The Obama administration and Binyamin Netanyahu will continue to bicker in the coming weeks in the diplomatic void created by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei making the world wait for him to make up his mind about whether to thumbs up or thumbs down on the nuclear accord in negotiation with the US and five world powers.
Washington may be waiting, but Tehran is pressing ahead with its nuclear and regional plans.
In some ways, the Israeli prime minister’s controversial speech to the US Congress Tuesday, March 3, spoke for an entire region, particularly the Sunni-ruled Gulf states, which are profoundly perturbed by Iran’s proximity to a nuclear weapon and its appetite for Shiite conquest.
Following on the Israeli prime minister’s warning, US Secretary of State John Kerry was forced to hurry over to Riyadh Wednesday, March 4, for a vain attempt to put the Gulf Cooperation Council leaders’ minds at rest.
That must have been hard, after President Barack Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told PBS’s Charlie Rose Monday, March 2, that Iran has the capability to make a nuclear weapon “right now” but at this point Khamenei has ”not made a decision to obtain a nuclear weapon.”
He went on to say, “It’s a political decision for them. Not that they don’t have the technical wherewithal, the technical competence, because they do.”
The US quietly drops March deadline
Kerry flew out from the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux after joining Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to report “some progress” in their ten hours of negotiations for a nuclear framework deal.
Kerry told reporters: “There are still significant gaps and important choices to be made,” when the talks resume on March 15.
DEBKA Weekly’s sources disclose that this diplomatic-speak covered the closing of at least one such gap in the Montreux sessions, by who else but the United States?
On Feb. 21, Kerry announced very firmly that “President Obama does not want to extend the talks again beyond their scheduled end – March 24 for the framework agreement.”
If Khamenei delivers in time, the Obama administration will be able to trumpet a historic breakthrough towards a nuclear accommodation with Tehran. But if he doesn’t, the talks must be allowed to drag on without pause, which means that the March deadline must quietly fall by the wayside.
This is exactly what the United States privately agreed to in Montreux this week.
The noisy furor surrounding the Netanyahu speech served as a smokescreen for this US concession and a distraction from the fact that Khamenei was holding the Obama administration and the world in suspense about his intentions.
Obama redirects fire from Khameini to Netanyahu
Turning the fire from Khamenei to Netanyahu was the gimmick employed.
Netanyahu was warned by administration spokesmen not to spill confidential details given Israeli officials in private briefings and “betray their trust.” However, those warnings were not actuated by fears of Iran stalking out of the talks in protest, but laid the groundwork for President Obama to say later that Netanyahu’s speech to Congress contained “nothing new.”
This contention was belied by the scores of assorted headlines the world media ran on their front pages in the days following the speech.
Fixing media attention on the Israeli prime minister was also a useful distraction from the harsh words Kerry heard in Riyadh Thursday, March 5, from Saudi King Salman.
Those words not only echoed Netanyahu’s alarm over Iran’s intentions, but were a lot blunter in their recriminations against President Obama for underwriting Tehran’s aggressive designs.
The Saudi king and the Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers Kerry met must have been moved by a measure of frustration.
Before he flew to Riyadh, Secretary Kerry declared “Political and external factors would not distract from the talks.” This warned his audience that Obama would not budge an inch from the diplomatic ground so far covered towards his nuclear deal with Iran.
Netanyahu once offered to accept a curtailed Iranian nuclear program
As for Kerry’s assertion that no one had presented “a more viable, lasting alternative for how you actually prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon” - that too is easily refuted.
Going back to the first three years of the Obama presidency – 2009-2012 – Kerry must know, and his predecessor as secretary of state Hillary Clinton - who is strangely silent on the entire nuclear issue - must recall the hours spent with the Israeli defense minister at the time Ehud Barak and Military Intelligence director Amos Yadlin, turning over various Israeli proposals for concessions to enable Iran to continue its nuclear program.
Those proposals centered specifically on restricting the number of centrifuges and enriched uranium stocks Iran would be allowed to keep. They were made in an effort to bridge the differences between Obama and Netanyahu on this issue.
In other words, three years ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu was prepared to let Iran keep its nuclear program in severely curtailed form.
