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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Arab Spring, Iran, P5+1, and Syria

9:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

So the ball is now in the P5+1′s court(s)…

Iran says differences over implementing nuclear deal solved: negotiator

Differences between Iran and the world powers over implementing an interim nuclear deal have been solved, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said Friday.

“Nuclear talks ended in Geneva (on Friday) and agreement reached on the remaining issues,” Araqchi was quoted as saying by Press TV.

“Announcement will be made in the next few days if parties agree to do so,” he added.

Iran and the European Union (EU) held a meeting in Geneva on Thursday and Friday to discuss remaining issues pertaining to the implementation of the interim nuclear deal clinched between Tehran and the major world powers in November.

I wonder how David Cameron will respond to the new proposals, and this…

UK, US were ‘malign’ force in Iran: Straw

Former foreign secretary Jack Straw said Friday that Britain and the United States had been a “malign force” in Iran in the past, after a relationship-building visit to Tehran. {…}

In an interview with BBC radio, Straw said his group had been well received by the government of President Hassan Rouhani and reported “considerable optimism there” about a rapprochement with the West.

“There is a very, very long history to this, to poor relations between Iran on the one hand and US and UK on the other,” Straw said.

“If you were an Iranian, just an ordinary Iranian, you could be forgiven for thinking that over the decades the US and the UK have been a very malign force — and indeed we have been.

“We organised together a coup d’etat to remove a democratically elected president in my lifetime in Iran, we played a very, very bad and undermining hand as popular support for the Shah flowed away in the late 1970s,” he said, referring to the coup that overthrew Mohammad Mossadegh, who was in fact prime minister.

Straw continued: “And then for example the West supported Saddam Hussein in a war which he provoked and for which Iran was the victim.”

Earlier, as the negotiators headed into the conference rooms in Geneva… Iran’s Khamenei says nuclear talks show U.S. enmity

Underscoring Khamenei’s charges, AIPAC, and the Chickenhawks were busy at it… Support for Iran sanctions bill nears filibuster-proof majority

Moving along to Syria…

While Iran is excluded from the Geneva II talks, the FSA still can’t get it together…

Opposition groups say they share goals, but no agreement for talks

Several factions of the Syrian opposition, meeting together for the first time, called Friday for a new coalition but did not reach agreement on who should attend peace talks later this month, or whether they would attend at all.

With less than a fortnight to go until the first direct talks between the opposition and President Bashar Assad’s government – set for Jan. 22 in Switzerland and called “Geneva II” – Western backers have struggled to unify rebel groups.

The main opposition body in exile, the National Coalition, has been plagued by bickering. It postponed a decision on whether to attend Geneva II until next week after nearly a quarter of its 121 members threatened to resign following the re-election of its Saudi-backed leader, Ahmad al-Jarba.

Meanwhile, we just keep sticking our thumb in the proverbial dam…

U.S. trys to prevent spillover of Syrian crisis to Lebanon

In a communique by the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Spence expressed the United States’ commitment to the “Lebanese army and preventing spillover from the Syrian conflict into Lebanon.”

He underscored the strength of the U.S.-Lebanese defense relationship and the United States’ support for Lebanon in the context of regional developments.

The statement pointed that Spence also discussed with the Lebanese officials the U.S. support for the Lebanese army through ongoing security cooperation programs.

Spence held talks during his trip with various political and military leaders, including President Michel Suleiman, Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji and Army Chief of Staff Major General Walid Salman.

U.S. assistance to the Lebanese army and Internal Security Forces, totaling more than one billion U.S. dollars since 2005, has strengthened the capacity of Lebanon’s security forces and supported their missions of securing Lebanon’s borders and defending the sovereignty and independence of the state.

Today, the dynamic duo of Hillary & Flynt Leverett asked the burning question…

Is Obama Trying to Resolve or Prolong the Conflict in Syria?

