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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, Iran, Israel, and Turkey

9:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Upon the third anniversary of the Tahrir Square revolution…

What a President Sisi must clarify

…The troubling thing for Egyptians is not that they are about to elect a new soldier-president, but that they are about to elect a new soldier-president about whose policies, capabilities, democratic values, governance style and national plans they know virtually nothing.

Sisi should be aware of the fact that he is preparing to assume the presidency on the strength of the two greatest but most fickle passions that any political leader can count on to shape his or her incumbency – blind love and fierce fear – because the mass adoration he enjoys on the basis of these frenzies can disappear as quickly as it appeared. The combination of intense love for Sisi as the national savior and deep fear of the hapless Muslim Brotherhood due to its miserable and greedy yearlong performance in office means that Sisi’s strong mandate can last as long as any fleeting emotion lasts with a human being – perhaps months at best.

By summer, the three big problems that plague modern Egypt and the entire Arab region – chronic military governance, domestic secular-religious schisms and socioeconomic distress – will remain unresolved and likely could worsen. They will resurface and could damage and threaten Sisi, as they have all other Arab leaders since the 1970s, depending on how he uses the power at his disposal. {…}

This soldier-president will be unlike any other in Egypt, because of the manner in which he assumes office and the continuing desire by Egyptians for a credible democratic transition from the old ways of security-state governing. Sisi will need to reveal in the coming weeks and months if he has the character, wisdom, courage and honesty to address Egypt’s enormous political problems and socioeconomic stresses. And he has to wind down the two important stressors that he himself has been contributed to – military rule of governance and the violent antagonism toward Islamist politics in society.

Now, which Master shall Sisi serve, the Egyptians, or, the MOTU’s…?

Well, I suppose, this speaks volumes…Wall Street figure to advise Al Sisi

To be sure, the bloody Poodle even parachuted into Cairo, recently…Tony Blair Backs Egypt’s Military Government Despite Human Rights Crackdown

Interestingly… Senior Muslim scholar calls on Saudi to stop supporting coup in Egypt

Another worthy read… The hidden history of the Egyptian revolution

Moving along…

Talk about your ‘Cognitive Dissonance’…

Netanyahu: Israel not obliged to agree to U.S. peace plan framework

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday night that Israel would not be obliged to agree to all the terms of the framework document that was being proposed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Haaretz reported.

Netanyahu’s statements were made in a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. He told the conference that Washington is putting pressure on Israel to withdraw from the Jordan Valley in order to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians, a thing the Israelis refuse because it threatens the Israel’s security.

He added that there are two main issues that are considered as the key to reaching a peace agreement: the Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state and robust security arrangements.

Regarding Iran, Netanyahu said that Iran won’t be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, nor would Israel allow Iran to create another state alongside Israel, as it has done with Lebanon and Gaza.

God forbid that saner minds should prevail…! Israel finance minister: Peace talk failure costly

And, Palestinians: Yes to Jews, no to settlers in our state

Looking at the bigger picture… Israel Welcomes Sunni-Shia Conflict

So, what’s the definition of Insanity, again…? From the Grey Lady…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, Davos, Geneva II, House of Saud, and Israel

10:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

It’s been a bloody couple of days in Egypt…

Death toll rises to 29 in Egypt’s clashes, 167 injured

At least 29 people were killed and 167 others injured on Saturday during clashes between supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and security forces in different parts of the country, the health ministry’s media spokesman said in a statement.

“The victims were killed in the governorates of Cairo, Giza, Alexandria and Menia,” Ahmed Kamel said in the statement, noting the injured were from the said governorates in addition to Fayoum, Ismailia, Assiut and Beni Sweif.

Meanwhile, two blasts targeting police premises hit Cairo and Suez governorate on Saturday, killing a little child and injuring nine people.

Amid tight security measures, thousands of Egyptians took to streets across the country on Saturday to mark the third anniversary of the Jan. 25 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Meanwhile, the police fired tear gas and birdshots to disperse several pro-Morsi marches led by the Muslim Brotherhood, currently blacklisted by the interim government as a “terrorist group.”

Earlier in the day, several Brotherhood supporters were injured and dozens others were arrested.

On Friday, a string of explosions rocked Cairo, killing six people and wounding about 100 others, while some 15 people were killed in clashes between security forces and pro-Morsi protesters nationwide.

Al-Qaeda linked group claims responsibility for Cairo bomb blasts

Moving along to Davos and Geneva II…

Talk about your righteous hypocrisy…

Saudi royal calls for UN resolution to pull militias from Syria

Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former intelligence chief and an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama’s administration since it started secret nuclear talks with Iran, said the world was disappointed with the “sense of no direction” in U.S. foreign policy.

