You are browsing the archive for Foreign Policy.

by CTuttle

Sly Sey and the Syrian Clusterf*ck

6:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the WSJ

John Kerry, U.S. Military Clash on Approach to Syria’s Rebels

Pentagon Opposes Direct Military Intervention Again

Frustrated by the stalemate in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry has been pushing for the U.S. military to be more aggressive in supporting the country’s rebel forces. Opposition has come from the institution that would spearhead any such effort: the Pentagon.

Mr. Kerry and United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power have advocated options that range from an American military intervention to weaken the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to using U.S. special operations forces to train and equip a large number of rebel fighters. Such moves would go far beyond the U.S.’s current engagement.

In recent White House meetings, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have pushed back against military intervention, said senior officials.

They say the risk is high of being dragged into an open-ended foreign entanglement.

Both sides have agreed on the need to create an expanded program to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels. But the Pentagon worries the Assad regime would halt cooperation on the removal of chemical weapons if the military training starts now. Officials said Mr. Kerry has now agreed to a delay.

The disagreement between a hawkish State Department and a dovish Pentagon, the officials from both sides said, is the latest chapter in an agonizing three-year administration debate over Syria.

But of course, it’s still ‘Damn the Torpedoes, Full-Speed Ahead…’

‘http://youtu.be/W-WSdGasWpg

As I’d pointed out, very early on during this entire, sordid Syrian False Flag op … See: Chemical Attacks In Syria – Cui Bono? And, More Evidence Points To The Syrian Rebels

So, it’s always nice to see more significant proof emerge confirming early hunches, from ‘credible’ sources like Seymour! However belated it may be!

Anyways, as Sey had asked…

Whose Sarin?

Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.

Now, it’s been fascinating in reading and watching, the varying reactions to Sey’s recent ‘revelations,’ from both the Left and the Right!

Seymour Hersh: the backlash…

Syria Special: There is No Chemical Weapons Conspiracy — Dissecting Hersh’s “Exclusive” on Insurgents Once More

Now, Col. Lang had a great response to Sey’s post, and, to neocon Michael Rubin’s ridiculous hatchet-job directed at the Col and Sey…Seymour Hersh’s Latest Conspiracy Theory Here is the Col’s response on the John Batchelor Show (19:20-30:30)

I liked how b at MOA, and the barflies, had cast some aspersions upon Sey’s repute…!

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, Russia, Syria, and, a Valentine’s Fray

12:15 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

A most interesting interview…! Here’s a short snippet:Islam v West? ‘Major civilizations on collision course’

Now, delving into current MENA affairs, in the recent ‘State’ visit of al-Sisi to Moscow…

Egypt, Russia pledge close bilateral relations

In a 2+2 meeting in Moscow, Egypt’s defence minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and foreign minister Nabil Fahmy discuss arms deal, stress closer relations.

In his first trip outside the country since ousting former president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met with his Russian counterparts in Moscow to discuss a planned $2 billion arms deal.

The deal includes a Russian air defence system and, if signed as expected, will be the biggest military purchase from Russia since the Soviet era, marking a possible rekindling of a historic alliance that ended in the 1970s when former president Anwar Sadat reoriented Egypt’s position in favour of the US.

El-Sisi insisted in an interview earlier this week that closer relations with Russia are no replacement for existing relations with other countries.

His high-profile visit to Russia, in the company of Egypt’s foreign minister Nabil Fahmy, featured a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who expressed his firm support for El-Sisi’s presidential bid, not yet announced from the field marshal but widely anticipated.

El-Sisi stressed that the meeting represents “a new departure” for Egyptian-Russian military and technological cooperation, reported Egypt’s state news agency MENA.

Aside from Putin, the two-day talks were headed by Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Now, what is not reported by most…

Russian television reveals what Russia wants from Egypt

The goal behind the Russian-Egyptian cooperation and arming Egypt is Russia’s need for another base and focus point in the Mediterranean Sea, other than Syria, as it is unstable and its fate is unknown, Konstantin Sivkov, First Vice President at the Academy for Geopolitical Issue said.

