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by CTuttle

Israel’s ‘Trigger Happy’ Ways

8:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From Alex Kane at Mondoweiss…

Gaza heats up: Israel bombards coastal enclave under siege with multiple airstrikes

The immediate cause of the latest round of fighting in the Gaza Strip, which featured rockets and mortars fired into Israel and air attacks on the coastal enclave, occurred over the last two days. But the roots of the latest fighting are Israeli violations of the November 2012 truce between Hamas and Israel, and the years-long blockade and occupation crippling the Gaza Strip.

Yesterday, the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad attacked Israeli soldiers said to be advancing towards the Gaza Strip. In response, an Israeli airstrike killed three fighters. That, in turn, caused Islamic Jihad to unleash a barrage of some 70 projectiles into southern Israeli communities. No injures in Israel have been reported.

The Palestinian group said that its attacks were a way to avenge the deaths of six Palestinians killed in the West Bank and Gaza in recent days, as Allison Deger reported here.

The rockets and mortars fired into Israeli territory were the most significant Palestinian counter-attack since the end of Operation Pillar of Defense in late 2012. The Islamic Jihad attacks caused some Israeli officials to act tough, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying Israel needed to “reoccupy” Gaza–most likely bluster, since the Israeli military has no interest in actually doing so.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that “if there won’t be quiet in the south, there will be noise in Gaza – a lot of noise, and this is an understatement.”

Sure enough, Israel reportedly launched 29 airstrikes and attacked Islamic Jihad positions with artillery. According to Ma’an News Agency, no Palestinians have been killed or injured, perhaps reflecting an Israeli intention to escalate just enough so that peace talks with the West Bank leadership continue. Islamic Jihad and Hamas also have little interest in provoking an all-out assault.

Still, even if this latest escalation doesn’t immediately break out into full-scale war, it’s one more step on the way towards that path. That’s because the Egyptian and U.S.-brokered ceasefire from 2012 between Palestinian militant groups–including Islamic Jihad and Hamas–has been threatened by repeated Israeli violations. And it’s those Israeli violations that have provoked rocket fire into Israel.

From MEMO…

Isolating Gaza to justify Israel’s continuous state terror

The latest Israeli violent incitement against Palestinians in Gaza has been distorted into the usual rhetoric of defence. Following the murder of three resistance fighters in Khan Younis by Israeli soldiers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised further violence in the wake of Palestinian retaliation against the murders.

“If there is no quiet in our south, no quiet for the residents of Israel, there will be noise, lots of noise in Gaza. And that’s putting it mildly,” he said. The threat was uttered in the presence of Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, who upheld Netanyahu’s distorted reality and defended the settler-colonial state’s self-imposed right to defend itself. According to Cameron, Israeli aggression against Gaza’s legitimate resistance illustrates “the importance of maintaining and securing Israel’s future and the security threats you face, and you have Britain’s support in facing those security threats.”

Cameron deemed legitimate resistance “indiscriminate, aimed at civilian populations” and a reflection of barbarism. The statement evokes an accurate depiction of Israel’s settler-colonial state and its constant refinement of atrocities to maintain its illegal presence in Palestine, supported by its imperialist allies. {…}

The statements attest to the enforced permanent isolation of Gaza. Gaza has never relinquished its right to resistance; hence the regurgitated argument disseminated by mainstream media excusing Israeli violence as a consequence of rocket attacks is invalid. Resistance is the legitimate and necessary response to Israel’s colonial and imperialist-supported terror; a means to combat the sanctioned illegality endorsed by the UN. Gaza’s resistance does not contribute to the destabilisation of the region. However, the pervading discourse hailed as absolute truth is indicative of Israel’s commitment to incarcerate Palestinians in Gaza, this time in collaboration with a neighbouring country which has already proved its allegiance to Israel.

“Collective punishment”, the convenient term describing Israel’s brutality against Palestinians, should be rendered obsolete. In case of another superfluous Zionist campaign aimed at consolidating Israel’s “defence”, it is worth remembering that the sole entities which can claim defence are historic Palestine and the Palestinian population. Any Zionist actions against Palestinian land, people and memory is nothing but an extension of refined colonial violence, displaying Israel’s constant need to protect its illegal settler presence upon land it can never claim to own – a fact proven by Palestinian resistance.

A look-see at Cameron’s recent Knesset appearance… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, Davos, Geneva II, House of Saud, and Israel

10:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

It’s been a bloody couple of days in Egypt…

Death toll rises to 29 in Egypt’s clashes, 167 injured

At least 29 people were killed and 167 others injured on Saturday during clashes between supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and security forces in different parts of the country, the health ministry’s media spokesman said in a statement.

“The victims were killed in the governorates of Cairo, Giza, Alexandria and Menia,” Ahmed Kamel said in the statement, noting the injured were from the said governorates in addition to Fayoum, Ismailia, Assiut and Beni Sweif.

Meanwhile, two blasts targeting police premises hit Cairo and Suez governorate on Saturday, killing a little child and injuring nine people.

