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by CTuttle

Gaza Update: Bibi’s Worried, The Carnage Continues, and Global Protests

6:05 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As I noted in my last postIsrael fears UN investigation on its crimes in Gaza

…Israel Today quoted official Israeli politicians as saying that the UN commission of inquiry will be much more damning than the ‘Goldstone Commission’ report issued by a similar committee in the aftermath of the aggression on Gaza at the end of 2008, especially since the “Goldstone Commission” was a “fact-finding committee”, whilst the current committee is a ‘commission of inquiry.’

The newspaper considered the differences to be ‘extremely worrisome’ because the probe could refer its conclusions to the International Criminal Court and bring to trial the leadership in Israel on charges of committing war crimes, should the case reach such a conclusion.

The newspaper said that the Israeli government has formed a team to deal with the commission of inquiry, and the team will focus on facing legal and political campaigns as well as the international media immediately after the aggression on Gaza ends.

It seems that Israel will repeat its claims and arguments that the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip worked from within populated areas and used civilians as human shields, and that this lead to a large number of civilian deaths.

Haaretz reported today that the IDF puts together team to deflect war-crime allegations…

Legal work is being done ahead of possible international investigations like those that followed the 2009 Gaza offensive and the Mavi Marmara incident.

The Israel Defense Forces has established a team to collect evidence on the fighting with Hamas in Gaza in case the army is accused of war crimes. The IDF reiterated yesterday that Hamas had committed crimes, not Israel.

The team, headed by the chief of the IDF’s Planning Directorate, Maj. Gen. Nimrod Sheffer, includes officials from the Military Advocate General’s Office, Southern Command, the Gaza Division and the air force.

The team will collect evidence about Palestinian civilians used as human shields, particularly video documentation by the air force. The officials note a number of events in which Palestinian civilians have been harmed and it is not clear who was responsible. This includes firing on the Shati refugee camp and Shifa Hospital, a military source said.

The IDF also intends to discuss the air force’s target planning, which includes calculations of possible damage to surrounding buildings and sites during an air strike.

The daily Israel Hayom, which first reported on the establishment of the team Friday, said officials from government ministries would also be on board, including the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry.

Legal work is being done ahead of possible international investigations like the ones that followed Israel’s January 2009 ground offensive in Gaza and the 2010 commando raid on the Gaza-bound ship the Mavi Marmara. The new team will also present findings on the conduct of Hamas during the fighting in Gaza over the past three and a half weeks.

Sheffer’s work will run simultaneously with probes coordinated by Maj. Gen. Noam Tibon, who is heading a General Staff panel tasked with clarifying cases in which the IDF harmed noncombatants.

Reflecting back on the ‘Cast Lead’ debacle, Wikileaks, had released this Tel Aviv cable…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, I/P, Syria, and Yemen

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Here we go again…! From the CSM…

Did Syria use chlorine gas against rebels in Kfar Zeit?

The US State Department says there are indications that a toxic chemical, probably chlorine, was used against opposition forces in Syria earlier in April.

The United States has indications that a toxic chemical, probably chlorine, was used in Syria this month and is examining whether the Syrian government was responsible, the U.S. State Department said on Monday.

‘We have indications of the use of a toxic industrial chemical’ in the town of Kfar Zeita, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, referring to a rebel-held area.

‘We are examining allegations that the government was responsible,’ she told a regular news briefing. ‘Obviously there needs to be an investigation of what’s happened here.’

Syrian opposition activists reported that helicopters dropped chlorine gas on a Kfar Zeit on April 11 and 12. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told ABC television’s This Week on April 13 that the attack was ‘unsubstantiated.’

Psaki said chlorine was not one of the priority one or two chemicals Syria declared to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) under a Russian-U.S. agreement for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

Psaki said the United States was still trying to determine the facts.

‘We take all allegations of the use of chemicals in combat use very seriously,’ she said. ‘We’ll work with the OPCW, who is obviously overseeing the implementation, and determine if any violation occurred.’