Speaking during the Russia Today programme which was aired on Russian TV on November 13, 2013, Sivkov said Russia’s need for this base are many, the least of which is the water, fuel and food supply, as well as a place for sailors to rest.

During the programme Dimitri Jantiv, Middle Eastern Studies expert at the Institute of Asian and African Countries, noted that the American’s anger over this will be limited since the Egyptian army is in control of a number of things, including “the aircraft that freely flies over Egypt’s airspace, the warships that sail through the Suez Canal, the joint manoeuvres and the intelligence information.”

The interviews revealed the expected outcomes of Egyptian Minister of Defence Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s visit to Russia and the reason behind Russia’s support for him.

A Russian naval base was established, just as Russia wanted, and, as mentioned in the video, it was established to coincide with Al-Sisi’s last visit to Russia.

Now, I question whether a naval base has been set in concrete, but, I’m positive that Israel, muchless the US, must be none-to-thrilled with that agreed-upon Russian Air Defense battalion in Egypt…!

Most especially, considering the fact the Israelis don’t have the same back-door accessibility to the Russian ADA systems, like they do with all the US/Nato ADA systems…!

Russia’s Putin supports Egypt’s General Sisi for president Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AIPAC, The Grey Lady, Iran, and the P5+1

10:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

In Salon today, Patrick Smith, wrote an excellent rant…

Chomsky’s right: The New York Times’ latest big lie

More misleading half-truths from a paper too cowed by power and myth to tell the truth about U.S. foreign policy

…In this case, we have the irresponsible use of inverted commas, as the Brits say, to shape national opinion on a question of vital importance. The question is Iran. And now to the supine, corrupted and corrupting organ.

You have taken a wild guess, and you are right. We have our familiar problem with our friends on Eighth Avenue, the New York Times, faithful servants of the sanctioned orthodoxy. I give these folks an “A” for clever disguise this time, and I flunk them in the professional ethics class. Simply shameful, this round of reckless chicanery…

Here is the situation.

As all know, a deal with Iran over its nuclear program is the biggest game going these days — an historic opportunity, as previously asserted in this space. Fumble this, and the Obama administration will go down as hopelessly moronic on the foreign-relations side.

You may know, too, that a round of talks between six world powers and the Iranians just hit a pothole. It is essential to understand why.

The paradox is apparent, not real. Knowing why reveals what a nation with imperial ambitions looks like when it is nearing exhaustion and would rather decline than shape up, re-imagine itself, and take a new and constructive place in the global community. Not knowing why encourages Americans to preserve their righteous self-image even as the moths of history chew holes in it…

As Gareth Porter, reported recently about that ‘Last Moment’ draft…

Russian Foreign Minister Reveals Amended Draft Circulated at ‘Last Moment’

…Lavrov said the United States circulated a draft that had been amended in response to French demands to other members of the six-power P5+1 for approval “literally at the last moment, when we were about to leave Geneva.”

Lavrov’s revelation, which has thus far been ignored by major news outlets, came in a news conference in Cairo Thursday that was largely devoted to Egypt and Syria. Lavrov provided the first real details about the circumstances under which Iran left Geneva without agreeing to the draft presented by the P5+1…

Lavrov noted that unlike previous meetings involving the P5+1 and Iran, “This time, the P5+1 group did not formulate any joint document.”

As Pepe Escobar wrote…

France clueless on Iran

Here is definitive proof – if any was needed – that the Gallic fit-throwing that burned the possibility of an interim Iranian nuclear deal last week in Geneva was completely pointless.

The key “concern” expressed by Israel-firster French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to derail an interim deal was about the Arak heavy-water reactor.

Well, UN inspectors this week reported that they had detected no new developments in Arak over the three months since August. [1]

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, was also in Tehran on Monday, and – unusually for his trademark paperboy role for Washington – had nothing to complain about.

Fabius used the Arak gambit at the last minute in Geneva to derail the talks, provoking the ire of even fellow European diplomats. That was out of pure disinformation; Tehran was already doing what Fabius insisted they were not doing.