Suppose a great power declares that it supports a peace process aimed at finding a political solution to a terrible, ongoing conflict. Then suppose that this great power makes such declarations after it has already proclaimed its strong interest in the defeat of one of the main parties to said conflict. And then suppose that this great power insists on preconditions for a peace process—preconditions effectively boiling down to a demand for pre-emptive surrender by the party whose defeat the great power has already identified as its major goal—which render such a process impossible. Is it not reasonable to conclude that the great power in question is (how to put this gently) lying about its purported support for peace?

That, in a nutshell, is the Obama administration’s posture toward the ongoing conflict in Syria…

In wrapping up, here’s two excellent discussions on the MENA and Empire…

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: 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*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: G-8, Weapons for Peace, Iran, and Turkey

4:55 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Here’s the official G-8 Communique (PDF! 33pgs)

The ever-intrepid, Pepe Escobar, had penned another excellent read…

Obama’s weapons-for-peace program

They looked like two dejected schoolboys in front of the headmaster by the end of the two-hour Putin-Obama summit at the sidelines of the Group of Eight meeting in Northern Ireland. But as astonishing as the sound of silence was the fact that, on Syria, the former KGB guy was trying to save the “leading from behind” dude from himself.

President Barack Obama coined the monster euphemism that they had “different perspectives” on Syria. He said, deceptively, “We want to try to resolve the issue through political means if possible, so we will instruct our teams to continue to work on the potential of a Geneva follow-up.”

If Obama was really trying to solve Syria “through political means” he would not have pre-emptively bombed the Geneva II talks with his “weapons-for-peace” program, as in weaponizing only the “good” Syrian “rebels” and only with a few “non-lethal” toys (that’s the bottom line of Washington’s spin). “If possible” in this case does translate into “impossible”. As for the Geneva II talks, they don’t rate anything better than “potential” because Obama knows the myriad, squabbling factions of the Syrian opposition will boycott it. {snip}

…Putin knows Obama would even give up playing basketball if he could find a way to sneak out of getting bogged in Syria’s civil war. Putin knows Obama simply cannot order a no-fly zone over Syria by decree – as much as he may be under pressure by the usual warmonger senators, armchair warrior think tankers, corporate media and weapons manufacturers.

…Yet Putin is certainly aware of Washington’s Plan C or D for Syria; what is being sold as a “humanitarian assistance”, limited, no-fly zone – along parts of the Jordanian and Turkish borders into Syrian territory. This is in fact Libya 2.0; a “limited” no-fly zone in a flash will apply to all Syria. “Limited no-fly zones” only exist in Spinland; this is a declaration of war. So let’s see how Damascus plays it with the S-300 missile batteries it will receive from Russia…

Now, Col. Lang, in several great posts, the first… Obama’s approaching humiliation over Syria, and then… “Assad foes cannot set conditions for Syria talks: Russia” Reuters

…Morning Joe Scarborough, the dumbest man in morning television, said today that the Syrian government is “one of the two worst enemies of the United States in the Middle East.”

Say what?

Joe has been living in New York City for a long time now. I guess there is something in the water… No, Joe, Syria is viewed by ISRAEL as one of its two greatest enemies in the Middle East. Israel and the US are two different countries, Joe. Separate sovereign countries usually have at least some differing interests. Tell me. Joe, how is Syria a major threat to the US? Terrorism? When was that? Where was that? Remind me.

In any event, Russia has made it clear now that it will not accept a phony conference in which the Syrian government show up to surrender Sounds like “check” to me. “Mate” is coming…

Interestingly, The Hill reported this bovine manure from the Senate, yesterday…

Senators pledge ‘full support’ for ‘decisive’ military action in Syria

Senators from both parties on Tuesday urged President Obama to immediately send weapons to the Syrian opposition and take out President Bashar Assad’s air forces.
Syria is at a “critical juncture” and the United States must do what it can to reverse Assad’s recent gains on the ground, the chairmen of the Foreign Relations and Armed Forces panels, Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), wrote in a letter to Obama along with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

The senators pledged their “full support” if Obama takes “decisive military actions in Syria.”

