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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AIPAC, AQAP, Egypt, Syria, and Yemen

4:44 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Before I delve into the AQAP and Yemeni issues, I’d like to highlight this excellent comment from longtime FDL contributor, Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, on my last Mashup…

…In Yemen, in particular, US news is totally misleading. The main opponents of the Yemen government are not AQ but the Southern Yemen secessionist movement, a shaky coalition of different groups. The core group is the Yemen Socialist Party. How many readers even know there was once a North and South Yemen, separate states that unified, and not shortly thereafter, the old state entities were the core around which there was a bloody civil war. This was in the early 1990s.

There are many secessionist and political and tribal and ethnic groups in Yemen. In the US press you’d think it was all about AQ destabilization. With its supposed 1000 or so followers, it is actually one of the smaller opposition groups in that country.

The focus on AQ is to draw support on US intervention in Yemen, which is supported by the Saudis, especially since some of the Yemen groups have claims on Saudi territory, such as the Shiite Houthis in the north of Yemen.

Consider this Reuters article from June 2013:

Tens of thousands of Yemeni Shi’ite Muslims chanting “death to America” and “death to Israel” buried the remains of the founder of the armed Houthi rebel group on Wednesday, nine years after he was killed in fighting with government forces….

The Houthis are an important tribe belonging to the Shi’ite Zaidi sect, whose Hashemite line ruled for 1,000 years before the 1962 revolution, and which accounts for about 25 percent of Yemen’s population of 25 million.

It controls the northern province of Saada and parts of the neighboring provinces of Omran, al-Jouf and Hajja bordering top oil exporter Saudi Arabia….

Complaining of social, religious and economic discrimination in Yemen, the Houthis fought several battles with government forces between 2004 and 2010, when a truce was announced.

Saudi Arabia was drawn briefly into the conflict in 2010 when rebels crossed into its territory.

Straight from the Donkey’s ass White House… ‘AQAP greatest potential threat to USA’

The Al Qaida in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is seen by the US national security team as an affiliate of the Al Qaida posing greatest potential threat to the country, the White House has said.

“While, Al Qaida core and its leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been decimated and is not nearly what it was 10 years ago, Al Qaida in general and its affiliate organisations ~ as we’ve been talking about for years now ~ continue to represent threats,” the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday.

“And AQAP in particular is viewed by the national security team as the most operational of the Al Qaida affiliates,” he said.

So naturally, DronZ Away…! So much so that Count Von Count is having a hard time keeping track of them all…!

The Yemenis’ are none-too-thrilled… Yemenis call U.S. drone strikes an overreaction to al Qaida threat!

Funny thing tho…

Yemen: 7 Saudis among militants killed by drones

At least seven suspected militants from Saudi Arabia were among the alleged al-Qaida members killed in Yemen in a recent wave of U.S. drone strikes, senior Yemeni officials said Friday, suggesting that Saudis are increasingly crossing the border to carry funds or seek terrorist training. {…}

Since July 27, drone attacks in Yemen’s southern and central provinces have killed a total of 34 militants suspected of being members of the country’s al-Qaida branch, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, security officials have said.

On Thursday alone, the officials said U.S. drones conducted three airstrikes, killing 12 militants.

The drone strikes occurred in areas where the terrorist group enjoys protection from anti-government tribes or hides in mountainous areas.

The terror network bolstered its operations in Yemen more than a decade after key Saudi operatives fled here following a major crackdown in their homeland. The drone strikes and a U.S.-backed offensive that began in June 2012 have driven militants from territory they had seized a year earlier, during Yemen’s political turmoil amid the Arab Spring.

The senior Yemeni officials who said the seven Saudis were among the victims of the drone attacks said intelligence suggested the foreigners had crossed the border between the neighboring countries to either ferry in money to the terror group or to train in al-Qaida camps.

“Al-Qaida is especially recruiting tech-savvy and well-educated Saudis,” one of the senior security officials said.

Hmmm… I seem to recall that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis too…! Let’s also consider the fact that the House of Saud is the largest funder of Al Nusrah/Salafists in Syria…!

In which, as the CIA’s no.2 equivocates…

CIA warns of crisis as al-Qaeda prepares to pounce

The war in Syria poses the greatest threat to US security because of the risk of the government falling and the country becoming a weapons-rich haven for al-Qaeda, a CIA official said in Washington.

CIA deputy director Michael Morell gave the assessment in an interview published by the Wall Street Journal as he prepares to retire after 33 years with the agency.

