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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Clueless In Syria and Faust Wants His Soul Back

4:04 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Pepe is right (again) when he concludes that the Partitioning of Syria has been the Neo/Ziocon’s main objective all along…! Divide et Impera…!

Since my last posting, a ton of sh*t has occurred in the MENA, with global ramifications…!

Let’s dive right into that sh*t pile… UN:Call for Calm after Reported Israeli Air Strikes in Syria

“The Secretary-General calls on all sides to exercise maximum calm and restraint, and to act with a sense of responsibility to prevent an escalation of what is already a devastating and highly dangerous conflict,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in the statement.

“The Secretary-General urges respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries in the region, and adherence to all relevant Security Council resolutions,” he continued…

…Top UN officials, including Mr. Ban and his political chief, Jeffrey Feltman, have said on numerous occasions that a political solution is the only answer for long-term in the country and the region…

Even China is calling for political dialogue in Syria…

China calls for all relevant parties in Syria to launch political dialogue and carry out political transition as soon as possible, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday.

In response to a media request for China’s take on the current situation in Syria at a regular press briefing, Hua said that China pays close attention to the development of the situation and believes a political solution is the only correct way for solving Syrian crisis.

She said China also calls for all relevant sides to earnestly respect Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity, remain restrained, avoid any actions that might escalate the tension and play a responsible and constructive role in solving Syrian issue through political means.

It seems the EU is “satisfied” with the recent U.S.-Russia deal on Syria…

…An EU spokesman said on Wednesday that the bloc was “very satisfied” with the joint call by the United States and Russia for an international conference on Syria to end the country’s escalating crisis.

“The EU would welcome any dialogue that would bring two sides to the negotiating table. The EU has repeated on many occasions that the solution of the conflict lies in a comprehensive political settlement,” said Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

The EU “stands ready to assist in any way possible and hopes that the conference will be a beginning of a peace process,” he said in an email to Xinhua.

Following hours of talks with Russian officials, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that the two had agreed to convene an international conference on Syria that would be attended by representatives of the Syrian regime and the opposition

More on that meeting between Kerry and Putin…

Seeking Syria accord, Kerry tells Putin of common ground

…The U.S. secretary of state sought Russian help in ending Syria’s civil war on Tuesday, telling President Vladimir Putin in Moscow that common interest in a stable Middle East could bridge divisions among the big powers.

Putin, however, kept John Kerry waiting three hours before their meeting at the Kremlin, fiddled with a pen while his guest spoke and made no mention in his own public remarks of the conflict in Syria, which has generated some of the frostiest exchanges between Washington and Moscow since the Cold War…

Funny, how true to form, the Rebels are once again rejecting all that ‘talk’… Syrian rebels to reject U.S./Russia-sponsored peace talks? (H/T Fairleft)

Anyways, today, Obama had a little chit-chat with Bibi…

…The White House said in a short statement that Obama and Netanyahu, who is visiting China, spoke by telephone, and discussed “regional security issues and Middle East peace.”

U.S. officials have declined to comment in detail on air strikes by Israel on targets near Damascus on Friday and Sunday which Israeli sources said destroyed Iranian missiles apparently destined for the Hezbollah militia.

But Obama said on Saturday after the first set of Israeli raids that the Jewish state was justified in seeking to “guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.”

The blowback to Bibi’s buffoonery was swift…Saudi Arabia urges UN action against Israel

…Saudi Arabia on Monday called for UN action to end Israeli strikes on Syria, describing the raids as a “dangerous violation” of the sovereignty of an Arab state, the official SPA news agency reported.

The Saudi cabinet voiced “deep concern from the worsening situation in Syria” and urged “swift action by the UN Security Council to stop these Israeli attacks on Syrian territories and ensure they are not repeated,” said SPA.
…its government on Monday described Israel’s raids as “flagrant attacks and a dangerous violation of the sovereignty of an Arab state, warning of its dangerous effects in the region’s security and stability.”

Egypt condemned the raids as a “violation” of international law, Britain warned of “increasing danger” to the Middle East, while the Syrian regime’s main regional ally Iran said it would shorten the existence of the Jewish state.

The National Coalition, the war-torn country’s umbrella opposition group, also condemned the attack while accusing Assad’s regime of complicity by weakening the army in its battle with Syria’s people.

Russia said the raids threatened to escalate tensions in neighbouring countries.

“We are looking into and analysing all the circumstances surrounding the especially concerning reports of the May 3 and May 5 Israeli air strikes,” the foreign ministry said in a statement…

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called Monday for “a political solution” to the conflict in Syria.

“The situation in Syria is a real tragedy,” Fabius told a press conference in Hong Kong, adding that if it continued, it could be a “human and political disaster.” …“Obviously it’s something that one can understand, but at the same time, it’s a risk,” he said of the raids.

As a side note, Israel Has the Gall to Actually Complain to the UN About Stray Syrian Mortar Shells…

Now, here’s a very interesting wrinkle… US to arm Syrian rebels: Putin’s rebuke, Chinese “peace plan” mar Netanyahu’s Chinese trip…

…Negative diplomatic ricochets are pursuing Israel in the aftermath of its air force attacks on Syria. In the first place, they are seen to have had no effect on Hizballah’s successful military intervention on the side of the Assad regime or the Syrian war at large. In the second, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, while in Shanghai, was given a sharp dressing-down by President Vladimir Putin Monday, May 6, a warning that Russia would not tolerate further Israeli attacks on Damascus and would respond.…

…Intelligence agencies in Moscow and the Middle East take it for granted that by the time Washington goes public on this decision, some of the Syrian rebel factions will already be armed with American weapons.

