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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: False Flags and False Narratives

3:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From b at Moon of Alabama: Media Neglect Turkish False Flag Attack Leak And Its Implications

And, This is Why Turkey Blocked Youtube – Leaked Audio With Full Transcript

A brief snippet:

Ahmet Davutoğlu:
“Prime Minister said that in current conjuncture, this attack (on Suleiman Shah Tomb) must be seen as an opportunity for us.”

Hakan Fidan:
“I’ll send 4 men from Syria, if that’s what it takes. I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey; we can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary.”

Feridun Sinirlioğlu:
“Our national security has become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit.”

Yaşar Güler:
“It’s a direct cause of war. I mean, what’re going to do is a direct cause of war.”

Ankara on alert after spying on security meeting leaked

Israel said to warn Turkey: Don’t attack Assad

Moving along…

From Robert Parry at Consortium News…The Danger of False Narrative

Today, Official Washington is marching in lockstep just as it did in 2002-03 when it enforced the misguided consensus on Iraq’s WMD. The latest case is Ukraine where Russian President Vladimir Putin is accused of committing “aggression” to expand Russian territory at the expense of noble ”democratic” reformers in Kiev.

Not only is this the dominant storyline in the U.S. media; it is virtually the only narrative permitted in the mainstream press. But the real narrative is that the United States and the European Union provoked this crisis by trying to take Ukraine out of its traditional sphere of influence, Russia, and put it in to a new association with the EU.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with Ukraine joining with the EU or staying with Russia (or a combination of the two) – depending on the will of the people and their elected representatives – this latest U.S./EU plan was motivated, at least in part, by hostility toward Russia…

As Col. Lang quipped recently… Bear baiting is a sport that should not be indulged in.

From the Grey Lady… Putin Calls Obama to Discuss Ukraine, White House Says

Meanwhile…

Obama seeks to assure King Abdullah in a time of regional unrest

In an exclusive interview with The National, the top White House Middle East policy adviser, Philip Gordon, said that while the US and Saudi and other Arabian Gulf countries may prefer different tactics when it comes to regional challenges, the allies still share fundamental interests and a strong alliance.

“It is perfectly reasonable…for good friends to sometimes have differences over approaches on issues, but the president will stress this with the king: we have much more in common when it comes to our interests than to differences,” Mr Gordon said.

“Defending allies from external aggression, ensuring the free flow of energy supplies, and confronting extremism and dealing with non proliferation – those are our core interests and we believe they are Saudi Arabia’s and our other friends’ in the Gulf core interests as well.”

More on those Gulf ‘core interests’…

Saudi king and Obama discuss Iran’s ‘behaviour’ and arming Syrian rebels

…Before Mr Obama met the king, US deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes confirmed that the war in Syria and Iran’s disputed nuclear programme were on the agenda.

“One of the main topics of conversation is how do we best empower the moderate opposition inside of Syria politically, militarily as a counterweight to President Bashar Al Assad,” Mr Rhodes said.

Jim White wrote a great piece Wednesday… After US Adventure in Death Squad Training for Syria, Brennan Now Complains About al Qaeda Training There

An interesting peek behind the robes… Saudi’s next heir is a close confidant of the king

In I/P news… Kerry not ready to announce failure of peace talks

During his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmous Abbas yesterday, US Secretary of State John Kerry aimed to find an “agreement formula” for negotiations with Israel instead of announcing failure of his efforts, a senior Palestinian Authority aide said today.

Kerry met the Abbas in Amman to discuss the peace talks which are wavering and the situation of the release of the fourth batch of the veteran Palestinian prisoners.

Speaking to the local Palestinian news agency Quds Net, Abbas’ aide Mimer Hammad said: “The agreement on the release of the Palestinian prisoners was conducted with the US administration.”

Hammad expects Kerry to phone the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and ask him to go release the prisoners. “Extending negotiations beyond the approaching deadline is linked to the release of the prisoners,” Hammad said.

He also said that Israel has to pledge to freeze settlement construction and setting a certain timetable, with international guardianship, to carry out its obligations, including implementing the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.

“The US Administration has not given us any agreement formula so far,” Hammad said. “Kerry is trying to find an agreement formula instead of announcing the failure of his efforts,” he added, “but Netanyahu said he would not stop settlements and we will see what Kerry will do.”

In wrapping up…

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: IAEA, Iran, and Israel

5:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As Gareth Porter tweeted recently…

To be sure…

Kerry: U.S. must pursue Iran talks before considering going to war

The United States has an obligation to pursue nuclear negotiations with Iran before it considers going to war with Tehran to force it to give up its nuclear activities, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday.

“We took the initiative and led the effort to try to figure out if before we go to war there actually might be a peaceful solution,” Kerry told a group of reporters.