Amid tight security measures, thousands of Egyptians took to streets across the country on Saturday to mark the third anniversary of the Jan. 25 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Meanwhile, the police fired tear gas and birdshots to disperse several pro-Morsi marches led by the Muslim Brotherhood, currently blacklisted by the interim government as a “terrorist group.”

Earlier in the day, several Brotherhood supporters were injured and dozens others were arrested.

On Friday, a string of explosions rocked Cairo, killing six people and wounding about 100 others, while some 15 people were killed in clashes between security forces and pro-Morsi protesters nationwide.

Al-Qaeda linked group claims responsibility for Cairo bomb blasts

Moving along to Davos and Geneva II…

Talk about your righteous hypocrisy…

Saudi royal calls for UN resolution to pull militias from Syria

Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former intelligence chief and an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama’s administration since it started secret nuclear talks with Iran, said the world was disappointed with the “sense of no direction” in U.S. foreign policy.

“I want the Americans to go to the Security Council and get a resolution that forces should be deployed to stop the fighting in Syria,” he told the World Economic Forum in Davos. “If that is not available, then at least a humanitarian corridor to allow people not to starve.”

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have backed the main Sunni Muslim opposition Syrian National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army with weapons, training, money and military intelligence in the fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Iran has been one of Assad’s biggest supporters in a conflict that has killed more than 130,000 Syrians and forced more than 2 million to flee.

Western countries have so far held back from providing rebels with heavy arms such as anti-tank weapons and missile launchers for fear they could fall into the wrong hands.

Prince Turki said Iraqi militia and Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah fighters outnumbered radical Sunni militants fighting in Syria.

“I’m not saying Sunnis should go fight,” he said. “You have to get these (Shi’ite) people out. The only way to do it is by a concerted international effort led by the United States and supported by the U.S. allies to force these people to stop the fighting.”

Rupert’s rag, the WSJ, had this to add…

Iran, Jordan,Turkey Foreign Ministers Call For Syria’s War to End

All Foreign Fighters Should Exit Syria, They Say at Panel in Davos Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Hezbollah, The I/P Peace Charade, and Syria

5:10 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From Der Spiegel

EU Terror List: Hezbollah Unlikely to Feel Sanctions

EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday to put the military wing of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on the bloc’s list of terrorist groups. But sanctions will have little impact on the “Party of God,” which has long since become Lebanon’s most powerful political force. {…}

On Monday, European Union foreign ministers agreed to put this armed wing of Hezbollah on the bloc’s list of terrorist groups. The move marks a striking about-face in European policy regarding the Shiite militants. Previously, European leaders had argued that Lebanon, already in a vulnerable state, would be further destabilized if the influential group were declared outcasts.

Sanctions Won’t Be Felt

But Britain, the Netherlands and France have pushed just such a measure through, arguing that by interfering in the Syrian civil war, Hezbollah is now threatening the fragile peace inside Lebanon as well. European restraint on the matter no longer makes sense, they argue. {…}

Civil and Military Division Unclear

The fact that outsiders are unable to discern where Hezbollah’s civilian wing ends and the militant one begins is likely to mean that the organization will escape the EU’s measures unscathed, say Western diplomats in Beirut. The decision in Brussels was purely symbolic, serving only to appease the United States, which declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization in 1995 after two devastating attacks against the Israeli embassy and a Jewish organization in the Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires. Since then, the US has been pressuring its allies to follow suit…

Now, in looking at the latest I/P Peace Farce being peddled by SoS Kerry, as I’ve written before: Talk is Cheap and The Freeze Farce Is Over, I’d adopted the same ‘wait and see’ attitude as longtime I/P blogger, Richard Silverstein…

Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talk Charade

I’ve held off writing about John Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy attempting to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, because I thought there was “no there, there” and figured it might collapse of its own weight. But developments in the past 24 hours indicate that while this is still likely, all parties have already been guilty of bad judgments which should be pointed out. {…}

They’ll supposedly be getting 100 freed Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails for decades. The Israel Broadcasting Authority says the prisoner release would happen in four stages and the first one would only happen during the second month of negotiations. A lot can happen in that time. And I’d say a guarantee of this happening is pretty thin. Furhter, the Palestinians seem willing to overlook that Israel, after past prisoner exchanges, promptly rearrested whoever it still wants behind bars.

Another issue the Palestinians would apparently give up is their efforts to win international recognition in bodies like the United Nations. That’s giving up a whole lot in return for very little. {…}

But today’s worst outrage, which sent me into a paroxysm of righteous indignation, was the report by Laura Rozen that John Kerry may plan to appoint Martin Indyk his “peace envoy.” You’ll recall that the estimable George Mitchell had that role towards the beginning of Obama’s first term. But Mitchell failed because Obama wasn’t willing to use the power of his office to pressure the Israelis to deal. Despite such a failure, at least one might say that Mitchell was truly an honest broker. He had no strong affiliation with either side nor any hostility against either side.

