DebkaFile.com – 2008-10-04 22:11:38
Stern US Warning to Syria Not to Invade Northern Lebanon
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
(October 2, 2008) — Washington accompanied this warning to Damascus, DEBKAfile has learned, with its first explicit threat of military intervention to aid Lebanon should Syria go through with its planned incursion of the North.
DEBKAfile first revealed the concentration of 10,000 Syrian troops on the Lebanese border on Sept. 20 and again on Sept. 27.
The warning, according to our sources, was delivered on Sept. 28 by secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to the Syrian foreign minister Walid Mualem whom she invited for an urgent meeting in New York. The day after they met, Mualem was handed a second warning by undersecretary of state David Welch, who specified precisely whic Syrian movements the US government would deem crossing the Lebanese border.
The harsh words from the top two American diplomats left the Syrian minister with little option but to promise there would be no Syrian incursion. However, in a number of subsequent interviews, Mualem claimed his talks with the two American officials focused on Washington’s support for the indirect talks between Jerusalem and Damascus, a tale made of whole cloth.
In the week since Washington warned Damascus off, nothing has changed in the Syrian military deployment on the Lebanese, our military sources confirm.
Syrian officials talking to Western diplomats are now maintaining that Islamic extremists are setting up an emirate in northern Lebanon which will jeopardize the stability of the entire region. Since Damascus has been warned off interfering in Lebanon by Washington, it cannot take responsibility for the consequences.
Syria’s determination to occupy the northern region of Tripoli is not lost on the Lebanese. The highest ranking Salafi authority in Lebanon, Dai al-Islam Shahhal, warned this week against an incursion by the Syrian army into north Lebanon, saying it would open ‘the gates of hell and lead to what is similar to Iraq and its misery.”
US Approves 25 F-35 “Stealth” Fighter Aircraft Sale to Israel
DEBKAfile Special Report
(September 30, 2008) — The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency has approved the $15.2 billion sale of 25 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for Israel with an option for another 50, saying it is vital to US national security interests to assist Israel develop “a strong and ready self-defense capability.”
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that President George W, Bush, in mid-financial crisis, fully discharged his promise of a defense package for Israeli before he left office. There was no announcement of the date of supply.
Earlier this month, the Pentagon approved up to $330 million in three separate arms deals for Israel and posted its advanced FBX-band radar system to an Israeli Air Force base in the Negev.
Israel is the first foreign nation to receive the up-to-the-minute Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike stealth fighter, which will replace the older F-16 fighters and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground defenses and by virtue of five exceptional features:
1. An advanced radar for striking ground or air targets long distance while destroying any threat in its immediate environment.
2. An electro-optical targeting system (EOTS).
3. The pilot’s helmet-mounted displays (HMD).
4. It is the first fighter plane in the world with a communications system linked to satellites.
5. The capacity for carrying large quantities of ordnance – from joint direct attack munitions to AIM-120 and AIM-132 air-to-air missiles.
The first consignment of 25 F-35’s has a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) configuration, while the next 50 are short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft. In the event of an armed conflict, the Israel Air Force calculates that its long runways will be in danger of attack by Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas.
The deal was approved after senior Israeli and US officials met in Washington this month and assurances were tendered that sensitive technologies would not be passed to third parties.
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