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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, the I/P Peace Farce, Iran, and Iraqi Drones?

3:36 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

 

FDL Alum, Jim White, delivered an excellent rant today…

Morally Depraved Obama Fails in Response to Egyptian Massacre

…Just wow. The Egyptian military has staged a coup in which they have removed a democratically elected (although dysfunctional and failed) government and massacred over 600 of its citizens in cold blood. None of that rises to the level of the “threshold where we can’t give a tacit endorsement to them”? What on earth do they have to do to get the US to cut them off?

One answer to that question is in the next paragraph:

And it could destabilize the region, particularly the security of Israel, whose 1979 peace treaty with Egypt is predicated on the aid.

It would appear that Egypt can kill all of its own civilians it wants with the weapons and money we provide as long as they don’t also kill any Israelis.

But there is another insidious tie in the US aid to Egypt. US defense contractors are making tons of money off of it… …Cutting off funding to Egypt is cutting off the flow of big bucks to the superstars of US defense contractors, and that just isn’t done. It was this thought that led me to send out this Tweet yesterday:

Name one spot, anywhere in world, where US foreign policy is working for the good of anyone other than defense contractors. I’ll wait….

— Jim White (@JimWhiteGNV) August 15, 2013

Now, besides McCain and Graham demanding a halt, it seems Leahy is also calling for cuts…!

So, naturally, as another FDL Alum, Spencer Ackerman, wrote in the Guardian yesterday…

Reluctance to suspend Egyptian aid exposes White House rudderlessness

Obama again refused to use America’s massive aid leverage over Egypt – part of the president’s ‘least painful step’ approach

Perhaps the most mystifying thing about the cosmetic US response to Wednesday’s massacre in Egypt is the reluctance for the US to use its massive aid leverage over Cairo’s generals.

Former diplomats and foreign policy professionals in Washington are often quick to say the situation is more complicated than a simple aid cutoff will allow. But after President Obama responded to one of the bloodiest days in recent Egyptian history by cancelling a scheduled military exercise, even those cautious policy practitioners were stunned by his meekness.

“If I’m an Egyptian general, I take notice and think President Obama is trying to take the least painful step to demonstrate to various constituencies in the US that he means what he says about democracy in Egypt,” said Amy Hawthorne, who until recently was an Egypt policy official at the State Department, “but only the least painful step, so we won’t take him that seriously.” {…}

Yet at the Pentagon on Thursday, the message remained the same. While the US deplores the violence and urges “restraint”, Hagel – who spoke with Sisi Thursday – believes “that maintaining an open line of communication with General Sisi is very important”, said top spokesman George Little.

“All the things the US has repeatedly, publicly, called for, by our most senior officials, haven’t happened,” Hawthorne said, shortly after Obama’s statement on Egypt. “So why are they still calling for them?”

The US has massive amounts of leverage over Egypt, in the form of approximately $1.5bn worth of annual aid. Yet for a variety of reasons, it does not exercise that leverage – something several Egypt experts say substantively weakens the credibility of the warnings that Washington periodically issues to Cairo, contributing to events like Wednesday’s massacre.

Among them: the aid is “a jobs program” for American defense companies, Radwan noted…

Now, moving along to the single largest recipient of our Foreign Aid, Israel…

Netanyahu: Conflict is Not About the ‘Settlements’

The Arab-Israeli conflict is rooted in the Arabs’ refusal to recognize Israel, Netanyahu tells UN chief.

Can you say tone deaf…?

Honestly, pups, stick a fork in the Peace Farce already…! Poll: 80% of Israeli Jews say peace impossible Most especially after you consider the fact that Bibi had stated he would submit the outcome of the secretive talks, to a public referendum…!

Now, this was a most alarming development on Iran…

US Joint Chiefs Chair: Military Options Against Iran ‘Better’ Than a Year Ago

Buried in a totally unrelated New York Times article about Jordan seeking more US aid for the Syrian border, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chief Gen. Martin Dempsey threw in comments on the prospect of the US invading Iran.

Discussing his recent meeting with Israeli leaders, Dempsey declared that the sanctions were “having an effect” on Iran, but that Israel wants the US to keep emphasizing the prospect of military action.

Of that, Dempsey insisted that “we have better military options than we did a year ago,” ominously adding that “we’ve continued to train and plan” for the invasion, threatened off and on by US and Israeli forces for 30 solid years…

Seriously, Why Israel Is Obsessed With an Iranian Bomb…!

In wrapping up, Wtf kinda noise is this…? Iraq seeking US drones to curb al-Qaida threat…!

