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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: The I/P, Egypt, House of Saud, Syria, and Turkey

8:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Bibi is relentless in his Zionist pursuits…

Netanyahu to settlers: I’m fighting for you, but there are international constraints

Netanyahu tells settler leaders he is their ‘greatest defender,’ but his hands are tied by ‘international’ considerations.

Leaders of the Yesha Council of settlements met Wednesday evening with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and asked him to bring an end to the months-long freeze on planning, construction, and marketing of West Bank and East Jerusalem housing.

The ever-vile FM Avigdor Lieberman… Regard settlements as ‘legal under international law’

On the other side of the ledger… Palestinians scoop Israel with pope at wall image

And, finally Fatah and Hamas seem to be truly getting their sh*t together… Palestinian unity government to be announced in the middle of this week

So naturally… Kerry: Israel’s reaction to Fatah-Hamas unity talks ‘appropriate’ US secretary of state says Jerusalem’s wait-and-see approach to formation of Palestinian reconciliation government is “appropriate.”

Wait and See‘ my arse…! Abbas: Israel has told us if we form a govt they will boycott PA

Basically, it boils down to…Israel Vows to Blame Abbas for Everything Hamas Does Now And punish both Fatah and Hamas at the same time, total win-win for Bibi…!

On a side note, good old DiFi doing what she does best… Feinstein Takes Trust But Verify Approach on Israeli Spying How much more verification do you need that they’re the worst perpetrators…?

*Bonus points to those that watch Max Blumenthal debating Prof. Mira Sucharov in Toronto… Public Record – Can Israel Exist as both Jewish and Democratic?

Moving next-door…

To be clear, Sisi’s sole ‘opponent’… Sabbahi concedes defeat in Egypt presidential election

Funny thing tho… Egypt presidential vote flawed, international observers say And, always be careful of what ya wish for… In Egypt, a pyrrhic landslide victory Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, Kerry’s Parapraxis, and Election Updates

4:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the Nation

Egypt Delivers ‘Some of the Biggest Death Sentence Rulings in World History’

In the past five weeks, 1,100 people have been sentenced to death in Egypt. Although a few hundred of these convictions have been commuted, and more are expected to be overturned on appeal, these sham trials signal a troubling turn for Egypt’s judiciary. And it’s not just the death sentences. Democracy Now! correspondent and Nation Institute fellow Sharif Abdel Kouddous ticks off a list of actions that shows a judiciary increasingly aligning itself with Egypt’s rulers: a group of police officers acquitted for the murder of seventeen protesters; Al Jazeera journalists on trial for espionage; a ban on the April 6 Youth movement, which has actively railed against Egypt’s despots since 2008. ‘More than any other time in recent history,’ says Kouddous, ‘the Egyptian judiciary seems to be a willing partner in state repression.’

Naturally… Egypt rejects criticism of Brotherhood mass death sentences

Moving along to Kerry’s Freudian slip…

As Haaretz wrote…

U.S., Jewish groups slam Kerry over ‘apartheid’ comment

AIPAC, ADL criticize remarks by Secretary of State; House majority leader Eric Cantor calls on him to apologize.

Jewish groups slammed Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday over his warning that without a two-state solution, Israel risks becoming an apartheid state.

The pro-Israel lobby AIPAC released a statement saying it was ‘deeply troubled’ by Kerry’s comments. ‘Any suggestion that Israel is, or is at risk of becoming, an apartheid state is offensive and inappropriate. The Jewish state is a shining light for freedom and opportunity in a region plagued by terror, hate and oppression,’ the statement read.

Earlier on Monday, the Daily Beast reported on Kerry’s statements, which he made last Friday at a closed meeting in Washington before senior officials from the U.S., Europe, Russia and Japan.

AIPAC also said that is ‘shares President Obama’s perspective that while there is a political conflict between Israel and the Palestinians that needs to be resolved, the use of the term “apartheid” to characterize Israel is inaccurate and unhelpful.’

