You are browsing the archive for Col. Pat Lang.

by CTuttle

Operations Brother’s Keeper & Protective Edge

6:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Jeff Halper wrote this excellent post at Mondoweiss…

Israel’s message to the Palestinians: Submit, leave or die

The Kerry initiative may have ended with a whimper instead of a bang, but its impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was significant and fundamental nonetheless. The end of the political process, futile as it may have been, triggered the collapse of the status quo as we have known it for the past 47 years. It set in motion a series of events that will confront us with two stark alternatives regarding Israel and Palestine: either the permanent warehousing of an entire population or the emergence of a single democratic state.

Both the blatantly disproportionate response to the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli boys and, as I write, the all-out air strikes on Gaza, have been cast by Israel as military operations: Operations Brothers’ Keeper and Operation Protective Edge. Neither had anything to do with the operations’ purported triggers, the search for the boys or rocket fire from Gaza. Palestinian cities supposedly enjoying extra-territorial status were invaded in Operation Brothers’ Keeper, more than 2000 homes were ransacked, some 700 people arrested. Who knows as yet the devastation wrought on Gaza – 100 dead in more than 1,100 air attacks so far, mostly civilians according to reports; deafening around-the-clock bombing of communities by American-supplied F-15 and artillery from the ground and sea that amounts to collective torture; Israel’s Foreign Minister calling for cutting off all electricity and water amidst threats to completely obliterate Gaza’s infrastructure; and the prospect of almost two million people being permanently imprisoned, reduced to bare existence just this side of starvation. {…}

Operations Brothers’ Keeper and Protective Edge represent the imposition of a regime of warehousing, of outright imprisonment of an entire people. The seemingly blind and atavistic destruction and hatred unleashed on the Palestinians over the past few weeks is not merely yet another “round of violence” in an interminable struggle. It is the declaration of a new political reality. The message is clear, unilateral and final: This country has been Judaized: it is now the Land of Israel in the process of being incorporated into the state of Israel. You Arabs (or “Palestinians” as you call yourselves) are not a people and have no national rights, certainly to our exclusively Jewish country. You are not a “side” to a “conflict.” Once and for all we must disabuse you of the notion that we are actually negotiating with you. We never have and never will. You are nothing but inmates in prison cells, and we hereby declare through our military and political actions that you have three options before you: You can submit as inmates are required to you, in which case we will allow you to remain in your enclave-cells. You can leave, as hundreds of thousands have done before you. Or, if you choose to resist, you will die.

As Tikun Olam’s Richard Silverstein just reported…

Israeli Invasion to Begin in “Coming Hours”

In a recent post, I published a State Department notice it was evacuating U.S. citizens from Gaza. The message asked those wishing to leave to provide necessary contact information by the morning of July 11th (yesterday). I predicted that meant an Israeli invasion would happen the next day (July 12th) or the following one. True to form, Israel Radio aired this announcement minutes ago:

A senior military source says that the IDF will mount a significant military operation in the coming hours, after the [civilian] population is cleared from areas from which rockets are fired, mainly in northern Gaza. Residents [to be cleared] will receive announcements, SMS messages, media bulletins and leaflets. According to the military source, this type of operation is accepted under international law. Israel did the same in the past in Lebanon and that experience proves a population may be cleared from an area exploited for the purposes of acts of terror.

To be clear, the news item announces a “significant [new] military operation.” I’ve interpreted this (reasonably I think) as the expected ground invasion. You often have to interpret such statements from Israeli military-intelligence sources using previous experience and understanding of sub-text. A lot is communicated through hints and coded language. AP has also confirmed the IDF was clearing northern Gaza in preparation for “stepping up its offensive.” {…}

This is the moment so many of us have expected and dreaded. It is the crossing of the Rubicon. From here, Israel crosses over from a massive, punishing air assault to outright invasion. The Obama administration and United Nations, which have stood by thus far impotently, must rouse themselves from moral torpor and act decisively. Of course, they will wait until the killing becomes even more senseless than it already is. If they act at all.

Here is the latest ineffectual pap from the State Department on the crisis: Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: The I/P, Egypt, Libya, and Turkey

8:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Col. Pat Lang penned an excellent retort to Oren’s brazen attempt to whitewash the IDF…

IDF marksman caught on tape in teenagers deaths

They do this kind of thing. The IDF can usually simply deny the event because it is not recorded and they feel free to lie to the world. After all, these are just Palestinians.

