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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: Israel, Iran, Jordan, and Syria

7:31 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Delving further…

Israeli troops kill Jordan judge

Israeli troops at a border crossing yesterday shot dead a Palestinian-Jordanian judge who allegedly tried to snatch a soldier’s weapon, prompting Amman and the Palestinian Authority to demand an investigation.

The shooting took place at the Allenby Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan, with the Israeli military saying troops had opened fire after a man tried to snatch a weapon from one of its soldiers.

The Western-backed Palestinian Authority sharply condemned the incident and Amman summoned the Israeli charge d’affaires to protest, demanding an “immediate investigation.”

Palestinian security officials identified the man as 38-year-old Raed Zeiter, and Amman confirmed he also held Jordanian nationality. A Jordanian security official said that Zeiter worked as a judge in Amman and had left for the West Bank early yesterday. Jordan’s justice ministry said he worked at a magistrates court in the capital.

Nazmi Muhanna, the Palestinian official responsible for border crossings, said investigators were questioning around 50 people who had been with Zeiter on the bus carrying travellers from the Jordanian side to the Israeli side of the crossing.

“We are investigating with all the witnesses who were on the same bus. We will verify everything,” he said. “There are no surveillance cameras there so we cannot get to the truth without the witnesses who were on that bus.”

Jordan’s foreign minister summoned the Israeli charge d’affaires to “strongly condemn” the shooting at the border crossing and demand an immediate probe, a statement said.

“The Jordanian government is expecting a comprehensive report on the incident from the Israeli government. Jordan wants an immediate investigation without any delay,” a statement quoted Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh as saying.

The Palestinian Authority also strongly condemned the incident and demanded an “international investigation” into the circumstances of Zeiter’s death.

Palestinian security officials said Zeiter was originally from the city of Nablus in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but had left the territories in 2011 and not returned.

Zeiter, who leaves behind a wife and two young children — one of whom is in a coma in hospital — was to be buried in Nablus today morning, his family said.

Not a very swift move by the IDF… Tensions high in Amman as protesters gather at Israeli embassy after IDF shooting

Hmmm… Should NATO troops help enforce an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement?

Or better yet… Israel open to joint missile defence with Jordan, Egypt

It’s Non-Stop Terra, Terra, Terra, 24/7… Israel fears future drone attacks

To be sure…

From Haaretz even…

Netanyahu’s display of seized ship: Meaningless Hollywood-style propaganda

Here and there during the live broadcast of the government propaganda event staged at the Israel Navy base in Eilat, the camera lingered on the face of Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot. Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz understood that the media circus surrounding the seizure of the ship carrying Iranian weapons had run its course over the weekend, which is why he took off Saturday night to make a previously scheduled visit to the United States. Eizenkot, a disciplined soldier, was required to take his place on the dock in Eilat, alongside the prime minister and defense minister. For a time it looked as if the deputy chief of staff would have preferred to be elsewhere, though perhaps it just seemed that way to this observer. {…}

So there is nothing original about the show Netanyahu put on today, when he publicly displayed the weapons discovered after the Israel Navy raided the Klos C last week. Perhaps the most noteworthy element of Monday’s event is the opportunity it has given to Eizenkot, the deputy chief of staff, and Zamir, the prime minister’s military secretary, to visit the city where they were born.

The order he gave to the officers — to take part in Netanyahu’s show — was not completely illegal, nor was there any reason to disobey it. Still, it gives off a bad odor. The relief over the successful interception of the rocket-laden Klos C was genuine. That was enough. Heating up the cold noodles five days later just because Netanyahu had been out of the country when the Iranian shipment was seized on its way to the Gaza Strip, and therefore absent from the photographs of the generals at the naval outpost, crosses the line of bad taste.

The wisdom of Netanyahu’s press conference at Eilat Port, where the ship was escorted, is dubious as well. Everybody knows that Iran supplies arms to groups working against Israel from Gaza and Lebanon. The documentation of the captured weapons does not change people’s awareness. As a backdrop for Netanyahu’s propaganda, the Klos C is problematic. Iran does not deny its support for groups that take hostile action against Israel; it takes pride in it. What does that have to do with the fight of the superpowers against Iranian military nukes?

Now, I know I have questioned the sudden providence of that said ‘Iranian Arms Ship’…!

Moving along to Syria…

b at MOA took a dim view of the spectacle… Syrian Nuns Freed – Media Is Concealing the Villains

In wrapping up, some other noteworthy reads…Assad military advance in western Syria pushed deal that led to nuns’ release, official says

EU: No guarantee of success in negotiations with Iran

U.S. DEPT. OF THE TREASURY press release: “Our allies” openly funding Al-Qaeda in Syria, yet they will stay U.S. partners

Saudi Arabia turns away from the jihadis in Syria.

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, and Tunisia

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Kerry hadn’t even cleared Israeli airspace when Bibi announced those new ‘settlements’…!

One of Kerry’s (misguided) demands on Abbas was to concede on Likud’s Jewish State stance, Juan Cole served up an excellent diatribe…

Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State is like saying the US is a White State

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is adding a fifth demand to his negotiations with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas: That the Palestinians recognize Israel as a ‘Jewish state.

For Netanyahu’s demand to make any sense, he first has to define ‘Jewish.’ ‘Jewish’ has a number of possible meanings. It can mean ‘those recognized by Talmudic law as members of the Jewish “race” via maternal descent.’ The latter is the legal definition of Jewishness in Israeli law itself, and for this reason we must presume that it is what Netanyahu has in mind. It can also mean ‘adherents of the Judaic religion,’ and we can explore those implications, as well.