Iran reached a landmark preliminary agreement with six world powers, including the United States, in November to halt its most sensitive nuclear operations, winning some relief from economic sanctions in return.

U.S. President Barack Obama, like his predecessors, has said that all options are on the table with regard to Iran’s nuclear program, using diplomatic code for the possibility of military action. While U.S. officials have long held out that threat, Kerry’s comments appeared to indicate that the Obama administration would seriously consider a strike on Iran if the diplomatic talks fail.

Apparently Israel is still up to no good with the IAEA…

IAEA ‘opted against’ sensitive Iran report

The UN nuclear watchdog planned a major report on Iran that might have revealed more of its suspected atomic bomb research, but held off as Tehran’s relations with the outside world thawed, sources familiar with the matter said.

Such a report — to have been prepared last year — would almost certainly have angered Iran and complicated efforts to settle a decade-old dispute over its atomic aspirations, moves which accelerated after pragmatic President Hassan Rouhani took office in August.

According to the sources, the International Atomic Energy Agency has apparently dropped the idea of a new report, at least for the time being. There was no immediate comment from the IAEA. The sources said there was no way of knowing what information collected by the agency since it issued a landmark report on Iran in 2011 might have been incorporated in the new document, although one said it could have added to worries about Tehran’s activities. As relations rapidly improved, Iran struck an interim nuclear deal with six world powers in November which Israel denounced as a ‘historic mistake’ as it did not require Tehran to dismantle its uranium enrichment sites.

One source said probably only Israel, which is believed to be the Middle East’s sole nuclear-armed state, would criticise the IAEA for not issuing a new report in the present circumstances. Iran and the world powers hope to reach a final settlement by July, when the interim accord expires, although they acknowledge this will be an uphill task. A decision not to go ahead with the new document may raise questions about information that the United Nations agency has gathered in the last two years on what it calls the ‘possible military dimensions’ to Iran’s nuclear programme. Tehran says the programme is peaceful and denies Western allegations that it is seeking to develop the capability to make bombs.

The sources, refusing to be identified, suggested the more recent material concerned extra detail about alleged research and experiments that were covered in the November 2011 report.

Jim White promptly swatted that bunk down… Dahl, Reuters Grant Anonymity to “Sources” Peddling Iran Info Rejected by IAEA

Indeed… IAEA denies Israeli accusations of concealing report on Iran’s nuclear program

Moving along… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AIPAC, Hillary, Kerry, and Sisi

6:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As FDL Alum, Jim White wrote yesterday…

Implementation of Interim Agreement With Iran Begins January 20, Paving Way for Further Negotiations

…Somehow, Obama and/or Kerry will need to find a way to get Menendez and his fellow war mongers to remove the language from their sanctions bill that sets preconditions for the structure of the final agreement. Further, any new sanctions taking effect during this critical six month period would immediately result in Iran exiting the negotiations and negating the interim agreement.

In essence, there will be parallel sets of negotiations. The P5+1 group will be starting work with Iran on the final agreement in early February while the Obama administration will be emphasizing its plan to veto any new sanctions bill that is passed during the negotiations. Of course, it would be best for Congress to merely abstain from interfering during the negotiations, since a virtually unanimous and instantaneous vote on new, stiffer sanctions would be guaranteed should the negotiations with Iran fail. But since Congress has already shown that they fully intend to pass some sort of bill, I would look for Obama to make a big push to get the automatic triggers, especially any that require Iran to halt even low level enrichment, removed from the bill. A bill requiring verification from Obama or Kerry that the negotiations have failed before the new sanctions are implemented might escape an Obama veto. Posturing on this second set of negotiations has already started.
{…}

Note that even Schiff, who seems to be taking Obama’s side in preferring to let the negotiations continue before Congress acts, reserves some skepticism over Iran giving up pursuit of nuclear weapons. The inability of Congress to see that even before Rouhani was elected there were signs that Iran was slowing its nuclear work is disappointing. In fact, I fear that the Menendez bill, or a similar bill calling for new stiffer sanctions even if a final agreement allows low level enrichment could override an Obama veto. Such a bill would be an unmitigated disaster and lead to a war with Iran, but it seems like a very distinct possibility unless there is a rare outbreak of sanity on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, b at MOA, further pointed out the obvious…

Obama’s Pivot Requires Serious Negotiations With Iran

…Obama has no other sane option but to seriously go for a permanent deal. If he does not get one the sanction regime will surely fall apart. Neither is a war on Iran a viable alternative. Attacking Iran, which is not developing nuclear weapons, under some ‘non-proliferation’ argument would destroy the U.S. moral-political position in the world while such an attack could not hinder but would justify Iran to start striving for a nuclear deterrent. Additionally a war in the Persian Gulf would be devastating for the world economy. ‘Containment,’ without an effective sanction regime, is no containment at all and not serious option.