A EU diplomat (non-French) confirmed to Asia Times Online that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had already informed US Secretary of State John Kerry about these euphemistically defined “confidence-building measures”. Kerry was fully aware before he landed in Geneva on his way to sign an interim deal.

But guess what: the French were clueless. Kerry did not tell anybody else on the P5+1 table (comprising the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany) because he feared any leaks. This proves once again that this infinitely complex negotiation is really between Washington and Tehran. Russia and China are behaving – so far – as sort of quiet (and wary) observers. Yet Kerry, Francophile that he is, should have know better about Gallic peacock instincts.

Meanwhile, there’s a Battle Royal happening in the Halls of Congress and DC…

To be sure… From Foreign Policy’s The Cable… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Bibi’s Bullsh*t, Iranian Intentions, and a Syrian Solution?

8:40 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

My apologies for being subsumed with my lln duties, lately!

Much has transpired since my last Mashup! Contrary to popular belief, the Iranian Sanctions are not the cause célèbre for Iran’s determined détente efforts!

Let’s reflect back a few months ago…

U.S. commander says Iran sanctions not working

Severe sanctions against Iran are not working, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East says.

Gen. James Mattis of Central Command made the statement at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday.

‘In your professional opinion, are the current diplomatic and economic efforts to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability — are they working’ Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, asked.

‘No, sir,’ Mattis replied.

So what we see is Netanyahu urges Obama to keep Iran sanctions in place… And our Veep totally agreeing…

Biden says Iran sanctions are most effective in history, that deeper sanctions are an option

Vice President Joe Biden says U.S.-led sanctions against Iran have been the most effective sanctions regime ever.

Biden says Iran has a choice. He says Iran can suffer deepening economic sanctions or negotiate its way back into the global community and economy.

He says the U.S. doesn’t know whether Iran is willing to do what’s necessary to resolve concerns about its nuclear program.

Because, you know Iran hasn’t shown any desire to remedy their plight, right…?

What is Kerry actually negotiating with Iran?

…While there is a lot of optimism, there’s room for quite a bit of pessimism too though just based on reading tea-leaves. For example, Kerry’s reply to the question below is not very comforting:

‘Asked what steps Iran could take to prove its seriousness, Kerry replied: “They could immediately open for inspection the Fordo facility, they could immediately sign the protocol of the international community regarding inspections, they could offer to cease voluntarily to take enrichment above a certain level.”‘

Except that Fordo has been open to inspections for years, since the Iranians (and not US intelligence agencies, as the NY Times claims) first disclosed the location of the site to the IAEA. In fact Mohammad ElBaradei himself visited Fordo, and famously said it was nothing more than a hole in the mountain and nothing to be worried about. You could not possibly be even slightly aware of the Iranian nuclear issue, without knowing the Fordo is already open to inspections.

Secondly, Iran has signed the Additional Protocol already, and offered to ratify it if its rights are also recognized, though Iran is absolutely under no legal obligation whatsoever to sign the AP, just as neither Egypt nor Argentina nor Brazil nor lots of other countries have signed.

Third, Iran has consistently stated that it is willing to limit enrichment to 3.5%. In fact Iran was forced to enrich to 20% due to US sanctions that prevented Iran from simply buying the fuel for a medical reactor (which the US gave Iran in the first place) that uses fuel rods made with 20% enriched uranium. So it was the US policies in the first place that caused Iran to increase its enrichment levels, even though the reactor in question posed no credible nuclear weapons proliferation threat and so the US sanctions on the sale of fuel for that reactor did not actually promote or protect any legitimate non-proliferation goals. The media have been very insistent on ignoring this fact even though they will gladly engage in all sorts of totally biased speculation about ‘how close to a bomb’ Iran’s 20% enrichment gets it, and other reporters have completely gone overboard and have made up their own terminology by referring to this as Iran’s stockpile of ‘medium enriched’ uranium too, though no such term appears in the IAEA Glossary. That’s how the media not only follow the dominant narrative promoted by the govt but further embellish it before they pass it on.