…US military instructors have been working with Syrian rebels at training camps in Jordan and Turkey for some months. So putting the arms in their hands only awaited a decision in Washington.

…Putin’s message to Netanyahu was intended to reach a wider audience than Jerusalem, such as Barack Obama in Washington and President Xi Jinping in Beijing ahead of Netanyahu’s talks there Tuesday… …when US Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Moscow that day, in an attempt “bridge the divide” between their governments on the Syria conflict, he was preceded by a barrage of Russian condemnation of the Israeli air strikes in Damascus “as a threat to regional stability,” a stiff warning from the Russian foreign ministry to the “West” to stop “politicizing the issue of chemical weapons in Syria,” and Moscow’s “concern that world public opinion was being prepared for possible foreign military intervention.”

…The Chinese government’s cold shoulder to Israel was exhibited less directly than Moscow’s but no less firmly. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was invited to visit Beijing and meet President Xi two days before the prime minister arrived in the Chinese capital Tuesday to begin the official part of his visit. The Chinese president unveiled his peace plan before meeting the Israeli prime minister…

Let’s not forget that Mossad has already been very active in Syria…Israel spy agency has presence in Syria, says senior rebel general

Here’s a fascinating read on our failed policy…

America’s hidden agenda in Syria’s war

…The commander – a moderate Sunni and an influential rebel leader from Damascus who said he has met intelligence operatives from Western and Arab states – said the US officials were especially keen to obtain information about the identities of Al Nusra insurgents and the locations of their bases.

Then, by to the rebel commander’s account, the discussion took an unexpected turn.

The Americans began discussing the possibility of drone strikes on Al Nusra camps inside Syria and tried to enlist the rebels to fight their fellow insurgents.

“The US intelligence officer said, ‘We can train 30 of your fighters a month, and we want you to fight Al Nusra’,” the rebel commander recalled.

Opposition forces should be uniting against Mr Al Assad’s more powerful and better-equipped army, not waging war among themselves, the rebel commander replied. The response from a senior US intelligence officer was blunt.

“I’m not going to lie to you. We’d prefer you fight Al Nusra now, and then fight Assad’s army. You should kill these Nusra people. We’ll do it if you don’t,” the rebel leader quoted the officer as saying.

What the commander says transpired in Jordan illustrates a dilemma that has preoccupied, even paralysed, Syria’s opposition and their international supporters – how to deal with the expanding role of Islamic extremists in the anti-Assad insurgency.

Other meetings with Western and Arab intelligence services have shown a similar obsession with Al Nusra, the commander said.

“All anyone wants is hard information about Al Nusra, it seems to be all they are really interested in. It’s the most valuable commodity you can have when dealing with these intelligence agencies,” he said…

Funny thing tho… Free Syrian Army rebels defect to Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra…

Yet, here’s a perspective, from within Syria…

Syrians deserting the FSA: Faust wants his soul back

The reality is that opposition militias and the official army have reached a military stalemate – one step forward and one step back as progress on one front is checked by loss and retreat on another…

…In the midst of this harsh war, Syrians have found themselves at a crossroads: obliged to choose between either their personal interest and life or the country’s freedom. A question occurs to me here – Is it possible for fighters who quit the FSA to go back to their old lives? It seems highly improbable, given that Syria has been ripped into so many different pieces with different authorities holding sway over particular areas – here the regime, there such and such battalion.

The country is now a hotch-potch of hot and cool areas. Families have been displaced across the country in their millions. Most fighters are wanted by intelligence forces and they can’t go back to their original villages and towns, nor can they meet their families who were forced to flee. This is how our lives – and not just that of FSA fighters – have been trapped, in the eye of a tornado that is hurtling at breakneck speed. Where and how we get off is anyone’s guess. One thing is for sure – it won’t be an emerald city.

In wrapping up… Take a gander at this load of crap from Carnegie…Building a Syrian State in a Time of Civil War…

God help the Syrians…! *gah*

by CTuttle

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

7:07 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Some more SoS Kerry:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arms deal with Middle East allies signal to Iran – Hagel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a crock of sh*t!

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

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

Syria Will Not Implode, It Will Explode

5:36 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

All war is deception. ~Sun Tzu

Let’s look at some of the current developments that are swirling inside and out, of the Syrian borders…

Syrian tanks amass near Turkish border: FSA general

A general in the rebel Free Syria Army said on Friday that Syrian government forces had amassed around 170 tanks north of the city Aleppo, near the Turkish border, but there was no independent confirmation of the report.

General Mustafa al-Sheikh, head of the Higher Military Council, an association of senior officers who defected from President Bashar al-Assads forces, said the tanks had assembled at the Infantry School near the village of Musalmieh northeast of the city of Aleppo, 30 kms (19 miles) from the Turkish border.

“The tanks are now at the Infantry School. They’re either preparing to move to the border to counter the Turkish deployment or attack the rebellious (Syrian) towns and villages in and around the border zone north of Aleppo,” Sheikh told Reuters by telephone from the border…

Now, using the same Salt Shaker with that last article, DebkaFile reports…

Saudis forces mass on Jordanian, Iraqi borders. Turkey, Syria reinforce strength

…”(H)eavy Saudi troop movements (headed) toward the Jordanian and Iraqi borders (with Syria) overnight and up until Friday morning….after King Abdulah put the Saudi military on high alert for joining an anti-Assad offensive….”