I witnessed a similar event in Bethlehem about 15 years ago. Three Palestinian teenagers were killed that day when Israeli troops opened fire with ball ammunition from a sandbagged position at Rachel’s tomb. (It is now permanently fortified) Having tried to administer CPR to one of the boys I can certify that he was shot through the thorax with a rifle. I happened to be on the scene shopping. The boys had been throwing rocks at the soldiers. There were about 15 wounded. They had been hit with super-caliber riot control munitions and had broken bones.

They got caught this time because CNN had a camera crew in this town for Naqba Day “festivities” outside Ofer Prison. The CNN camera man caught an Israeli soldier on the wall of the prison firing what looks like an M-4 carbine at the demonstrators. Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador in Washington claimed yesterday on “Wolf” that no ball (live fire) ammunition was used but the father of the boy hit from in front had a bullet that he said went through his son’s chest, through his backpack and a book inside and was found in the pack. It looked like 5.56 mm. to me. It was not noticeably deformed. That would be the case with steel jacketed military ammunition.

Oren suggested that the Palestinians staged all this to make Israel look bad. pl

Meanwhile, Abu Mazen, continues to undermine the Palestinians… The repercussions of forfeiting international recognition

An interesting development… New unity government to review Hamas laws in Gaza

Israel’s Crimes Against Humanity – A Long History of Corruption

Israel-Palestine: Europe should atone for its sins

Moving along to Egypt and Al-Sisi… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

Sly Sey and the Syrian Clusterf*ck

6:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the WSJ

John Kerry, U.S. Military Clash on Approach to Syria’s Rebels

Pentagon Opposes Direct Military Intervention Again

Frustrated by the stalemate in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry has been pushing for the U.S. military to be more aggressive in supporting the country’s rebel forces. Opposition has come from the institution that would spearhead any such effort: the Pentagon.

Mr. Kerry and United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power have advocated options that range from an American military intervention to weaken the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to using U.S. special operations forces to train and equip a large number of rebel fighters. Such moves would go far beyond the U.S.’s current engagement.

In recent White House meetings, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have pushed back against military intervention, said senior officials.

They say the risk is high of being dragged into an open-ended foreign entanglement.

Both sides have agreed on the need to create an expanded program to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels. But the Pentagon worries the Assad regime would halt cooperation on the removal of chemical weapons if the military training starts now. Officials said Mr. Kerry has now agreed to a delay.

The disagreement between a hawkish State Department and a dovish Pentagon, the officials from both sides said, is the latest chapter in an agonizing three-year administration debate over Syria.

But of course, it’s still ‘Damn the Torpedoes, Full-Speed Ahead…’

‘http://youtu.be/W-WSdGasWpg

As I’d pointed out, very early on during this entire, sordid Syrian False Flag op … See: Chemical Attacks In Syria – Cui Bono? And, More Evidence Points To The Syrian Rebels

So, it’s always nice to see more significant proof emerge confirming early hunches, from ‘credible’ sources like Seymour! However belated it may be!

Anyways, as Sey had asked…

Whose Sarin?

Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.

Now, it’s been fascinating in reading and watching, the varying reactions to Sey’s recent ‘revelations,’ from both the Left and the Right!

Seymour Hersh: the backlash…

Syria Special: There is No Chemical Weapons Conspiracy — Dissecting Hersh’s “Exclusive” on Insurgents Once More

Now, Col. Lang had a great response to Sey’s post, and, to neocon Michael Rubin’s ridiculous hatchet-job directed at the Col and Sey…Seymour Hersh’s Latest Conspiracy Theory Here is the Col’s response on the John Batchelor Show (19:20-30:30)

I liked how b at MOA, and the barflies, had cast some aspersions upon Sey’s repute…!

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: False Flags and False Narratives

3:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From b at Moon of Alabama: Media Neglect Turkish False Flag Attack Leak And Its Implications

And, This is Why Turkey Blocked Youtube – Leaked Audio With Full Transcript

A brief snippet:

Ahmet Davutoğlu:
“Prime Minister said that in current conjuncture, this attack (on Suleiman Shah Tomb) must be seen as an opportunity for us.”

Hakan Fidan:
“I’ll send 4 men from Syria, if that’s what it takes. I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey; we can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary.”

Feridun Sinirlioğlu:
“Our national security has become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit.”

Yaşar Güler:
“It’s a direct cause of war. I mean, what’re going to do is a direct cause of war.”

