Factor in Syrian War
Russia Also Grinds the Chinese Axe by Targeting Uyghurs in Syria. Ankara’s Stake

Ever since Russia began its air strikes in Syria on Sept. 30, the obscure northern town of Jisr Al-Shughur, near Aleppo has been high on its list of targets. Few people outside the Middle East have even heard of this town of 50,000 people. So why has Russia given it such high priority?
There are three reasons:
1. It is controlled by Syrian rebel groups, mainly the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, and is thus a direct threat to Latakia, the coastal city that is the hub of Russia’s main military enclave in Syria, including the air bases from which it launches its air strikes.
2. Its location. The rebels occupying Jisr al-Shughur also threatens the population centers and strongholds of President Bashar Assad’s minority sect, the Alawites, namely the cities of Latakia and Tartus and the Alawite mountain range that runs parallel to the coastal plain. About two million Alawites live in Syria.
3. Its strong Uyghur presence. Jisr Al-Shughur is also home to thousands of people from Chinese Turkestan, mostly Uyghurs. They have not only joined the Al-Nusra Front, but also the Islamic State - ISIS.
This aspect of the Russian strategy is practically unknown in the West.

The jihadist Uyghurs of Jisr Al-Shughur

Ever since Moscow started conducting air strikes in Syria, the US as well as Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have accused Russia of singling out moderate opposition groups backed by the West. This claim is partially correct. The Uyghurs in Jisr Al-Shughur have joined the Al-Nusra Front, but some too have sworn allegiance to ISIS.
Before analyzing the Uyghur’s singular position in Syria’s civil war, it is necessary to understand how they came to Syria in the first place.
In recent years, a large number of families from Chinese Turkestan settled in the Jisr Al-Shughur area, the largest concentration moving into the village of Zanbaq. There were four driving forces behind this migration:
China, which persecutes the Uyghur population of its western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and is bent on purging radical Muslim elements, in particular.
Uzbekistan, which has become the first stop for radical Muslims in flight from China. They join the 100,000 Uyghurs already living there.
Uzbekistan’s NSS secret service in collusion with Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence agency. They have been pushing Uyghurs into Turkey to distance them from Central Asia. The two spy agencies also recruit double agents and informers in this community for planting inside extremist Muslim groups, such as the Al-Nusra Front and ISIS.

Turkey promotes Uyghur Syrian settlement for annexation

MIT - Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, under its director Hakan Fidan, who is a close confidant of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
MIT is under orders to revise the demographic balance in northeastern Syria by encouraging the settlement of ethnic Sunni Turks in order to pave the way for Ankara to eventually annex selected areas. These Uyghurs are being sent to the towns and villages abandoned by four million Syrians, half of whom have taken refuge in Turkey.
Among the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees swarming into Europe from Turkey, the furor they have created misses two particular streams of migrants or asks about Ankara’s underlying intentions.
According to DEBKA Weekly’s sources, Erdogan has issued instructions for two million Syrians in Turkish refugee camps, including Shiites, to be allowed to cross the land and sea routes to Greece and Eastern Europe on their way to Central Europe. The second stream is moving in the opposite direction. It consists of whole families of jihadist Chinese Uyghurs who are being allowed to cross from Turkey into Syria and repopulate select areas earmarked by Ankara for its future land grab.

Ten times more Uyghur jihadists in Syria than Chechens

In all, there are about 55,000 Uyghurs in Syria, although some Middle Eastern sources claim that the number is higher, and is actually between 60,000 and 70,000. Our intelligence sources have identified three main Uyghur population settlements in Syria:

  • Jisr Al-Shughur, with 15,000 Uyghurs.
  • Raqqa Province – the seat of ISIS headquarters in Syria - where entire towns and villages are dominated by an estimated 20,000 Uyghurs.
  • The area around the oil fields of Deir ez-Zour in eastern Syria, where another 20,000 Uyghurs live. ISIS has hired these Chinese migrants to guard its primary source of revenue, the captured oil fields of Syria, which yield an estimated three to four million dollars a day.

One primary objective of Russia’s intervention in the Syrian civil war is to eliminate the estimated 3,000 to 4,000 fighters from Chechnya and countries in the Caucasus region, who have joined the Al-Nusra Front and ISIS in Syria. Uyghur jihadis fighting in Syria outnumber Chechens by 10 to one. Just as Russian President Vladimir Putin does not want to see Chechen terrorists setting foot in Russia again, his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping wants to make sure that Uyghur jihadis never return from the Syrian battlefields. That is why Xi dispatched Chinese naval and air force units to the Syrian theater.