Units include tanks, missiles, special forces and anti-air batteries. Two units were deployed. “One will safeguard Jordan’s King Abdullah against potential Syrian or Iranian reprisals from Syria or Iraq.”

“The second will cut north through Jordan to enter southeastern Syrian, where a security zone will be established around the towns of Deraa, Deir al-Zour and Abu Kemal — all centers of the anti-Assad rebellion.” {…}

The failure of (US/Russian) talks “would spell a worsening of the Syrian crisis and precipitate Western-Arab military intervention, which according to military sources in the Gulf is scheduled for launch Saturday, June 30.”

DF also said that Western forces reported Jordan “on war alert.”

Now, straight from the horse’s mouth…

…Libya’s model isn’t “a solution to be copied because it took (the country) from one situation into a much worse one. We all now see how the Libyan people are paying the price,” he (Assad) said.

“The policies of the Turkish officials lead to the killing and bloodshed of the Syrian people,” he added.

He said reports about Iranian and Hezbollah forces aiding Syria are false.

“This is a joke that we hear many times in order to show that a rift has been created within the army and that therefore there is not an army.”

Pointing fingers at Washington, he said:

“The colonialist nature of the West has not changed. From the colonialist standpoint, regional countries should not move according to their national interests and if any country moves against their (Western) values and interests, they say no, like what happened in the case of Iran’s nuclear program.”

“Western states are opposed to Iran’s access to nuclear knowhow; they are more fearful of Iran’s expertise in the nuclear field than what they claim to be a nuclear bomb.”

He also called insurgents “gangs of mercenaries and criminals.” Outside forces are directing them.

For them and their sponsors, “reforms are not important, since the very forces that claimed (a lack of) reforms were the problem. They never benefited from them…all they wanted was (continued) unrest.”…

Phyllis Bennis largely agrees with Assad’s assertions…

Syria is not Libya: it will not implode, it will explode beyond its borders

Probably the only useful thing outside powers can do, would be to engage in serious new diplomacy, in which supporters of both the regime and the armed opposition participate.

Fifteen months on, the short Syrian spring of 2011 has long since morphed into a harsh winter of discontent. Syria is close to full-scale civil war.

If the conflict escalates further, it will have ramifications far outside the country itself. As former UN Secretary-General and current envoy of both the UN and the Arab League Kofi Annan put it, “’Syria is not Libya, it will not implode, it will explode beyond its borders.”

Like so many other times before, the human cost of this conflict is incalculably high. It’s not surprising that the normal human reaction is “we’ve got to do something!” But exactly what any army or air force might do that would actually help the situation isn’t very clear.

US/NATO military intervention didn’t bring stability, democracy or security to Libya, and it certainly is not going to do so in Syria…

Now, Russia isn’t about to be fooled by a second UN Security Council R2P fiasco, and this CSM article spells it out in a relatively decent fashion, despite all it’s Western biased strawmen…

What is Russia thinking on Syria?

…In Syria, they argue, Western nations are pursuing their own geopolitical interests under the guise of a humanitarian “right to protect” which supposedly trumps the country’s sovereignty. Moscow sees it as its duty to block such attempts. {…}

…Speaking to an audience of students in Copenhagen today, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton upped the criticism of Russia, saying, “I have been telling (the Russians) their policy is going to help contribute to a civil war” in Syria.

But today Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, responded emphatically that Russian policy toward Syria will not change under duress. Russia’s position is “well-known, balanced and consistent, and completely logical,” Mr. Peskov told the independent Interfax news agency. “So it is hardly appropriate to talk about this position changing under someone’s pressure.” {…}

…Russian analysts argue that any violation of national sovereignty is a form of neoimperialism which, even if packaged as a humanitarian intervention, tends to be wrapped up with the geopolitical interests of the intervening powers and seldom leads to better humanitarian outcomes. They cite most of the wars of the past decade, from Kosovo to Iraq to last year’s NATO intervention in Libya (which Russia acquiesced to in the Security Council) to make their point.

“We were told that military interference in Libya would be limited to protecting civilians, but we were deceived, pushed aside once we’d let it get through the Security Council,” says Pavel Gusterin, an Arab specialist with the official Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow. “Why would we let them do this again?

Just to be sure, it’s already out of Russia’s and the UN’s hands…

Syria Rebels Increasingly Violent, Thanks to Foreign Arms

…The opposition is still a disparate, rag tag group of localized militias with conflicting agendas and many of whom are Sunni extremists or have ties to al-Qaeda. They are increasingly to blame for massacres of civilians as well. Nothing has changed, except that the weapons being funneled to them by the US, European Union, Turkey, and the Gulf Arab states are being put to use.

But none of this bodes well for an end to violence in the country. Foreign meddling on behalf of all sides in Syria has been instrumental in prolonging the conflict by emboldening both sides and making a political settlement more remote.

“The intensity of the divisions in the country, the external environment in which sides are providing arms to both of the contending parties—all of that suggests that the situation’s going to continue to deteriorate,” James Dobbins, director of the RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center and a former US assistant secretary of state, told NPR…

Now, to be clear on our Persian fantasies…

Our obsession with Iran obscures the bigger threat

It is funny what people choose to worry about. The west is obsessed with stopping Iran getting nuclear weapons. By contrast, Pakistan’s nuclear programme is not much discussed. And yet, by any sensible measure, Pakistani nukes are much more worrying.