Indyk is an entirely different story: there seems to be a notion among U.S. presidents that to secure Israeli-Palestinian peace they need a former Aipac analyst on their team. That’s how they got Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and a number of other similar figures. They both are or were affiliated with WINEP, Aipac’s foreign policy think tank. Neither Ross nor Indyk has any special affinity or interest in the Palestinians, except as a means to an end (a peace deal that responds to and guarantees Israeli interests). The latter was also U.S. ambassador to Israel under Pres. Clinton. The NY Times calls the Brookings think-tanker “a seasoned hand,” which as usual for the Times is beside the point and misses the key reasons for his appointment and his political affiliations. {…}

This iteration of the peace process is dead on arrival. The sooner John Kerry realizes this the less political face he will lose. What is being proposed shows that Obama has no real interest in settling the conflict. He wants to be seen to be doing something. And what he’s seen to be doing he hopes will last for the next three years so he can kick the can down the road for the next guy. Or, as Mitt Romney so inimitably put it: “to kick the football down the field.”

Once again, Bibi pushed the Pollard canard…

‘PM asked US to free Pollard as incentive for entering peace talks’

Netanyahu reportedly wanted to present ministers with symbolic victory to ease opposition to restarting peace talks

The US reportedly refused an Israeli request to free imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in exchange for Israel releasing Palestinian prisoners, ahead of new peace talks with the Palestinians…

…The Cabinet, on Sunday, will vote on the release of Palestinian prisoners ahead of a scheduled first round of talks between Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Washington.

Israeli officials have indicated the prisoners will be freed in phases, beginning at 4-6 weeks into the negotiations, and continuing at 6-8 week intervals, depending on the progress of the talks. Under Israeli law, the prisoners’ names will be published 48 hours before their release to allow families of their victims to appeal the decision with the Supreme Court.

Israel has reportedly refused to release an additional 21 pre-Oslo prisoners, either because they are Israeli citizens or for other security reasons.

Kerry announced the resumption of peace talks, after a hiatus of almost three years, on Friday. “We have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming negotiations,” he said.

While Israeli leaders had confirmed the talks would be taking place and have even boasted that Israel had not been required to cave in to Palestinian preconditions to do so, Palestinian officials said that the path to resumed negotiations had not yet been cleared, and that the imminent meetings in Washington were aimed only at seeking to finalize the terms for the new negotiations.

Seriously, as I’ve noted before… Bibi: There’s No Solution to The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. It is nothing but another stalling tactic as Israel continues to expand the Settlements and grow richer off the fruits of the Occupied Territories…!

Moving on to Syria…

U.S. plan to arm Syria rebels gains support in Congress

U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to provide vetted Syrian rebels with weapons and strategic military aid has gained traction in Congress, U.S. lawmakers said Tuesday…

Lawmakers have been split on the proposal, but on Monday House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers said a “consensus” had been reached among the panel’s members to accept Obama’s plan despite “very strong concerns about the strength of the administration’s plans in Syria and its chances for success.”

On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner also weighed in in favor of the committee’s approach, saying “their effort to help the right set of rebels in Syria is in our nation’s best interest.”

While not legally required, intelligence committee approval of U.S. military assistance has traditionally been key to administrations moving ahead with such aid.

Like the House panel, the Senate Intelligence Committee has held several closed-door debates in recent weeks on the merits of increased military aid to rebels in Syria, where a conflict now in its 28th month has killed some 100,000 people.

Senate intelligence chair Dianne Feinstein has refused to divulge what progress if any has been made in committee on backing Obama’s push.

But on Tuesday Senator Richard Burr, who sits on the panel and who supports arming the rebels, strongly suggested a logjam had been broken.

“The White House has all the authority they need right now,” the Republican told AFP…

White House spokesman Jay Carney refused to comment on any Syria debates in Congress, “especially ones that are behind closed doors,” nor would he catalogue the assistance that is being provided.

But “the president, as he made clear not long ago, is committed to ramping up that assistance as necessary, because of the circumstances that we find and because of the need for the opposition to further strengthen and unify,” Carney said…

In summing up, the intrepid Pepe Escobar penned another must-read… War against Iran, Iraq AND Syria?

*gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Blind Arrogance, Genocide, and Zbig

3:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Honestly folks, my jaw hit the table when I read this steaming pile of Wapoo…

Saudi minister pledges aid for Syrian rebels facing ‘genocide’; Kerry more circumspect

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, said Tuesday that his country will help Syrian rebels “the most effective way we can” in response to what he called “genocide” perpetrated by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Saudi Arabia is not a country that interferes in internal affairs of countries,” Saud said in a news conference with visiting Secretary of State John F. Kerry.

“But an invaded country,” he said in a reference to Hezbollah and Iranian militia fighters on the side of Assad’s forces, “where genocide is being perpetrated, is not a normal situation. And I can say with clarity that we will help the Syrian people defend themselves.”

Saud’s passionate language contrasted with Kerry’s restrained description of both the crisis and the potential remedy. While Kerry has used the term “ethnic cleansing” to refer to Syria’s increasingly sectarian war, he has not called it genocide…

From Reuters…

Saudi Arabia says Syrian war on rebels is “genocide”

…Speaking at a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Jeddah, Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal criticised Iran, Russia and Hezbollah for backing and arming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Syria is facing a double-edged attack. It is facing genocide by the government and an invasion from outside the government … (It) is facing a massive flow of weapons to aid and abet that invasion and that genocide. This must end,” he said.