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Putin Replicates Old US-led CENTO Pact
Russia Sets Sights on Raqqa and Mosul for Routing ISIS

Vladimir Putin has reached 60 years back into history to find a model for his master plan for shifting the regional balance of power, which he launched with Russia’s military intervention in Syria.
In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower led the United States into establishing the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) as a military pact between Britain, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan and Iran. It was conceived by American strategists as a barrier for holding the Soviet Union back from the Middle East and its oil fields. Based on a chain of Western-aligned countries bordering the USSR, Iraq was thrown in to attract fellow Arab nations to join the alliance. Turkey provided a link to NATO and Pakistan to SEATO, alongside the US, Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and the Philippines.
The Soviet Union and its satellites were thus completely encircled
Ironically, the US, which created CENTO, never joined formally for fear of alienating non-member Arab countries. And Israel, whose prime minister at the time, Moshe Sharett, did informally apply for membership, was turned down by Washington.

Russian-led CENTO designed to isolate US from ME energy sources

CENTO turned out to be one of the least successful American Cold War projects. Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who seized power in an army coup, was dead against the pact, claiming it imported the “imperialist” superpowers and therefore the Cold War, into the region.
The alliance nonetheless held together for 29 years, disbanded only in 1979 in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution which brought the ayatollahs to power in Tehran.
Russia’s president is now digging out the moribund pact to recreate his own, contemporary version of CENTO.
His first step was to build up Russian ground, air and naval forces in Syria, where he found a willing host in Bashar Assad, whose survival he guaranteed.
His next step only just begun is to go after the Islamic State, which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has so far led from conquest to conquest in Iraq and Syria.
Putin understands that vanquishing ISIS and destroying its infrastructure in Syria and Iraq is the key to achieving his goal of building a strong Russian-led political and military alliance linking Iran, Iraq, Syria, Hizballah and Lebanon.

Ground campaign set for wiping out ISIS

The Russian leader hopes this pact will be tantamount to a high wall under his control for isolating the US from the oil and gas fields of the Middle East. At some point, Putin hopes Egypt too may be persuaded to join and possibly even some of the Gulf emirates
Washington is far from impressed by the Russian leader’s aspirations. US President Barack Obama used a White House press conference on Oct. 2 to heap scorn on Russian hopes of a victory against ISIS, predicting that Putin would soon find himself in a “quagmire” in Syria and fail.
But Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter and an important architect of Obama’s Middle East policy – especially on the nuclear deal with Iran – is more equivocal.
On Oct. 4, Brzezinski wrote in an article: “In these rapidly unfolding circumstances the US has only one real option if it is to protect its wider stakes in the region: to convey to Moscow the demand that it cease and desist from military actions that directly affect American assets. Russia has every right to support Mr. Assad, if it so wishes — but any repetition of what has just transpired should prompt US retaliation.”
Since Putin knows that Obama has no intention of retaliating, he is continuing to drive ahead with preparations for the undoing of ISIS by Russia’s first ground campaign in Syria.

Pro-Russian Chechen and Caucasian volunteers for Syria

On Monday, Oct. 5, a prominent Russian politician predicted that Moscow was about to deploy ground forces in Syria, although a week earlier, Putin denied Russia was planning ground operations “right now.” Adm. Vladimir Komoyedov, head of the Russian parliament’s defense committee, said Moscow may dispatch “volunteers” to Syria – a roundabout way of alluding to ground troops.
DEBKA Weekly’s military sources take this to mean that some of the Russian boots on the ground may be contributed by Chechen government army units – not necessarily Russian marines, who account for about 2,000 of the troops already in place in Syria. An offer came from the Chechen strongman ruler Ramzan Kadyrov on Oct. 3, when he said in a Russian radio interview: ”I demand that we be authorized to come (to Syria) and take part in special operations. This is not idle talk."
These volunteers could also come from Caucasian lands, like the autonomous republics of Adygea, Karachay–Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, and Dagestan.
In this overall context, DEBKA Weekly’s military and Intelligence sources discern four broad stages in Putin’s planned offensive against ISIS and the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front:

Throwing ISIS out of Raqqa and Mosul

  • To drive the rebels out of central Syria, mainly the cities of Homs, Hama and Palmyra
  • To recapture all of northern Syria, especially the Idlib region, and drive the rebels out of Aleppo, the country’s second biggest city
  • Attack Raqqa, the ISIS capital in Syria. Russia’s assumption is that if this town is recaptured, the leadership of ISIS and most of its fighters will flee to northern Iraq.
  • Chase the jihadis into Iraq and recapture the northern city of Mosul, the terrorist organization’s capital in the country. This will write finis to Russia’s military campaign and spell the demise of ISIS.
    It will also provide Russia with an important foothold in Iraq with influence in Baghdad.