Start with the obvious: Pakistan already has nuclear weapons – probably more than 100 of them – and is thought to be increasing production. Iran has still to assemble a single nuclear weapon. The prospect of an Iranian bomb is said to be unthinkably dangerous because of the country’s connections to terrorist groups, its hostility to the west and Israel, the risk it will spread nuclear technology and the prospect of a regional arms race. And yet, almost all these considerations apply even more forcibly to Pakistan. {…}

…Yet it is Iran’s non-existent nukes that continue to obsess the west. Diplomats have spent so long trying to stop Iran that I get the impression they no longer even ask themselves why it is such a high priority. Press them, and you will get explanations about the dangers of a Middle Eastern arms race and Iran’s regional ambitions.

Interestingly, few seem to take seriously the idea that Israel often evokes – that Iran might actually commit nuclear genocide.

Western concerns are valid. But, in themselves, they do not seem compelling enough to explain the desperate focus on Iran. The main reason the Iranian dossier is so urgent seems to be the fear that Israel will soon attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, provoking a wider war. American and European diplomats are reluctant to put it quite that directly, since this carries the uncomfortable implication that western policy is driven by Israel. But when people say “time is running out” over Iran, it is the prospect of an Israeli attack they are usually thinking about…

Are you surprised…?

AIPAC and Syrian intervention lobby

I have it on good authority that something called Syrian Emergency Task Force in Washington, DC is enlisting the help of AIPAC to lobby the US government for military intervention in Syria.

*gah*

An Apology to the Aligned…

by CTuttle

Let Us Call Terror, Terror…

5:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle


Oh! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!

I’ve been screaming ‘bloody murder’ about this Syrian miasma for sometime, I would peg the starting point from early January, when the EU/GCC/US/Nato first started to pivot from Libya to Syria. As Col. Lang wrote today; Terrorism in Syria…

The Obama administration, pre-occupied with its re-election and the need to sooth its financial backers, continues to support the neocon policy position that all anti-establishment revolution is good in the Arab and Islamic worlds.

The simple truth that there are not and will not be governments in the ME made up of “good guys” seems beyond the reach of “scholars” at AEI and WINEP as well as members of the Foreign Service.

What we have in Syria is revolutionary civil war waged by the forces of salafist Sunni Islam against the forces of the Alawis, the Druze and the Christians. In this civil war the Sunni salafists are backed by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the US, US media and I suppose Israel in some underhanded way. Iran backs the Assad government, and Iraq is edging its way closer toward the position of the Mullocracy in Teheran.

The war has not been going well for the Sunni insurgents. Assad and company are not willing to surrender to the UN or anyone else since they know that they will be put down like the proverbial dogs if they do.

Logically, the Sunni salafists have now resorted to the kind of large scale terror that has characterized the last ten years in the greater ME.

Let us call terror, terror…

Yes, let’s call it for what it really is! Now, let’s look at some of the ‘sources’ of that specific terror threat, Syria says attackers came from “well known” countries, and, Syria envoy says British, French, Belgian fighters killed…

Syria’s UN envoy said Thursday that British, French and Belgian nationals were among foreign fighters killed in the country’s mounting conflict and that there was Al-Qaeda involvement.

The ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, told the UN Security Council that 12 foreign fighters had been killed and 26 detained in recent clashes with Syrian forces.

“We have a list that contains 12 names of foreign terrorists killed in Syria, including one French citizen, one British citizen, one Belgian citizen,” Jaafari told the 15-member council.

He said a list of the 26 foreigners detained had been sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and to the Security Council.

The 26 have “confessed they are terrorists and entered Syria to carry out terror operations,” he added. Some were “associated” with Al-Qaeda.

The ambassador later told reporters that those detained were mainly Tunisians and Libyans but there was one Palestinian and one Jordanian.

All of the “confessions” have been shown on Syrian television, Jaafari said.

The ambassador said that recent bomb attacks in Syria “carried the stamp of Al-Qaeda methods.”

Jaafari renewed condemnation of Gulf Arab states and Turkey who he accused of backing the foreign fighters and Syrian rebels.

Meanwhile, in Aleppo today, while Syrian forces stopped one car bomb, another one detonated…

An explosion hit Syria’s northern city of Aleppo Friday, just hours after state TV said the army had foiled a would-be suicide attack in the city, raising fears the country is drifting toward an Iraq-style insurgency.

Elsewhere across the country Friday, peaceful protesters defied Syrian army gunfire and took to the streets in the tens of thousands to protest the rule of President Bashar Assad.

The anti-Assad Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said no one had been killed by the Aleppo blast close to the ruling party headquarters, which came a day after twin bombings in Damascus left scores dead.

“Initial details indicate that the Aleppo blast was targeting the local branch of the ruling Baath party and there is no information until now on the number of victims that fell in the explosion,” the British-based group said in an email… {snip}

…Thursday’s bombings have raised fears that extremist elements could be taking advantage of the deadlock in Syria to stoke the unrest.

An Islamist group calling itself Al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility online for the Damascus attack, the SITE Monitoring Service said Thursday.