The lawmakers called on the president to send arms to vetted rebel groups, but said such a move would likely be insufficient because the situation is “deteriorating so dramatically.”

Ironically, on the floor of the House, yesterday, the vile Louis Gohmert had this to say…

‘Entangling Alliances’ ya don’t say…? Speaking of which…

8,000 troops from 19 countries join Jordan ‘war games’ in readiness for spreading Syria conflict

…Despite many of the nations involved in the exercises explicitly calling for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad departure, there are concerns that should he be forced from power, Damascus’s stockpile of chemical weapons could fall into the hands of extremist groups. Several Western countries allege that Assad has already used chemical weapons, a fact that US President Barack Obama describes as crossing a “red line”. At the same time, conventional weapons in civil war have already killed at least 93,000 people.

US Marine Corps Lt. Col. Duke Shienle told the Associated Press that Syria “is a concern that all our regional partners share”.

The Syrian crisis is “causing all military in the region to increase intensity,” he said. The training has been concentrated on security, irregular warfare, terrorism and counterinsurgency.

“These exercises bolster our defence capabilities,” said Jordanian army Maj. Gen. Awni Edwan, adding that similar exercises are routine, having being held twice before at the same time. “We don’t intend to attack anybody,” he said.

Now, here’s an excellent insight into recent WH happenings…

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Hagel, Iran, Kerry, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and, Qatar

7:07 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Some more SoS Kerry:

…We came to Turkey yesterday most importantly to join with other foreign ministers from the Core Group supporters of the Syrian opposition in order to outline our vision – the support group – but also to hear and listen to the Syrian opposition outline their vision for the future of their country and for the important principles that were affirmed last night of pluralism, of the equality of all Syrians, of the effort to reject extremism, and most importantly to recognize the shared goal, the most important goal of trying to find a political resolution to end the killing, to end the destruction, and to keep Syria whole. That was a critical commitment by all parties, and I believe we’ve left here with clarity with respect to how we might try to reach out to the Russians, reach out to the others, and see if there isn’t a way to achieve that.

But absent that, we also committed to raise our assistance levels to the Syrian opposition in order to make it clear that we are not equivocating with respect to that commitment and that President Obama and others are deeply committed to a transition that affords the people of Syria the right to choose their future and to move away from this path of destruction which the Assad regime is wreaking on their own citizens, on their own country.

As you know, the United States, in fulfillment of our obligations with respect to supporting the opposition, committed to doubling our nonlethal aid and to giving much of that to local leaders who are trying to lay the groundwork for a stable and a democratic future. And each of the countries represented that were here yesterday all made a commitment to direct their military aid and assistance directly and uniquely, solely, through the Supreme Military Command General Idris. I think that may be one of the most important single things that was agreed on last night that can make a difference to the situation on the ground…

Interestingly, it was a much diminished crew of Syrian War Enthusiaists in attendance:

…In a joint statement by the 11 countries attending the Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul, extreme concern was expressed over the Syria conflict and condemnation for the brutal campaign of the Syrian regime. But U.S. Secretary State John Kerry, at a press conference Saturday, said they were all still committed to a political solution.

I was pleased to today continue our discussion with our allies. They share the view we should have a peaceful transition,” Kerry said. “That’s the first priority of everybody.

Remember, at one point, there was 114 nations participating in the ‘Friends of Syria’ talks, as b at MOA succinctly pointed out today…!

Now, where is that Chuck Hagel that the AIPAC apparatchik had so feared?

Arms deal with Middle East allies signal to Iran – Hagel

… “The bottom line is that Iran is a threat, a real threat,” Hagel, who arrived in Israel on Sunday on his first visit there as defense secretary, told reporters on his plane.