Obama wants a U.S. ‘pivot to Asia.’ To achieve such a reduction of U.S. engagement in the Middle East is a necessity. Neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia want that. They want to keep U.S. attention on their perceived enemies. But the U.S. can not further engage in Asia and stay fully deployed in the Middle East. It is either or.

The Zionists are pressing Congress to blow up the negotiations with Iran by legislating new uni-lateral U.S. sanctions on third parties. Obama can blame himself for having enabled such self defeating ‘suffocating sanction’ strategy. That strategy is failing and the way out of it will be difficult for him. But Congress will not dare to vote directly for a war on Iran.

If Obama would negotiate in good faith with Iran the United States could acquire a serious and reliable partner in the Gulf and enable its pivot to Asia. But playing games, as Obama again tried last week until Russia stepped in, will leave it with a mostly unenforceable Iran ‘containment’ strategy that will drain its resources and leave the pivot to Asia an under-resourced dream.

Hillary Mann-Leverett slams our failed Syrian FP…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Breakthrough Imminent? Edition

7:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

It seems that we’re about to see a pivotal shift in International Relations, fully exposing our misbegotten Foreign Policy, all within the next couple of days…!

Starting, alphabetically, with Afghanistan…

Afghanistan rejects provision of US security pact

Afghanistan has rejected a key provision of a security pact with the United States that would allow the US forces to stay in the country beyond 2014.

A spokesman for the Afghan President Hamid Karzai insisted that the government would not allow the US military forces to enter people’s homes after the end of combat operations in 2014.

He emphasized on Karzai’s position that he would not accept any agreement allowing US forces to enter Afghan homes for “the purpose of aggression.”

Karzai and other high-ranking Afghan officials have repeatedly expressed their opposition to such US attacks on Afghan homes.

American and Afghan representatives are working on compiling a draft of the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement to present it to the Loya Jirga, a traditional Afghan assembly of elders consisting of some 3,000 Afghan tribal leaders from all over the country.

The assembly will consider the deal on Thursday. If the assembly agrees, the deal will be sent to the parliament for final ratification.

Here’s some analysis and commentary on the impending Loya Jirga in Kabul, from both: Jim White and DSWright…!

Shifting gears back to Iran and the P5+1 talks…

I had to laugh when I saw this Israeli op-ed…

Sorry, the French won’t save us from Iran

Israel media tempers excitement over the French president’s visit, and reports on political maneuvering within the Knesset

Despite the excitement around the visit of French President Francois Hollande to discuss, among other subjects, the Iranian nuclear program, and the gratitude in Israel for France’s tough stance on a potential deal with Tehran, some Israeli commentators argue that any optimism should be tempered.

“Hollande split into three” during his visit, writes Israel Hayom’s Boaz Bismuth. “First there was the Israeli Hollande, the one who spoke about Iran as if he were the Israeli prime minister. Yesterday was the Palestinian Hollande, who spoke as if he were Abbas. Today we will have the third Hollande, the salesman who is trying to increase the French economic presence in Israel…The change in American policy in the Middle East and the Iranian threat are causing the French to suddenly dream that for the first time in history… they will be able to be a friend of the Israelis and a friend of the Palestinians.”

I suppose it’s starting to dawn on Bibi that the jig is up…

Netanyahu takes Iran’s nuclear campaign to Kremlin

At odds with ally Washington over terms of an emerging international nuclear agreement with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will on Wednesday take his campaign against the deal to Moscow.

“We’d like them to have a better understanding of our concerns and the need to prevent Iran from having a breakout capacity,” an Israeli official told AFP ahead of the trip.

“A breakout capacity means that they have the capability to develop a nuclear weapon at a time and a place of their choosing in the future,” the official said.

So, while Bibi is reading headlines like this in Tel Aviv… Iranian Jews Protest in Favor of Nuclear Program! On the other side of the pond, Bloomberg had this to say… Iran Nuclear Deal Sought in Geneva Following Israeli Objections

And, sticking to this side of the pond, McClatchy, reports…

Obama tries to ward off new sanctions against Iran

“What we are suggesting, both to the Israelis, to members of Congress here, to the international community, but also to the Iranians, is ‘Let’s look, let’s test the proposition that over the next six months we can resolve this in a diplomatic fashion,’ ” the president said. “I think that is a test that is worth conducting.”

Obama said the proposal would require Iran to halt advances on its nuclear program, as well as roll back elements that get it closer what he called a “breakout capacity, where they can run for a weapon before the international community has a chance to react.” The regime would be subject to more vigorous inspections, in some cases daily, the president said.

Some Democratic and Republican lawmakers, encouraged by intense pro-Israel lobbying, are moving to stiffen sanctions against Iran, a move that Obama said would undermine the Geneva talks.