The prince did not spell out what he meant by genocide but the kingdom has accused Assad of using air and artillery strikes against heavily populated civilian areas. {snip}

“The most dangerous development is the foreign participation, represented by Hezbollah and other militias supported by the forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard,” the prince said, repeating a call for rebels to be armed.

“The kingdom calls for issuing an unequivocal international resolution to halt the provision of arms to the Syrian regime and states the illegitimacy of the regime,” he added.

More on SoS Kerry’s lies remarks…

…US Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Arabia stood firmly Tuesday against Syrian President Bashar Assad, condemning him for bolstering his forces with foreign fighters and insisting that a stalled international conference be convened to craft a political solution to end the bloody civil war.

“We believe that the best solution is a political solution,” Kerry said…

“We do not want this to be a wider war,” Kerry said. “We will to continue to provide assistance to the Syrian military coalition and to the Syrian opposition in the interim. Because we do not believe it is appropriate for the Assad regime to have invited the Iranians and Hezbollah to cross international lines and to have their fighters on the ground. There are no United States fighters. There are no Saudi fighters. There are no Qatari fighters on the ground.”

Nevertheless, regional powers like Saudi Arabia, and soon the United States, are sending lethal aid to the rebels. The United States also has 1,000 troops in Jordan providing training…

To be sure, folks, that ‘lethal aid’ is arriving in Syria… Insurgent ATGM attacks increase in Syria…!

Here’s an interesting article on the clusterf*ck that is the jihadists…Al-Qaeda’s rift may spark conflict among jihadis – ‘Power grab’ by Iraqi Qaeda boss angers Syria jihadis

Now, is it truly Buyer’s Remorse, from the Grand Chess Master of a ‘few stirred-up moslems’…?

Heilbrunn: Here we are five years into the Obama administration, and you’re stating that the West is engaging in “mass propaganda.” Is Obama being drawn into Syria because he’s too weak to resist the status quo? What happened to President Obama that brought us here?

Brzezinski: I can’t engage either in psychoanalysis or any kind of historical revisionism. He obviously has a difficult problem on his hands, and there is a mysterious aspect to all of this. Just consider the timing. In late 2011 there are outbreaks in Syria produced by a drought and abetted by two well-known autocracies in the Middle East: Qatar and Saudi Arabia. He all of a sudden announces that Assad has to go—without, apparently, any real preparation for making that happen. Then in the spring of 2012, the election year here, the CIA under General Petraeus, according to The New York Times of March 24th of this year, a very revealing article, mounts a large-scale effort to assist the Qataris and the Saudis and link them somehow with the Turks in that effort. Was this a strategic position? Why did we all of a sudden decide that Syria had to be destabilized and its government overthrown? Had it ever been explained to the American people? Then in the latter part of 2012, especially after the elections, the tide of conflict turns somewhat against the rebels. And it becomes clear that not all of those rebels are all that “democratic.” And so the whole policy begins to be reconsidered. I think these things need to be clarified so that one can have a more insightful understanding of what exactly U.S. policy was aiming at.

In summing up, let’s not forget about our recent Libyan fiasco… Libya a key terrorism transit hub, warns African Union…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Pouring Gas On The Syrian Inferno

5:09 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From this past Sunday’s Bobblehead shows…

Lawmakers say Syrian chemical weapons could menace U.S.

…Lawmakers sought to remind viewers on Sunday news programs of Obama’s declaration while discouraging a U.S. foothold on the ground there.

“The president has laid down the line, and it can’t be a dotted line. It can’t be anything other than a red line,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican. “And more than just Syria, Iran is paying attention to this. North Korea is paying attention to this.” Added Sen. Saxby Chambliss, also a Republican: “For America to sit on the sidelines and do nothing is a huge mistake.”

…But Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat, said Sunday the United States needs to consider those weapons. She said that when Assad leaves power, his opponents could have access to those weapons or they could fall into the hands of U.S. enemies.

“The day after Assad is the day that these chemical weapons could be at risk… [and] we could be in bigger, even bigger trouble,” she said…

…”The worst thing the United States could do right now is put boots on the ground on Syria. That would turn the people against us,” said McCain, the Republican who lost the 2008 presidential election to Obama.

His friend, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, also said the United States could safeguard the weapons without a ground force. But he cautioned the weapons must be protected for fear that Americans could be targeted. Raising the specter of the lethal bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Graham said the next attack on U.S. soil could employ weapons that were once part of Assad’s arsenal.

“Chemical weapons — enough to kill millions of people — are going to be compromised and fall into the wrong hands, and the next bomb that goes off in America may not have nails and glass in it,” he said…

US lacks evidence in accusing Syria of using chemical weapons

…The United Nations and the Secretary General have been notified about alleged chemical weapons use in Syria by American politicians. In response, a spokesman for the UN chief warned that “the United Nations is not in a position to comment on assessments based on national intelligence information.

But a team of UN advisers “have been in contact with the US authorities on the latest developments,” the spokesperson for the Secretary-General said in a statement.