Even Hollande piles on…France backs claims that Syrian forces have used chemical weapons recently

Meanwhile, in Syria…

So while everybody agrees that Assad is secure in his position and the Syrians move forward with their planned elections… The UN slams Syria…

Top UN officials warn against Syrian presidential elections

Top United Nations officials have cautioned that Syria’s newly announced presidential elections have a risk of undermining efforts to achieve a political solution to the country’s three-year-old conflict, a UN spokesman said here on Monday.

‘The secretary-general and the Joint Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, have repeatedly warned that the holding of elections in the current circumstances, amid the ongoing conflict and massive displacement, will damage the political process and hamper the prospects for a political solution that the country so urgently needs,’ Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, told reporters at a daily briefing.

‘Such elections are incompatible with the letter and spirit of the Geneva Communique,’ Dujarric said in reference to an action plan adopted in June 2012 during the first international conference on the Syrian conflict, calling for a political transition in the country.

Ironically, neither Assad, nor the SNC(or whatever version) had ever agreed to the Geneva Communique, even when it was first drawn up…! Here’s a great RT clip on the foreign intervention… Young Blood: Teenage Europeans joining jihad in war-torn Syria

Now, reflecting back…

An Eyewitness to the Syrian Rebellion: Father Frans in His Own Words

…Father Frans was murdered under still unclarified circumstances in the embattled Syrian city of Homs earlier this month.

Opposition sources have blamed the Syrian government for his death. But it is widely believed that Father Frans was killed by hard-line Islamist members of one of the rebel factions that have taken control of his Bustan al-Diwan neighborhood in Homs.

The texts of Father Frans, who had lived in Syria since 1966, provide an eyewitness account of the origins of the anti-Assad rebellion and the gradual hardening of the front between opposing rebel and government forces in Homs.

In many respects, the Father’s observations contrast sharply with what has become the standard view of the rebellion in Western media.

Perhaps most notably, whereas the rebellion is typically held to have been sparked by the violent repression of peaceful protests, according to Father Frans, the ‘protest movement’ contained an armed and violent element ‘from the start’ and the violent opposition quickly gained the ascendancy over the peaceful opposition.

Thus, in a letter published in January 2012 on the Dutch-Flemish Mediawerkgroep Syrië website, Father Frans wrote:

‘From the start, the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.’

In the same letter, Father Frans insisted that what was occurring in Syria could not be described as a “popular uprising,” since the majority of Syrians do not support the opposition and ‘certainly not’ its armed component.

Moving along… Lebanon is holding their Presidential elections tomorrow…

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, House of Saud, I/P Peace Farce, and Turkey

4:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From Trita Parsi, in The National Interest…

Why the Saudis Are Panicking

As President Barack Obama must have noticed during his visit, there is a panicky tone to almost everything the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does these days, whether it’s campaigning for two years to win a coveted seat on the UN Security Council only to give it up immediately after the vote, or its public pronouncements of going it alone in the chaos of Syria, or its break with its fellow Arab state Qatar, or the closing of the Al Jazeera office in Riyadh, or the banning of the books of renowned Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish. Or, of course, its opposition to diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program and the prospects of a US-Iranian thaw.

Riyadh’s opposition to the Iran nuclear talks has largely been understood in the context of the larger Saudi-Iranian and Sunni-Shia rivalry. Consequently, Saudi’s negative reaction was predictable, the argument goes. The Saudi royal house would undoubtedly not sit idly by as its regional rival negotiated its way out of harsh sanctions and into a potential US-Iranian rapprochement that could pave the way for an American tilt towards Tehran—all at the expense of Saudi interests. {…}

The new reality is that in spite of Riyadh’s massive arms purchase from the US, Washington will likely not come to its aid if the Arab spring reaches Saudi. This means that a critical avenue for Saudi Arabia to ensure regime survival is in jeopardy—at best—or, at worst, lost…

I liked how Trita cited an old DSW post on how the Sauds are willing to go it alone in Syria…!