When the discussions between the US and Israel reached an impasse, the Netanyahu government proposed a military strike for crippling the rapidly advancing Iranian military nuclear program. That idea was firmly vetoed by the US president.
At no time did the Netanyahu government demand Iran’s capitulation, as Kerry remarked in Montreux: “Simply demanding Iran’s capitulation is no way to get a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic,” he said.
An informed voice skeptical of Tehran change
Obama and his officials are clearly throwing out absurd assertions and unfounded allegations as a tactic to deflect broad Middle East criticism of their actions and buy time until the Iranian supreme leader comes around to a decision.
The bickering between Washington and Jerusalem can therefore be expected to continue in the days and weeks ahead.
But what if Khamenei does approve the framework deal negotiated by Kerry and Zarif as the basis for a comprehensive nuclear accord?
Michael Hayden, former CIA director, offered a prognosis as recently as Tuesday, March 3.
“And what of the talk of an overall American-Iranian rapprochement once the nuclear issue is behind us? The president himself has spoken of a better-behaving Iran as a ‘very successful regional power.’ Few even suggest ‘equilibrium’ between Tehran and the Sunni states of the region.
“The president’s big plan is that Iran would re-emerge as America’s natural partner in the region.” However, Hayden went on to say: “I would be skeptical too that after an agreement is reached, Iran won’t be the duplicitous, autocratic, terrorist-backing, Hizballah-supporting, Hamas-funding, region-destabilizing, hegemony-seeking theocracy that it is today.”
In stark contrast to the Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi’s cool reception in Riyadh Monday, March 2, Salman, the new Saudi King, laid out a red carpet for Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan who arrived on the same day.
DEBKA Weekly’s military and intelligence sources reveal exclusively that Salman and Erdogan were so closely in tune that it took them just 35 minutes of conversation to wrap up their business, which was to draw the outline of a new political-military pact linking Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan for a concerted Sunni challenge to Iran’s push for Middle East Shiite hegemony.
Their conversation covered four aspects of the new partnership:
1. Turkey’s attachment to the bilateral deal under which Pakistan is under contract to provide Saudi Arabia with a nuclear umbrella
Under the new trilateral arrangement, Pakistan would extend a nuclear weapon to the Turkish army if that country was directly threatened with attack by a nuclear bomb or nuclear-capable long-range surface missiles.
The precise mechanics of how the three-way nuclear partnership would work remained to be hammered out in detail.
The Mid East nuclear arms race in full spate
The principle appeared to be that a trilateral consensus would govern the handover of nuclear arms to Turkey. But it is not clear whether Riyadh will have the power to veto such a transfer. Gulf intelligence sources report that this and other points were set aside for further discussion.
For now, it was decided that Saudi Arabia would foot the bill for the conveyance of nuclear arms from Pakistan to Turkey, as well as for the cost of establishing the military and technical infrastructure to handle it.
So, while Washington and Jerusalem Cassandras bandied grim warnings about a Middle East nuclear race yet to come in the vague hereafter, DEBKA Weekly’s sources can confirm that the race is already afoot, initiated by the Sunni governments with the most to fear from their bellicose neighbor in Tehran.
The groundwork for the Salman-Erdogan accord was laid in Islamabad in the last week of February. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had four meetings face to face with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has long cultivated friendly personal ties in the Saudi royal court - and especially with the new Saudi Defense Minister, the king’s son Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
2. The two prime ministers agreed that Turkey would set up a military-technological command center in a Saudi town, most likely the northern town of Tabuk near the Jordanian border. There, too, France keeps a squadron of Rafale fighter-bombers at the local air base.
This command center would be in charge of coordinating Turkish-Saudi military interchanges and oversee joint exercises. The first Turkish-Saudi naval drill is planned to take place soon on the Red Sea.
A new railroad network to link new allies with China
3. Sharif and Davutoglu also agreed to establish a new railroad between Turkey and Pakistan. This rail link would make it possible to swiftly transport military manpower and equipment to Turkey in an emergency.
It would also have the effect of bolstering the volume of trade between China and Pakistan by providing it with a new outlet by rail.
