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Op-Ed: Have Israel and Islamists Joined Forces Against Iran?

The claim in this article seems rather questionable, as Claire Lopez of the Center for Security Policy writes the author, but then this is the Middle East...
Published: Saturday, December 01, 2012 6:06 PM


Have Israel and the Islamists joined forces against Iran?

According to DEBKA the answer is yes. But do we believe DEBKA?

On Nov 23rd DEBKA reported Obama’s pledge of US troops to Sinai next week won Israel’s nod for ceasefire. If this pans out, it will be a great victory for PM Netanyahu and Israel.

But if that is true, why hasn’t Netanyahu mentioned it in concrete terms and why has no one corroborated the report.

The article explains:

“When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Jerusalem from Bangkok Tuesday, she tried assuring Netanyahu that President Obama had decided to accelerate the construction of an elaborate US system of electronic security fences along the Suez Canal and northern Sinai. It would also cork up the Philadelphi route through which arms are smuggled into the Gaza Strip. (The US Sinai fence project was disclosed only by DEBKA-Net-Weekly 564 on Nov. 9).”

Since this was expected to take a lot of time to complete, President Obama assured Netanyahu “that US troops would be in place in Sinai the following week, after he had obtained President Morsi’s consent for them to go into immediate action against Iranian smuggling networks.”

Of course many people mentioned, as they always do, that you can’t always take DEBKA at face value. So the next day I wrote The Ceasefire Agreement is no Agreement at All in which I made the case for why the report might be believable. In any event, I suggested, we didn’t have long to wait for confirmation.

Totally aside from whether to believe it or not, many incomprehensible decisions were made which left Israelis stunned. Why did we negotiate with a terrorist organization, albeit indirectly? Why did we give concessions to them as though we had to bribe them to agree to the ceasefire?

No one was prepared to put credence in the idea that President Obama was going to stop the smuggling or that Morsi would either. It was incomprehensible to conceive what had happened. Many people blamed US pressure on Israel to accept such a lousy ceasefire. Others said Israel agreed because she wanted to concentrate on Iran. Others suggested Netanyahu didn’t want to be involved in a ground war with the elections 8 weeks away. Anything but accept that the US was actually going to do something in the Sinai.

Then on Tuesday, there was another bombshell. The Government of Israel, which had been threatening all sorts of retaliation should Abbas go to the UN, announced yesterday that it would keep a low profile on the issue. Another disappointment. What was going on here?

I was starting to lose faith in the possibility that DEBKA had it right. But why had they not published a correction or something?

Well on Wednesday, DEBKA doubled down on the original article and reported that the Gaza operation was supposed to be an anti-Iran coup.

“The eight-day Gaza duel between Israel and Hamas was the showcase. Behind it, a coup went forward, masterminded by at least three intelligence wizards: Israel’s Mossad Direct Tamir Pardo, Turkish National Intelligence Organization – MIT chief, Hakan Fidan and the Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Jassim al Thani, who also heads the emirate’s intelligence service. The CIA was in close touch.

“Their aim was to abort the military ties Tehran was cultivating with Hamas before the Gaza Strip is grabbed as Iran’s springboard to Cairo. To this end, wave upon wave of multiple missile assaults on Israel were provoked.

“The coup action was designed as Part One of US President Barack Obama’s overall plan, which is to harness the Arab Spring to key US objectives. His partners were – and are – Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“Obama’s next stop is Syria where matters are coming to a head on several fronts.

“The plan, if Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense worked, was to chart a new future for the radical Hamas terrorists by their transformation into the legitimate voice of the Palestinian people for which they still need some grooming and more than a touch of the airbrush.”

In support of this plan the Emir of Qatar visited Gaza just before Hamas escalated the violence. He promised them $400 million for the construction of a hotel and other things. Perhaps it is conditional on Hamas severing ties with Iran.

On Wednesday Turkey announced a possible visit by PM Erdogan of Turkey who is also expected to provide financial support. Germany recently promised 1.3 million Euros and the World Bank promised $6.3 million for the building of a water treatment plant.

Why would any of these offer Hamas money while it is still committed to Iran and still classified as a terrorist organization.

On the Syrian Front, according to DEBKA, two things have happened to advance this strategy, namely, the US has installed Patriot missiles in Turkey that will be able to reach into Syrian airspace and Syrian rebels have destroyed the Assad regime’s most important electronic warning radar station monitoring Israel:

“Western military sources told that the destruction of this vital facility has blinded the two eyes which Syrian air, air defense and missile forces had trained on Israel. It has therefore crippled, though not completely dismantled, Bashar Assad’s ability to go to war against Israel, Jordan or Saudi Arabia.”

No doubt the rebels were following orders from Turkey. Why, but for the arrangements reported by Debka, would Turkey help Israel in this way.

If Turkey was so intimately involved with Israel in the planning of this coup, it would be necessary to restore ties. Sure enough, earlier this week, there were reports that Turkey is holding back-channel talks with Israel.

Of course all these reports emanate from DEBKA, with the exception of the last one, but that is no reason to reject them out of hand. In fact it is reason to pay close attention. They are replete with facts, details and names. Plus they make all the incomprehensible things we have been witnessing, comprehensible.