The statement added that a “technical expert team to conduct a fact-finding mission” has been put together and is on standby, ready to begin work in “24-48 hours.”

So far the expert team is still awaiting its marching orders, after UN chief Ban Ki-moon promised the probe in late March, following an official request by the Syrian authorities to appoint an independent mission to investigate the alleged chemical attack that claimed lives of at least 25 people on March 19.

Although following the Syrian plea, the United Nations said the team would not include experts from Russia and China to ensure it wasn’t biased. Russian EU envoy Vitaly Churkin criticized “this kind of logic” saying in that case he “would recommend excluding all NATO countries too.”

Following this development, in early April, Syria refused to let the UN proposed team enter Syria as it – contrary to the Syrian request – was planning to deploy “throughout Syrian territory” and not at particular locations of alleged attacks. “Syria cannot accept such manoeuvres on the part of the UN secretariat general, bearing in mind the negative role that it played in Iraq and which cleared the way for the American invasion,” a Syrian foreign ministry official explained at the time.

The official stressed that Syria had specifically asked for “a neutral and honest technical team to visit the village of Khan al-Assal” in the province of Aleppo…

Opinion divided on investigation in Syria over chemical weapons

…Speculation on chemical weapons in Syria has flared up. The White House has stated that the government troops may have used them against the rebels. The international community is divided on whether to send an investigation panel to the country.
Amateur videos have sprung up online, showing various victims of chemical gas. This come after Washington’s accusation that Damascus has used chemical weapons.
One video shows people left unconscious and others reporting aches and dizziness after what they say was a Syrian government air raid in Aleppo on April the 13th.
And a picture purportedly showed a flock of sheep killed by chemical weapons.

…The Syrian government has denied accusations from western countries. It compares the US accusation to claims about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction to justify its 2003 invasion.
In the meantime, fears are growing in both government troops and rebel groups. Some are calling for a UN investigation, while others doubt UN neutrality.
Yahya Sulaiman, a retired soldier, said, “The UN is under control of the western countries. We don’t think it represents the justice. If the UN investigation doesn’t make clear the investigation period, their access to Syria may also bring foreign spies, who’s true purpose is to inspect Syrian military facilities.”
UN chief Ban Ki-moon says the investigation panel is ready to get access to Syria at any time. US President Barack Obama has expressed support for a UN mission.
Russia has warned not to use the allegations as an excuse for foreign military intervention. The final decision is still up in the air.

All Syria options ‘fraught with risk for US’

As the UK’s former Ambassador to Syria wrote recently…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

Things Fall Apart…

8:31 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

R.I.P. Chinua Achebe…!

With Lebanon in political upheaval, largely due to the Syrian crisis, what is Hezbollah’s role in Syria, and elsewhere…

…For quite some time there has been a great deal of talk and speculation in Lebanon, Syria, and the Arab and Western worlds about Hezbollah’s true role in the Syrian crisis. The anti-Hezbollah propaganda machine has, as usual, been particularly active, issuing a daily stream of news and reports about the party’s supposed involvement in the conflict.

This machine – which has Lebanese, Syrian, and other operators – has announced the deaths of hundreds of Hezbollah fighters in Syria, and the capture of dozens by Syrian rebels. An official security agency in Beirut plays a central role on this front by leaking factual information that is then embellished…

…Hezbollah’s commitment to resistance against occupation obliges it to do many things, including to avoid making other enemies. Its position on Syria is consistent with its attitude to the protest movements in the Arab world as a whole.

Nobody from the outset could ever have imagined Hezbollah taking a stand against the regime in Syria. While the party does not disregard the domestic causes of the crisis, it does not condone the battles that are taking place. Its view of the bigger picture prevents it from adopting a neutral posture, as does the fact that it has a clearer and stronger following in Syria than many of the groups involved in the fighting.

Hezbollah warned early on about the foreign connections and agendas of groups leading the protests. It had clear evidence of the ideological persuasions of some of the most influential of these groups. It noticed how, from the start of the protests, demonstrators in Homs and Deraa set fire to pictures of Nasrallah and Hezbollah flags, and how the campaign of sectarian incitement against the party went into full-gear…

– Hezbollah operates a major scheme, perhaps the biggest, to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon and even inside Syria. This is not aimed at repaying the Syrians for taking in refugees from Lebanon in 2006. It is done quietly, out of conviction that refugees and displaced people are entitled to all possible humanitarian aid regardless of political views

God forbid…! Funny, tho…U.S. puts Hezbollah on notice…

Now, let’s reflect back upon what truly led up to this sordid state of affairs, published six days prior to ‘Shock and Awe’…

Democracy Domino Theory ‘Not Credible’

…The report, which has been distributed to a small group of top government officials but not publicly disclosed, says that daunting economic and social problems are likely to undermine basic stability in the region for years, let alone prospects for democratic reform.

Even if some version of democracy took root — an event the report casts as unlikely — anti-American sentiment is so pervasive that elections in the short term could lead to the rise of Islamic-controlled governments hostile to the United States.

“Liberal democracy would be difficult to achieve,” says one passage of the report, according to an intelligence official who agreed to read portions of it to The Times.

