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Assad Set on Arms Transfers to Lebanon

By DEBKAfile

Syrian ruler Bashar Assad has ordered the resumption of weapons transfers to the Lebanese Hizbullah, DEBKAfile's exclusive military and intelligence sources report. This was agreed with Iran's National Security Director Saeed Jalilee, who arrived in Damascus after Israel's reported air strike last Wednesday as Syrian trucks prepared to ferry to Lebanon for Hizbullah the sophisticated Iran-supplied arms stored at the Jamaraya military complex north of Damascus.

The Syrian ruler assured the Iranian official that he would not be deterred by what he called acts of "aggression." It was up to Syria and Iran to put their heads together to find a safe method of getting the hardware across to Hizbullah without exposing it to Israeli attack in truck convoys on the open road.

Jalilee is still in Damascus. He arrived Saturday to discuss with Syrian and Hizbullah how to activate against Israel the secret mutual defense pact binding Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas.

According to our sources, Israeli military tacticians believe that as winter weather starts clearing up, Syria and Iran will devise crafty methods for outwitting Israel and getting the weapons to Lebanon – for example, disassembling the missiles and launchers and disguising them as non-lethal merchandize. They could then be spirited across from Syria to Lebanon in small packages by the smuggling rings regularly operating on their common border.

In anticipation of such tricks, the Israeli Air Force has in recent days thrown a round-the-clock blanket over the border area. It is constantly monitoring the traffic moving across and is ready to prevent any arms traffic. Without going through any formalities, Israel has thus effectively imposed a no-fly regime over a buffer zone straddling the Syrian-Lebanese border and placed it under the control of its air force.

Israeli officials have been warning for months that the IDF will not allow the transfer of advanced Syrian weapons – including chemical and biological weapons – to terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front and Hizbullah. Without directly confirming the Israel attack on the Jamaraya military compound, defense minister Ehud Barak told the Munich security conference Sunday "…what happened in Syria several days ago… that's proof that when we said something we mean it… and we say that we don't think it should be allowed to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon."

Israel's actions to this end, including over flights by its air force which are widely reported by the Lebanese media, were undertaken after Assad was seen to be bent on testing Israel's resolve to prevent arms transfers to Hizbullah. These transfers were expressly prohibited under UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which ended the Israeli-Hizbullah war in 2006.

'Iran Could Have Bomb Within Six Months of Decision'

By Israel Hayom

Iran could have its first atomic bomb within four to six months if the regime in Tehran took the decision to go ahead and make a bomb, former IDF Director of Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin said on Monday. Speaking at a press conference at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, a national security think tank which he heads, Yadlin said that Israeli's binary decision "whether to bomb or to live with an Iranian bomb" will come up at the end of summer this year.

"In the past few years Iran has completed all of the necessary stages it needs to break out to a nuclear weapon. They have all the tools they need to produce a nuclear weapon once they decide to do so. The main reason they haven't constructed a bomb yet is that their breakout period is still too long. They want to be able to break out within a shorter time frame. They don't have sufficient numbers of the right centrifuges to break out sooner. The Iranians currently have over 10,000 centrifuges in two locations and it is quite possible they will make the decision to break out in 2013. This will necessitate an American and Israeli operation," Yadlin said.

Turning to Syria, Yadlin said the ongoing crisis there presents a unique opportunity for Israel to break the radical axis in the Middle East. The former intelligence chief made the comments at a special event to unveil his think tank's "2012-2013 Strategic Assessment." According to Yadlin, "The anti-Israel radical axis has been fractured and is heading toward breaking point; at the center of the axis lies Syria, which is gradually crumbling, with the Sunni-Arab world turning against it. This is a positive development."

Tension with Syria has been on the rise after Israel allegedly struck a convoy carrying advanced air defense systems en route to Lebanon. While Israel has not confirmed it was behind the attack, it has repeatedly warned Syria not to allow game-changing arms to reach the hands of the Shi'ite terrorist group Hizbullah in Lebanon and said it would work to prevent any such transfers.