Ankara on alert after spying on security meeting leaked

Israel said to warn Turkey: Don’t attack Assad

Moving along…

From Robert Parry at Consortium News…The Danger of False Narrative

Today, Official Washington is marching in lockstep just as it did in 2002-03 when it enforced the misguided consensus on Iraq’s WMD. The latest case is Ukraine where Russian President Vladimir Putin is accused of committing “aggression” to expand Russian territory at the expense of noble ”democratic” reformers in Kiev.

Not only is this the dominant storyline in the U.S. media; it is virtually the only narrative permitted in the mainstream press. But the real narrative is that the United States and the European Union provoked this crisis by trying to take Ukraine out of its traditional sphere of influence, Russia, and put it in to a new association with the EU.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with Ukraine joining with the EU or staying with Russia (or a combination of the two) – depending on the will of the people and their elected representatives – this latest U.S./EU plan was motivated, at least in part, by hostility toward Russia…

As Col. Lang quipped recently… Bear baiting is a sport that should not be indulged in.

From the Grey Lady… Putin Calls Obama to Discuss Ukraine, White House Says

Meanwhile…

Obama seeks to assure King Abdullah in a time of regional unrest

In an exclusive interview with The National, the top White House Middle East policy adviser, Philip Gordon, said that while the US and Saudi and other Arabian Gulf countries may prefer different tactics when it comes to regional challenges, the allies still share fundamental interests and a strong alliance.

“It is perfectly reasonable…for good friends to sometimes have differences over approaches on issues, but the president will stress this with the king: we have much more in common when it comes to our interests than to differences,” Mr Gordon said.

“Defending allies from external aggression, ensuring the free flow of energy supplies, and confronting extremism and dealing with non proliferation – those are our core interests and we believe they are Saudi Arabia’s and our other friends’ in the Gulf core interests as well.”

More on those Gulf ‘core interests’…

Saudi king and Obama discuss Iran’s ‘behaviour’ and arming Syrian rebels

…Before Mr Obama met the king, US deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes confirmed that the war in Syria and Iran’s disputed nuclear programme were on the agenda.

“One of the main topics of conversation is how do we best empower the moderate opposition inside of Syria politically, militarily as a counterweight to President Bashar Al Assad,” Mr Rhodes said.

Jim White wrote a great piece Wednesday… After US Adventure in Death Squad Training for Syria, Brennan Now Complains About al Qaeda Training There

An interesting peek behind the robes… Saudi’s next heir is a close confidant of the king

In I/P news… Kerry not ready to announce failure of peace talks

During his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmous Abbas yesterday, US Secretary of State John Kerry aimed to find an “agreement formula” for negotiations with Israel instead of announcing failure of his efforts, a senior Palestinian Authority aide said today.

Kerry met the Abbas in Amman to discuss the peace talks which are wavering and the situation of the release of the fourth batch of the veteran Palestinian prisoners.

Speaking to the local Palestinian news agency Quds Net, Abbas’ aide Mimer Hammad said: “The agreement on the release of the Palestinian prisoners was conducted with the US administration.”

Hammad expects Kerry to phone the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and ask him to go release the prisoners. “Extending negotiations beyond the approaching deadline is linked to the release of the prisoners,” Hammad said.

He also said that Israel has to pledge to freeze settlement construction and setting a certain timetable, with international guardianship, to carry out its obligations, including implementing the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.

“The US Administration has not given us any agreement formula so far,” Hammad said. “Kerry is trying to find an agreement formula instead of announcing the failure of his efforts,” he added, “but Netanyahu said he would not stop settlements and we will see what Kerry will do.”

In wrapping up…

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Al-Assad, Kerry, Khamenei, and, McCain

6:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Some recent developments on the P5+1 talks…

U.S. sees Iran nuclear talks difficult, success uncertain

The United States and long-time arch-foe Iran agree on at least one thing ahead of Tuesday’s negotiations on a long-term nuclear deal – reaching an agreement will be very difficult, if not impossible.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the man who has the final say on all matters of state in the Islamic Republic, declared again on Monday that talks between Tehran and six world powers ‘will not lead anywhere.’

Hours later a senior U.S. administration official also played down expectations, telling reporters in the Austrian capital that it will be a ‘complicated, difficult and lengthy process’ and ‘probably as likely that we won’t get an agreement as it is that we will.’

From the Supreme Leader himself…

Iran’s Khamenei says nuclear talks will ‘lead nowhere’

Iran’s top decision-maker Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Monday nuclear talks with world powers would ‘lead nowhere’ but that he did not oppose them.