Needless to say no real ‘Framework’ was realized, except to agree to talk some more…

Kerry on Sunday wrapped up a three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. Before leaving for Jordan, Kerry was quoted by Israel Radio as saying that the United States and President Barack Obama are committed to presenting a ‘fair and balanced’ peace plan for the Middle East and improving security for all nations in the region.

During the press conference after his meeting with Abbas on Saturday, Kerry also said some progress were made in the peace talks, without mentioning any details.

However, the Palestinian source said on condition of anonymity that Kerry hasn’t officially presented to the Palestinian side any written document or a plan for a framework agreement, except for discussing issues such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

Nabil Abu Rdineh, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a press statement that ‘President Abbas rejects all transitional, partial and temporary solutions.’

He added that Abbas and Kerry agreed to continue their meetings in the coming weeks.

To be sure… Like lambs to the slaughter, the Palestinians are sleep-walking to disaster, again…!

And, US-Israeli agenda is to fragment Mideast.

Stay tuned… Snowden has more US-Israel secrets to expose…!

Moving along…

From the Grey Lady, recently… Saudis’ Grant to Lebanon Is Seen as Message to U.S.

Experts: Lebanese army “likely” to be attacked by Al Qaeda-linked brigade in coming days…!

Interestingly, it’s not just the Saudis’ fault… Lebanon complains to UN on Israel border espionage

So with all the Saudi perfidy in Anbar province and Syria, et al… Jordan on “alert” as tension rises on borders with Iraq, Syria

Meanwhile, Abbas met with King Playstation today… Abbas discusses peace process with Jordanian king While they both categorically rejected Israel’s demands on the Jordan Valley, they did craft a unified response to Kerry Israel, flatly, repudiated Kerry’s pathetic proposals… Israel rejects US proposals on Jordan Valley

Looking at our Libyan Fiasco…

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Putin, Rohani, Syria, and Turkey

5:20 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

(Full Transcript)

Well, it’s all over in Iran…

Rohani becomes Iran’s new president

Hassan Rohani has won Iran’s 11th presidential election following a vote that saw a massive popular turnout on June 14.

…Rohani won 50.70 percent of the ballots with 18,613,329 votes… …(of)Nearly 50.5 million Iranians, including more than 1.6 million first-time voters, were eligible to participate in the June 14 elections. The Interior Ministry put voter turnout at 72.7 percent

I always hate to see a good man forced to eat crow…

“Ahmadi Bye Bye, Rowhani Hi Hi”

So I just ordered crow for dinner. I was wrong with my Iran election prediction. While I expected that Hassan Rowhani would get the highest vote count in the first round of the election, I did not expect him to get over 50 % and thereby win outright. I had expected 35+% for Rowhani and 25%+ for Ghalibaf. Rowhani won with 50.76% and Ghalibaf conceded after having reached only some 16.56% of the votes. The total voter turnout was 72.7%. Rowhani will be inaugurated as president on August 3 2013.

I take some consolation in that fact that I was not as wrong as the Washington Post editors:

Mr. Rouhani, who has emerged as the default candidate of Iran’s reformists, will not be allowed to win.

Or as wrong as the Israeli-Iranian expert Meir Javedanfar:

[I]t is safe to say that moderate candidate Hassan Rowhani has no chance of success. There is little doubt that Mr Rowhani and the Stanford educated reformist Mohammad Reza Aref are far more popular than the conservative candidates. However, the supreme leader would not allow votes in their favour to be counted.

As I have maintained all long: Iran is a democracy, the Supreme Leader is not a dictator and in Iran the votes do count…

Now, moving along to the Syrian Fiasco… From McClatchy…

Chemical weapons experts still skeptical about U.S. claim that Syria used sarin

Chemical weapons experts voiced skepticism Friday about U.S. claims that the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad had used the nerve agent sarin against rebels on at least four occasions this spring, saying that while the use of such a weapon is always possible, they’ve yet to see the telltale signs of a sarin gas attack, despite months of scrutiny.“It’s not unlike Sherlock Holmes and the dog that didn’t bark,” said Jean Pascal Zanders, a leading expert on chemical weapons who until recently was a senior research fellow at the European Union’s Institute for Security Studies. “It’s not just that we can’t prove a sarin attack, it’s that we’re not seeing what we would expect to see from a sarin attack.”

Foremost among those missing items, Zanders said, are cellphone photos and videos of the attacks or the immediate aftermath…

Let’s clarify further…

UN, Russia criticise US military aid to Syria…

A US pledge to step up military aid to Syrian rebels because of alleged use of chemical arms by the regime has provoked strong reaction from around the world.

…The UN secretary general said arming either side in the 27-month war, which has cost tens of thousands of lives, “would not be helpful”.

Ban said he has been “consistently clear that providing arms to either side would not address this current situation. There is no such military solution.”

The harder US line also dismayed Moscow, which had been working with Washington to organise a peace conference.

US data on chemical weapons was “unconvincing”, it said, warning the Washington against repeating the mistake it made when invading Iraq after falsely accusing Saddam Hussein of stocking weapons of mass destruction.

Top Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov also said the US decision to provide military aid to Syrian rebels would damage international efforts to end the conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama are to meet at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland on Monday…

Speaking of the G-8 confab, from the Host… G8 Summit: David Cameron pushes for no-fly zone over Syria…

…The Prime Minister will use this week’s G8 summit to convince world leaders to step up action.

David Cameron will support US plans to impose a no-fly zone over parts of Syria, as he attempts to convince world leaders to act against the “dictatorial and brutal leader” President Bashar al-Assad during the G8 summit in Northern Ireland this week.

The Prime Minister is expected to discuss the dramatic escalation of international involvement in the Syrian civil war at a meeting with Mr Assad’s ally, Vladimir Putin, in Downing Street on Sunday.