Early days for assessing Putin’s chances of success

Those objectives are still broad and general in outline, remaining to be fleshed out with details as operations unfold. But there is no doubt about Putin’s overall goals. And if his campaign runs into difficulties, the Russian president will have no qualms about sending the full might of his air force, infantry, tanks and artillery into the breach. .
At the moment, Russian troops appear to be advancing into the northern fringes of Homs and Hama after the opposition was first pummeled with air strikes. Russian weaponry, including heavy artillery and four BM-30 multiple-launch rocket systems, has accompanied the troops taking up positions between the northern cities of Homs and Idlib in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.
According to our military sources, the Russian president, who has personally taken charge of the war, has run into two obstacles: the large concentration of rebel forces in southern Syria, which pose a threat to Damascus and the Assad regime; and the reluctance of Kurdish Syrian militias to fight alongside the Russian and pro-Russian forces in the north.

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Why Russia Breached Turkish Air Space
Moscow Stretches its Syrian ‘Defensive Bubble’ in Latakia - Like Kaliningrad

Russian warplanes operating in Syria intruded into Turkish airspace twice this week, raising concerns over an escalation of tensions between Moscow and NATO if these provocations continue.
On Oct. 3, a Sukhoi Su-30 fighter flew briefly over Turkey’s Hatay province, followed the next day by a Sukhoi Su-24 fighter in the same area.
The US and NATO officials slammed Russia over the intrusions, with Turkey expressing outrage and vowing to retaliate if it happened again, raising the possibility of a confrontation.
After the first incident, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that it was an accident and the intrusion only lasted a few seconds. However, there was no comment from Moscow on the second violation.
"We also have seen two of them, two violations of Turkish airspace," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. "Intelligence that we have received provides me with reason to say it doesn't look like an accident."
The Russian aircraft only turned back after Turkey, in accordance with NATO procedures, scrambled fighters to intercept it, he said, adding that the warplanes trespassed, despite “clear, timely and repeated warnings.”
At the same time, DEBKA Weekly’s military sources described Ankara as taking good care to order its airplanes to avoid any brushes with the Russian jets, certainly not to try and force them to land or shoot them down.

Russian warplanes habitually breach Western skies

Interestingly, the two Russian planes used the same route that Israeli fighter-bombers flew in 2007 when they passed through Turkish airspace, without permission, to bomb the clandestine nuclear reactor that Syria was building at Al Kibar with Iranian and North Korean assistance. Western and Israeli intelligence and aviation sources could not explain to DEBKA Weekly why the Russians chose that particular flight route.
They suggested that the Russians were trying to place that route off limits to US and coalition air forces for air strikes in Syria so long as they tried to ignore the Russian air force presence.
Or perhaps they wanted to check out intelligence or aviation-related data ahead of the talks taking place in Tel Aviv this week (Oct. 6-7) between Russia’s deputy chief of staff, Gen. Nikolay Bogdanovsky, and his Israeli counterpart, Gen. Yair Golan.
It is not unusual for Russian military aircraft to breach the airspace of neighboring countries without asking for permission. Last month, Russian Tu-95MS-H strategic bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, came close to California and Alaska. The many intrusions into skies over Europe, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Japan, and the US coast are rattling the West and forcing their air forces to constantly scramble their fighters to intercept the trespassers and drive them off.