“Electoral democracy, were it to emerge, could well be subject to exploitation by anti-American elements.”

The thrust of the document, the source said, “is that this idea that you’re going to transform the Middle East and fundamentally alter its trajectory is not credible.”

Even the document’s title appears to dismiss the administration argument. The report is labeled “Iraq, the Middle East and Change: No Dominoes.”

The report was produced by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research…

…”Middle East societies are riven” by political, economic and social problems that are likely to undermine stability “regardless of the nature of any externally influenced or spontaneous, indigenous change,” the report said, according to the source.

The report is dated Feb. 26, officials said, the same day Bush endorsed the domino theory in a speech to the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

“A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region,” Bush said…

Bush has responded to such assessments by assailing the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”

What has totally flabbergasted me, throughout, has been sheer success of the PNAC crew’s pernicious, Sectarian pogram, to render asunder all secular leaning ‘democracies,’ however nascent they maybe, in the entire MENA…!

Now, lets take a quick gander at what the current plight is within Iraq, it’s neighbors, and, throughout the MENA…

*Egypt- Brotherhood members and activists clash at headquarters in Egypt, and, Morsi warns of ‘foreign enemies’ on Twitter amid protests against Brotherhood…

*Iraq- Baghdad’s Shia districts target of deadly bombing attacks

*Jordan- …a king sits uncomfortably on his throne, despite a pledge of another $200 million…

*Syria- Obama Warns of Extremist Threat in Syria, yet in the same breath; CIA provides intelligence to Syrian rebels…

*Turkey- Syria crisis necessitates normalization of ties with Turkey…

“The constantly changing reality around us forces us to reexamine our relations with countries in the region all the time.”

Hello, ya think so…? *gah*

by CTuttle

Bibi’s Blunder…

2:01 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As the Grey Lady reported…

Syria Says It Has Right to Counterattack Israel

…”Increasing the likelihood of a cycle of retaliation”…

… Israeli officials remained silent on Thursday about their airstrike in Syrian territory the day before, a tactic that experts said was part of a longstanding strategy to give targeted countries face-saving opportunities to avoid conflict escalation. But Syria’s own confirmation of the attack, followed by harsh condemnation not only by Israel’s enemies Iran and Hezbollah but also by Russia, may have undercut that effort, analysts said, increasing the likelihood of a cycle of retaliation. “From the moment they chose to say Israel did something, it means someone has to do something after that,” said Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel’s National Security Council and a longtime military leader. “Contrary to what I could hope and believe yesterday, that this round of events would end soon, now I am much less confident.”…

Now, the hasbara put forth by the PTB media has been that the Israeli strike was directed solely against a purported weapons caravan headed into Hezbollah hands, yet…

Iranian, Russian experts ‘habitually present’ at targeted Syrian facility

Iranian and Russian experts were “habitually present” at the Syrian facility reportedly struck by Israel on Wednesday, a senior Syrian military official who recently defected said Friday.

Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal further claimed that there are no chemical weapons at the facility northwest of Damascus, according to Israel Radio.

But another defected Syrian general, Adnan Sillu, said Friday that the facility produced “non-conventional weapons,” in addition to conventional arms. Sillu was previously in charge of Syria’s chemical weapons training program.

On Wednesday, Syrian officials said Israeli planes struck a “research facility” northwest of the capital. The accusation came after reports from foreign news sources earlier in the day that said Israel had hit a weapons convoy near the Syria-Lebanon border that was transferring arms to the terror group Hezbollah.

Syrian Army Chief of Staff General Ali Abdullah Ayoub told troops on Thursday that the war with Israel is ongoing and will never end, according to state news agency SANA.

Ayoub also charged that Israel was backing rebel groups who were conducting “organized terrorism against the Syrian people.”

As the Wapoo put it…

Israeli attack on Syria could be beginning of new strategy as Assad’s grip on power weakens

An Israeli air attack staged in Syria this week may be a sign of things to come.

Israeli military officials appear to have concluded that the risks of attacking Syria are worth taking when compared to the dangers of allowing sophisticated weapons to reach Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon.

With Syrian President Bashar Assad’s grip on power weakening, Israeli officials fear he could soon lose control over his substantial arsenal of chemical and advanced weapons, which could slip into the hands of Hezbollah or other hostile groups. These concerns, combined with Hezbollah’s own domestic problems, mean further military action could be likely.

Tzachi Hanegbi, an incoming lawmaker in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and a former chairman of parliament’s influential foreign affairs and defense committee, signaled Thursday that Israel could be compelled to act on its own. While Israel’s preference is for Western powers to gain control over Syria’s arms stockpile, he said there are no signs of that happening.

“Israel finds itself, like it has many times in the past, facing a dilemma that only it knows how to respond to. And it could well be that we will reach a stage where we will have to make decisions,” Hanegbi told Israel’s Army Radio Thursday. Hanegbi, like other Israeli officials, would not confirm Israeli involvement in the airstrike.

