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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…?

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by CTuttle

More Persian Fantasies…

7:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From Seoul today… Obama: Window for diplomatic solution to nuclear Iran is closing

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Sunday there was still time to resolve the Iranian nuclear standoff through diplomacy, but that the window for such a solution was closing.

Obama reiterated his position on the Iran nuclear issue after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on the eve of a nuclear security summit in Seoul.

“I believe there is a window of time to solve this diplomatically, but that window is closing,” Obama told reporters.

Obama has pressed Israel to hold off on any attack on Iran’s nuclear sites to give sanctions and diplomacy time to work, but has said military action remains an option if all else fails. {snip}

Obama and Erdogan also discussed providing medical supplies and communications support to the Syrian opposition but there was no talk of providing lethal aid for rebel forces, a U.S. official said. {snip}

“We worked on a common agenda in terms of how we can support both humanitarian efforts… (and) the efforts of Koffi Annan to bring about much needed change (in Syria),” Obama said after his meeting with Erdogan, a sharp critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

With regard to Iran, the U.S. president made similar remarks in a joint press conference British Prime Minister David Cameron a week and a half ago, when he warned window for a diplomatic solution was “shrinking”.

In those remarks, he encouraged Tehran to seize the opportunity of talks with world leaders to avert “even worse consequences.”

Here’s a recent snapshot of the economic sanctions…

Shell scrambles to pay huge bill for Iranian oil

…Royal Dutch Shell is struggling to pay off $1 billion that it owes Iran for crude oil because European Union and U.S. financial sanctions now make it almost impossible to process payments, industry sources said.

Four sources said the oil major owes a large sum to the National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC) for deliveries of crude, with one putting the figure at close to $1 billion. A debt of that size would equate to roughly four large tanker loads of Iranian crude or about 8 million barrels.

“Shell is working hard to figure out a way to pay NIOC,” said an industry source, who requested anonymity. “It’s very sensitive and very difficult. They want to stay on good terms with Iran, while abiding by sanctions.” {snip}

‘Pressure working’

Rigorous U.S. and European financial measures, aimed at punishing Iran for its nuclear program have already come into force, making it increasingly difficult to pay for and ship crude from Iran, say oil executives.

“There are big frustrations with the payment route – the U.S. pressure is really working,” said a senior oil source.

“It’s now nearly impossible to use the banking system.”

Funny how all this bovine manure is taking it’s toll on us too… Iran sanctions cause new oil shock, and, Sanctions against Iran put cloud over global growth

Now, about those purported Iranian Nukes and Amano’s bootlicking…

Current Chief of IAEA Releases Its Brakes on Rush to War With Iran

“Amano’s director-generalship began under a bad star.”

That’s Julian Borger at the Guardian quoting Mark Hibbs, the journalist who helped take down the AQ Khan nuclear-weapons black market and is now with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Yukio Amano, the “head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the nuclear watchdog at the heart of the growing Iranian crisis,” Borger explains, “has been accused by several former senior officials of pro-western bias, over-reliance on unverified intelligence and of sidelining sceptics.” {snip}

Previous director Mohamed ElBaradei was noted for his objections to IAEA findings being used as a pretext for ultimatums and/or war with Iran. Borger also reminds us of those WikiLeaks cables that confirmed suspicions about Amano almost too perfectly.

[They] revealed Amano’s assiduous courting of American support. In an October 2009 cable, the US charge d’affaires, Geoffrey Pyatt, wrote: “Amano reminded [the] ambassador on several occasions that he would need to make concessions to the G-77 [the developing countries group], which correctly required him to be fair-minded and independent, but that he was solidly in the US court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.”

Not sure of the exact motivations for Amano’s bootlicking, but there it is for the world to see. Confirming Amano’s toadyism toward the United States

… the IAEA’s reports on Iranian behaviour have become steadily more critical. In November, it published an unprecedented volume of intelligence pointing towards past Iranian work on developing a nuclear weapon, deeming it credible.

However, some former IAEA officials are saying that the agency has gone too far. Robert Kelley, a former US weapons scientists who ran the IAEA action team on Iraq at the time of the US-led invasion, said. … “Amano is falling into the Cheney trap. What we learned back in 2002 and 2003, when we were in the runup to the war, was that peer review was very important, and that the analysis should not be left to a small group of people,” Kelley said. “… Just like [former US vice-president] Dick Cheney, Amano is relying on a very small group of people and those opinions are not being checked.”

…Compared to Dick Cheney, shamed by WikiLeaks, Yukio Amano is the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time. ElBaradei won the Nobel Prize; Amano is angling for the Ignoble Prize.

Speaking of the Shrub/Darth Cheney War Cabal… Condoleezza Rice suggests Iran plan for White House

…“The most important thing is to make very clear to the Iranians that we really will not allow them to get a nuclear weapon. That means that you have to have a military option that you are prepared to use and that the Iranians know that you are prepared to use. And you can’t send mixed signals about that,” the former secretary of state said on “Fox & Friends.” “It’s got to be a very strong message and it’s got to be unequivocal.”