To be sure, both Glennzilla and Cyrus Safdari, pointed out the obvious ‘Sudden’ strawman argument…

Read the rest of this entry →

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: Martyrs, Hawks, Patriots, and the Turkish Tempest

5:31 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

You know it’s bad when both the Left, and, the Right, agree to despair… Obama Appoints “Humanitarian Interventionists” to Key Positions, The Return of the Liberal Hawks, and, Genocide Twins Come On Board…!

Now, as the ever intrepid, Pepe Escobar, penned recently…

Meet the ‘Friends of Jihad’

Western politicos love to shed swamps of crocodile tears about “the Syrian people” and congratulate themselves within the “Friends of Syria” framework for defending them from “tyranny”.

Well, the “Syrian people” have spoken. Roughly 70% support the government of Bashar al-Assad. Another 20% are neutral. And only 10% are aligned with the Western-supported “rebels”, including those of the kidnapping, lung-eating, beheading jihadi kind.

The data was provided mostly by independent relief organizations working in Syria. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) received a detailed report in late May – but, predictably, was not too keen on releasing it…

…So who cares what the “Syrian people” might think? The Western “Friends of Syria” could not have found a more willing golden patsy to promote their usual, self-fulfilling Divide and Rule gambit – the Sunni-Shi’ite divide. It’s always handy to have dysfunctional GCC petro-monarchies posing as “liberators” so the West once again may conduct a proxy war “leading from behind”…

As it stands, the Geneva II negotiations promoted by Washington and Moscow seem to be as good as six feet under (although they are getting together today to define the framework).

The European Union has lifted its arms embargo on Syria – a move that was essentially a Franco-British delirium that went over the heads of reluctant EU members. It had to be Britain and France, of course, the two former imperial powers that almost a century ago carved up a line in the sand dividing the Levant and now want a redesign.

This would mean, in practice, that the EU has declared war on Damascus. Well, sort of. Under the EU agreement, no weaponizing will go on before autumn. And the belligerent Franco-British duo has to make sure any weapons are used only to protect civilians. Who will supervise this – a bunch of Brussels bureaucrats in army fatigues? Well, they can always revert to default – ask for American help. Every grain of sand in the Levant knows the CIA is “assisting” Qatar and Saudi Arabia to weaponize the “rebels”…

I did find it ironic that a WINEP-funded study couldn’t find an Iranian, but, did in fact find a dead American amongst the dead in Syria… Convoy of Martyrs in the Levant (PDF! 36p.) A Joint Study Charting the Evolving Role of Sunni Foreign Fighters in the Armed Uprising Against the Assad Regime in Syria

To wit: Majority of foreign fighters recently killed in Syria linked to front group for Al Qaeda…

…The majority of foreign fighters killed in Syria between July 2012 and May of this year were found to be fighting on behalf of a terrorist group that’s a front for Al Qaeda in Iraq, according to a new independent report by a security consulting firm that specializes in counterterrorism.

The report found at least 280 foreign fighters died in that time period.

Drawing on social media data, traditional media and internet platforms, the report called “Convoy of Martyrs in the Levant” by Flashpoint Global Partners concludes that the Syrian conflict is now drawing jihadiist fighters from the U.S., Chechnya, Kosovo, Egypt, Gaza, Jordan, Tunisia, Libya and Saudi Arabia.

“..The lion’s share of foreign fighters who are dying in Syria are fighting with the most hardline organization involved in the uprising: Jabhat al-Nusra,” the report said.;“The leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, Abu Mohammed al-Joulani, has recently publicly sworn allegiance to Al Qaeda leader Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri and the group has been blacklisted as a branch of Al Qaeda in Iraq by the United States government.”

From FP’s Marc Lynch…

Welcome to the Syrian Jihad

In a sermon on Friday, Islamist superstar theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi called on all Muslims to launch “a jihad in Syria against Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah, which are killing Sunnis and Christians and Kurds.”

Qaradawi declared that participation in a Syrian jihad was an individual obligation on every Muslim. He denounced Hezbollah, referring to it as “the party of Satan” and saying that it “want[s] continued massacres to kill Sunnis.” And he pushed deeper into sectarian hatred, labeling the Alawite sect, to which Assad belongs, as “worse infidels than Jews or Christians.”