The project also looks ahead to the ending of the Syrian conflict, when another rail connection cutting through Syria and Jordan would reach the Saudi town of Tabuk and then link up with the Gulf Cooperation Council’s railway running from Kuwait to Bahrain via Saudi Arabia.
The emirates of Qatar and Bahrain are planning to build a bridge to link their capitals.
Once this great railway network is finished and in place, China, one of Riyadh’s suppliers of intercontinental nuclear missiles, will have a direct overland rail link to Saudi Arabia via Pakistan and Turkey. Riyadh and Beijing have agreed to put up most of the financing.
4. Saudi Arabia and Turkey will expand their military and intelligence partnership in the Syrian conflict to counteract the Shiite drive led by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
For their intervention, they will divide the war-torn country between them - the Saudis operating mainly in the south and the Turks in the north.
Riyadh usually prefers to limit its sponsorship in such ventures to financial assistance to the favored party. And indeed, already this week, DEBKA Weekly’s military sources reported that the Saudi imprint on the southern Syrian battlefield was discernible in the large sums of money rattling in the pockets of the Syrian rebel forces.
Those forces are fighting fiercely to check the advance towards the Golan town of Quneitra of Hizballah-backed Syria units, reinforced by Shiite militias imported from Afghanistan and Pakistan - and all under the direct command Iranian generals.
The Middle East is sinking into one of its most dreaded scenarios – a spiraling military confrontation between radical Shiite and Sunni Muslim armies. The clash between religious forces has burst out in three arenas of unresolved conflicts - Syria, Yemen and Iraq, with Tehran taking a more direct and open hand than ever before in stirring the fire. The clash threatens to spill over into more arenas, while increasingly assuming the traits of a religious war.
SYRIA: A Shiite belt to gird Damascus and point at Golan
In Tehran, “military sources” reported Sunday, March 1, that “the Syrian army has made more gains in the fight against the foreign-backed Takfiri group in the southern part of the Middle Easter country.”
In Iran’s view therefore, the Sunni militias fighting in southern Syria in defense of Quneitra and Deraa, including Nusra Front members, are no better than “Takfiri” (heretics).
Those Iranian sources went on to note: “The fight in the southern area is of utmost significance as the villages and little towns there connect the strategic provinces of Quneitra and Deraa as well as the Governorate of the Countryside of Damascus.”
In recent DEBKA Weekly issues, we reported that Tehran had given the campaign for the capture of southern Syria top priority over other arenas, to the point of running an air lift in the past three weeks of military equipment especially tailored for combat in this locale, such as short-range artillery and T-72 tanks. It has also pumped in thousands of Afghan and Pakistani Shiite militiamen, who were flown in to relieve the Iraqi militiamen that were shipped home to take part in the Iranian-Iraqi offensive to recover Tirkit.
An additional 2,000 Hizballah fighters are engaged on this front, which is fully under the command of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers.
Defeating Syrian Sunni “heretics” and confronting Israeli “infidels”
For Tehran, this campaign, if it can be pulled off, will be greatest triumph of its involvement in the Syrian conflict and offer three big bonuses:
1. Cleansing the south of Sunni rebel forces would wrap Damascus round with a Shiite girdle stretching from the Qalamoun mountain range on the Syrian-Lebanese border in the west to Mt Hermon in the southeast. Iran would gain a land bridge from Syria to South Lebanon, on which Damascus and the Assad regime would be dependent.
2. Tehran’s South Syria campaign aims at more than defeating Sunni “Takfir groups.” Iranian Revolutionary Guards troops if positioned on the Syrian Golan would confront Israeli “infidel” soldiers at close quarters for the first time. They could hope to realize the vision traditionally represented on Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah maps, which mark the Golan and northern Israel as “southern Syria.”
3. This campaign in a tightly compressed border region would bring Shiite forces right up to the Syrian border with Sunni Jordan as well, and their closest point of eventual access from the north to Sunni Saud Arabia.