He will press the Russian President to sanction a catalogue of further measures against the Syrian regime, leading up to a possible no-fly zone, marshalled by US and allied jets and Patriot missiles operating from across the border in Jordan.

The push for action comes after Barack Obama said he would give “direct military aid” to Syrian rebels, citing evidence that Mr Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons…

Not, bloody likely, bloke…

Lavrov: No-fly zone in Syria would be illegal…

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saying he doubts Syria has used chemical weapons, warned Saturday that a no-fly zone would violate international law…

You don’t have to be a great expert to realize that this will be a violation of international law. We hope our American colleagues will direct all their practical activity into implementing a joint U.S.-Russian initiative to convene a conference devoted to improving the situation in Syria,” Lavrov said.

In a statement Friday, Lavrov suggested that U.S. military aid to the rebels would simply increase the level of violence in Syria. On Saturday, he said the government of President Bashar Assad might actually use chemical weapons.

“Right now the regime is not against the wall; the regime, as the opposition itself is saying, is seeing military success on the ground,” he said. “Why would the regime use chemical weapons, especially in such small quantities? Just to expose itself? From a military point of view, it makes no sense.”

Rather Cheeky from McJowls, eh…? President McCain declares war!

Btw, I do feel sorry for a lot of those Eager Lion participants, since they’ve just had their tours extended…

Anyways, in summing up, Gezi Park has been cleared out…

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Martyrs, Hawks, Patriots, and the Turkish Tempest

5:31 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

You know it’s bad when both the Left, and, the Right, agree to despair… Obama Appoints “Humanitarian Interventionists” to Key Positions, The Return of the Liberal Hawks, and, Genocide Twins Come On Board…!

Now, as the ever intrepid, Pepe Escobar, penned recently…

Meet the ‘Friends of Jihad’

Western politicos love to shed swamps of crocodile tears about “the Syrian people” and congratulate themselves within the “Friends of Syria” framework for defending them from “tyranny”.

Well, the “Syrian people” have spoken. Roughly 70% support the government of Bashar al-Assad. Another 20% are neutral. And only 10% are aligned with the Western-supported “rebels”, including those of the kidnapping, lung-eating, beheading jihadi kind.

The data was provided mostly by independent relief organizations working in Syria. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) received a detailed report in late May – but, predictably, was not too keen on releasing it…

…So who cares what the “Syrian people” might think? The Western “Friends of Syria” could not have found a more willing golden patsy to promote their usual, self-fulfilling Divide and Rule gambit – the Sunni-Shi’ite divide. It’s always handy to have dysfunctional GCC petro-monarchies posing as “liberators” so the West once again may conduct a proxy war “leading from behind”…

As it stands, the Geneva II negotiations promoted by Washington and Moscow seem to be as good as six feet under (although they are getting together today to define the framework).

The European Union has lifted its arms embargo on Syria – a move that was essentially a Franco-British delirium that went over the heads of reluctant EU members. It had to be Britain and France, of course, the two former imperial powers that almost a century ago carved up a line in the sand dividing the Levant and now want a redesign.

This would mean, in practice, that the EU has declared war on Damascus. Well, sort of. Under the EU agreement, no weaponizing will go on before autumn. And the belligerent Franco-British duo has to make sure any weapons are used only to protect civilians. Who will supervise this – a bunch of Brussels bureaucrats in army fatigues? Well, they can always revert to default – ask for American help. Every grain of sand in the Levant knows the CIA is “assisting” Qatar and Saudi Arabia to weaponize the “rebels”…

I did find it ironic that a WINEP-funded study couldn’t find an Iranian, but, did in fact find a dead American amongst the dead in Syria… Convoy of Martyrs in the Levant (PDF! 36p.) A Joint Study Charting the Evolving Role of Sunni Foreign Fighters in the Armed Uprising Against the Assad Regime in Syria

To wit: Majority of foreign fighters recently killed in Syria linked to front group for Al Qaeda…

…The majority of foreign fighters killed in Syria between July 2012 and May of this year were found to be fighting on behalf of a terrorist group that’s a front for Al Qaeda in Iraq, according to a new independent report by a security consulting firm that specializes in counterterrorism.

The report found at least 280 foreign fighters died in that time period.

Drawing on social media data, traditional media and internet platforms, the report called “Convoy of Martyrs in the Levant” by Flashpoint Global Partners concludes that the Syrian conflict is now drawing jihadiist fighters from the U.S., Chechnya, Kosovo, Egypt, Gaza, Jordan, Tunisia, Libya and Saudi Arabia.

“..The lion’s share of foreign fighters who are dying in Syria are fighting with the most hardline organization involved in the uprising: Jabhat al-Nusra,” the report said.;“The leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, Abu Mohammed al-Joulani, has recently publicly sworn allegiance to Al Qaeda leader Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri and the group has been blacklisted as a branch of Al Qaeda in Iraq by the United States government.”

From FP’s Marc Lynch…

Welcome to the Syrian Jihad

In a sermon on Friday, Islamist superstar theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi called on all Muslims to launch “a jihad in Syria against Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah, which are killing Sunnis and Christians and Kurds.”

Qaradawi declared that participation in a Syrian jihad was an individual obligation on every Muslim. He denounced Hezbollah, referring to it as “the party of Satan” and saying that it “want[s] continued massacres to kill Sunnis.” And he pushed deeper into sectarian hatred, labeling the Alawite sect, to which Assad belongs, as “worse infidels than Jews or Christians.”

