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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Al Aqsa, Egypt, and Yemen

7:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Once again the IDF violently assaulted the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem…

Israeli forces clash with worshipers in Aqsa compound, dozens hurt

Dozens of worshipers were hurt Wednesday morning in fierce clashes with Israeli forces who stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound via the Moroccan and Chain gates.

Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers and police officers broke into the compound and deployed in the southern quarter firing stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets at worshipers.

Director of al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Azam al-Kahtib told Ma’an that ‘about 1,000 Israeli officers stormed the compound.’ He highlighted that Israeli officers used live ammunition.

Special forces deployed at the main gates since dawn prayer, witnesses said, denying Palestinian worshipers entry to the compound.

Employees of the ministry of endowment and students who attend schools inside the compound were also denied entry. Only security guards were allowed in addition to men over 65 years old. Several people performed dawn prayer in the alleys near the gates.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that Palestinians threw ‘stones and firecrackers’ at police when they opened the walled compound’s gates.

Police responded with stun grenades, Rosenfeld said, and closed the complex to Jewish visitors after a small number had toured the site.

About 100 Muslim worshipers have decided to stay inside the compound day and night after right-wing Jewish organizations urged Jews to flock to the compound which they believe is the site of a former temple and slaughter their Passover sacrifices inside.

Mazel Tov, eh…? Meanwhile, in nearby Bethlehem, as Mondoweiss reported today…


Remote-control gun installed atop wall near Bethlehem — Ma’an

The above device, fixed lately to the top of the separation wall north of Bethlehem, is a remote-controlled machine gun, according to Palestinian sources. Ma’an News published a report on the device three days ago, saying it’s ‘unprecedented’ and is causing anxiety among Bethlehemites. A Facebook page called ‘Bethlahem Today‘ has the same report.

Staying with the I/P…

Israel’s new land grab is clearly illegal

The Defense Minister’s green light to appropriate land in the West Bank places him in the extreme right and shatters Israelis’ hopes for resolving the conflict with the Palestinians.

With the stroke of a pen, Israel seized control of 984 dunams of territory in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared the area ‘state land.’ The terrain would be more aptly defined as contested territory, since it surrounds private Palestinian lands, which will now become enclaves that are inaccessible to the owners.

The area also includes the illegal outpost Netiv Ha’avot, home to Ze’ev Hever, secretary of Amana, an organization that primarily builds illegal outposts in the West Bank. It’s likely that this outpost will be ‘laundered’ as well, and along with the settlements Neve Daniel, Elazar and Alon Shvut, Netiv Ha’avot will see significant expansion.

Ya’alon’s outstretched arm did not stop in Gush Etzion. On the eve of Passover, he allowed Hebron settlers to inhabit the so-called ‘House of Contention,’ in the wake of the High Court of Justice’s rejection of the petition by the home’s former owners and ruling that the sale of the building to a Jewish investor was legal.

Although the defense minister is acting in accordance with his authority his powers are based on a warped legal system. That system was developed over decades as a means to chip away at international law and provide a cover of legality for illegal occupation policies. Otherwise, how could it be that expanding settlements or populating a West Bank Arab city with Jews could be legal, while settlement itself is illegal?

Now, If anybody really doubted that Abu Mazen was part of the problem, rather than the solution for the Palestinians…

Palestinian leader signals willingness to extend peace talks

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Israeli lawmakers on Wednesday that it was still possible to revive moribund peace negotiations.

Abbas told five Israeli opposition legislators from the Labor and Meretz parties that he was willing to extend the negotiations past their April 29 deadline ‘if the Israeli side commits to the principles that can allow an extension,’ his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.

The Palestinians first want Israel to release a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners as promised, and to announce a total settlement freeze. They also want Israel to accept a Palestinian territory based on boundaries that existed prior to the 1967 Middle East War.

‘If there is an agreement on these principles, we are ready,’ Abu Rudeineh said at a news conference after the meeting in Ramallah. ‘But if Israel does not accept them, the Palestinian leadership will meet again to take the proper decision.’

Here’s an interesting op-ed… Palestinians and Israelis: Negotiating in all the wrong places

And, for sh*ts and giggles, The Mustache of Fury, flaps his lips… BOLTON: A ‘three-state solution’ for Middle East peace Reality calls for attaching Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan

Moving along…

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Bandar Bush, Code Pink, and Friends of Syria

7:10 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

I’ve been absent too long, pups! My apologies…!

There has been a slew of foreign f*ckery afoot and a whole bunch of it leads up to the House of Saud’s stoop…

Saudi Arabia warns of shift away from U.S. over Syria, Iran

* Riyadh signals anger over U.S. policy in Middle East

* Source says shift could affect arms, oil trade

* Prince Bandar set to end cooperation over Syria war

* In Washington, Saudi prince assails Obama’s Mideast moves

…Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that the United States had failed to act effectively against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said.

“The shift away from the U.S. is a major one,” the source close to Saudi policy said. “Saudi doesn’t want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.” {…}

The growing breach between the United States and Saudi Arabia was also on display in Washington, where another senior Saudi prince criticized Obama’s Middle East policies, accusing him of “dithering” on Syria and Israeli-Palestinian peace.

In unusually blunt public remarks, Prince Turki al-Faisal called Obama’s policies in Syria “lamentable” and ridiculed a U.S.-Russian deal to eliminate Assad’s chemical weapons. He suggested it was a ruse to let Obama avoid military action in Syria.

“The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious. And designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down (from military strikes), but also to help Assad to butcher his people,” said Prince Turki, a member of the Saudi royal family and former director of Saudi intelligence…

As the ever-intrepid, Pepe Escobar wrote today…

The self-beheading House of Saud

…As much as the House of Saud is completely paranoid regarding the Obama administration’s latest moves, throwing a fit will not change the way the geopolitical winds are blowing. Iran’s geopolitical ascent is inevitable. A Syrian solution is on the horizon. No one wants batshit crazy jihadis roaming free from Syria to Iraq to the wider Middle East.