“I want the Americans to go to the Security Council and get a resolution that forces should be deployed to stop the fighting in Syria,” he told the World Economic Forum in Davos. “If that is not available, then at least a humanitarian corridor to allow people not to starve.”

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have backed the main Sunni Muslim opposition Syrian National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army with weapons, training, money and military intelligence in the fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Iran has been one of Assad’s biggest supporters in a conflict that has killed more than 130,000 Syrians and forced more than 2 million to flee.

Western countries have so far held back from providing rebels with heavy arms such as anti-tank weapons and missile launchers for fear they could fall into the wrong hands.

Prince Turki said Iraqi militia and Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah fighters outnumbered radical Sunni militants fighting in Syria.

“I’m not saying Sunnis should go fight,” he said. “You have to get these (Shi’ite) people out. The only way to do it is by a concerted international effort led by the United States and supported by the U.S. allies to force these people to stop the fighting.”

Rupert’s rag, the WSJ, had this to add…

Iran, Jordan,Turkey Foreign Ministers Call For Syria’s War to End

All Foreign Fighters Should Exit Syria, They Say at Panel in Davos Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Al Qaeda, Egypt, False Flags, and Hasbara

7:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

(Part 2) (I enjoyed seeing Paul cite an FDL article!)

The U.S. needs to withdraw militarily from the Middle East. I’ve made this argument over the course of several years. I think that the projection of American power comes at great environmental and human cost. I think we prop up regimes that are bad for the region, including the Saudis, the Bahrainis, now the Egyptian military, and others. I think this antagonistic relationship with Iran has been counterproductive on so many levels, from the perspective of the energy, but also from human rights and from suffering in the region, almost constant war.

-Toby C. Jones, associate professor of history at Rutgers University and author of Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia

I couldn’t agree more with Toby…!

Now, it’s always refreshing to see a MSM outlet shine some sort of light on our perfidy…

New analysis of rocket used in Syria chemical attack undercuts U.S. claims

A team of security and arms experts, meeting this week in Washington to discuss the matter, has concluded that the range of the rocket that delivered sarin in the largest attack that night was too short for the device to have been fired from the Syrian government positions where the Obama administration insists they originated.

However, b @ MOA takes McClatchy to task…

Missile Experts: White House Made False Claims Over Syrian WMD Use

…The short version of this whole story is this: The scientific facts are clear and the White House version of the WMD story is definitely false. These facts are not new but where known when the White House claims were made. Obama (and Kerry) deliberately lied about the WMD attack in Syria to wage an open war against the Syrian government and people. Threatened with a possible conflict with the Russian fleet and a possible impeachment Obama caved in. But he has not yet given up on his aim of regime change and of destroying Syria and its people.

It is time for Congress to investigate who prepared, on who’s order, the false claims about chemical weapon use in Syria and to draw consequences.

Speaking of the White House… White House releases summary of six-month Iran nuclear plan

I must say, despite the obvious Neocon Bias, I concur…

Obama has ‘No Sense’ of Military Strategy

A top British defense adviser has called President Barack Obama “chronically incapable” of implementing a successful military strategy in Syria and Afghanistan, and has “no sense of what he wants to do in the world.”

Sir Hew Strachan, a member of the United Kingdom’s Chief of the Defense Staff’s Strategic Advisory Panel, told The Daily Beast Wednesday that Obama’s handling of the Syrian crisis was “crazy” and, as the publication put it, perhaps “the most egregious example of a fundamental collapse in military planning that began in the aftermath of 9/11.”

“If anything it’s gone backwards instead of forwards. Obama seems to be almost chronically incapable of doing this,” Strachan said. “[Former President George W.] Bush may have had totally fanciful political objectives in terms of trying to fight a global War on Terror, which was inherently astrategic, but at least he had a clear sense of what he wanted to do in the world.

Obama has no sense of what he wants to do in the world,” he added.

*ouch*

Here’s another great look-see at our misbegotten FP…

To be sure, Kerry is truly tone-deaf… Geneva-2 to establish Syria’s transitional governing body: Kerry

Moving along to Egypt’s recent referendum…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AIPAC, Hillary, Kerry, and Sisi

6:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As FDL Alum, Jim White wrote yesterday…

Implementation of Interim Agreement With Iran Begins January 20, Paving Way for Further Negotiations

…Somehow, Obama and/or Kerry will need to find a way to get Menendez and his fellow war mongers to remove the language from their sanctions bill that sets preconditions for the structure of the final agreement. Further, any new sanctions taking effect during this critical six month period would immediately result in Iran exiting the negotiations and negating the interim agreement.