In this week’s incident, Israeli warplanes conducted a rare airstrike inside Syria, according to U.S. officials who said the target was a convoy carrying anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militant group allied with Syria and Iran…

As the Jpost wrote… Why the attack on Syria suits Netanyahu…

I wonder how much longer Hezbollah will sit on the sidelines, on Syria, and/or allow Israeli F-16s to loiter over Lebanon…?

*gah*

by CTuttle

‘Coalition of The Fighting’

5:10 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

There’s a whole slew of foreign policy F*ckery afoot…!

Isn’t it interesting how another Security Chief was assassinated in a car bombing…?

As the Angry Arab noted…

…It has been confirmed that Hariri security chief (and coordinator of Saudi intelligence work in Lebanon), Wisam Al-Hasan has been targeted in Beirut explosion. A reporter on the scene reports that Hasan has been seriously injured. Al-Hasan has been tasked with Saudi intelligence of facilitating arming and funding of Free Syrian Army from Lebanon. His name has been linked with the ship, Lutfallah II, which was intercepted as it carried arms to Syrian rebels in Lebanon. This former bodyguard of Rafiq Hariri quickly rose in rank and became the head of a predominantly Sunni security apparatus (Shu`bat Al-Ma`lumat, or Intelligence Branch) which has received tens of millions in US covert funding. Hasan was first suspected in the Hariri assassination because he was absent that day and because he had long-standing ties with Syrian intelligence. He told the Hariri investigators that he was studying for an exam that day.

PS Western media will NOT report another angle to the story: that Hasan’s Intelligence branch has been responsible for catching scores of Israeli spies and terrorists in Lebanon.

PPS This is the third assassination (or attempt) to target chiefs of the Intelligence Branch.

Now, I was stunned at how quickly War Inc. had rolled out the Political PR heavy artillery… Anti-Syria Bloc Calls for ‘Day of Rage’ in Lebanon Over Bombing…

…The unrest has prompted concern that Syria’s civil war may spill over the border. March 14 politicians including former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Rafiq’s son, were quick to accuse Syria of carrying out the killing.

Hariri urged supporters yesterday to join the rally to honor al-Hassan as a man “who protected Lebanon from dangers and exposed himself to an explosion so that you won’t explode and so Lebanon won’t explode.”

Al-Hassan’s investigations included the Hariri assassination. The security official also was instrumental in the probe that led to the August arrest of former Information Minister Michel Samaha, an Assad ally who has been charged with plotting to assassinate religious and political figures. More than 20 bombs found with Samaha were prepared by Syrian security agents, NNA said at the time.
Resignation Offer

Mikati said yesterday that al-Hassan’s assassination was linked to his exposure of the Samaha plot. He said that he had offered to resign so that a national unity government could be formed in the aftermath of the bombing. President Michel Suleiman urged him to stay on while he consults the country’s top officials about the attack and so the country won’t slip into political vacuum, Mikati said.

As the WaPoo ramped up their War rhetoric…U.S. steps up support of Turkey amid Syrian conflict…

The U.S. government is intensifying its intelligence sharing and military consultations with Turkey behind the scenes as both countries confront the possibility that Syria’s civil conflict could escalate into a regional war, according to U.S. and NATO officials. {…}

…In recent weeks, military officials from both countries have met to make contingency plans to impose no-fly zones over Syrian territory or seize Syria’s stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, U.S. officials said…

Behind the scenes, however, the border clashes have changed the strategic calculus and led U.S. military and intelligence officials in particular to collaborate more closely with Turkey.

“I can certainly assure you that our militaries, our military officers, are in contact,” Francis J. Ricciardone Jr. , the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, told journalists in Ankara on Tuesday. “This week I know there is a special focus of our military experts talking about Syria. And what militaries do well is plan for every contingency and every eventuality.”

Ricciardone said “no political decision has been made” regarding whether to support or impose a no-fly zone in Syrian territory to protect civilians or opponents of the government of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, but he acknowledged that U.S., Turkish and NATO officials were discussing options.

“Will we consider it?” he said. “We consider everything.” {…}

“NATO is the new U.N. for Ankara when it comes to Syria,” he said.

…But he said one alternative would be for select NATO members — such as the United States, France and Britain — to assist Turkey with a military intervention, while other allies remain on the sidelines.

“It could be a ‘coalition of the fighting’ within NATO,” Cagaptay said. That was the approach NATO took last year when it ousted Libya’s former ruler, Moammar Gaddafi…

Now, I’m not sure what to make of this bombshell, but, here ya go…

How US Ambassador Chris Stevens May Have Been Linked To Jihadist Rebels In Syria

The official position is that the US has refused to allow heavy weapons into Syria.

But there’s growing evidence that U.S. agents—particularly murdered ambassador Chris Stevens—were at least aware of heavy weapons moving from Libya to jihadist Syrian rebels.

In March 2011 Stevens became the official U.S. liaison to the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan opposition, working directly with Abdelhakim Belhadj of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group—a group that has now disbanded, with some fighters reportedly participating in the attack that took Stevens’ life…

…Last month The Times of London reported that a Libyan ship “carrying the largest consignment of weapons for Syria … has docked in Turkey.” The shipment reportedly weighed 400 tons and included SA-7 surface-to-air anti-craft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Those heavy weapons are most likely from Muammar Gaddafi’s stock of about 20,000 portable heat-seeking missiles—the bulk of them SA-7s—that the Libyan leader obtained from the former Eastern bloc. Reuters reports that Syrian rebels have been using those heavy weapons to shoot down Syrian helicopters and fighter jets.