The Saudi spin about creating “a new security arrangement for the Arab world” is a joke – as depicted by Saudi-financed shills such as this.

The bottom line is that an angry, fearful House of Saud does not have what it takes to confront benign protector Washington. Throwing a fit – as in crying to attract attention – is for geopolitical babies. Without the US – or “the West” – who’s gonna run the Saudi energy industry? PhD-deprived camels? And who’s gonna sell (and maintain) those savory weapons? Who’s going to defend them for smashing the true spirit of the Arab Spring, across the GCC and beyond?

Perennial Foreign Minister Prince Saud is gravely ill. He will be replaced by a recently appointed deputy prime minister.

Guess who?

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the king’s son. Instead of a “principled” stance against “double standards”, the House of Saud move at the UN feels more like nepotism.

Emptywheel delved further into Bandar’s perfidy today…

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by CTuttle

Syria Mashup: UN Report, Missiles in the Med, and Iran

4:53 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Straight out of the gates F/UK/US pointed the finger at Assad…

U.N. report on sarin attack in Syria points to Assad, envoys say

…U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declined to say whether rocket fragments and other physical evidence collected from a Damascus suburban area by U.N. investigators made it clear whether it was the Assad regime or the rebels fighting him who launched the sarin gas attacks.

But U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and British U.N. envoy Mark Lyall Grant stated unequivocally that the inspectors’ findings confirmed their conclusions that it was Assad who was behind the worst chemical weapons attack in 25 years.

‘The mandate of the chemical weapons team was not to investigate culpability, but the technical details of the United Nations report make clear that only the regime could have carried out this large-scale chemical weapons attack,’ Power told reporters after Ban briefly discussed the report.

Among the weapons fragments and components recovered from the scene of the attacks were pieces of 122-millimeter rockets that the regime has relied on heavily throughout the civil war and that the rebels are not known to possess, Power said.

She also dismissed a claim by the Assad government that insurgents infiltrated regime-controlled areas of the capital to launch the poison gas strikes as a scenario that ‘defies logic.’

Grant said the type of rockets used in the attacks and the area from which they were fired confirmed that ‘there is no remaining doubt that it was the regime’ that attacked with prohibited munitions.

‘Even at first glance, the report reinforces the view that the British government has held for a long time that it was the regime’s responsibility,’ he told reporters.

Both Western envoys noted the sarin attacks near Damascus were the most wide-scale violation of the chemical weapons ban since Iraqi President Saddam Hussein attacked Kurds with poison gas in 1988.

Russia’s U.N. envoy, Vitaly Churkin, expressed outrage at the confirmed use of chemical weapons in the attacks nearly a month ago but warned that ‘allegations that the opposition has used chemical weapons cannot be shrugged off.’

And, here’s the forseen French response… France: UN report indicates Syrian regime was ‘guilty’ in deadly chemical weapons attack.

Now, as Jim White pointed out…

Working Thread: UN Chemical Weapon Report on Syria Released

…But of course, these inspections came on August 26 in Moadamiyah and August 28 and 29 in Zamalka, so 5 to 8 days passed between the attack and the analysis. The key point to keep in mind when considering the rocket evidence is this:

Limitations:
The time necessary to conduct a detailed survey of both locations as well as take samples was very limited. The sites have been well travelled by other individuals both before and during the investigation. Fragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team.

People had plenty of time to move things around before the UN inspectors came onto the site. The possibility that evidence has been manipulated cannot be ruled out…

From Arms Control WonkCWC Challenge Inspections: Syria as the Test Case?

Btw, the UN also had this to report today… UN: Libyan weapons being smuggled to Syria.

Now, Phil Greaves penned a great read on Syria today(h/t b @ MOA)! It is a long read so I will only highlight what I’ve suspected for some time, but, couldn’t quite put my finger on it…

Syria: Has Obama forsaken the insurgency?

Last throw of the Dice: missiles in the Med.

On September the 3rd, two days prior to the G20 summit in St Petersburg, the world awoke to reports that Russia’s defensive radar systems had detected two ballistic “objects” launched from the central Mediterranean on a flight path toward Syria’s eastern coast, where Russian navy ships currently reside; the missiles post-launch had apparently “fell into the sea”. At the time the finger was immediately pointed to Israel – who have attacked Syria at least three times with impunity in the past year alone – or possibly the United States, whose large Naval presence in the Med seemed the obvious primary suspect. Curiously, both Israel and the United States denied responsibility when the Russian reports were first released, then, only a few hours later Israel claimed responsibility for an apparent joint “test” launch with the Pentagon of a defensive missile system. The sheer recklessness of such an act – even if the innocent explanation were true – is hard to explain in such a circumstance. The US eventually confirmed the Israeli line that it was indeed a “test” missile launch with US assistance; after having first denied any knowledge of the incident.