What makes Qaradawi’s sectarian diatribe so disturbing is not that it represents some radical, new expression of extremism. It is that in today’s Arab world, there is nothing particularly distinctive about his comments at all. For many months, Arab and Muslim figures of all stripes have been loudly calling for support to the predominantly Sunni Syrian rebels, as have many Arab governments (and the United States and its allies, of course). The Muslim Brotherhood’s branches have strongly supported the Syrian opposition — acquiring too much power along the way, in the minds of some. Egyptian Salafis have described providing arms and funds to the Syrian rebels as “a form of worship” and killing Assad as a religious obligation. As the killing and destruction has escalated, such support for Syria’s rebels has rapidly morphed into extreme anti-Shiite and anti-Alawi rhetoric…

Interestingly… The No-Plan Zone

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Brent Scowcroft, Jabhat Al-Nusrah, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and, Turkey

4:53 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As former NSC Chief(under GHWB), Brent Scowcroft, notes…

If al-Assad left tomorrow, it would not be all peace and quiet”

…Americans think “instinctively” they ought help put an end to the civil war, Mr. Scowcroft said in a video interview on WSJ.com… But, he added, “I don’t see how we can help. If we actively participate, as many say, in Syria, then we’re going to own Syria. And we don’t know how to solve the Syrian problem.” Asked whether he is advocating arming rebels or setting up a no-fly zone, Mr. Scowcroft replied, “No, I’m not. This is a very difficult situation. If (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) left tomorrow, it would not be all peace and quiet.”

Instead, he endorsed an effort by Secretary of State John Kerry to work with Moscow, an ally of and arms supplier to the Syrian government, to work out an end to the violence…

And, truly, most Syrians just want a cease-fire, period…

Syrian refugees in Jordan unmoved by peace bid

…“To be honest, we’re fed up with these conferences, there have been many … without results. We want a radical solution,” says Saleh, a laborer from Syria’s southern Deraa province.

The efforts by Washington and Moscow to organize a peace conference next month mean little to the 120,000 residents of the dusty camp, where daytime temperatures hover around 40 degrees Celsius.

“We either want to go back or to know what is going to happen to us, we’ve been waiting for so long,” Saleh adds…
Fatigue is etched on the faces of the residents, particularly when journalists ask about the possibility of a conference to discuss a political solution to the conflict which has left more than 94,000 dead since March 2011.

“Why another conference? To agree deals that ignore the blood that is shed by the children? We have no hope for anything,” says Adel, a former car dealer who lost everything when he left Deraa.

For most of the camp’s residents, peace remains nothing more than a dream, and the overriding sentiment is one of abandonment by the international community…

“If they had wanted to do something, they would have done it from the beginning,” says Aziz, another resident…

Now, seriously, Jabhat al-Nusra has no intentions for any sort of Political and/or Religious Resolution…

How has Jabhat al-Nusra become so powerful?

The reason is the weakening of the other groups. Jabhat al-Nusra gets the advantage because of our ideology. We are not just rebels; we are doing something we believe in. We are not just fighting against tyranny; Bashar Assad is only part of our fight. The other groups are only a reaction to the regime, whereas we are fighting for a vision.

What is that vision?

We are fighting to apply what Allah said to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. We are fighting so people don’t look to other people but only to Allah. We don’t believe in complete freedom: it is restricted by Allah’s laws. Allah created us and he knows what is best for us.

What future do you see for Syria—or do you even see a Syria in the future?

We want the future that Islam commands. Not a country with borders but an umma [worldwide Islamic community of believers] of all the Muslim people. All Muslims should be united.

Syria has long been known for its sectarian diversity. How do you view the other sects?

The other sects are protected by the Islamic state. Muhammad, peace be upon him, had a Jewish neighbour, for example, and he was always good to him. But the power and authority must be with the believers [Sunnis], not the unbelievers.

What about other Sunnis who are more moderate than you?

We will apply sharia law to them.

Many, maybe most, Syrians do not share your views. Do you care?

It would be great if the Syrians were with us but the kuffar are not important. Abraham and Sarah were facing all the infidels, for example, but they were doing the right thing. The number with us doesn’t matter…

If anyone still harbors any doubts about Jabhat Al Nusrah… Despite word of split over al Qaida, Nusra Front still key in Syria fighting…

So, just shut up already and pass us the damn ammo…

I’m in shock, I’m embarrassed to go back to my men empty-handed…”

…Some field commanders expected a working plan to come out of the meeting, or tangible support in the form of money or weapons they could return to Syria with. The only support that was offered – 300,000 bullets, an undisclosed number of rocket-propelled grenades and tank shells – was earmarked for the raging battle in the rebel-held city of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border, where government troops backed by fighters from Lebanon’s Shi’ite militia Hizballah were battling to wrest control of the strategically important city.

The participants in the meeting were also reportedly given $5,000 to cover their expenses, much to the chagrin of several of them who said while they appreciated the Saudis covering their costs they had more urgent uses for the donated funds, including medical care for their wounded — and weapons.“I’m in shock, I’m embarrassed to go back to my men empty-handed,” said one. “I need ammunition. It’s always promises, promises, but this time I was hoping for something more from the Saudis. Sometimes the Qataris offer you support immediately“…

Now, to be sure the Neo/Ziocons are screeching for direct action… Gen. Keane: Take Out Assad’s Airfields… And, from AEI’s public blog, Paul Wolfowitz, the least credible voice on the planet, had to open his foul trap… Obama’s Syria fantasy…!

Interestingly, tho… Senior officials’ chatter on Syria proves that Israel is running scared…

Within the space of 48 hours, much of Israel’s military and political leadership spoke about the Syrian civil war – but there’s still no coherent government policy…

Really…?

Honestly, while everybody is fretting about the potential spillover, across all of Syria’s borders, it’s actually happened… US signals alarm over Syrian conflict destabilizing Lebanon…

…The United States warned Friday that Lebanon’s stability was at risk from the Syrian conflict that has spawned clashes in Lebanon, and condemned the Lebanese militia Hezbollah for sending fighters into Syria, dpa reported.