Mr Morell said there were more foreign fighters flowing into Syria each month to take up arms with al-Qaeda-affiliated groups than there were going to Iraq to fight with al-Qaeda at the height of the war there.

The Syrian government’s weapons ”are going to be up for grabs and up for sale” as they were in Libya when Muammar Gaddafi fell, he added.

”It’s probably the most important issue in the world today,” he said of the war in Syria, ”because of where it is currently heading” – towards the fall of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

But Mr Morell’s assessment contrasts with that of many experts who believe Syrian troops are gaining the upper hand…

Talk about stirring the Pot, Saudi style… ‘Saudi offers Russia deal for distance from Assad’

…Saudi Arabia has offered Russia economic incentives including a major arms deal and a pledge not to challenge Russian gas sales if it scales back support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Middle East sources and Western diplomats said yesterday.

The proposal between two of the leading power brokers in Syria’s devastating civil war was set out by Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week, they said.

Russia has supported Assad with arms and diplomatic cover throughout the war and any change in stance would remove a major obstacle to action on Syria by the United Nations Security Council.

Syrian opposition sources close to Saudi Arabia said Prince Bandar offered to buy up to $15 billion of Russian weapons as well as ensuring that Gulf gas would not threaten Russia’s position as a main gas supplier to Europe.

In return, Saudi Arabia wanted Moscow to ease its strong support of Assad and agree not to block any future Security Council Resolution on Syria, they said.

A Gulf source familiar with the matter confirmed that Prince Bandar offered to buy large quantities of arms from Russia, but that no cash amount was specified in the talks.

A Lebanese politician close to Saudi Arabia said the meeting lasted four hours.

“The Saudis were elated about the outcome of the meeting,” said the source, without elaborating…

Not so fast… Kremlin: No deal discussed with Saudi Arabia on changing Syria stance…!

Now, moving along to Egypt…

I did wonder why Lieberman wasn’t initially asked to join his hombres, McCain and Graham…

McCain and Graham flipflop on aid to Egypt — after AIPAC speaks up

Two conservative senators, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, went to Egypt this week to urge Egyptian leaders to show more respect for democracy. McCain and Graham may be Republicans, but they have a lot of clout. They were reported to have the blessing of the Obama administration in making this embassy.

Why do they have such clout? One reason is that they are extremely responsive to the Israel lobby. In fact, both men lately flipflopped on a principled statement — cutting off aid to Egypt — evidently at the urging of AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby organization. {…}

…Hold on, guys. Former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, formerly McCain and Graham’s wingman in the neoconservative caucus called the Three Amigos, weighed in. From the National Review, July 15:

“The retired Democratic-turned-independent senator expressed guarded optimism about the state of affairs in Egypt, and declared that, contra his former ally John McCain, the U.S. shouldn’t cut off its aid to the Egyptian military.

“He explained to Sean Hannity today… ‘I’m actually going to disagree with my buddy John McCain; I don’t think we should suspend military aid.’”

Then the other shoe drops. AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group, also speaks up. Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

“‘We do not support cutting off all assistance to Egypt at this time, as we believe it could increase the instability in Egypt and undermine important U.S. interests and negatively impact our Israeli ally,’ AIPAC said in a letter to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), its top Republican.

“The letter is the first public signal since the army coup that deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in early July that AIPAC is actively opposing efforts to cut aid to Egypt.”

…It certainly appears that the two men abandoned a position of principle because AIPAC told them to. You’d think they would be buffoons. But they’re not. They haven’t lost any political capital for this abdication of principle. No, they’ve gained political capital. The Times said the senators went to Egypt this week “at the request of President Obama.” And as Jeff Klein, who pointed me to this story, says, No one in the press is calling them out for flipflopping. It’s just not a story when powerful senators dance to AIPAC’s tune.

This is a demonstration of how central AIPAC’s ideas are to American foreign policy. As neocon Lee Smith once said, the central plank of the last dictatorship in Egypt was the peace treaty. That is all that matters to the U.S. We’re willing to throw everything else overboard for the sake of preserving Israel’s security.

Now, about that Peace Treaty, for the first time since ’79, openly at least, Israel has struck in the Sinai…

Egypt walks the wire in denying Israeli strike on Sinai

Contradicting earlier reports, the Egyptian army spokesman said late Friday that there is no truth to news of an Israeli drone attack on Egyptian soil. He also claimed there was no coordination at all between Israeli and Egyptian authorities with regard to what he termed “explosions in the Rafah region.”