Speaking of Syria, from the Council on Foreign Relations…

Syria Civil War Total Fatalities

Estimates released today by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) portray a different picture of the civil war in Syria than U.S. policymakers and media convey. SOHR’s estimated death toll reinforces the point made in an article published on ForeignPolicy.com in September 2013, when they last released updated data: most of the reported deaths in Syria have not been committed by forces under Bashar al-Assad’s command. Additionally, the involvement of various individuals and groups in the conflict has broadened greatly since SOHR’s September 2013 estimate.

Meanwhile, right next door…

Moving along to Egypt, the Coup regime is tightening the screws on the Muslim Brotherhood… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Iran, Israel, Libya, and Syria

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As the dynamic duo of Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett wrote recently…

The Use of Force, the Reflexive Resort to Economic Sanctions, and the Trials of America’s Hegemonic Mindset

As negotiations toward a “final” nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran continue, it is important to consider to what extent the world might be witnessing a fundamental change in American foreign policy. We are inclined to think that the Obama administration would not have gone as far down the diplomatic road with Iran as it has in the absence of President Obama’s self-inflicted debacle over his declared intention to attack Syria after chemical weapons were used there in August 2013. This episode drove home—to the Obama administration as well as to most of the rest of the world—that the United States can no longer credibly threaten to use military force in the Middle East for hegemonic purposes.

After the American public so resoundingly rebuffed Obama’s call for U.S. military action, his administration was compelled to conclude that starting down the diplomatic road with Iran was politically less costly than pushing for more sanctions and continuing to insist that the “military option” was still “on the table.” But can the Obama administration really go all the way to a comprehensive realignment of relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran—and, in the process, show that the United States can shift proactively from a counterproductive drive to dominate the Middle East to serious engagement with all important regional powers, and not just slink out of region in defeat?

Making such a shift will require Washington to relinquish the self-damaging delusion that the United States can actually maintain hegemony in the Middle East on an open-ended basis. America’s reaction to the ongoing Ukraine crisis suggests that American elites are having a very difficult time giving up this delusion.

Interestingly…

Sanctions on Russia over Ukraine not expected to damage delicate diplomacy on Syria, Iran

…The U.S. focus on chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict fulfills Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal of keeping Syrian President Bashar Assad in power, and Russian influence in the talks on Iran’s nuclear program has diminished, according to analysts who specialize in U.S.-Russian relations.Those conclusions suggest that the State Department’s compartmentalization policy will succeed, avoiding a severing of U.S.-Russian ties but still light years away from what the Obama administration once had envisioned as a “reset” with Moscow…

Moving along…

Israelis suspected of trying to buy Libyan oil from seized tanker

Two Israelis and a Senegalese national were questioned in Cyprus in connection with an oil tanker loaded from a rebel-held port in Libya, the island’s CNA news agency reported Monday.

It said police in the coastal city of Larnaca questioned the three on Saturday on suspicion of negotiating to buy crude from the tanker, Morning Glory.

A Larnaca court declined to issue arrest warrants as authorities in Cyprus had no evidence that the alleged offence was committed within its territorial waters.

Local media said the three flew in to Larnaca on a private jet late Friday, hired a boat from the marina and went out to the tanker to negotiate with the crew.

Police monitored their movements and the boat was intercepted once they were back in Cyprus waters. The trio flew out to Tel Aviv on Sunday night.

In Washington, the Pentagon said US Navy Seals early Monday boarded and took control of the Morning Glory in international waters southeast of Cyprus.

It was to be taken back to Libya.

Meanwhile, in Israel…

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Bibi, Karzai, and, the P5+1

1:45 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Mere hours after the ink dried on that Security Pact, in which Kerry assured… No combat role for US forces in Afghanistan, Karzai threw a hard fastball right under Kerry’s voluminous jowls…

United States gives Afghanistan year-end deadline for crucial security deal

Karzai’s surprise move, which came just a day after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the pact’s language had been agreed upon, suddenly threw its future into question and seemed certain to reignite tensions with Washington.

…In a statement certain to irritate the United States, which is eager to clinch the deal as soon as possible, Karzai told the assembly any agreement on the status of U.S. forces would have to wait until after a presidential election in April.