The most likely explanation is Israel or the US were attempting to test Syria’s coastal defenses prior to any possible attack, but to do this without giving any notice to Russia in such a tense scenario seems reckless to say the least. Russian diplomats have repeatedly hinted that Russia would “help” Syria militarily in the event of a missile strike. It is quite possible that this incident was indeed an Israeli/US provocation in an attempt to garner a response from Syria, and in turn instigate a wider campaign. A report from Lebanese daily As Safir takes it one step further:

A well-informed diplomatic source told As-Safir newspaper that “the US war on Syria had started and ended the moment those two ballistic missiles were fired,… The source further told the Lebanese daily that “the US forces fired these two rockets from a NATO base in Spain, and were instantly detected by the Russian radars and confronted by the Russian defense systems, so one of them exploded in the airspace and the second one diverted towards the sea.” In this context, the source pointed out that “the statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry, which stated the detection of two ballistic missiles fired towards the Middle East, intended to neglect two points: the first was the location from which the two rockets were fired, and the second was their downing. Why? Because the moment the full military operation was launched, Head of the Russian Intelligence Service contacted the US intelligence and informed it that “hitting Damascus means hitting Moscow, and we have removed the term “downed the two missiles” from the statement to preserve the bilateral relations and to avoid escalation. Therefore, you must immediately reconsider your policies, approaches and intentions on the Syrian crisis, as you must be certain that you cannot eliminate our presence in the Mediterranean.”

Whether this account of events holds true or not, at the very least the missile launch appears to be an intentional provocation by either Israel or Washington, in a last-ditch attempt to incite retaliation and salvage the now broken strategy against Assad. Either way, Russia’s decision to quickly publicise the detection and subsequent flip-flop of denial and acceptance from Israel bolsters the theory in the As Safir report: why would Israel accept responsibility for this provocative “test”, yet deny responsibility for every other act of aggression they commit unimpeded? Could it have been to save the face of another defeated attempt to continue the war? It was following this incident, that Obama and Putin were due to meet at the G20 conference. With both leaders eager to go into any negotiations on Syria from a position of power at such a crucial stage, it also adds to the theory that Obama was in a rush to commence the war before opposition became too overbearing; as indeed it now evidently has.

Apparently, Kerry pointed out the basic facts on the ground to Bibi yesterday…

Why Israel hails Syria chemical weapons deal

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called a tentative US-Russian agreement on dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal a breakthrough that could weaken Iran.

Why is it always Iran, Iran, Iran with the Ziocons…?

I’ll betcha this stroke of genius by Rouhani, has Bibi’s britches in a bind…

Iran said ready to dismantle underground nuclear facility

Rouhani might offer to close Fordo if West eases sanctions, Der Spiegel reports, based on intelligence sources; Israel has yet to respond.

I wonder if Putin is behind it… Putin to visit Iran for first time in six years.

In summing up, Israel fears it may be asked to surrender its CW after Syria. Ya think…? And. AIPAC is already backpedaling…

Pro-Israel groups suspend lobby for Syria strike

Jewish organizations maintain their support for Congressional authorization of military force despite the pending US-Russia deal

…A spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which organized a Capitol Hill blitz last week aimed at persuading Congress to back a strike, confirmed Monday that lobbying has been suspended for now.

The American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, which also had been involved in the lobbying, said they would suspend lobbying, too.

“We sent many messages over the last week and a half; we are not formulating new letters to the Hill,” Jason Isaacson, the AJC’s director of international affairs, told JTA. “Our message is out there should it be required.”

Glimmers of hope appear, pups…!

by CTuttle

Syria Mashup: Mercs, Mission Creep, and Putin

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the Washington Post

Kerry: Arab countries offered to pay for invasion

Secretary of State John Kerry said at Wednesday’s hearing that Arab counties have offered to pay for the entirety of unseating President Bashar al-Assad if the United States took the lead militarily.

“With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes,” Kerry said. “They have. That offer is on the table.”

Asked by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) about how much those countries would contribute, Kerry said they have offered to pay for all of a full invasion.

“In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost,” Kerry said. “That’s how dedicated they are at this. That’s not in the cards, and nobody’s talking about it, but they’re talking in serious ways about getting this done.”

Don’t worry, Bandar Bush, we’ve got this one…!

I still want to know exactly How this ‘limited airstrike’ is truly in our ‘National Interest’…? Or even what our Objective is…! Wtf, over…? Dempsey Can’t Say What U.S. is Seeking in Syria. Seriously…?

Let’s be very clear here, folks…

What Congress Will Be Voting on Is Another War, Not a “Limited Punitive Strike”

After 12 years of US executive branch deceit, the US Congress is on the verge of backing another war in the Middle East — this time with a vote.

Make no mistake about it. Obama doesn’t mean a word of limiting his actions as commander in chief to a limited strike to punish the Syrians for allegedly using Weapons of Mass Destruction. (As to who dispersed them in a rather primitive fashion it is still not clear, despite alleged definitive statements from White House representatives.)

The odds of the US launching a combined sea-based and airforce bombing attack on the Syrian military command and elite forces, but not provoking some sort of counter-action from Syria, Iran, Hezbollah or even the Al Qaeda rebels who are fighting the Assad regime are about zero. Remember how long it took NATO and the US to degrade the Libyan armed forces before the fall of Gaddhafi? Does anyone anywhere truly believe that Obama intends to stop at one strike as compared to using the strike as the kindling wood.

So we can assume the White House and the pentagon are aware that the counterattack will result in Obama authorizing a full-scale military assault on Syria, although without infantry on the ground (but you can be sure special forces and paramilitary intelligence units are already in Syria as they were in Libya). Needless to say, an attack on US interests or Israel will quickly see NATO nations, including the now sidelined UK, fall in line with a “coalition of the reluctant” to force regime change…

The ever-intrepid, Emptywheel, parsed the Senate’s weasel-worded AUMF into lingua franca…

Parallel Processing: AUMF Assad Spanking and Then Article II Regime Change

…I’ve described this AUMF as telling the President, “Here are some limits we’d like you to abide by, but if you don’t like those, go ahead and operate under your own authority.”

To the extent that the White House can tie its acknowledged covert plans to back the rebels to the other whereas clauses in the AUMF, then it also authorizes that part of the equation.

