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by CTuttle

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

4:53 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, as Jim White pointed out…

Working Thread: UN Chemical Weapon Report on Syria Released

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syria: Has Obama forsaken the insurgency?

Last throw of the Dice: missiles in the Med.

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

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

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

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

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

Why Israel hails Syria chemical weapons deal

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

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

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

Iran said ready to dismantle underground nuclear facility

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

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

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

Pro-Israel groups suspend lobby for Syria strike

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

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

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

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

Glimmers of hope appear, pups…!

by CTuttle

Syria Mashup: Bumble F*cking, French Faux Pas, and Putin’s Checkmate

9:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Seriously, pups, this is the best of all outcomes on Syria that has yet materialized…!

Not only is Obama, and the Administration, afforded a face-saving means to not launch an “unbelievably small and extremely limited” war on Syria, but, they even managed ‘Bumble-F*cking’ their way In and Out of Syria…!

In all seriousness, it truly behooved Obama to step down from the brink of virtual World War…! The Russians have already put in place a significant naval prescence in the Eastern Med…! Russian Warships in Offensive Arrangement for Syrian War…!

Some very cogent analysis…

Role of the Russian Navy

The Russian naval task force off the coast of Syria is a pretty big one, and it includes some very powerful ships, such as the Moskva class guided missile cruisers, whose main function is to sink aircraft carriers. Except that the Russians never had any intention of sinking anybody, much less so a US carrier. While clearly this task was designed with several possible contingencies in mind, I would argue that one of its most important tasks was to protect a ship with no firepower at all: the Priazov’ye intelligence collection ship.

And don’t let the “medium” descriptor fool you as it only refers to the physical size. This ship is packed with advanced electronic and communication intelligence gear (including special electronic intelligence equipment “Profil`-M”, “Rotor-S”, “Prokhlada”, “Vizir”, “Konus”, “Zarya-1″, sonar MG-349 «Uzh», MGP-303). Combined with the extremely powerful radars and anti-air capabilities of the rest of the Russian naval task force the electronics onboad the Priazovie made it impossible to strike Syria with any degree of tactical surprise. These considerations, in turn, must have counted as an important element in Obama’s decision to accept Putin’s “Russian Gambit”. Exactly has I had predicted, while the entire world was focused on whether the Russians had or had not delivered all, or part, of the S-300s to Syria, the Russians came up with a totally different move which took the world by surprise.

Saving Obama’s sorry face:

Anybody who has seen the video of Kerry running his mouth about Assad giving up all of his chemical weapons before the end of the way even though this was, quite Kerry, “impossible” will see this was not a planned statement but just Kerry thinking out loud. So why are the Russians now eagerly confirming that yes, indeed, this option had been discussed with Obama in Saint Petersburg? Because Putin, Lavrov & Co are hyper-pragmatists. They don’t want to humiliate these idiots Obama and Kerry and they are quite happy to give them a face-saving way out, as long as that contributes to the Russian objective for Syria. This is what the State Department first said that Kerry statement was ‘rhetorical’ – even they had no clue. And is it not fitting that one thoughtless statement by a US politician almost started a war (Obama’s “red line”) while another, no less thoughtless statement by another US politicians (Kerry’s “give up all weapons in a week”) prevented it? Karma is beautiful!

Btw, Assad did recently test out the UK/US/Nato Air Defences…!

Now, if you look at the French proposal to the UNSC, you can understand why the Russians were quick to expose that French foreign faux pas…!

Let me point out what Putin had to say… Putin: Syria chemical arms handover will work only if US calls off strike…!

And, Syria agrees to Russia weapons plan to ‘uproot US aggression’…!

Checkmate…!

So, will Saner minds and wits prevail…? *gah*

by CTuttle

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

7:01 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

McClatchy expands on the new Tahrir Square protests…

Egyptians fill Tahrir Square in largest protest of President Mohammed Morsi

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile… 150 Egyptians injured in nationwide clashes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now he leaves, bodies strewn everywhere…

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

Israel as a colonial settler state.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2010 Human Rights Report: Israel and the occupied territories

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

Now, moving along to Syria…

Syria ‘names 142 foreign jihadists who fought with rebels’

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, the UN has been busy…

UN condemns Syria, Iran for rampant rights abuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*gah*

by CTuttle

Madame Shillary is Worried That ‘Extremists’ Are Hijacking The SNC, Sacks SNC

3:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Here’s an example of the ‘spin’ being put on the ‘recent’ discovery of Jihadists amongst the Syrian Rebels… Syria: Rebel Fighters Are Becoming Radicalised…

Sky has seen new evidence that the Syrian uprising is becoming more and more radicalised and being fought by Islamic fundamentalists and extremists.