What makes Qaradawi’s sectarian diatribe so disturbing is not that it represents some radical, new expression of extremism. It is that in today’s Arab world, there is nothing particularly distinctive about his comments at all. For many months, Arab and Muslim figures of all stripes have been loudly calling for support to the predominantly Sunni Syrian rebels, as have many Arab governments (and the United States and its allies, of course). The Muslim Brotherhood’s branches have strongly supported the Syrian opposition — acquiring too much power along the way, in the minds of some. Egyptian Salafis have described providing arms and funds to the Syrian rebels as “a form of worship” and killing Assad as a religious obligation. As the killing and destruction has escalated, such support for Syria’s rebels has rapidly morphed into extreme anti-Shiite and anti-Alawi rhetoric…

Interestingly… The No-Plan Zone

Read the rest of this entry →

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

Al-Nusra Runs Rampant In Syria

9:16 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

C’mon, folks…! Was there ever any doubt as to the Saudi/Qatari, Petrobuck-fueled, Wahabbist influence…?


Islamist Factions Imposing Saudi-Style Religious Codes on Residents…

…The police are charged with enforcing an extremely harsh interpretation of Sunni Islam, and while the rebels insist they are aimed at “fighting crime,” the locals say that mostly they are forcing people to pray and stopping women from driving cars.

Women are expressing serious concern about the trend, saying that they were on board for a “revolution for freedom” but the rebels are determined to take away social and individual freedoms they enjoyed under the Assad regime.

Secular rebel factions insisted that the entire story was “made up” by the regime to discredit the rebellion, but Islamist factions seemed to endorse the move, saying that a virtue-and-vice squad is “part-and-parcel of the freedom revolution” and that since Sunnis are a majority in Syria they have a right to impose such rules on society.

So, now get a load of this Hof Guff…

Syria’s Time Is Running Out

…”…the United States and others should immediately establish security assistance relationships with this new government, providing arms and training…Although the administration has so far resisted arming the opposition, arms are now the coin of the realm for anyone wishing to influence the course of Syria’s future. The United States and its allies — most notably Turkey — must dominate the logistics of external arms transfers, ensuring that weapons go to those advocating a non-sectarian, decent political system for Syria and are denied to those seeking a sectarian outcome…The negative reaction of the mainstream Syrian opposition to the U.S. designation of Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organization is understandable. ….. the timing of the designation was amateurishly lamentable — unnecessarily neutralizing the impact of U.S. recognition of the Syrian Opposition Council…”

Huh…?

Anyways, some real insight…

Civil war at stalemate, says Russia

…Syria’s civil war has reached stalemate and international efforts to persuade President Bashar Al Assad to quit will fail, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday.

Mainly Sunni Muslim rebels seeking to overthrow Assad are fighting on the edge of the capital Damascus and expanding southwards from their northern strongholds in Aleppo and Idlib into the central province of Hama. {…}

… But Lavrov said the Syrian president was not about to bow to pressure from opponents or more sympathetic leaders in Moscow and Beijing.

“Listen, no one is going to win this war,” he told reporters aboard a government plane en route to Moscow from the Russia-EU summit in Brussels. “Assad is not going anywhere, no matter what anyone says, be it China or Russia.”

Lavrov said Russia had rejected requests from countries in the region to pressure Assad to go or offer him safe haven, and warned that his exit might lead to an upsurge in fighting.

He also said Syrian authorities were gathering the country’s chemical weapons in one or two areas and that they were “under control” for the time being. “Currently the (Syrian) government is doing all it can to secure (chemical weapons), according to intelligence data we have and the West has,” he said. {…}

In Aleppo, rebel leader Colonel Abdel-Jabbar Al Oqaidi said his fighters considered the skies above Aleppo to be a no-fly zone and repeated a warning that they would attack planes using the city’s airport.

Snipers fired at an airliner preparing to take off from Aleppo on Thursday, forcing it to abandon its departure.