Stretching the Russian “defensive bubble” in Latakia, like Kaliningrad

But Russian encroachments on Turkish air space were especially disquieting because they occurred in possibly the most combustible region on earth.
A Turkish Foreign Ministry press release issued on Oct. 5, accused Russian aircraft of over-flying the Yayladagi/Hatay region of the southern Turkey. This region has a large Alawite population, the sect to which President Bashar Assad, his family and close cronies belong. Damascus has never formally ceded the loss of Hatay to Turkey. Nor do Syrian maps confirm it. So perhaps Moscow was acting for Damascus in sending a warning to Turkey to stay out of Syria’s way or risk serious consequences in the future.
That is one theory. However, DEBKA Weekly’s military and intelligence sources offer a completely different motive.
Moscow’s political and military leaders refer to the Russian military enclave in the Syrian city of Latakia in the same terms as the Russian military enclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, between Poland and Lithuania. NATO Gen. Phillip Breedlove recently compared the two enclaves, calling them “Russian defensive bubbles.”
On September 28, he told an audience in Washington, “We see some very sophisticated air defenses going into these airfields. We see some very sophisticated air-to-air aircraft going into these airfields.”
He went on to say: We are a little worried about another A2AD (anti-access, area-denial anti-ship and anti-air missiles) bubble being created in the eastern Mediterranean.”
Moscow jets may be slipping over into Turkish air space in the process of expanding their “bubble” in Latakia, following the same mode of conduct they use Kaliningrad. But in this sector, they risk precipitating a dangerous confrontation with NATO or other forces in the region, if this week’s intrusions into Turkish airspace continue.

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Arab Rulers Have No Time for Palestinians
Israel Is on Its Own against Palestinian Terror

Is there any way to end the current wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks and rioting? Unfortunately, the situation on the ground and in the entire region gives little hope for a solution in the immediate future.
Despite intensive efforts by Israeli security forces to restore order, there were five terrorist attacks in central Israel, including Jerusalem, on Oct. 7 alone, and four more in quick succession Thursday.
One reason for the unbridled wave of violence is the Palestinian leadership’s loss of control in the Palestinian street. Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen), 80, is very sick and constantly threatens to step down. His movement, Fatah, is no longer respected, although it still has thousands of members among the security forces in the seven Palestinian-ruled cities and their refugee camps.
The only lever of control they hold at present are the purse-strings for paying wages, but that too is fading. Hence, intelligence watchers expect the current wave of violence to persist, with ups and downs in intensity.
Some Israeli political and defense officials, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon try saying that the situation could be worse. They draw comfort (sic) from the terror being confined to stabbing attacks by Palestinian youths without descending into the suicide bombings, developed by the former Fatah strongman Muhammed Dahlan for the uprising (intifada) of 2000-2006, which claimed thousands of Israeli lives.

The region has moved way past the Palestinian issue

That reasoning is fallacious, since there is no guarantee that suicide attacks will never recur and unpleasant surprises have proved endemic to Palestinian uprisings against Israel.
Prominent Israeli opposition figures, including Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni from the Zionist Union Party, its defense guru, Ret. Gen. Amos Yadlin, a former head of IDF military intelligence, and Chairman of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, just back from meetings from Washington, all maintain strongly that the current security crisis is susceptible to a solution, by means of a regional political accommodation, with the participation of the rulers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
But even a cursory study of the facts shows this proposal to be totally unrealistic:
1. The Obama administration has completely washed its hands of the Palestinian issue. The same can be said of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is up to his neck in fighting wars in Ukraine and Syria. Iran, which President Barack Obama had tried casting in the role of transformational regional leader, is too busy fighting wars in Yemen and Syria. Without any superpower or Middle Eastern power to step in and promote a political process, it is a non-starter.

El-Sisi has other concerns, Jordan’s Abdullah won’t singe his hands again

Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi have been able to cultivate a good understanding. But it is limited to shared interests regarding Hamas in Gaza and Egypt’s anti-terror war against the Islamic State in Sinai and the Western Desert bordering Libya. There is no coordination between them on the handling of Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. This is not because Netanyahu would be averse to joint action for taking some of the intense pressure off his shoulders, but because it is not feasible.
Aside from the occasional comment, President El-Sisi has no interest in the Palestinian question and is too busy with his own burning issues to give it his attention. He is intensely focused on supporting the Russian operation in Syria and saving Bashar Assad, as well as the war in Yemen, in which the Egyptian Navy and Air Force are committed.
Even Jordan’s King Abdullah does not want to get his hands dirty. He realized at length that his condemnatory statements against Israel in recent weeks on the Temple Mount controversy made matters worse. They gave Palestinian terrorists a head wind at the expense of his own credibility.
People in the region began asking why he had not lived up to his pledge to act as custodian of the Temple Mount and the Aqsa Mosque. What was the Waqf, the Islamic Trust responsible for the shrine, which was appointed by the Hashemite throne with Israel’s full consent, doing when young Palestinian thugs turned Al Aqsa into a repository for rocks and firebombs?