Asked to explain what she meant by the “mixed signals” coming out of the Obama administration, Rice noted, “The president has said he has a military option and he means he will use it, but then you do get the back stories and the whispers here and there and occasionally someone questioning whether or not the military option is a real option — and the Iranians just eat that up.

She added, “So let’s have one message from the president that we will use military force if necessary.

Now in an ironic twist, the rabid Zionist Rabbi Eliezer Melamed advocates against striking Iran, but, for all the wrong reasons…

It’s Hard to Trust Netanyahu and Barak on Iran

…Even if the State of Israel succeeds in destroying the Iranian nuclear facilities, such an action apparently will not cancel this dangerous phenomenon, but merely postpone the date that Iran and other hostile states acquire nuclear weapons.

Today, countries such as India, China, Pakistan, and North Korea already possess nuclear weapons. The entire world must learn to deal with threats of this magnitude, and in this respect, our situation is not significantly different from that of many other countries. Given this fact, the statements of the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister that Iranian nuclear weapons are an existential threat to the State of Israel are simply not true. They are one threat in a chain of many others… {snip}

…In other words, precisely with regard to Iran’s main threat against us, via Hizbullah and other terrorist organizations in Gaza operating on their behalf, the State of Israel reveals incompetence, eroding its deterrence to an absolute minimum, until our enemies have the nerve to liken the State of Israel to a “cobweb”.

Our weak image was intensified as a result of the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and our ongoing incompetence against the rocket attacks from there.

In order to deal with the threats and dangers, we have to create deterrence built less on the verbal bravado of Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and Binyamin Netanyahu, and based more on determined actions against those who actually attack us.

Strengthening Our Control of the Land

Nevertheless, painful military punishment is not enough. As a result of a lack of clarity concerning our ambitions in the Land of Israel, we invite threats and dangers upon ourselves, leading our enemies to believe that we will continue to withdraw until the State of Israel is eradicated, God forbid.

Therefore, the correct response to a missile attack from Gaza or Lebanon should also include applying Israeli sovereignty over additional parts of the Land of Israel, and strengthening construction in Judea and Samaria…

That folks is the epitome of Zionism…!

Some common sense prevails at the Guardian… Bomb Iran and it will surely decide to pursue nuclear arms…

Even the Grey Lady seemed to have experienced a momentary lapse in their usual warmongering…

The False Debate About Attacking Iran

I wonder if we in the news media aren’t inadvertently leaving the impression that there is a genuine debate among experts about whether an Israeli military strike on Iran makes sense this year.

There really isn’t such a debate. Or rather, it’s the same kind of debate as the one about climate change — credible experts are overwhelmingly on one side… {snip}

…Let’s also remember that as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bangs the drums of war, that may empower Iranian hawks. “The continual threat of a military strike is as likely to convince them to move ahead as to deter them,” Slaughter notes.

Whether Israel will attack Iranian nuclear sites is one of this year’s crucial questions, and people in the know seem to think the odds are about 50-50. We don’t know that the economy would be harmed or that a war would unfold, but anyone who is confident about what would happen is a fool.

So as we hear talk about military action against Iran, let’s be clear about one thing. Outside Netanyahu’s aides and a fringe of raptors, just about every expert thinks that a military strike at this time would be a catastrophically bad idea. That’s not a debate, but a consensus.

Meanwhile, in Israel… Israel beefs up border security ahead of Global March to Jerusalem

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is gearing up for massive protests and possible infiltration attempts along its borders as part of the Global March to Jerusalem rallies on Friday, local media reported on Sunday.

IDF’s preparations are based on the “Summer Seeds” operation prepared by the army to contain any riots during last year’s Palestinian statehood bid.

Soldiers have been deployed along Israel’s borders in order to prevent any infiltration attempts, after pro-Palestinian activists called for a Global March to Jerusalem the coming Friday.

The call urges participants to try to storm into Israel by sheer force, such as during the Palestinians’ Nakba (disaster in Arabic) and Naksa (setback) day events, on May 15 and June 5 respectively, when dozens of protesters were killed trying to infiltrate into Israel from Syria and Lebanon.

Soldiers have also been instructed to cause minimum harm, if needed, to protesters in order to avoid any more flare-ups, the Ynet news service reported.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian activists arrived in Damascus on Sunday to participate in the protest, and it is expected that there will be infiltration attempts on the borders with Lebanon and Syria, where the IDF has already reinforced the fences.

God Speed and God Bless…!

by CTuttle

Don’t Iraq Iran…

7:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

The Iranian Oil embargo is in a full court press by the Oily Bomber… Geithner may discuss Iran sanctions on Beijing trip… Also, FDL alum, Jim White, had recently highlighted the plight of the Iranian sanctions…!