“The airport was being used as a military airport to transport troops and (Iranian) Revolutionary Guards,” Oqaidi told Reuters. “We forbid planes from flying in Syrian air space. We will set up a no-fly zone.”

What a D*ckhead, no…?

And, if there’s any doubters left amongst ya… An insight into Syria’s frontline…

Btw…

…According to Lavrov, American partners recognise that the major threat will be posed if chemical weapons fall into the hands of terrorists.

“We tell them – you do back the opposition, including its armed struggle. Thus, it may happen what you fear. We determine the priorities. No clear answer is available yet,” Lavrov said.

The minister stressed that Russia re-checked all rumours related to chemical weapons. “Till now, according to our data, which is correlated with the West, chemical weapons are under control. The Syrian authorities concentrated their arsenals in one or two centres. Earlier, all was strewn across the country.” “This is the important problem. Everyone should realise that ‘the hands’ should not provided aid that continues to be rendered,” the minister added.

According to Russian and American special services, the Syrian government does everything possible to safeguard chemical weapons, Lavrov pointed out.

Fancy that…! So we have purported Scud-Style missiles being lobbed, but, no real proof, and, we’re all supposed to Arm Cheer the USA FSA on…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Return of The Living Dead…

5:02 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

I always appreciate it when the Foreign Policy ‘wonks’ argue what I’ve said years ago…! Today, Stephen Walt, in FP, asked the eternal burning question…

Why do people keep predicting war with Iran?

… One of the background elements in this campaign has been repeated warnings that Israel’s leaders believed “time was running out” and that they were getting ready to launch a preventive strike on their own. This recurring theme has depended heavily on cooperation from sympathetic journalists and compliant media organizations, who have provided a platform to disseminate these various dark prophecies.

In September 2010, for example, The Atlantic published a cover story by Jeffrey Goldberg (“The Point of No Return”) based on interviews with dozens of Israeli officials. Goldberg concluded that the odds of an Israeli attack by July 2011 were greater than 50 percent. Fortunately, this forecast proved to be as accurate as most of Goldberg’s other writings about the Middle East. {…}

…Like I said, I can’t be completely sure that reason will prevail and that a war won’t happen, although there do seem to be a lot of sensible voices inside the Israeli security establishment who are counseling against it. What worries me most is that the people who have been sounding all these alarmist warnings will start to worry that their credibility is evaporating, and they will feel compelled to go to war because they’ve talked about it for so long. That’s just about the dumbest reason I can think of, but sometimes even pretty smart people do dumb things.

Does anybody realize that the last time Persia invaded any neighboring Nation, these United States were still British colonies…?

Now, what prompted my latest rant is this blatant agitprop from Ehud Barak, yesterday… Israel defense chief ‘suggests’ U.S. has new intelligence bringing worries over Iran in line with Israel’s…!

I thought Richard Silverstein best summed it up…

I don’t buy it. Not for a second. First, Barak Ravid, Haaretz’s stenographer for Barak, admits in a tweet that he hasn’t personally seen the report. He says that western and Israeli sources he considers “very reliable,” have. The Israeli source is likely Barak, who I wouldn’t consider reliable if he was the last defense minister on earth. The western source could very well be U.S. ambassador Dan Shapiro, who’s been leaking like a sieve to Israeli media on the Iran issue.

If you parse the Haaretz carefully (or even not so carefully) you won’t find a single piece of information in it that’s new or that even describes any aspect of the NIE. What I’m guessing is that Barak hasn’t even seen it himself. At no point does Ravid say that Israel has the report or has seen it. Which makes all of this nothing more than spin. Something unfortunately we’ve grown quite used to when it comes to Israeli security issues. Israel’s claims about Iran’s nuclear program have been riddled with deceit, lies and fraud. {…}

…Think on this as well: isn’t it a bit strange that there’ve been virtually no reports on the NIE in U.S. media. Why would the U.S. allow Israel to be the first to announce the news? Unless of course Barak is jumping the gun and doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Undoubtedly, there is a new NIE in the works and perhaps it does have strong things to say about Iran. But whether those things match what Barak is claiming is entirely dubious.