In essence, there will be parallel sets of negotiations. The P5+1 group will be starting work with Iran on the final agreement in early February while the Obama administration will be emphasizing its plan to veto any new sanctions bill that is passed during the negotiations. Of course, it would be best for Congress to merely abstain from interfering during the negotiations, since a virtually unanimous and instantaneous vote on new, stiffer sanctions would be guaranteed should the negotiations with Iran fail. But since Congress has already shown that they fully intend to pass some sort of bill, I would look for Obama to make a big push to get the automatic triggers, especially any that require Iran to halt even low level enrichment, removed from the bill. A bill requiring verification from Obama or Kerry that the negotiations have failed before the new sanctions are implemented might escape an Obama veto. Posturing on this second set of negotiations has already started.
{…}

Note that even Schiff, who seems to be taking Obama’s side in preferring to let the negotiations continue before Congress acts, reserves some skepticism over Iran giving up pursuit of nuclear weapons. The inability of Congress to see that even before Rouhani was elected there were signs that Iran was slowing its nuclear work is disappointing. In fact, I fear that the Menendez bill, or a similar bill calling for new stiffer sanctions even if a final agreement allows low level enrichment could override an Obama veto. Such a bill would be an unmitigated disaster and lead to a war with Iran, but it seems like a very distinct possibility unless there is a rare outbreak of sanity on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, b at MOA, further pointed out the obvious…

Obama’s Pivot Requires Serious Negotiations With Iran

…Obama has no other sane option but to seriously go for a permanent deal. If he does not get one the sanction regime will surely fall apart. Neither is a war on Iran a viable alternative. Attacking Iran, which is not developing nuclear weapons, under some ‘non-proliferation’ argument would destroy the U.S. moral-political position in the world while such an attack could not hinder but would justify Iran to start striving for a nuclear deterrent. Additionally a war in the Persian Gulf would be devastating for the world economy. ‘Containment,’ without an effective sanction regime, is no containment at all and not serious option.

Obama wants a U.S. ‘pivot to Asia.’ To achieve such a reduction of U.S. engagement in the Middle East is a necessity. Neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia want that. They want to keep U.S. attention on their perceived enemies. But the U.S. can not further engage in Asia and stay fully deployed in the Middle East. It is either or.

The Zionists are pressing Congress to blow up the negotiations with Iran by legislating new uni-lateral U.S. sanctions on third parties. Obama can blame himself for having enabled such self defeating ‘suffocating sanction’ strategy. That strategy is failing and the way out of it will be difficult for him. But Congress will not dare to vote directly for a war on Iran.

If Obama would negotiate in good faith with Iran the United States could acquire a serious and reliable partner in the Gulf and enable its pivot to Asia. But playing games, as Obama again tried last week until Russia stepped in, will leave it with a mostly unenforceable Iran ‘containment’ strategy that will drain its resources and leave the pivot to Asia an under-resourced dream.

Hillary Mann-Leverett slams our failed Syrian FP…

Read the rest of this entry →

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: 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: Friday News Dump

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As Shir Hever makes abundantly clear in that clip, the I/P Peace Farce is nothing but a charade…! Now, I swear it’s Déjà vu, all over again, as I wrote back when Hillary was the SoS… The Fork Is Stuck In The Peace Farce’s Dead Carcass In reflecting back on that golden oldie, and but for a few personnel changes, much of it reflects exactly what’s happening today…!

However, one of those characters I’d cited, Tzipi Livni, has certainly roiled the waters recently…

Tzipi Livni claims she had sex with two Palestinian figures, Erekat and Abed Rabbo and threatens them with video proof

The chief Israeli negotiator and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, said this week that she has had sex with the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority in the peace negotiations with Israel, Saeb Erekat and the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation(PLO) Yasser Abed Rabbo.

Livni’s sexual misdemeanours have been the fodder of the political Arab rumour mill for years, but until now, what the foxy Israeli politician got up to behind closed doors was all guess work.

Lebanese newspaper Al Diyyar broke the story earlier this week that the Knesset Beauty had publicy stated that she and the chief Rabbi of Israel had decided that “It was ok for her to sleep and have sex with strangers, as long as it benefits Israel”.

According to Al Diyyar, Livni said :“The room where I had sex with Palestinian figures as Saeb Erekat and Yasser Abed Rabbo was equipped with cameras.”

She also confirmed that the videos show Palestinian officials, nude, having sex with her.

Livni is now threatening a number of Arab figures to post these shot videos on YouTube if they do not execute what she orders them.

