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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Erdoğan, Kerry, and Sisi

6:17 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Last time I’d checked, Erdoğan, was sputtering about how it was foreign powers that were propagating “dissemination propaganda”…!

Well, Voilà…

Erdogan’s corruption defense falls flat

Denying the corruption accusations that brought his party under a disconcerting spotlight, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been lamenting press attempts to “throw the mud and see if it sticks.” He indirectly accused the judiciary of being taken over by the Fethullah Gulen religious movement, as well as acting as a subcontractor to foreign powers who, out of envy for Turkey’s political and economic success, manufactured this corruption plot to finish him off just as they tried to do at the Gezi Park protests in June.

Erdogan’s approach to this scandal, however, is best challenged — surprisingly — by his very own party members. Justice and Development Party (AKP) Burdur Deputy Hasan Hami Yildirim resigned on the last day of 2013, bringing the total resigned deputies from the ruling party to seven.

“It’s necessary to correctly identify the problem and the request,” he said Dec. 31. “The issue is not to cut short Turkey’s growing success story. The issue does not embed a conspiracy, foreign powers’ intervention, a mob or a gang. And it certainly is not a coup attempt against the government. In simple terms, the problem and the request is a call for democracy. The people demand that the ruling party not cover up these corruption allegations, but faces them, to come clean.”

Moving along to Kerry’s recent activities…

Naturally, it was well received…

US Secretary of State John Kerry held fresh talks yesterday with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas seeking to brush aside bitter Israeli-Palestinian recriminations and advance difficult peace negotiations.

After five months of mostly sticking to pledges not to air their grievances in public, the mutual distrust between the two sides has burst into the open with each accusing the other of trying to scupper the talks.

US officials have acknowledged a sought-after agreement on a framework to guide the negotiations forward would not be reached on this trip, signaling Kerry may return to Israel soon.

Kerry, who has made it a personal quest to reach a peace deal, is on his 10th trip to the region since becoming secretary of state in March.

On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had accused Abbas of not being committed to peace.

Moving on to the Egyptian ‘Coup’…

With Sisi cracking skulls, Mubarak-style, he actually has the audacity to announce his run for the
Presidency…

Al-Wafd newspaper reported that Egypt’s Defense Minister Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi will soon step down from his position in preparation of his possible candidacy in Egypt’s next elections.

It was further reported that the Supreme Council of the Egyptian army decided in a meeting held last Tuesday that Egypt’s army chief of staff Sedki Sobhi will take on el-Sissi’s position. The reason for the replacement is to give el-Sissi a buffer period before the elections take place.

Can you say stuffed ballot-boxes…?

Anyways, in wrapping up, some more newsworthy links…

His Highness the Amir expressed condolences for Saudi King for death of Prince Bandar

Finally, perchance…?

Western Intelligence Agencies: Saudi Regime to Collapse This Year

And, here’s a new acronymn to learn… From BRIC to MINT

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AIPAC, BRICs, Syria, And The Third Intifada?

5:46 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Speaking of War Clubs, on the eve of AIPAC’s annual Confab in DC, ex-AIPAC’er, MJ Rosenberg goes off…

…At one time I wouldn’t have believed AIPAC would dare try something this nervy.That is it because traditionally AIPAC has been very cautious about not taking actions that suggested putting Israel’s interests over America’s. Demanding that Israel be exempt from cuts that virtually every American will feel seems so counterproductive as to almost be suicidal for the lobbying powerhouse.

Nonetheless, everything I hear indicates that Bloomfield is right although I doubt AIPAC will have the gall to insist on insulating AIPAC from the cuts that will occur in this year’s budget. More likely, it will wait until Congress is putting the 2014 cuts in place (there is more Congressional discretion in allotting the pain after 2013) before demanding not just that Israel go to the head of the line but that it not be forced to stand in the line at all.