“This pact should be signed when the election has already taken place, properly and with dignity,” Karzai, who cannot run in the 2014 vote under the constitution, told the elders…

A senior Afghan official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Karzai intended to leave the pact unsigned until he is sure the international community will not interfere in the election. Karzai’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi, confirmed that, adding that the grand assembly and parliament also had to approve the pact.

“Once we are assured of peace and security, and transparent elections, then President Karzai will sign this pact after the election if this is approved by the Loya Jirga and passed by the parliament,” Faizi said.

He did not explain how Karzai intended to sign the document after a new president had been elected.

Karzai has appeared wary of being too closely associated with the security agreement, which would formally invite foreign forces to stay in Afghanistan.

“President Karzai just doesn’t want to own the agreement,” said Kate Clark of the Kabul-based Afghanistan Analysts Network think tank. “He kept handing the responsibility for agreeing or not agreeing to the agreement to the people in the hall, to the delegates of the Loya Jirga.”

Once a weasel politician, always a politician…! Speaking of which…

Obama Promises To Respect ‘Dignity’ of Afghans If U.S. Troops Stay

President promises U.S. troops won’t enter Afghan homes except under ‘extraordinary circumstances’

President Barack Obama sent a letter to President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday, striking an empathetic and diplomatic note about how American troops will conduct themselves in Afghanistan, as the two countries near an agreement for a continuing U.S. presence there.

In the days before the U.S. and Afghanistan agreed on language for a bilateral agreement to keep U.S. troops in the country for at least another decade, there were reports that the Afghan government would demand an apology for the suffering of the Afghan people during military operations. Obama’s letter stopped short of that, but promised to treat Afghans with “dignity.”

“Over time, and especially in the recent past, we have redoubled our efforts to ensure that Afghan homes are respected by our forces and that our operations are conducted consistent with your law,” Obama said in his letter(6pg PDF), which was posted on the Afghan government’s website. “We will continue to make every effort to respect the sanctity and dignity of Afghans in their homes and daily lives, just as we do for our own citizens.”

Obama promised that under the new agreement, U.S. forces would not enter Afghan homes for military operations, except under “extraordinary circumstances involving urgent risk to life and limb of U.S. nationals.” One of the chief complaints among Afghans has been the practice of “night raids” where coalition troops enter homes in the middle of the night searching for suspected insurgents.

Now, if y’all believe that, I’ve got a slighty used bridge for sale, real cheap…!

Let’s look at what the WH had to say about it, Stateside…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AIPAC, ISIS, and, Iran

7:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Honestly, it truly is tiresome exposing AIPAC’s undue influence over our elected critters, time after time…!

Let’s take a gander at the latest shenanigans…

Franks legislation authorizes military force against Iran

Recent talks between the West and Iran have created an important opportunity to resolve the Iran nuclear standoff. U.S. officials have expressed cautious optimism that a deal may be reached that protects U.S. interests. However, some in Washington seem determined to undermine the diplomatic process.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) introduced legislation on October 15 that, among other things, would authorize the president of the United States to use military force against Iran. During the past several weeks, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has mentioned his plans to introduce a similar bill in the U.S. Senate. {…}

The headline of Franks’ own press release indicating his intention to introduce the bill read: “Franks Calls for Authorization of Military Force in Iran.”

In the section entitled “Support for United States Diplomatic Efforts,” the act specifies a number of preconditions on any agreement with Iran concerning its nuclear program.They include not only a virtual end to all Iranian nuclear activity, but also an insistence that Iran stop its support of terrorist groups, demonstrate a peaceful foreign policy, and recognize Israel’s sovereignty. Such preconditions, while praiseworthy objectives, are so stringent within the context of the current negotiations that they could severely diminish the chances of reaching a satisfactory diplomatic settlement with Iran on the nuclear issue.

It is so unhelpful for Iranian negotiations to advance, that…

Kerry, Lew to brief U.S. senators on Iran nuclear talks

Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will hold a briefing on Thursday on the status of nuclear talks with Iran for members of a U.S. Senate committee considering tough new sanctions on Tehran, Senate aides said on Friday.

President Barack Obama’s administration has been pushing the Senate Banking Committee to hold off on the new sanctions in order to give negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program a chance.

