You are browsing the archive for McClatchy.

by CTuttle

Whither ISIS/ISIL…?

5:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. — Rita Mae Brown

So naturally … White House asks Congress for authorization to arm Syrian rebels

The White House is asking Congress to quickly authorize arming Syrian rebels to bolster President Barack Obama’s offensive against Islamic State militants, a request that could be voted on as soon as this week in a must-pass spending bill.

As Obama prepares to address the nation Wednesday night, administration officials were meeting behind closed doors on Capitol Hill to press the issue with key lawmakers, many of whom panned the idea when Obama first raised it this year.

Although the request would earmark $500 million to help Syrian rebels, it is not the money that is in question but the policy of the U.S. arming foreign fighters, particularly rebel factions whose allegiances are not always clear.

Congress was previously expected to consider Obama’s request later this year when it voted on a larger defense-spending bill, but the president wants to accelerate the process to give him greater authority to train Syrian rebels to help confront the militant group.The White House is asking Congress to quickly authorize arming Syrian rebels to bolster President Barack Obama’s offensive against Islamic State militants, a request that could be voted on as soon as this week in a must-pass spending bill.

BAR’s Glen Ford nails the real reason… Assad!

To be sure… US will destroy Islamic State ‘wherever they exist,’ Obama will say

From Bloomberg…

Obama Moves to Aid Syrian Rebels Against Islamic State

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden made calls to lawmakers today urging them to authorize the Defense Department to begin training and equipping vetted groups within the Syrian opposition.

Obama is preparing to expand the U.S. offensive against Islamic State extremists, including targeting the group’s havens inside Syria.

The president is renewing a request he made in June for Congress to provide $500 million to pay for training and equipping Syrian rebel groups as a way to add a ground force to take on the Islamic State in Syria.

‘They know that Syria has to be a piece of the plan,’ said former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Jane Harman, one of a group of outside foreign experts Obama consulted over a three-hour dinner at the White House on Sept. 8. ‘He’s seriously considering all options.’

From Scoop…ISIS and Israel allies against a Palestinian state

Meanwhile, from Baghdad our POSSOS boasted…

David Weigel, in Slate, wrote on the political (ill)will in DC…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

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

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Here we go again…! From the CSM…

Did Syria use chlorine gas against rebels in Kfar Zeit?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in Syria…

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

Top UN officials warn against Syrian presidential elections

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

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

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

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

Now, reflecting back…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moving along… Lebanon is holding their Presidential elections tomorrow…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: 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…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Israel, Iran, Jordan, and Syria

7:31 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Delving further…

Israeli troops kill Jordan judge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be sure…

From Haaretz even…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moving along to Syria…

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

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

EU: No guarantee of success in negotiations with Iran

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

Saudi Arabia turns away from the jihadis in Syria.

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Al Qaeda, Egypt, False Flags, and Hasbara

7:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

(Part 2) (I enjoyed seeing Paul cite an FDL article!)

The U.S. needs to withdraw militarily from the Middle East. I’ve made this argument over the course of several years. I think that the projection of American power comes at great environmental and human cost. I think we prop up regimes that are bad for the region, including the Saudis, the Bahrainis, now the Egyptian military, and others. I think this antagonistic relationship with Iran has been counterproductive on so many levels, from the perspective of the energy, but also from human rights and from suffering in the region, almost constant war.

-Toby C. Jones, associate professor of history at Rutgers University and author of Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia

I couldn’t agree more with Toby…!

Now, it’s always refreshing to see a MSM outlet shine some sort of light on our perfidy…

New analysis of rocket used in Syria chemical attack undercuts U.S. claims

A team of security and arms experts, meeting this week in Washington to discuss the matter, has concluded that the range of the rocket that delivered sarin in the largest attack that night was too short for the device to have been fired from the Syrian government positions where the Obama administration insists they originated.

