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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AIPAC, The Grey Lady, Iran, and the P5+1

10:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

In Salon today, Patrick Smith, wrote an excellent rant…

Chomsky’s right: The New York Times’ latest big lie

More misleading half-truths from a paper too cowed by power and myth to tell the truth about U.S. foreign policy

…In this case, we have the irresponsible use of inverted commas, as the Brits say, to shape national opinion on a question of vital importance. The question is Iran. And now to the supine, corrupted and corrupting organ.

You have taken a wild guess, and you are right. We have our familiar problem with our friends on Eighth Avenue, the New York Times, faithful servants of the sanctioned orthodoxy. I give these folks an “A” for clever disguise this time, and I flunk them in the professional ethics class. Simply shameful, this round of reckless chicanery…

Here is the situation.

As all know, a deal with Iran over its nuclear program is the biggest game going these days — an historic opportunity, as previously asserted in this space. Fumble this, and the Obama administration will go down as hopelessly moronic on the foreign-relations side.

You may know, too, that a round of talks between six world powers and the Iranians just hit a pothole. It is essential to understand why.

The paradox is apparent, not real. Knowing why reveals what a nation with imperial ambitions looks like when it is nearing exhaustion and would rather decline than shape up, re-imagine itself, and take a new and constructive place in the global community. Not knowing why encourages Americans to preserve their righteous self-image even as the moths of history chew holes in it…

As Gareth Porter, reported recently about that ‘Last Moment’ draft…

Russian Foreign Minister Reveals Amended Draft Circulated at ‘Last Moment’

…Lavrov said the United States circulated a draft that had been amended in response to French demands to other members of the six-power P5+1 for approval “literally at the last moment, when we were about to leave Geneva.”

Lavrov’s revelation, which has thus far been ignored by major news outlets, came in a news conference in Cairo Thursday that was largely devoted to Egypt and Syria. Lavrov provided the first real details about the circumstances under which Iran left Geneva without agreeing to the draft presented by the P5+1…

Lavrov noted that unlike previous meetings involving the P5+1 and Iran, “This time, the P5+1 group did not formulate any joint document.”

As Pepe Escobar wrote…

France clueless on Iran

Here is definitive proof – if any was needed – that the Gallic fit-throwing that burned the possibility of an interim Iranian nuclear deal last week in Geneva was completely pointless.

The key “concern” expressed by Israel-firster French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to derail an interim deal was about the Arak heavy-water reactor.

Well, UN inspectors this week reported that they had detected no new developments in Arak over the three months since August. [1]

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, was also in Tehran on Monday, and – unusually for his trademark paperboy role for Washington – had nothing to complain about.

Fabius used the Arak gambit at the last minute in Geneva to derail the talks, provoking the ire of even fellow European diplomats. That was out of pure disinformation; Tehran was already doing what Fabius insisted they were not doing.

A EU diplomat (non-French) confirmed to Asia Times Online that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had already informed US Secretary of State John Kerry about these euphemistically defined “confidence-building measures”. Kerry was fully aware before he landed in Geneva on his way to sign an interim deal.

But guess what: the French were clueless. Kerry did not tell anybody else on the P5+1 table (comprising the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany) because he feared any leaks. This proves once again that this infinitely complex negotiation is really between Washington and Tehran. Russia and China are behaving – so far – as sort of quiet (and wary) observers. Yet Kerry, Francophile that he is, should have know better about Gallic peacock instincts.

Meanwhile, there’s a Battle Royal happening in the Halls of Congress and DC…

To be sure… From Foreign Policy’s The Cable… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Al Qaeda, Egypt, Iran, and Yemen

5:31 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

 

From the intrepid Pepe Escobar…

Al-Qaeda to the rescue

When the going gets tough, count on the Ministry of Truth to get going.

The end of Ramadan was imminent. The jihadi chattering classes of that fuzzy entity, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), went on overdrive. It was jailbreak galore from Libya to Pakistan via Iraq. And all this in perfect synch with two successive fatwas issued by that perennial bogeyman, former Osama bin Laden sidekick Ayman “Doctor Evil” al-Zawahiri.

Imagine a rushed crisis meeting at the highest levels of the Orwellian/Panopticon complex: “Gentlemen, we have a golden opportunity here. We are under siege by defector spy Edward Snowden – liberated by the Soviets – and that terrorist hack Greenwald. Snowden may be winning: even among US public opinion, there’s a growing perception we may be more of a threat than al-Qaeda.