Obama even trotted out NSA Susan Rice to allay the Warhawks’ bloodthirst…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: The Peace Farce Drags on, Iran Proposes Sweeping Changes

6:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Phil Weiss, of Mondoweiss, best described today’s tête-à-tête between Bibi and Kerry…

Netanyahu tweets tense photo of meeting with Kerry

Here’s the transcript. Netanyahu begins by talking all about Iran. The Palestinians are an afterthought, and they’re to blame. His manner is impatient: “I see the Palestinians continuing with incitement, continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to avoid, run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace…”

We seek peace with the Palestinians. We’ve spoken, John, many, many times about this, and because of your efforts, we launched several months ago an initiative to seek a peaceful agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. I want peace with the Palestinians; Israel wants peace with the Palestinians. We agreed three months ago on certain terms. We stand by those terms. We abide scrupulously by the terms of the agreement and the understanding on which we launched the negotiations.

I’m concerned about their progress because I see the Palestinians continuing with incitement, continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to avoid, run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace. I hope that your visit will help steer them back to a place where we could achieve the historical peace that we seek and that our people deserve.

Kerry begins his remarks by commenting on who Netanyahu’s not, Yitzhak Rabin:

We are in the Rabin Suite here, and last night I had the privilege of visiting the site where violence took the life of a great prime minister who was moving towards peace. And I’d often heard President Clinton talk about the meaning of that loss and that moment to the loss of an opportunity for peace.

So I’m honored to be in the Rabin Suite meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel at a moment where we are in critical talks with respect to the possibilities of a long, long sought goal here in the Middle East. Israel deserves security, deserves to live in peace. The Palestinians deserve a state and deserve to live in peace, and that is what we are working towards.

He touches on Iran but says that the peace process is the big enchilada, and that Israel too has to show good faith:

We are now three months into this negotiation. There are always difficulties, always tensions. I’m very confident of our ability to work through them. That’s why I’m here. We will spend serious time this morning. I will meet with President Abbas this afternoon. Again this evening, the Prime Minister and I and his team will share a working dinner, and we’ll work as late as it takes. And again tomorrow, I will be here in the region and working on this. So I hope that we will continue in the good faith that brought the parties together in the first place that this can be achieved. With good faith, with a serious effort on both sides to make real compromises and hard decisions, this can be achieved. President Obama sees the road ahead, as do I, and we share a belief in this process or we wouldn’t put this time into it.

Greeting Kerry, as well, was this lovely little Israeli declaration…

Israel says Separation Wall will be border

Negotiators tell Palestinian officials they will not get a state based on 1967 borders, Israeli reports say.

Israeli negotiators have told their Palestinian counterparts that the Separation Wall that cuts through the occupied West Bank will serve as the border of a future Palestinian state, local media reports said.

Just hours before US Secretary of State John Kerry’s arrival for top-level talks on ongoing direct peace negotiations on Tuesday, two press reports said the Israeli team had made the proposal.

“Israel’s opening position was that the border be the route of the separation barrier [wall], and not the 1967 lines as the Palestinians have demanded,” public radio said in a report, which also featured in the top-selling Yediot Aharonot.

Since talks resumed in late July, the Palestinians have repeatedly complained about Israel’s lack of clarity on the issue of borders.

The Palestinians insist the talks be based on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War, when Israeli seized and occupied Gaza, the West Bank and Arab east Jerusalem.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected any return to the 1967 lines as “indefensible”, saying that would not take into account the “demographic changes” over the past 46 years, in a clear euphemism for Jewish settlements.

McClatchy describes it as merely… A linguistic debate on Israeli settlements.

Another reason Bibi was so tense…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

Syria Mashup: ‘Group Think’, House of Saud, and The UN

11:42 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

With numerous articles and Airheads asserting that the UN report, which will be released Monday(and not a moment sooner FP!) will point it’s finger at Assad, let me remind them what the UN’s mission really was…!

UN inspectors examine Syria poison gas allegations

Damascus has allowed UN chemical weapons inspectors access to areas allegedly attacked with poison gas last week. The mission is to determine whether an attack actually took place – but not who was responsible.

What is clear, however, is that a major propagandistic tug-of-war is taking place concerning the claimed use of chemical weapons and alleged perpetrators. {…}

Good chance of clarification

The UN mission stands a good chance to clarify issues surrounding the most recent poison gas attack, said Jan van Aken, a Left Party member of German parliament. “By examining survivors, the inspectors in Syria can easily determine whether poison gas was used or not,” van Aken told DW. “They can tell within minutes. A bit later, after the lab work is done, they can presumably say which poison was used – or if in fact this was a chemical weapons attack at all.”

Propaganda and facts

The UN mission may not, however, answer one key question: “The inspectors can only say whether chemical weapons were used, but not who did it,” van Aken said, adding that the political propaganda battle has already begun.