No matter when Israel is exempted, and by how much, it is wrong and would represent nothing more than another power play by the lobby. After all, a cut of $175 million out of a $3 billion U.S. grant is nothing that Israel can’t handle. Besides, since when is any foreign aid gift automatic, so automatic that it is provided whether the donor can afford it or not. Even teenagers don’t demand a car when his parents are filing for bankruptcy. Additionally, if aid to Israel (the largest chunk of the foreign aid budget) is protected, mandated sequestration cuts will have to be proportionately increased on other recipients, primarily African countries which receive much needed development assistance (hunger, poverty, disease prevention) .

But that’s AIPAC or, to use the more encompassing term, the Israel lobby…

Now, ex-CIA Philip Giraldi, asks the burning question on Syria…

Who’s Turning Syria’s Civil War Into a Jihad?

The West, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia all have their own angles in the conflict—but Salafism and anarchy may be the big winners…

…Perhaps even more important, people in Washington should have also been asking why Saudi Arabia and Qatar wanted to overthrow al-Assad and what kind of government they had in mind to replace him. Saudi Arabia’s rival as regional hegemon, Iran, is viewed in Riyadh as ascendant due to the rise to power of a friendly Shia regime in Iraq as a result of the American invasion and regime change. This has permitted the development of a geographically contiguous Arab bloc closely tied to Tehran and its regional interests, running through Iraq, across Syria, and connecting with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. To break up that de facto coalition, the Saudis, who see Syria as the weak link in the chain, have sought to replace Assad’s Alawite-led government with a Sunni regime. But there is also a second agenda. Because the ruling minority Alawites are considered to be heretics similar to Shi’ites, a change in religious orientation would be necessary, with the Saudis serving as protectors of the Sunni majority. The Riyadh-backed Sunni regime would of course be expected to conform with the particularly Saudi view of proper religious deportment—the extremely conservative Wahhabism that prevails in the Kingdom, which is closer to the views of the more radical insurgents while hostile to the secularists. It would also make the country’s significant numbers of Christians, Alawites, Shi’ites, and Kurds potential victims of the arrangement.

All of which means that the Saudis and their allies Qatar believe in change in Syria, but on their own terms, and they actually oppose enabling a populist or democratic evolution. In fact, Riyadh has been actively engaged regionally in doing what it can to contain the unrest resulting from the Arab Spring so that the populism does not become untidy and spill over into Saudi Arabia itself. This has meant that from the beginning Saudi and Qatari objectives in Syria have differed from the goals of either Turkey or the Western powers, which should have been seen as a recipe for disaster…

Btw, Syria’s Assad ‘will take part’ in 2014 presidential poll…

Talking about real War Criminals, isn’t this rather rich…? Somalia Asks Kerry for Immunity for Alleged War Criminal in U.S…

Now, here’s an interesting take on the MENA miasma…

…US policy in the Middle East is undergoing a double change. Toward Syria, the posture is becoming noticeable harder. While senior analysts in the intelligence community continue to warn of potential chaos and bloodletting on a large scale in the event of a sudden collapse of the Assad regime, the deepening of the humanitarian crisis is moving the Administration toward more active support of the opposition. The supply of non-lethal aid that will allow the opposition to consolidate their positions in territory they hold is already underway. No decision is yet in place on whether this assistance will escalate to arms, but US officials tell us privately that this is the “logic of the situation.” Regarding Iran by contrast the Administration is adopting a softer approach. The package offered to Tehran at the 26th/27th P5+1 meeting in Almaty had less of the “take-it-or-leave” tone of previous offers. As an NSC official commented to us: “We are deliberately embarking on a process in which there is a prospect of genuine give and take.” This approach does not lack for critics either inside the national security community nor on Capitol Hill where Senators are pressing for a resolution that would bind the US to support Israel in the event of an attack on Iran by the latter. At the very least, President Obama is preparing for an “earful of criticism” when he visits Israel later this month. One argument he will employ is that by being tougher on Syria, he is also weakening Iran. However, with an important element of US naval forces delaying its deployment to the region for budgetary reasons, Obama is not looking for a pretext for war. With regard to China, the chronically unresolved dilemma in US policy between regarding China as a necessary partner on trade, finance and issues like North Korea or seeing it as a military competitor and threat to US allies is trending in the adversarial direction. Intelligence analysts see increased and more hostile patrolling by the Chinese navy in disputed waters of the South and East China Seas. The consensus is that tensions are on the rise for 2013, including over Tibet.