So we must show we are vigilantly protecting our freedoms. Yes; we’re gonna scream Terra, Terra, Terra!” {…}

…The bottom line is that the Bush-Obama continuum never ceases to reassure us – not to mention that old fox al-Zawahiri. Doctor Evil, as warped a strategist as he is, figured out a while ago that if the “al-Qaeda” global bogeyman myth is now “stronger than ever” it’s thanks to the Obama administration and its poodles, European and Persian Gulf-based, with their Three Stooges strategy from Libya to Syria. Afghanistan is a completely different story; there’s no “historical” al-Qaeda left, only a handful in the Pakistani tribal areas…

Doctor Evil and the Orwellian/Panopticon complex are on the same side – and that explains why he’ll be allowed to be a motor mouth fatwa machine for as long as he wants, and won’t be nabbed like some patsy in the underwear bomber mould. The complex is back in offense. Reform the NSA? Interfere with our metadata? What for? We have just alerted the US government to “pre-9/11″ levels of terrorist chatter!

AQAP might well decide not to participate in this worldwide “pre-9/11″ script. Real jihadis, after all, are not foolish enough to be caught by XKeystroke. So here’s a Dylanesque riddle for you. All along the watchtower, a false flag is approaching – said the joker to the thief. There’s too much Terra confusion, and we won’t get no relief.

Emptywheel asks… Was It NSA or a Yemeni “Ally” Leaking the “Clear Orders” from Zawahiri to Wuhayshi?

From Foreign PolicyWashington Spin War Erupts Over Terror Alert.

To be sure…

…In Washington Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said an alert that forced U.S. embassy closures across the Middle East and Africa may remain in place all month.

“Our current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond,” Carney said during a media briefing.

“And our information suggests that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August,” he said.

From RT…

US Special Forces on alert against Al-Qaeda attacks following intercepted communiques

…”While I can’t go into specific details, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee noted yesterday that this information was collected using Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, rather than the Patriot Act,” said Democrat Senator Ron Wyden as cited by The Guardian newspaper. “I still haven’t seen any evidence that the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of Americans’ phone records is providing any unique value to American counterterrorism efforts.”

Some alleged that the shutdown of US embassies and the media hype it caused may have been blown out of proportion.

“The NSA takes in threat information every day. You have to ask, why now? What makes this information different?” asked Amie Stepanovich, a lawyer with the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “The NSA’s choice to publish these threats at this time perpetuates a culture of fear and unquestioning deference to surveillance in the United States.”

The range of diplomatic facilities affected by the alert seems a bit baffling, argues The Washington Post. While the focus of the security beef-up seems to be in the Persian Gulf region, the closures also included some unlikely locations.

Among those are Rwanda and Burundi, two Central African countries with small Muslim minorities and little experience with Islamist extremism or terrorism. The US recently opened a new fortified embassy in Burundi and moved embassy staff in Rwanda to a new high-security building, so in both countries the diplomatic personnel are apparently well-protected.

There is also hardly any apparent explanation for the closure of diplomatic sites in Madagascar and the tiny Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, the newspaper adds.

And, No, al Qaeda Is Not About to Blow Up Your Blouse…!

Moving along to Egypt… So was it a ‘coup’ or not…?

In Egypt, U.S. Senators Label Morsi’s Ousting a ‘Coup’ as Tension and Confusion Reigns

…The simultaneous visits of both Burns and the two senators represent a significant shift on the part of the US—an active re-engagement after several weeks of semantic gymnastics over how to define this crucial phase of Egypt’s revolution. The American government is deeply distrusted by both players in the dispute and seemed, until recently, to be willing to take a back seat and endorse the EU mediation efforts.

But the renewed US engagement hasn’t brought much more clarity to the situation. Last week, Burns’s boss, Secretary of State John Kerry, made the strongest comments yet in favor of the post-Morsi government while on a visit to Pakistan, stating that the Egyptian military’s intervention was aimed at “restoring democracy.”

On Tuesday however, Senators McCain and Graham seemed to be singing from a completely different songsheet. The senators openly labeled Morsi’s ouster as a “coup”—a word the White House and State Department have studiously avoided for weeks and one which, when invoked, draws the ire of the transitional government and its supporters.

Still, McCain stated that cutting off the U.S.’s $1.3 billion in annual aid to Egypt—an action mandated by current U.S. law in the event of a coup against a democratically-elected government—would be “the wrong signal at the wrong time.” But Graham, in comments to reporters on Tuesday, offered a blunt assessment of the Egyptian playing field—one that directly challenges the transitional government’s statements of its own legitimacy. “The people who are in charge were not elected. The people who were elected are in jail,” he said. “The status quo is not acceptable.”

Interestingly… Egyptian govt rejects McCain’s ‘clumsy’ statements on Morsi’s ouster…!

Moving on to Iran, this about sums it up…

America displays more stupidity on Iran

…The problem with this approach that has failed for many years is that it is based on a series of arrogant assumptions or aggressive preconditions that no self-respecting government in the world would accept. It mentions substantive issues with Iran only in terms of Iran’s nuclear efforts, without acknowledging that Iran also has security, economic, nuclear rights and other concerns to discuss about how it is treated by the U.S. and the Western powers.