“The Iranians must be prevented from developing that capacity to build a nuclear weapon and deliver it,” he said… … Asked about renewed debate in the Israeli media that Israel might have to strike Iran by itself, Hagel said “every sovereign nation has the right to defend itself and protect itself”.

Iran presents a threat in its nuclear programme and Israel will make the decisions that Israel must make to protect itself and defend itself,” he said.

But Hagel added the United States and other countries believe there is still time for diplomacy and tough international sanctions to have an impact.

The military option is one option that remains on the table, must remain on the table,” he said. “But military options, I think most of us feel, should be the last option.

Hello…? I swear it’s a full-court press …

Iran is biggest threat to nuclear pact’s credibility: U.S.

… “The actions of Iran and North Korea should concern every member of this conference,” Countryman told a news briefing.

“It is clear that if Iran succeeds in the project of constructing nuclear weapons, then it is not only the Helsinki meeting that becomes irrelevant, but it is in fact the entire credibility of this treaty.”

Countryman was referring to a decision last November to put off talks on banning atomic bombs in the Middle East that were due to have taken place in Helsinki in December.

Iran blamed the United States at the time for a “serious setback” to the NPT.

“The possession of such weapons by Iran constitutes a threat to the entire region and an impetus for greater proliferation, lateral proliferation of weapons, than we have ever seen.”

Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon would be a “genuine tipping point and would cause more damage to the treaty than anything else that has occurred in its history”, he added

What a crock of sh*t!

As my long-time fave Persian blogger, Iran Affairs’ Cyrus Safdari, had to say to the Leveretts:

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Code Pink, Davos, Kerry, and, ‘Reaping The Whirlwind’

11:28 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Code Pink totally Rawks…!

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. – Mahatma Gandhi

Fresh from Davos …

The Vulnerabilties of The Elite: Geopolitical Risk in 2013

The Challenge

…The vulnerability of elites cuts across emerging markets and advanced economies, democracies and authoritarian states, public and private institutions, and a wide array of issues. This is the challenge: as their legitimacy gets called into question, political actors struggle to react to instability, crises and opportunities in the most effective manner. Whether it is the growing disparity of wealth, or the evolving flow of information, several factors are facilitating pushback against existing policies and institutions and making both governments and some private actors across the globe look increasingly fragile.

First, the ‘Occupy’ movement may have run out of steam, but the slogan “we are the 99%” has put an end to the people’s “peaceful coexistence with inequality.” While the richest have come out on top from the economic crisis, middle classes are experiencing reversals in their standards of living even in the developed world. In many developed and emerging countries, youth unemployment rates are
scandalously high. A ‘lost’ generation of young people feel they have no stake in the existing system. And this development is occurring in a world where inequality is visible on a daily basis, both within and between societies.

The lack of economic prospects has eroded people’s trust in, and
support for, their political leaders, whose actions are rarely understood, let alone approved. The result is a “legitimacy deficit” and a sense that we might nearly be better off without rulers. Leaders no longer have a story to rally their followers around. The few who do fare better than others. We’re seeing this trend across countries of vastly different stages of development.

Second, people are less willing to tolerate corruption, crime, cronyism and other forms of inappropriate behaviourby leaders. Most societies lack a clear moral compass in the form of religion, ideology or established values. The media are quick to fill this vacuum with instant moral outrage about the latest scandal—and the news cycle is short-sighted at the expense of longer-term problems that are more pressing…

Wtf…? Are the Elite finally getting a clue…?

Apparently not…!

From our newest Bilderberger Sec. of State…

‘Reap the Whirlwind’

Kerry had met in the past with Syrian President Bashar al- Assad in an effort to encourage an opening by the Syrian regime toward the West. Now, Kerry said, Assad has made “reprehensible” decisions and he predicted Assad is “not long for remaining” as Syria’s leader.

…“We are sowing the wind in Syria and we’re going to reap the whirlwind,” he said, referring to Islamic radical groups involved in the fighting there.