The mounting deaths in clashes in Lebanon’s port city of Tripoli were symptoms of the broader threat to the country from the Syria conflict, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.

He noted the death toll in the Tripoli clashes had risen to at least 23 in fighting between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The deaths “constitute a stark reminder that the conflict in Syria poses an increasingly dangerous threat to Lebanon’s stability and security,” Ventrell said.

The clashes, which broke out Sunday, saw the use of mortar shells. Schools and most businesses were closed all week.

“Hezbollah leaders’ decision to escalate the group’s role in the fighting in Syria violates and undermines Lebanon’s dissociation policy and risks dragging Lebanon into a foreign conflict, to the detriment of the interests of the Lebanese people,” Ventrell said…

On the Northern borders of Syria… Turkey: Tension Between Government and Opposition Heats Up over Syria Policy

…Erdogan’s accusations against the CHP may be just another round in the slugfest between the AKP and the CHP, but they also tell us the election season in Turkey has officially begun. The next two years will see local, national and presidential elections in Turkey and the parties are already jockeying for position, with Syria clearly emerging as a major wedge issue. In the wake of the Reyhanli bombings, which left many Turks wondering if Ankara’s Syria policy is dangerously drawing Turkey into the Syria quagmire, the Syrian issue has become a domestic political liability for the AKP. That said, The CHP, as its March visit with Assad and Kilicdaroglu’s off-base comparison of Erdogan and Assad shows, has yet to figure out what it means to have a coherent policy regarding Syria or how to use the AKP’s own failures regarding Syria to its advantage.

There have been recent warnings that the conflict in Syria could soon spill over into Turkey. As the fight between Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu show, in the political sphere, it already has…

Hello peeps…! It’s already a regional Clusterfuck conflagration…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Clueless In Syria and Faust Wants His Soul Back

4:04 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Pepe is right (again) when he concludes that the Partitioning of Syria has been the Neo/Ziocon’s main objective all along…! Divide et Impera…!

Since my last posting, a ton of sh*t has occurred in the MENA, with global ramifications…!

Let’s dive right into that sh*t pile… UN:Call for Calm after Reported Israeli Air Strikes in Syria

“The Secretary-General calls on all sides to exercise maximum calm and restraint, and to act with a sense of responsibility to prevent an escalation of what is already a devastating and highly dangerous conflict,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in the statement.

“The Secretary-General urges respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries in the region, and adherence to all relevant Security Council resolutions,” he continued…

…Top UN officials, including Mr. Ban and his political chief, Jeffrey Feltman, have said on numerous occasions that a political solution is the only answer for long-term in the country and the region…

Even China is calling for political dialogue in Syria…

China calls for all relevant parties in Syria to launch political dialogue and carry out political transition as soon as possible, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday.

In response to a media request for China’s take on the current situation in Syria at a regular press briefing, Hua said that China pays close attention to the development of the situation and believes a political solution is the only correct way for solving Syrian crisis.

She said China also calls for all relevant sides to earnestly respect Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity, remain restrained, avoid any actions that might escalate the tension and play a responsible and constructive role in solving Syrian issue through political means.

It seems the EU is “satisfied” with the recent U.S.-Russia deal on Syria…

…An EU spokesman said on Wednesday that the bloc was “very satisfied” with the joint call by the United States and Russia for an international conference on Syria to end the country’s escalating crisis.

“The EU would welcome any dialogue that would bring two sides to the negotiating table. The EU has repeated on many occasions that the solution of the conflict lies in a comprehensive political settlement,” said Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

The EU “stands ready to assist in any way possible and hopes that the conference will be a beginning of a peace process,” he said in an email to Xinhua.

Following hours of talks with Russian officials, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that the two had agreed to convene an international conference on Syria that would be attended by representatives of the Syrian regime and the opposition

More on that meeting between Kerry and Putin…

Seeking Syria accord, Kerry tells Putin of common ground

…The U.S. secretary of state sought Russian help in ending Syria’s civil war on Tuesday, telling President Vladimir Putin in Moscow that common interest in a stable Middle East could bridge divisions among the big powers.

Putin, however, kept John Kerry waiting three hours before their meeting at the Kremlin, fiddled with a pen while his guest spoke and made no mention in his own public remarks of the conflict in Syria, which has generated some of the frostiest exchanges between Washington and Moscow since the Cold War…

Funny, how true to form, the Rebels are once again rejecting all that ‘talk’… Syrian rebels to reject U.S./Russia-sponsored peace talks? (H/T Fairleft)

Anyways, today, Obama had a little chit-chat with Bibi…

…The White House said in a short statement that Obama and Netanyahu, who is visiting China, spoke by telephone, and discussed “regional security issues and Middle East peace.”

U.S. officials have declined to comment in detail on air strikes by Israel on targets near Damascus on Friday and Sunday which Israeli sources said destroyed Iranian missiles apparently destined for the Hezbollah militia.

But Obama said on Saturday after the first set of Israeli raids that the Jewish state was justified in seeking to “guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.”

The blowback to Bibi’s buffoonery was swift…Saudi Arabia urges UN action against Israel

…Saudi Arabia on Monday called for UN action to end Israeli strikes on Syria, describing the raids as a “dangerous violation” of the sovereignty of an Arab state, the official SPA news agency reported.

The Saudi cabinet voiced “deep concern from the worsening situation in Syria” and urged “swift action by the UN Security Council to stop these Israeli attacks on Syrian territories and ensure they are not repeated,” said SPA.
…its government on Monday described Israel’s raids as “flagrant attacks and a dangerous violation of the sovereignty of an Arab state, warning of its dangerous effects in the region’s security and stability.”