The statement accuses Iran of not engaging substantively and seriously, when the evidence shows that Iran has offered many substantive gestures (including freezing nuclear enrichment for two years and allowing all its enrichment facilities to be inspected by the United Nations), but now refuses to advance further mainly as a response to the U.S.-Israeli-driven campaign of sanctions, threats and cyberattacks against it. The U.S., Israel and others in the West never waste an opportunity to threaten to use military force against Iran, but in this context they also demand that Iran be responsible for taking the initiative to resolve this issue peacefully…

…Iranians and Rouhani took the first step of moving their national policies in a different, perhaps more fruitful, direction. Why could the White House not simply have replied to Rouhani’s calls for respect and equal treatment with the same magnitude of fusion between the display of new style and substance that hold the promise for a better world for all? Why did the White House instead reassert the aggressive ways that have only steadily increased tensions across the entire region for the past decade or more?

From the dynamic duo of Flynt and Hillary Leverett… America’s Iran Policy, the Undermining of International Order, and the Bankruptcy of Washington’s Approach to Nuclear Diplomacy…

And in closing… Yemen Scholar Says U.S. Drone Strikes May Have Driven al-Qaida Membership…!

You don’t say…? *gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: G-8, Weapons for Peace, Iran, and Turkey

4:55 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Here’s the official G-8 Communique (PDF! 33pgs)

The ever-intrepid, Pepe Escobar, had penned another excellent read…

Obama’s weapons-for-peace program

They looked like two dejected schoolboys in front of the headmaster by the end of the two-hour Putin-Obama summit at the sidelines of the Group of Eight meeting in Northern Ireland. But as astonishing as the sound of silence was the fact that, on Syria, the former KGB guy was trying to save the “leading from behind” dude from himself.

President Barack Obama coined the monster euphemism that they had “different perspectives” on Syria. He said, deceptively, “We want to try to resolve the issue through political means if possible, so we will instruct our teams to continue to work on the potential of a Geneva follow-up.”

If Obama was really trying to solve Syria “through political means” he would not have pre-emptively bombed the Geneva II talks with his “weapons-for-peace” program, as in weaponizing only the “good” Syrian “rebels” and only with a few “non-lethal” toys (that’s the bottom line of Washington’s spin). “If possible” in this case does translate into “impossible”. As for the Geneva II talks, they don’t rate anything better than “potential” because Obama knows the myriad, squabbling factions of the Syrian opposition will boycott it. {snip}

…Putin knows Obama would even give up playing basketball if he could find a way to sneak out of getting bogged in Syria’s civil war. Putin knows Obama simply cannot order a no-fly zone over Syria by decree – as much as he may be under pressure by the usual warmonger senators, armchair warrior think tankers, corporate media and weapons manufacturers.

…Yet Putin is certainly aware of Washington’s Plan C or D for Syria; what is being sold as a “humanitarian assistance”, limited, no-fly zone – along parts of the Jordanian and Turkish borders into Syrian territory. This is in fact Libya 2.0; a “limited” no-fly zone in a flash will apply to all Syria. “Limited no-fly zones” only exist in Spinland; this is a declaration of war. So let’s see how Damascus plays it with the S-300 missile batteries it will receive from Russia…

Now, Col. Lang, in several great posts, the first… Obama’s approaching humiliation over Syria, and then… “Assad foes cannot set conditions for Syria talks: Russia” Reuters

…Morning Joe Scarborough, the dumbest man in morning television, said today that the Syrian government is “one of the two worst enemies of the United States in the Middle East.”

Say what?

Joe has been living in New York City for a long time now. I guess there is something in the water… No, Joe, Syria is viewed by ISRAEL as one of its two greatest enemies in the Middle East. Israel and the US are two different countries, Joe. Separate sovereign countries usually have at least some differing interests. Tell me. Joe, how is Syria a major threat to the US? Terrorism? When was that? Where was that? Remind me.

In any event, Russia has made it clear now that it will not accept a phony conference in which the Syrian government show up to surrender Sounds like “check” to me. “Mate” is coming…

Interestingly, The Hill reported this bovine manure from the Senate, yesterday…

Senators pledge ‘full support’ for ‘decisive’ military action in Syria

Senators from both parties on Tuesday urged President Obama to immediately send weapons to the Syrian opposition and take out President Bashar Assad’s air forces.
Syria is at a “critical juncture” and the United States must do what it can to reverse Assad’s recent gains on the ground, the chairmen of the Foreign Relations and Armed Forces panels, Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), wrote in a letter to Obama along with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

The senators pledged their “full support” if Obama takes “decisive military actions in Syria.”

The lawmakers called on the president to send arms to vetted rebel groups, but said such a move would likely be insufficient because the situation is “deteriorating so dramatically.”

