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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: Blind Arrogance, Genocide, and Zbig

3:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Honestly folks, my jaw hit the table when I read this steaming pile of Wapoo…

Saudi minister pledges aid for Syrian rebels facing ‘genocide’; Kerry more circumspect

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, said Tuesday that his country will help Syrian rebels “the most effective way we can” in response to what he called “genocide” perpetrated by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Saudi Arabia is not a country that interferes in internal affairs of countries,” Saud said in a news conference with visiting Secretary of State John F. Kerry.

“But an invaded country,” he said in a reference to Hezbollah and Iranian militia fighters on the side of Assad’s forces, “where genocide is being perpetrated, is not a normal situation. And I can say with clarity that we will help the Syrian people defend themselves.”

Saud’s passionate language contrasted with Kerry’s restrained description of both the crisis and the potential remedy. While Kerry has used the term “ethnic cleansing” to refer to Syria’s increasingly sectarian war, he has not called it genocide…

From Reuters…

Saudi Arabia says Syrian war on rebels is “genocide”

…Speaking at a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Jeddah, Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal criticised Iran, Russia and Hezbollah for backing and arming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Syria is facing a double-edged attack. It is facing genocide by the government and an invasion from outside the government … (It) is facing a massive flow of weapons to aid and abet that invasion and that genocide. This must end,” he said.

The prince did not spell out what he meant by genocide but the kingdom has accused Assad of using air and artillery strikes against heavily populated civilian areas. {snip}

“The most dangerous development is the foreign participation, represented by Hezbollah and other militias supported by the forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard,” the prince said, repeating a call for rebels to be armed.

“The kingdom calls for issuing an unequivocal international resolution to halt the provision of arms to the Syrian regime and states the illegitimacy of the regime,” he added.

More on SoS Kerry’s lies remarks…

…US Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Arabia stood firmly Tuesday against Syrian President Bashar Assad, condemning him for bolstering his forces with foreign fighters and insisting that a stalled international conference be convened to craft a political solution to end the bloody civil war.

“We believe that the best solution is a political solution,” Kerry said…

“We do not want this to be a wider war,” Kerry said. “We will to continue to provide assistance to the Syrian military coalition and to the Syrian opposition in the interim. Because we do not believe it is appropriate for the Assad regime to have invited the Iranians and Hezbollah to cross international lines and to have their fighters on the ground. There are no United States fighters. There are no Saudi fighters. There are no Qatari fighters on the ground.”

Nevertheless, regional powers like Saudi Arabia, and soon the United States, are sending lethal aid to the rebels. The United States also has 1,000 troops in Jordan providing training…

To be sure, folks, that ‘lethal aid’ is arriving in Syria… Insurgent ATGM attacks increase in Syria…!

Here’s an interesting article on the clusterf*ck that is the jihadists…Al-Qaeda’s rift may spark conflict among jihadis – ‘Power grab’ by Iraqi Qaeda boss angers Syria jihadis

Now, is it truly Buyer’s Remorse, from the Grand Chess Master of a ‘few stirred-up moslems’…?

Heilbrunn: Here we are five years into the Obama administration, and you’re stating that the West is engaging in “mass propaganda.” Is Obama being drawn into Syria because he’s too weak to resist the status quo? What happened to President Obama that brought us here?

Brzezinski: I can’t engage either in psychoanalysis or any kind of historical revisionism. He obviously has a difficult problem on his hands, and there is a mysterious aspect to all of this. Just consider the timing. In late 2011 there are outbreaks in Syria produced by a drought and abetted by two well-known autocracies in the Middle East: Qatar and Saudi Arabia. He all of a sudden announces that Assad has to go—without, apparently, any real preparation for making that happen. Then in the spring of 2012, the election year here, the CIA under General Petraeus, according to The New York Times of March 24th of this year, a very revealing article, mounts a large-scale effort to assist the Qataris and the Saudis and link them somehow with the Turks in that effort. Was this a strategic position? Why did we all of a sudden decide that Syria had to be destabilized and its government overthrown? Had it ever been explained to the American people? Then in the latter part of 2012, especially after the elections, the tide of conflict turns somewhat against the rebels. And it becomes clear that not all of those rebels are all that “democratic.” And so the whole policy begins to be reconsidered. I think these things need to be clarified so that one can have a more insightful understanding of what exactly U.S. policy was aiming at.