Saudi King cools ties with Israel, leans on the clerical establishment

Abdullah now prefers to stand aside and let Netanyahu and Yaalon cope with the raging fire that blew up under his watch.
And there is Saudi King Salman. Putting his hands into the Palestinian fire is nowhere on his wish list, whether in Ramallah or the Gaza Strip.
Under his predecessor, the late King Abdullah, Jerusalem and Riyadh maintained secret and frequent contacts at high levels – usually between intelligence officials. In the ten months since Salman acceded to the throne, those contacts have cooled and been gradually downgraded to lower-level officials.
There are many reasons for this shift that are not directly connected to ties with Israel. But it must be attributed first and foremost to a strategic decision by Salman to rely heavily on support from the “Shura,” Saudi Arabia’s staunchly anti-Israel religious establishment, as a counterweight to the growing anti-monarchy influence of the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda in the kingdom.
Even concern in Riyadh over Iran’s nuclear program, which was a prominent feature of the exchanges between Israeli and Saudi Arabia, has lost its urgency since the issue faded from the international agenda – despite the Netanyahu’s quixotic efforts to keep it alive.

Might Putin one day step into the Palestinian issue in a superpower role?

In any case, like Egypt and Jordan, Saudi Arabia is too overburdened with its own grave problems, such as the Yemen War, to find time for the Palestinians.
The kingdom is also sunk for the first time in its history in a huge deficit due to plunging global oil prices.
American and European financial circles report that in the last three months, Riyadh withdrew the enormous sum of 70 billion dollars from its reserves in various overseas funds, an average of 23 billion dollars a month.
The state of the Middle East and the Arab governments leaves Israel to contend alone and unaided with a wave of vicious Palestinian terror.
There may be another prospect – but it is still very far off.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has a common language with Abu Mazen. DEBKA Weekly’s sources point out that Moscow’s intelligence community, including high SVR officials, have stayed in close touch with the Palestinian leader for decades since he was a student at Moscow’s State Institute of Oriental Studies in the USSR of the 1960s. Putin also talks quite often with Netanyahu.
The prospect of Putin taking a hand in solving the Palestinian issue is nowhere near a current option. First, the Russian leader must see if he can bring to a successful conclusion his heavy investment in a military intervention in Syria and Iraq. That could take years.

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A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Weeks Ending Oct. 8, 2015

October 1, 2015

  • Russia will consider an Iraqi requests for air strikes
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday that his government would consider any Iraqi requests to conduct air strikes against Islamic State targets in that country.
  • Iraq invites Russian military aid to fight ISIS
    Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Thursday that he would welcome a deployment of Russian troops to Iraq to fight ISIS forces. Such intervention would not only help his country, he said, but also give Moscow the chance to deal with the approximately 2,500 Chechen Muslims who he said are fighting with ISIS in Iraq.
  • At UN, Netanyahu sounds alarm of growing Iranian threat
    In his speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu accused Iran of an aggressive buildup of weapons and terrorism, saying that it added new fronts against Israel on the Golan and the West Bank, and that Tehran creates new terror cells worldwide every couple of weeks. The nuclear accord has changed nothing, he said and warned that the release of billions of dollars by ending sanctions will fuel Iran’s threat to the world and its ability to destroy the Jewish state. Israel will not let Iran “sneak or walk into the nuclear club.”

An Israeli couple shot dead by Palestinian terrorists

1 Oct.
Eitam and Na’ama Henkin, both in their 30s, were killed Thursday evening, Oct. 1, when their car was sprayed with bullets as it passed through the West Bank village of Beit Fourik between Itamar and Alon Moreh. Their four young children on the back seat, aged 4 months, 4, 7, and 9 were unharmed. The two gunmen got out of their car and shot the couple again at close range. They fled to nearby Nablus. debkafile’s military sources report that crime was deliberately planned. The gunmen waylaid the car as it slowed down before a curve in the road and made a fast getaway.