The Syrian rebels have all but given up on military intervention by the West but after 18 months of grinding battle and a feeling they have been abandoned by the international community, they are making their own bombs and weapons and becoming much more self-sufficient.

There are some weapons and arms being smuggled across the borders from sympathetic Muslim neighbours.

We saw brand new rocket propelled grenade launchers with their rockets still in their plastic wrappers which had been smuggled across the Turkish border and an anti-aircraft gun which the rebels told us had come from Iraq.

But although that means that the rebels have many more weapons than they have had before, it is still small fry in comparison to the heavy weaponry, tanks and artillery employed by the regime.

What is increasingly obvious is the number of Jihad (holy war) flags and Jihad paraphernalia worn and used by the rebel fighters. The black headbands worn by many of the fighters are a symbol of Islamic fundamentalism – used by extremist groups and usually anti-Western.

The common refrain from many of the rebel fighters is that they have been forgotten by the outside world.

A number of commanders told us they were disappointed, angry and frustrated by the lack of help from the international community.

One said: “All we get is words, not actions.”

Y’all should know by now, that I’ve been screaming my head off about the F/UK/US/Arab League promotion of Jihadists in Iraq, Libya, Syria, amongst numerous other places! Afterall,’Divide and Conquer‘ is the primary means to Regime Change…!

Now, one should read all of Madame Shillary’s statement in Zagreb, to get the full impact…

QUESTION: Secretary, if I could ask you about Syria. Mr. Brahimi’s attempt at a ceasefire has evidently failed, and the violence is increasing again. What are your views on what needs to be done now to bring the violence down?

And turning to next week’s opposition conference in Doha, what gives you confidence, if you have any at all, that this could produce the beginnings of a government in waiting where the SNC has failed to do that? And are you sure that your key allies, including Turkey, are ready to swing behind whatever is the outcome of Doha? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well Andy, those are all very important and timely questions. And I want to start by thanking Croatia for their assistance in dealing with the extremely difficult problems presented by both Syria and Iran.

Look, I sincerely regret, but I, unfortunately, was not surprised by the failure of the latest ceasefire attempt. Despite its reported commitment to the UN Special Envoy, Mr. Brahimi, the Assad regime did not suspend its use of advanced weaponry against the Syrian people for even one day. And the shelling in the suburbs of Damascus was as bad last weekend as at any time in the conflict.

So while we urge Special Envoy Brahimi to do whatever he can in Moscow and Beijing to convince them to change course and support stronger UN action, we cannot and will not wait for that. Instead, our efforts, and those of our partners in the EU and the Arab League, are focused on pressuring the regime through increasing and tightening sanctions, meeting the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people who are displaced, assisting those countries that they seek refuge in, and helping the opposition unite behind a shared, effective strategy that can resist the regime’s violence and begin to provide for a political transition that can demonstrate more clearly than has been possible up until now what the future holds for the Syrian people once the Assad regime is gone.

So we are working very hard with many different elements from the opposition – yes, inside Syria as well as outside Syria. Some of you might remember I hosted a meeting in New York during the UN General Assembly. We facilitated the smuggling-out of a few representatives of the Syrian internal opposition in order for them to explain to the countries gathered why they must be at the table. This cannot be an opposition represented by people who have many good attributes but have, in many instances, not been inside Syria for 20, 30, or 40 years. There has to be a representation of those who are on the frontlines, fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom.

And there needs to be an opposition leadership structure that is dedicated to representing and protecting all Syrians. It is not a secret that many inside Syria are worried about what comes next. They have no love lost for the Assad regime, but they worry, rightly so, about the future. And so there needs to be an opposition that can speak to every segment and every geographic part of Syria. And we also need an opposition that will be on record strongly resisting the efforts by extremists to hijack the Syrian revolution. There are disturbing reports of extremists going into Syria and attempting to take over what has been a legitimate revolution against a repressive regime for their own purposes.