In summing up, let’s not forget about our recent Libyan fiasco… Libya a key terrorism transit hub, warns African Union…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Syria: Game Changers, Rebel Rivalry, and UN War Crimes

4:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Before I dive into all the breaking news on our miserable Syrian foreign policy, let’s look at what Russian FM Lavrov had to say today…

Lavrov slams US, UN for undermining Geneva peace talks on Syria

…Lavrov told Bloomberg that Russia wants to understand if their partners in America and the United Nations are really consistent with the idea of the Geneva 2 conference on Syria as their actions keep sending the wrong message to the country’s opposition…

“The message the opposition is getting: ‘Guys, don’t go to Geneva. Don’t say that you are going to negotiate with the regime. Soon things will change in your favor.’ So, that’s what we want to clarify. It’s either the conference or the instigation of the opposition not to be flexible. I don’t think it’s possible to do both at the same time”

The Foreign Minister reminded that Russia has been pushing for the peace solution “irrespective of the situation on the ground,” while the West started speaking of a conference only after Assad’s forces began advancing on the rebels.

“They weren’t ready to discuss it when many people believed that the opposition would take Damascus in recent weeks. If now they’ll be moving in the direction of what some opposition leaders are saying – namely, let’s first restore military balance on the ground and then we’ll go the conference. This’ll be a disaster for all diplomatic efforts because this would never end.”

The first problem is the representation of the rebels at the talks as “not each and every important opposition group wants to go under the umbrella of the [Syrian National] Coalition because” because it’s “taking quite radical positions” and doesn’t have any vision for the country’s future.

The FM also said that “the most effective military group fighting the regime in Syria”, the Jabhat al-Nusra, isn’t going to be invited to the talks at all.

“It’s not for them to decide whether they’ll come to the conference or not. They can’t be even considered. They are terrorists and they must be treated as terrorists.”

The second problem with the invitees’ list is the participation of foreign states in the Geneva 2 conference.

“We’re absolutely convinced that all Arab neighbors of Syria must be invited. And Iran must be there that’s something, which I believe is absolutely unavoidable if we want the process, which is inclusive, and if we want all important outside players to be there to push the Syrians to an agreement. And so far there are doubts on the part of the US regarding the invitation of Iran and, I believe, this is delaying.”

The Russian FM once again warned the US against arming the rebels, but said that weapons are “anyway” coming to Syria

Well, lah-di-da… From the LA Times

U.S. training Syrian rebels; White House ‘stepped up assistance’

White House officials refused to comment Friday on a Los Angeles Times report that CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have been secretly training Syrian rebels with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons since late last year, saying only that the U.S. had increased its assistance to the rebellion.

The covert U.S. training at bases in Jordan and Turkey began months before President Obama approved plans to begin directly arming the opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders.

“We have stepped up our assistance, but I cannot inventory for you all the elements of that assistance,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “We have provided and will continue to provide substantial assistance to the Syrian opposition, as well as the Supreme Military Council.”

The Supreme Military Council is the military arm of an umbrella group that represents more moderate rebel factions, including the Free Syrian Army.

The training and Obama’s decision this month to supply arms and ammunition to the rebels have raised hope among the beleaguered opposition that Washington ultimately will provide heavier weapons as well. So far, the rebels say they lack the weapons they need to regain the offensive in Syria’s bitter civil war…

Do you want an inventory, Jay…? Anyways…Rebels claim ‘game-changing’ weapons…

…The “Friends of Syria” group of countries that support the rebels was expected to announce in Doha on Saturday that it would arm the opposition, FSA media and political co-ordinator spokesman Louay Muqdad said.

“We’ve received quantities of new types of weapons, including some that we asked for and that we believe will change the course of the battle on the ground.

“We have begun distributing them on the front lines, they will be in the hands of professional officers and FSA fighters,” he said.

He did not specify what weapons had been received or when they had arrived, but added that a new shipment was expected in the coming days and recalled that the rebels had asked for “deterrent weapons.”

“That means anti-aircraft weapons, anti-tank weapons, as well as ammunition,” he said.

Senior opposition figure Burhan Ghalioun confirmed that the FSA had recently received “sophisticated weapons” including “an anti-aircraft defence system.”

Another opposition source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the system was “Russian-made” but declined to say which country had supplied it.

The apparent influx of arms comes after the United States said it would provide rebel forces with “military support,” although it has declined to outline what that might entail.

“The weapons will be used for one objective, which is to fight the regime of (President) Bashar Al Assad,” Muqdad insisted.