Iran is due to resume talks on Tuesday in Vienna with the P5+1 group—Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China plus Germany—aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord on its controversial nuclear program.

After a decade of failure and rising tensions, U.S. President Barack Obama has put the chances of an agreement at ’50-50,’ while Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has predicted ‘difficult’ discussions.

‘I repeat it again that I am not optimistic about the negotiations and they will lead nowhere, but I am not against them,’ Khamenei said in remarks published on his website Khamenei.ir.

Now, here’s a real game-changer…

Iran says Russia could build nuclear reactor in exchange for oil

Russia could build a second reactor at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant in exchange for Iranian oil, the Iranian ambassador to Moscow said in remarks published on Monday.

Russia could also supply Iran with trucks, railroad tracks, mini-refineries or other goods to pay for the oil, ambassador Mehdi Sanaei told the daily Kommersant, under a deal Reuters revealed was being negotiated last month.

Reuters reported Iran and Russia were negotiating to swap up to 500,000 barrels of oil per day for goods in the deal that would undermine Western efforts to maintain economic pressure on Tehran while global powers seek to curb its nuclear programme.

In an interview published a day before the six powers including Russia resume talks with Tehran on a nuclear deal, Sanaei confirmed Russia and Iran were discussing supplies of ‘a few hundred thousand barrels per day.’

‘Iran could use some of the proceeds (to pay for) the construction by Russia companies of a second unit at the nuclear power plant in Bushehr,’ he said. Russia built the first reactor at Bushehr, Iran’s sole nuclear power plant.

Sanaei said it was possible the oil deal, and a broad memorandum on economic cooperation, could be signed before August. Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev is to visit Iran in April for talks on trade.

Asked what Russia could supply in exchange for the oil, Sanaei said the sides were discussing a number of possibilities including the construction of small oil refineries, Russian investment in gas fields and supplies of electricity. {…}

A top U.S. official said this month she believed the oil-for-goods swap would not go ahead in the near future after the United States warned both sides it would make reaching a nuclear agreement ‘more difficult if not impossible.’

Moving along to McInsane…

I was actually pleasantly surprised at Candy’s questions…!

Now, Col. Lang penned a great post today…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Folie à deux!

4:00 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Isn’t it strange that Al Qaeda has never struck inside of Israel, nor the House of Saud for that matter…

Folie à deux! – Madness shared by two

Pardon my French, but it is sometimes the right language in which to express things. Folie à deux!

Yes, folie à deux which is a madness or psychosis shared by two people. Think of two people believing themselves to be omnipotent (perhaps as a King and Queen who act capriciously and despise their subjects) and you will have some understanding of the madness. Needless to say, the madness invariably ends in some form of destruction.

In this case, however, the folie is not that shared by two individuals but by two regimes. Or rather, two entities both of which have no true legitimacy, but only an existence which comes from force instead of widespread consent. In both cases, the crux of the matter is the lack of legitimacy.

One of them is Israel, a racist, arrogant entity, embarked on a creeping genocide of the Palestinians, intent on expansion into the lands of others and which wants to attack Iran.

The other is Saudi Arabia, a gruesome, totalitarian, sectarian entity which thinks that it has something (Takfiri Wahhabism) that is welcomed in the lands of others (which, in reality, is nothing but a foul smell) and which also wants to attack Iran.

Both entities think that they are God’s gift to the human race and are in the last stages of hubris…

‘The folie à deux is then compounded by their belief that the USA will come in on their side because, at the moment, there is no doubt that there is a partnership, indeed, an Axis of Evil, consisting of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the USA.’

In the case of Israel, the Zionists have absolute control of the American political process with the politicians, even after the recent international agreement with Iran, determined to impose more and more sanctions. On top of that are the fifty to sixty million demented Christian Zionists who actually want a full-scale war in the Middle East – they want this because they think that such a war is the prelude to their being wafted up to Heaven.

Please ‘Rapture’ them already…!

Anyways… I must say that I was surprised by this completely empty gesture from Bibi…

Netanyahu puts settlement construction plans on hold until after Kerry visit

A senior official in Jerusalem says the prime minister asked the housing minister to delay publication of tenders for new West Bank homes; ‘nobody wants to stick a finger in Kerry’s eye,’ he says.

Kerry will arrive in Israel on Thursday for a series of meetings with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in order to continue efforts at drafting the ‘framework agreement’ for peace talks, which the U.S. hopes to present by the end of the month.