That seemingly paints those Palestinian Negotiators into the same pathetic corner, as Abu Mazen’s complete cop-out throughout the Peace Farce, as the Palestine Papers have made so abundantly clear…!

So anyways, there’s a ton more of MENA news and views to cover…

An optimistic Arabic article…

‘A nuclear deal in sight for Iran at Geneva talks’

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi says an initial nuclear deal is likely to be reached on Iran’s nuclear program after a planned meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva.

“I’m a bit optimistic,” Araqchi told reporters after the first day of talks between Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany.

The hoped-for agreement — seen as a first step ahead of further talks on a final deal — could see Tehran to decide about changes on the dimension of its nuclear activities for as long as six months in exchange for some relief from the Western sanctions.

However the administration of US President Barack Obama says it is “premature” to criticize a deal being discussed in Geneva over Iran’s nuclear energy program.

“There is not an agreement at this point,” John Kerry told reporters shortly after arriving in Geneva Friday to help seal what is hoped to be a landmark deal with Tehran.

Kerry, who broke off a Middle East tour to join the ongoing negotiations in the Swiss city, stressed that “there are still some very important issues on the table that are unresolved.”

In addition to Kerry, the foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany also arrived Friday following last-minute announcements they would join the talks.

As Bloomberg wrote today…

Iran Accord Seen Near as Top Diplomats Flock to Geneva

World powers are sending their top diplomats to Geneva for an unscheduled third day of talks with Iran, signaling a possible agreement to break the decade-long stalemate over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.

The Chinese and Russian foreign ministers are due to join their French, German, U.K. and U.S. counterparts today in the Swiss city, where negotiators have been seeking for the past two days to complete an initial accord.

“Foreign ministers don’t show up to be embarrassed,” said Jim Walsh, a security analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, who has traveled to Iran for talks with nuclear officials. “They’re in town because they’re close enough to a deal to come.”

Naturally, the PePs, and Neo/Ziocons are completely freaking out, from today’s WSJ…

Emerging Iran Deal Brings Jitters to Washington

As Secretary of State John Kerry and European foreign ministers met Friday with Iranian officials to finalize a deal curbing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for reduced sanctions, legislators back home weighed in on the possibility of a deal.

Several members of Congress blasted the administration for being too open to what they consider a substandard deal that doesn’t require Iran to fully suspend its uranium enrichment programs. {…}

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers were concerned about the deal emerging in Geneva, which would have Iran roll back its nuclear enrichment program in exchange for an easing of international sanctions. Negotiators emphasized Friday that important details remained unresolved.

“If Iran intends to show good faith during these talks, it must at a minimum abide by United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for a halt to enrichment, and it is my hope that we achieve much more,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) in a statement Friday. “I forcefully reject any notion that Iran has a ‘right’ to enrichment, a view which the administration has publicly articulated on numerous occasions.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) called the deal being pursued “terrible” and said it would endanger the country.

To put it all into it’s proper perspective, on why on earth, Rep. Engel and Sen. Cruz should happen to be on the same page, Philip Giraldi, penned another awesome essay, yesterday…

Israel and You and Me

What’s in it for us, Mr. President?

If the United States fails to take advantage of the opportunity to come to terms with Iran over its nuclear program it will be because of pressure from Israel. If the unthinkable happens and Washington actually attacks Iran, initiating another major war that will have far reaching and possibly disastrous consequences, it will likewise be because of Israel. Folks in the progressive media who find that fact unpalatable or, quite frankly scary, tend to attribute the White House’s inability to articulate a more benign and responsible foreign policy that would serve true national interests to other factors, including imperialism, capitalism, the military industrial state and misguided humanitarianism, but they are possibly deliberately missing the point. Imperialism and capitalism do not explain Syria, nor does the increasingly militarized American national security state, witness the fact that the Pentagon knows its limitations and is actually reluctant to get more involved anywhere in the Middle East. {…}

All of the above is intended to demonstrate that what passes for United States national interests have been manipulated and distorted, so much so that they have little or nothing to do with reality. Where is the “you” and “me” in what the White House is doing? We Americans have an interest in peace and prosperity but instead the president sits down with five heads of organizations who only want war on behalf of a foreign land, with more American soldiers likely dying for nothing as a result as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. And there is domestic blowback that comes part and parcel with the fractured foreign policy: homeland security in the United States is a response to the international terrorism that has plagued our country in large part because of Washington’s uncritical support of Israel. Our national security state not surprisingly incorporates many Israeli practices as America becomes more and more like Israel, not vice versa. And Washington pays for making us “safe” on a credit card, as the economy sinks and burns…

Now, moving along to other blockbuster news… Following hot on the heels of the recent Turkish, seismic shift… Turkey’s shift to China instead of NATO Egypt, seemingly, is working on a very similar Arms Deal with Russia…!