Egypt condemned the raids as a “violation” of international law, Britain warned of “increasing danger” to the Middle East, while the Syrian regime’s main regional ally Iran said it would shorten the existence of the Jewish state.

The National Coalition, the war-torn country’s umbrella opposition group, also condemned the attack while accusing Assad’s regime of complicity by weakening the army in its battle with Syria’s people.

Russia said the raids threatened to escalate tensions in neighbouring countries.

“We are looking into and analysing all the circumstances surrounding the especially concerning reports of the May 3 and May 5 Israeli air strikes,” the foreign ministry said in a statement…

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called Monday for “a political solution” to the conflict in Syria.

“The situation in Syria is a real tragedy,” Fabius told a press conference in Hong Kong, adding that if it continued, it could be a “human and political disaster.” …“Obviously it’s something that one can understand, but at the same time, it’s a risk,” he said of the raids.

As a side note, Israel Has the Gall to Actually Complain to the UN About Stray Syrian Mortar Shells…

Now, here’s a very interesting wrinkle… US to arm Syrian rebels: Putin’s rebuke, Chinese “peace plan” mar Netanyahu’s Chinese trip…

…Negative diplomatic ricochets are pursuing Israel in the aftermath of its air force attacks on Syria. In the first place, they are seen to have had no effect on Hizballah’s successful military intervention on the side of the Assad regime or the Syrian war at large. In the second, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, while in Shanghai, was given a sharp dressing-down by President Vladimir Putin Monday, May 6, a warning that Russia would not tolerate further Israeli attacks on Damascus and would respond.…

…Intelligence agencies in Moscow and the Middle East take it for granted that by the time Washington goes public on this decision, some of the Syrian rebel factions will already be armed with American weapons.

…US military instructors have been working with Syrian rebels at training camps in Jordan and Turkey for some months. So putting the arms in their hands only awaited a decision in Washington.

…Putin’s message to Netanyahu was intended to reach a wider audience than Jerusalem, such as Barack Obama in Washington and President Xi Jinping in Beijing ahead of Netanyahu’s talks there Tuesday… …when US Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Moscow that day, in an attempt “bridge the divide” between their governments on the Syria conflict, he was preceded by a barrage of Russian condemnation of the Israeli air strikes in Damascus “as a threat to regional stability,” a stiff warning from the Russian foreign ministry to the “West” to stop “politicizing the issue of chemical weapons in Syria,” and Moscow’s “concern that world public opinion was being prepared for possible foreign military intervention.”

…The Chinese government’s cold shoulder to Israel was exhibited less directly than Moscow’s but no less firmly. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was invited to visit Beijing and meet President Xi two days before the prime minister arrived in the Chinese capital Tuesday to begin the official part of his visit. The Chinese president unveiled his peace plan before meeting the Israeli prime minister…

Let’s not forget that Mossad has already been very active in Syria…Israel spy agency has presence in Syria, says senior rebel general

Here’s a fascinating read on our failed policy…

America’s hidden agenda in Syria’s war

…The commander – a moderate Sunni and an influential rebel leader from Damascus who said he has met intelligence operatives from Western and Arab states – said the US officials were especially keen to obtain information about the identities of Al Nusra insurgents and the locations of their bases.

Then, by to the rebel commander’s account, the discussion took an unexpected turn.

The Americans began discussing the possibility of drone strikes on Al Nusra camps inside Syria and tried to enlist the rebels to fight their fellow insurgents.

“The US intelligence officer said, ‘We can train 30 of your fighters a month, and we want you to fight Al Nusra’,” the rebel commander recalled.

Opposition forces should be uniting against Mr Al Assad’s more powerful and better-equipped army, not waging war among themselves, the rebel commander replied. The response from a senior US intelligence officer was blunt.

“I’m not going to lie to you. We’d prefer you fight Al Nusra now, and then fight Assad’s army. You should kill these Nusra people. We’ll do it if you don’t,” the rebel leader quoted the officer as saying.

What the commander says transpired in Jordan illustrates a dilemma that has preoccupied, even paralysed, Syria’s opposition and their international supporters – how to deal with the expanding role of Islamic extremists in the anti-Assad insurgency.

Other meetings with Western and Arab intelligence services have shown a similar obsession with Al Nusra, the commander said.

“All anyone wants is hard information about Al Nusra, it seems to be all they are really interested in. It’s the most valuable commodity you can have when dealing with these intelligence agencies,” he said…

Funny thing tho… Free Syrian Army rebels defect to Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra…

Yet, here’s a perspective, from within Syria…

Syrians deserting the FSA: Faust wants his soul back

The reality is that opposition militias and the official army have reached a military stalemate – one step forward and one step back as progress on one front is checked by loss and retreat on another…

…In the midst of this harsh war, Syrians have found themselves at a crossroads: obliged to choose between either their personal interest and life or the country’s freedom. A question occurs to me here – Is it possible for fighters who quit the FSA to go back to their old lives? It seems highly improbable, given that Syria has been ripped into so many different pieces with different authorities holding sway over particular areas – here the regime, there such and such battalion.

The country is now a hotch-potch of hot and cool areas. Families have been displaced across the country in their millions. Most fighters are wanted by intelligence forces and they can’t go back to their original villages and towns, nor can they meet their families who were forced to flee. This is how our lives – and not just that of FSA fighters – have been trapped, in the eye of a tornado that is hurtling at breakneck speed. Where and how we get off is anyone’s guess. One thing is for sure – it won’t be an emerald city.