So the Arab League-sponsored meetings, starting in Doha next week, will be an important next step. I have been constantly involved with my counterparts, both in the EU and in the Arab League, in particular with the hosts of the meeting next week in Qatar. We have recommended names and organizations that we believe should be included in any leadership structure. We’ve made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition. They can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice that needs to be heard. So our efforts are very focused on that right now. Thank you.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) This completes the statements for the press. Thank you.

As The Cable is reporting…

Clinton explains State Department efforts to build new Syrian opposition council

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged Wednesday that the U.S. government has been working to establish a new council to represent the Syrian opposition, to be unveiled in Qatar at a major conference next week.

The Cable reported Tuesday that the State Department has been heavily involved in setting the stage for the Nov. 7 rollout of a new opposition leadership council, which will subsume the Syrian National Council (SNC), a group of external opposition leaders that the administration has decided is too consumed by infighting and ineffectiveness to represent the Syrian opposition.

U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford will travel to Qatar for the conference and has been working to craft the new council in a way that better represents a wider array of both internal and external opposition groups. U.S. officials and opposition leaders are calling the initiative the “Riad Seif plan,” named after the former Syrian parliamentarian and dissident who has been active in preparing the new initiative.

“We call it a proto-parliament. One could also think of it as a continental congress,” a senior administration official told The Cable.

Needless to say, it’s going over like a lead balloon…

Syrian opposition figures bristle at new US push to overhaul leadership

Members of Syria’s opposition-in-exile bristled Thursday at the Obama administration’s suggestion that Washington will handpick more representative leaders at a crucial conference in Qatar next week.

The new U.S. push appears aimed at creating a unified leadership that could work more closely with the West. But there are signs of resistance among deeply fractured opposition groups wary of attempts by foreign backers to dictate strategy in the civil war against President Bashar Assad.

“This direct tutelage and these dictates are not acceptable to the Syrian people anymore,” said Zuhair Salem, the London-based spokesman for Syria’s banned Muslim Brotherhood opposition group. The Brotherhood is part of the main political opposition group, the Syrian National Council, which is dominated by exiles…

b at MOA further extrapolated on what a Cluster F*ck we’ve created… U.S. Installs New Political Proxy Opposition…

God help us all…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

NATO To Bypass UN Security Council On Syria

4:32 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Let’s look at how the F/UK/US-GCC prepares to f*ck us and the Syrians, as Russian FM Lavrov had warned on Tuesday…

“Intervention in Syria is a catastrophe,” says Lavrov

…After a meeting in Geneva between representatives of the five member countries of the UN (United Nations) and others bordering Syria, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Patrick Ventrell, said the absence of a resolution does not impede the actions of the United States.

“Three times Russia and China blocked the resolutions on Syria in the UN. We tried to convince them to change their position, but could not,” Ventrell said last June. “We have to continue working under the aegis of the United Nations, but we also have a broader strategy that should be respected. We do not intend to stop doing our job just because there is no resolution,” added Ventrell.

“The United States has expressed its intention to intervene, ignoring the UN Security Council,” countered the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov…

“I believe that the statements from Washington and other capitals that the declaration of Geneva is a dead letter are completely irresponsible. This document represents the most important consensus reached in cooperation with western countries, Russia, China, Turkey and the main Arab countries,” said the Russian minister.

Lavrov added that there is an extremely complex ethnic and religious mix in Syria. “Minorities who gather around Assad expecting help in protecting their rights, are also part of the Syrian people,” he said…

Here’s some of the ‘plans’ that are being bandied about…

First, from the misnomer, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP)(PDF!)…

The Day After Project

…The Day After project brought together a group of Syrians representing a large spectrum of the Syrian opposition—including senior representatives of the Syrian National Council (SNC), members of the Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCC), and unaffiliated opposition figures from inside Syria and the Diaspora representing all major political trends and components of Syrian society—to participate in an independent transition planning process.

During the period from January to June 2012, this group of approximately 45 Syrian participants, supported by leading international experts in transition planning, convened six times to develop a shared vision of Syria’s democratic future, define goals and principles of a transition, and to prepare a detailed yet flexible transition planning document. Participants met in plenary as well as intensive working group sessions. While each of the six working groups focused on the specific challenges in the respective policy field, all of the groups were guided by a shared commitment to clearly defined goals and principles…

Good luck with that USIP, this kinda puts the kibosh on that little charade… Syria opposition group not up to challenge, says ex-member…

“The groups inside the council did not all behave as one in promoting one national project,” Kodmani said. “Some have given too much attention to their own partisan agendas, some to their personal agendas sometimes. That resulted in a major weakness in connecting closely with the groups on the ground and providing the needed support in all forms.”