Even Emptywheel is confused by this new ‘leak’ war… I’m Confused. Are THESE Leaks Permissible, or Not?

…It’s okay for Ehud Barak, who was fed this intelligence either in normal intelligence sharing or alternately just handed the US the report in question and now is claiming that the report has been incorporated into the NIE (says a US official who seems determined to provide some explanation for this leak), to talk about leaked US intelligence on the record, but it’s not okay for the NSC spokesperson to do so.

It’s a new twist on the A1 cutout Dick Cheney used, I’m fairly certain: launder the leak through leaks to Israel, because no one in Congress or DC generally (except the FBI) gives a damn about leaks to Israel.

Whatever. I’m thoroughly confused. Am I right that the leak to Israel is considered acceptable but now the sources for the Reuters report will be targets of a witch hunt?

Ironically, let’s not lose sight that it is indeed a ‘war of leaks’… Saudi Arabia says it would ‘intercept Israeli planes en route to Iran’

…Saudi Arabia will not permit Israeli aircraft to cross its territory on the way to strike Iran, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Thursday. The message was passed to Jerusalem via Obama administration officials during recent talks in Israel, it claimed.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said later Thursday he had received no such message.

Senior Israeli officials reportedly see the move as a warning message from the US not to launch a unilateral strike, according to the paper.

Hmmm… But press on they must… Israeli leaders want to attack Iran before US election, says media report…

…The front-page report in the biggest-selling daily Yedioth Ahronoth came amid mounting speculation – fuelled by media leaks from both the government and its detractors at home and abroad – that war with Iran could be imminent, even though it might rupture the bedrock ties between Israel and the United States.

“Were it up to Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, an Israeli military strike on the nuclear facilities in Iran would take place in the coming autumn months, before the November election in the United States,” Yedioth said in the article by its two senior commentators, which appeared to draw on discussions with the defence minister but included no direct quotes.

Spokesmen for prime minister Netanyahu and for Mr Barak declined to comment.

Yedioth said the Israeli leaders had failed to win over other security cabinet ministers for a strike on Iran now, against a backdrop of objections by the armed forces given the tactical and strategic hurdles such an operation would face.

“The respect which in the past formed a halo around prime ministers and defence ministers and helped them muster a majority for military decisions is gone, no more,” Yedioth said. “Either the people are different, or the reality is different.”

I thought my favorite Persian, Cyrus Safdari, best said it… This is just a pathetic display…

*gah*

Ramadan Kareem…!

by CTuttle

What A Wicked Web We Weave…

12:20 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the TRNN blurb: Col. Larry Wilkerson: This may have more to do with getting ready for war against Iran than fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda

Let’s connect some dots…

First, some Terrorism Arithmetic

…Uncle Sam will spend $3.796 trillion in 2012 compared with $1.863 trillion in 2001, $1.327 trillion of which was borrowed, reversing 2001’s budget surplus of $127 billion. The Department of Homeland Security gets $57 billion and employs 180,000, the intelligence agencies get an estimated $100 billion and employ 100,000, the FBI gets nearly $9 billion, and the Department of Defense gets $671 billion, which does not include the war in Afghanistan. In 2001, the Pentagon budget was $277 billion. When all the increases are added up and compared to the baseline of 2001, the war on terror currently costs the American taxpayer more than $500 billion per year. As there may be only 100 or so terrorists interested in attacking the United States directly, that works out to something like $5 billion per year per terrorist…

…I don’t suppose statistical analysis of an official government report really means anything as President Barack Obama is expanding his little wars and presidential aspirant Mitt Romney appears to be intent on turning the little conflicts into much bigger ones. When Osama bin Laden announced his intention of breaking the United States economically by enticing it to overreact to terror attacks, he surely knew a good thing when he saw it. More to the point, he might even have understood that politics as usual in the United States would mean that the two parties would try to outdo each other in being tough about the terrorist threat. That is precisely what has occurred. Breaking the pattern does not appear to be in the national DNA, even though continuing to do as we have been doing is a recipe for ruin. The ultimate irony in U.S. politics is that fearmongering always appears to be a good card to play for a politician even when the numbers and analysis say otherwise. It seems safe to say that neither an Obama nor a Romney will do anything to disrupt that pattern.