October 2, 2015

  • Palestinian Authority incitement caused shooting – Ya’alon
    Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, IDF Chief of Staff Gady Eizenkot and Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen on Friday visited the area in the West Bank where Eitam and Na'ama Henkin were ambushed the night before as evidence of how Palestinian Authority incitement to violence on the Temple Mount was causing innocent bloodshed.
  • Israelis protest murder of young couple by terrorists
    Israeli residents of Samaria staged protests on Friday to condemn the terrorist shooting in which Eitam and Naama Henkin lost their lives. They pledged to rally in front of the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem until their demands are met to lift restrictions on IDF in counter-terror operations.

Chinese warplanes to join Russian air strikes in Syria. Russia gains Iraqi air base

2 Oct.
Russia’s military intervention is expanding radically. debkafile reveals two new related developments: Chinese J-15 fighter bombers will soon join the Russian air campaign over Syria, taking off from the Liaoning-CV-16 aircraft carrier which is now deployed opposite Syria. And Iraq has given Moscow the use of the Al Taqaddum Air Base at Habbaniyah, 74 km west of Baghdad - both as a way station for the Russian air corridor to Syria and as a launching-pad for bombing missions against ISIS forces and infrastructure in northern Iraq and northern Syria. The Habbaniyah air base also serves US forces operating in Iraq, which number an estimated 5,000.

October 3, 2015

  • Putin fends off criticism in first meetings with Western leaders
    For the first time since he launched air strikes in Syria Vladimir Putin met western leaders Friday: Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande. The US-led coalition issued a joint statement calling on Moscow to immediately cease attacking Syrian opposition forces and focus on fighting ISIS.
  • A large Israeli force drives into Nablus to pursue Israeli couple’s killers
    The IDF early Saturday sent a large column of troops in armored cars into Nablus, one of the seven Palestinian-ruled towns of the West Bank, in pursuit of the terrorists who murdered Eitam and Na’ameh Henkin in a drive-by shooting ambush Thursday night.
  • Israeli couple unhurt in another terrorist shooting
    For the second time in 12 hours, an Israeli car came under gunfire outside Maale Adummim east of Jerusalem early Saturday. The couple in the second car escaped injury. Palestinian rock and firebomb attacks continued in and around Jerusalem.
  • Two Israeli men stabbed to death in Jerusalem Old City
    Aharon Bennet, 21, an IDF serviceman, his wife Adele and 2-year old child were stabbed in the old City of Jerusalem on their way to the Kotel. Bennett died of his wounds as did Rabbi Rabbi Nehamia Lavi, 41, who came to the rescue. The terrorist then snatched Bennett’s gun and started shooting at passersby before he was shot dead by Border Guard police. Adele was seriously hurt and their child hit in the foot. When she went in search of help, with a knife in her back, Palestinian passersby and shopkeepers spat in her face and laughed. Entry to the Old City was restricted for the last two days of Succot to Palestinian residents and shopkeepers, Israelis and tourists.

Terror surge after IDF forces cutback on West Bank. Four Israelis dead

3 Oct. Amid a wave of terror that has hit Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria during the holiday of Sukkot, and which has already resulted in the murder of four Israelis, a finger may be pointed at IDF Chief of Staff Gady Eisenkot, who diluted IDF strength in those areas, which were considered under control, in favor of other fronts. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon approved.

October 4, 2015

  • Netanyahu: New emergency measures to stem terror
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Friday ordered demolitions of killer-terrorist homes as part of a package of measures for containing current surge of Palestinian terror. More military forces were also pumped into the most affected areas of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. Deep police raids and a presence are already being conducted in the Jerusalem neighborhoods that produce aggressive Palestinian outbreaks. Netanyahu faces rising criticism from members of his coalition government and his own Likud party. They say his lax approach to Palestinian violence in recent months produced the current crisis.
  • Israeli soldier injured in continuing Palestinian terror attacks
    Palestinian firebombs and rocks thrown at the Border Guard police detail guarding Rachel’s Tomb Sunday injured an Israeli policeman. At a mob riot in the Jerusalem village Issawiyeh, a Palestinian was shot in the leg while hurling rocks. These villagers constantly throw rocks at Hadassah hospital on nearby Mt. Scopus. Outbreaks continued of violence and clashes with Israeli security forces. A second stabbing attack in Jerusalem wounds Israeli teen. The attacker was shot dead.