Anyways, it seems the Rand Corporation has long since dispensed with the farcical notion of it being any sort of a ‘humanitarian intervention’…

Taking Syria Seriously

…Assad’s overthrow would be a major strategic defeat for Iran, weakening the country’s international standing and dealing a heavy blow to the so-called “axis of resistance” — Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. Conversely, Assad’s survival — or even a protracted civil war — would be seen as a US defeat, which could have serious regional consequences, including increased Iranian intransigence.

In this environment, the US needs a more activist, assertive policy toward Syria aimed at ending the conflict in such a way that bolsters regional stability and facilitates a peaceful democratic transition. This policy should include three crucial elements.

-The US should provide opposition forces with increased intelligence and communication equipment, thereby enabling them to coordinate their attacks more effectively.

-The US should supply arms, ammunition, and logistical support to the opposition, beyond what Saudi Arabia and Qatar currently are providing. Additional weapons — including anti-tank guided missiles, mortars, and sniper rifles — would enable the opposition to launch effective attacks from a distance, and challenge the pro-Assad forces’ air supremacy.

-America and its key allies should help to train the opposition forces to operate these weapons. The training provided by France, Britain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates played a critical role last year in shifting the balance in favor of Libyan opposition forces, and it could have a similar impact in Syria.

To be sure, the US would have to monitor carefully the flow of arms in order to ensure that they end up in the right hands. It should also coordinate its scions with key regional allies, especially Turkey.

Funny how the Grey Lady deemed it necessary to report on this little outfit yesterday, eh…?

Syrian Émigrés Seek Aid in U.S. to Arm Rebels

From a one-room office in an unfinished glass tower three blocks from the White House, an amorphous network of activists is doing what the Obama administration will not: attempting to arm the rebels trying to overthrow Syria’s government…

From the UK’s Telegraph…

Britain and US plan a Syrian revolution from an innocuous office block in Istanbul

An underground network of Syrian opposition activists is receiving training and supplies of vital equipment from a combined American and British effort to forge an effective alternative to the Damascus regime.

Let’s not forget about the French…

UK, France not ruling out military option for Syria
Though UN resolution allowing military no-fly zone unlikely ‘at this time,’ two nations said to be in ‘unity’ on options, including NATO military enforcement…

In a honest analysis, Brandeis Professors Eva Bellin and Peter Krause, lay out what is truly needed if we are indeed acting in a moral Humanitarian fashion…

…The first impulse among many leading activists and scholars was to call
for intervention with force. As some opinion makers in the U.S. argued: What
is the point of having great power if that power is not used to great ends?3 A
consortium of forces in the international community, it is argued, could easily
demolish Assad’s third-rate army, so why not step in and be done with it? But
careful assessments of conditions on the ground have forced most sober analysts
to retreat from this position. The Syrian military, while no match for the full
firepower of the U.S. or NATO, is nevertheless not an insignificant force—and,
more critically, it is enmeshed in densely populated civilian centers. To disarm
it without inflicting huge human casualties would require not simply an air
campaign, as was the case in Libya, but rather, by some estimates, two to three
hundred thousand boots on the ground.4 Such force would be crucial to fully
defeat the regime’s security forces, enforce civil peace, and prevent the subsequent
unleashing of retaliatory massacres by opposition groups. Furthermore, to have
lasting impact, such an intervention would have to be prolonged and would
require extensive investment in state-building, at great cost…

What a clusterf*ck…!

God help the Syrians and us…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

The Syrian Strife and ‘The Mouse That Roared’

7:13 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Time magazine’s Rania Abouzeid, from within Syria’s Idlib Province, recently painted a bleak picture…

Going Rogue: Bandits and Criminal Gangs Threaten Syria’s Rebellion

“They (the FSA) get more support than we do, but our support is delivered to us, theirs doesn’t make it to them. That’s the truth,” he says. “Their support stays in Turkey, it doesn’t make it to the revolutionaries here. If our supporters send us 100 lira, we get 100 lira. This is the reality.” He wouldn’t say who his supporters were, if they were state sponsors or individuals. “Whether it is official or unofficial doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “We have enough.”