Then, in yesterday’s markup, John McCain succeeded in adding one more whereas, explicitly stating that regime change was the goal of all this (he also added non-binding policy language later in the AUMF to the same effect). {…}

That is, there is the AUMF authorizing the limited spanking, and then the whereas language that not only recognizes the President’s authority to do more under Article II, but explicitly lists regime change (and accelerating the arming of rebels, implicitly) among the goals here…

Two interesting notes on our covert actions on the ground in Syria, first… CIA trained unit in Syria

And then this very revealing piece…

Jordanian king dismisses 4 officers over passing sensitive info to Syria

The four officers leaked information about a situation room, which was established by the Saudi Arabian defense minister, the CIA, and the Israeli intelligence agency the Mossad on Jordanian soil, the report said quoting a British diplomatic source.

The officers are also accused of providing the Syrian army with certain information about the routes, which Saudi militants used while entering Syria to fight against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The senior military officers were advisers to the chairman of Jordan’s chiefs of staff and had strongly objected to Amman’s participation in a foreign-sponsored insurgency in Syria.

That just might put a dent in our Bandar/CIA/JSOC ‘Grand’ Designs in Syria…!

Now, as Putin, host of the G-20 Confab in St. Petersburg, of which, Obama is actively working on the side lines, laid it all out…

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by CTuttle

Syria: ‘We need to bomb it to save it’ (Updated)

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

RT’s Nile Bowie wrote this excellent article…

Western logic on Syria: ‘We need to bomb it to save it’

… Despite Obama’s cautious tone in recent interviews, all indications point to military intervention already being decided. Carla Del Ponte’s assessment was whitewashed, and any other evidence provided by the UN that does not fit conveniently into the Western narrative will be suppressed – the US position is that it is already “too late” for any evidence to be credible.

The huge military buildup of US and British ships and warplanes in the Mediterranean comes while the Pentagon is reportedly making the initial preparations for a cruise missile attack on Syrian government forces.

The intransigence and cynical duplicity of Assad’s opponents is unparalleled, and their media outlets are complicit in pulling the heart strings of their audiences while offering a totally one-sided perspective in support of R2P, the ‘right to protect.’

The US, Britain, and France see themselves as righteous protectors, and rationality and evidence will not be enough to break their dangerous and ridiculous delusions; these states are the vanguards of militant corporatism and have demonstrated that they seek only their private economic and geopolitical objectives in the region.

Those countries that represent a balanced approach to this crisis should not stand idly by while the West ‘comes to the aid’ of the Syrian people with cruise missiles and airstrikes – they should not allow intervention under ‘humanitarian’ auspices to harm civilians and topple the legal authorities in Damascus.

The intrepid Gareth Porter exposed some of the recent lies…

In Rush to Strike Syria, U.S. Tried to Derail U.N. Probe

After initially insisting that Syria give United Nations investigators unimpeded access to the site of an alleged nerve gas attack, the administration of President Barack Obama reversed its position on Sunday and tried unsuccessfully to get the U.N. to call off its investigation.

The administration’s reversal, which came within hours of the deal reached between Syria and the U.N., was reported by the Wall Street Journal Monday and effectively confirmed by a State Department spokesperson later that day.

In his press appearance Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry, who intervened with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to call off the investigation, dismissed the U.N. investigation as coming too late to obtain valid evidence on the attack that Syrian opposition sources claimed killed as many 1,300 people.

The sudden reversal and overt hostility toward the U.N. investigation, which coincides with indications that the administration is planning a major military strike against Syria in the coming days, suggests that the administration sees the U.N. as hindering its plans for an attack. {…}

Despite the U.S. effort to portray the Syrian government policy as one of “delay”, the formal request from the United Nations for access to the site did not go to the Syrian government until Angela Kane, U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, arrived in Damascus on Saturday, as Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, conceded in a briefing in New York Tuesday.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said in a press conference Tuesday that Syria had not been asked by the United Nations for access to the East Ghouta area until Kane presented it on Saturday. Syria agreed to provide access and to a ceasefire the following day.

Haq sharply disagreed with the argument made by Kerry and the State Department that it was too late to obtain evidence of the nature of the Aug. 21 incident.

“Sarin can be detected for up to months after its use,” he said.

Now, let’s be clear here that Al Qaeda does in fact possess the know-how to produce Chemical Weapons, from the CIA…

Terrorist CBRN: Materials and Effects

Al-Qa’ida and associated extremist groups have a wide variety of potential agents and delivery means to choose from for chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) attacks. Al-Qa’ida’s end goal is the use of CBRN to cause mass casualties; however, most attacks by the group—and especially by associated extremists—probably will be small scale, incorporating relatively crude delivery means and easily produced or obtained chemicals, toxins, or radiological substances. The success of any al-Qa’ida attack and the number of ensuing casualties would depend on many factors, including the technical expertise of those involved, but most scenarios could cause panic and disruption.

- Several groups of mujahidin associated with al-Qa’ida have attempted to carry out “poison plot” attacks in Europe with easily produced chemicals and toxins best suited to assassination and small-scale scenarios. These agents could cause hundreds of casualties and widespread panic if used in multiple simultaneous attacks.

- Al-Qa’ida is interested in radiological dispersal devices (RDDs) or “dirty bombs.” Construction of an RDD is well within its capabilities as radiological materials are relatively easy to acquire from industrial or medical sources. Usama Bin Ladin’s operatives may try to launch conventional attacks against the nuclear industrial infrastructure of the United States in a bid to cause contamination, disruption, and terror.

- A document recovered from an al-Qa’ida facility in Afghanistan contained a sketch of a crude nuclear device.

- Spray devices disseminating biological warfare (BW) agents have the highest potential impact. Both 11 September attack leader Mohammad Atta and Zacharias Moussaoui expressed interest in crop dusters, raising our concern that al-Qa’ida has considered using aircraft to disseminate BW agents.