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that Kerry was simply expressing his position, which is shared by many others, and that the two-state solution is the only way Israel could remain a Jewish state that lives in peace with the Palestinians. She added that similar positions have been expressed by Israeli leaders such as Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni. Kerry believes Israel ‘is a vibrant democracy with equal right to all it citizens,’ she said…

Needless to say, the AIPAC crew made sure it was a Bipartisan affair…

Kerry declines to say Israel gives ‘equal rights for all citizens’

Last night US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a craven statement climbing down from his comments in a private meeting last Friday that Israel would become an ‘apartheid state’ without a ‘two-state solution.’

Faced with howls of outrage from extreme anti-Palestinian groups, objections from Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer (California) and an outright call for his resignation from Republican Senator Ted Cruz (Texas), the hapless Kerry may have felt he had no choice.

Sen. Barbara Boxer @SenatorBoxer

Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and any linkage between Israel and apartheid is nonsensical and ridiculous.

…Yet with all Kerry’s abject willingness to appease, there is an interesting difference between his final published statement and the comments made on his behalf by State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki earlier in the day.

At the usual morning briefing, Psaki said ’the Secretary [Kerry] does not believe and did not state publicly or privately that Israel is an apartheid state, and there’s an important difference there. Israel is obviously a vibrant democracy with equal rights for all of its citizens.’

The press statement Kerry issued later in the day contains similar language: ‘First, Israel is a vibrant democracy and I do not believe, nor have I ever stated, publicly or privately, that Israel is an apartheid state or that it intends to become one.’

But note that while Kerry repeated the claim that Israel is a ‘vibrant democracy,’ he pointedly did not repeat Psaki’s assertion from earlier in the day that Israel provides ‘equal rights for all of its citizens.’

As Consortium News described it… Kerry Grovels over Israeli ‘Apartheid’

Talk is cheap, Folks…! Israel Approved 14,000 New Settlement Units, Demolished 500 Palestinian Structures During Talks

A great TRNN clip on the Palestinian Unity bid…

Some more Electronic Intifada… Asked about Kerry, Tutu says Israel “mirror image” of apartheid

Meanwhile… Israel holding 9 Palestinian legislators without charge or trial

Looking at Iraq’s elections…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

Stick Another Fork In The I/P Peace Farce

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

So, while Abbas and Hamas truly seem to be getting their sh*t together, finally…!

Abbas, Hamas Leader Plan Quick Moves on Unity Implementation

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is in talks with Hamas Premier Ismail Haniyeh about the implementation of this week’s unity deal, with the talks centering on speeding up the process and getting things in place quickly.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has tendered his resignation today, reflecting the end to a Fatah-only government and setting the stage for a new unity government including Hamas ministers.

The unity government is likely to only be a temporary one, with the goal of holding new elections before year’s end. There have been no Palestinian elections since 2006, when Hamas won decisively.

The Hamas victory at the time led to US pressure for Abbas to refuse to recognize the elections, and eventually to the violence split between the two factions. The reconciliation sets the stage for returning Gaza to the Palestinian Authority’s territory.

+972 mag exposes the sorry state of affairs with the Israeli press…

On peace negotiations, Israeli pundits peddle government distortions

Ari Shavit has written another one of his fabulous treatises in his exemplary prose style that is, as his articles often are, completely detached from the facts. According to Shavit, Mahmoud Abbas is an intransigent negotiator who fails every time he is put to the test. The pièce de résistance of Shavit’s treatise comes at the point where he accuses Abbas of not having signed off on the Geneva Accord. Readers might recall that the Geneva Accord was a foreign affairs initiative between Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabo. But according to Shavit’s logic, the second most important person in the Palestinian Authority should have risked his own political credibility by signing off on concessions, in order to protect Yossi Beilin.

Yair Lapid gave a truly heartrending speech, in which he wondered aloud if Abbas had any desire to achieve statehood. Again and again, Lapid intoned, the president of the Palestinian Authority uses evasion tactics, refuses to sign agreements, avoids dealing with the end game. The peak of Lapid’s speech comes when he says:

Just about a year ago we agreed to join the governing coalition only after we received a commitment that we would return to the negotiating table on the basis of two states for two peoples.