The secretary of state will stay in the region until Sunday, at least, and is likely to extend his visit by a few extra days.

Netanyahu announced last week that he planned to publish the new tenders after the third stage of the Palestinian prisoner release, which was carried out on Monday night. Tenders for construction were published after each of the first two stages of the prisoner release.

Although the number of units and location of construction were leaked unofficially to the public, the actual contracting tenders have not yet been published on the Housing Ministry website or in the media.

A senior official in Jerusalem said that Netanyahu and Ariel have an understanding that the tenders will be published after Kerry’s visit: ‘Nobody has an intention of sticking a finger in Kerry’s eye,’ said the official. ‘On this matter, there is full coordination between the prime minister and the housing minister.’

Hmm, it’s never seemed to bother Bibi before…!

Naturally… Israel lawmakers appeal to Obama for spy’s release.

So, let’s look at what else is on Bibi’s plate… Israel Ready to Invade Gaza. Planned Attack Would “Exact a Heavy Toll”

Could another Cast Lead be used as a distraction…?

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, Israel, and Turkey

4:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

After a month-long hiatus, I felt it was high time that I should resume my mashups…!

Egypt is still a mess… At least 265 arrested in crackdown on Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

So with Sisi arresting the MB… Enter the Muslim Sisterhood

Col. Lang provides some insights…

Many people want to say that you can’t suppress political movements successfully. When they say that, they are wrong. The MB is finished in Egypt for at least a generation. Their bold faced attempt to write a new constitution that would have made Egypt a sharia law state was their undoing. Everyone except the R2P ladies understood the full import of what the MB was trying to do and all the while smiling and smiling and smiling. Westernized Egyptians, women generally, the military itself, the Israelis, and everyone in Egypt who stood to be the ruled and not the ruling, in MB Egypt came to understand what their lives would be like if Mursi succeeded…

The problem is that the MB will not go quietly into the night…!

Moving along to Israel…

Seriously, as Bibi just became the longest serving PM, there never was a ‘Peace Plan’… Ben Gurion Foresaw Palestinian Expulsion in 1937

The ever-intrepid Max Blumenthal hammers the point home… ‘Time is running out’: The peace process and the fierce urgency of never

So finally…

PA Official Calls for ‘Smart Resistance’ Against Israel

Nabil Shaath predicts that peace talks will fail, says the PA should then resort to pursuing statehood through the UN.

Of course the Peace Talks will fail, Bibi, all but ensures it…!

Case in point… Israel’s new settlements will coincide with the release of Palestinian prisoners

It’s insane to see Bibi even bring up Pollard once again, and Kerry Offered Pollard Release to Israel

Moving along to the sordid Turkish affair…

From the WaPo… How Erdoğan has reshaped Turkish politics, and what it means for current corruption scandal

The fallout from the anti-corruption investigation in Turkey that began Dec. 17 continues to unfold rapidly. Much of the focus has rightly been on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. As the head of the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP, or Justice and Development Party) that has dominated Turkish politics for the past 11 years, Erdoğan’s role in Turkish policymaking has been all but unchallenged until now.

Leaders who see themselves as infallible and who have no institutional constraints on their ability to make policy don’t leave power willingly. This can include leaders elected democratically. They weaken political institutions in their campaign to fend off challengers and remain in office. So whether or not Erdoğan survives is less important for Turkey than the damage being done to Turkish institutions, which in turn poses a real challenge for American interests in the Middle East that depend heavily on a strong Turkey. {…}

Erdoğan set about adapting the institutions of Turkish politics. He amended the Constitution (a process that had begun under previous governments) and the legal system, and he shifted the balance in the national security decision-making process in favor of civilians over security officials. All of this was consistent with the process of democratization, and made the political system more democratic.

But there was a darker side to this process. While removing the army from politics, Erdoğan also undermined the ability of any actor or agency to dissent from his authority or to criticize it. Over the last few years, Erdoğan has seen himself as the embodiment of the Turkish state and Turkish identity. His comments during the Gezi Park protests alongside his scolding of Turks on their morals and demands about their personal behavior are part of this. Without any institutional constraints on his policy, some argue he has become as authoritarian as the army he has replaced.

This makes the current struggle over the corruption scandals so consequential. It is one part tug-of-war between the two main elements of Turkey’s Islamist-conservative movement, the AKP and the Gülenist movement (also known as Hizmet, or the Service), one part Erdoğan responding to what he sees as illegitimate criticism of his rule.