Iran, Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany will meet November 7-8 in Geneva, after a round of talks there earlier this month.

Washington and its allies believe Tehran is developing the ability to make a nuclear weapon, but Tehran says the program is for generating power and medical devices.

The secret briefing for members of the banking panel with Kerry and Lew on the status of the talks with Iran will take place on Thursday at 4 p.m. (2000 GMT), according to a document obtained by Reuters.

The House of Representatives passed its version of a stiffer sanctions package in July by a 400-20 vote. The House bill seeks to slash Iran’s oil exports by another 1 million barrels a day a year.

The Senate bill could reduce the ability of the Obama administration to offer waivers to the sanctions. But the measure has not come to a vote in the banking committee, a prelude to its consideration by the full Senate. The two versions would then be reconciled before being sent to Obama for his signature.

It appeared on Friday that banking committee leaders, who had already put off consideration of the package from September, agreed to at least some further delay.

Interestingly…

Israel Intel Minister: Not pessimistic about Iran deal

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said Tuesday that he believes Iran is “serious” about wanting to make a nuclear deal to save its economy. But he pressed for no let-up in economic pressure unless Iran agrees to terms for a deal that many US national security experts believe could preclude a diplomatic compromise.

“I think they are serious,” Steinitz, speaking to al-Monitor in an interview Tuesday, said of the Iranians. “They want an agreement.”

But the deal they are aiming for, he said, is a “North Korea-type,” under which Iran would freeze, rather than dismantle, major elements of its nuclear program, and offer “better inspections procedures.”

“Nuclear energy without enrichment is the only reasonable compromise,” he said.

Steinitz was in Washington leading an Israeli delegation attending two days of high-level talks with US counterparts as part of the US-Israel Strategic Dialogue. US Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman addressed the gathering Wednesday, the State Department said.

So…

U.S. negotiator in nuclear talks assures Iranians she’ll be fair

America’s chief negotiator with Iran promised in a broadcast intended for Iranians that she will be a “fair, balanced” participant in talks over Tehran’s nuclear program, despite her comment this month that “deception is part of the DNA” among Iranians.

Facing criticism from hard-line news media and some lawmakers in Iran, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said Friday in an interview with Voice of America’s Persian Service that her comments reflected American distrust of the Iranian government that has built up since the breach in relations after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. But she insisted that she and others in the administration respect Iranians and believe the talks offer a path for both sides to improve mutual understanding.

Asked what she meant by the statement, Sherman said, “I think it referred specifically to what our history of mistrust has been…. I think these nuclear negotiations will help us get over that mistrust.

Are you kidding…? So why on Earth is Albright and his ISIS pushing this absolute bovine manure…?

Iran may be one month from nuclear bomb

‘Shortening breakout times have implications for any negotiation with Iran,’ says new assessment by the U.S. Institute for Science and International Security.

Iran could build a nuclear bomb within as little as a month, a new report issued by the U.S. Institute for Science and International Security says.

According to the assessment, Iran’s weapons-grade uranium production capabilities are developed to a degree that its ‘breakout time’ – the time needed to convert enough uranium to weapon-grade so as to build a bomb – stands at between one and 1.6 months – and is shortening further.

“Shortening breakout times have implications for any negotiation with Iran,” states the report, adding that lengthening the breakout times should be a central concern of the current negotiations.

Such a goal could be achieved in a number of ways, the report says – all of which would involve a significant reduction in the number of centrifuges active at the Natanz and Fordo facilities.

And if that wasn’t enough scaremongering about Iran…

U.S. charges man with seeking to buy missiles for Iran

U.S. prosecutors brought criminal charges on Friday against a man they said had tried to acquire surface-to-air missiles that he planned to smuggle into Iran in a threat to U.S. national security.

Reza Olangian, a dual citizen of the United States and Iran, was charged with four counts, including trying to acquire and transfer anti-aircraft missiles, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and two conspiracy counts.

The defendant was arrested at an airport in Tallinn, Estonia, on October 10, 2012, and extradited to the United States on March 26, 2013, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in New York, who announced the charges.