- Analysis of an al-Qa’ida document recovered in Afghanistan in summer 2002 indicates the group has crude procedures for making mustard agent, sarin, and VX.

Was it a ‘false flag’ or even a Syrian regime ‘Rogue Commander’…? As FDL Alum Marcy penned today…

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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: Jabhat al-Nusra, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Our Failed FP

3:31 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Somehow, I’d missed this earlier, most excellent post from Emptywheel… The Perils of “Strategic Messaging” And even ex-CIA Philip Giraldi had piled on yesterday… Failed by the Fourth Estate

Honestly, I think it’s far past time for some real Humility Now!

…Look, I was on the team after 9/11 that analyzed whether there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, and I was the chief targeting officer charged with following Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The war in Iraq provided al Qaeda with a new front for its struggle with the West. After the invasion, Zarqawi — the man who would lead al Qaeda in Iraq — pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and, consequently, money and weapons flowed into the country. The United States didn’t “face down” al Qaeda in Iraq; it inadvertently helped Zarqawi evolve from a lone extremist with a loose network to a charismatic leader of al Qaeda. By extension, it would be safe to say that the al Qaeda in Iraq affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, exists because of the Iraq invasion, and likely would find new authority and power if the United States made Syria the next front for the global jihadist movement.

Finally, Diehl misinterprets the outcome of the Iraq War by arguing that “U.S. influence in the Middle East remained strong.” A year after the Iraq War, Pew conducted a survey that revealed the “vast majorities in predominantly Muslim countries continue to hold unfavorable opinions of the U.S.” Our influence has been further undercut by the fact that we are broke and our political system is dysfunctional. The U.S. government is currently operating under sequestration, struggling to fund some of the basic needs for places like Syria. It could still employ superior military power in Syria, but 10 years of war have taken a toll on its troops and materiel… And the Iraq War also left the American people wary of military engagements — and they are the ones who will pay the bills in money and in lives.

The argument that unleashing the U.S. military industrial complex can bring about desired results during a conflict should have been deflated, beaten, and buried by now. The winner of the Iraq War was humility, and it is a prerequisite for a wiser foreign policy. That’s the only lesson that matters.

Iraqi intelligence says Syrian and Iraqi Islamic extremist groups ramping up cooperation…

Funny how even ‘Benghazi, Benghazi’ Faux Spew gets it…

Video appears to show world’s most powerful rifle in hands of Syrian rebels

…“The video, showing jihadist rebels of the ‘Descendents of the Prophet Brigade’ firing one of the world’s most effective sniper rifles, should be cause for alarm,” said David Reaboi, of the Washington-based Center for Security Policy. “We don’t know who has been supplying this group (or the myriad others) with these weapons but, given the jihadist ideology of these groups, it’s only a matter of time until they’re turned on Americans or our allies and interests.”

“We’re unsure of how many they have,” Reaboi said. “Equally troubling, of course, is the training ground of the Syrian civil war itself; like the conflict in the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan, we will be facing tested veteran jihadist fighters who don’t just leave the war when the one battle is over. I’m afraid we or our allies will have to face them shortly, and with exceedingly lethal weapons.”

Speaking of Benghazi… A Libyan Report Card…

…By these standards, many states in the world are weak. And Libya has gone from being a tyrannical state to being barely a state at all.

Given the calls for intervention in Syria, let’s consider Libya, where a modest intervention was tried… …Toppling an evil regime or stopping a war is a profoundly moral act. But taking moral responsibility for what happens next in a country is the hard part. Bosnia-Herzegovina, 18 years after the U.S.-led intervention and the Dayton Peace Accords, is a nasty, dysfunctional state. And Bosnia-Herzegovina has advantages that Libya and Syria simply do not have. It is next-door to the European Union and has a modern history of relatively strong institutional structures compared to much of the Middle East. Bosnia was in a relatively developed part of the Ottoman Empire; Libya and Syria were in much less developed parts. But because Washington tends to overestimate its own significance in terms of its ability to alter distant societies, the following pattern will continue to emerge: a terrible war resulting in calls for humanitarian intervention, an intervention in some cases, always followed by a blame game inside the Washington Beltway after the country has slipped back into tyranny or anarchy.

Meanwhile, here is a probability: Libya’s relatively short history as a strong state is over. It will go on and on as a dangerous and weakly governed area between Tunisia and Egypt. Its considerable oil resources can internally generate revenue for armed groups and politicians both…

Oh Joy… Obama to Host Leaders from Turkey, Jordan, Gulf States…

…President Barack Obama plans some intense Mideast diplomacy this month and next, welcoming leaders of Turkey, Jordan and two Gulf states for Oval Office talks on Syria and broader developments in the Mideast…

…The White House said talks will include Syria and counterterrorism cooperation, and underscore the strategic relationship between the U.S. and Turkey as NATO allies…

Asked if the visits are part of efforts to coordinate assistance to Syrian opposition forces, White House press secretary Jay Carney avoided an answer, keeping to the general description provided of the purpose of the visits.