However, b @ MOA takes McClatchy to task…

Missile Experts: White House Made False Claims Over Syrian WMD Use

…The short version of this whole story is this: The scientific facts are clear and the White House version of the WMD story is definitely false. These facts are not new but where known when the White House claims were made. Obama (and Kerry) deliberately lied about the WMD attack in Syria to wage an open war against the Syrian government and people. Threatened with a possible conflict with the Russian fleet and a possible impeachment Obama caved in. But he has not yet given up on his aim of regime change and of destroying Syria and its people.

It is time for Congress to investigate who prepared, on who’s order, the false claims about chemical weapon use in Syria and to draw consequences.

Speaking of the White House… White House releases summary of six-month Iran nuclear plan

I must say, despite the obvious Neocon Bias, I concur…

Obama has ‘No Sense’ of Military Strategy

A top British defense adviser has called President Barack Obama “chronically incapable” of implementing a successful military strategy in Syria and Afghanistan, and has “no sense of what he wants to do in the world.”

Sir Hew Strachan, a member of the United Kingdom’s Chief of the Defense Staff’s Strategic Advisory Panel, told The Daily Beast Wednesday that Obama’s handling of the Syrian crisis was “crazy” and, as the publication put it, perhaps “the most egregious example of a fundamental collapse in military planning that began in the aftermath of 9/11.”

“If anything it’s gone backwards instead of forwards. Obama seems to be almost chronically incapable of doing this,” Strachan said. “[Former President George W.] Bush may have had totally fanciful political objectives in terms of trying to fight a global War on Terror, which was inherently astrategic, but at least he had a clear sense of what he wanted to do in the world.

Obama has no sense of what he wants to do in the world,” he added.

*ouch*

Here’s another great look-see at our misbegotten FP…

To be sure, Kerry is truly tone-deaf… Geneva-2 to establish Syria’s transitional governing body: Kerry

Moving along to Egypt’s recent referendum…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: The Peace Farce Drags on, Iran Proposes Sweeping Changes

6:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Phil Weiss, of Mondoweiss, best described today’s tête-à-tête between Bibi and Kerry…

Netanyahu tweets tense photo of meeting with Kerry

Here’s the transcript. Netanyahu begins by talking all about Iran. The Palestinians are an afterthought, and they’re to blame. His manner is impatient: “I see the Palestinians continuing with incitement, continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to avoid, run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace…”

We seek peace with the Palestinians. We’ve spoken, John, many, many times about this, and because of your efforts, we launched several months ago an initiative to seek a peaceful agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. I want peace with the Palestinians; Israel wants peace with the Palestinians. We agreed three months ago on certain terms. We stand by those terms. We abide scrupulously by the terms of the agreement and the understanding on which we launched the negotiations.

I’m concerned about their progress because I see the Palestinians continuing with incitement, continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to avoid, run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace. I hope that your visit will help steer them back to a place where we could achieve the historical peace that we seek and that our people deserve.

Kerry begins his remarks by commenting on who Netanyahu’s not, Yitzhak Rabin:

We are in the Rabin Suite here, and last night I had the privilege of visiting the site where violence took the life of a great prime minister who was moving towards peace. And I’d often heard President Clinton talk about the meaning of that loss and that moment to the loss of an opportunity for peace.

So I’m honored to be in the Rabin Suite meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel at a moment where we are in critical talks with respect to the possibilities of a long, long sought goal here in the Middle East. Israel deserves security, deserves to live in peace. The Palestinians deserve a state and deserve to live in peace, and that is what we are working towards.

He touches on Iran but says that the peace process is the big enchilada, and that Israel too has to show good faith:

We are now three months into this negotiation. There are always difficulties, always tensions. I’m very confident of our ability to work through them. That’s why I’m here. We will spend serious time this morning. I will meet with President Abbas this afternoon. Again this evening, the Prime Minister and I and his team will share a working dinner, and we’ll work as late as it takes. And again tomorrow, I will be here in the region and working on this. So I hope that we will continue in the good faith that brought the parties together in the first place that this can be achieved. With good faith, with a serious effort on both sides to make real compromises and hard decisions, this can be achieved. President Obama sees the road ahead, as do I, and we share a belief in this process or we wouldn’t put this time into it.

