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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Al-Assad, Kerry, Khamenei, and, McCain

6:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Some recent developments on the P5+1 talks…

U.S. sees Iran nuclear talks difficult, success uncertain

The United States and long-time arch-foe Iran agree on at least one thing ahead of Tuesday’s negotiations on a long-term nuclear deal – reaching an agreement will be very difficult, if not impossible.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the man who has the final say on all matters of state in the Islamic Republic, declared again on Monday that talks between Tehran and six world powers ‘will not lead anywhere.’

Hours later a senior U.S. administration official also played down expectations, telling reporters in the Austrian capital that it will be a ‘complicated, difficult and lengthy process’ and ‘probably as likely that we won’t get an agreement as it is that we will.’

From the Supreme Leader himself…

Iran’s Khamenei says nuclear talks will ‘lead nowhere’

Iran’s top decision-maker Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Monday nuclear talks with world powers would ‘lead nowhere’ but that he did not oppose them.

Iran is due to resume talks on Tuesday in Vienna with the P5+1 group—Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China plus Germany—aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord on its controversial nuclear program.

After a decade of failure and rising tensions, U.S. President Barack Obama has put the chances of an agreement at ’50-50,’ while Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has predicted ‘difficult’ discussions.

‘I repeat it again that I am not optimistic about the negotiations and they will lead nowhere, but I am not against them,’ Khamenei said in remarks published on his website Khamenei.ir.

Now, here’s a real game-changer…

Iran says Russia could build nuclear reactor in exchange for oil

Russia could build a second reactor at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant in exchange for Iranian oil, the Iranian ambassador to Moscow said in remarks published on Monday.

Russia could also supply Iran with trucks, railroad tracks, mini-refineries or other goods to pay for the oil, ambassador Mehdi Sanaei told the daily Kommersant, under a deal Reuters revealed was being negotiated last month.

Reuters reported Iran and Russia were negotiating to swap up to 500,000 barrels of oil per day for goods in the deal that would undermine Western efforts to maintain economic pressure on Tehran while global powers seek to curb its nuclear programme.

In an interview published a day before the six powers including Russia resume talks with Tehran on a nuclear deal, Sanaei confirmed Russia and Iran were discussing supplies of ‘a few hundred thousand barrels per day.’

‘Iran could use some of the proceeds (to pay for) the construction by Russia companies of a second unit at the nuclear power plant in Bushehr,’ he said. Russia built the first reactor at Bushehr, Iran’s sole nuclear power plant.

Sanaei said it was possible the oil deal, and a broad memorandum on economic cooperation, could be signed before August. Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev is to visit Iran in April for talks on trade.

Asked what Russia could supply in exchange for the oil, Sanaei said the sides were discussing a number of possibilities including the construction of small oil refineries, Russian investment in gas fields and supplies of electricity. {…}

A top U.S. official said this month she believed the oil-for-goods swap would not go ahead in the near future after the United States warned both sides it would make reaching a nuclear agreement ‘more difficult if not impossible.’

Moving along to McInsane…

I was actually pleasantly surprised at Candy’s questions…!

Now, Col. Lang penned a great post today…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, Davos, Geneva II, House of Saud, and Israel

10:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

It’s been a bloody couple of days in Egypt…

Death toll rises to 29 in Egypt’s clashes, 167 injured

At least 29 people were killed and 167 others injured on Saturday during clashes between supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and security forces in different parts of the country, the health ministry’s media spokesman said in a statement.

“The victims were killed in the governorates of Cairo, Giza, Alexandria and Menia,” Ahmed Kamel said in the statement, noting the injured were from the said governorates in addition to Fayoum, Ismailia, Assiut and Beni Sweif.

Meanwhile, two blasts targeting police premises hit Cairo and Suez governorate on Saturday, killing a little child and injuring nine people.

Amid tight security measures, thousands of Egyptians took to streets across the country on Saturday to mark the third anniversary of the Jan. 25 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Meanwhile, the police fired tear gas and birdshots to disperse several pro-Morsi marches led by the Muslim Brotherhood, currently blacklisted by the interim government as a “terrorist group.”

Earlier in the day, several Brotherhood supporters were injured and dozens others were arrested.