“There are obviously a number of issues for these leaders and the president to discuss, including Syria, including his recent visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, including the broader developments in the Arab Spring so he looks forward to these visits and they reflect his commitment and interest in the region and in our policies toward the region,” Carney said…

Meanwhile… Assad to world: Be careful what you wish for…

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned in comments broadcast on Friday that the fall of his regime would produce a “domino effect” that would destabilise the region “for many years”

*gah*

by CTuttle

Brennan, Hagel, and Kerry: More Of The Same Failed Obama FP

8:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As the Editors of the IntelNews wrote recently…

Obama’s National Security Nominations: Nothing to See Here

…Yet much of the commentary on the nominations of John Kerry for State, Chuck Hagel for the Pentagon, and John Brennan for the CIA, is unduly over-dramatizing what is essentially a routine story. To begin with, it is clear that, in selecting Kerry, Hagel and Brennan for the nominations, the President’s priority was to surround himself with people he knows and trusts. Knowledgeable observers point out that all three nominees come from Obama’s most trusted circle of friends and —if appointed— will allow the President to stay well “within his comfort zone” as he begins his second term in office. In this sense, Obama selected the three candidates, not with some major policy shift in mind, but in order to ensure continuity and permanence in his foreign policy

…Even if we were to accept that Hagel is somehow “anti-Israel”, anyone who thinks that nearly seven decades of American policy on Israel are about to change because Hagel is suspicious of the Israeli lobby in the US, grossly misunderstands the institutional character of American foreign policy. The latter does not change in radical shifts; it evolves over long periods as a result of varying national or economic interests, changing conditions or the ground, or popular pressure. There is no question that Hagel, like Obama himself, is skeptical about military intervention abroad; but this fact points to continuity, not a radical shift in the administration’s policy. If Hagel’s nomination is approved by Congress, his views on Israel, or for that matter any other country or group of countries, will form but one element in a multitude of competing interests that help shape American foreign policy.

President Obama’s national security nominations are certainly noteworthy. But there is little here that is earth shattering. For the most part, the President sought individuals who will help him sustain the foreign policy of his first term in office, not radically alter it. Anyone looking for drama in these nominations will sooner or later be thoroughly disappointed.

Moar DroneZ, Bay-bee…!

Some more, McGovern… The Grilling that Brennan Deserves…

Apparently, it was a slim bench for CIA Director… Jane Harman for CIA Director? Really?

Some more on Hagel…

…Hagel will be in the wrong job to drive a fundamental recasting of the Obama administration’s Iran policy:

“I would take the president’s word that he likes and trusts former Senator Hagel, got to know him in the Senate, likes and trusts his positions and his candor on a range of issues. But I think the calculus to go ahead, and in the way that they are going ahead is that Senator Hagel, for all of the courageous positions he’s taken—on Iran, on Israel, HAMAS, lots of issues—that he will assure his fellow senators that those are positions that he held as a senator and they really will not have very much to do with his position as Secretary of Defense. Those are quintessential foreign policy issues that will be carried out by the Secretary of State and the national security adviser…

Obama now has an all-white-male [national security] cabinet. The question is how long will his national security adviser stay, Tom Donilon. And there I would put a question whether Susan Rice will be back on the scene. And she will certainly constrain Hagel’s attempts—if he has any desire to make these attempts—to change policies…[The White House]thinks that Hagel is going to a good Secretary of Defense, and do quintessentially Secretary of Defense things—not foreign policy.”

In wrapping up, Paul Pillar is right….

Declaring Victory on Iran

…So one side feels a need to crow about a victory, while the other side needs to feel that it has not been kicked in the face. To square that emotional circle, American politicians will have to get most of their triumphalist fix from what has happened already—from getting a negotiation with Iran about curtailing its nuclear program under way at all. Members of Congress can proclaim today (and when they next run for re-election) that all those votes they cast in favor of all of those sanctions were an important part of getting Iran to the negotiating table. After saying that, they should pipe down, get out of the way, and let the negotiators strike a deal.

Amen…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

‘Concern’ Over Syria’s WMDs

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

C’mon Folks, this is just another shiny bauble of fear, once again, being dangled before a gullible populace…!

From the WaPoo…

Clinton: U.S. will act if Syria uses chemical weapons

…Clinton did not directly address new reports that Assad may be moving chemical weapons or making other possible preparations to use his known stockpile. But the Associated Press, citing an unnamed U.S. defense official, reported that international “intelligence sources” have detected signs in recent days that Syria has been moving chemical weapons components to new locations.

The official, who according to AP spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about intelligence matters, said officials don’t believe any developments with the weapons are imminent but are trying to figure out what the Syrians are doing…

Give me a freaking break…! C’mon now, Spencer and Noah…! You do realize you were just played…?

Right…?

…All that’s certain is that the arms have now been prepped to be used, should Assad order it.

“Physically, they’ve gotten to the point where the can load it up on a plane and drop it,” the official adds…

Funny how quickly, b at MOA, blatantly pointed out the Obvious

…There is no need for the Syrian army to combine stuff and fill it up because the precursors are already stored in the ammunition when that artillery ammunition or aerial bomb is fabricated. They are stored in two separate chambers and the ammunition is safe for transport and storage. Only firing the ammunition or dropping the bomb will combine the binaries.

What the anonymous American official claims is not happening in Syria. If the Wired writers Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman, (an avid defender of Israel firsters some might note), had even some basic knowledge about ammunition engineering they would not fall for such a stupid claim some anonymous official makes.

The claim that “the Assad regime in Syria have begun combining the two chemical precursors” is definitely wrong. Whatever the Syrian army is doing or not doing with its strategic weapons, it is not what that anonymous “American official” claims…

Another FDL Alumna, Marcy, also took Spencer to task…! On Toobz and Gases… With some blistering commentary too…!

Now, I’ve written about this before… Bibi’s ‘ready’ to secure Syria’s WMDs…!

So, let’s look at some recent revelations… FSA-Israeli Connection: Spiritual Leader of FSA declares his complicity with Israel on Israeli TV, and, even more on the failed ‘FSA’, whatever abomination incarnation it’s under…!


Syria’s opposition warns of a rise in extremists

…Jabhat al-Nusra now has somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 fighters, according to officials of a non-governmental organization that represents the more moderate wing of the Free Syrian Army. They say that the Al-Qaeda affiliate now accounts for 7.5 percent to 9 percent of the Free Syrian Army’s total number of fighters, up sharply from an estimated 3 percent just three months ago and 1 percent at the beginning of the year.