According van Aken, technical evidence would not help pinpoint who was behind the attacks. The situation in Syria is too complex to allow clear-cut conclusions, he says. “Even if you find the remnants of a Syrian missile with traces of a nerve agent, you still don’t know whether Assad’s troops fired it, or whether opposition rebels seized it during an attack on an army base somewhere in the north, and later employed it.”

So, lets look at some basic facts… Turkish prosecutor: Syria rebels ordered 10 tons of sarin nerve agent in Turkey…

On May 28 Turkish security forces found a 2-kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of terrorists from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front who were previously detained.

According to media reports, sarin gas was found in the homes of suspected Syrian militants detained in provinces of Adana and Mersia following a search by Turkish police.

Five Turks and a Syrian citizen, named Haitam Kassapwho, who were arrested on the case for allegations of buying chemical weapons in Turkey, have pleaded not guilty, according to the English-language Hurriyet Daily News, which quoted from the indictment.

Prosecution attorney objected the ruling and presented the court with a 132-page document which contained evidence of the suspects’ links to terrorist groups in Syria including al-Nusra Front and al-Qaeda-linked Islamic States on Iraq and Levant (Ahrar al-Sham), a report by the Voice of Russia said.

The document says that radical Salafis groups set up a channel for carrying out terrorist attacks inside Turkey.

According to the document al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham group had tried to buy large amounts of sarin nerve gas and chemical substances used in manufacturing poisonous materials.

The prosecution believes that the suspects have links to Syrian groups close to al-Qaeda and their leaders and were buying chemical materials from Turkey to send into Syria.

Citing telephone calls made by the suspects, the document shows they ordered at least ten tons of chemicals in total.

Now, let’s not forget this previous article… Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack

Here’s a newer report… New granular evidence points to Saudi role in chemical weapons attack

As Col. Wilkerson noted in the above video clip, the ‘paucity of evidence’ coming from the White House is very troublesome…! Cherry-picked even…? And, as Col. Lang wrote recently…

The administration’s case against Syria over the 21st of August disaster is gradually disintegrating. It will continue to do so. pl

Which brings me to Robert Parry’s excellent article…

Rewarding ‘Group Think’ on Syria

“Group think” is alive and well in Official Washington, with virtually all the important pundits marching in lock-step with the Obama administration’s accusations against the Syrian government and everyone fuming over an Op-Ed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, observes Robert Parry.

…Nearly every U.S. pundit and politician – from neocon to liberal – is charging off in the same direction, accepting undocumented U.S. government claims about Syria’s alleged chemical attack on Aug. 21 as undeniably true and deriding Russian President Vladimir Putin for a New York Times Op-Ed that had the audacity to defend the Nuremberg principles against aggressive war. {…}

Buying the Official Story

Beyond reflecting the conventional wisdom’s contempt for Putin, Robinson, like nearly every major U.S. opinion-leader, has accepted the U.S. government’s version of events regarding the alleged chemical attack on a Damascus suburb on Aug. 21.

Though the Obama administration has not released a single piece of verifiable evidence to support its “Government Assessment” fingering the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Robinson and his colleagues now report those assertions as flat fact, including the strange calculation that precisely “1,429” people died from poison gas. Other estimates have cited several hundred deaths, and the U.S. government has not explained the provenance of its number.

Yet, the U.S. tally of the dead and other claims are good enough for the American pundit class, evidence not required…

However, concealing shaky evidence to induce a public consensus is not ideally how a democracy should work, especially on a question as weighty as war or peace. And it is not how an independent press corps is supposed to work, accepting evidence-free assertions from the government as fact, rather than joining in demands for the maximum possible exposure of the evidence.

If, as some expect, the United Nations inspectors next week side with the U.S. government in pointing the finger at the Assad regime for the Aug. 21 attack, more and more ridicule will be heaped on those of us who pointed out that the Obama administration was withholding its proof.

Indeed, the chest-thumping by those who clambered onto the bandwagon for war has already begun. They might be called the “See-We-Were-Right-to-Be-Credulous” contingent. But some of us will still want to see whatever evidence the UN inspectors and the U.S. intelligence agencies have collected.

Show me the Money…! Err.. Receipts? US: “Never Mind That Guy Eating a Heart, We Have Handwritten Receipts For the Guns”

Let’s remember that Putin submitted his own evidence to the UN, and, Assad has too…! Btw, Putin is getting serious… Russia Sends Three More Warships to Syrian Coast

In summing up, I do happen to agree with Ban ki-Moon that there is ‘overwhelming’ proof that Chemical Weapons were used, but by whom…?

God Bless the Syrians…!

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

MENA Mashup: Israel ‘Doesn’t Know What Its Best Interests Are’, ‘Institute for Scary Iran Stories’, And, Mali

6:35 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

 

“The modern liberal state … often uses deception to gain its ends — not so much deception of the foreign enemy, but of its own citizens,who have been taught to trust their leaders.” – Howard Zinn

In all my years of blogging, my sole regret is my inability to piece together more than two paragraphs, in any literary fashion, like most are able to…!

