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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: UnHoly Alliances, Moving The Goalposts, and MI-5 Malarkey

8:01 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

So it seems the House of Saud and the rabid Likudniks see eye-to-eye on Iran…!

Saudis brace for ‘nightmare’ of U.S.-Iran thaw

When Saudi Arabia’s veteran foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, made no annual address to the U.N. General Assembly last week for the first time ever, his unspoken message could hardly have been louder.

For most countries, refusing to give a scheduled speech would count as little more than a diplomatic slap on the wrist, but for staid Saudi Arabia, which prefers back-room politicking to the public arena, it was uncharacteristically forthright.

Engaged in what they see as a life-and-death struggle for the future of the Middle East with archrival Iran, Saudi rulers are furious the international body has taken no action over Syria, where they and Tehran back opposing sides.

Unlike in years past, they are not only angry with permanent Security Council members China and Russia, however, but with the United States, which they believe has repeatedly let down its Arab friends with policies they see as both weak and naive.

Like Washington’s other main Middle Eastern ally, Israel, the Saudis fear that President Barack Obama has in the process allowed mutual enemies to gain an upper hand. {…}

Already aghast at U.S. reluctance to back rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, Tehran’s strongest Arab friend, Saudi princes were horrified to see Washington last month reaching out to Hassan Rouhani, the new Iranian president.

The Saudis’ worst nightmare would be the administration striking a grand bargain with Iran,” said former diplomat Robert Jordan, U.S. ambassador to Riyadh from 2001 to 2003.

Col. Lang posted this great diatribe recently…

Don’t Move the Strategic Goal Posts for U.S. Policy on Iran

Diplomacy is the most realistic strategic option for achieving President Obama’s stated goal of prevention. As the case of North Korea demonstrates, economic sanctions and international political isolation will not prevent a determined country from developing nuclear weapons. Moreover, the history of sanctions suggests that the international political will to enforce serious sanctions will erode over time. {…}

Meanwhile, military strikes conducted by either the United States or Israel are not likely to prevent Iran from joining the nuclear weapons club. Iran’s civilian nuclear expertise and knowledge is substantial and can’t simply be bombed or assassinated out of existence… …Additionally, military action will also likely strengthen recruitment of radicals to the ranks of Al-Qa’ida by playing into its strategic narrative that the United States is at war with Islam. Furthermore, these attacks would only solidify the position of hardliners in Tehran as they exploit intense feelings of Iranian nationalism during a time of crisis while bolstering their argument that Iran needs a nuclear weapon to deter further attacks.

Nonetheless, not everyone is content with President Obama’s strategic objective of prevention. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, for instance, has advocated the more expansive strategic objective of denying Iran any domestic capability to enrich uranium. A recent letter from 76 U.S. senators urges the President to prevent Iran from achieving an amorphous and ultimately unverifiable “nuclear weapons capability”. Still others have insisted that issues with Iran will only be resolved through whole-sale regime change in Iran.

By changing the aim of US policy, however, any one of these alternative strategic goals would require a comprehensive change to the current American strategic approach emphasizing diplomacy. More dangerously, moving the strategic goal posts on Iran now would almost certainly doom a diplomatic approach to failure before it has been genuinely tested. This will leave US policymakers with ever less attractive strategic options for resolving suspicions surrounding Iran’s nuclear program.

Funny how the Israeli Defense Minister just paid another visit to Hagel, eh…?

Pentagon chief reassures Israel over Iran nuke issue

Defense Department officials said Hagel and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon met at the Pentagon Tuesday, sharing their views on the latest development regarding the Iran nuclear issue and the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, the American Forces Press Service, the U.S. Defense Department’s news service, reported.

Hagel told Yaalon that while U.S. officials intend to test the prospect for a diplomatic solution with Iran, they “remain clear- eyed about the challenges ahead and will not waver from a firm policy of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”

This was the third face-to-face meeting between the two defense officials in the past six months. The meeting came amid Israel’s rising concerns over Washington’s recent diplomatic engagement with Tehran on its disputed nuclear program.

So which is it…?

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by CTuttle

Syrian Mashup: Mother Agnes, Sellstrom, and, Iran for Palestine?

7:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the Euronews blurb…

Russia has denounced the findings of a team of UN investigators into a poison gas attack in Syria as, ‘preconceived’ and ‘politicised.’