Tehran would meanwhile be in a position to bring pressure to bear on the United States to pull its 12,000 American troops out of its bases in Jordan. Most belong to the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” Division and the 82nd Airborne Division
Iran has consistently aspired ever since its 1979 Shiite revolution to evict every last American soldier from soil of the Middle East, not just Afghanistan.
IRAQ: Tikrit – Iran muscle-flexing message to Sunni rulers
The Tikrit campaign launched Sunday, March 1 is the largest military operation ever conducted in Iraq against the Islamic State, ISIS. It is also the biggest battleground on which Iranian Revolutionary Guards have fought openly since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.
The Islamic State seized Tikrit, which lies 150 km north of Baghdad in the Sunni province of Salahuddin, last June, with the help of Sunni allies still loyal to the late Saddam Hussein’s banned Baath party, who had since dedicated themselves to fighting the pro-Shiite Iraqi government.
For the first time, Iranians have publicly admitted their active involvement in the Tikrit operation. Breaking with a decade of clandestine comings and goings and surreptitious subversion, Al Qods Brigades chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani has invited photographers to record and propagate his visits to the front lines.
The involvement of Guards and Al Qods forces in the Tikrit campaign is now freely reported in Western media.
DEBKA Weekly’s Iranian sources explain Tehran’s uncharacteristic openness about its combat role in this campaign by its urge to flaunt the Shiite leadership role in the region’s wars and parade the solid backing it enjoys from the Obama administration.
This spectacle is intended to warn the Saudis and Gulf emirates to take heed and take account of Iran’s fighting role when charting their regional policies.
YEMEN: Saudis line up for direct clash with Iran
Tehran made a big play of the first flight to land in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa Sunday March 1, the day after Iran and the Yemeni coup leaders signed a landmark aviation deal. Tehran reported that an Iranian Mahan Air flight had carried a cargo of humanitarian aid to Yemen for distribution by the Iranian Red Crescent.
In this instance, too, Iran was making a graphic point for the Saudis to the north, showing them that Tehran was now the boss of the Yemeni capital after sponsoring the successful Zaydi-Shiite Houthi coup last month. If Saudi Arabia continued to arm the Houthis’ enemies, Iran would have no qualms about airlifting arms and Shiite fighters to Yemen, as it did to Iraq and Syria.
Shiite Iran was laying down a military challenge for Sunni Saudi Arabia at the southern tip of Arabia.
The following day, ousted Yemeni president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, whom Saudi intelligence last month smuggled out of Sanaa to the southern port town of Aden, proposed resuming UN-sponsored peace talks with the Shiite rulers at Gulf Cooperation Headquarters in Riyadh. He suggested this venue as an alternative to the southern Yemeni towns of Aden or Taiz, in a message he sent out from a meeting he attended with tribal leaders from the southern Abyan province.
Hadi also advised foreign embassies to relocate from Sanaa to Aden, as some GCC members and European governments have already done.
Saudis and Iranians get set for major religious war in Arabia
Monday, March 2, the US Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller met the deposed President Hadi in Aden to demonstrate continuing US support. Tueller was the first Western diplomat to visit Hadi since his flight from Sanaa last week
DEBKA Weekly’s military and intelligence sources, which cover events in Yemen, report that Saudi Arabia, reluctant to rely on Hadi, is investing substantial intelligence and financial assets in the anti-Houthi insurgent groups of the Southern Yemen Movement - aka the Southern Mobility Movement - to mobilize them for an operation to stabilize northern Yemen on the Saudi kingdom’s doorstep, and keep it safe from takeover by pro-Iranian stooges.
This insurgent movement has had a long association with Saudi intelligence. If Riyadh’s plan takes off, Saudi Arabia and Iran will have set the goalposts for a major Sunni-Shiite religious war in Arabia.
When Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi returned home from his short, sharp interview on March 1 with the new Saudi monarch, King Salman, he was forced to conclude that his journey to Riyadh was not just a waste of time, but confirmed his worst fears about their relations.
DEBKA Weekly’s Gulf sources report that, for every request the Egyptian ruler made, the king snapped back with a handful of provisos.
El-Sisi spent just four fruitless hours in the Saudi capital before flying out.