So, please allow me the luxury to blend together some of my old scribblings with some of the latest ‘News’ out of the MENA

Obama Privately Says Israel ‘Doesn’t Know What Its Best Interests Are’

“When informed about the Israeli decision, Obama, who has a famously contentious relationship with the prime minister, didn’t even bother getting angry,” Goldberg writes. “He told several people that this sort of behavior on Netanyahu’s part is what he has come to expect, and he suggested that he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his Israeli counterpart.”

As I wrote way back when…‘Israel’s mentality is a barrier to Mideast peace’

Btw, don’t you find this mighty hypocritical of Bibi…? Obama Comments ‘Gross Interference’ in Elections…

Moving along, FDL Alum Jim White penned another awesome post today, and spelt it all out…

Albright Follows Warrick Into Full Neocon Mode, Presents Iran Sanction Manifesto

…It now is clear that the article from Warrick was meant to prepare the ground for the unveiling, one week later, of David Albright’s new working group developed precisely for the purpose of furthering the neocon position on Iran sanctions. By taking on additional policy members in this working group, Albright is now branching out from his usual area of commentary on technical issues (where Moon of Alabama has dubbed his Institute for Science and International Security the “Institute for Scary Iran Stories“) all the way into policy and now promotes the full neocon position that Iran is dangerously close to having a nuclear weapon and therefore sanctions must be ratcheted up further.

As Jim Lobe wrote today… New Push in U.S. for Tougher Sanctions, War Threats Against Iran…

As I had once opined…The Road to Tyranny And Real Men go to Tehran…

Even Jimmy Carter had sounded the alarm awhile back on our failed FP…Carter: ‘Oppose Unnecessary Wars, Preemptive Strikes, And, Embargoes’ And, Obama Imposes Another Round of Sanctions on Syria/Iran…

Moving along to Mali…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

Debunking The Latest IAEA Report on Iran

4:52 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From that RT blurb… The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned threats by Israel and the US to strike Iran. This comes after Tehran rejected as a ‘political move’ the latest report by the IAEA which claimed the country has doubled its nuclear capacity…

First off, you can take a look at the IAEA report here from the Grey Lady…! Now, let’s take a gander at what the Grey Lady’s in-house AIPAC mouthpieces had to say about it…

Report on Iran Nuclear Work Puts Israel in a Box

…For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday offered findings validating his longstanding position that while harsh economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation may have hurt Iran, they have failed to slow Tehran’s nuclear program. If anything, the program is speeding up…

Phil Weiss raised a great point about the Grey Lady’s true intentions… ‘NYT’ serves as echo chamber for Israeli hawks, quoting 7 on Iran, plus 2 Israel lobbyists…!

Now, I happen to agree with b at MOA that Gareth Porter did jilt b by not giving him a hat tip, but, Gareth did write a marvelous post on IPS…

IAEA Report Shows Iran Reduced Its Breakout Capacity

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report made public Thursday reveals that Iran has actually reduced the amount of 20-percent enriched uranium available for any possible “breakout” to weapons grade enrichment over the last three months rather than increasing it.

Contrary to the impression conveyed by most news media coverage, the report provides new evidence that Iran’s enrichment strategy is aimed at enhancing its bargaining position in negotiations with the United States rather than amassing such a breakout capability.

The reduction in the amount of 20-percent enriched uranium in the Iranian stockpile that could be used to enrich to weapons grade is the result of a major acceleration in the fabrication of fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor, which needs 20-percent enriched uranium to produce medical isotopes.

That higher level enriched uranium has been the main focus of U.S. diplomatic demands on Iran ever since 2009, on the ground that it represents the greatest threat of an Iranian move to obtain a nuclear weapon capability.

When 20-percent uranium is used to make fuel plates, however, it is very difficult to convert it back to a form that can enriched to weapons grade levels…

…The reduction in the stockpile available for weapons grade enrichment was the result of the conversion of 53.3 kg of 20-percent enriched uranium into fuel plates – compared with only 43 kg in the previous five months.

Iran was thus creating fuel plates for its medical reactor faster than it was enriching uranium to a 20-percent level.

But although that reduction of the stockpile of enriched uranium of greatest concern to the United States was the real significance of the new report, it was not conveyed by the headlines and leads in news media coverage. Those stories focused instead on the fact that production of 20-percent enriched uranium had increased, and that the number of centrifuges at the underground facility at Fordow had doubled.

“Nobody has put out the story that their stockpile is shrinking,” said Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund and a leading independent specialist on nuclear weapons policy, in an interview with IPS.