Ironically, on the floor of the House, yesterday, the vile Louis Gohmert had this to say…

‘Entangling Alliances’ ya don’t say…? Speaking of which…

8,000 troops from 19 countries join Jordan ‘war games’ in readiness for spreading Syria conflict

…Despite many of the nations involved in the exercises explicitly calling for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad departure, there are concerns that should he be forced from power, Damascus’s stockpile of chemical weapons could fall into the hands of extremist groups. Several Western countries allege that Assad has already used chemical weapons, a fact that US President Barack Obama describes as crossing a “red line”. At the same time, conventional weapons in civil war have already killed at least 93,000 people.

US Marine Corps Lt. Col. Duke Shienle told the Associated Press that Syria “is a concern that all our regional partners share”.

The Syrian crisis is “causing all military in the region to increase intensity,” he said. The training has been concentrated on security, irregular warfare, terrorism and counterinsurgency.

“These exercises bolster our defence capabilities,” said Jordanian army Maj. Gen. Awni Edwan, adding that similar exercises are routine, having being held twice before at the same time. “We don’t intend to attack anybody,” he said.

Now, here’s an excellent insight into recent WH happenings…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

Israel, Iran, and, The Melian Dialogue

7:16 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

“…Every president I worked for, at some point in his presidency, would get so pissed off at the Israelis that he couldn’t speak. It didn’t matter whether it was Jimmy Carter or Gerry Ford or Ronald Reagan or George Bush. Something would happen and they would just absolutely go screw themselves right into the ceiling they were so angry and they’d sort of rant and rave around the Oval Office. I think it was their frustration about knowing that there was so little they could do about it because of domestic politics and everything else that was so frustrating to them.” — former SecDef Robert Gates in 2000 (PDF! 105 pgs)

Ironically, Gates had uttered those words prior to his tenure as SecDef under Shrub and Oily Bomber…!

In a recent Asia Times article, written by a former British member of the IAEA, Peter Jenkins, presents a compelling argument…

Will Iran be US’s Melos?

One of the most depressing aspects of all the talk about Israel or the United States destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities (and much else besides, no doubt) is the near absence of any reference to international law. Even so distinguished an expert as Anthony Cordesman seems to take it for granted that there will be no legal impediment to the US attacking Iran if a credible threat of an attack fails to intimidate Iran into making the concessions required to pacify Israel.

In my country, Britain, on February 20, 2012, members of the House of Commons spent five hours debating whether the use of force against Iran would be “productive” without dwelling more than cursorily on the legal aspects of the question.

How is one to account for this blind spot? Are ignorance and oversight to blame, or has respect for international law gone out of fashion?

It’s hard to believe that anyone who has policy-making responsibilities that involve other states, or who takes a professional interest in such policy-making, can be unaware of what the bed-rock of the post-1945 international system has to say about war-making…

…So much of the contemporary foreign policy debate seems to take place in a moral vacuum, with little or no reference to justice and the rule of law in international affairs. I am almost embarrassed to be using such words.

Yet it seems to me rational to suggest that the post-1945 international system is the best yet devised, that it has brought great benefits to the West, that its preservation requires commitment from the leading power of the age, and that the leading power has to marry justice to strength to retain the loyalty of other participants. If I’m right, treating Iran unlawfully is a bad option.

Let’s look at the Melos analogy, which many Historians credit as the first tangible example of Realpolitik in action. Wikipedia provides a great little synopsis of the Melian Dialogue…

The dialogue is between unnamed Athenian envoys sent by generals Cleomedes son of Lycomedes and Tisias son of Tisimachus to negotiate with unnamed Melians

Athenian: “For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretenses—either of how we have a right to our empire because we overthrew the Mede, or are now attacking you because of wrong that you have done us—and make a long speech which would not be believed; and in return we hope that you, instead of thinking to influence us by saying that you did not join the Spartans, although their colonists, or that you have done us no wrong, will aim at what is feasible, holding in view the real sentiments of us both; since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must” (Strassler 352/5.89).

Melians: “You may be sure that we are as well aware as you of the difficulty of contending against your power and fortune, unless the terms be equal. But we trust that the gods may grant us fortune as good as yours, since we are just men fighting against unjust, and that what we want in power will be made up by the alliance of the Lacedaemonians, who are bound, if only for very shame, to come to the aid of their kindred. Our confidence, therefore, after all is not so utterly irrational.”

Athenian: “Of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can. And it is not as if we were the first to make this law, or to act upon it when made: we found it existing before us, and shall leave it to exist forever after us; all we do is to make use of it, knowing that you and everybody else, having the same power as we have, would do the same as we do” (Strassler 354/5.105.2).

Now, ain’t it funny how fast Athens was knocked off it’s almighty pedestal by Sparta, a mere 12 years after Melos…? Ain’t Karma a B*tch…?

In some interesting diplomatic maneuvers, Iran, has further isolated the US/Israeli machinations…

Iran complains to UN about Israel’s threats

Iran’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN has written to the UN Secretary General to condemn the threats against Iran made by Israeli officials, stressing that such statements are “a threat to humanity.”