Ironically, it would seem that China is actively pursuing alternate Global trade and financial routes, apart from the Western MOTU’s, and denominated in Yuan…! China key to BRICS bank…!

Indeed, ‘May you live in interesting times’…

In summing up… The Third Intifada?

*gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Roundup: Reading The Tea Leaves…

6:01 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Can the United States Think Strategically About Iran, China, and the Deepening Ties Between the Persian Gulf and Rising Asia?

… As we write,

While no single factor explains the relative decline of American standing and influence in world affairs, one of the most important is the failure of American political and policy elites to define clear, reality-based goals and to relate the diplomatic, economic, and military means at Washington’s disposal to realizing them soberly and efficaciously. Defining such ends and relating the full range of foreign policy tools to their achievement is the essence of what is known among students of international relations and national security practitioners as ‘grand strategy.’ Questions of grand strategy are becoming an increasingly important element in America’s emerging national security narrative—because of accumulating policy failures, relative economic decline, and the rise of new power centers in various regional and international arenas.

To explore what is wrong with contemporary American grand strategy and what it would take to put that strategy on a sounder course, our article evaluates “Washington’s posture toward two regions where the effectiveness of American policy will largely determine the United States’ standing as a great power in the 21st century: the Middle East (with a focus on the Persian Gulf) and rising Asia (with a focus on China).” As we explain,

Fundamental flaws in America’s stance vis-à-vis these critical areas have contributed much to the erosion of the United States’ strategic standing. Over time, deficiencies in policy toward each of them have become synergistic with deficiencies in policy toward the other. Recovering a capacity for sound grand strategy will require a thoroughgoing recasting of American policy toward both—and a more nuanced appreciation of the interrelationship between these vital parts of the world for U.S. interests.

We have come more and more to appreciate that recasting American policy in this way must necessarily be preceded by a kind of “cultural revolution” in the United States. Since the end of the Cold War, American foreign policy has been increasingly driven by a grand strategic model—we call it the “transformation model” in our article—in which “the United States seeks not to manage distributions of power but to transcend them by becoming a hegemon, in key regions of the world and globally.” Such a commitment to hegemony—an assertion of military, economic, and ideological dominance that aims to micromanage political outcomes in far-flung parts of the world and to remake, or at least to subordinate, vital regions in accordance with American preferences—is deeply problematic, strategically as well as morally

From the NY Fed in ’06…

Recycling Petrodollars

In recent years, oil-exporting countries have experienced windfall gains with the rise in the price of oil. A look at how oil exporters “recycle” their revenues reveals that roughly half of the petrodollar windfall has gone to purchase foreign goods, especially from Europe and China, while the remainder has been invested in foreign assets. Although it is difficult to determine where the funds are first invested, the evidence suggests that the bulk are ending up, directly or indirectly, in the United States

Some more PetroDollar background…!

Now, Isn’t it fascinating that our own Allies are beginning to ignore our ridiculous Iran Sanctions…?

As I wrote last January…Screwing the Petro-Pooch…!

Moving along to Syria…

There is no ‘noble war’ that will justify this bloodshed

“…The rebels, with the concurrence of their outside backers in Riyadh, Doha, Ankara and Washington, have steadfastly rejected jaw-jaw in favour of war-war. The leader of the newly created Syrian National Coalition, Moaz Al Khatib, rejected the latest call by UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and Russian Foreign Sergei Lavrov to attend talks with the Syrian government. Mr Al Khatib insists that Bashar Al Assad step down as a precondition to talks, but surely Mr Al Assad’s future is one of the main points for discussion.The rebels, over whom Mr Al Khatib has no control, have not been able to defeat Mr Al Assad in almost two years of battle. Stalemate on the battlefield argues for negotiation to break the impasse through acceptance of a transition to something new….”

Some more thought-provoking treatises to mull over…Regimen of Permanent WarsThe US War Machine…!

And, finally, as I once wrote, What a Wicked Web We Weave…!

*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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