The Russian reaction came after the UN report, which confirms the use of the nerve agent Sarin, was taken as proof by Western nations that Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad was behind the attack.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, who met today with President Assad, said the UN report was prepared ‘selectively and incompletely.’ Russia maintains Syrian rebels were behind the chemical attack.

Now, I ask you if you would rather trust the UN or Mother Agnes…

Children in Syria chemical attack video ‘moved between locations’ before ‘staged’ filming

Children filmed as victims of the Aug 21 chemical attack in a Damascus suburb had been deliberately moved to the location from a different region after being kidnapped weeks before, Mother Agnes told RT after presenting her own investigation to the UN.

Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib and her group carried out their own investigation. They looked through the 35 videos of the incident that were posted on the internet.

What caught Mother Agnes’ eye was that the same children resurfaced in different videos.

‘We see children in a video presented as victims of a chemical attack in Jobar. And then we see the same kids in a video out of Kfar-Batna, and they are claimed to be kids from Kfar-Batna, and then, from Ain Terma. We have seen one and the same boy ostensibly in agony in different settings,’ she told RT Arabic.

‘Who are those children? We want to know the truth,’ Mother Agnes says. {…}

First of all, there are family members who say they have recognized their children. They pointed to specific videos from Kfar Batna and Jobar. I cannot go into detail, because I don’t have permission from the families to mention names. So I’ll put it in general terms: as of now, we know that people have recognized some of the children. In some cases, it was a mother or a father who recognized their child in a video. In other cases, it was an aunt or an uncle, or some other relative, because some of the parents had been killed during the fighting, as the insurgents advanced through the townships and villages of Latakia. I cannot judge whether what those people say is true; that would require a DNA test. As far as we are concerned, we are trying to figure out why all those people would start claiming they see familiar faces in those videos. We look specifically at the footage selected by the Americans, and we see that it has been supplemented with footage provided by Al Jazeera, or by one of the coordination committees. We have 35 videos in our brief, but there are about 200 to 230 videos in total, each different from the others. They are peddled by a variety of sources – from local coordination committees to NGOs to media organizations. As we examined the videos, trying to identify the children in question, we noticed signs suggesting this or that had been staged and directed. For example, there is footage of a boy receiving first aid. And then there is a different video where you can see the same boy receiving first aid all over again, but in a different setting. It is like a movie production, where scenes are repeatedly edited and re-filmed. You shoot one scene, you don’t like it, so you alter the settings and you try again.

Some more from Deputy FM Ryabkov…

‘Proof of rebels using chem arms’

UN experts to return to Syria soon; America maintains its aggressive military option against Assad regime

The Syrian regime has handed Russia new materials implicating rebels in a chemical attack outside Damascus on 21 August, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said today after talks in Damascus.

‘The corresponding materials were handed to the Russian side. We were told that they were evidence that the rebels are implicated in the chemical attack,’ Mr Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies after talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem late yesterday. He said that Russia would “examine the Syrian materials implicating the rebels with the utmost seriousness.’

To the fury of the West, Russia has repeatedly expressed suspicion that the chemical attack was a ‘provocation’ staged by the rebels with the aim of attracting Western military intervention in the conflict.

Mr Ryabkov also said Russia was disappointed with the UN report into the chemical weapons attack published this week, saying it was selective and had ignored other episodes. ‘Without a full picture… we cannot describe the character of the conclusions as anything other than politicised, biased and one-sided,’ he said.

Mr Ryabkov is on a visit to Damascus to present the Syrian regime with the results of the agreement between Moscow and Washington reached in Geneva at the weekend to rid Syria of its chemical weapons. He said he emphasised to Mr Muallem the importance of the Syrian side ‘strictly and swiftly’ handing over details of its chemical weapons arsenal to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the first step in the agreement.

Yoichi Shimatsu, who covered the Tokyo subway gassing in 1995, wrote a scathing critique on the UN’s Sellstrom Report…

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by CTuttle

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

6:35 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moving along to Mali…

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by CTuttle

Bibi’s Latest Chutzpah

5:31 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Chutzpah n.
: supreme self-confidence : nerve, gall

From today’s Haaretz…

Israel pushes EU to upgrade ties in light of renewed peace talks

…The Foreign Ministry has asked senior European Union officials to renew the process of upgrading Israel’s relations with the organization, in view of the renewal earlier this month of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In April 2009, the EU suspended the upgrade process after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a reassessment of the peace process and Israeli-PA talks were subsequently suspended. [...]