From FP…

Iran’s Turkish Gold Rush

At the center of Turkey’s corruption scandal is a “gas for gold” scheme that the Obama administration dragged its feet on stopping.

More analysis on the corruption clusterf*ck…

Make No Mistake About It: The Storm Has Hit in Turkey

To be sure… Turkey’s Erdoğan Will Probably Hang in There. The Economy May Not

In wrapping up, two worthy links…

A Long Ferment in the Middle East

And… All in play in the New Great Game

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou…!

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AfPak, Egypt, Israel, P5+1 and Turkey

7:33 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

At the end of that Press TV interview, it would appear that Karzai’s little snit over delaying the signing, is all about his handgroomed Prez candidate and Washington’s preferred puppet…! Now, in eating some crow, by thinking that we couldn’t possibly have bought off the entire Loya Jirga, I was sorely mistaken…

Loya Jirga Head Rejects Karzai Demand to Delay U.S. Pact Signing

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s demand to delay the signing of a security pact with the U.S. until after April’s presidential vote is unacceptable and will harm the country, the head of a council of tribal elders said.

Karzai has “no right” to delay the signing of the accord that would pave the way for a continued American presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, chairman of the loya jirga council called by the president, said yesterday.

“Every demand of Mr. Karzai and ours have been practiced and accepted by them,” Mojaddedi told reporters in front of the council’s compound in Kabul.

…After that, the agreement would have to be signed by both countries before it’s ratified by Afghanistan’s parliament and signed into law by Karzai, according to two U.S. officials who briefed reporters Nov. 21 on condition of not being identified discussing the process.

Karzai’s public show of toughness is a throwback to his stance ahead of a 2011 loya jirga to consider the U.S.-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement, said Jawid Kohistani, a Kabul-based political and security analyst. The legally binding agreement was signed in 2012.

The president’s speech ahead of the council that year was similarly combative, Kohistani said. Karzai then backed down and signed after that loya jirga gave him “political cover.”

“It will be interesting to see if he now allows himself to be persuaded by the council and moderates his tone, as he did then.”

Anthony Cordesman wrote a very sober analysis of what’s at stake…

Just the Beginning: Afghanistan Troop Deal Prelude to Another Half Decade of War

The current debate over a bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan disguises far more serious challenges in the years to come. The BSA is a necessary first step in creating the conditions for United States troops to stay in Afghanistan and function there. But even if Afghan President Hamid Karzai can be persuaded to stop manipulating the issue in an effort to gain domestic political support, it is only a prelude to the real challenges the U.S. faces in staying in Afghanistan.

First, the United States must make hard choices as to how many U.S. troops it will keep in country, their role as advisors and enablers to the Afghan forces and how much money it is willing to pay to keep the Afghan forces combat capable. Senior U.S. officers have said it will take some 11,000 to 13,600 U.S. and allied troops to support Afghan military and police forces through at least 2016, and these estimates seem all too accurate given the problems in Afghan forces — particularly the police elements. It will also take some $3 billion to $5 billion in aid, although all of this aid does not have to come from the U.S.

The U.S. will also be advising forces that cannot now defeat the Taliban, Haqqani Network and other insurgents. They can only create a layered defense that may be able to secure most population centers and key lines of communication. U.S. combat forces will leave a nation very much at war, and the U.S. cannot predict how much aid and assistance Afghanistan will need…

Please read the entire article…! In other noteworthy Af/Pak news… The ruling parties in northwestern Pakistan have blocked the supply lines of US-led forces.

Moving along to the P5+1 negotiations… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: UnHoly Alliances, Moving The Goalposts, and MI-5 Malarkey

8:01 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

So it seems the House of Saud and the rabid Likudniks see eye-to-eye on Iran…!

Saudis brace for ‘nightmare’ of U.S.-Iran thaw

When Saudi Arabia’s veteran foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, made no annual address to the U.N. General Assembly last week for the first time ever, his unspoken message could hardly have been louder.

For most countries, refusing to give a scheduled speech would count as little more than a diplomatic slap on the wrist, but for staid Saudi Arabia, which prefers back-room politicking to the public arena, it was uncharacteristically forthright.

Engaged in what they see as a life-and-death struggle for the future of the Middle East with archrival Iran, Saudi rulers are furious the international body has taken no action over Syria, where they and Tehran back opposing sides.

Unlike in years past, they are not only angry with permanent Security Council members China and Russia, however, but with the United States, which they believe has repeatedly let down its Arab friends with policies they see as both weak and naive.