The Saudi ruler confronted him with six tall orders as conditions for continuing the generous economic assistance his predecessor King Abdullah had pledged Egypt’s El-Sisi regime:
1. Cairo must desist from attacking Libya and, specifically, call off the plan, in association with former Qaddafi general Khalifa Hifter, to capture Darnah, which has become the stronghold of the Islamic State, its allies and other militias.
(See debkafile article of Feb. 27).
Salman accused his Egyptian guest of plotting to use Darnah as stepping-stone for the conquest of the entire eastern Libyan province of Cyrenaica and its oilfields.
He demanded that El-Sisi break off Cairo’s intelligence interchanges with Tunisia and Algeria on coordinating the Libya operation.
2. As DEBKA Weekly reported last week, the Saudi King said El-Sisi must withdraw from his ties with Syria’s Bashar Assad, including clandestine meetings between their intelligence officials.
El-Sisi ordered to mend fences with Qatari and Turkish rulers
3. Salman did not refer directly to the Egyptian ruler’s proposed pan-Arab force to combat Islamic terror – especially ISIS. But he made it obvious that Riyadh has no wish to see Egyptian troops in Yemen (see separate item in this issue), Iraq or any of the Gulf emirates.
4. President El-Sisi must mend his fences with the Emir of Qatar Tamim El-Thani.
5. And he must bury his quarrel with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. Salman refused to listen to the Egyptian ruler’s complaints that Turkey was dabbling in Libyan affairs and stirring up animosities there by arming various militias.
El-Sisi gave the Saudi monarch no promises on either of these demands. But on his return home, he did take some steps: He had the state prosecutor present new documents to the Cairo Court for Urgent Affairs Monday, with the result that the judges adjourned until April 6 their hearings on two lawsuits which called for Qatar and Turkey to be designated “state sponsors of terrorism.”
The lawsuits accused Qatar and Turkey of “supporting crimes committed on Egyptian soil and” hosting hostile satellite channels” which broadcast incitements to murdering Egyptian police officers.
Cairo announced, furthermore, that the sea and land transit transportation accord for roll-on/roll-off ships from Turkey would not be renewed. However, the date for its renewal comes up on April 23.
No let-up in pursuit of Brotherhood, Hamas, Libyan Islamists
Turkish exports were badly hit by the closing of its border gate with Syria, making the route for Ro-Ro ships between Turkey’s Mersin port and Egypt an important alternative route for transporting goods between Turkey and Egypt and Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Its closure would inflict a second serious blow to Turkish exports.
But, up until April, El-Sisi will have enough breathing space to review both the lawsuits and the transportation accord with Turkey, and decide whether or not to meet the Saudi king’s provisos..
6. But his relentless persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian offshoot Hamas was another matter. Salman did not ask him to call off those crackdowns altogether, only for some let-up. But El-Sisi stood his ground and refused to relent in the pursuit of his arch-foes.
Saturday, Feb. 28, the day before the president’s Riyadh trip, an Egyptian court dealt harshly with the Brotherhood and Hamas. Top Muslim Brotherhood leaders were sentenced to life in prison. Among them were the General Guide Mohammad Badie, his deputy, Khairat al-Shater, reputedly the most pro-American figure in the Brotherhood’s leadership, a former lawmaker Mohammad el-Beltagy, party head Saad el-Katatni and his deputy Essam el-Erian.
Will try to maneuver among differences at Riyadh court
At the same sitting, the Cairo court ruled the Palestinian Hamas a terrorist organization, expanding a previous decision that applied only to its armed wing. The evidence put before the court included recordings of Hamas leaders congratulating one another on the successful attacks they had launched with the Sinai Al Qaeda affiliate on Egyptian security personnel.
El-Sisi was just as unrelenting in his plans for Libya. He lost no time in leaking a story to Egyptian news media that confirmed the revelation in the last DEBKA Weekly issue that he had prepared his army for war on Islamist terrorists in Libya and Sinai. One of its features would be air strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.
Our Gulf sources disclose that the Egyptian president estimates that the Saudi royal court is divided on some major issues, with King Salman, his son, Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, and Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef, at odds on policy.
El-Sisi sees the differences of approach in Riyadh as giving him time to go forward with his plans.