“They will be collected after the fall of the regime, we have made this committment to the friends and brotherly countries” that supplied the arms,” he said…

*snort* Are you kidding…? When they can’t even dole out the ‘humanitarian aid‘ in a timely fashion…

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by CTuttle

Syria’s ‘Dead Man Walking’…

4:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As Reuters reported today…

America and Syria’s ‘dead man walking’

…A peaceful solution to Syria’s protracted crisis now looks remote enough to wonder whether Bashar Assad might outlast Obama in power. The US president is not assured of winning another term in office next November. But the odds of the Assad regime surviving into 2013 look better with every passing day, even though one of the US government’s top experts on Syria has labeled the Syrian president a “dead man walking.”

There are several reasons for skepticism about a resolution to the Syrian crisis in the near future. One is the government’s military superiority over fractured and lightly-equipped opposition forces. More importantly, there is no international consensus on how to deal with what began 14 months ago as peaceful demonstrations against a 40-year family dictatorship and now includes huge suicide bombings of government targets that have raised suspicions of Al-Qaeda involvement.

At the summit of the G8 — the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, Canada and Japan —an aide to Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev made clear, again, that Moscow, unlike the West, does not see Assad’s departure as a necessary step toward ending the bloodshed.

“Some may like or dislike the Syrian government but one cannot avoid a question — if Assad goes, who will replace him?”
said Mikhail Margelov…

A very savvy question, indeed…

Beyond Bashar, Syria’s rebels are facing far more significant resistance

…China, Russia and Iran support for Bashar Assad makes a Western military intervention in Syria impossible, given the likely catastrophic repercussions for all concerned. In the eyes of this coalition, Assad is a tool and pretext. He is the façade against which the courage of the insurgents will continue to collide as long as Russia and its allies on the one side, and the United States and its allies on the other, fail to dispassionately settle their differences, therefore reach agreement over their contending interests, through negotiations…

Negotiations…? What negotiations…

U.S. considering plan that arms Syrian rebels…

…The effort, U.S. officials told The Associated Press, would vet members of the Free Syrian Army and other groups to determine whether they are suitable recipients of munitions to fight the Assad government and to ensure that weapons don’t wind up in the hands of al-Qaida-linked terrorists or other extremist groups such as Hezbollah that could target Israel.

The plan, which has not yet been finalized, reflects U.S. frustration that none of the previous efforts — including diplomatic rhetoric from the United Nations and the multinational Friends of Syria group, and special envoy Kofi Annan’s plan for a cease-fire — has even begun to nudge President Bashar al-Assad from power. The vetting would be the first tiny step the U.S. has made toward ensuring that the Syrian opposition uses the weapons to fight Assad and not to turn it into a full sectarian conflict.

While some intelligence analysts worry that there may be no suitable recipients of lethal aid in the Syria conflict, the vetting plan has arisen as the least objectionable idea in a complicated situation…

As Steve Hynd wrote… US To Vet Syrian Rebel Arms Recipients – Really?

So if this vetting will prevent Saudis funding arms for Al Qaeda (yeah, right) how far beyond that will it go? The chances of arming some pretty nasty people that have the only virtue of being not-AQ are pretty high.

A United Nations investigation said Syrian government forces and rebels trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad had both committed serious human rights abuses despite an attempted ceasefire in the conflict and opposition activists reported fighting in several regions on Thursday.

…The rebels, who are increasingly armed and well-organized, have executed or tortured captured soldiers and government supporters, it said. They have also abducted civilians in an apparent bid to secure prison exchanges or ransoms.

It doesn’t matter how many bad ideas you pile on top of other bad ideas, the result will never be a good idea.

Remember, it’s not just our grubby fingers at work, but, the House of Saud/GCC’s too… Syrian rebels get influx of arms with gulf neighbors’ money, U.S. coordination…

Meanwhile, the UN’s Ban Ki Moon spewed this nonsense today on CNN…

‘We have no Plan B’ to stop the violence

…With the carnage in Syria that has left thousands dead now entering its fifteenth month, the United Nations Secretary General says there is no clear path beyond the current mission being led by Kofi Annan.

“At this time, we don’t have any plan B,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview for ‘Amanpour’ on CNN International. “The joint special envoy Kofi Annan has proposed six peace proposals, among which the complete cessation of violence is number one. Unfortunately, this has not been implemented while with the deployment of monitoring missions, we have seen some dampening effect.”

Many regard the Annan mission in Syria to be a failure already.

There will be discussions in the Security Council next week about the situation in Syria Mr. Ban said, and he will make a report about the situation. But the lack of cooperation from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is making the situation very difficult…

God Bless the Syrian People, from all our misguided ministrations…!

*gah*

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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