Why not, I suppose, since they’re such a smashing success in Yemen…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

The Israel/Palestine Peace Farce Drags On and On

3:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

I’ve been covering the Israel/Palestine situation for well over a decade now, and one would think I’d be inured to the farcical actions by now…! But, once again, my jaw hit the desk with this bit of news…

Kerry, Abbas Knew of Building Plans in Advance

In a press conference in Brazil, US Secretary of State says Netanyahu had been “completely up front” about building from the start

US Secretary of State John Kerry revealed Tuesday that he and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas were fully aware that the Israeli government intended to continue building in parts of Judea and Samaria which “will not affect the peace map” when the decision was made to restart talks.

As such, despite the “outcry” by the Palestinian Authority, Abbas is still committed to talks with Israel over the next nine months, he said.

At a press conference in Brazil, Kerry declared that “the policy of the United States with respect to all settlements, is that they are illegitimate.”

“But, that said, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was completely up front with me and with president Abbas that he would be announcing some additional building in places that will not affect the peace map, that will not have any impact on the capacity to have a peace agreement,”he continued.

Kerry also stressed the “urgency to get into the discussion of borders and security”

Seriously… What Borders…?

To be sure of Israeli intentions… Israel approves another 942 settlement units…

…The units are in addition to the more than 1,000 settlement homes approved by Israel on Sunday, in a move that has angered the Palestinians and drawn fire from the international community.

“The Jerusalem municipality has approved a construction plan for 942 homes in Gilo,” an existing settlement in East Jerusalem, deputy mayor Yosef Pepe Alalu told AFP. {…}

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who convinced the two sides to return to the negotiating table after a three-year hiatus, urged the Palestinians “not to react adversely” to Israel’s approval on Sunday for new homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank…

Well, indeedy… Palestinians committed to peace with Israel through talks: Abbas

Now, I hold the unelected, excreable Abu Mazen(Abbas) in the same esteem as Bibi…! As I’d noted, two years ago, when the Palestine Papers first came out…

The Palestinian leadership will surely face criticism for what The Palestine Papers reveal. Some will be merited; some not. The overwhelming conclusion one draws from this record is that the process for a two-state solution is essentially over, that the history of the peace process is one of abject failure for all concerned. The Palestinian participants, having lost the most, will likely suffer most. But I can only come away with the passionately-held belief that these people deserved better.

The ensuing thread to that old post is well worth the perusal too…!

Here’s some of the Guardian’s coverage of the Papers…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

Obama: ‘Obviously We Don’t Want To Cut It Too Close’

4:28 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Obama tells Israel he will prevent Iran bomb

…Obama’s first presidential visit to Israel comes at the onset of spring – the “red line” previously set by Netanyahu for attacking Iran’s nuclear sites…

“We think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon, but obviously we don’t want to cut it too close,” Obama said.

Asked if he would order an attack on Iran should diplomacy fail, Obama said: “When I say that all options are on the table, all options are on the table. The United States obviously has significant capabilities but our goal here is to make sure that Iran does not possess a nuclear weapon that could threaten Israel or could trigger an arms race in the region.”

…Netanyahu, victorious in a January election, only clinched a coalition deal on Thursday, and Obama said any breakthrough in peace negotiations with the Palestinians would be unlikely until the Israeli government stabilised.

“My goal on this trip is to listen,” he said.

Obama stopped short of calling for a freeze in settlement building in the occupied West Bank, but suggested a change in Israel’s policy would empower moderate Palestinian leaders.

He said “it’s a matter of both parties coming together and recognising that their futures in some ways are going to inextricably linked and that Israel will be safer, more secure, more prosperous if the issue can be resolved”.

“Obviously Israel can’t resolve it by itself, but it can’t stop trying.”

In a direct appeal to the Israeli people, Obama said he regretted that he would not have an opportunity to walk the streets and hear what average folks have to say…

The Wapoo followed on… White House: Israel must appeal to public opinion as it seeks peace in changing Mideast…

The Guardian calls it like it is…

Obama’s visit to Israel criticised as a ‘maintenance trip’ without peace plan

President’s three-day Middle East trip heavy on sight-seeing but will not involve any new drive for peace, White House confirms

Barack Obama will present no new Middle East peace initiative when he makes his first visit as president to Israel next week, the White House confirmed on Thursday.

Obama is due to arrive in Israel on Wednesday at the start of a three-day trip that will also take in the West Bank and Jordan, a tour critics have said is largely devoid of substance…

Now, about that ‘Coalition Deal’… Netanyahu Deal on Forming Israeli Government Hits Snag…

And, about that ‘Public Opinion’… Iran and the United States—What Really Matters to Middle Eastern Publics?

It truly is all about Iran…!