October 5, 2015

  • Hamas cell nabbed for murder of Na’ama and Eitam Henkin
    Four days after the couple Na’ama and Eitam Henkin were murdered in a drive-by shooting ambush in front of their four children, Israel security forces Monday announced they had laid hands of the Hamas five-man cell in Nablus responsible for the attack. They all confessed. Each was allotted a task: Two gunmen, one driver, another as lookout and the commander. During the Jewish High Holidays season terrorists killed four Israelis and injured 30.
  • Spreading Palestinian disturbances, clashes with Israeli troops
    As the Simhat Torah festival ended Monday night, Palestinians mobs stepped up their violent attacks with rocks, firebombs and explosive devices in the Jerusalem’s Old City and neighborhoods, as well as Bethlehem and Hebron – altogether 22 outbreaks in one day, in which 2 Palestinian rioters were killed and 20 injured by Israeli security forces.
  • NATO sharply reprimands Russia
    NATO Monday called on Russia to “cease and desist” violating Turkish-NATO air space and immediately stop attacks on opposition and civilians. Earlier, Moscow admitted that a Russian warplane had inadvertently violated Turkish air space in a sortie against Syria close to the border, after Ankara lodged a formal complaint.
  • ISIS trashes Palmyra’s iconic Arch of Triumph
    Syrian authorities report that Islamic State terrorists have blown up the monumental Arch of Triumph, centerpiece of the 1,800-year old Roman city, the latest outrage in their step-by-step demolition of priceless relics since they occupied the UNESCO heritage city of Palmyra in May.
  • Israeli air force strikes Hamas Gaza facility
    Another Palestinian rocket from Gaza exploded in the Eshkol region Sunday night on vacant ground, alerting the population on the eve of the Simhat Torah festival. An Israeli air strike followed against a Hamas facility in Gaza.

With Russia’s Dep. Army Chief due in Israel, Moscow posts 64 S-300 ship-to-air missiles off Syria, N. Israel

5 Oct.
Russia’s deputy chief of staff, Gen. Nikolay Bogdanovsky leads a large military delegation which arrived in Israel Tuesday, Oct. 6, for two days of talks on increased coordination between the two militaries. Moscow sent an altogether different message: Friday, Oct. 2, with the arrival of the Russian Navy cruiser, the Moskva, armed with 64 advanced anti-aircraft missiles S-300 ship-to-air missiles opposite the Syrian coastal town of Latakia. debkafile: Moscow has created an effective no-fly zone over Syria, N. Israel, S. Turkey, Jordan and Cyprus. Ahead of the visit, Netanyahu warned of strong action in store for any bid to give Hizballah nuclear arms - his first mention of this prospect.

October 6, 2015

  • Palestinian riots infect Israeli Arabs in Jaffa
    Hundreds of pro-Palestinian Israeli Arabs clashed with police in Jaffa, a suburb of Tel Aviv, Tuesday night. Extra police were brought in when more protesters kept on coming in, brandishing Palestinian flags, blocking streets and throwing rocks that injured several police officers. In Hebron, Palestinians opened fire on Israeli troops.
    Armed Palestinians opened fire on IDF troops who tried to put down a disturbance in the center of Hebron on Tuesday. It was the second case of Palestinian gunfire on Israeli security forces in 12 hours. The first was outside Ramallah. In both cases, fire was returned and no one hurt.
  • Second Russian air violation of Turkish sky
    After the second Russian violation of Turkish airspace, NATO said Tuesday that "It doesn’t “look like an accident.”
  • Palestinian Authority makes huge payouts to convicted terrorists
    The Palestinian Authority has for years paid out - and still pays out - hundreds of thousands of shekels to individual Palestinian terrorists sentenced in Israel to long jail sentences for multiple murder, according to official PA documents. Among them are Hamas operatives responsible for deadly attacks in Israel, such as Hamas bombmaker Abdullah Barghouti, who is serving 67 life sentences (for 67 murders). He has so far received 4 million shekels (around $1 million); and Ibrahim Hamed, head of the Hamas West Bank military wing, who has received 200,000 shekels since he was sentenced to 54 life terms. Every rank-and-file terrorist is awarded a stipend of up to 10,000 shekels per month while behind bars. Under the reign of Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, therefore, the rewards of terror are substantial and long-lasting.
  • Israeli forces demolish killer terrorists’ homes in Jerusalem
    Shortly after midnight, Israel security forces began blowing up and leveling the Jerusalem homes of three terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians in three attacks in 2014.