It said two bombs it had placed near a military headquarters on a central highway in the capital on May 5 had killed around 20 guards. For many, the Al-Qaeda-style tactics recall those once familiar in the country’s eastern neighbor, Iraq, raising fears that Syria’s conflict was drifting further away from the Arab Spring calls for political change and closer to a bloody insurgency.

“Syria is slowly but surely turning into another Iraq,” said Bilal Y. Saab, a Syria expert at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Even Hezbollah was saying today; Hezbollah chief says Syria may descend into Iraq-like abyss…

Now, lets look at a common thread that wends it’s insidious ways through the tapestry, that is the Middle East, and our GWOT, namely, the House of Saud…! From; 15 of the 19 terrorists on 9/11, to Iraq’s ‘awakening’, Libya, Bahrain, and, even Yemen, the Saudi-fueled Salafist/Wahabbi based Sunni Insurgency has led the way.

Emptywheel did an awesome job of connecting-the-dots in some of the House of Saud’s nefarious machinations, yesterday…

Cluster Bombs on the Head of a Saudi Pinpoint

Congratulations to the NYT, which offers the superlative version of a story everyone seems to be writing today. It describes a whole host of reasons why we should not trust the Saudis.

That collaboration appears to have intensified over the past two years, despite a long history of mistrust rooted in the role of Saudi hijackers in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The relationship was tested again last year when Saudi leaders responded furiously to American endorsement of the revolt that ousted a Saudi ally, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. American diplomats were surprised and angered in turn soon afterward when Saudi Arabia sent troops to help put down unrest in neighboring Bahrain.

[snip]

The counterterrorism cooperation has not been without bumps, officials from both countries acknowledge.

In 2007, the Federal Bureau of Investigation quietly sent a handful of agents to Saudi Arabia to work with officials there on a classified counterterrorism strategy, according to a senior American official who was briefed on the program. After several months, however, the two sides disagreed on a common strategy, and the F.B.I. agents went home.

Internal State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to several news organizations revealed American frustration with Saudi Arabia in curtailing financial supporters of many extremist activities.

“It has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority,” said a classified cable sent by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in December 2009, concluding that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

But ultimately concludes that in spite of all this evidence, our partnership with the Saudis is working just great…

Yes, indeedy, we do in fact have the AP, and our entire agitprop, Western Lamestream Media peddling that very same Neo/Ziocon Snake Oil… Saudis emerge as key US ally against terror…

*gah*

by CTuttle

Syria: Intervention or Mediation? And Bibi Blinked, to Host ‘Direct Talks’ With Abbas

6:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the accompanying YouTube blurb…

After more than a year of turbulence, Syria is still facing both a violent internal opposition uprising and the threat of external intervention. NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council have backed the opposition, the Syrian Transitional Council, both politically and militarily. Calls for humanitarian intervention in the name of the “responsibility to protect” have been made by the same NGOs as those who acted over Libya last year. Russia and China have vetoed interventionist resolutions in the Security Council, backed by the US, France and the UK, and a chance for reconciliation has been offered with Kofi Annan’s mediation mission. But can it succeed? Will sovereignty remain respected, as provided for by the UN Charter? What are the real aims of NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council in Syria? Do they want peace and reconciliation or regime change and chaos?

I’ve made my opinion well known, repeatedly, on the farcical R2P ‘humanitarian’ crusade directed at Syria…! Just like I did in the run up to Libya’s smashing success…!

Here’s some of the latest on Syria… From Non-Western Media… Syria to halt military actions as of Thursday… From the ‘Rebels’… Syria rebels set ultimatum, as peace deal falters…

Here’s some recent Western Leaders responses… David Cameron: Syria used ceasefire to kill civilians… Sarkozy: Syria blatantly lying about ceasefire…

What a clusterf*ck in the making, it’s truly a No-Win scenario for the Syrians, needless death and destruction for what exactly…? Reminds me of the age-old adage, that to ‘save’ the village we must bomb it into oblivion…!

Now, moving along… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

‘Arab countries to arm Syria rebels’, and, ‘Israel Estimates ‘Only’ 300 Deaths in 3-Week War’

9:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Expanding on the above good Doctor’s reporting…

Arab countries to arm Syria rebels as fighting continues…

Arab countries have pledged to arm Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, while 40 people were killed in violence around Syria, activists said… {snip}

The opposition said some countries had agreed to arm the rebels.

‘The Free Syrian Army will be armed by some friendly countries but this will not be done in the open and will be very soon,’ Sheikh Anas Airout, a member of the Syrian National Council, told dpa.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Libya are the key financial backers of the plan to arm the rebels, an opposition source who requested anonymity told dpa.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United States have pledged millions of dollars at a Friends of the Syrian People conference in Istanbul at the weekend to pay salaries for rebels fighting to topple al-Assad and provide communications equipment.

In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged against weapons being funneled to Syrian rebels, warning about the risk of regional proliferation…

Syria is another f*cking GCC/UN/EU/US/Nato R2P ‘humanitarian’ disaster in the making, just like Libya…!

Expanding on this rubbish: ‘The Free Syrian Army will be armed by some friendly countries but this will not be done in the open and will be very soon,’… …Stratfor Emails: Pentagon-Hired Mercenaries Intervening in Syria Since December, apparently Blackwater Xe Academi is on the job already…!