Egypt Eyes $4Bln Arms Deal With Russia

Egypt is considering spending up to $4 billion on advanced weaponry from Russia following the partial suspension of military aid and equipment deliveries from the United States, a Palestinian online newspaper said Thursday.

According to Donia Al-Watan, Moscow has offered Cairo “a historic deal giving Egypt an option to buy the most advanced weaponry without any restrictions.”

To be sure… Russian Defense, Foreign Ministers to Visit Egypt

In more news, the constant rants from the infamous Moustache of Fury, amongst numerous others, in Geneva today… US loses Unesco voting rights after stopping funds over Palestine decision along with Israel…!

Ironically, on Twitter’s big IPO, Bibi, had declared… Netanyahu launches ‘Real face of Iran’ Twitter campaign against Khamenei

Funny thing tho, today… Our negotiators are not ‘compromisers,’ Khamenei tweets Oh Snap…!

Meanwhile, Obama calls Netanyahu amid Israel fury at proposed Iran deal…!

Stay tuned…! *gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, the I/P Peace Farce, Iran, and Iraqi Drones?

3:36 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

 

FDL Alum, Jim White, delivered an excellent rant today…

Morally Depraved Obama Fails in Response to Egyptian Massacre

…Just wow. The Egyptian military has staged a coup in which they have removed a democratically elected (although dysfunctional and failed) government and massacred over 600 of its citizens in cold blood. None of that rises to the level of the “threshold where we can’t give a tacit endorsement to them”? What on earth do they have to do to get the US to cut them off?

One answer to that question is in the next paragraph:

And it could destabilize the region, particularly the security of Israel, whose 1979 peace treaty with Egypt is predicated on the aid.

It would appear that Egypt can kill all of its own civilians it wants with the weapons and money we provide as long as they don’t also kill any Israelis.

But there is another insidious tie in the US aid to Egypt. US defense contractors are making tons of money off of it… …Cutting off funding to Egypt is cutting off the flow of big bucks to the superstars of US defense contractors, and that just isn’t done. It was this thought that led me to send out this Tweet yesterday:

Name one spot, anywhere in world, where US foreign policy is working for the good of anyone other than defense contractors. I’ll wait….

— Jim White (@JimWhiteGNV) August 15, 2013

Now, besides McCain and Graham demanding a halt, it seems Leahy is also calling for cuts…!

So, naturally, as another FDL Alum, Spencer Ackerman, wrote in the Guardian yesterday…

Reluctance to suspend Egyptian aid exposes White House rudderlessness

Obama again refused to use America’s massive aid leverage over Egypt – part of the president’s ‘least painful step’ approach

Perhaps the most mystifying thing about the cosmetic US response to Wednesday’s massacre in Egypt is the reluctance for the US to use its massive aid leverage over Cairo’s generals.

Former diplomats and foreign policy professionals in Washington are often quick to say the situation is more complicated than a simple aid cutoff will allow. But after President Obama responded to one of the bloodiest days in recent Egyptian history by cancelling a scheduled military exercise, even those cautious policy practitioners were stunned by his meekness.

“If I’m an Egyptian general, I take notice and think President Obama is trying to take the least painful step to demonstrate to various constituencies in the US that he means what he says about democracy in Egypt,” said Amy Hawthorne, who until recently was an Egypt policy official at the State Department, “but only the least painful step, so we won’t take him that seriously.” {…}

Yet at the Pentagon on Thursday, the message remained the same. While the US deplores the violence and urges “restraint”, Hagel – who spoke with Sisi Thursday – believes “that maintaining an open line of communication with General Sisi is very important”, said top spokesman George Little.

“All the things the US has repeatedly, publicly, called for, by our most senior officials, haven’t happened,” Hawthorne said, shortly after Obama’s statement on Egypt. “So why are they still calling for them?”

The US has massive amounts of leverage over Egypt, in the form of approximately $1.5bn worth of annual aid. Yet for a variety of reasons, it does not exercise that leverage – something several Egypt experts say substantively weakens the credibility of the warnings that Washington periodically issues to Cairo, contributing to events like Wednesday’s massacre.

Among them: the aid is “a jobs program” for American defense companies, Radwan noted…

Now, moving along to the single largest recipient of our Foreign Aid, Israel…

Netanyahu: Conflict is Not About the ‘Settlements’

The Arab-Israeli conflict is rooted in the Arabs’ refusal to recognize Israel, Netanyahu tells UN chief.