And, finally, if you had any lingering doubts on AIPAC’s sway…

Senate Dems May Spurn Obama’s Call for Delay, Push Iran Sanctions

AIPAC Heavily Lobbying Congress to Continue Sanctions

…That’s not easy, as Congress imposes new sanctions on Iran every few weeks as a matter of course, and with Israel opposed to the negotiations AIPAC has been heavily lobbying Congress not to allow any delays, and to nip the diplomacy in the bud for Israel’s sake.

There are plenty of hawks who don’t need much convincing in Congress, and the Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee are scheduled to push those sanctions next week. Whether they will spurn Obama’s call for time remains to be seen, but in a lobbying battle between the White House and AIPAC, it’s hard to imagine that the Israel lobby doesn’t have the edge.

*gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Rand Paul, the Peace Farce, and, Egypt

4:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Well, that was certainly quick…

Christie slams Paul as “dangerous”

Paul’s war with the neoconservative wing of the GOP explodes in the first volley of the 2016 campaign

…Speaking at a panel of GOP governors in Aspen, Colorado, Christie said the “strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought.

Asked if he was specifically alluding to Paul, Christie responded, “You can name any number of people and he’s one of them.” He continued: “These esoteric, intellectual debates — I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans [of the 9/11 attacks] and have that conversation. And they won’t, because that’s a much tougher conversation to have.”

Team Paul heard fighting words, and Doug Stafford, one of Paul’s closest advisers, told the New York Times’ Jonathan Martin, “If Governor Christie believes the constitutional rights and the privacy of all Americans is ‘esoteric,’ he either needs a new dictionary, or he needs to talk to more Americans, because a great number of them are concerned about the dramatic overreach of our government in recent years.” Stafford even invoked the lyrics of Christie’s beloved Bruce Springsteen in firing back.

It’s one of the first volleys of the 2016 GOP primary from two candidates who are widely expected to lead the pack, but it also underscores an apparent effort by some Republicans and conservatives with more muscular foreign policy views to disqualify Paul from the race before he even enters…

It is that singular ‘strain of Libertarianism’ that I subscribe to within either party…! However, on the Libertarian domestic policies, outside of the National Security apparatchik, I flatly reject their basic tenets…!

Now, ironically, at that very same Aspen confab that Christie had lashed out at Rand Paul…

Ex-US general: We pay a price for backing Israel

Slamming settlements, James Mattis, former commander of CentCom, tells crowd in Aspen that moderate Arabs are forced to hide support for America…

“I paid a military security price every day as the commander of CentCom because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel, and that moderates all the moderate Arabs who want to be with us, because they can’t come out publicly in support of people who don’t show respect for the Arab Palestinians,” he said Saturday at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado in response to a question about the peace process. {…}

He called the current situation in Israel “unsustainable” and blamed the settlements for harming prospects for peace. The chances for an accord between Israel and the Palestinians, said Mattis, “are starting to ebb because the settlements and where they’re at are going to make it impossible to maintain the two state solution.”

Mattis then described a hypothetical in which 500 Jewish settlers live among 10,000 Arabs, and the implications of where Israel draws the border. He called it a choice between giving up the idea of a Jewish state or becoming an apartheid state.

He then returned to the idea of the cost of lack of progress in peace talks, arguing that it “shortstops a lot of support for us because all politics are local… And I would just tell you that they can’t come out in support of us if we don’t see some progress where Secretary [of State John] Kerry is wisely focused like a laser beam right now.”

As the former CIA MENA bureau chief, Philip Giraldi wrote recently… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Jubhat al-Nusra, McInsane, Morsi, and Qatar

11:20 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the RT blurbThe US claims it has found a way to make sure the arms it sends to the rebels in Syria won’t fall into the wrong hands. This comes after leaked reports from the CIA that it’s about to start funneling heavy weapons to rebel fighters.

From the Grey Lady… Taking Outsize Role in Syria, Qatar Funnels Arms to Rebels

…“They like to back winners,” one Middle Eastern official said.