Also, from the previous article…

Al-Assad is maneuvering we all know that, he will never implement any peaceful plan to end the crisis in Syria, he only knows the language of killing,’ said Walid al-Buni, a member of the Syrian National Council.

In Washington, the US State Department said it would establish a so-called Syria Accountability Clearinghouse to help the Syrian people and international partners document human rights abuses in the country.

The information will be used to ‘help develop trial-ready dossiers against individuals responsible for violations of international or domestic criminal law,‘ the State Department said. It will also collect and analyze information to be used in later prosecutions, memorials and justice and reconciliation efforts.

It’s interesting that many Human Rights orgs operating in Libya now, claim that Nato is completely ignoring and/or squashing all their documented cases of overt HR violations caused by Nato’s Airstrikes and other covert activities in Libya…!

Now, from Iraq’s PM Maliki… Syrian regime will not fall, says Iraq PM…

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime will not fall and attempts to overthrow it by force will aggravate the crisis in the region, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Sunday.

“It has been one year and the regime did not fall, and it will not fall, and why should it fall?” Mr Maliki told a news conference in Baghdad.

“We reject any arming (of Syrian rebels) and the process to overthrow the regime, because this will leave a greater crisis in the region,” Maliki said…

Maliki knows perfectly well that the Iraqi Sunnis and the Kurds will completely ignore his pleas not to arm the Syrian ‘rebels’…!

Shifting gears a bit…

Some current responses from Iranian officials…

Iran says will not deviate from N-path…

Officer: Iran could hit US if it came under attack…

Now, getting to Israel…

I don’t know what’s more ridiculous, the farcical amount of casualties, or, the fantasy that it’ll only last three weeks…! Just like Cast Lead, maybe…? Anyhoots… Israel Estimates ‘Only’ 300 Deaths in 3-Week War…

Israel’s defense system estimates that if a war breaks out during 2012, 300 people will be killed in a three week period.

Now, despite the fact that Obummer has just approved the latest round of sanctions, this past Friday, and, they don’t officially go into effect until June 28th…! Bibi still has the chutzpah to say… Global sanctions on Iran not working…

…”The sanctions are painful, hard.. but will this bring about a halt or a retreat in the Iranian nuclear programme? Until now, it has not happened,” Netanyahu told reporters in Jerusalem.

He said the Iranian regime is struggling financially but has strengthened its political grip following the recent parliamentary elections.

The regime strengthened its grip in the recent elections, despite the sanctions,” he said of the parliamentary elections which took place in Iran in early March.

“It has strengthened its political grip, it is struggling financially and it still hasn’t turned back by even one millimetre from its nuclear programme.”

Will these difficulties cause the Iranian regime to stop its nuclear programme? Only time will tell. I can’t tell you if it will happen. I know there is hardship but there still hasn’t been a change.“…

So naturally, bombing Iran is the only recourse to loosening up that ‘political grip’ right, Bibi…? I’m positive they’ll greet those bombs with rose petals too…!

Some more of Bibi’s chutzpah… Netanyahu wants deal to prevent ‘binational state’…

…”I want to solve the conflict with the Palestinians because I don’t want a binational state,” Netanyahu told a rare news conference. “For as long as it depends on me, we will ensure the Jewish and democratic character of Israel.” {snip}

…Since then peace talks have never taken off in earnest, and the current stumbling block is a Palestinian demand that all construction of Jewish settlements on occupied land be halted. About a half million Israelis now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Israel counters that this was never a condition for talks before.

The Palestinians – and most of the international community – view the settlements as illegal or illegitimate. Many Israelis oppose them too – some driven by the sense that they are not in Israel’s interest because they make a partition more difficult.

Israel did remove 8,000 settlers from Gaza when it pulled out, but the scale of the challenge in the West Bank is far bigger – leading Israeli negotiators over the years to seek border adjustments that would incorporate many of the settlers into Israel.

But under most envisioned scenarios, tens of thousands would still have to be moved to enable a partition – or at least one that did not leave Israelis inside the Palestinian state.

Netanyahu has further alienated the Palestinians by making clear that in any future deal he would seek to retain significant chunks of the West Bank because of their strategic value, since Israel in its pre-1967 borders is at its narrowest point only 15 kilometers (9 miles) wide.

The existence of a Jewish state is not just a matter of separation” from the Palestinians, he said Tuesday. “It’s a matter of security, preserving our basic national interests – and this requires negotiations.

It is the Palestinians and not us who chose not to hold negotiations over three years,” he said. “I hope they change their minds in the coming months. We are ready and prepared to hold negotiations.

What Democracy…? Negotiate for what then Bibi…?

Btw, about that Palestinian ‘State’… ICC won’t investigate Gaza war because Palestine is ‘not a state’…

Talk about your Catch 22…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Syria: Who Are The Rebels?

10:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Isn’t it funny that the GCC/Arab League buried the Arab League Observer Mission report on Syria(PDF! 30pgs), just prior to the UNSC vote…? As Chris Marsden wrote…

Report of Arab League mission to Syria contradicts Western propaganda

…The resolution on Syria vetoed at the United Nations Security Council by Russia and China was moved by the Arab League, citing the failure of the regime of Bashir al-Assad to abide by its demands for an end to violence against the opposition.

The veto has been followed by hysterical official denunciations in the West and a media propaganda campaign portraying the developments in Syria as an entirely one-sided and indiscriminate massacre carried out by the Assad regime against its own people.