Can you say tone deaf…?

Honestly, pups, stick a fork in the Peace Farce already…! Poll: 80% of Israeli Jews say peace impossible Most especially after you consider the fact that Bibi had stated he would submit the outcome of the secretive talks, to a public referendum…!

Now, this was a most alarming development on Iran…

US Joint Chiefs Chair: Military Options Against Iran ‘Better’ Than a Year Ago

Buried in a totally unrelated New York Times article about Jordan seeking more US aid for the Syrian border, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chief Gen. Martin Dempsey threw in comments on the prospect of the US invading Iran.

Discussing his recent meeting with Israeli leaders, Dempsey declared that the sanctions were “having an effect” on Iran, but that Israel wants the US to keep emphasizing the prospect of military action.

Of that, Dempsey insisted that “we have better military options than we did a year ago,” ominously adding that “we’ve continued to train and plan” for the invasion, threatened off and on by US and Israeli forces for 30 solid years…

Seriously, Why Israel Is Obsessed With an Iranian Bomb…!

In wrapping up, Wtf kinda noise is this…? Iraq seeking US drones to curb al-Qaida threat…!

Why not, I suppose, since they’re such a smashing success in Yemen…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AIPAC, AQAP, Egypt, Syria, and Yemen

4:44 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Before I delve into the AQAP and Yemeni issues, I’d like to highlight this excellent comment from longtime FDL contributor, Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, on my last Mashup…

…In Yemen, in particular, US news is totally misleading. The main opponents of the Yemen government are not AQ but the Southern Yemen secessionist movement, a shaky coalition of different groups. The core group is the Yemen Socialist Party. How many readers even know there was once a North and South Yemen, separate states that unified, and not shortly thereafter, the old state entities were the core around which there was a bloody civil war. This was in the early 1990s.

There are many secessionist and political and tribal and ethnic groups in Yemen. In the US press you’d think it was all about AQ destabilization. With its supposed 1000 or so followers, it is actually one of the smaller opposition groups in that country.

The focus on AQ is to draw support on US intervention in Yemen, which is supported by the Saudis, especially since some of the Yemen groups have claims on Saudi territory, such as the Shiite Houthis in the north of Yemen.

Consider this Reuters article from June 2013:

Tens of thousands of Yemeni Shi’ite Muslims chanting “death to America” and “death to Israel” buried the remains of the founder of the armed Houthi rebel group on Wednesday, nine years after he was killed in fighting with government forces….

The Houthis are an important tribe belonging to the Shi’ite Zaidi sect, whose Hashemite line ruled for 1,000 years before the 1962 revolution, and which accounts for about 25 percent of Yemen’s population of 25 million.

It controls the northern province of Saada and parts of the neighboring provinces of Omran, al-Jouf and Hajja bordering top oil exporter Saudi Arabia….

Complaining of social, religious and economic discrimination in Yemen, the Houthis fought several battles with government forces between 2004 and 2010, when a truce was announced.

Saudi Arabia was drawn briefly into the conflict in 2010 when rebels crossed into its territory.

Straight from the Donkey’s ass White House… ‘AQAP greatest potential threat to USA’

The Al Qaida in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is seen by the US national security team as an affiliate of the Al Qaida posing greatest potential threat to the country, the White House has said.

“While, Al Qaida core and its leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been decimated and is not nearly what it was 10 years ago, Al Qaida in general and its affiliate organisations ~ as we’ve been talking about for years now ~ continue to represent threats,” the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday.

“And AQAP in particular is viewed by the national security team as the most operational of the Al Qaida affiliates,” he said.

So naturally, DronZ Away…! So much so that Count Von Count is having a hard time keeping track of them all…!

The Yemenis’ are none-too-thrilled… Yemenis call U.S. drone strikes an overreaction to al Qaida threat!

Funny thing tho…

Yemen: 7 Saudis among militants killed by drones

At least seven suspected militants from Saudi Arabia were among the alleged al-Qaida members killed in Yemen in a recent wave of U.S. drone strikes, senior Yemeni officials said Friday, suggesting that Saudis are increasingly crossing the border to carry funds or seek terrorist training. {…}

Since July 27, drone attacks in Yemen’s southern and central provinces have killed a total of 34 militants suspected of being members of the country’s al-Qaida branch, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, security officials have said.

On Thursday alone, the officials said U.S. drones conducted three airstrikes, killing 12 militants.

The drone strikes occurred in areas where the terrorist group enjoys protection from anti-government tribes or hides in mountainous areas.