Yadlin told reporters that the destabilization of the Damascus regime is not necessarily a bad omen for Israel. In fact, he said, the potential overthrow of the regime "was a great opportunity for Israel and could be very promising if it takes Syria out of the radical axis.

"After President Bashar al-Assad falls, Syria — whatever its constellation may be — would be preoccupied with reconstruction; the large fighting force it will have at its disposal would be turned inward, not outward; it would be hard to imagine Syria turning toward armed conflict with Israel."

Yadlin commented that the alleged attack on the convoy would have damaged weapon systems that "we did not want in Lebanon." He added that the delivery of the systems was "in breach of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 and went against a promise made by Syria to Russia." Yadlin said the U.S. condoned the alleged attack and "even the Russians understood that there was a problem."

The New York Times reported on Sunday that Israel targeted "SA-17 missiles and their launchers" that had been destined for Hizbullah. The paper, which relied on unnamed American officials for its report, also appears to confirm Syria's claim that a scientific research center was hit. According to the sources, the center may have suffered from collateral damage as a result of the attack on the weapon systems nearby. The paper said the West imposed sanctions on the center for its alleged role in developing unconventional weapons.

Syrian Defense Minister Fahd Jassem al-Freij told Syrian television Monday that Syria did not feel compelled to retaliate because Israel's alleged action was actually a response to the "victory of the Syrian military over the armed gangs," implying that Israel was behind the popular unrest in his country.

Assad accused Israel on Sunday of trying to destabilize Syria by attacking a military research base outside Damascus last week, and said Syria was able to confront "current threats ... and aggression," state media said. He made the remarks in a meeting with Saeed Jalili, Iran's national security council secretary, in the Syrian capital. It was his first reported response to the attack.

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency quoted Jalili as reaffirming Tehran's "full support for the Syrian people ... facing the Zionist aggression, and its continued coordination to confront the conspiracies and foreign projects."

The Syrian president, Shi'ite Iran's closest Arab ally, is battling a 22-month-old uprising in which 60,000 people have been killed. Assad says the rebels are Islamist terrorists funded and armed by Turkey and Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab states.

Turkey, which seeks the ouster of Assad and supports the opposition that is fighting against his regime, harshly criticized Israel regarding the airstrike in Syria. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that Israel engaged in "state terror" and he suggested that its allies have nurtured wrongdoing on the part of the Jewish state. "Those who have from the very beginning looked in the wrong direction and who have nourished and raised Israel like a spoiled child should always expect such things from Israel," Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News quoted Erdogan as saying.

Ahmad Juma'a, one of the leaders of the Syrian opposition told Israeli radio on Sunday that the rebel groups welcome the alleged Israeli attack, saying it targeted weapon systems that were supposed to be used against the Sunnis in Syria. He further said Israel should impose more military pressure on the regime, Israel Radio reported

Ahmadinejad: The Period of the Zionists is Over

By AFP & Reuters

"The period of the Zionists is over," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday, in his latest attack on Israel. Speaking to the Beirut-based Al Mayadeen television network, which is affiliated with the Hizbullah terror group, Ahmadinejad said, "They (the Zionists) should give their place to others. I hope to pray in Jerusalem after its full liberation. Gaza is my stop before Jerusalem. If they let me, I will visit Gaza."

The Iranian president claimed that the alleged Israeli attack last week in Syria was proof of Israel's "weakness" and that Syria was unable to retaliate due to the ongoing conflict. "We were hoping for different circumstances in Syria, that way it could have defended itself," Ahmadinejad told Al Mayadeen.

The Iranian president also said that "war is not a solution" in Syria and called on the government in Damascus and the opposition to engage in talks. Asked if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should quit, Ahmadinejad replied, "I think it is up to the Syrian people to determine who should stay and who should go."