Like Washington’s other main Middle Eastern ally, Israel, the Saudis fear that President Barack Obama has in the process allowed mutual enemies to gain an upper hand. {…}

Already aghast at U.S. reluctance to back rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, Tehran’s strongest Arab friend, Saudi princes were horrified to see Washington last month reaching out to Hassan Rouhani, the new Iranian president.

The Saudis’ worst nightmare would be the administration striking a grand bargain with Iran,” said former diplomat Robert Jordan, U.S. ambassador to Riyadh from 2001 to 2003.

Col. Lang posted this great diatribe recently…

Don’t Move the Strategic Goal Posts for U.S. Policy on Iran

Diplomacy is the most realistic strategic option for achieving President Obama’s stated goal of prevention. As the case of North Korea demonstrates, economic sanctions and international political isolation will not prevent a determined country from developing nuclear weapons. Moreover, the history of sanctions suggests that the international political will to enforce serious sanctions will erode over time. {…}

Meanwhile, military strikes conducted by either the United States or Israel are not likely to prevent Iran from joining the nuclear weapons club. Iran’s civilian nuclear expertise and knowledge is substantial and can’t simply be bombed or assassinated out of existence… …Additionally, military action will also likely strengthen recruitment of radicals to the ranks of Al-Qa’ida by playing into its strategic narrative that the United States is at war with Islam. Furthermore, these attacks would only solidify the position of hardliners in Tehran as they exploit intense feelings of Iranian nationalism during a time of crisis while bolstering their argument that Iran needs a nuclear weapon to deter further attacks.

Nonetheless, not everyone is content with President Obama’s strategic objective of prevention. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, for instance, has advocated the more expansive strategic objective of denying Iran any domestic capability to enrich uranium. A recent letter from 76 U.S. senators urges the President to prevent Iran from achieving an amorphous and ultimately unverifiable “nuclear weapons capability”. Still others have insisted that issues with Iran will only be resolved through whole-sale regime change in Iran.

By changing the aim of US policy, however, any one of these alternative strategic goals would require a comprehensive change to the current American strategic approach emphasizing diplomacy. More dangerously, moving the strategic goal posts on Iran now would almost certainly doom a diplomatic approach to failure before it has been genuinely tested. This will leave US policymakers with ever less attractive strategic options for resolving suspicions surrounding Iran’s nuclear program.

Funny how the Israeli Defense Minister just paid another visit to Hagel, eh…?

Pentagon chief reassures Israel over Iran nuke issue

Defense Department officials said Hagel and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon met at the Pentagon Tuesday, sharing their views on the latest development regarding the Iran nuclear issue and the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, the American Forces Press Service, the U.S. Defense Department’s news service, reported.

Hagel told Yaalon that while U.S. officials intend to test the prospect for a diplomatic solution with Iran, they “remain clear- eyed about the challenges ahead and will not waver from a firm policy of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”

This was the third face-to-face meeting between the two defense officials in the past six months. The meeting came amid Israel’s rising concerns over Washington’s recent diplomatic engagement with Tehran on its disputed nuclear program.

So which is it…?

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Handing a Monkey a Hand Grenade, Real Men Go To Tehran, and SEAL Fail

5:36 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

The esteemed Col. Lang, a signatory of this letter to both Kerry and Lavrov, pointed out this excellent article…

De Borchgrave on Syrian government guilt in re the 21st of August gas deaths.

“What is becoming increasingly clear is that Assad wasn’t behind the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in an eastern suburb of Damascus. The evidence gathered by U.N. inspectors may lead to pro-al-Qaida operatives in the resistance movement. The purpose of such an operation would be to further discredit Assad’s regime and sabotage peace talks.” De Borchgrave

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When I saw this section of Arnaud De Borchgrave’s column yesterday, I contacted him so as to know this was his opinion or that of the Russians. He assures me that this is his opinion. pl

Please do read the entire article, originally entitled: The US could be supporting the wrong people in Syria…

…The purpose of such an operation would be to further discredit Assad’s regime and sabotage peace talks.

Russia is playing its Syrian hand deftly and prudently. It warned the Obama administration that U.S. military intervention would have “catastrophic consequences” for the entire region by giving radical Islam a winning hand.

But some Russian voices objected to the softer tone of the men in the Kremlin. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted that the West “is playing with the Islamic world like a monkey with a grenade.”

Some newspapers criticized Russian leaders as overly prudent.