October 7, 2015

  • Khamenei bans further negotiations with US
    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday there would be no more talks with the US after the nuclear deal, contradicting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who offered talks with Washington on Syria. "Through negotiations Americans seek to influence Iran ... but there are naive people in Iran who don't understand this," Khamenei was quoted as saying to the IRGC commanders.
  • Netanyahu: We are in the midst of a wave of terror
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said after a briefing at Jerusalem city police headquarters Wednesday: “We are still n the middle of a wave of terror. We are dealing firmly with terrorists, lawbreakers and inciters, placing all our resources at the disposal of security forces and employing the necessary methods for combating this wave of terror, he said. Because of the terror crisis, Netanyahu cancelled his scheduled trip to Berlin Thursday over the terror crisis, and will miss the annual two-day government-to-government session, which this year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of German-Israel diplomatic ties.
  • Russia cruise missiles from Caspian Sea strike ISIS in Syria
    Four Russian warships in the Caspian Sea Tuesday fired 26 cruise missiles against 11 ISIS targets in Syria, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu disclosed. The missiles flew 1,500 kilometers to their targets over Iran and Iraq, after coordination with both governments. “All targets were destroyed and no civilians hurt,” the minister said.
  • Naftali Bennet resigns from the Knesset
    Education Minister Naftali Bennet Wednesday gave up his Knesset seat to Shuli Mualem, fellow member of their HaBayit HaYehudi party. He stays on as minister.
  • Sting nabs smugglers seeking to sell nuclear materials to ISIS
    The FBI and Moldovan investigators have broken up a major Eastern European organized crime gangs project for selling radioactive materials for a “dirty bomb” to ISIS. It was the fourth such attempt by criminal gangs believed to have strong ties to the Russian security establishment. The smugglers were arrested in Moldova after they provided the undercover agents with samples of their wares.

Terror crisis worsens with new stabbing attacks: Backlash for ineffective anti-terror policy

7 Oct.
The Palestinians further stoked their anti-Israel assaults Wednesday. Oct. 7, as Israeli Arab solidarity outbreaks spread to three Israeli towns.
Palestinian rocks injured two Israeli drivers Wednesday on the road between Jerusalem and Tekoa. One driver a woman in her 40s, was rescued when a group of Palestinians tried to pull her out of her car.
In Jerusalem, an 18-year old Palestinian girl stabbed an Israeli man near Lions Gate. Although injured, he shot her, inflicting serious injuries.
A pedestrian was stabbed outside the big Petach Tikva mall east of Tel Aviv before the terrorist was grabbed. A Palestinian from Hebron stabbed two Israeli soldiers in Kiryat Gat, grabbed one of their automatic rifles and burst into an apartment in a nearby building. When the gun jammed, he grabbed a kitchen knife and attacked a woman and her mother, before police arrived and shot him dead. In Lydda, local Israeli Arabs staged a pro-Palestinian rally.
debkafile: This is the backlash for “calm and responsible” approach to Palestinian terror advocated by PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon - which mutinous ministers are calling “soft” and which Palestinians regard as Israeli weakness. Netanyahu’s policy of linking the Palestinian and coalition crises to be confronted by political means has left him cornered on both fronts and the country with a pervasive sense of menace round every corner.

October 8, 2015 Briefs

  • Russia launches second cruise missile attack on ISIS
    Russia’s Defense Ministry said Thursday that it launched cruise missiles at ISIS targets in Syria overnight, targeting command centers, ammunition dumps, training camps and facilities for production of explosives and artillery shells.
  • Palestinian stabbing attacks spread to Israeli cities
    In four stabbing attacks in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Hebron and Afula, eight Israelis were seriously injured. Two of the Palestinians were killed. Nine Israeli policemen were injured in an exchange of fire and rock attacks at the Jerusalem district of Shoafat.
  • Netanyahu fails to defuse tension by barring Temple Mount to ministers, MKs
    In an effort to contain the current wave of Palestinian terror, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu barred ministers and members of parliament from Jerusalem's Temple Mount until further notice. The step was intended to reduce tensions and deny Palestinians a pretext for continuing wave of terror. The step boomeranged after the Prime Minister’s Office clarified that the order applied to Arab lawmakers and public figures as well as Jewish ministers and lawmakers. Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi thereupon announced that he would lead a large Arab delegation to Friday prayers on Temple Mount. Jewish lawmakers said they too would defy the order.

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