Ahmadinejad, who is due to visit Egypt this week and meet President Mohammed Morsi, was asked in the interview about talks with Egypt regarding the Palestinian Authority Arabs, to which he replied, "If we agree on the liberation of Palestine, it will undoubtedly happen. Egypt and Iran can change the equation in favor of the Palestinian people. We want the hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people to be fulfilled," he said. "We support the Palestinian people whatever it takes.

"We do not differentiate between groups and interact with everyone," Ahmadinejad said, referring to the ongoing infighting between rival groups Fatah and Hamas. "Assistance to Palestine is one of the main strategies of the Islamic revolution. How can we help and assist? The Palestinian people will determine that."

The latest anti-Israel remarks by the Iranian president come a week after he called on all Muslims to mobilize their resources to uproot Zionism. He made the remarks in his speech to the 26th international conference on Islamic Unity, saying that the prime goal of the Muslims should be terminating the issue of Zionism. "Under the circumstances that the corrupt, uncultured and murderous Zionists are occupying and killing oppressed people, we should not sit idly by," Ahmadinejad said.

Several months ago Ahmadinejad labeled Israel "the axis of unity of the world hegemonic powers. It has now been some 400 years that a horrendous Zionist clan has been ruling the major world affairs, and behind the scenes of the major power circles, in political, media, monetary and banking organizations in the world, they have been the decision makers..." the Iranian president claimed.

The Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has also repeatedly expressed hope that Israel would be wiped off the map. Last summer Khamenei expressed confidence that the "Palestinians" will eventually retake control of their motherland.

"The light of hope will shine on the Palestinian issue, and this Islamic land will certainly be returned to the Palestinian nation, and the superfluous and fake Zionist (regime) will disappear from the landscape of geography," Khamenei said. Iran's president expressed interest in visiting the Gaza Strip; he did not specify whose permission he would seek.

Ahmadinejad, who is due to take part in a summit in Egypt this week, expressed his desire on Monday to visit the neighboring Gaza Strip. Asked in an interview on the Al-Mayadeen news channel whether he would visit Gaza while in Cairo next week or before his term as president expires in June, he replied: "My wish is bigger than this. I wish to pray in Jerusalem after complete liberation."

"If they allow it, I would go to Gaza to visit the people," he said, without saying whose authority he would seek Egypt controls the crossing with Gaza and leaders of Qatar and Malaysia have both visited the enclave from Egyptian territory in the last six months. Ahmadinejad's visit to Cairo will be the first for an Iranian president since the 1979 Iranian revolution ruptured diplomatic ties between the two most populous countries in the Middle East. He will head Iran's delegation to a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Cairo.

Ahmadinejad also said that he's ready to take the risk of being the first Iranian astronaut sent into space as part of Iran's goal of a manned space flight. "I'm ready to be the first Iranian to sacrifice myself for our country's scientists," the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying in an address to space scientists in Tehran.

Saudi Preacher Who Raped, Murdered His 5-Year-old Daughter is Freed


A Saudi preacher who tortured his five-year-old daughter to death has been released after agreeing to pay 'blood money', The Daily Mail reported. Lama al-Ghamdi died in October having suffered multiple injuries including a crushed skull, broken ribs and left arm, extensive bruising and burns, according to the report. She had also been repeatedly raped and then burned.

Her father Fayhan al-Ghamdi, a prominent Islamist preacher who regularly appears on television in Saudi Arabia, served only a few months in jail despite admitting to having used a cane and cables to inflict the injuries. Lama al-Ghamdi. Spent 10 months in a hospital before succumbing to wounds

Women's rights activists said al-Ghamdi had doubted Lama's virginity and had her checked up by a medic. Rather than the death penalty or a long prison sentence, the judge in the case ruled the prosecution could only seek 'blood money', according to activists. According to the report, the judge ruled the few months al-Ghamdi spent in prison since his arrest in November was sufficient punishment. He has reportedly agreed to pay £31,000 ($50,000), which is believed to have gone to Lama's mother.

Activists say under Islamic laws a father cannot be executed for murdering his children. Husbands can also not be executed for murdering their wives, they say.

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