The extremist group is growing in part because it has been the most aggressive and successful arm of the rebel force. “From the reports we get from the doctors, most of the injured and dead FSA are Jabhat al-Nusra, due to their courage and [the fact they are] always at the front line,” said a message sent Friday to the State Department by the moderate Free Syrian Army representatives, who have been warning of the rise of the extremists…

God Help the Syrians, one and all…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

A MENA Roundup: Bye-Bye, Barak, And Morsi?

7:01 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

McClatchy expands on the new Tahrir Square protests…

Egyptians fill Tahrir Square in largest protest of President Mohammed Morsi

Tens of thousands of protesters poured into Tahrir Square on Tuesday night to contest what they believe is Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s illegal declaration that his decisions are exempt from judicial oversight, marking the largest protests ever against the newly elected president.

It was not clear Tuesday night whether the chants of thousands calling for a second revolution would lead Morsi to rescind, modify or wait out opponents to his 5-day-old constitutional declaration. Instead, it appeared the crowds, notably absent of the Islamists who are Morsi’s base, simply reflected an increasingly polarized electorate. Indeed, many who were protesting Tuesday said they boycotted the election that led to Morsi’s presidency or voted for his rival.

If Morsi sticks to his declaration, the feud over who has the final say over the nation’s judicial matters will come to a head Sunday when the courts are expected to make three key rulings. The courts will determine whether Morsi acted legally when he changed the temporary constitution in July to end military rule – leading to the firing of Field Marshall Mohammed Tantawi, the head of the ruling military council – and giving Morsi final say over military matters, the first time a civilian has had such power in Egypt’s modern history; whether the assembly charged with crafting a permanent constitution is legal, since it was elected by the now-defunct Parliament, which the courts earlier ruled was illegally constituted; and whether the Shura Council, the upper house of Parliament, should be dissolved.

If the courts rule against Morsi, it remains unclear whether Morsi’s decree or the judicial rulings would prevail – or who will decide that. In the meantime, several judges have suspended their work in protest…

Meanwhile… 150 Egyptians injured in nationwide clashes…

Moving along to Ehud Barack’s announced ‘Retirement,’ ex-AIPAC employee, MJ Rosenberg says good riddance…

He, more than anyone else, destroyed the peace process. He was elected in 1999 on a Labor Party peace platform, arguing that the incumbent prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, had destroyed chances for peace. He promised to reach a deal with the Palestinians who welcomed his election along with an ecstatic Israeli peace camp.

But following the election he immediately set out to humiliate the Palestinians, ignoring Yasir Arafat’s pleas to start talking and instead pretended to focus on reaching a deal with Syria so he could end run the Palestinians. He kept them waiting for six months, a strategy designed to strengthen his hand against them…

In 2000, he decided to push for an all-or-nothing agreement. Arafat said no, that it was too soon, especially given the good will that Barak had frittered away. Clinton agreed with Arafat that first Barak needed to lived up to the agreements Israel had already signed. (Clinton has publicly regretted being duped by Barak)

But Barak insisted on a summit. Israelis, Palestinians and Americans commenced negotiations at Camp David in July where Barak refused even to talk to Arafat directly. He famously treated Arafat as some indigenous local chief while he was a head of state.

Barak put some ideas on the table, all in the spirit of take-it-or-leave-it. Barak and the Dennis Ross-led American “peace team” coordinated every step of negotiations which were essentially a gang-up. Arafat, who had said from the get-go that he could not reach a deal until Israel lived up to its previous agreements, refused to accept Barak’s offers which, in any case, never came close to meeting Arafat’s demand for a state in 22% of historic Palestine.

Following negotiations, Barak announced that he had “torn the mask” off the face of the Palestinians. Although negotiations continued, Barak was now in the business of demonizing them. By the time he made the Palestinians a decent offer, it was too late. Trust had been destroyed…

While Barak’s policies were no worse than Sharon or Netanyahu, he is the only one who was elected to achieve peace on the Labor ticket. In my view, he is then worse than either of them.

Now he leaves, bodies strewn everywhere…

Expanding further, Peter MacKay’s “atrocities across the Middle East”

Israel as a colonial settler state.

The current state of Israel, supported unequivocally by Canada and the U.S. is a similar colonial settler state, representing the ‘empire’ of the west – mostly the EU, the U.S., and Canada… {…}

With the false promise of the UN Partition Plan in 1947, objected to by the Palestinians as it gave away most of their land to the much smaller Jewish population, the Israeli forces set in motion their military actions of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Well before their declaration of independence, they began destroying and moving Palestinian residents from their villages in 1947. When the British mandate ended in 1948, the Israelis declared their independence and began a second wave of military actions, this time compounded by the ineffective intervention of much weaker Arab army units.

Since then the settler-colonialist mentality has been in full force. The Palestinians live under different rules of law, in both the West Bank and the pre 1967 Israeli boundaries. In the West Bank, the Palestinians live under military law, subject to change at moments notice and a soldier’s whim. After 1967, with the success of the pre-emptive war against Egyptian forces that expanded into assaults on Jordanian held West Bank and the Golan Heights of Syria, the military rule and settler colonialization of the West Bank and Gaza came into full force.

Land annexations and expropriations using antiquated laws and newly created military zone laws slowly crept over the West Bank and Gaza. The settler-colonialist elements were and are aided by many supportive grants from the government of Israel, which in turn is supported by many western countries, notably the U.S. and Canada, with both military and economic aid. Combinations of land take-overs, military rules, imprisonment, torture, and assassination of Palestinians are used to control the population… {…}

The “peace negotiations”, the “road maps to peace” have all been subterfuges under which the Israeli government has simply stalled for time while the settlements have continued building unabated. The “Palestine Papers” as revealed by al-Jazeera demonstrate that the Palestinians bent over back ward, much too far according to most, in order to secure a land settlement for two states.