The UN resolution included a brief reference to the observer mission sent by the Arab League into Syria, “commending its efforts” and suggesting that violence had prevented it from continuing its work.

The reality, however, is that to make the case for regime change in Syria, the League, currently chaired by Qatar and politically dominated by the US-aligned Gulf monarchies, had to terminate its own observer mission and squelch its report.

The report was suppressed because the 166-member observer mission found that violence in Syria was abating, the Syrian government was complying with most of the Arab League’s requirements and the ruling Baathists were faced with an armed insurrection. Qatar, along with Saudi Arabia, played the instrumental role in burying the report, and cutting short the mission, because they are arming the opposition forces and arguing for direct military intervention to depose Assad… {snip}

Syria signed the protocol agreeing to the mission on December 19. It was headed by Sudan’s General Muhammad Ahmad Mustafa Al-Dabi and included 166 monitors from 13 Arab countries and six Arab organisations.

On December 22, the Syrian Government “confirmed its readiness to facilitate the Mission in every way by allowing the free and safe movement of all of the observers throughout Syria,” and allowing it to “freely conduct” meetings with whomever it wished.

By and large, the report finds that this pledge was fulfilled…

Today, Col. Pat Lang chimed in about the looming Syrian morass…

…IMO we are being lured towards secret support of the Syrian opposition to the Assad government. There is an assumption that anything and anyone would be preferable for us to the present government. This is troubling.

During the Libyan insurgency the canard was about that those rebels were dominated by Islamists. That never seemed likely to me but perhaps I have known too many Libyans.

In the case of Syria, it seems clear to me that a great deal of the opposition is Sunni mosque centered around salafist leaders. How much ” a great deal” actually is remains a question. The government should have the CIA talk to its media friends so that we can be better informed. pl

Now, Nassar Ibrahim penned a must-read… Syria: the Middle East’s tipping point…

The struggle for Syria isn’t just about Syria–it’s the struggle for a free, democratic Middle East versus one that lives under the yoke of American and Israeli hegemony.

…The conflict in Syria has reached its tipping point. At this level, it is no longer acceptable or reasonable to continue playing in a gray area in the name of diplomacy, as the struggle on Syria has a crucial significance from various strategic points of views.

The importance of the Syrian question has to be found in Syria’s key-role in the regional geostrategic pattern. Its position is directly intertwined with the confrontations we will witness in the Arab world for the next decade, whose results will in turn be strongly affected by the transformation happening in Syria. To be clear, the moves we are witnessing nowadays will influence the fate of a number of regional and global balances on more than one axis.

From the moment that the Arab League made the decision to suspend Syria’s membership, entailing a series of sanctions against the Syrian people, the clashes happening in Syria have moved to another level. This became even clearer with the second proposed UN resolution–calling for a democratic transition and for Bashar Al Assad to step down–which was stopped by Russia and China’s vetoes last Saturday for the second time in four months. There have been two attempts to prepare the ground for a military intervention – that the US, European, and Arab countries would like to see and that 13 out of 15 UN Security Council members voted for. Such fervor reminds of the international climate before the war against Iraq began in 2003…

Please read the whole article…! It’s a very sobering analysis…!

Now, you tell me if today’s carnage was carried out by Assad’s troops or not…

Powerful car bombs rip through Syrian town

…Two powerful car bombs targeting security posts ripped through Syria’s second city of Aleppo on Friday, killing at least 25 people and wounding 175, even as tanks surged into battered protest hub Homs.

State television said “armed terrorist groups” carried out the attacks, the first in Aleppo since the outbreak of an uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad almost a year ago.

It said a “suicide bomber in a car packed with explosives” carried out one of the attacks on a police station, flattening a nearby food distribution centre. The second bombing targeted an intelligence base.

The report showed mangled bodies in pools of blood in the street outside rows of shattered buildings, and deep craters in the ground….

God Help the Syrians…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

‘What Do You Call Radical? Democracy!’

3:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Obama to reach out to Muslims in post-bin Laden world

President preparing major policy speech on political change in Middle East

Amid searing change in the Middle East and North Africa, President Barack Obama will address U.S. policy toward the region in a speech that could be delivered as early as next week.

Aides said Obama’s emphasis would be regional and political, highlighting the democratic values that have linked the popular uprisings that started in Tunisia and Egypt and quickly spread throughout the region. But Obama was not expected to focus on religion, as he did in his address to the Muslim world during a 2009 trip to Cairo.

A U.S. official said Obama had originally planned to deliver the speech during the first week in May, but it was pushed back because of the raid in Pakistan that led to the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. A new date has not been officially set, but the White House said Obama could speak before he leaves for a nearly weeklong trip to Europe next weekend. The speech would be in this country, not overseas.

Now, being the betting man, that I am… I’ll betcha Obummer will either deliver it at the AIPAC Confab, or, at that joint session of Congress (like there’s any difference between them), in either case, he’ll still be following Bibi’s biding lead…!

It is a mighty tight schedule next week… With Bibi having a little Tête à tête with Obummer in the WH on the 20th, the AIPAC Confab starting on the 22nd, and, the joint session of Congress will be on the 24th…

Now remember that Bibi wants Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to stay in power…

So…

As far as interviews go, the latest interview given by a member of the Syrian ‘establishment’ is sure to send ripples across the political spectrum. Rami Makhlouf, the presidents cousin and one of the richest men in Syria, with interests in all the major industries and firms that run the country, has given an interview to the New York Times where has made some alarming statements about the Syrian regime. For one thing, he’s promised that the regime will ‘fight to the end’. There is no mention of stupid conspiracies, Salafis or even Bandar bin Sultan. Instead we hear it straight ‘from the horses mouth’ – so to speak – that the regime is here to stay and will do whatever it takes to survive.