And then delivered the coup de grâce to the specious claims of Israel and the AIPAC funded US ‘think tanks’…

NAM participants can visit Iran’s nuclear facilities

Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that Iran will allow officials from the Non-Aligned Movement to visit nuclear facilities during a summit in Tehran which opens on Sunday and runs until Friday, MNA reported.

The move is intended to show that Iran’s nuclear activities are peaceful.

Iran will also schedule trips to industrial and scientific sites, the ministry said.

The visits will be arranged according to the interests of “our guests,” the ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters…

Fancy that eh…?

Btw, as Jason Ditz noted today…

White House: Diplomacy ‘Still Viable’ With Iran

The Obama Administration is always quick to issue a condemnation of Iran after any new IAEA report is made public. Today they broke a record, however, by issuing that condemnation before the report has even been released.

The reaction comments are seen as an attempt to preempt Israeli attempts to spin the upcoming report as an excuse for war, because while they include the usual condemnations they also insist there is “time and space” for diplomacy to continue.

Anonymous administration officials even took a page out of war opponents’ books, noting that Iran’s production of 20 percent uranium, far below weapons-grade, could not be changed to weapons-grade up without the IAEA’s notice since they continue to be a presence at the facility…

From the Grey Lady

…The Obama administration insisted Friday that “there is time and space” for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis, despite new evidence, to be released next week by international nuclear inspectors, that Iran is bolstering its ability to produce a type of uranium that can be converted relatively quickly to bomb fuel.

In a statement that was notable chiefly for the fact that it was issued before the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report is scheduled to be made public, a White House spokesman, Tommy Vietor, said Iran “is continuing to violate its international obligations” despite the imposition of sanctions that severely restrict the country’s oil revenue.

Exactly what violations are the Iranians violating under their NPT obligations, Mr. Vietor…?

Who is threatening whom, besides the illegal sanctions, assassinations, and cyber warfare…?

US sends aircraft carrier back to Gulf to face Iran – Panetta tells sailors they are needed in Mideast. I really do feel sorry for those swabbies that had their expected ‘shore leave’ cut mighty short…!

Now to be sure that the IAEA has been fully co-opted, at least since El Baradei’s resignation…

Nuke agency forms special Iran team

Diplomats tell The Associated Press that the U.N. nuclear agency is forming a special Iran team, drawing together sleuths in weapons technology, intelligence analysis, radiation and other fields of expertise.

They say the goal is to add muscle to a probe of suspicions that Tehran worked secretly on atomic arms.

Creating a unit focused on only one country is an unusual move for the International Atomic Energy Agency, reflecting the priority it attaches to Iran amid fears it is moving closer to the ability to make nuclear weapons.

Iran denies it is interested in possessing nuclear weapons and says it has never worked on developing them.

The four diplomats demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge the confidential IAEA plans.

Wtf, over…?

One more worth-while read… Iran and the Brunt of Nuclear Crucifixion…

God help us all…!

by CTuttle

‘Syrian Rebel: Uprising Hijacked by Extremists’

6:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

CBS’s Holly Williams filed this report today…

…In a new video, men crouching against a wall are about to be killed by an angry mob. Syrian opposition groups said the men who died were members of a family with links to the Assad regime.

The killers were rebels fighting in an increasingly chaotic conflict.

Human rights groups — as well as the rebels’ own leadership — condemned the deaths as summary executions.

However, in a sprawling refugee camp on the Syria-Turkey border, Syrian refugees defended the killings. Many of the men there are rebel fighters.

“If we had a state, we could have taken those men to court,” said Mohammad Hajhasan through a translator. “But we’re in the middle of a revolution, and they were war criminals.” {…}

We want a democracy in Syria,” Mohammad said. “But only if it’s within an Islamic state.

Others disagree. Jamil Saeb, who led protests in Syria in the early days, said he wants a Western-style democracy, and claimed the uprising is being hijacked by Islamic extremists.

“The West isn’t doing enough, and other countries like Saudi Arabia are pushing their Islamic agenda by giving the rebels financial support,” Saeb said.

The Syrian opposition is divided, and there are fears that if and when the Assad regime falls there’ll be continued violence between rival factions…

I really do have to hand it to Faux Spew to actually post the most honest headline I’ve seen today…

With diplomacy dead, US banks on Syrian rebel win

…With Syrian diplomacy all but dead, the Obama administration is shifting its focus on the civil war away from political transition and toward helping the rebels defeat the Syrian regime on the battlefield…

…It’s a scenario analysts see as unlikely, even as the opposition gains ground in Aleppo, Damascus and elsewhere, and as the cadre of high-level defections from Assad’s government grows. Prime Minister Riad Hijab and two other ministers became the latest to abandon Assad on Monday, rebels said.