Using the same tactics as the empires of the ‘new’ world, the Israelis are creating their own zone of control over the resources and people of the region. With their military strength (but not necessarily military prowess) they dominate the region acting both as puppets of U.S. interests and even more so as manipulators of U.S. interests…

Just to be sure, lets revisit one of my old posts; US State Dept: Israel’s “Principal Human Rights Problems Were Institutional, Legal, And Societal Discrimination.” To Wit:

2010 Human Rights Report: Israel and the occupied territories

…Principal human rights problems were institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against Arab citizens, Palestinian residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (see annex), non-Orthodox Jews, and other religious groups; societal discrimination against persons with disabilities; and societal discrimination and domestic violence against women, particularly in Bedouin society. While trafficking in persons for the purpose of prostitution decreased in recent years, trafficking for the purpose of labor remained a serious problem, as did abuse of foreign workers and societal discrimination and incitement against asylum seekers.

Now, moving along to Syria…

Syria ‘names 142 foreign jihadists who fought with rebels’

The Syrian government has named 142 foreign jihadists that it reportedly says were killed fighting alongside rebels in the country’s civil war…

Damascus-based newspaper Al-Watan on Tuesday published a list that it said the Syrian government had sent to the United Nations Security Council last month giving the names and the dates and locations where the “terrorists” were killed.

“Most are jihadists (radical Islamists) who belong to al-Qaeda’s network, or who joined it after arriving in Syria,” the paper said, adding that they entered Syria via Turkey and Lebanon.

Among the 142 it named 47 Saudis, 24 Libyans, 11 Afghans, 10 Tunisians, nine Egyptians, six Qataris and five Lebanese.

The government is thought to have asked for the list be registered as an official document on the UN’s agenda of “measures to combat international terrorism”.

Meanwhile, the UN has been busy…

UN condemns Syria, Iran for rampant rights abuses

A UN General Assembly committee has condemned Syria and Iran for widespread human rights abuses, but both Damascus and Tehran dismissed the separate votes as politically motivated.

The draft resolution on Syria, which was co-sponsored by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Britain, France and other Arab and Western states, received 132 votes in favour – 10 more than a similar resolution last year received – along with 12 against and 35 abstentions.

The resolution on Iran, which was drafted by Canada and co-sponsored by other Western countries, received 83 votes in favour, 31 against and 68 abstentions.

The increased number of yes votes for both resolutions shows waning support for Tehran and Damascus in New York, envoys said.

Both resolutions were passed by the 193-nation assembly’s Third Committee, which focuses on human rights, and will be put to formal votes next month at plenary sessions of the General Assembly. They are both expected to pass with similar margins.

Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari dismissed the resolution against his country as an attempt by “Western states to interfere, and we condemn this.”

He also accused Qatar, which has supported the rebels seeking to toppled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the 20-month-old insurgency, of aiding and abetting Israel against the Palestinians.

Ja’afari repeated Syria’s oft-stated accusation that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Libya and Turkey have been arming and financially supporting the rebels, an allegation all have denied.

Western diplomats in New York, however, say privately that the Saudis and Qataris are almost certainly aiding the rebels, and possibly other countries as well.

Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee dismissed the resolution against Tehran as based on unconfirmed allegations and an attempt to meddle in the internal affairs of Iran.

Speaking of Iran, as Marcy had quipped on Jim White’s excellent post; ‘How considerate of the Iranians to label their secret nefarious nuke graph in English!’ Graph suggests Iran working on bomb… Funny how that was a similar gripe that Gareth Porter had raised about the Iranian Nuke Laptop…

Anyways, needless to say… Senate works on new package of Iran sanctions…

As the dynamic duo, Hillary and Flynt Leverett wrote recently…

Obama’s New National Security Team Should Be Asked Serious Questions About U.S. Foreign Policy (But Probably Won’t Be)

President Obama’s pending reshuffle of his national security team is an occasion to ask hard questions about American foreign policy. Most immediately, as Hillary told Al Jazeera’s Inside Story last week, click on video above or to link here, Obama’s nomination of his next Secretary of State—whether that is Susan Rice or someone else—provides an opening to ask pressing questions about the Obama administration’s increasing proclivity for proxy warfare against problematic Middle Eastern governments. Above all, “Did the United States arm, fund, train, and support—either directly or through our so-called ‘allies’—the very people who killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and the other Americans who did with him?” But Obama’s most outspoken GOP critics on the issue—e.g., Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham—can’t ask those questions, “because [they’re] complicit in this policy.” (To see Hillary’s segment, go 7:38 into the video above.)

Of course, it remains to be seen whether McCain, Graham, and their Republican colleagues stick to their guns regarding Rice’s acceptability as a nominee for Secretary of State. But the significance of Obama’s apparent interest in nominating her goes beyond the “who’s up/who’s down” of Washington politics or Obama’s proclivity to declare consequential policy positions without having thought through how to implement them. It raises more fundamental questions about the direction of American foreign policy and grand strategy in Obama’s second term. As Hillary explains,

“Whether you are a conservative or a neoliberal interventionist—I would put Susan Rice in that category—each of these camps supports armed, military intervention by the United States in the internal affairs of other countries. They do it for slightly different reasons, but the main strategic purpose is for the United States to pursue dominance…

As to what to expect from Obama on foreign policy in his second term, Hillary says that “the evidence, so far, is for more of the same.” Certainly there is no reason to anticipate much change in Washington’s approach to the Middle East…

Same-oh, same-oh, just ain’t cutting it, Folks…!

*gah*