Komsomolskaya Pravda, a mass circulation tabloid, warned, “If optimists in the Pentagon believe that Russia will limit itself to warnings and expressions of anger, like it did over Iraq and Yugoslavia, they may well be mistaken … Times have changed. There’s too much at stake and Moscow won’t retreat … Who’ll cave first — Putin or Obama?”

Next to the Russian media’s fire-and-brimstone warnings, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had made clear that Russia has “no plans to go to war with anyone.”

The Syrian civil war, with its influx of foreign fighters, including a powerful contingent of pro-al-Qaida combatants, many of them recruited online, have led some Russian commentators to predict Moscow will soon be increasing weapons supplies to Syria.

At the same time, Russia will be negotiating still closer ties with Iran coupled with a cut back on areas of cooperation with the United States, some Russian experts said.

Before increasing aid to Syria’s underground resistance, U.S. intelligence should nail down beyond the shadow of a doubt the true identity and plans of the underground resistance. Or at least of the commanders of units they are dealing with.

During the recent four-day siege of Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, al-Shabaab jihadists “raped, tortured, beheaded, dismembered, castrated, gouged out eyes, amputated fingers and hung hostages on hooks from the roof,” a forensic medical doctor in Kenya told FrontPageMagazine.com, a conservative online magazine edited by David Horowitz and published by the Freedom Center in Los Angeles.

For jihadists — or “holy warriors” — these were ritual killings “consistent with a growing global jihadist MO (modus operandi),” writes FrontPage’s Dawn Perlmutter. “Similar acts of torture, rape, beheading and mutilation regularly occur in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria and other countries,” says Perlmutter. {…}

Taking on the Damascus-Tehran-Moscow axis at this late stage in Syria’s civil war would put the United States in the same camp as AQAM — al-Qaida and its associated movements. This would also jeopardize negotiations with Iran aimed at abandoning its quest for nuclear weapons.

Seriously, pups, I’m aghast at the clusterf*ck that is our FP…! On the one hand, you have Obama asking Congress to ‘delay’ the latest round of sanctions on Iran, then, roll out this IC propaganda…!

Followed up by this noise…

Obama says Iran a year away from nuclear bomb

US President Barack Obama said in an interview released Saturday that Iran was “a year or more away” from getting a nuclear bomb, in a clear sign of discord with Israel.

Obama also told the Associated Press that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had staked his credibility on dialogue and it was up to the United States to see if he had the political weight to follow through.

The president’s timetable contrasts with that of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has warned that Iran has been building faster centrifuges to enrich uranium which would allow it to jump across an Israeli red line within “weeks.”

Did you catch that Calvinball shift…? Oopsies… Israel: No Dispute Over Iran Timeframe…

Well, that was certainly a quick response dontcha think…! Hmmm…?

Let’s be clear who is responsible these daze…!

Anyways, when I’d first heard about a ‘western’ strike in Somalia, I’d suspected Mossad, yet… AP sources: Navy SEALs raid Somali town in strike aimed at al-Shabab militants, and f*cked it up…

US Navy SEAL raid in Somalia fails to nab al-Qaida suspect in Kenya mall attack

U.S. Navy SEALs carried out a pre-dawn raid Saturday on a coastal town in southern Somalia looking for a specific al-Qaida suspect linked to the Nairobi shopping mall attack, but did not get their target, a U.S. military official told The Associated Press.

A former U.S. military official also confirmed the raid by the SEALs, but no other details have been provided. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the raid by name. The Pentagon declined comment.

In Somalia, officials said international military forces carried out a pre-dawn strike Saturday against foreign fighters in the town of Barawe. Officials said the strike was aimed at “high-profile” targets.

The strike was carried out in the hours before morning prayers in Barawe, the same town where Navy SEALs four years ago killed a most-wanted al-Qaida operative, the officials said.

However, it wasn’t a total wash, as it were for us… US forces capture al-Qaida leader in Libya wanted by US for 1998 embassy attacks in Africa. Oorah…?

In wrapping up, I do wonder about these newsworthy links…

US was so sure it was striking Syria it made ‘warning calls’ to Israel’s leaders

At height of crisis, Netanyahu was given formal notice of imminent attack on Assad; Obama’s change of heart said to have dented Israel’s faith in president’s ‘military option’ for Iran…

That was right about the time of those two ‘failed’ launches in the Med…!

Last but not the least, link… Iran, Russia to continue negotiations on S-300 missile system

To be crystal clear…