Clare Lopez, Sr. Fellow, Center for Security Policy, takes a contrary view in an email to me:

“For one thing, if the US is involved in anything together with, Turkey, the Qataris, and Egypt's MB, it’s going to be bad for Israel and bad for U.S. national security, too. Those players are patently anti-Western-style liberal democracy, anti-Semitic, and anti-U.S. in the end.

“Next, there's no coup vs. Iran. To the contrary, Iran and the MB are coming into alignment, in spite of being at daggers drawn in Syria. This is in the same way that AQ and the MB are coming into alignment on timing and tactics, just as they always have been on ideology. At the macro level, we are seeing a drawing together of the ummah, even as in local theatres like Syria or Iraq, sectarian differences continue as always.

“The Iranian weapons pipeline from Bandar Abbas to Port Sudan up through the Sinai and across into Gaza will continue apace, if not accelerate. Israel will be forced to deal with this again and continuously. The US and Egypt will both pretend to be concerned about it and make the occasional intercept gesture to show their “seriousness,” but neither one will actually take the drastic measures necessary to cut it off completely. That will be left to Israel.

“Yes, the policy of the current US admin is completely pro-MB: Egyptian MB, Hamas, and anywhere else it exists (Libya, Syria, and Tunisia come to mind). To that end, yes, the USG is working with Morsi, Erdogan, and the Qataris - Saudis, too. This is not good for Israel and not good in fact for the US either.

“Iran is working hard to mend ties with Hamas (again, despite what’s going on in Syria) because Iran is every bit as pan-Islamic as the MB is, and also because it does not want to be marginalized by resurgent Sunni forces. The supply of the longer range Fajr-5 missiles and perhaps others even more dangerous to Israel will continue and Hamas will be grateful…actually, so will Morsi and the Egyptian MB, because these missiles pose the kind of threat to their common mortal enemy, the Jews of Israel, in ways they are not yet capable of doing.”

Her view is also the conventional view. But if the other view is right, a new day is dawning.

Of course Iran is making its move. Israeli intelligence satellites have spied the loading of rockets and other material in Iran believed to be destined for the Gaza Strip, the UK-based Sunday Times reported, citing Israeli officials.

So who do we believe, Lopez or DEBKA?

DEBKA itself isn’t certain:

“So was the coup strategy played out in Gaza a success?

“Time will tell; Israel has meanwhile begun easing its land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip. Turkey and Qatar are committed to major investments in the Gaza economy to make it more prosperous than the rival West Bank. And the US and Egypt have undertaken a joint effort to stem the flow of Iranian arms to Gaza through the smuggling routes of Sinai.”

Time will tell, indeed.

Perhaps it already has.

Arutz Sheva reported that Egypt stopped an arms shipment being smuggled into Gaza:

“Egyptian media report that security forces arrested three smugglers Tuesday while intercepting a large weapons shipment headed for Sinai from Libya.

“But the vast Peninsula was not the final destination: according to the report, Gaza was the intended destination for the ordnance, valued at $3.3 million.”

Perhaps the real reason for Israel to be meeting with Egypt is not to negotiate the terms of the ceasefire, but to organize the anti-smuggling campaign.

Wednesday, Maan News reported:

“Egyptian security services are planning an "extraordinary" crackdown on smuggling tunnels under the Gaza border, a security source said Wednesday.

“The official said Egypt's planned campaign to end smuggling was part of the truce agreement brokered by Cairo”

DEBKA is looking more and more credible as each day goes by. If they have it right, incredible and counter-intuitive as it may seem, Egypt has agreed to neuter Hamas. Turkey has reconciled with Israel and has diminished the Syrian/Iranian ability to monitor Israel’s airspace.

This arrangement is pursuant to President Obama’s overall plan, which is to harness the Arab Spring to key US objectives.

Could it be? Could it really be?

Prof. Hillel Frisch ‎ seems to think so.

Prof. Hillel Frisch is a professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University, and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. ON Nov 27, Arutz Sheva published his BESA article on Morsi's dictatorship and the Gaza ceasefire, in which he connected Morsi’s grab for dictatorial power a couple of days after arranging the ceasefire:

“Unlike Mubarak, Morsi has now obligated himself to stop all Hamas rocket fire towards Israel, essentially putting an end to Hamas’ muqawama (resistance) that distinguished the Hamas government from the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, whom Hamas accused of collaborating with Israel.

“Morsi, however, is hardly the person to deliver this without a hefty price tag. The timing of the ceasefire and Morsi’s assumption of dictatorial powers over the judiciary more than suggests a connection with Gaza.

“Essentially, Morsi is trying to force the United States and its European allies into a deal that runs something like this: ‘Render me what is Pharaoh’s in the land of Egypt, and I will deliver you stability on the Israeli front. You and your local allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the other Gulf states, can then focus on Syria and Iran.’ In short, what Morsi is saying is ‘Give me my kingdom and I will give you and your allies’ primacy in the area.’

His price tag is over $10 billion in aid and dictatorial powers. It looks like a done deal to me.