Now, I stole my headline from David Swanson, from his excellent myFDL diary yesterday: Why Not Attack Iran? And then, having had the pleasure of chatting with him at today’s Book Salon, I do feel compelled to carry on the fight, particularly after this exchange…

David: “I think it’s very very valuable that iraq has made people aware of war lies and that the iran war lies are so similar. if we can’t keep people opposed to attacking iran under these circumstances, when can we?”

My response: “…that the iran war lies are so similar.

And delivered by the very same Liars…! *gah*

Truly, it’s the same Liars spewing the very same lies…! It is Déjà vu, all over again…!

Since I do wear my heart on my sleeve, see here, here, here, etc, but I digress…

In recent noteworthy news and views…

Iran Thanks U.S. for Rescuing Fishermen

Iran’s Foreign Ministry thanked the United States Saturday for rescuing 13 of its fishermen from pirates…

Fancy that…! Imagine if they could actually talk to each other…! The NDAA that Obummer just signed into law, amongst the other horrid provisions, like ‘rendering’ Americans on American soil, was a Congressional prohibition against any US officials from talking to any Iranian officials, without prior written consent…!

Seriously, Wtf over…?

Fortunately, there’s saner individuals sounding off against the insanity…

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Avoiding Another Long War

As professionals with collectively hundreds of years of experience in intelligence, foreign policy, and counterterrorism, we are concerned about the gross misrepresentation of facts being bruited about to persuade you to start another war.

We have watched the militarists represent one Muslim country after another as major threats to U.S. security. In the past, they supported attacks on Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya and Afghanistan, as well as Israel’s attacks on Syria and Lebanon — nine Muslim countries – and Gaza.

This time, they are using a new IAEA report to assert categorically that Iran is building a nuclear weapon that allegedly poses a major threat to the U.S. Your intelligence and military advisors can certainly clarify what the report really says.

As you know, the IAEA makes regular inspection visits to Iran’s nuclear facilities and has TV cameras monitoring those facilities around the clock. While there is reason to question some of Iran’s actions, the situation is not as clear-cut as some allege.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and former IAEA director-general, said recently, “I don’t believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran.” He is not alone: All 16 U.S. intelligence agencies concluded “with high confidence” in a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that Iran had halted its nuclear-weapons program as of 2003.

We are seeing a replay of the “Iraq WMD threat.” As Philip Zelikow, Executive Secretary of the 9/11 Commission said, “The ‘real threat’ from Iraq was not a threat to the United States. The unstated threat was the threat against Israel.”

Your military and intelligence experts can also provide information on unpublicized efforts to derail Iran’s nuclear program and on the futility of attempting to eliminate that program – which is dispersed and mostly underground – through aerial bombing.

Defense Secretary [Leon] Panetta and other experts have stated that an air attack would only delay any weapons program for a year or two at most.

Former Mossad head Meir Dagan said that an air force strike against Iran’s nuclear installations would be “a stupid thing,” a view endorsed in principle by two other past Mossad chiefs, Danny Yatom and Ephraim Halevy. Dagan added that “Any strike against [the civilian program] is an illegal act according to international law.”

Dagan pointed out another reality: bombing Iran would lead it to retaliate against Israel through Hezbollah, which has tens of thousands of Grad-type rockets and hundreds of Scuds and other long-range missiles, and through Hamas.

We are already spending as much as the rest of the world combined on National Security and $100 billion per year on a Long War in Afghanistan. The Israel lobby has been beating the drums for us to attack Iran for years, led by people with confused loyalties like Joe Lieberman, who once made the claim that it is unpatriotic for Americans not to support Israel.

Another Long War is not in America’s or Israel’s interests, whatever Israel’s apologists claim. Those are the same people who claim that [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad said he would “wipe Israel off the map.” Persian specialists have pointed out that the original statement in Persian actually said that Israel would collapse: “This occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the arena of time.”

What we have is a situation where Israel’s actions, for example in sending 300,000 settlers into the West Bank and 200,000 settlers into East Jerusalem, are compromising U.S. security by putting us at risk for terrorist retaliation.

We have provided Israel with $100 billion in direct aid since 1975. Since this is fungible, how has funding settlements contributed to our security? You agreed to provide $3 billion in F-35s to Israel in exchange for a 90-day freeze on settlements. What you got was 90 days of stonewalling on the peace process and then more settlers. What more do we owe Israel?

Certainly not a rush to war. We have time to make diplomacy and sanctions work, to persuade Russia and China to make joint cause with us.

James Madison once wrote that “Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded.… War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. …No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

We are currently winding down what you labeled a “dumb war;” we should not undertake another dumb war against a country almost three times larger than Iraq, that would set off a major regional war and create generations of jihadis. Such a war, contrary to what some argue, would not make Israel or the U.S. safer.

Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

Honestly, let Sanity and Humanity prevail in this new year…!

God Bless…!