The defections are “the latest indication that Assad has lost control of Syria and that the momentum is with the opposition forces and the Syrian people,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

“The regime is crumbling,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said. {…}

…Ventrell said the goal of much of the recent diplomacy was to help the opposition come up with a post-Assad plan that would be as cohesive as possible…

…The approach is one that American officials liken to a “soft landing.” The goal would be to avoid the power vacuum of post-Saddam Hussein’s Iraq by salvaging as many elements of the state as possible, and avoiding new insurgencies from emerging.

“We want to get there in a way that’s a softer landing,” a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter. “We don’t want to see the institutions just melt away.”

Btw, folks, lets remember the long standing fact that Oily Bomber, nor even Shrillary, at Foggy Bottom nor any other foreign locales, have not once sat in the same room, much less, talk to anybody even remotely related to the Assad regime…! Just like the failed single roll of the dice that Oily Bomber had gambled on with the Iranians…!

What seems to be the problem with even talking to our supposed Adversaries…? I do seem to recall a ‘hotline’ that we’d set up between the Kremlin and the White House, and was manned 24/7…! What ever happened to even that semblance of old-fashioned Diplomacy…?

Here’s some other analysis from the disaffected ‘populations’ I’d seen today…

Obama brings Erdogan in to bat..

Here’s an excellent synopsis of the ever enigmatic Kurdish Question…!

And, it should be noted that Pepe Escobar, once again, cuts to the quick…

Syria’s Pipelineistan war

This is a war of deals, not bullets

Deep beneath “Damascus volcano” and “the battle of Aleppo,” the tectonic plates of the global energy chessboard keep on rumbling. Beyond the tragedy and grief of civil war, Syria is also a Pipelineistan power play.

More than a year ago, a $10 billion Pipelineistan deal was clinched between Iran, Iraq and Syria for a natural gas pipeline to be built by 2016 from Iran’s giant South Pars field, traversing Iraq and Syria, with a possible extension to Lebanon. Key export target market: Europe.

During the past 12 months, with Syria plunged into civil war, there was no pipeline talk. Up until now. The European Union’s supreme paranoia is to become a hostage of Russia’s Gazprom. The Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline would be essential to diversify Europe’s energy supplies away from Russia.

It gets more complicated. Turkey happens to be Gazprom’s second-largest customer. The whole Turkish energy security architecture depends on gas from Russia — and Iran. Turkey dreams of becoming the new China, configuring Anatolia as the ultimate Pipelineistan strategic crossroads for the export of Russian, Caspian-Central Asian, Iraqi and Iranian oil and gas to Europe.

Try to bypass Ankara in this game, and you’re in trouble. Until virtually yesterday, Ankara was advising Damascus to reform — and fast. Turkey did not want chaos in Syria. Now Turkey is feeding chaos in Syria…

Seriously, Wtf, over…? *gah*

by CTuttle

“It’s all about Iran! …remember Iraq”

8:14 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Several key points that the Russian UN Envoy raised in that interview needs to highlighted: 1) The fact that every time the ‘opposition’(FSA/SNC/et al.) have been asked to come to the ‘table’ with the Syrian regime, they’ve refused to!, and, 2) Any intervention leads to more bloodshed!

Now, take a gander at our UN Ambassador’s press conference shortly after the veto…

(Full Text) As she’d tweeted later…

The #UNSC underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers & sponsors of this reprehensible act of terrorism to justice.

How ironic, no…? As Angry Arab quipped today…

Those poor rebels in Syria

“The idea that a poorly organized, lightly armed opposition force could somehow get so close to the seat of power…” Yes, incredible. I mean, the notion that a force financed by the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, France, and UK and armed by UAE, Qatar, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, and is assisted by the intelligence services of the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, UAE, France, UK, and Turkey would pull this off is just amazing. Who would have thought.

Here’s a great article… Covering Syria: The information war

And, finally, Pepe Escobar penned another must-read… Suicide bombers of the world, unite…

…What seems to be certain is that Assad’s inner circle won’t fold. On the contrary; it will respond with all guns – and tanks – blazing. It has already threatened to “confront all forms of terrorism and chop any hand that harms national security”.

The FSA and FSA-related gangs all rely on the same tactic; they get entrenched in residential neighborhoods, even in Damascus, and wait for the regime to attack. The regime’s tactic is monolithic; they tend to level any area, even ultra-urban, wherever the gangs are holed up. The result is inevitable; enormous “collateral damage” and massive internal displacement. This may start happening now in Damascus itself – assuming the FSA can keep their sleeper cells active, which they can’t.

And then there’s the newfound Western love story with suicide bombers.

Donald Rumsfeld’s former Chief of Staff at the Pentagon, Keith Urbahn, tweeted, “for once we should call a suicide bomber – the one that took out a major fraction of Assad’s cabinet – a martyr.”

It doesn’t matter that he got it wrong – it was not a suicide bomber but an IED. But there we have it – straight from a neo-con horse’s mouth (and plenty other conservative and liberal mouths as well).