Greeting Kerry, as well, was this lovely little Israeli declaration…

Israel says Separation Wall will be border

Negotiators tell Palestinian officials they will not get a state based on 1967 borders, Israeli reports say.

Israeli negotiators have told their Palestinian counterparts that the Separation Wall that cuts through the occupied West Bank will serve as the border of a future Palestinian state, local media reports said.

Just hours before US Secretary of State John Kerry’s arrival for top-level talks on ongoing direct peace negotiations on Tuesday, two press reports said the Israeli team had made the proposal.

“Israel’s opening position was that the border be the route of the separation barrier [wall], and not the 1967 lines as the Palestinians have demanded,” public radio said in a report, which also featured in the top-selling Yediot Aharonot.

Since talks resumed in late July, the Palestinians have repeatedly complained about Israel’s lack of clarity on the issue of borders.

The Palestinians insist the talks be based on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War, when Israeli seized and occupied Gaza, the West Bank and Arab east Jerusalem.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected any return to the 1967 lines as “indefensible”, saying that would not take into account the “demographic changes” over the past 46 years, in a clear euphemism for Jewish settlements.

McClatchy describes it as merely… A linguistic debate on Israeli settlements.

Another reason Bibi was so tense…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Putin, Rohani, Syria, and Turkey

5:20 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

(Full Transcript)

Well, it’s all over in Iran…

Rohani becomes Iran’s new president

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

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

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

“Ahmadi Bye Bye, Rowhani Hi Hi”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s clarify further…

UN, Russia criticise US military aid to Syria…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not, bloody likely, bloke…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by CTuttle

A MENA Roundup: Bye-Bye, Barak, And Morsi?

7:01 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

McClatchy expands on the new Tahrir Square protests…

Egyptians fill Tahrir Square in largest protest of President Mohammed Morsi

Tens of thousands of protesters poured into Tahrir Square on Tuesday night to contest what they believe is Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s illegal declaration that his decisions are exempt from judicial oversight, marking the largest protests ever against the newly elected president.

It was not clear Tuesday night whether the chants of thousands calling for a second revolution would lead Morsi to rescind, modify or wait out opponents to his 5-day-old constitutional declaration. Instead, it appeared the crowds, notably absent of the Islamists who are Morsi’s base, simply reflected an increasingly polarized electorate. Indeed, many who were protesting Tuesday said they boycotted the election that led to Morsi’s presidency or voted for his rival.

If Morsi sticks to his declaration, the feud over who has the final say over the nation’s judicial matters will come to a head Sunday when the courts are expected to make three key rulings. The courts will determine whether Morsi acted legally when he changed the temporary constitution in July to end military rule – leading to the firing of Field Marshall Mohammed Tantawi, the head of the ruling military council – and giving Morsi final say over military matters, the first time a civilian has had such power in Egypt’s modern history; whether the assembly charged with crafting a permanent constitution is legal, since it was elected by the now-defunct Parliament, which the courts earlier ruled was illegally constituted; and whether the Shura Council, the upper house of Parliament, should be dissolved.

If the courts rule against Morsi, it remains unclear whether Morsi’s decree or the judicial rulings would prevail – or who will decide that. In the meantime, several judges have suspended their work in protest…

Meanwhile… 150 Egyptians injured in nationwide clashes…

Moving along to Ehud Barack’s announced ‘Retirement,’ ex-AIPAC employee, MJ Rosenberg says good riddance…

He, more than anyone else, destroyed the peace process. He was elected in 1999 on a Labor Party peace platform, arguing that the incumbent prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, had destroyed chances for peace. He promised to reach a deal with the Palestinians who welcomed his election along with an ecstatic Israeli peace camp.