The terror network bolstered its operations in Yemen more than a decade after key Saudi operatives fled here following a major crackdown in their homeland. The drone strikes and a U.S.-backed offensive that began in June 2012 have driven militants from territory they had seized a year earlier, during Yemen’s political turmoil amid the Arab Spring.

The senior Yemeni officials who said the seven Saudis were among the victims of the drone attacks said intelligence suggested the foreigners had crossed the border between the neighboring countries to either ferry in money to the terror group or to train in al-Qaida camps.

“Al-Qaida is especially recruiting tech-savvy and well-educated Saudis,” one of the senior security officials said.

Hmmm… I seem to recall that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis too…! Let’s also consider the fact that the House of Saud is the largest funder of Al Nusrah/Salafists in Syria…!

In which, as the CIA’s no.2 equivocates…

CIA warns of crisis as al-Qaeda prepares to pounce

The war in Syria poses the greatest threat to US security because of the risk of the government falling and the country becoming a weapons-rich haven for al-Qaeda, a CIA official said in Washington.

CIA deputy director Michael Morell gave the assessment in an interview published by the Wall Street Journal as he prepares to retire after 33 years with the agency.

Mr Morell said there were more foreign fighters flowing into Syria each month to take up arms with al-Qaeda-affiliated groups than there were going to Iraq to fight with al-Qaeda at the height of the war there.

The Syrian government’s weapons ”are going to be up for grabs and up for sale” as they were in Libya when Muammar Gaddafi fell, he added.

”It’s probably the most important issue in the world today,” he said of the war in Syria, ”because of where it is currently heading” – towards the fall of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

But Mr Morell’s assessment contrasts with that of many experts who believe Syrian troops are gaining the upper hand…

Talk about stirring the Pot, Saudi style… ‘Saudi offers Russia deal for distance from Assad’

…Saudi Arabia has offered Russia economic incentives including a major arms deal and a pledge not to challenge Russian gas sales if it scales back support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Middle East sources and Western diplomats said yesterday.

The proposal between two of the leading power brokers in Syria’s devastating civil war was set out by Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week, they said.

Russia has supported Assad with arms and diplomatic cover throughout the war and any change in stance would remove a major obstacle to action on Syria by the United Nations Security Council.

Syrian opposition sources close to Saudi Arabia said Prince Bandar offered to buy up to $15 billion of Russian weapons as well as ensuring that Gulf gas would not threaten Russia’s position as a main gas supplier to Europe.

In return, Saudi Arabia wanted Moscow to ease its strong support of Assad and agree not to block any future Security Council Resolution on Syria, they said.

A Gulf source familiar with the matter confirmed that Prince Bandar offered to buy large quantities of arms from Russia, but that no cash amount was specified in the talks.

A Lebanese politician close to Saudi Arabia said the meeting lasted four hours.

“The Saudis were elated about the outcome of the meeting,” said the source, without elaborating…

Not so fast… Kremlin: No deal discussed with Saudi Arabia on changing Syria stance…!

Now, moving along to Egypt…

I did wonder why Lieberman wasn’t initially asked to join his hombres, McCain and Graham…

McCain and Graham flipflop on aid to Egypt — after AIPAC speaks up

Two conservative senators, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, went to Egypt this week to urge Egyptian leaders to show more respect for democracy. McCain and Graham may be Republicans, but they have a lot of clout. They were reported to have the blessing of the Obama administration in making this embassy.

Why do they have such clout? One reason is that they are extremely responsive to the Israel lobby. In fact, both men lately flipflopped on a principled statement — cutting off aid to Egypt — evidently at the urging of AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby organization. {…}

…Hold on, guys. Former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, formerly McCain and Graham’s wingman in the neoconservative caucus called the Three Amigos, weighed in. From the National Review, July 15:

“The retired Democratic-turned-independent senator expressed guarded optimism about the state of affairs in Egypt, and declared that, contra his former ally John McCain, the U.S. shouldn’t cut off its aid to the Egyptian military.

“He explained to Sean Hannity today… ‘I’m actually going to disagree with my buddy John McCain; I don’t think we should suspend military aid.’”

Then the other shoe drops. AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group, also speaks up. Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

“‘We do not support cutting off all assistance to Egypt at this time, as we believe it could increase the instability in Egypt and undermine important U.S. interests and negatively impact our Israeli ally,’ AIPAC said in a letter to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), its top Republican.

“The letter is the first public signal since the army coup that deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in early July that AIPAC is actively opposing efforts to cut aid to Egypt.”

