- Former Mossad chief on reports Turkey deliberately burned Israeli spies in Iran: "Who is going now to trust them?"
- Intel analysts respond to leaked Iran offer: snap inspections "deceptively easy concession," reflect strategy of "small compromises"
- At least 59 killed in "spate of attacks" in Iraq, as government struggles to deal with Syria spillover
- Extended IAF exercises underscore "apparent message to Iran"
What we’re watching today:
- Turkish officials, including the country's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and its intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, deliberately burned "up to 10 Iranians who had been meeting inside Turkey with their [Israeli] Mossad case officers" by alerting Iran of their existence, according to an expose published late last night by the Washington Post's David Ignatius.The Washington Post cited "knowledgeable sources" as describing "significant" damage to Israeli intelligence. Former Mossad head Maj. Gen. (res) Danny Yatom, speaking on an afternoon conference call organized by The Israel Project, predicted that friendly intelligence agencies would limit their cooperation with Turkey's National Intelligence Organization in the future, saying that the betrayal of trust was "unheard of" in the intelligence community. "Who is going now to trust them? Who is going now to cooperate with them? Who is going now to share sensitive information with them?" Yatom asked. The incident is at least the second reported time that Ankara leaked sensitive Western intelligence to Iran within three years. The Wall Street Journal last week disclosed that Fidan had "pass[ed] to Iran sensitive intelligence collected by the US and Israel." The revelations come at a time of heightened concern regarding Turkish plans - which Ankara doubled down on earlier this month - to pursue a $3.4 billion deal that would see Turkey purchase missile systems from a Chinese firm currently under U.S. sanctions. The Chinese system would require integration with existing NATO systems stationed in Turkey, and according to NATO sources would functionally implant a "virus" in NATO's command and control infrastructure.
- For a second day in a row, coverage of nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran emphasized expressions of optimism while noting that Iranian negotiators have not in fact offered anything substantively concrete or new. Officials quoted by Reuters yesterday described "no apparent narrowing of differences" and worried that what was known about Iran's offer would "allow them to keep their whole program." The Washington Post's Anne Applebaum evaluated "the sudden good cheer" and contrasted it with the lack of any "radical new strand of Iranian thinking about nuclear power" represented by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani or any "profound break from those who have run the Islamic Republic since its inception." She specifically cited concerns over Rouhani's Justice Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, who has for years been subject to intense criticism by human rights groups for his participation in the mass murder of anti-regime dissidents. Leaked details of Iran's offer to the P5+1 indicated that Iran had offered a three-stage plan that would allow Tehran to keep enriching uranium in exchange for snap inspections of known nuclear facilities. The insidery KGS NightWatch security bulletin unpacked the offer and noted that "snap inspections of declared facilities is a deceptively easy concession to make" because "Iran already has been found to have built at least one facility that was not declared." NightWatch compared the offer to ones made by Rouhani when he led Iran's nuclear negotiations in the mid-2000s, during which Iran would "offer small compromises by Iran in return for major concessions by the West and others."
- At least 59 people were killed in what Reuters describes as a "spate of attacks" on mainly Shiite communities across Iraq on Thursday, the latest in a spike in violence driven both directly and indirectly by fighting in neighboring Syria. The more than two-year conflict has deepened sectarian tensions and inflamed national divisions, and has also seen fighters participate in attacks on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border. Today's blasts, which included a bombing that killed five people on a playground, came in the middle of the Eid al-Adha holiday and also targeted members of the country’s Shabak minority. The bombings are the latest attacks in tit-for-tat violence that has pitted Sunni jihadists against both the Shiite-led government and Shiite militias. Analysts have been worried for months that Iraq is slipping back into the all-out sectarian warfare of 2005-2006, with some concluding that Iraqi violence is "no longer containable" and will itself escalate regionally. The United Nations reported that 979 people were killed Iraqi violence in September, and that more than 4,000 people have been killed since April.
- A major Israeli Air Force exercise continued into its second week today, refocusing attention on what the Washington Post last week called "an apparent message to Iran" that the Jewish state - which has committed to preventing the Islamic republic from succeeding in what is widely seen as a drive to acquire nuclear weapons - was capable of militarily degrading Iranian nuclear assets. The Jerusalem Post described the drills as "aimed at giving the air force the ability to carry out both broad and pinpoint long-range missions." Recent polling indicates that large majorities of Israelis would support unilateral military action against Iran if it became necessary to prevent the country from going nuclear. In line with the assessments of U.S.-based analysts and senators, the Israelis have emphasized that any deal with Iran must put nuclear weapons beyond the regime's reach by forcing Tehran to export its enriched nuclear material and to cease uranium enrichment and plutonium-related activity.
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