In meetings with Mr. Obama, the leaders of Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have expressed a host of grievances about the Qatari shipments and have complained that Qatar is pursuing a reckless strategy.

In Mr. Obama’s meeting with Sheik Hamad at the White House on April 23, American officials said, he had warned that the weapons were making their way to radical groups like Jabhet al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, a Qaeda-affiliated group that the United States has designated as a terrorist organization.

“It was very important for the Qataris to understand that Nusra is not only an organization that destabilizes the situation in Syria,” said one senior Obama administration official. “It’s a national security interest of ours that they not have weapons.”

But Charles Lister, an analyst with the IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center in London who follows the Syria opposition groups, said that there was evidence in recent weeks that Qatar had increased its backing of hard-line Islamic militant groups active in northern Syria.

Mr. Lister said there was no hard evidence that Qatar was arming the Nusra Front, but he said that because of existing militant dynamics, the transfer of Qatari-provided arms to certain targeted groups would result in the same practical effect.

It’s inevitable that any weapons supplied by a regional state like Qatar,” he said via e-mail, “will be used at least in joint operations with Jabhet al-Nusra — if not shared with the group.

To be sure, folks, about those ‘Islamists’… Syrian rebels threaten to target Shi’ite villages in Aleppo and Sharia ‘spreading’ in Syria’s rebel held areas

Now, talk about your warmongering tomfoolery…

McCain: Arm Syria’s Rebels to End Iran’s Nuclear Program

Visiting Israel and addressing the nation’s Army Radio today, Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) insisted it was vital for the US to arm Syria’s rebels to “deter” Iran from continuing with its civilian nuclear program.

Calls to impose regime change on Syria for no other reason than to spite Iran seem to have some resonance in Israel, since a top figure in the Ministry of Strategic Affairs made similar comments last week.

McCain took the concept a step farther however by explicitly addressing concerns that US arms would end up in the hands of al-Qaeda’s allies in Syria, asking “would you rather have these weapons – perhaps some of them – in the hands of the wrong people, or would you rather have Bashar Assad prevail and then encourage Iran to further their ambitions on nuclear weapons.”

Apparently, McInsane and most of the DC Critters are indeed aware of the problem…

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by CTuttle

Turkish Tempest – Day 5

3:55 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Woman in red dress, sprayed with tear gas by masked policeman, becomes symbol for Turkish protesters

…In her red cotton summer dress, necklace and white bag slung over her shoulder she might have been floating across the lawn at a garden party; but before her crouches a masked policeman firing tear gas spray that sends her long hair billowing upwards.

Taken in Taksim Square in central Istanbul, the image has been endlessly shared on social media.

The woman in red has even been replicated as a cartoon on posters and stickers and has become a symbol for female protesters during days of violent anti-government demonstrations in Istanbul.

Some posters show the woman towering over a police officer and say “the more they spray, the bigger we get.”

Turkey’s deputy prime minister offered an apology Tuesday for the government’s violent crackdown on the protests, a calculated bid to ease days of anti-government rallies in the country’s major cities.

The message was a bit mixed, however, as hundreds of riot police deployed with water cannons around the prime minister’s office in the capital of Ankara.

Bulent Arinc, who is standing in for the prime minister while he is out of the country, said the crackdown was “wrong and unjust.”

“In that first (protest) action, the excessive violence exerted on people who were acting out of environmental concerns was wrong and unjust,” Arinc said. “I apologize to those citizens.”

Yet the impact of his statement was unclear. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is visiting Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, has undermined previous statements by his ministers and has dismissed the protesters as a fringe minority stirred up by the opposition

To wit: Turkish PM: Protesters in League With Terrorists – Insists ‘Turkish Spring’ Would Be Impossible…

Now, just whom is ‘arm-in-arm’ with the terrorists…? Who are the men in civilian clothing attacking Turkish protesters?

From the Der Spiegel: Revolt in Turkey: Erdogan’s Grip on Power Is Rapidly Weakening… And, even ‘b’ at MOA thinks Erdogan is Toast

Here’s a great feed of the Turkish Spring, and, on Twitter at #OccupyGezi, #OccupyTurkey, and, #OccupyTeksim…!