If you use suicide bombers or IEDs to kill government officials of a “rogue state”, you can get away with it; you’re “one of our bastards”.

But don’t even try to do it against the Green Zone in Baghdad, or the Afghan government in Kabul, or against any of our “trusted” allies such as the House of Saud and King Playstation in Jordan; then you’re just an evil “terrorist”.

*gah*

by CTuttle

The Syrian Swale & ‘Iran Won’t Crack’

8:31 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Interestingly, China took much affront to Madame Shrillary’s slander in Paris, apparently, just before her ‘surprise’ visit to Kabul…

Clinton ‘slander’ of China will not work, Beijing says

Chinese spokesman rejects America’s claim that the nation and Moscow have hindered resolution of crisis…

China yesterday rebuffed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s accusation that Beijing and Moscow have hindered the resolution of the crisis in Syria, saying any attempt to “slander” China was doomed to fail…

Now, why is it that the UN head, Ban Ki Moon, is still pushing the ‘Annan Plan’, when Kofi, himself, is declaring it a ‘failure’…?

Looking inside Syria, the BBC…

‘Death or exchange’ fate of seized Syrian soldiers

…Amidst all the doubt and speculation that surrounds the violence in Syria, these “confessions” are part of opposition groups’ efforts at proving to the outside world that the government is behind the bloodshed.

But when the camera has stopped rolling, and the point is made, the captured are no longer of use. So what becomes of these men?

UK-based Syrian journalist Malik al-Abdeh told the BBC: “What do you think they do with them? They kill them. What else can they do?” {…}

Activists claim rebel groups only kill the detainee if he “has been heavily involved in killing civilians.”

But since the FSA holds the government responsible for massacres like those in Houla and Qubair, along with frequent brutal attacks around the country that may have left nearly 16,000 people dead, how many of the detained could have committed crimes that, in the eyes of the rebels, do not merit death?

Estimates of soldiers killed in the conflict range from 1,500 to nearly 5,000, but it is unclear whether these numbers include those facing rebel firing squads.

This local brand of rebel justice points to a new trend in insurgent operations, with an opposition instituting its own makeshift tribunals as it prepares for what could be a long, drawn-out war…

From Reuters…

Friend flees Assad as U.S. pressures Russia

…One of President Bashar al-Assad’s personal friends has defected and was headed for exile in France on Friday, as the Syrian crisis took on a Cold War tone when Washington threatened to make Russia and China “pay” for backing the government in Damascus. {…}

…As Clinton declared in Paris: “Let me say to the soldiers and officials still supporting the Assad regime – the Syrian people will remember the choices you make in the coming days.

“It is time to abandon the dictator, embrace your countrymen and women, and get on the right side of history.”

SECTARIAN STRAINS

As rare faces from Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority within a ruling clique dominated by Assad’s fellow Alawites, Tlas and his father Mustapha, who friends said left for Paris some months ago claiming medical problems, long furnished an answer to Syrians who complained of sectarian domination by Alawites. Their flight may show Assad is losing wider support among wealthier Sunnis.

It also suggests the Tlas clan, whatever moral scruples friends say were their prime motive for abandoning their friend and patron, has seen the writing on the wall for Assad’s rule…

…Abdel Baset Seda, the president of the opposition Syrian National Council, told a news conference in Paris that he was in contact with “several” high-ranking officials still inside the country and also hoped to speak with Tlas in the coming days.

This shows that the very heart of the regime is starting to crumble. This is reminiscent of what happened in Libya toward the end, when there were defections every day,” he said, recalling the fall of Muammar Gaddafi last August…

Woo-hoo, Just think how much of a ‘smashing’ success Libya is… Ballots burn as most of Benghazi votes…!

Col. W. Pat Lang served up some interesting commentary on Tlas’s defection, today…

Tlas defection sets the stage…

…The father, Mustafa Tlas, was Minister of Defense for a very long time. If memory serves, he lived next door to the US Embassy in Damascus and was a good neighbor. He was a connaissaeur of fine Kurdish antique carpets. I visited his carpets once. He also liked good Scotch (his, not mine).

Contrary to ignorant expectation many of the Baathi elite in Syria are Sunni Muslims. This fellow has been a favored creature of the regime. He differed with the rest of the inner circle around Bashar in that he thought that an unwillingness to compromise with the secular left would lead to an onslaught of Jihadi Islamists. Maliki over in Iraq says his situation is now better because AQ in Iraq have left to fight in Syria for a Sunni Islamist state there. In that endeavor the AQ types have the active encouragement of the BHO Administration.

No matter. If the Government of Syria is swept away, there will be a need for a Sunni leader… pl

Btw, as most of the Western lame stream media is trumpeting…

Another shell hit the nearby village of Al Hisheh, they said, killing an 8-year-old boy and wounding his father and four children. (Reuters, quoting residents, reported that three other Lebanese civilians were killed in the shelling.)