The ship’s captain was “a Libyan from Benghazi and the head of an organization called the Libyan National Council for Relief and Support,” which was presumably established by the new government.

That means that Ambassador Stevens had only one person—Belhadj—between himself and the Benghazi man who brought heavy weapons to Syria.

Last week The Telegraph reported that a FSA commander called them “Libyans” when he explained that the FSA doesn’t “want these extremist people here.”

And if the new Libyan government was sending seasoned Islamic fighters and 400 tons of heavy weapons to Syria through a port in southern Turkey—a deal brokered by Stevens’ primary Libyan contact during the Libyan revolution—then the governments of Turkey and the U.S. surely knew about it.

Furthermore there was a CIA post in Benghazi, located 1.2 miles from the U.S. consulate, used as “a base for, among other things, collecting information on the proliferation of weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals, including surface-to-air missiles” … and that its security features “were more advanced than those at rented villa where Stevens died.”

And we know that the CIA has been funneling weapons to the rebels in southern Turkey. The question is whether the CIA has been involved in handing out the heavy weapons from Libya.

In any case, the connection between Benghazi and the rise of jihadists in Syria is stronger than has been officially acknowledged.

Interestingly, Emptywheel notes that there were probably 25 CIA agents in Benghazi at the time of Amb. Steven’s demise…!

Now, I did derive a chuckle or two, today, over the Grey Lady’s ostrich-sized egg on their face… NYT: Iran agrees to one-on-one nuclear talks, US sources say…

Psych…! White House Denies Report That U.S. Has Agreed to Iran Talks…! One would suppose that AIPAC and the Boca Raton Yacht Club, would’ve been most displeased with the Oily Bomber, on Monday night, eh…?

*gah*

by CTuttle

Free Speech or Material Support?

5:20 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As part of a sting against anti-war activists suspected of connections to terrorism, on September 24 the FBI raided six homes in Minneapolis-St. Paul and elsewhere in the country. At the Hard Times Cafe in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, we interviewed peace activist Mick Kelly while the FBI searched his apartment above the cafe.

Wow, why am I suddenly channeling O’Donnell’s "I’m you" spell err… spiel? I did admire Mick’s pluck when he’d mentioned his arrests for actively protesting our Imperialism, they’re certainly badges of honor to wear proudly…! Personally, I’ve never been arrested, whatsoever (knock on wood)! I do have some fond memories of sleeping on my State Capitol’s lawn a few times, for several different protests in my heyday…!

CityPages’ Nick Pinto recently reported…

Minnesota activists raided by FBI refuse to testify

…Judging from the subpoenas, the grand jury is specifically interested in any contact the activists may have had with members of Hezbollah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Jess Sundin, one of the Minneapolis activists subpoenaed, said any charges of material support of terrorist organizations are baseless. "Nobody has sent a dime or materials of any kind to these organizations," she said. "All we’ve done is to learn the stories of some of these people and to share them. If they’re going to prosecute peace activists in the U.S. for sharing stories, then all Americans have something to worry about."

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago declined to comment on any aspect of the case. [...]

All have notified the U.S. Attorney’s office that they won’t be testifying, citing their fifth-amendment rights against self-incrimination. If the government grants them immunity, however, they will have no legal basis for refusing to testify.

Sundin said she won’t take part in the grand jury, even if she is granted immunity. That could lead to charges of civil or criminal contempt, and possible jail-time.

Now, being a paralegal who knows his way around a Law Library, I think it’s foolish to not ‘appear’ at all… They can readily ‘appear’ and plead the Fifth to every pertinent question, except maybe name, sex, etc…! Even if you’re granted ‘immunity’ answer every question with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’…! How simple, no…?

But, I digress…

Truthout’s Yana Kunichoff wrote a pretty compelling piece yesterday…

Raids on Activists May Indicate FBI Abuse of Power

…The spokesman for the FBI in Minneapolis said, "the warrants are seeking evidence in support of an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism."

All the individuals involved in the raids denied their connections to terrorist organizations, and said any meetings or contact they may have had with the groups were perfectly legal. [...]

Just days before the raids of activists in the Midwest and North Carolina, the Department of Justice released a report finding that between 2001 and 2006, the FBI kept tabs on activists affiliated with Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), Catholic Workers and Quakers. According to the report, the agency improperly placed these individuals on terrorist watch lists, and gave inaccurate and misleading information to Congress and the public about its activities. [...]

For Rowley, the focus of the raids on individuals who have been involved with anti-war movements indicates an extreme illogic in American national security policy – "the mentality to believe that if you are against the war on terror that somehow makes you a terrorist."

The raids on the homes of activists "did signal that the war on terror," Rowley said, "has now been turned inward on domestic advocacy groups."

Our FBI is yet another tentacle of the massive Vampire Squid, that is our sprawling Intel/MIC Complex…!

*gah*