The circumstances surrounding the strike that occurred early Friday evening near Rafah in the northern Sinai Peninsula, in which (it appears) that five Islamic terrorists were killed, are still unclear. Particularly elusive are the facts regarding who perpetrated the strike. Initial reports published by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency and then later by AP cited Egyptian officials in El-Arish who said that an Israeli drone fired missiles at a storage site for long-range missiles. They said the strike took place near the Kerem Hashalom crossing, and in the triangle between the Israeli, Egyptian and Gazan border.

According to those reports, the five individuals killed belonged to one of the jihadist groups operating in the peninsula. Groups that concurrently target the Egyptian military and Israel…

…If there was an Israeli strike on Egyptian territory, it would signal the first time that Israel has operated (openly) there since the signing of the peace treaty between the two countries in 1979. However, in the hours following the purported strike, there was a concerted Egyptian effort to restore calm. Egyptian sources told AP that the strike was conducted in coordination between Tel Aviv and Cairo…

…It can be assumed that reports of an Israeli strike on sovereign Egyptian territory would not be useful to the military. On the Israeli side, it is evident that officials in recent days have sought to keep a low profile regarding security coordination between the two countries…

Quite the conundrum, eh…?

In Egypt General al-Sisi is at a loss – but a massacre on Eid would bring too much infamy

No Muslim general wants to go down in history as the author of the Eid Massacre. That’s why many Egyptians last night suspected that their supposedly “interim” government’s self-declared failure to end the crisis with their Muslim Brotherhood enemies might still not be the ultimate collapse.

Abdul Fatah al-Sisi may be a very jolly general indeed – after all, he created this wondrous administration with himself as deputy prime minister – but sending in his goons against hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshippers on the eve of the feast marking the final day of Ramadan is not likely to commend itself to Egyptians, let alone to the Americans who supply the military with $1.5bn a year…

…The Brotherhood knows al-Sisi does not want a mass slaughter. Al-Sisi knows the Americans do not want a mass slaughter. Perhaps some sort of ‘people power’ can be organised – now there’s a thought – to drive the Brotherhood away and leave the army unspattered with Brotherhood blood. After all, a lot of the snipers who have shot down Morsi’s supporters these last five weeks have been unidentified. But there are too many foreign diplomats, NGOs and journalists sniffing around for that to work on a large scale.

So which is more important? The will of ‘the people’ – those who hate Morsi – or the steadfastness of the Brotherhood for whom martyrdom (often in Egyptian prisons) has long been a characteristic? What about the dignity of the Egyptian army? About to set sail aboard his royal ship of exile, the ‘al-Mahrussa’ in 1952, King Farouk turned to the officers who had dethroned him. “Look after the army,” he told General Mohamed Naguib, soon to be deposed by Colonel Gamal-Abdul Nasser. Everyone loves the army.

And the Egyptian army rather loves itself. Its vast and obscenely bloated investments in real estate, banking and industry make this one of the richest Arab armies in one of the poorest Arab countries. It’s hardly in their interest to start a mini-war in the streets of Cairo. But the Brotherhood itself is bloated with arrogance, its record in power – with Morsi as their cypher – hardly worthy of the support of the ‘people’…

What a Wicked Web…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Plans to Strike Iran “ready,” And Congress Moves The War Goal Posts Closer

4:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

I sh*t you not…! Plans to strike Iran “ready,” says U.S. Israel envoy…

U.S. plans for a possible military strike on Iran are ready and the option is “fully available”, the U.S. ambassador to Israel said, days before Tehran resumes talks with world powers which suspect it of seeking to develop nuclear arms.

Like Israel, the United States has said it considers military force a last resort to prevent Iran using its uranium enrichment to make a bomb. Iran insists its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes.

It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure than to use military force,” Ambassador Dan Shapiro said in remarks about Iran aired by Israel’s Army Radio on Thursday.

But that doesn’t mean that option is not fully available – not just available, but it’s ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it’s ready,” said Shapiro…

From the AP…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

Wingnuts Unite or Maybe Not…

4:06 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From Ynet…

Glenn Beck’s Jerusalem rally program unveiled

TV star’s solidarity event is expected to draw thousands of Israelis, Americans with music, pyrotechnics. Sarah Palin, republican presidential candidates set to drop by

Tens of thousands of excited Israelis and Americans, music performances, appearances by local and international celebrities, senior politicians and a live broadcast that will reach millions of viewers – this is just some of what is in store for Glenn Beck’s upcoming rally “to restore courage,” which is set to take place on August 24 in Jerusalem. [...]

