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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…

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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…

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Iran, Israel, Libya, and Syria

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As the dynamic duo of Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett wrote recently…

The Use of Force, the Reflexive Resort to Economic Sanctions, and the Trials of America’s Hegemonic Mindset

As negotiations toward a “final” nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran continue, it is important to consider to what extent the world might be witnessing a fundamental change in American foreign policy. We are inclined to think that the Obama administration would not have gone as far down the diplomatic road with Iran as it has in the absence of President Obama’s self-inflicted debacle over his declared intention to attack Syria after chemical weapons were used there in August 2013. This episode drove home—to the Obama administration as well as to most of the rest of the world—that the United States can no longer credibly threaten to use military force in the Middle East for hegemonic purposes.

After the American public so resoundingly rebuffed Obama’s call for U.S. military action, his administration was compelled to conclude that starting down the diplomatic road with Iran was politically less costly than pushing for more sanctions and continuing to insist that the “military option” was still “on the table.” But can the Obama administration really go all the way to a comprehensive realignment of relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran—and, in the process, show that the United States can shift proactively from a counterproductive drive to dominate the Middle East to serious engagement with all important regional powers, and not just slink out of region in defeat?

Making such a shift will require Washington to relinquish the self-damaging delusion that the United States can actually maintain hegemony in the Middle East on an open-ended basis. America’s reaction to the ongoing Ukraine crisis suggests that American elites are having a very difficult time giving up this delusion.

Interestingly…

Sanctions on Russia over Ukraine not expected to damage delicate diplomacy on Syria, Iran

…The U.S. focus on chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict fulfills Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal of keeping Syrian President Bashar Assad in power, and Russian influence in the talks on Iran’s nuclear program has diminished, according to analysts who specialize in U.S.-Russian relations.Those conclusions suggest that the State Department’s compartmentalization policy will succeed, avoiding a severing of U.S.-Russian ties but still light years away from what the Obama administration once had envisioned as a “reset” with Moscow…

Moving along…

Israelis suspected of trying to buy Libyan oil from seized tanker

Two Israelis and a Senegalese national were questioned in Cyprus in connection with an oil tanker loaded from a rebel-held port in Libya, the island’s CNA news agency reported Monday.

It said police in the coastal city of Larnaca questioned the three on Saturday on suspicion of negotiating to buy crude from the tanker, Morning Glory.

A Larnaca court declined to issue arrest warrants as authorities in Cyprus had no evidence that the alleged offence was committed within its territorial waters.

Local media said the three flew in to Larnaca on a private jet late Friday, hired a boat from the marina and went out to the tanker to negotiate with the crew.

Police monitored their movements and the boat was intercepted once they were back in Cyprus waters. The trio flew out to Tel Aviv on Sunday night.

In Washington, the Pentagon said US Navy Seals early Monday boarded and took control of the Morning Glory in international waters southeast of Cyprus.

It was to be taken back to Libya.

Meanwhile, in Israel…

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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, 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: Blind Arrogance, Genocide, and Zbig

3:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Reuters…

Saudi Arabia says Syrian war on rebels is “genocide”

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

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

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

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

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

More on SoS Kerry’s lies remarks…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*gah*

by CTuttle

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

Pouring Gas On The Syrian Inferno

5:09 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From this past Sunday’s Bobblehead shows…

Lawmakers say Syrian chemical weapons could menace U.S.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US lacks evidence in accusing Syria of using chemical weapons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opinion divided on investigation in Syria over chemical weapons

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

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

All Syria options ‘fraught with risk for US’

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

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Hagel, Iran, Kerry, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and, Qatar

7:07 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Some more SoS Kerry:

…We came to Turkey yesterday most importantly to join with other foreign ministers from the Core Group supporters of the Syrian opposition in order to outline our vision – the support group – but also to hear and listen to the Syrian opposition outline their vision for the future of their country and for the important principles that were affirmed last night of pluralism, of the equality of all Syrians, of the effort to reject extremism, and most importantly to recognize the shared goal, the most important goal of trying to find a political resolution to end the killing, to end the destruction, and to keep Syria whole. That was a critical commitment by all parties, and I believe we’ve left here with clarity with respect to how we might try to reach out to the Russians, reach out to the others, and see if there isn’t a way to achieve that.

But absent that, we also committed to raise our assistance levels to the Syrian opposition in order to make it clear that we are not equivocating with respect to that commitment and that President Obama and others are deeply committed to a transition that affords the people of Syria the right to choose their future and to move away from this path of destruction which the Assad regime is wreaking on their own citizens, on their own country.

As you know, the United States, in fulfillment of our obligations with respect to supporting the opposition, committed to doubling our nonlethal aid and to giving much of that to local leaders who are trying to lay the groundwork for a stable and a democratic future. And each of the countries represented that were here yesterday all made a commitment to direct their military aid and assistance directly and uniquely, solely, through the Supreme Military Command General Idris. I think that may be one of the most important single things that was agreed on last night that can make a difference to the situation on the ground…

Interestingly, it was a much diminished crew of Syrian War Enthusiaists in attendance:

…In a joint statement by the 11 countries attending the Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul, extreme concern was expressed over the Syria conflict and condemnation for the brutal campaign of the Syrian regime. But U.S. Secretary State John Kerry, at a press conference Saturday, said they were all still committed to a political solution.

I was pleased to today continue our discussion with our allies. They share the view we should have a peaceful transition,” Kerry said. “That’s the first priority of everybody.

Remember, at one point, there was 114 nations participating in the ‘Friends of Syria’ talks, as b at MOA succinctly pointed out today…!

Now, where is that Chuck Hagel that the AIPAC apparatchik had so feared?

Arms deal with Middle East allies signal to Iran – Hagel

… “The bottom line is that Iran is a threat, a real threat,” Hagel, who arrived in Israel on Sunday on his first visit there as defense secretary, told reporters on his plane.

“The Iranians must be prevented from developing that capacity to build a nuclear weapon and deliver it,” he said… … Asked about renewed debate in the Israeli media that Israel might have to strike Iran by itself, Hagel said “every sovereign nation has the right to defend itself and protect itself”.

Iran presents a threat in its nuclear programme and Israel will make the decisions that Israel must make to protect itself and defend itself,” he said.

But Hagel added the United States and other countries believe there is still time for diplomacy and tough international sanctions to have an impact.

The military option is one option that remains on the table, must remain on the table,” he said. “But military options, I think most of us feel, should be the last option.

Hello…? I swear it’s a full-court press …

Iran is biggest threat to nuclear pact’s credibility: U.S.

… “The actions of Iran and North Korea should concern every member of this conference,” Countryman told a news briefing.

“It is clear that if Iran succeeds in the project of constructing nuclear weapons, then it is not only the Helsinki meeting that becomes irrelevant, but it is in fact the entire credibility of this treaty.”

Countryman was referring to a decision last November to put off talks on banning atomic bombs in the Middle East that were due to have taken place in Helsinki in December.

Iran blamed the United States at the time for a “serious setback” to the NPT.

“The possession of such weapons by Iran constitutes a threat to the entire region and an impetus for greater proliferation, lateral proliferation of weapons, than we have ever seen.”

Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon would be a “genuine tipping point and would cause more damage to the treaty than anything else that has occurred in its history”, he added

What a crock of sh*t!

As my long-time fave Persian blogger, Iran Affairs’ Cyrus Safdari, had to say to the Leveretts:

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