February 27, 2015 Briefs
February 28, 2015 Briefs
Egypt goes to war on ISIS – in Libya as well as Sinai
28 Feb. Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi has massed his troops for all-out war on ISIS strongholds in Libya, the first Arab ruler to challenge them in a fellow Arab country, debkafile reports.
His initiative dramatizes the spillover of the Islamist State’s threat across the Middle East, and the ineffectiveness of the US-led coalition’s efforts in Iraq and Syria. Egyptian commando and marine forces stand ready for imminent sea landings to seize Darnah and wipe out the Islamist militias located there, coupled with an air and ground campaign against their hideouts in Sinai. This may include air strikes against Hamas’ military arm in the Gaza Strip, whose active collaboration with the jihadis is confirmed by intelligence.
March 1, 2015 Briefs
Netanyahu tries to head off Iran’s machinations after Obama empowers Tehran as favored Mid East ally
1 Mar. Almost the last words Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu heard Sunday, March 1, as he took off for Washington to address Congress on Iran was: “Don’t do it!” They came from a group of 180 senior ex-IDF military officers who tried to stop the speech lest it damage relations with the US. debkafile: Their protest should be addressed to the White House. For six years, Barack Obama has eroded those relations by providing Israel with its material security needs, while freezing it out of a strategic partnership for which he preferred Iran.
Obama’s presidency has left Israel face to face with a nakedly hostile Iran empowered by the United States.
March 02, 2015 Briefs
March 03, 2015 Briefs
Netanyahu says leave the nuclear deal, but make it tougher for Iran
3 Mar. In the 40-minute speech Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu delivered to a joint session of the US Congress Tuesday, May 3, he listed the iniquities of the “dark, dictatorial Islamic regime” in Tehran, and criticized the nuclear deal in negotiation as marking the “countdown to a nuclear nightmare” that would threaten not just Israel but the world. He proposed “making it better” by confronting Iran with three provisos:
(1) Forego aggression against its neighbors and the Middle East at large, (2) Forego state-sponsored terrorism worldwide, and (3) Stop threatening Israel, the one and only Jewish state, with annihilation.
His speech to a packed chamber was interrupted by 40 standing ovations and long, enthusiastic cheers.
Regarding the guarantee of tight supervisions, Netanyahu pointed out that Iran had stalled international inspections three times in 2005, 2006 and 2010 and could do so again. It is believed to have built hidden nuclear sites, which neither the US or Israel have discovered, due the Iranian practice of what the prime minister called its “hide and cheat” tactics.
Monday, March 2, the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, complained once again that Iran was not answering key questions about its nuclear projects or opening up suspect sites to inspection.
The deal taking shape in negotiations will not prevent Iran gaining nuclear weapons, said the Israeli leader, but clear its path to a bomb in the hands of a regime as radical as ever. Its battle with ISIS does not make that regime a friend of America.
One “survival threat” scenario Netanyahu hasn’t spelled out: A single Iranian nuke could obliterate Israel’s heartland and half its population
3 Mar. What Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has not spelled out during his unrelenting campaign against a deal that would allow Iran nuclear threshold status is this: It would leave Tehran the freedom to choose when to build a single nuclear bomb or device, that could be dropped over the Mediterranean from a civilian airliner and trigger a tsumani for wiping out the Tel Aviv conurbation. An estimated one million people would be killed and the country’s heartland, with its financial and business centers, its military headquarters and hi-tech industry would be wiped out.
March 04, 2015 Briefs
March 05, 2015 Briefs
Obama’s Iran strategy pans out in war on ISIS
5 Mar. Barack Obama’s Iran policy, spectacularly challenged by Binyamin Netanyahu in his Congress speech Tuesday, March 3, was manifested in Iraq, 10,000 kilometers from Washington, in the Iranian-led Iraqi battle for Tikrit. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff commented the same day that the “Tikrit campaign… the most overt conduct of Iranian support …could turn out to be a positive thing.” debkafile: The US-Iranian partnership, which is mirrored in Syria, is alarming Israeli military chiefs because it is bringing the Iranian peril closer than ever before.