As b had put it so succinctly, earlier…

IAEA: Iranian “Nuclear Danger” Decreased

Iran has now 10% less “dangerous stuff” in the form of further easily enrichable 20% UF6 than it had in May 2012. Further enriched this stockpile would not be enough by half to create even one nuclear device. The “imminent danger” of a “nuclear Iran” has thereby decreased.

We can reasonably assume that Iran is doing this decrease on purpose and will in future convert any newly produced UF6 into fuel plates. This will keep its stock of UF6 at a level below what is needed to make a quick run towards a nuclear device.

But as the whole “nuclear Iran” scare has little to do with reality but a lot with U.S. and Israeli desire to subjugate Iran and thereby further their global and regional domination we can not expect to read about this reality in any of the western propaganda media.

The main point of contention is the false claim that Iran is now producing HEU, which is defined as 20.00+% enrichment, the IAEA can only confirm that it’s still 19.75% LEU enrichment, with some minor aberrations of 20% obtained, but, let’s not lose sight of the fact, the IAEA is indeed monitoring the whole process…!

Cyrus Safdari also provides a great paragraph-by-paragraph vivisection of the IAEA report…!

Even FDL Alum, Jim White, noted what a farce it’s become…

Fear-Mongering Over New IAEA Iran Report Falls Flat

…IAEA inspectors are onsite at Iran’s nuclear facilities and they confirm that all of Iran’s nuclear material is accounted for, with none being diverted for unknown purposes. Despite all the bluster from the war mongers that Iran is making progress toward a weapon, the fact remains that uranium enrichment still goes only to 20% and not to the 90%+ needed for a weapon, Iran’s functioning enrichment centrifuges are still very old technology and all uranium entering the enrichment process has been accounted for by IAEA inspectors.

With such gaping holes in the claims that Iran is dangerously close to “break out” capability on weapons development, it is no surprise that this latest round of beating the drum for war is being lost in the attention on the upcoming election.

Btw, does anybody realize that 120 nations just unanimously approved of Iran’s nuclear program…?

Non-Aligned Movement Unanimously Backs Iran’s Civilian Nuclear Program

The 120-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has unanimously endorsed Iran’s civilian nuclear energy program, saying Iran has not only the right to produce energy through nuclear fission, but has a right to enrich their own uranium to do so…

…The NAM endorsement is particularly important as its membership amounts of about 2/3 of the nations on the planet, a strong voting majority in the UN General Assembly. This would make it extremely difficult for the Obama Administration to push to punish Iran for its program through the general assembly.

Funny how our Chair of the JCS, Gen. Dempsey, is publicly questioning the ‘legality’ of an Iran strike…

…The U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, has always cautioned against a go-it-alone approach, but he appeared to up the ante this week by saying Washington did not want to be blamed for any Israeli initiative.

“I don’t want to be complicit if they (Israel) choose to do it,” Dempsey was quoted as saying by Britain’s Guardian newspaper on Friday, suggesting that he would view an Israeli attack as reprehensible or illegal.

He went on to repeat that although Israel could delay Iran’s nuclear project, it would not destroy it. He said that unilateral action might unravel a strong international coalition that has applied progressively stiff sanctions on Iran.

“(This) could be undone if (Iran) was attacked prematurely,” he was quoted as saying…

A whole lot more would be undone too…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Israel or Iran, Cui Bono…?

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Let me start off the discussion with something Trita Parsi had mentioned to Laura Rozen recently…

…The United States wants Iran to stop enrichment to 20 percent, to turn over its stockpile of low enriched uranium, and to halt plans to make Fordo operational. “But what can they and the Europeans” offer in return? asked Parsi, who is the author of a new book on U.S. diplomacy with Iran. A “mutual freeze on any mutual escalation” is one possible formulation, he said. But western powers are “asking Iran to give up things they already have.” It’s hard to imagine, he added, that the United States would be prepared to offer Iran a corresponding suspension of sanctions already in place–particularly while a presidential election is under way in the United States…

Iran Affair’s Cyrus Safdari expands on the fallacy…

…And it occurred to me that in reality no one in the US can offer anything that Iran would logically and presumably ask for. For example, on the question of removal of sanctions: Can Obama actually remove the sanctions? He has the legal authority to rescind some Executive Orders, of course, but that is only a small part of the web of sanctions imposed around Iran. He would have to go up against the US Congress, which as that Tom Friedman character recently said, is “bought and paid for” by Israel. So how would these sanctions be removed, exactly? How could the State Department actually get Adelson to stop funding think tanks that hire PhDs as advocates acting under a guise of scholarly objectivity to promote the idea that giving up on sanctions amounts to Chamberlain bowing to Hitler? How could Obama get editors to stop or start using keywords and phrases over and over again in their publications, “Nuclear Weapons Program”, “Terrorism”, etc.? How could he do any of this, even if he didn’t have to worry about getting re-elected, because after all he can’t do anything unless he’s re-elected… {snip}

