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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: House of Saud, Iran, Israel, and Syria

5:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

While Prince Charles boogied down in Riyadh…

Four dead in clash in Saudi’s Shiite east

A firefight in a mainly Shiite area of eastern Saudi Arabia killed four people — two policemen and two people wanted over violence — on Thursday, the interior ministry said.

The police came under fire when they attempted to arrest the two wanted activists in the flashpoint Awamiya district of the oil-rich Eastern Province, said a ministry statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

The activists, named as Hussein Ali al-Faraj and Ali Ahmed al-Faraj, were both also killed.

Two other police were wounded and required hospital treatment.

Security forces who tried to arrest those suspected of being behind “armed unrest” were shot at and retaliated, a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying.

They seized ‘two weapons, a large quantity of ammunition, a bulletproof vest and weapons sights,’ he added, warning the authorities would crush any such resistance with ‘an iron fist.’

Speaking of that ‘Iron Fist’… The Saudis’ American Shopping Spree: F-15s, Helicopters & More

From the WSJ… Saudi Arabia Replaces Key Official in Effort to Arm Syria Rebels

Moving along to Iran…

First round of nuclear talks end; U.S.: We respect Netanyahu, but won’t always agree

The first round of nuclear talks in Vienna between Iran and the six world powers came to a close on Thursday morning. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held a quick press conference soon after the talks were concluded, calling the discussions “a good start.”

‘We have had three very productive days during which we have identified all of the issues we need to address in reaching a comprehensive and final agreement,’ said Ashton. ‘There is a lot to do. It won’t be easy but we have made a good start.’

‘In addition to our political discussions, we have started the technical work,’ she said. ‘And we have set a timetable of meetings initially over the next four months with a framework to continue our deliberations.’

The sides agreed to hold a further round of talks in Vienna on March 17-20. The agreed-upon framework includes a schedule for follow-up meetings, and an agenda for issues to be discussed. {…}

U.S. official: We respect Netanyahu, but won’t always agree

A senior U.S. official said following the talks that all sides feel that ‘some progress’ has been made and that ‘we have a path for how the talks will proceed.’

‘There will not be a written agenda or framework – but we all know what it is and all issues will be on the table,’ said the official.

‘This will be a complicated, difficult and lengthy progress but we aim to get the job done in six months,’ the official said, adding: ‘While we have much more work to do – we have come some distance in a relatively short time.’

The U.S. official echoed his counterparts in calling the dialogue ‘substantive,’ and said that specific dates had been set for meetings over the next four months, with another month of negotiations left open on the calendar because ‘it will be more intense.’

‘Nothing will be agreed until everything is agreed,’ the U.S. official said.

To be sure…New IAEA Report Shows Iran Complying With Nuclear Agreement

From Reuters… Iran’s most sensitive uranium stockpile falls after nuclear deal

So, Bibi, and Eric Cantor, need to STFU…! On Iran, Extraordinary Claims Should Require Extraordinary Evidence

Meanwhile, onto the I/P Peace Farce…

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by CTuttle

Bibi Will Address Joint Session of Congress by Personal Invite of Cantor/Boehner

6:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

That above video is a great recap of Netanyahu’s ’09 Bar Ilyan speech. Considered by many as Bibi’s rebuff to Obummer’s much heralded ‘Cairo fluff Speech’….!

Interestingly, over a month ago I’d pondered in this old post…

Btw, I do wonder if Bibi’s ‘dramatic speech’ will be delivered in front of Congress or AIPAC’s annual convention(what’s the difference)…?

Well, it’s a two-fer… From today’s Haaretz…

PM to address Congress in late May with ‘Bar-Ilan II’ speech

Netanyahu tells Likud gathering: No one will dictate terms to us

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was invited yesterday to address a joint session of Congress in late May. In his speech, the prime minister is expected to present his plans ahead of a Palestinian attempt to gain international recognition for a state at the United Nations General Assembly in September.

The speech is already being hailed as “Bar-Ilan II,” a nod to the speech Netanyahu gave at the Israeli university in 2009 in which he pledged a commitment to the two-state solution.

Netanyahu spoke to a gathering of Likud members in Tel Aviv yesterday, offering a possible preview of his remarks to the American Congress.

“We will stand strong before efforts to dictate conditions that will leave us without security and without peace,” Netanyahu said, hinting at the unilateral steps planned by the Palestinians in the UN.

Netanyahu said that John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, invited him to address Congress. [...]

Looking to meet with Obama too
Netanyahu has not yet received an formal invitation because a special vote needs to be held on the matter in Congress. Netanyahu will likely address Congress on May 22, when he will be in the U.S. to participate in the conference of pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.

In announcing his intention to invite Netanyahu, Boehner said that “America and Israel are the closest of friends and allies, and we look forward to hearing the Prime Minister’s views on how we can continue working together for peace, freedom, and stability.” [...]

The invitation for Netanyahu to speak in Congress followed much lobbying by his advisers during meetings with congressmen, especially among Republicans.

Netanyahu adviser Ron Dermer, who has close ties with Republican congressmen, and Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, intensively pursued the matter….

As I also had noted in my Tuesday post…

…”The president will be speaking in greater detail about America’s policy in the Middle East and North Africa in the coming weeks,” Clinton said at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, a gathering sponsored by Qatar and the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

Well, it seems like Déjà vu…

As the ever intrepid MJ Rosenberg, pointed out today…

Eric Cantor Runs Interference for Bibi

Leave it to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). With President Barack Obama expected to deliver a major speech outlining a new (or, at least, revised) Middle East peace strategy soon, Cantor decided it was time to invite Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to deliver a speech before a joint session of Congress.

This is one of the benefits of having a Republican House at the same time that a Likud prime minister is in office in Israel. The two right-wing parties can work together to thwart any Democratic president’s attempt to advance U.S. national security by brokering Middle East peace.

The last time this happened was in the 1990s, when Bill Clinton was president, Newt Gingrich was speaker, and the self-same Netanyahu was Israel’s prime minister. Netanyahu, joyously anticipating Clinton’s defeat for a second term, worked with the Republicans to subvert Clinton. Douglas Bloomfield, AIPAC’s long-time legislative director, recalled:

No Israeli leader was as adept at playing partisan American politics, nor as disruptive as the American-educated Netanyahu, who understood the politics of divided government. Even before becoming prime minister, he joined forces with Gingrich against common enemies: then-President Bill Clinton, Rabin and the Oslo peace process. Their goal was to make sure all three failed.

Gingrich was happy to play this game with Netanyahu, but he is more than matched by Cantor, who is not only a pro-Likud zealot but has also publicly admitted that he would use his position to help Netanyahu withstand any pressure from his own President. [...]

And it’s why he expects and needs the United States to stop it from happening. That is something Obama can do, but not by simply shouting “no.” Obama needs to tell Netanyahu that the only way to avoid a unilateral solution is by brokering a bilateral one. Running to Eric Cantor won’t change a thing.

Can you say ‘Pocket Veto’…?