On Friday, a string of explosions rocked Cairo, killing six people and wounding about 100 others, while some 15 people were killed in clashes between security forces and pro-Morsi protesters nationwide.

Al-Qaeda linked group claims responsibility for Cairo bomb blasts

Moving along to Davos and Geneva II…

Talk about your righteous hypocrisy…

Saudi royal calls for UN resolution to pull militias from Syria

Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former intelligence chief and an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama’s administration since it started secret nuclear talks with Iran, said the world was disappointed with the “sense of no direction” in U.S. foreign policy.

“I want the Americans to go to the Security Council and get a resolution that forces should be deployed to stop the fighting in Syria,” he told the World Economic Forum in Davos. “If that is not available, then at least a humanitarian corridor to allow people not to starve.”

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have backed the main Sunni Muslim opposition Syrian National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army with weapons, training, money and military intelligence in the fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Iran has been one of Assad’s biggest supporters in a conflict that has killed more than 130,000 Syrians and forced more than 2 million to flee.

Western countries have so far held back from providing rebels with heavy arms such as anti-tank weapons and missile launchers for fear they could fall into the wrong hands.

Prince Turki said Iraqi militia and Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah fighters outnumbered radical Sunni militants fighting in Syria.

“I’m not saying Sunnis should go fight,” he said. “You have to get these (Shi’ite) people out. The only way to do it is by a concerted international effort led by the United States and supported by the U.S. allies to force these people to stop the fighting.”

Rupert’s rag, the WSJ, had this to add…

Iran, Jordan,Turkey Foreign Ministers Call For Syria’s War to End

All Foreign Fighters Should Exit Syria, They Say at Panel in Davos Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

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

4:44 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

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

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

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

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

Consider this Reuters article from June 2013:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funny thing tho…

Yemen: 7 Saudis among militants killed by drones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CIA warns of crisis as al-Qaeda prepares to pounce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, moving along to Egypt…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Egypt walks the wire in denying Israeli strike on Sinai

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

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

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

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

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

Quite the conundrum, eh…?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a Wicked Web…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Neocon Coup or What…?

6:08 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As Col. Pat Lang wrote yesterday…

“McCain to hold up Dempsey for renewal… “

Why do the people of Arizona keep electing McCain? His behavior grows increasingly bizarre. He has descended into a search for self-importance expressed through an evident desire to see unending war as the future of America. Perhaps members of congress should be periodically examined for evidence of mental illness.

Senator McCain seems to think that he can run the foreign policy of the United States from his seat in the senate. McCain does not seem to remember that he was defeated by Obama and therefore is not in charge of foreign policy nor does he command the armed forces. Ah! I may be wrong. Perhaps that is all he remembers…

…Obama would do well to defend Dempsey and to stand by him. If he does not, then he will see power slip away from him even more rapidly than it has thus far. pl

From Thursday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, McInsane’s hombre, Lindsey Graham (R-AIPAC)…

Yesterday, WH Spokesman, Jay Carney opined…

Assad will never rule all of Syria again: White House

Bashar al-Assad will never rule all of Syria again, the White House has said, asserting that his iron-clad rule was now over.

“Basically the dictator of Syria and the ruler, the iron-clad ruler of Syria, is over. And while there are shifts in momentum on the battlefield, Bashar al-Assad, in our view, will never rule all of Syria again,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters yesterday.

Carney said the US was providing assistance to the opposition and humanitarian relief to the Syrian people who have been miserably affected by repressive regime of Assad.

The US is ramping up its assistance, he added.

“Our goal is to strengthen the cohesion of the opposition and the effectiveness of the Supreme Military Council in their efforts to defend themselves against a repressive regime that has shown no boundaries in its willingness to kill civilians,” he said.

“We are daily contact with the Supreme Military Council to discuss what we can do to help support their needs, and that effort continues,” the official said.

Noting that the US was constantly assessing the situation in Syria, he said there was no question the situation on the ground was serious and has been for some time.

“We are focusing our efforts to help bring about the day when a transition can take place that will help Syria turn the corner towards a cessation of violence and reconciliation and the possibility of a government that respects the rights of all of Syria’s people,” Carney said.