But following the election he immediately set out to humiliate the Palestinians, ignoring Yasir Arafat’s pleas to start talking and instead pretended to focus on reaching a deal with Syria so he could end run the Palestinians. He kept them waiting for six months, a strategy designed to strengthen his hand against them…

In 2000, he decided to push for an all-or-nothing agreement. Arafat said no, that it was too soon, especially given the good will that Barak had frittered away. Clinton agreed with Arafat that first Barak needed to lived up to the agreements Israel had already signed. (Clinton has publicly regretted being duped by Barak)

But Barak insisted on a summit. Israelis, Palestinians and Americans commenced negotiations at Camp David in July where Barak refused even to talk to Arafat directly. He famously treated Arafat as some indigenous local chief while he was a head of state.

Barak put some ideas on the table, all in the spirit of take-it-or-leave-it. Barak and the Dennis Ross-led American “peace team” coordinated every step of negotiations which were essentially a gang-up. Arafat, who had said from the get-go that he could not reach a deal until Israel lived up to its previous agreements, refused to accept Barak’s offers which, in any case, never came close to meeting Arafat’s demand for a state in 22% of historic Palestine.

Following negotiations, Barak announced that he had “torn the mask” off the face of the Palestinians. Although negotiations continued, Barak was now in the business of demonizing them. By the time he made the Palestinians a decent offer, it was too late. Trust had been destroyed…

While Barak’s policies were no worse than Sharon or Netanyahu, he is the only one who was elected to achieve peace on the Labor ticket. In my view, he is then worse than either of them.

Now he leaves, bodies strewn everywhere…

Expanding further, Peter MacKay’s “atrocities across the Middle East”

Israel as a colonial settler state.

The current state of Israel, supported unequivocally by Canada and the U.S. is a similar colonial settler state, representing the ‘empire’ of the west – mostly the EU, the U.S., and Canada… {…}

With the false promise of the UN Partition Plan in 1947, objected to by the Palestinians as it gave away most of their land to the much smaller Jewish population, the Israeli forces set in motion their military actions of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Well before their declaration of independence, they began destroying and moving Palestinian residents from their villages in 1947. When the British mandate ended in 1948, the Israelis declared their independence and began a second wave of military actions, this time compounded by the ineffective intervention of much weaker Arab army units.

Since then the settler-colonialist mentality has been in full force. The Palestinians live under different rules of law, in both the West Bank and the pre 1967 Israeli boundaries. In the West Bank, the Palestinians live under military law, subject to change at moments notice and a soldier’s whim. After 1967, with the success of the pre-emptive war against Egyptian forces that expanded into assaults on Jordanian held West Bank and the Golan Heights of Syria, the military rule and settler colonialization of the West Bank and Gaza came into full force.

Land annexations and expropriations using antiquated laws and newly created military zone laws slowly crept over the West Bank and Gaza. The settler-colonialist elements were and are aided by many supportive grants from the government of Israel, which in turn is supported by many western countries, notably the U.S. and Canada, with both military and economic aid. Combinations of land take-overs, military rules, imprisonment, torture, and assassination of Palestinians are used to control the population… {…}

The “peace negotiations”, the “road maps to peace” have all been subterfuges under which the Israeli government has simply stalled for time while the settlements have continued building unabated. The “Palestine Papers” as revealed by al-Jazeera demonstrate that the Palestinians bent over back ward, much too far according to most, in order to secure a land settlement for two states.

Using the same tactics as the empires of the ‘new’ world, the Israelis are creating their own zone of control over the resources and people of the region. With their military strength (but not necessarily military prowess) they dominate the region acting both as puppets of U.S. interests and even more so as manipulators of U.S. interests…

Just to be sure, lets revisit one of my old posts; US State Dept: Israel’s “Principal Human Rights Problems Were Institutional, Legal, And Societal Discrimination.” To Wit:

2010 Human Rights Report: Israel and the occupied territories

…Principal human rights problems were institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against Arab citizens, Palestinian residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (see annex), non-Orthodox Jews, and other religious groups; societal discrimination against persons with disabilities; and societal discrimination and domestic violence against women, particularly in Bedouin society. While trafficking in persons for the purpose of prostitution decreased in recent years, trafficking for the purpose of labor remained a serious problem, as did abuse of foreign workers and societal discrimination and incitement against asylum seekers.