It would be interesting to know who gave him that commitment. It’s not written anywhere in the guidelines of the government he joined. That commitment was intentionally (Naftali Bennett) excluded from the guidelines. Lapid did not insist upon it, which he probably does not even recall.

The veteran political analyst Nahum Barnea wrote in a column published on Friday [in the print edition of Yedioth Aharonoth] that the ink in Mahmoud Abbas’s pen has been dry since 1993 and the Palestinian leader won’t sign any further agreements.

You read these things and they can make you slowly lose your mind. People who are intelligent, knowledgeable, and experienced simply do not know their facts. Or perhaps they have an interest in distorting them?

In a recent article in the Scoop, Uri Averny, spelt it out…

The language of the Israeli occupation

Semantics of the Israeli occupiers

Imagine a war breaking out between Israel and Jordan. Within two or three days the Israeli army occupies the entire territory of the Hashemite Kingdom. What will be the first act of the occupation authority?

Establish a settlement in Petra? Expropriate land near Aqaba?

No. The very first thing will be to decree that the territory will henceforth be known as “Gilead and Moab”.

All the media will be ordered to use the biblical name. All government and court documents will adopt it. Except for the radical left, nobody will mention Jordan anymore. All applications by the inhabitants will be addressed to the Military Government of Gilead and Moab.

Why? Because annexation starts with words.

Words convey ideas. Words implant concepts in the minds of their hearers and speakers. Once they are firmly established, everything else follows.

The writers of the Bible already knew this. They taught “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Proverbs 18:21). For how many years now have we been eating the fruit of “Judea and Samaria”?

When Vladimir Putin last week restored the old name of “New Russia” to the territory of eastern Ukraine, it was not just a semantic change. It was a claim for annexation, more powerful than a salvo of cannon shots.

“Peace” vs “political settlement”

Recently I listened to a speech by a left-wing politician, and was disturbed when she spoke at length about her struggle for a “political settlement” with the Palestinians.

When I remonstrated with her, she apologized. It was a slip of the tongue. She had not meant it that way.

In Israeli politics, the word “peace” has become poison. “Political settlement” is the vogue term. It is meant to say the same. But of course, it doesn’t.

“Peace” means much more than the formal end of warfare. It contains elements of reconciliation, of something spiritual. In Hebrew and Arabic, Shalom/Salaam include wellbeing, safety and serve as greetings. “Political settlement” means nothing but a document formulated by lawyers and signed by politicians.

The “Peace of Westphalia” put an end to 30 years of war and changed the life of Europe. One may wonder whether a “Political settlement of Westphalia” would have had the same effect

Let’s remember that the entire OPT is already referred to by the Biblical Judea-Samaria…!

As MEMO reported…

Israel halts contacts with Palestinians over Fatah-Hamas unity
Israeli cabinet decided on Friday to halt peace talks with the Palestinians because of Fatah-Hamas unity and agreement to form a technocrat government backed by Hamas.

In a statement released by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office after a six-hour meeting for the Israeli reduced cabinet, Israel announced it would stop peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) government.

“The cabinet today unanimously decided that Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for Israel’s destruction,” the statement said.

An Israeli official was quoted by the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth as saying: “Negotiations became impossible. Abbas [PA President] has gone a step too far. There will be no political contacts with the Palestinians.”

Israel Hayom said that the resolution was supported by all members of the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet: Netanyahu, Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and others.

However, Israel would not completely close the door with the Palestinians and said it would not cause the collapse of the PA. Israeli chief negotiator Tzipi Livni said: “Sanctions will be measured. We will not cause the Palestinian Authority to collapse.”

Israeli officials Surprised

Yedioth Ahronoth reported that the Israeli diplomatic and military officials were surprised by the announcement of the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas.

“We were busy with the warning by Mahmoud Abbas to dismantle the Palestinian Authority,” a source told the newspaper. “The intelligence had not updated the political echelon about developments in talks between Hamas and the PA.”