…So, am I right? Assuming that Washington wants to resolve things with Iran peacefully and is willing to make the necessary compromises to do so, IS anyone in Washington really in a position to deliver on such promises and to implement such policies in the face of domestic opposition, where being ‘weak on Iran’ is blood in the water for the opposing campaign? To sell any sort of real change in Iran policy to the public, or at least those who pay for his election campaigning, the President would have to be willing to consume a great deal of political capital. Can he get the necessary laws passed, and other laws rescinding? How many votes in Congress would that require? How much fighting will be required for each vote? Its just not possible. No politician in the US can do this. Even assuming he could win some of the fights, it would consume far more resources than any politician can be willing to dedicate to a single cause…

MJ Rosenberg, in Al Jazeera, cited Jeffrey Goldberg a few times…

Assassination in Tehran: An act of war?

The murder of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran suggests that Israel and neoconservatives are pushing for war.

…Writing about a piece in the current edition of Foreign Affairs that endorses bombing Iran as a neat and cost-free way to address its nuclear programme, Goldberg explains why he thinks the author, Council on Foreign Relations fellow Matthew Kroenig, is wrong. Goldberg says he now believes:

…that advocates of an attack on Iran today would be exchanging a theoretical nightmare – an Iran with nukes – for an actual nightmare: A potentially out-of-control conventional war raging across the Middle East that could cost the lives of thousands Iranians, Israelis, Gulf Arabs and even American servicemen.

Think about that for a minute. Uber-hawk Jeffrey Goldberg is saying that the threat posed by Iran is a “theoretical nightmare” while a war ostensibly to neutralise that threat would present an “actual nightmare”.

{snip}

…Here is Jeff Goldberg again in a column subsequent to the one I already cited:

If I were a member of the Iranian regime (and I’m not), I would take this assassination program to mean that the West is entirely uninterested in any form of negotiation (not that I, the regime official, has ever been much interested in dialogue with the West) and that I should double-down and cross the nuclear threshold as fast as humanly possible. Once I do that, I’m North Korea, or Pakistan: An untouchable country.

In short, for those hell-bent on getting the US engaged in a war that even Jeff Goldberg views as a “nightmare” for both the US and Israel, this is a very good day indeed.

Congratulations. Or something like that.

Jim Lobe really hammers home the point…

Whoever Killed the Scientist Was Aiming at Much More

…My sense of the last week or so was that the mostly verbal confrontation between Iran and the U.S., particularly regarding the Strait of Hormuz, was spinning out of control much more rapidly than anyone had expected and that the possibility of a conflict had suddenly become very real in ways the Obama administration certainly never intended. (See Anne-Marie Slaughter’s CNN column, “Saving Face and Peace in the Gulf,” as an example of “this is getting really dangerous all of a sudden”. Until last fall, of course, she was Clinton’s director of policy planning and a very influential figure in the administration.) So there seemed to be a real effort to dial things back, expressed not only in repeated statements by senior administration officials, including Clinton, emphasizing Washington’s readiness to negotiate, but also, if the always well-informed Laura Rozen is to be believed, a lot of diplomatic — some of it, I’m sure, behind the scenes — manoeuvring to get the P5+1 process back into gear, with Turkey serving as the convenor/mediator.

Under these circumstances, the timing of today’s assassination was particularly remarkable. Among other things, it makes me believe that the U.S., which condemned the attack and categorically denied any role in it (See Clinton’s statement in her press conference with the Qatari Prime Minister here), was not in fact involved.* That leaves two obvious suspects: 1) Israel and 2) a faction within the Iranian regime. If there was indeed an Israeli hand behind it, the assassination was not just an effort to set back the Iran’s nuclear program and induce fear among other scientists working on it. I think it was also a provocation designed to 1) blow up prospects for progress in any p5+1 negotiations that might convene over the next month or so; 2) strengthen hard-line factions in Tehran that oppose negotiations; and 3) possibly provoke retaliation that will further escalate tensions, if not armed conflict. Of course, all three of these overlap and reinforce each other. If it was an internal Iranian faction, which, frankly, I find more difficult to believe, both 1) and 2) above also apply…

About the possible internal Iranian faction within the Iranian Regime, both Emptywheel and Jim White are pointing to JSOC ops, as opposed to CIA ops, and, even the possibility of Mossad posing as CIA agents…!

Alex Kane at Mondoweiss had this to add…The headline you aren’t seeing: Iran wants talks, Israel pushing for war…

Foreign Policy has been abuzz with numerous posts…

Iran agreed to nuclear talks and an IAEA mission… And… Do Israelis really want to bomb Iran?

Now, as ex-CIA Middle East desk Chief, Philip Giraldi, updates his 2007 prognostication of What World War III May Look Like… He then paints a mighty bleak picture of What War With Iran Might Look Like…

God help us all…!