It’s a statement many of the FSA units operating around these parts can only aspire to utter. Most blame the so-called commanders in exile for their situation, for not providing them with the weapons, ammunition and funds they need, leaving them to scrounge for supplies, and some units to resort to criminal means to secure them. {…}

…Some FSA units are snatching loyalist soldiers from military buses and demanding a ransom from their families for their return. The amount varies, and can be anywhere between 100,000 Syrian pounds ($1,550) to 200,000 SYP ($3,100) for a regular soldier, although the family of a lieutenant colonel reportedly recently paid one million SYP for his release…

“Some people have reasons for not defecting, they should not be punished for protecting their families,” one man said, referring to the fact that retribution by loyalist troops is sometimes exacted on a defector’s family or property. “If they are going to their hometown on leave, they can defect,” countered an FSA member, “and we need the money.” The consensus was that if a loyalist was picked up on leave, on his way home it was wrong, because he may be using his leave to defect. If he was heading back to his barracks, however, it was a different story, the men said. “It means he’s coming back to kill us,” said Abu Amjad, whose son Amjad heads a rebel FSA unit, “so he has to be stopped.”

The ever intrepid, Pepe Escobar, raises the very same concerns that I have of the Kurdish Question…

Welcome to the Kurdish Spring

Follow the oil
This Swedish report [1](PDF!) contains arguably the best breakdown of the hyper-fragmented Syrian opposition. The “rebels” are dominated by the exile-heavy Syrian National Council (SNC) and its Hydra-style militias, the over 100 gangs that compose the Not Exactly Free Syrian Army (FSA).

But there are many other parties as well, including socialists; Marxists; secular nationalists; Islamists; the Kurdish National Council (KNC) – an 11-party coalition very close to the Iraqi Kurdistan government; and the PYD. {…}

Show me your terrorist ID
Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani told al-Jazeera [2] that yes – they are training Syrian Kurds who defected from the Syrian Army to defend their de facto enclave. It was Barzani who supervised the key deal sealed in Irbil on July 11 that led to Assad forces retreating from Syrian Kurdistan.

What is being described as “liberated cities” [3] is now being “jointly ruled” by the PYD and the KNC. They have formed what is known as a Supreme Kurdish Body.

One can never underestimate the Kurdish capacity to shoot themselves in the foot (and elsewhere). Yet one can also imagine all this cross-country Kurdish frenzy terrifying quite a few souls in Istanbul and Ankara. This [4] columnist for the daily newspaper Hurriyet got it right; “Arabs are fighting, Kurds are winning.” The Kurdish Spring is at hand. And it is already hitting Turkey’s borders. {…}

…Especially when you start itching to kill “terrorists” living in your neighbor’s territory – even though your Western allies may view them as “freedom fighters”. Meanwhile you actively support Salafi-jihadis – “insurgents” formerly known as terrorists – back and forth across your borders.

An increasingly erratic Erdogan has invoked a “natural right” [5] to fight “terrorists”. But first they must produce an ID; if they are Sunni Arab, they get away with it. If they are Kurdish, they eat lead…

Now, I’d like to delve into some of the inner-most thoughts of a true Neocon under Shrub…

Rumsfeld’s Intel Chief: Iraq War ‘Greatest Decision of the Century’

There’s a broad consensus in the U.S. defense establishment today that the choice to invade Iraq was ill-considered and that the initial plan to stabilize the country was even worse. But for Donald Rumsfeld’s one-time intelligence chief, the Iraq war wasn’t just the right call at the time. It was “one of the great strategic decisions of the first half of the 21st century, if it proves not to be the greatest.”

Stephen Cambone, who served as the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence from 2003 until 2007, surprised the audience at the Aspen Security Forum this weekend when he hailed the Iraq war as an alloyed triumph that paved the way for the rebellions now sweeping the Middle East. “It will be one of the greatest strategic victories of the United States because…. of the aftershocks that you see flowing through the region, whether it be in Libya, or in Egypt, or now in Syria,” he said…

“There was a preponderance of evidence that led one to believe that it was reasonable to suppose that there was in fact weapons of mass destruction in that country,” he told the Forum (where, full disclosure, I served as a panel moderator). “The conclusion was mistaken. To draw the conclusion might not have been a mistake… You only know what you know at the time and you have to fill in the rest. So was it reasonable to draw that judgement at the time? I think the answer — based on what people, the judgement they did draw — yeah it probably was. In retrospect, was it accurate? No.’”