Kerry said relations with Russia have “slid backward a little bit in the last couple of years,” citing Russia’s halt to U.S. adoptions as one example. Still, he said Russia is cooperating on a number of issues such as Iran and nuclear arms reductions.

On China, Kerry highlighted the competition for resources. “China is all over Africa — I mean, all over Africa — and they’re buying up long-term contracts on minerals,” he said. “And there’re some places where we’re not in the game, folks.”

‘Economic Statecraft’

…In his opening remarks, Kerry urged lawmakers to address domestic economic issues such as the deficit, saying a strong economy undergirds strength overseas. Kerry said the U.S. is seeking, as President Barack Obama said in his inaugural address, to move beyond the decade of war.

“President Obama and every one of us here knows that American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone,” Kerry said. “We cannot allow the extraordinary good we do to save and change lives to be eclipsed entirely by the role we have had to play since September 11th, a role that was thrust upon us.”

American foreign policy is also defined by food security and energy security, humanitarian assistance, the fight against disease and the push for development “as much as it is by any single counterterrorism initiative,” he said.

Meanwhile, back at Davos…

…Israeli officials said Thursday that military action against Iran needed to stay on the table, as former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger warned of a crisis over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in the “very foreseeable future”.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the threat of military action was vital to efforts against Iran’s nuclear programme.

“There will be more attempts to try and negotiate, but there will always be in the horizon a military option, because if the Iranians think it’s only economic and political, they won’t pay attention,” Peres told global political and business leaders at the annual gathering in the Swiss ski resort.

Israel and Western powers accuse Iran of seeking to acquire a weapons capability under the guise of its nuclear energy programme but Iran denies the charge, saying its work is for peaceful purposes only…

…In a wide-ranging talk on foreign affairs, Kissinger said he expected the Iranian nuclear issue to soon come to a head.

“For 15 years, the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have declared that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, but it has been approaching,” he said.

“People who have advanced their view will have to come to a determination about how to react or about the consequences of non-reaction,” he said.

“I believe this point will be reached within a very foreseeable future.”

Kissinger said negotiations with Iran needed to be given “a real chance” and that “unilateral action by Israel would be a desperate last resort.”

He said he expected “Iran to be high on the agenda” of US President Barack Obama’s new administration, and said failure to deal with the question could lead to a spread of nuclear weapons in the region.

“That would be a turning point in human history,” Kissinger warned…

Honestly, folks, here’s some truly sober analysis of our failed FP…

Obama and the (Mis)management of Imperial Decline

…In his second inaugural, President Obama recalled this vision, reminding Americans that they are “heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war; who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends…We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully—not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.”

But now his words fall flat in much of the world. For his administration never understood that, to be effective, “engagement” had to mean more than simply reiterating longstanding U.S. demands while not just continuing to reject other parties’ interests and concerns, but acting even more assertively against them…

…The world is increasingly giving up on the proposition that the United States can act in any manner other than that of an imperial power—even as more and more important players in global affairs are coming to see it as an imperial power in decline. Obama’s second inaugural displayed no appreciation for this reality. And that does not augur well for any meaningful recovery of America’s international standing during Obama’s second term…

Btw, It’s not Iran’s purported pursuit of a Nuke despite everybody’s best effort to make it so… …The viral campaign to set a “red line”

It’s all about the Oil… To be sure…US weaves nuclear fairy tale on Iran…!

Iran all set to finance IP gas pipeline project: envoy…!

Jews DO control the media… Maybe…?

*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

‘US has never been straight with its people about its foreign policy aims’

1:08 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Here’s the transcript: ‘US has never been straight with its people about its foreign policy aims’

As Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett asked today at their The Race For Iran blog…

Can The United States Deal Effectively—And Honestly—With Politically Empowered Muslim Societies?

“How can this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?”