Now, moving along to Syria…

Syria ‘names 142 foreign jihadists who fought with rebels’

The Syrian government has named 142 foreign jihadists that it reportedly says were killed fighting alongside rebels in the country’s civil war…

Damascus-based newspaper Al-Watan on Tuesday published a list that it said the Syrian government had sent to the United Nations Security Council last month giving the names and the dates and locations where the “terrorists” were killed.

“Most are jihadists (radical Islamists) who belong to al-Qaeda’s network, or who joined it after arriving in Syria,” the paper said, adding that they entered Syria via Turkey and Lebanon.

Among the 142 it named 47 Saudis, 24 Libyans, 11 Afghans, 10 Tunisians, nine Egyptians, six Qataris and five Lebanese.

The government is thought to have asked for the list be registered as an official document on the UN’s agenda of “measures to combat international terrorism”.

Meanwhile, the UN has been busy…

UN condemns Syria, Iran for rampant rights abuses

A UN General Assembly committee has condemned Syria and Iran for widespread human rights abuses, but both Damascus and Tehran dismissed the separate votes as politically motivated.

The draft resolution on Syria, which was co-sponsored by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Britain, France and other Arab and Western states, received 132 votes in favour – 10 more than a similar resolution last year received – along with 12 against and 35 abstentions.

The resolution on Iran, which was drafted by Canada and co-sponsored by other Western countries, received 83 votes in favour, 31 against and 68 abstentions.

The increased number of yes votes for both resolutions shows waning support for Tehran and Damascus in New York, envoys said.

Both resolutions were passed by the 193-nation assembly’s Third Committee, which focuses on human rights, and will be put to formal votes next month at plenary sessions of the General Assembly. They are both expected to pass with similar margins.

Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari dismissed the resolution against his country as an attempt by “Western states to interfere, and we condemn this.”

He also accused Qatar, which has supported the rebels seeking to toppled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the 20-month-old insurgency, of aiding and abetting Israel against the Palestinians.

Ja’afari repeated Syria’s oft-stated accusation that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Libya and Turkey have been arming and financially supporting the rebels, an allegation all have denied.

Western diplomats in New York, however, say privately that the Saudis and Qataris are almost certainly aiding the rebels, and possibly other countries as well.

Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee dismissed the resolution against Tehran as based on unconfirmed allegations and an attempt to meddle in the internal affairs of Iran.

Speaking of Iran, as Marcy had quipped on Jim White’s excellent post; ‘How considerate of the Iranians to label their secret nefarious nuke graph in English!’ Graph suggests Iran working on bomb… Funny how that was a similar gripe that Gareth Porter had raised about the Iranian Nuke Laptop…

Anyways, needless to say… Senate works on new package of Iran sanctions…

As the dynamic duo, Hillary and Flynt Leverett wrote recently…

Obama’s New National Security Team Should Be Asked Serious Questions About U.S. Foreign Policy (But Probably Won’t Be)

President Obama’s pending reshuffle of his national security team is an occasion to ask hard questions about American foreign policy. Most immediately, as Hillary told Al Jazeera’s Inside Story last week, click on video above or to link here, Obama’s nomination of his next Secretary of State—whether that is Susan Rice or someone else—provides an opening to ask pressing questions about the Obama administration’s increasing proclivity for proxy warfare against problematic Middle Eastern governments. Above all, “Did the United States arm, fund, train, and support—either directly or through our so-called ‘allies’—the very people who killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and the other Americans who did with him?” But Obama’s most outspoken GOP critics on the issue—e.g., Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham—can’t ask those questions, “because [they’re] complicit in this policy.” (To see Hillary’s segment, go 7:38 into the video above.)