Perhaps more alarmingly, he has linked stability in Israel with stability in Syria. That is quite confusing because most people thought that Syria has been in a state of war with Israel for the past 63 years. It seems, like with Egypt and Libya, that the Syrian regime is more interested in the stability of Israel, and in maintaining a status quo in the area for the United States, than in responding to the political aspirations of their own people. But let us not deceive ourselves, this interview was not intended for the Syrian people, or anybody who speaks Arabic. This interview aims at sending a message to the Americans, a warning not to meddle, and an enticement of future cooperation if the protests are put down successfully. That is the only explanation for it, because usually Makhlouf is extremely secretive and camera-shy.

Syrian regime likely to survive uprising: analysts…

“The international community is cautious in its response to the actions of the Syrian regime, which apparently has won the first round of the battle through bloodshed,” a Syrian analyst in Amman told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“Israel is satisfied with the status quo with the Syrian regime and the United States needs Syria because it has an influence on the Sunni resistance in Iraq and because it is a key link between Washington and Tehran in issues related to Iraq.”

Abu Adham, a Syrian dissident who has lived in Jordan since 1996 after imprisonment in his country from 1986 to 1991, meanwhile slammed the international community.

“World powers are lethargic when it comes to Syria because they do not want to see chaos on the doorsteps of Israel, which enjoys the most secure borders with Syria since the establishment of a demilitarised border zone in 1974.”

“It seems that Bashar Assad is currently wining(sic) but I hope that the Syrian people will win in the end. The people and regime have reached a point of no return.”

I’d love to read the cables being written right now out of Damascus, they must be blistering…

If ya lost Holy Joe…

…On Wednesday, in Washington, Independent Senator Joe Lieberman introduced a bipartisan resolution urging the Obama administration to speak out more forcefully against Syrian leader. “In my opinion, Bashar al-Assad is a thug, a murderer, a totalitarian leader who is pursuing the Gadhafi model and hopes to get away with it,” he said.

But Joe, no comment on Bahrain…?

Bahraini MP complains “…unfair that the media is saying that due process is not occurring in Bahrain”

…”It is unfair that the media is saying that due process is not occurring in Bahrain,” he added. “It is a wild misstatement to say that everyone tried is being convicted, as some have written. Actually over 300 people have been … arrested, interrogated, and they didn’t find anything and they let them go.”

AlKooheji dispelled the myth that those recently arrested in Bahrain are being tried by military tribunals.

“That’s absolutely false,” AlKooheji said. “There is one military judge, two civilian judges, sitting on the panel, and every man who’s being accused has the right to a lawyer. The lawyer is present and family members are present in the court. I don’t know why people are saying that it’s a military court because that’s not true at all.”

The Parliamentarian said that Bahrain is on the mend and the nation is a work in progress.

“It takes awhile for any democratic country, and especially Bahrain being such a young democratic country,” AlKooheji said. “It takes awhile for people to understand the true meaning of democracy. If you ask a group of people in one room what is the definition of democracy, they might give you the definition, but the understanding of it could differ from a person to another.”

AlKooheji said that in the months to come he expects greater consensus to emerge among all Bahrainis.

Dayam, Don’t ya just love the smell of that democracy…

Speaking of the ‘Arab Spring’ and Sunni Monarchies…

Sunni Monarchies Close Ranks

Reports that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is considering some form of membership for two non-Gulf states – Jordan and Morocco – confirm that the conservative Sunni monarchies of the Middle East are closing ranks against Iran, Shiite-led Iraq and the democratic wave sweeping the region.

GCC secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani made the announcement Tuesday after a summit of the six-member group affirmed support for Saudi and United Arab Emirates military intervention against predominantly Shiite pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain.

Zayani did not make clear whether Morocco and Jordan would be offered a second-tier membership in the GCC, which groups Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain.

Foreign ministers from Jordan and Morocco will meet with GCC foreign ministers to “complete required procedures”, Zayani told reporters. [...]

However, the wave of popular unrest that has swept the region since January – and toppled once durable pro-Western authoritarian non- monarchies in Tunisia and Egypt – has spread anxiety among conservative Sunni monarchies already unsettled by the Shiite replacement of a Sunni regime in Iraq and by Iran’s slow but steady nuclear advancement.

Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said it was clear that GCC members regard “the success of monarchies in the Middle East as important for regional security and their own security. They want Jordan and Morocco to stay as moderate pro- Western states.”

Alterman added that GCC members regard “the experiment of republican military rule [in the region] as a failure. After 50-60 years, it’s run its course and the model of choice is enlightened monarchies.”

He predicted that the GCC would seek to funnel more investment into Jordan and Morocco to ensure that they survive any popular protests…

To put the Gulf Cooperation Council’s ludicrous decision to ‘support’ the Kingdom of Morocco, into some geographical perspective, Casablanca is as close to New York City, as it is to the Persian Gulf…!

So now, what do ya’ll think our Nobel Peace Laureate-in-Chief will propose to advance the peace in the Middle East…?

*gah*