Au contraire, mon frere…! From Bloomberg today…

U.S. Military Intelligence Warned No Quick Fall for Assad

The U.S. military intelligence agency warned the Obama administration early in the Syrian uprising that dictator Bashar al-Assad would be able to hold onto power for years even in the face of widespread opposition, the deputy head of the Defense Intelligence Agency said.

The DIA predicted Assad would remain in power until at least the start of 2013, a classified assessment more pessimistic than the early public statements by administration officials.

David Shedd, No. 2 in the Defense Intelligence Agency, said today that the Syrian civil war is now likely to continue for years, whatever Assad’s fate. The country faces the prospect of “unfathomable violence” and growing power there by Islamic radicals, including those allied with al-Qaeda, he said.

“My concern is that it can go on for a long time, as in many, many months to multiple years,” he said, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado. “And the civilian casualties, the enormous flow of refugees and the dislocation and so forth and the human suffering associated with it will only increase in time.’ {…}

Shedd described what has become an open-ended sectarian conflict between Syrian Sunnis and Shiites, fueled by outside players such as Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia and al-Qaeda. Sunni Persian Gulf nations, the U.S., U.K. and France are providing aid to the opposition. Russia supports the Syrian government.

There are 1,200 opposition factions in Syria, which highlights what has been the administration’s concern about being able to sort out secular moderates from radical Islamists for aid, Shedd said. The radicals, such as the al-Nusra Front, are the most effective opposition fighters, he said.

“It’s very clear that over the last two years they have grown in size, they’ve grown in capability and ruthlessly have grown in effectiveness,” he said of the radical Sunni Islamist elements of the opposition. “Their ability to take the fight to the regime and Hezbollah in a very direct way has been, among those opposition groups, the most effective one.”

Wtf, over…? This is the very same crap I’ve been pointing out since the outset…!

When all else fails, send in the 82nd Airborne…! *gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Jubhat al-Nusra, McInsane, Morsi, and Qatar

11:20 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the RT blurbThe US claims it has found a way to make sure the arms it sends to the rebels in Syria won’t fall into the wrong hands. This comes after leaked reports from the CIA that it’s about to start funneling heavy weapons to rebel fighters.

From the Grey Lady… Taking Outsize Role in Syria, Qatar Funnels Arms to Rebels

…“They like to back winners,” one Middle Eastern official said.

In meetings with Mr. Obama, the leaders of Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have expressed a host of grievances about the Qatari shipments and have complained that Qatar is pursuing a reckless strategy.

In Mr. Obama’s meeting with Sheik Hamad at the White House on April 23, American officials said, he had warned that the weapons were making their way to radical groups like Jabhet al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, a Qaeda-affiliated group that the United States has designated as a terrorist organization.

“It was very important for the Qataris to understand that Nusra is not only an organization that destabilizes the situation in Syria,” said one senior Obama administration official. “It’s a national security interest of ours that they not have weapons.”

But Charles Lister, an analyst with the IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center in London who follows the Syria opposition groups, said that there was evidence in recent weeks that Qatar had increased its backing of hard-line Islamic militant groups active in northern Syria.

Mr. Lister said there was no hard evidence that Qatar was arming the Nusra Front, but he said that because of existing militant dynamics, the transfer of Qatari-provided arms to certain targeted groups would result in the same practical effect.

It’s inevitable that any weapons supplied by a regional state like Qatar,” he said via e-mail, “will be used at least in joint operations with Jabhet al-Nusra — if not shared with the group.

To be sure, folks, about those ‘Islamists’… Syrian rebels threaten to target Shi’ite villages in Aleppo and Sharia ‘spreading’ in Syria’s rebel held areas

Now, talk about your warmongering tomfoolery…

McCain: Arm Syria’s Rebels to End Iran’s Nuclear Program

Visiting Israel and addressing the nation’s Army Radio today, Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) insisted it was vital for the US to arm Syria’s rebels to “deter” Iran from continuing with its civilian nuclear program.

Calls to impose regime change on Syria for no other reason than to spite Iran seem to have some resonance in Israel, since a top figure in the Ministry of Strategic Affairs made similar comments last week.

McCain took the concept a step farther however by explicitly addressing concerns that US arms would end up in the hands of al-Qaeda’s allies in Syria, asking “would you rather have these weapons – perhaps some of them – in the hands of the wrong people, or would you rather have Bashar Assad prevail and then encourage Iran to further their ambitions on nuclear weapons.”