So, Let the Circus begin…

*gah*

by CTuttle

More Persian Fantasies…

7:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From Seoul today… Obama: Window for diplomatic solution to nuclear Iran is closing

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Sunday there was still time to resolve the Iranian nuclear standoff through diplomacy, but that the window for such a solution was closing.

Obama reiterated his position on the Iran nuclear issue after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on the eve of a nuclear security summit in Seoul.

“I believe there is a window of time to solve this diplomatically, but that window is closing,” Obama told reporters.

Obama has pressed Israel to hold off on any attack on Iran’s nuclear sites to give sanctions and diplomacy time to work, but has said military action remains an option if all else fails. {snip}

Obama and Erdogan also discussed providing medical supplies and communications support to the Syrian opposition but there was no talk of providing lethal aid for rebel forces, a U.S. official said. {snip}

“We worked on a common agenda in terms of how we can support both humanitarian efforts… (and) the efforts of Koffi Annan to bring about much needed change (in Syria),” Obama said after his meeting with Erdogan, a sharp critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

With regard to Iran, the U.S. president made similar remarks in a joint press conference British Prime Minister David Cameron a week and a half ago, when he warned window for a diplomatic solution was “shrinking”.

In those remarks, he encouraged Tehran to seize the opportunity of talks with world leaders to avert “even worse consequences.”

Here’s a recent snapshot of the economic sanctions…

Shell scrambles to pay huge bill for Iranian oil

…Royal Dutch Shell is struggling to pay off $1 billion that it owes Iran for crude oil because European Union and U.S. financial sanctions now make it almost impossible to process payments, industry sources said.

Four sources said the oil major owes a large sum to the National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC) for deliveries of crude, with one putting the figure at close to $1 billion. A debt of that size would equate to roughly four large tanker loads of Iranian crude or about 8 million barrels.

“Shell is working hard to figure out a way to pay NIOC,” said an industry source, who requested anonymity. “It’s very sensitive and very difficult. They want to stay on good terms with Iran, while abiding by sanctions.” {snip}

‘Pressure working’

Rigorous U.S. and European financial measures, aimed at punishing Iran for its nuclear program have already come into force, making it increasingly difficult to pay for and ship crude from Iran, say oil executives.

“There are big frustrations with the payment route – the U.S. pressure is really working,” said a senior oil source.

“It’s now nearly impossible to use the banking system.”

Funny how all this bovine manure is taking it’s toll on us too… Iran sanctions cause new oil shock, and, Sanctions against Iran put cloud over global growth

Now, about those purported Iranian Nukes and Amano’s bootlicking…

Current Chief of IAEA Releases Its Brakes on Rush to War With Iran

“Amano’s director-generalship began under a bad star.”

That’s Julian Borger at the Guardian quoting Mark Hibbs, the journalist who helped take down the AQ Khan nuclear-weapons black market and is now with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Yukio Amano, the “head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the nuclear watchdog at the heart of the growing Iranian crisis,” Borger explains, “has been accused by several former senior officials of pro-western bias, over-reliance on unverified intelligence and of sidelining sceptics.” {snip}

Previous director Mohamed ElBaradei was noted for his objections to IAEA findings being used as a pretext for ultimatums and/or war with Iran. Borger also reminds us of those WikiLeaks cables that confirmed suspicions about Amano almost too perfectly.

[They] revealed Amano’s assiduous courting of American support. In an October 2009 cable, the US charge d’affaires, Geoffrey Pyatt, wrote: “Amano reminded [the] ambassador on several occasions that he would need to make concessions to the G-77 [the developing countries group], which correctly required him to be fair-minded and independent, but that he was solidly in the US court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.”

Not sure of the exact motivations for Amano’s bootlicking, but there it is for the world to see. Confirming Amano’s toadyism toward the United States

… the IAEA’s reports on Iranian behaviour have become steadily more critical. In November, it published an unprecedented volume of intelligence pointing towards past Iranian work on developing a nuclear weapon, deeming it credible.

However, some former IAEA officials are saying that the agency has gone too far. Robert Kelley, a former US weapons scientists who ran the IAEA action team on Iraq at the time of the US-led invasion, said. … “Amano is falling into the Cheney trap. What we learned back in 2002 and 2003, when we were in the runup to the war, was that peer review was very important, and that the analysis should not be left to a small group of people,” Kelley said. “… Just like [former US vice-president] Dick Cheney, Amano is relying on a very small group of people and those opinions are not being checked.”

…Compared to Dick Cheney, shamed by WikiLeaks, Yukio Amano is the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time. ElBaradei won the Nobel Prize; Amano is angling for the Ignoble Prize.