…It certainly appears that the two men abandoned a position of principle because AIPAC told them to. You’d think they would be buffoons. But they’re not. They haven’t lost any political capital for this abdication of principle. No, they’ve gained political capital. The Times said the senators went to Egypt this week “at the request of President Obama.” And as Jeff Klein, who pointed me to this story, says, No one in the press is calling them out for flipflopping. It’s just not a story when powerful senators dance to AIPAC’s tune.

This is a demonstration of how central AIPAC’s ideas are to American foreign policy. As neocon Lee Smith once said, the central plank of the last dictatorship in Egypt was the peace treaty. That is all that matters to the U.S. We’re willing to throw everything else overboard for the sake of preserving Israel’s security.

Now, about that Peace Treaty, for the first time since ’79, openly at least, Israel has struck in the Sinai…

Egypt walks the wire in denying Israeli strike on Sinai

Contradicting earlier reports, the Egyptian army spokesman said late Friday that there is no truth to news of an Israeli drone attack on Egyptian soil. He also claimed there was no coordination at all between Israeli and Egyptian authorities with regard to what he termed “explosions in the Rafah region.”

The circumstances surrounding the strike that occurred early Friday evening near Rafah in the northern Sinai Peninsula, in which (it appears) that five Islamic terrorists were killed, are still unclear. Particularly elusive are the facts regarding who perpetrated the strike. Initial reports published by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency and then later by AP cited Egyptian officials in El-Arish who said that an Israeli drone fired missiles at a storage site for long-range missiles. They said the strike took place near the Kerem Hashalom crossing, and in the triangle between the Israeli, Egyptian and Gazan border.

According to those reports, the five individuals killed belonged to one of the jihadist groups operating in the peninsula. Groups that concurrently target the Egyptian military and Israel…

…If there was an Israeli strike on Egyptian territory, it would signal the first time that Israel has operated (openly) there since the signing of the peace treaty between the two countries in 1979. However, in the hours following the purported strike, there was a concerted Egyptian effort to restore calm. Egyptian sources told AP that the strike was conducted in coordination between Tel Aviv and Cairo…

…It can be assumed that reports of an Israeli strike on sovereign Egyptian territory would not be useful to the military. On the Israeli side, it is evident that officials in recent days have sought to keep a low profile regarding security coordination between the two countries…

Quite the conundrum, eh…?

In Egypt General al-Sisi is at a loss – but a massacre on Eid would bring too much infamy

No Muslim general wants to go down in history as the author of the Eid Massacre. That’s why many Egyptians last night suspected that their supposedly “interim” government’s self-declared failure to end the crisis with their Muslim Brotherhood enemies might still not be the ultimate collapse.

Abdul Fatah al-Sisi may be a very jolly general indeed – after all, he created this wondrous administration with himself as deputy prime minister – but sending in his goons against hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshippers on the eve of the feast marking the final day of Ramadan is not likely to commend itself to Egyptians, let alone to the Americans who supply the military with $1.5bn a year…

…The Brotherhood knows al-Sisi does not want a mass slaughter. Al-Sisi knows the Americans do not want a mass slaughter. Perhaps some sort of ‘people power’ can be organised – now there’s a thought – to drive the Brotherhood away and leave the army unspattered with Brotherhood blood. After all, a lot of the snipers who have shot down Morsi’s supporters these last five weeks have been unidentified. But there are too many foreign diplomats, NGOs and journalists sniffing around for that to work on a large scale.

So which is more important? The will of ‘the people’ – those who hate Morsi – or the steadfastness of the Brotherhood for whom martyrdom (often in Egyptian prisons) has long been a characteristic? What about the dignity of the Egyptian army? About to set sail aboard his royal ship of exile, the ‘al-Mahrussa’ in 1952, King Farouk turned to the officers who had dethroned him. “Look after the army,” he told General Mohamed Naguib, soon to be deposed by Colonel Gamal-Abdul Nasser. Everyone loves the army.

And the Egyptian army rather loves itself. Its vast and obscenely bloated investments in real estate, banking and industry make this one of the richest Arab armies in one of the poorest Arab countries. It’s hardly in their interest to start a mini-war in the streets of Cairo. But the Brotherhood itself is bloated with arrogance, its record in power – with Morsi as their cypher – hardly worthy of the support of the ‘people’…

What a Wicked Web…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

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

5:31 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

 

From the intrepid Pepe Escobar…

Al-Qaeda to the rescue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Foreign PolicyWashington Spin War Erupts Over Terror Alert.

To be sure…

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

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

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

From RT…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moving on to Iran, this about sums it up…

America displays more stupidity on Iran

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

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

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

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

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

You don’t say…? *gah*