My favorite tweet…

Turkey’s Islamist President says “Whoever drinks alcohol is alcoholic.” By that logic whoever holds power is autocratic. #occupygezi

In closing… USA, USA, USA…! *gah*

Update: List of Demands

Occupy Gezi Demands by Taksim Dayanismasi [Taksim Solidarity]
TO THE PEOPLE AND THE GOVERNMENT!

1. Gezi Park will be preserved as it is. It will not be exposed to any further works under the name of a barracks, mall, residential area, or museum, etc.

2. Unarmed and non-violent citizens who are congregating to exercise their constitutional rights will not be exposed to police violence. Those arrested for exercising these rights will be set free. All political, bureaucratic or public staff who have given the order to attack demonstrators exercising their right to assembly, those directing the attacks, and those individuals applying the violence, should be prosecuted in line with relevant legislation.

3. The main aim of the government’s privatisation and environmental policies is to monitor public profit. So that they may benefit the citizens of Turkey equally, the transfer, sale and renting out of public spaces, beaches, waters, forests, streams, parks and urban symbols to private companies, large holdings and investors will end.

4. Democracy does not consist only of going to the ballot box to cast a vote. Democracy guarantees the state itself as every group among the people expresses its needs and complaints without experiencing fear, arrest or torture. This resistance is a struggle for freedom of expression and freedom of thought. Those who want to save the park today have received the same treatment as those who advocated the headscarf yesterday. The Gezi Park resistance refuses every type of oppression.

5. We have seen the television channels, newspapers and news websites whose professional duty is to protect the public good and relay correct information have neglected for days this country’s citizens, youth and elderly who have been coming to Taksim’s Gezi Park to exercise their constitutional rights in a peaceful manner. For the media to have announced our resistance to the people on its fourth day is to disregard their professional duty. In this we call on the media—and especially the media patrons who owe their wealth to the people—to act in an ethical and professional way.

by CTuttle

‘Govts taking our rights away, not Al-Qaeda’

12:50 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Let’s cut to the chase, folks…

DOJ Snooping on Journalists: A Witch Hunt to Enforce Obama Demand for Total Secrecy

…According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, President Obama didn’t know anything about the Justice Department’s nefarious snooping on Associated Press journalists. I find that extremely hard to believe…

…“This investigation is broader and less focused on an individual source or reporter than any of the others we’ve seen,” said Steven Aftergood, of the Federation of American Scientists told The Washington Post. “They have swept up an entire collection of press communications. It’s an astonishing assault on core values of our society.

Jacob Heilbrunn at The National Interest writes that “leaks have always plagued presidents” and that “they are a function of a national security state that has always aspired to total control in the post-World War II-era.”

“It is no small irony that Obama, who declared that he would halt the George W. Bush administration’s violations of personal freedoms, has exceeded the mendacity of his predecessors in creating a new star chamber to hunt down his detractors and enemies,” Heilbrunn adds…

“We’ve seen a meteoric rise in the number of claims to protect secret law, the government’s interpretations of laws or its understanding of its own authority,” Alexander Abdo of the ACLU told the AP. “In some ways, the Obama administration is actually even more aggressive on secrecy than the Bush administration.”

Ya think…?

From Glennzilla… Justice Department’s pursuit of AP’s phone records is both extreme and dangerous

The claimed legal basis for these actions is unknown, but the threats they pose to a free press and the newsgathering process are clear…

The ACLU last night condemned the DOJ’s acts as “press intimidation” and said it constitutes “an unacceptable abuse of power”. The Electronic Frontier Foundation denounced it as “a terrible blow against the freedom of the press and the ability of reporters to investigate and report the news”. The New York Times’ Editorial Page Editor Andy Rosenthal called the DOJ’s actions “outrageous” while Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron said they were “shocking” and “disturbing”. Even Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said: “I am very troubled by these allegations and want to hear the government’s explanation.”

Funny how IOKIYAR just seems to fizzle out for the Obummer…! So much for that whole, eleventy-dimensional chess match of ‘Looking Forward’, eh…?

*gah*