The security officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of police rules.

It should be noted that some good old gumshoe reporting soon proved it false…

…In Lebanon, a teenager died when a rocket hit her house in the border region of Wadi Khaled, a Lebanese security official told AFP, adding that five others were wounded by rockets and exchanges of gunfire.
“A few hours later, an eight-year-old Bedouin girl, who recently fled with her parents from Syria, was killed,” said a hospital source in Akkar province. “A military expert who visited the site said it was either a mine planted in the area or an explosive they were handling,” the security source said, after initially reporting that a shell had hit their tent.
A local official said clashes had broken out at dawn between the Syrian army and gunmen on the Lebanese side of the border

The whole point of this entire sordid affair is to destabilize all the Secular/Shi’ite regimes, and replace them with a Sunni, Salafist/Wahabbist, and/or, any combination thereof…! Any coalition that would impose a strict Conservative view of Shari’a law…! Akin to what is happening in most of the Red States, right now…! Just like with the Texas School Board and even in the neighboring state, with Jindal’s school ‘vouchers’ crusade…!

Anyways, moving along to Iran, the ever-intrepid, Pepe Escobar, says it’s well past time for the real adults to step up to the plate…

Iran Won’t Crack

…Let’s start sledgehammer style. Iran won’t crack. Iran won’t crack. Iran won’t crack.

No sledgehammer, though, is likely to perforate the limitless fog of delusion hovering over a US elite that a relentless propaganda campaign tries to sell as “the international community”.

See, for instance, this bland op-ed, where we discover that “the international community is now on watch for cracks in Iran’s defiant stance: Will increased sanctions compel Tehran to make real concessions and allow for a diplomatic solution to the standoff?”

Here’s your short answer: no. {…}

…The Obama administration has to make a real decision; it’s either the “roll over and die” school of diplomacy, or real negotiations. Treating Iran like a pariah will only lead to a blunder equaling the Bush administration’s – whose Shock and Awe ended up with a Baghdad closely aligned with Tehran (while the US didn’t even become “the new OPEC”, as savant warmonger Paul Wolfowitz would have it).

But this will pale compared to Iran, Russia and China trading energy in other currencies (as they are already doing); the beginning of the end of the petrodollar as the pillar of global energy politics, and thus of American hegemony. Time for the Iran cracking gang to go back to school.

Here’s a great primer that should be mandatory for all CIA, DoD, Foggy Bottom, and/or, other related personnel…!

Are there any ‘Big Boyz’(or Girlz!) left, capable of stepping up…?

*gah*

by CTuttle

Carter: ‘Oppose Unnecessary Wars, Preemptive Strikes, And, Embargoes’ And, Obama Imposes Another Round of Sanctions on Syria/Iran

9:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Yesterday, former President and Nobel Peace Laureate, Jimmy Carter, had delivered the keynote address to the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Chicago…

Former President Carter tells Nobel gathering to oppose unnecessary wars, preemptive strikes

…“For the last 60 years, our country has been almost constantly at war. Now we are contemplating going to war again, perhaps in Iran,” said Carter, one of 21 Nobel Peace Prize laureates and organizations participating in a three-day international conference in Chicago. “I’m not against all wars… but any war should begin only as a last resort and after every possible means of resolution has been exhausted.

Carter, who won the prize in 2002, said that as a laureate, it is not legitimate to only criticize what others are doing , he must also take a frank look at his own country, not with condemnation but constructively… {snip}

…But in some cases, he said, the U.S. has engaged in wars that were “completely unnecessary.”

Carter also said the U.S. needs to take a closer look at its policy of economic sanctions, including those against countries such as North Korea.

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by CTuttle

The Syrian Morass…

3:33 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Bashar Assad is truly caught in a ‘no-win’ situation…! As Col. Lang wrote recently…

Assad’s options

…Throughout the Bush ’43 era and into the BHO period the neocons pushed the idea that Westernised “liberals”: and ethno-religious minorities should be brought to power in the region believing that as minorities they were willing to make nice with Israel. An unending search for “good” Islamists took place over the last five years. Discreet contacts were made to encourage them against the “old bulls” like Mubarak. The Arab spring was a direct product of this neocon and academic fathead meddling in the Arab and Islamic worlds.

The Syrian Sunni Islamist revolt is a direct result of that effort. What you have in Syria is a civil war between the forces of semi-westernization on the government’s side and the forces of Sunni Islamism backed by Saudi Arabia on the other. In this struggle. the lefty media (and Fox) have never seen or heard Rebel BS that they did not really love.

What options does Assad have. 1- He can fight through to a total defeat of the rebels, 2- He can surrender to US demands for the end of his government. Arrest, trial and death will surely follow for him and his. 3- He can flee into exile where he can brood until brought back for trial and death.

Which course of action do you think he will choose?

To further punctuate the point on finding ‘friendly’ forces, the Times of Israel reports…

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