The source added: “It was quite simply a foul-up – we did not know what was going on.”

Military officials also voiced their surprise about the agreement. They said they were tracking the incidents, but that they “did not know on which day this would happen. We did not even know for sure that there would be an announcement.”

God Bless, and, God Speed to the Palestinians…!

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, I/P, Syria, and Yemen

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Here we go again…! From the CSM…

Did Syria use chlorine gas against rebels in Kfar Zeit?

The US State Department says there are indications that a toxic chemical, probably chlorine, was used against opposition forces in Syria earlier in April.

The United States has indications that a toxic chemical, probably chlorine, was used in Syria this month and is examining whether the Syrian government was responsible, the U.S. State Department said on Monday.

‘We have indications of the use of a toxic industrial chemical’ in the town of Kfar Zeita, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, referring to a rebel-held area.

‘We are examining allegations that the government was responsible,’ she told a regular news briefing. ‘Obviously there needs to be an investigation of what’s happened here.’

Syrian opposition activists reported that helicopters dropped chlorine gas on a Kfar Zeit on April 11 and 12. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told ABC television’s This Week on April 13 that the attack was ‘unsubstantiated.’

Psaki said chlorine was not one of the priority one or two chemicals Syria declared to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) under a Russian-U.S. agreement for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

Psaki said the United States was still trying to determine the facts.

‘We take all allegations of the use of chemicals in combat use very seriously,’ she said. ‘We’ll work with the OPCW, who is obviously overseeing the implementation, and determine if any violation occurred.’

Even Hollande piles on…France backs claims that Syrian forces have used chemical weapons recently

Meanwhile, in Syria…

So while everybody agrees that Assad is secure in his position and the Syrians move forward with their planned elections… The UN slams Syria…

Top UN officials warn against Syrian presidential elections

Top United Nations officials have cautioned that Syria’s newly announced presidential elections have a risk of undermining efforts to achieve a political solution to the country’s three-year-old conflict, a UN spokesman said here on Monday.

‘The secretary-general and the Joint Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, have repeatedly warned that the holding of elections in the current circumstances, amid the ongoing conflict and massive displacement, will damage the political process and hamper the prospects for a political solution that the country so urgently needs,’ Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, told reporters at a daily briefing.

‘Such elections are incompatible with the letter and spirit of the Geneva Communique,’ Dujarric said in reference to an action plan adopted in June 2012 during the first international conference on the Syrian conflict, calling for a political transition in the country.

Ironically, neither Assad, nor the SNC(or whatever version) had ever agreed to the Geneva Communique, even when it was first drawn up…! Here’s a great RT clip on the foreign intervention… Young Blood: Teenage Europeans joining jihad in war-torn Syria

Now, reflecting back…

An Eyewitness to the Syrian Rebellion: Father Frans in His Own Words

…Father Frans was murdered under still unclarified circumstances in the embattled Syrian city of Homs earlier this month.

Opposition sources have blamed the Syrian government for his death. But it is widely believed that Father Frans was killed by hard-line Islamist members of one of the rebel factions that have taken control of his Bustan al-Diwan neighborhood in Homs.

The texts of Father Frans, who had lived in Syria since 1966, provide an eyewitness account of the origins of the anti-Assad rebellion and the gradual hardening of the front between opposing rebel and government forces in Homs.

In many respects, the Father’s observations contrast sharply with what has become the standard view of the rebellion in Western media.

Perhaps most notably, whereas the rebellion is typically held to have been sparked by the violent repression of peaceful protests, according to Father Frans, the ‘protest movement’ contained an armed and violent element ‘from the start’ and the violent opposition quickly gained the ascendancy over the peaceful opposition.

Thus, in a letter published in January 2012 on the Dutch-Flemish Mediawerkgroep Syrië website, Father Frans wrote:

‘From the start, the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.’

In the same letter, Father Frans insisted that what was occurring in Syria could not be described as a “popular uprising,” since the majority of Syrians do not support the opposition and ‘certainly not’ its armed component.