Apparently, McInsane and most of the DC Critters are indeed aware of the problem…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

Who actually handles our Foreign Policy…?

3:41 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From that Press Conference, Holy Joe…

Any attempt to pressure Israel, to force Israel to the negotiating table, by denying Israel support will not pass the Congress of the United States. In fact, Congress will act to stop any attempt to do that.

Say what…?

Two key U.S. senators on Sunday dismissed Mideast envoy George Mitchell’s suggestion that Washington withhold loan guarantees to pressure Israel.

"I don’t think it’s helpful and I don’t agree with it," Republican John McCain said during a visit to Jerusalem. Independent Joe Lieberman, meanwhile, pledged a fight in Congress against any such move.

Israeli officials were up in arms Sunday after Mitchell posed the suggestion, meant to press Jerusalem to make concessions in negotiations with the Palestinians.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz saying that Israel was "doing just fine" without American loan guarantees.

"We don’t need to use these guarantees," Israeli media quoted Steinitz as saying. "We are doing just fine. But several months ago we agreed with the American treasury on guarantees for 2010 and 2011, and there were no conditions."

The finance minister added that Israel was making every effort to advance peace talks with the Palestinians.

Hogwash…! The single overriding concern of the Palestinians(both: West Bank and Gaza), not withstanding the Gaza Blockade, is Israel’s insatiable appetite for continued growth of settlements…

Which Netanyahu vows to continue anyways…

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday reminded coalition members that Israel’s freeze on construction in West Bank settlements was only temporary, saying: "In another eight months, we’ll start building again."

Netanyahu also told the ministers that Israel was interested in seeing peace talks with the Palestinians begin as soon as possible. "We want to renew negotiations without negotiations," he said.

Huh…? WTF is that…?

Btw, Holy Joe’s and Mc Insane’s comments were directed at Mitchell and Clinton’s comments…

…Mitchell clarified in an interview to the PBS network that the United States would use incentives or sanctions against both sides… …According to American law, Mitchell said, the US can freeze its support for loan guarantees to Israel. He added that all options must remain open and that the sides must be convinced about what their important interests are.

…The secretary of state Hillary Clinton said after meeting with her Jordanian counterpart that she was working to restart peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis "without preconditions."

"We are working with the Israelis, the (Palestinian Authority), and the Arab states to take the steps needed to relaunch the negotiations as soon as possible and without preconditions," she said.

Clinton and Judeh said that resolving those matters first would eliminate Palestinian concerns about continued construction of Jewish settlements in disputed areas. They said negotiations should begin as soon as possible and be bound by deadlines.

"Resolving borders resolves settlements, resolving Jerusalem resolves settlements," Clinton said after meeting Judeh at the State Department. "I think we need to lift our sights and instead of being looking down at the trees, we need to look at the forest."

What a foreign concept…!

So who really is running our Foreign Affairs…?

As Andrew Sullivan noted…

I was under the impression that foreign policy was formed in the White House, not congress, and isn’t it a bit weird for two right-wingers to attack the US administration on foreign soil? Then again, It’s Israel.

D’oh…!!!

by CTuttle

What Is The Status Of The SOFA…?

4:27 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Here’s Petraeus’s briefing to the Heritage Foundation earlier today. It is rather lengthy at 1 hr and 16 mins… He does give a good description of how the military describes the situation, I was taken aback at some of his assumptions. One particular egregious remark was at the 17:35 mark where he snidely remarks that; "we’d provided the Iraqis with ‘gated communities’ free of charge…" In reference to the miles of large blast walls that we’ve erected in Baghdad… I’d covered the blast walls in various prior posts, but, especially in this one… Mr. Maliki, Tear Down This Wall…

The NYT reports this from the briefing…

Petraeus Sees Value In Talking to Taliban

U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus said on Wednesday that negotiations with some members of the Taliban could provide a way to reduce violence in sections of Afghanistan gripped by an intensifying insurgency.

"If there are people who are willing to reconcile (with the government), then that would be a positive step in some of these areas that have actually been spiraling downward," said Petraeus, who will soon take up responsibility for U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

"The key there is making sure that all of that is done Read the rest of this entry →