In wrapping up… Take a gander at this load of crap from Carnegie…Building a Syrian State in a Time of Civil War…

God help the Syrians…! *gah*

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

Syria Will Not Implode, It Will Explode

5:36 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

All war is deception. ~Sun Tzu

Let’s look at some of the current developments that are swirling inside and out, of the Syrian borders…

Syrian tanks amass near Turkish border: FSA general

A general in the rebel Free Syria Army said on Friday that Syrian government forces had amassed around 170 tanks north of the city Aleppo, near the Turkish border, but there was no independent confirmation of the report.

General Mustafa al-Sheikh, head of the Higher Military Council, an association of senior officers who defected from President Bashar al-Assads forces, said the tanks had assembled at the Infantry School near the village of Musalmieh northeast of the city of Aleppo, 30 kms (19 miles) from the Turkish border.

“The tanks are now at the Infantry School. They’re either preparing to move to the border to counter the Turkish deployment or attack the rebellious (Syrian) towns and villages in and around the border zone north of Aleppo,” Sheikh told Reuters by telephone from the border…

Now, using the same Salt Shaker with that last article, DebkaFile reports…

Saudis forces mass on Jordanian, Iraqi borders. Turkey, Syria reinforce strength

…”(H)eavy Saudi troop movements (headed) toward the Jordanian and Iraqi borders (with Syria) overnight and up until Friday morning….after King Abdulah put the Saudi military on high alert for joining an anti-Assad offensive….”

Units include tanks, missiles, special forces and anti-air batteries. Two units were deployed. “One will safeguard Jordan’s King Abdullah against potential Syrian or Iranian reprisals from Syria or Iraq.”

“The second will cut north through Jordan to enter southeastern Syrian, where a security zone will be established around the towns of Deraa, Deir al-Zour and Abu Kemal — all centers of the anti-Assad rebellion.” {…}

The failure of (US/Russian) talks “would spell a worsening of the Syrian crisis and precipitate Western-Arab military intervention, which according to military sources in the Gulf is scheduled for launch Saturday, June 30.”

DF also said that Western forces reported Jordan “on war alert.”

Now, straight from the horse’s mouth…

…Libya’s model isn’t “a solution to be copied because it took (the country) from one situation into a much worse one. We all now see how the Libyan people are paying the price,” he (Assad) said.

“The policies of the Turkish officials lead to the killing and bloodshed of the Syrian people,” he added.

He said reports about Iranian and Hezbollah forces aiding Syria are false.

“This is a joke that we hear many times in order to show that a rift has been created within the army and that therefore there is not an army.”

Pointing fingers at Washington, he said:

“The colonialist nature of the West has not changed. From the colonialist standpoint, regional countries should not move according to their national interests and if any country moves against their (Western) values and interests, they say no, like what happened in the case of Iran’s nuclear program.”

“Western states are opposed to Iran’s access to nuclear knowhow; they are more fearful of Iran’s expertise in the nuclear field than what they claim to be a nuclear bomb.”

He also called insurgents “gangs of mercenaries and criminals.” Outside forces are directing them.

For them and their sponsors, “reforms are not important, since the very forces that claimed (a lack of) reforms were the problem. They never benefited from them…all they wanted was (continued) unrest.”…

Phyllis Bennis largely agrees with Assad’s assertions…

Syria is not Libya: it will not implode, it will explode beyond its borders

Probably the only useful thing outside powers can do, would be to engage in serious new diplomacy, in which supporters of both the regime and the armed opposition participate.

Fifteen months on, the short Syrian spring of 2011 has long since morphed into a harsh winter of discontent. Syria is close to full-scale civil war.

If the conflict escalates further, it will have ramifications far outside the country itself. As former UN Secretary-General and current envoy of both the UN and the Arab League Kofi Annan put it, “’Syria is not Libya, it will not implode, it will explode beyond its borders.”

Like so many other times before, the human cost of this conflict is incalculably high. It’s not surprising that the normal human reaction is “we’ve got to do something!” But exactly what any army or air force might do that would actually help the situation isn’t very clear.

US/NATO military intervention didn’t bring stability, democracy or security to Libya, and it certainly is not going to do so in Syria…

Now, Russia isn’t about to be fooled by a second UN Security Council R2P fiasco, and this CSM article spells it out in a relatively decent fashion, despite all it’s Western biased strawmen…

What is Russia thinking on Syria?

…In Syria, they argue, Western nations are pursuing their own geopolitical interests under the guise of a humanitarian “right to protect” which supposedly trumps the country’s sovereignty. Moscow sees it as its duty to block such attempts. {…}

…Speaking to an audience of students in Copenhagen today, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton upped the criticism of Russia, saying, “I have been telling (the Russians) their policy is going to help contribute to a civil war” in Syria.

But today Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, responded emphatically that Russian policy toward Syria will not change under duress. Russia’s position is “well-known, balanced and consistent, and completely logical,” Mr. Peskov told the independent Interfax news agency. “So it is hardly appropriate to talk about this position changing under someone’s pressure.” {…}

…Russian analysts argue that any violation of national sovereignty is a form of neoimperialism which, even if packaged as a humanitarian intervention, tends to be wrapped up with the geopolitical interests of the intervening powers and seldom leads to better humanitarian outcomes. They cite most of the wars of the past decade, from Kosovo to Iraq to last year’s NATO intervention in Libya (which Russia acquiesced to in the Security Council) to make their point.

“We were told that military interference in Libya would be limited to protecting civilians, but we were deceived, pushed aside once we’d let it get through the Security Council,” says Pavel Gusterin, an Arab specialist with the official Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow. “Why would we let them do this again?