Moving along… Lebanon is holding their Presidential elections tomorrow…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, House of Saud, I/P Peace Farce, and Turkey

4:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From Trita Parsi, in The National Interest…

Why the Saudis Are Panicking

As President Barack Obama must have noticed during his visit, there is a panicky tone to almost everything the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does these days, whether it’s campaigning for two years to win a coveted seat on the UN Security Council only to give it up immediately after the vote, or its public pronouncements of going it alone in the chaos of Syria, or its break with its fellow Arab state Qatar, or the closing of the Al Jazeera office in Riyadh, or the banning of the books of renowned Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish. Or, of course, its opposition to diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program and the prospects of a US-Iranian thaw.

Riyadh’s opposition to the Iran nuclear talks has largely been understood in the context of the larger Saudi-Iranian and Sunni-Shia rivalry. Consequently, Saudi’s negative reaction was predictable, the argument goes. The Saudi royal house would undoubtedly not sit idly by as its regional rival negotiated its way out of harsh sanctions and into a potential US-Iranian rapprochement that could pave the way for an American tilt towards Tehran—all at the expense of Saudi interests. {…}

The new reality is that in spite of Riyadh’s massive arms purchase from the US, Washington will likely not come to its aid if the Arab spring reaches Saudi. This means that a critical avenue for Saudi Arabia to ensure regime survival is in jeopardy—at best—or, at worst, lost…

I liked how Trita cited an old DSW post on how the Sauds are willing to go it alone in Syria…!

Speaking of Syria, from the Council on Foreign Relations…

Syria Civil War Total Fatalities

Estimates released today by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) portray a different picture of the civil war in Syria than U.S. policymakers and media convey. SOHR’s estimated death toll reinforces the point made in an article published on ForeignPolicy.com in September 2013, when they last released updated data: most of the reported deaths in Syria have not been committed by forces under Bashar al-Assad’s command. Additionally, the involvement of various individuals and groups in the conflict has broadened greatly since SOHR’s September 2013 estimate.

Meanwhile, right next door…

Moving along to Egypt, the Coup regime is tightening the screws on the Muslim Brotherhood… 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: 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

Bibi’s Blunder…

2:01 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As the Grey Lady reported…

Syria Says It Has Right to Counterattack Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the Wapoo put it…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*gah*

by CTuttle

Israel: the Permanent-War State

3:01 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Here’s the Jpost’s, Yaakov Katz, shortly after the initial ‘targeted assassination’…

Analysis: Easy to start, hard to end

Israel knew that it could expect rockets when it made the decision to assassinate the leader of the PRC.

…the IDF is using this as an opportunity to do some “maintenance work” in Gaza and to mow the lawn, so to speak, with regard to terrorism, with the main goal of boosting its deterrence and postponing the next round of violence for as long as possible.

So 12 year-old Ayoub Useila is not even an animal. He’s just part of a “lawn” of faceless nameless Palestinians, to be bombed into submission as routinely as an Israeli settler on stolen West Bank land maintains his suburban-style yard and swimming pool…

Here’s what Richard Silverstein wrote recently…

It’s no accident that as soon as Bibi Netanyahu returned from Washington DC, where he apparently was rebuffed yet again in his attempts to wage war on Iran, Israel decided to wage war on Gaza instead. Gaza serves as a punching bag for Israeli leaders when they need some two-bit country to beat the crap out of (to use Michael Ledeen’s memorable phrase).

Despite a successful Gaza ceasefire, Israel assassinated several Islamic Jihad and Popular Resistance Committee leaders to violate it. This, in turn begat the latest round of Palestinian rocket fire against Israel. Now 25 Gazans have been killed, many civilians, including a 14 year-old boy walking to school with four friends and a 65 year-old man and his daughter tending their farm. The IDF lied once again claiming they were used as “human shields” by militants:

The Israeli military said it had aimed at a squad preparing to launch rockets from within a residential area of northern Gaza. It blamed the Palestinian groups for operating from urban areas and using civilians as “human shields.”