In fact, it is not so hard to understand how “this”—along with the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, subsequent protests at U.S. diplomatic facilities in Sanaa, Khartoum and across the region, and myriad other manifestations of resentment against the United States in much of the Arab and Muslim worlds—could happen. But most Americans don’t really want to understand it. For, as Hillary underscores on The Ed Show, “the critical issue here is the deep-seated resentment that people have for U.S. policy throughout the region…Hatred and resentment for U.S. policy are the heart of the problem here. Communities throughout the Middle East are angry.”

This reality is now crashing in on U.S. ambitions in the Middle East every day. Yet, as Hillary notes on MSNBC, Americans “have not even begun to grapple with the enormity of the challenge we face as countries become more politically participatory, and people have a voice.” {…}

“There’s a really fundamental flaw in U.S. strategic policy…and it has to do with empire. We look at each country, at each place, and we see the expatriates that we want to see in the cafés in Paris, who parrot our line about secular liberalism, and we arm, fund, and train them to go back and, in effect, impose a political order on those societies that have very different histories, characters, cares, and concerns…Those expatriates we listen to repeatedly—in Iraq, Iran, Libya, everywhere—we listen to them not because we’re stupid but because we have a very determined focus for dominance.” {…}

The real critique—which Romney, of course, won’t put forward—is “why is the Obama administration really so dishonest in its policies, and how could people in the Middle East really take America’s word seriously as a constructive force.” Until Americans and the politicians can address that, they never will understand “what is the reason” for Middle Easterners’ anger.

A guest poster at Col. Lang’s SST really laid it out…

We Reap What We Sowed–Foresman

The United States is now paying the supreme price for our arrogance in dealing with the Islamic people of the Near East (I use the old term for a reason) has resulted in neither stability nor democracy. We do not understand the Arab world; we do not understand Islam. Somehow we have convinced ourselves that Arabs are no different than us—rational by western standards, influenced by the Judeo-Christian ethic and a believer in the concept of the state ascending over tribalism. They are rational, but by the standards of their culture, history, and religion. They are not western. They are tribal. Religion is the central part of their life. The concept of and loyalty to a nation state is accepted in the abstract but does not transcend their tribe or family. But they are rational actors. They do not like foreigners. They accept the tenets of their religion with fervor of belief.

We are reaping what we sowed…

Here’s a disturbing report from the ‘nonpartisan’ Iran Project:Weighing Benefits and Costs of Military Action Against Iran (PDF! 32pgs)

Now, don’t you find this rather rich…

Iran guided by same fanaticism behind embassy attacks, Netanyahu says

Prime minister tells NBC that Tehran places zealotry above survival

Having been stymied by the ruling administration, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his case for stopping Iran’s nuclear program to the American public Sunday, comparing Tehran to Muslim rioters attacking US embassies around the world in response to an anti-Islam film.

“Iran is guided by an unbelievable fanaticism,” he told NBC’s David Gregory. “It’s the same fanatics that you see storming your embassies today. You want these fanatics to have nuclear weapons?”

The prime minister recorded interviews with NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CNN’s “State of the Union” Saturday night, both of which will air on Sunday morning US time. A snippet of the interview with NBC was posted online early Sunday morning…

Keeping up with Bibi in the zealotry dept… Krauthammer: America casts Israel adrift as Iran speeds up its nuclear program, Jennifer Rubin, the WSJ editorial board, and, even the Doughy Pantload just had to chime in with:We can’t be hostages of foreign mobs!

Now, to cleanse the palate… here’s a recent take-down of The Grey Lady’s agitprop… NYT Buries the Lead on Iran

Meanwhile… Muslim riots spread across Middle East, N. Africa and, Report: US Positioning Forces in as Many as 18 Locations.

What a Clusterf*ck…!

In closing… two things to ponder… Covenant of Protection from Prophet Muhammad Commands Muslims to Protect Jews and Christians until the End of Time, and, Pope urges Christians to be peacemakers in Middle East.

God Help us all…!