…This year, the Wailing Wall will replace Lincoln Memorial as the backdrop for the event, which will take place at Jerusalem’s Old City and the Teddy Stadium simultaneously.

The multi-million dollar production is expected to be attended by a convoy of American dignitaries, including former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. US Senator Joe Lieberman, a independent, and Republicans Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and Congresswoman Michelle Bachman are to join Beck at the rally as well…

As +972′s Ami Kaufman wrote: Glenn Beck, do me a favor: Don’t come to Israel… Indeedy…!

Oopsies…

Glenn Beck’s Jerusalem Rally: GOP Presidential Candidates Not Planning To Attend, Despite Report

…Yet despite the report that Beck’s rally is set to draw a ‘who’s who’ among the Republican presidential field, those named don’t seem to have plans to attend.

Joe DeSantis, one of the few remaining Gingrich aides, wrote in an email to The Huffington Post that the former speaker “has not said he is coming.”

Andrea Saul, a spokesperson for Romney, said that “he is not planning to attend.”

Huckabee, in a tweet, said he was “not headed to Israel” for the rally but would “be there in February” for a separate group trip.

And a spokesperson for the rally told The Huffington Post that those candidates aren’t locked in for a simple reason: They haven’t been asked. [...]

Still, there could be at least one 2012 contender at the Jerusalem rally. Herman Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza who is now running for president, said last week that he plans to attend.

A request for comment from Bachmann’s office was not immediately returned…

Wapoo’s Dana Milbank questions Holy Joe’s ‘participation’…

Joe Lieberman joining Glenn Beck: a shanda

…It turned out that much of the report was wrong. The three candidates quickly said they had no such plans – a sensible decision. Beck’s hateful shtick encouraged even Fox News to end his show later this month. But, incredibly, another piece of the report was true. “I’d love to participate,” Lieberman confirmed when The Post’s Felicia Sonmez found him in a Capitol hallway. “It’s just going to be a rally to support Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

This nearly caused me to plotz. [...]

…When I spoke to Lieberman, he sounded less definite. “Am I going to go? I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of other things going on.” I hope he finds something else to do on Aug. 24. As he approaches his Senate retirement, it would spare him a shameful end to a dignified career.

Lieberman, who knew Beck back when he was a morning DJ in New Haven, may have missed some of the broadcaster’s recent feats: hosting a guest on his show who describes as “accurate” the anti-Semitic tract “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”; likening Reform rabbis to “radicalized Islam”; calling Holocaust survivor George Soros a “puppet master,” a bloodsucker and a Nazi collaborator; touting the work of a Nazi sympathizer who referred to Eisenhower as “Ike the Kike”; and claiming the Jews killed Jesus.

“Obviously,” Lieberman said after I presented some of this to him, “that’s troubling stuff.”

Since when has HoJo ever been ‘troubled’…? They’re both Putzes, too…!

Anyways, in other I/P news of real import…

Gaza flotilla organizers disappointed by Turkish group’s decision to cancel ship

Flotilla organizers hold urgent consultations following IHH announcement that Mavi Marmara won’t sail to Gaza; five to eight ships expected to take part in flotilla later this month.

We’re back to square one…

Report: US presents Israel, PA with plan for ‘proximity steps’

US special Middle East envoy David Hale presented Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with an American proposal to initiate “proximity steps” between Israel and the Palestinians, al-Jazeera reported on Saturday.

According to the report, during their meeting in Jordan on Friday, Hale said the United States was waiting for Israel’s answer on the matter…

You want an answer…?

FM: We will revoke Oslo deal if PA makes UN move

…Israel’s foreign minster told Ashton that a unilateral Palestinian move at the UN would violate all prior agreements between the two sides, and that Israel will no longer see itself committed to any of the agreements signed with the Palestinians in the past 18 years.

Lieberman went on to say that the position taken by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meant there was zero chance of restarting the talks. He accused the head of the Palestinian Authority of being interested not in an agreement but in a conflict with Israel, and said this was a personal interest of Abbas, contrary to the Palestinian national interest and the objections of many PA officials. He said Israel was prepared to return to negotiations at any moment, and that the ball was in the Palestinians’ court…

Meanwhile, the Occupation goes on and on…

But wait, there’s a bright side…

Barak: Palestinians shouldn’t mind WB construction

Defense minister says settlement construction cannot fully stop due to ‘reality, natural population growth,’ but states ‘Palestinians shouldn’t care – they’ll get any house built on lands they get in talks’

*gah*