Speaking of the Shrub/Darth Cheney War Cabal… Condoleezza Rice suggests Iran plan for White House

…“The most important thing is to make very clear to the Iranians that we really will not allow them to get a nuclear weapon. That means that you have to have a military option that you are prepared to use and that the Iranians know that you are prepared to use. And you can’t send mixed signals about that,” the former secretary of state said on “Fox & Friends.” “It’s got to be a very strong message and it’s got to be unequivocal.”

Asked to explain what she meant by the “mixed signals” coming out of the Obama administration, Rice noted, “The president has said he has a military option and he means he will use it, but then you do get the back stories and the whispers here and there and occasionally someone questioning whether or not the military option is a real option — and the Iranians just eat that up.

She added, “So let’s have one message from the president that we will use military force if necessary.

Now in an ironic twist, the rabid Zionist Rabbi Eliezer Melamed advocates against striking Iran, but, for all the wrong reasons…

It’s Hard to Trust Netanyahu and Barak on Iran

…Even if the State of Israel succeeds in destroying the Iranian nuclear facilities, such an action apparently will not cancel this dangerous phenomenon, but merely postpone the date that Iran and other hostile states acquire nuclear weapons.

Today, countries such as India, China, Pakistan, and North Korea already possess nuclear weapons. The entire world must learn to deal with threats of this magnitude, and in this respect, our situation is not significantly different from that of many other countries. Given this fact, the statements of the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister that Iranian nuclear weapons are an existential threat to the State of Israel are simply not true. They are one threat in a chain of many others… {snip}

…In other words, precisely with regard to Iran’s main threat against us, via Hizbullah and other terrorist organizations in Gaza operating on their behalf, the State of Israel reveals incompetence, eroding its deterrence to an absolute minimum, until our enemies have the nerve to liken the State of Israel to a “cobweb”.

Our weak image was intensified as a result of the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and our ongoing incompetence against the rocket attacks from there.

In order to deal with the threats and dangers, we have to create deterrence built less on the verbal bravado of Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and Binyamin Netanyahu, and based more on determined actions against those who actually attack us.

Strengthening Our Control of the Land

Nevertheless, painful military punishment is not enough. As a result of a lack of clarity concerning our ambitions in the Land of Israel, we invite threats and dangers upon ourselves, leading our enemies to believe that we will continue to withdraw until the State of Israel is eradicated, God forbid.

Therefore, the correct response to a missile attack from Gaza or Lebanon should also include applying Israeli sovereignty over additional parts of the Land of Israel, and strengthening construction in Judea and Samaria…

That folks is the epitome of Zionism…!

Some common sense prevails at the Guardian… Bomb Iran and it will surely decide to pursue nuclear arms…

Even the Grey Lady seemed to have experienced a momentary lapse in their usual warmongering…

The False Debate About Attacking Iran

I wonder if we in the news media aren’t inadvertently leaving the impression that there is a genuine debate among experts about whether an Israeli military strike on Iran makes sense this year.

There really isn’t such a debate. Or rather, it’s the same kind of debate as the one about climate change — credible experts are overwhelmingly on one side… {snip}

…Let’s also remember that as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bangs the drums of war, that may empower Iranian hawks. “The continual threat of a military strike is as likely to convince them to move ahead as to deter them,” Slaughter notes.

Whether Israel will attack Iranian nuclear sites is one of this year’s crucial questions, and people in the know seem to think the odds are about 50-50. We don’t know that the economy would be harmed or that a war would unfold, but anyone who is confident about what would happen is a fool.

So as we hear talk about military action against Iran, let’s be clear about one thing. Outside Netanyahu’s aides and a fringe of raptors, just about every expert thinks that a military strike at this time would be a catastrophically bad idea. That’s not a debate, but a consensus.

Meanwhile, in Israel… Israel beefs up border security ahead of Global March to Jerusalem

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is gearing up for massive protests and possible infiltration attempts along its borders as part of the Global March to Jerusalem rallies on Friday, local media reported on Sunday.

IDF’s preparations are based on the “Summer Seeds” operation prepared by the army to contain any riots during last year’s Palestinian statehood bid.

Soldiers have been deployed along Israel’s borders in order to prevent any infiltration attempts, after pro-Palestinian activists called for a Global March to Jerusalem the coming Friday.

The call urges participants to try to storm into Israel by sheer force, such as during the Palestinians’ Nakba (disaster in Arabic) and Naksa (setback) day events, on May 15 and June 5 respectively, when dozens of protesters were killed trying to infiltrate into Israel from Syria and Lebanon.

Soldiers have also been instructed to cause minimum harm, if needed, to protesters in order to avoid any more flare-ups, the Ynet news service reported.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian activists arrived in Damascus on Sunday to participate in the protest, and it is expected that there will be infiltration attempts on the borders with Lebanon and Syria, where the IDF has already reinforced the fences.

God Speed and God Bless…!