A highly placed source in the ministry said that last week directives were sent to Israel’s EU representation in Brussels and to Israeli embassies in EU member states with instructions on taking diplomatic measures on the matter. The directive, titled "Leveraging the start of talks in Washington into renewing the European agenda," instructed Israeli ambassadors to appeal to the highest levels of government in the countries where they serve and in the EU with the message that the renewal of peace talks has created conditions appropriate to "thawing out" the upgrade of Israel’s relations with the organization. Recent upgrades by several EU member states in their diplomatic relations with the PA should be mentioned as another reason for restarting Israel’s upgrade, the Israeli diplomats were told.

And if that wasn’t galling enough…

More Haaretz…

Israel official: Netanyahu to offer Palestinians partial settlement freeze

…At the Likud cabinet ministers’ meeting, Silvan Shalom and Limor Livnat asked Netanyahu for clarifications about the future of the settlement freeze. The prime minister hinted that he was prepared to adopt a formula involving a partial freeze after the expiry on September 30.

"At the end of the month, the freeze order is due to expire and we have to think about what is the wise thing to do," Netanyahu said, adding that the potential exists to build 19,000 housing units. "But I believe that in practice what will be built will be much less. We will not agree to be dictated to that nothing will be built, but between 0 and 1 there are other possibilities."

At his meeting with Blair, Netanyahu said Israel cannot continue with an absolute settlement freeze, explaining that Israel would not build tens of thousands of housing units that are in the planning stages, but would not suspend the lives of Jewish residents of the West Bank.

Netanyahu also said he did not accept the Palestinian approach that if there is no complete freeze, they would leave the talks. The international community views the settlement freeze issue as a test of Israel’s seriousness, Netanyahu said, but added that Israel also had tests for the seriousness of the Palestinians, such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

Now, I would concede that any freeze is better than no freeze at all, but, it’s been a complete farce from the get-go…

I’d also add that Bibi’s base wants nothing to do with any freeze…

Likud MKs threaten to withdraw support for budget if settlement freeze extended
As PM Benjamin Netanyahu prepares for another round of direct peace talks, elements within the Likud party are working to ensure the settlement freeze ends as scheduled.

…Four Likud MKs – Yariv Levin, Tzipi Hotoveli, Danny Danon and Ze’ev Elkin – have threatened to withdraw their support for the 2011-2012 state budget if the settlement freeze is extended.

At a Likud gathering on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom spoke in favor of renewing construction throughout the West Bank once the settlement freeze expires.

"When they speak of building only in the settlement blocs, where exactly is the line?", he said. "Are we ourselves setting the borders before negotiations even begin?"

At the same gathering, Levin called on Netanyahu to "continue the way of the Likud, not the way of the freeze."

Yossi Peled, a minister without a portfolio, criticized the secrecy of Netanyahu’s decision-making process in regards to the peace talks.

"There need to be discussions within the government in which different opinions are heard," he said. "Such a critical matter should not be conducted in secrecy."

Ironically, under that so called 10 month ‘freeze’ the foundations had been laid for 2,066 homes. Having built a handful of houses from the ground up, along with many more additions to existing houses, I’d say that laying the foundations is the longest part in constructing a home. Hence, I’d aver that this Haaretz article dispels all illusions of that ‘freeze’…

Peace Now: 2,066 settlement homes to be built as soon as freeze ends
New report indicates an overall of 13,000 previously authorized West Bank housing units, construction sites could be built after the Sept. 26 freeze expiration date.

…The Peace Now reports came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting earlier Sunday that while Israel wouldn’t necessarily continue its freeze on settlement construction, it was possible that a compromise could be reached in which construction would resume at a slower pace.

"I don’t know if there will be a comprehensive freeze," he said. "But I also don’t know if it is necessary to construct all of the 20,000 housing units waiting to be built. In any case, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing."

The Peace Now report released Sunday indicated that work could proceed on 2,066 housing units, spread out over 42 different settlements since those building projects had already received the required permits and have preliminary foundations.

The report’s figures corresponded with previously released data on the subject, which alleged that between 2,000 and 2,500 homes were okayed for continued construction as soon as the settlement freeze expires in September 26.

Hmmm… 2066 preliminary foundations in 42 separate Settlements, smells like a freeze to me…!

Okay, Mahmoud Abbas, are you prepared to recognize Israel as a ‘Jewish State’, and, allow the freeze farce to continue…?

*gah*