On Iran…

So lets see now: After months of talks, across two continents and three cities, and the whole thing came down to the fact that the US wants Iran to abandon her rights, with nothing given in exchange…

…The bottom line is that as long as the US is not willing to recognize such a basic principle — that Iran, like any other sovereign country, has a right to enrich uranium, just as Brazil, Argentina, Netherlands etc. — then really there just isn’t anything to talk about. And the US won’t acknowledge that because 1- Israel won’t tolerate it, and 2- the US needs to keep the nuclear issue alive as a justification and pretext for a policy of imposing regime change in Iran.

Of course there will be analysts who will attempt to cut a “middle of the road” path for themselves by blaming both sides equally, thus making themselves appear to be objective and neutral, but really, I don’t see how Iran can be criticized for not giving up a right to enrichment. No country on the face of the planet would do that…

To be sure…

…If it were left to the U.S. Senate, Israeli and American air power would already be winging its way to Tehran to destroy Iran’s nuclear plants. 44 senators, including a considerable number of Democrats, wrote to the president that he should abandon the nuclear talks which recently concluded their second failed meeting in Moscow. These ‘peacemakers’ suggest three demands that we impose upon the Iranians:

The senators wrote that the “absolute minimum” Iran must do immediately to justify further talks is to shut down the Fordo uranium enrichment facility near Qom, freeze all uranium enrichment above 5 percent, and ship all uranium enriched above 5 percent out of the country.

If they fail, we might as well put on our helmets and Kevlar and fire up the F-16s and cruise missiles. The senators know that Iran will not agree to any such conditions. Thus in effect they are calling for a virtual declaration of war against Iran (though they couched it in more subtle language than that):

…We urge you to reevaluate the utility of further talks at this time and instead focus on significantly increasing the pressure on the Iranian government through sanctions and making clear that a credible military option exists,” they wrote. ”As you have rightly noted, ‘the window for diplomacy is closing.’ Iran’s leaders must realize that you mean precisely that.”

…The question is: is Obama vacillating enough to, in one of his many weak political moments, give in to all this saber-rattling and offer Israel a green-light? Does he understand that there’s a quantitative difference between killing Muslims with U.S. drones and dropping bunker busters on Iran? Or will he truly become the national security president and go “all the way” to war?

It’s ironic that even George Bush said we weren’t at war with Islam. Barack Obama seems hellbent on turning that statement on its head. From his Cairo speech to the current shambles of our relations with the Arab world. It’s ugly how things have gone for him and us.

Here’s another blockbuster from Richard Silverstein, as well… Israel Lobby Creates Anti-Iran Astroturf Group…

Now, On Syria…

Will the Syria Opposition Unify? Does it Need to?

The New York Times is reporting that the C.I.A. is Steering Arms to members of the Syrian Opposition. The CIA has a major challenge in trying to unify the Syrian militias, teach them to fight, get them advanced weapons, and supply them with enough intelligence so that they will know how to avoid the Syrian army where it is strong and attack it where it is weak. But even if the Syrian militias, which Jeffrey White of WINEP estimates to be around 100 (I read a 200 estimate yesterday but have forgotten where), cannot unify or develop a command and control structure, they are still likely to bring down the regime eventually. The sponsors of the Syria regime will not supply it with an endless aid and arms. For 12% of the population to police a large country that is in widespread revolt is too costly, especially when much of the world is mobilized for regime-change. Perhaps the CIA’s biggest challenge will be to make sure the arms get to pro-American militias. It cannot afford a repeat of Afghanistan in the 1980s…

Here’s a great Guardian report…Saudi Arabia plans to fund Syria rebel army…

Just think, you too can join the Saudis… Adopt a Syrian rebel? Websites raise cash for opposition…

In summation, what a great question…

Why Is the U.S. Selling Billions in Weapons to Autocrats?

The export of American arms to countries around the world — even those actively repressing their own citizens — is booming

What the f*ck are we doing…?

*gah*