Cambone also offered a prediction: that the wave of unrest unleashed by the Iraq war would soon hit American allies in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. This was an extremely positive thing, Cambone added: “After Syria comes Lebanon and after Lebanon come Jordan, and after those come Saudi Arabia; this place is in motion in a way that it hasn’t been for a century — and we have an opportunity to shape that.”

Well, f*ck me and the entire ME, Cambone…!

Here’s a great Intel update on Syria… The Syrian Intelligence War: A Tale of Two Security Headquarters… And, here’s more sober analysis… Shias and Sunnis battle it out for Mideast control… Btw, Adana is ground zero of F/U(c)K/US-GCC…

Exclusive: Secret Turkish nerve center leads aid to Syria rebels

…Turkey has set up a secret base with allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria’s rebels from a city near the border, Gulf sources have told Reuters.

News of the clandestine Middle East-run “nerve centre” working to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad underlines the extent to which Western powers – who played a key role in unseating Muammar Gaddafi in Libya – have avoided military involvement so far in Syria.

“It’s the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main co-ordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom,” said a Doha-based source.

“The Americans are very hands-off on this. U.S. intel(ligence) are working through middlemen. Middlemen are controlling access to weapons and routes.”

The centre in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 100 km (60 miles) from the Syrian border, was set up after Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud visited Turkey and requested it, a source in the Gulf said. The Turks liked the idea of having the base in Adana so that they could supervise its operations, he added…

Now, Angry Arab, in an excellent Al Akhbar Op-Ed, completely eviscerated our Western Lame Stream Media reporting on Syria…

Syria: Shameful Performance of Western Media

The performance of the Western media (American, British, French and others) regarding the Syrian conflict has been quite shameful. One does not expect much from American media. Ill-informed foreign editors and correspondents and political cowardice turn American media into tools of US foreign policy.

This is especially true when it comes to coverage of the Middle East, where extra political courage and uncharacteristic level of knowledge and expertise are rather rare, even though they are essential to challenging US foreign policy. But when it comes to Syria, British media – including the liberal Guardian which has often been brave in challenging Western foreign policies and wars – have been indistinguishable from American media…

He goes on to list 22 specific reasons, and, it’s quite the litany…!

In winding down, Philip Giraldi penned another must-read…

The Mouse That Roared

Iran is again front-page news, on this occasion for threatening the United States Navy. A lengthy featured article in the Washington Post describes how Iran has obtained new sophisticated anti-ship missiles and has added fast attack boats and submarines. It has also adopted new tactics involving swarming attacks that would put US vessels in a 360-degree battle environment, testing the ability of the conventional warships to maintain effective defense in all directions simultaneously.

None of this is really new. Wargames in 2002 and Pentagon studies in 2009 and again earlier this year confirmed that the US Navy would have considerable difficulty in dealing with the Iranian tactics. I reported the same in April of this year in my Deep Background column in the print edition of The American Conservative. Not surprisingly, the Post and I are viewing the same development in slightly different ways. For me, Iran’s capabilities are just one more reason why a war with all its unintended and unanticipated consequences would have the potential to turn catastrophic with one or more US Navy ships going to the bottom and oil going past $200 a barrel. {…}

…Actually, it is naïve to believe that Iran is some kind of Islamic superpower able to project itself worldwide. If Iran’s capabilities were as described by Warrick and Pletka it would be a good reason to be hesitant about going to war. Warrick clearly wants to promote and not spoil the more favorable narrative that Tehran threatens all of us. In reality, Iran is far behind Israeli and US military capabilities in every significant area and its sponsorship of terrorism is far from proven. Washington’s right to have a massive military and naval presence in the Middle East is unquestioned by the Post as is Israel’s right to attack Iran preemptively. But defensive measures by Iran in the face of five years of increasingly specific threats from Washington and Tel Aviv are somehow sinister.

I’d only add that Congress and the Oily Bomber, have just upped the ante on Iran… Obama’s New Sanctions Target Banks that Help Iran

President Barack Obama announces new U.S. sanctions against foreign banks that help Iran sell its oil.

*gah*