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by CTuttle

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

10:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the situation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Pepe Escobar wrote…

France clueless on Iran

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Kerry’s Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

So, SoS Kerry is having a horrible, no good, very bad week…

Abbas: Negotiations made zero progress so far

Peace negotiations with Israel haven’t made any progress so far despite all the meetings between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators, President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday…

“Israel is saying that after prisoners have been released, settlement expansion should continue,” Abbas said.

This connection, he added, and this parity might blow up the situation while negotiations have achieved nothing yet.

Abbas also asserted that he turned down a request by the US administration to freeze any legal procedures through international organizations during the nine months of negotiations.

“It is the Palestinians who can decide on this step and nobody can force them to take it,” he said.

Alex Kane, at Mondoweiss, further elaborates… Netanyahu’s sweet deal: 104 prisoners for thousands of settlements.

Ironically, in an Ike like moment of clarity, as he’s headed out the door…


Chief security adviser: If talks fail, Israel risks isolation

Yaakov Amidror warns pressure and boycotts may increase if no progress with Palestinians, says ‘everything must be done’ to stop Iran

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outgoing national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, said Sunday that should the current US-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians fail, Israel’s position in the world could worsen, and international pressure would mount.

At a ceremony marking the end of his tenure at the Prime Minister’s Office, Amidror said “it [is] clear to everyone that handling international pressure depends on the progress of the negotiations, and if the talks fail, it will give everyone interested in boycotting us every reason to do so.”

The outgoing adviser called the EU’s decision in July to issue directives imposing bans on funding to Israeli entities with links to the settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights, a “conscious decision.” He warned that Israel must take what he described as a “type of an economic boycott” very seriously…

As RT put it…

US peace effort wavers as Israel issues tenders for new settlement homes

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the ministers of his Likud party on Sunday that he never promised to freeze settlement construction during talks, according to a source cited by AFP.

“The Palestinians knew very well that Israel would be building during the negotiations,” Netanyahu told them. “Israel did not take upon itself any limitations in this regard.”

But, that’s only one of Kerry’s severe migraines this week…

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by CTuttle

Syrian Mashup: Mother Agnes, Sellstrom, and, Iran for Palestine?

7:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the Euronews blurb…

Russia has denounced the findings of a team of UN investigators into a poison gas attack in Syria as, ‘preconceived’ and ‘politicised.’

The Russian reaction came after the UN report, which confirms the use of the nerve agent Sarin, was taken as proof by Western nations that Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad was behind the attack.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, who met today with President Assad, said the UN report was prepared ‘selectively and incompletely.’ Russia maintains Syrian rebels were behind the chemical attack.

Now, I ask you if you would rather trust the UN or Mother Agnes…

Children in Syria chemical attack video ‘moved between locations’ before ‘staged’ filming

Children filmed as victims of the Aug 21 chemical attack in a Damascus suburb had been deliberately moved to the location from a different region after being kidnapped weeks before, Mother Agnes told RT after presenting her own investigation to the UN.

Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib and her group carried out their own investigation. They looked through the 35 videos of the incident that were posted on the internet.

What caught Mother Agnes’ eye was that the same children resurfaced in different videos.

‘We see children in a video presented as victims of a chemical attack in Jobar. And then we see the same kids in a video out of Kfar-Batna, and they are claimed to be kids from Kfar-Batna, and then, from Ain Terma. We have seen one and the same boy ostensibly in agony in different settings,’ she told RT Arabic.

‘Who are those children? We want to know the truth,’ Mother Agnes says. {…}

First of all, there are family members who say they have recognized their children. They pointed to specific videos from Kfar Batna and Jobar. I cannot go into detail, because I don’t have permission from the families to mention names. So I’ll put it in general terms: as of now, we know that people have recognized some of the children. In some cases, it was a mother or a father who recognized their child in a video. In other cases, it was an aunt or an uncle, or some other relative, because some of the parents had been killed during the fighting, as the insurgents advanced through the townships and villages of Latakia. I cannot judge whether what those people say is true; that would require a DNA test. As far as we are concerned, we are trying to figure out why all those people would start claiming they see familiar faces in those videos. We look specifically at the footage selected by the Americans, and we see that it has been supplemented with footage provided by Al Jazeera, or by one of the coordination committees. We have 35 videos in our brief, but there are about 200 to 230 videos in total, each different from the others. They are peddled by a variety of sources – from local coordination committees to NGOs to media organizations. As we examined the videos, trying to identify the children in question, we noticed signs suggesting this or that had been staged and directed. For example, there is footage of a boy receiving first aid. And then there is a different video where you can see the same boy receiving first aid all over again, but in a different setting. It is like a movie production, where scenes are repeatedly edited and re-filmed. You shoot one scene, you don’t like it, so you alter the settings and you try again.

Some more from Deputy FM Ryabkov…

‘Proof of rebels using chem arms’

UN experts to return to Syria soon; America maintains its aggressive military option against Assad regime

The Syrian regime has handed Russia new materials implicating rebels in a chemical attack outside Damascus on 21 August, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said today after talks in Damascus.

‘The corresponding materials were handed to the Russian side. We were told that they were evidence that the rebels are implicated in the chemical attack,’ Mr Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies after talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem late yesterday. He said that Russia would “examine the Syrian materials implicating the rebels with the utmost seriousness.’

To the fury of the West, Russia has repeatedly expressed suspicion that the chemical attack was a ‘provocation’ staged by the rebels with the aim of attracting Western military intervention in the conflict.

Mr Ryabkov also said Russia was disappointed with the UN report into the chemical weapons attack published this week, saying it was selective and had ignored other episodes. ‘Without a full picture… we cannot describe the character of the conclusions as anything other than politicised, biased and one-sided,’ he said.

Mr Ryabkov is on a visit to Damascus to present the Syrian regime with the results of the agreement between Moscow and Washington reached in Geneva at the weekend to rid Syria of its chemical weapons. He said he emphasised to Mr Muallem the importance of the Syrian side ‘strictly and swiftly’ handing over details of its chemical weapons arsenal to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the first step in the agreement.

Yoichi Shimatsu, who covered the Tokyo subway gassing in 1995, wrote a scathing critique on the UN’s Sellstrom Report…

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