In fact, there is no evidence in this or any other case of militants using anyone as a human shield. In fact, the IDF has done this numerous times which are documented on video (and reported here). It does this despite the fact that the practice was supposedly banned by the Supreme Court. The NY Times dutifully published the assertion without challenging its accuracy. Also, note that the overall death toll is not reported in the article till two-thirds of way toward the end of the article (burying the lede?). The photo accompanying the article shows Israeli schoolgirls cowering in fear. No Israelis have been killed or wounded. 25 Palestinians killed. Where’s the proportionality?

Bibi said in today’s Haaretz that he’s prepared to escalate this latest round of mayhem. In fact, I’d imagine he’s eager to do so. If he’s made a deal with Obama that in return for Israel not attacking now the U.S. might or will join in an attack later, Bibi will feel he has to inoculate himself among his far-right voters for whom Arab blood is like red meat. If you can’t give ‘em Iranian blood, Gazan blood is a good substitute…

Asia Times Victor Kotsev adds an interesting wrinkle…

…Given that the Egyptian-controlled peninsula became the last stretch of a long arms-smuggling route that started in Libya and ended in Gaza, numerous Israeli officials have warned over the past month that more violence was to be expected in and near the strip.

Secondly, al-Qaisi was not a member of Islamic Jihad, the organization that launched the majority of the rockets at Israel and that suffered most of the losses (the majority of those rocket crews on combat missions). He was the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, another militant organization.

There is every indication that Hamas was the one being punished, as much as Israel was being provoked with the missile salvos. In the last couple of weeks, though really ever since the Syrian uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad took off, Hamas’s relationship with its former patrons Iran and Syria have gone from bad to worse.

In late February, the organization moved its headquarters out of the Syrian capital Damascus, motivated by the fact that as an ideological offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, its primary allegiance rested with the Syrian opposition. Then over the last week, Hamas became embroiled in a controversy over whether it would strike back at Israel in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program. [5]

The punishment, it seems, came swiftly: at a period when Hamas is in flux, changing bases and supply lines and still responsible for the wellbeing of Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants, Iran and Syria apparently unleashed the other proxies they had cultivated in the strip. In so doing, they capitalized on Hamas’s lack of interest and readiness to fight, and sought to either draw the movement into a war that was bound to damage it badly or to weaken it domestically by portraying it as a collaborator with the Israelis… {snip}

…What we need to look out for is anything that is more serious than that. We can only hope that the luck which has prevented greater civilian casualties on either side does not run out, and that Israel and Hamas do not end up drawn into a bloody war that neither seems to want. In an ironic twist, the two finally seem to find themselves sharing a similar agenda.

Folks, enshrined in international law is the right to resist occupation

In contrast, the targeted assassination of people not engaged in combat is forbidden under international law. Specifically:

Extrajudicial executions are gross violations of universally agreed human rights that enshrine the right to life in accordance with Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and further cemented in Article 6 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. Extrajudicial executions are acts outside the realm of rule of law and hence deprive the targeted individual(s) of their right to life, as well as the right to defend themselves against charges against them.

According to provisions of IHL, people who live under foreign occupation enjoy special protection under Common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions. The Article stipulates that:

“[t]he passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples” are prohibited at all times and in all circumstances. Civilians are moreover protected against acts that constitute collective punishment. Collective punishment, intentional attacks against civilians and extrajudicial executions constitute war crimes in IHL.

Meanwhile, hot off the presses… Shaky truce appears to end along Gaza-Israel border…

…Israeli aircraft targeted two “terror activity sites” in northern Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces said early Wednesday, in another round of tit-for-tat that appeared to end a shaky truce.

“Direct hits were confirmed,” the Israel forces in a statement. The attack was carried out in response to rockets fired at Israel over the past day, the statement said.

The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians or IDF soldiers, and will continue to operate with determination at any given time against anyone who uses terror against the State of Israel,” the statement said. “The Hamas terror organization is solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip.”

*gah*