Just to be sure, it’s already out of Russia’s and the UN’s hands…

Syria Rebels Increasingly Violent, Thanks to Foreign Arms

…The opposition is still a disparate, rag tag group of localized militias with conflicting agendas and many of whom are Sunni extremists or have ties to al-Qaeda. They are increasingly to blame for massacres of civilians as well. Nothing has changed, except that the weapons being funneled to them by the US, European Union, Turkey, and the Gulf Arab states are being put to use.

But none of this bodes well for an end to violence in the country. Foreign meddling on behalf of all sides in Syria has been instrumental in prolonging the conflict by emboldening both sides and making a political settlement more remote.

“The intensity of the divisions in the country, the external environment in which sides are providing arms to both of the contending parties—all of that suggests that the situation’s going to continue to deteriorate,” James Dobbins, director of the RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center and a former US assistant secretary of state, told NPR…

Now, to be clear on our Persian fantasies…

Our obsession with Iran obscures the bigger threat

It is funny what people choose to worry about. The west is obsessed with stopping Iran getting nuclear weapons. By contrast, Pakistan’s nuclear programme is not much discussed. And yet, by any sensible measure, Pakistani nukes are much more worrying.

Start with the obvious: Pakistan already has nuclear weapons – probably more than 100 of them – and is thought to be increasing production. Iran has still to assemble a single nuclear weapon. The prospect of an Iranian bomb is said to be unthinkably dangerous because of the country’s connections to terrorist groups, its hostility to the west and Israel, the risk it will spread nuclear technology and the prospect of a regional arms race. And yet, almost all these considerations apply even more forcibly to Pakistan. {…}

…Yet it is Iran’s non-existent nukes that continue to obsess the west. Diplomats have spent so long trying to stop Iran that I get the impression they no longer even ask themselves why it is such a high priority. Press them, and you will get explanations about the dangers of a Middle Eastern arms race and Iran’s regional ambitions.

Interestingly, few seem to take seriously the idea that Israel often evokes – that Iran might actually commit nuclear genocide.

Western concerns are valid. But, in themselves, they do not seem compelling enough to explain the desperate focus on Iran. The main reason the Iranian dossier is so urgent seems to be the fear that Israel will soon attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, provoking a wider war. American and European diplomats are reluctant to put it quite that directly, since this carries the uncomfortable implication that western policy is driven by Israel. But when people say “time is running out” over Iran, it is the prospect of an Israeli attack they are usually thinking about…

Are you surprised…?

AIPAC and Syrian intervention lobby

I have it on good authority that something called Syrian Emergency Task Force in Washington, DC is enlisting the help of AIPAC to lobby the US government for military intervention in Syria.

*gah*

An Apology to the Aligned…

by CTuttle

The ‘Eager Lion’ Roars…

6:40 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

“If you want peace, you prepare for peace. If you want war, you prepare for war.” ~Dennis Kucinich in House floor testimony against HR 4310 and sec.’s 1221 and 1222 …

Straight from the Lions’ den… Eager Lion commanders hold press conference…

The generals addressed topics ranging from the number of countries participating to the exercise’s focus on irregular warfare.

They also clarified that the exercise has no connection with any real-world events, including the unrest in Syria.

This exercise does not target anyone – none of the neighboring or world countries,” Edwan said.

“The message that I want to send from this exercise is that we have developed great partners throughout the region and really from across the world that have the same interest and that is ensuring that we have the ability to operate together when called upon by our nations’ leadership to meet challenges that are common to our nations,” Tovo said.

There are 19 nations participating in Eager Lion 12 which include: Australia, Bahrain, Brunei, Egypt, France, Italy, Iraq, Jordan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Qatar, Spain, Romania, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States…

Remember, It’s all just a ‘coincidence’

…Experts in the region said the exercises were most certainly more than just building bridges between different countries.

Report: Syria rebels get better weapons as US boosts support

“You can’t honestly say that there is not a message when you get 19 nations together in multilateral force less than 50 miles away from the Syrian border,” Michael Stephens of London-based military and security think tank RUSI told msnbc.com from Qatar.

“There is no possible reason as to why the Americans wouldn’t want a joint operation held close to Syria,” he added. “It enhances deterrence (and) the Americans could’ve quietened it down if they wanted to.”

Media reports in Jordan claimed that the exercises were a message not only to Syria but Iran.

Syria violence spills into streets of Lebanon’s Tripoli

However, American and Jordanian military officials strenuously denied that there were operations taking place close to Syria.

It’s not about Syria, it’s just a pure coincidence,” U.S. Central Command Maj. Robert Bockholt told msnbc.com from Jordan. “Eager Lion 12 has been pre-planned.“…

Now, seriously, where is that proverbial carrot of ‘diplomacy’ again, Miz Starr started off with…? It’s been nothing but stick, I mean really… US Officials: IAEA-Iran Deal Won’t Interrupt Sanctions…

And, straight from the horse’s ass mouth… U.S. to keep heat on Iran over nuclear work – W.House…

Meanwhile, hot off the AP wire… UN nuclear chief : Deal with Iran reached on probe…

…Amano’s talks included Jalili as well as Iran’s foreign minister and other officials including the head of Iran’s nuclear agency, Fereidoun Abbasi.

Iranian lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahtpisheh told The Associated Press on Monday that Tehran will likely accept more inspections of Parchin “if it feels there is good will within the (IAEA).”

But Falahtpisheh warned that this new openness will likely come with expectations that the West would in return ease international sanctions on Iran.

“In opening up to more inspections, Iran aims at lowering the crisis over its nuclear case,” he said. “But if the sanctions continue, Iran would stop this.”

A political analyst in Tehran, Hamid Reza Shokouhi, said Iran is carefully watching to see if the West shows more “flexibility and pays attention to Iranian demands” during Amano’s trip.

“Then Iran will show flexibility, too,” Shokouhi said…

I wouldn’t hold my breath…!

*gah*