Of course, it remains to be seen whether McCain, Graham, and their Republican colleagues stick to their guns regarding Rice’s acceptability as a nominee for Secretary of State. But the significance of Obama’s apparent interest in nominating her goes beyond the “who’s up/who’s down” of Washington politics or Obama’s proclivity to declare consequential policy positions without having thought through how to implement them. It raises more fundamental questions about the direction of American foreign policy and grand strategy in Obama’s second term. As Hillary explains,

“Whether you are a conservative or a neoliberal interventionist—I would put Susan Rice in that category—each of these camps supports armed, military intervention by the United States in the internal affairs of other countries. They do it for slightly different reasons, but the main strategic purpose is for the United States to pursue dominance…

As to what to expect from Obama on foreign policy in his second term, Hillary says that “the evidence, so far, is for more of the same.” Certainly there is no reason to anticipate much change in Washington’s approach to the Middle East…

Same-oh, same-oh, just ain’t cutting it, Folks…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Cry “Havoc!”

8:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

And Caesar’s spirit, raging for revenge,

With Ate by his side come hot from hell,

Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice

Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war,

That this foul deed shall smell above the earth

With carrion men, groaning for burial.

~ Julius Caesar Act 3, scene 1, 270–275

More about that Aleppo car bombing… U.S. officials: Al Qaida behind Syria bombings…

…The Iraqi branch of al Qaida, seeking to exploit the bloody turmoil in Syria to reassert its potency, carried out two recent bombings in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and likely was behind suicide bombings Friday that killed at least 28 people in the largest city, Aleppo, U.S. officials told McClatchy.

The officials cited U.S. intelligence reports on the incidents, which appear to verify Syrian President Bashar Assad’s charges of al Qaida involvement in the 11-month uprising against his rule. The Syrian opposition has claimed that Assad’s regime… …staged the bombings to discredit the pro-democracy movement calling for his ouster…

I wonder if our Lamestream Media and the Syrian Opposition will try to blame Assad for this targeted assassination… Top general killed in Damascus ambush…

…Three gunmen ambushed a military general on a residential street in Damascus today, the Syrian government reported, in an assassination of a government stalwart that was the first of its kind in the Syrian capital and another step away from the non-violent roots of the anti-government protests.

The general, Dr Issa al-Khouli, a middle-aged physician and brigadier general who ran the Hameish military hospital, was shot dead as he stepped from his house in the morning, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

As Pepe Escobar wrote today…

Be afraid. Be very afraid. The Return of the Keyboard Warriors – a prized Return of the Living Dead spin-off – is at hand. From Republican chicken hawks to public intellectuals, right-wing America is erupting in renewed neo-conservative revolt. The year 2012 is the new 2002; Iran is the new Iraq. Whatever the highway – real men go to Tehran via Damascus, or real men go to Tehran non-stop – they want a war, and they want it now… {snip}

…If this is what passes for intellectual analysis in the upper strata of the Anglo-American axis, no wonder the whole business of Empire is doomed.

Far more insidious than The Invasion of the Keyboard Warriors is its effect on the warrior-in-chief, US President Barack Obama. Recently, Obama has been conducting product placement for Robert Kagan’s new book, The World America Made. Kagan, a neo-con stalwart, advises Mitt Romney – who may, or may not, become the Republican presidential nominee, assuming he wins over the visceral repulsion he provokes in extreme right-wing circles.

As Andrew Levine from the Institute for Policy Studies has shrewdly observed, [4] Obama the neo-con may be a very clever move to pre-empt Mitt and win even more votes. But it may be an exercise in transparency, as Obama, even before his State of the Union address, has been reciting Kagan to the letter, as in forget Asia, this will be another American century, and I will be at the helm; thus remember, it is I that coined the only change you can believe in.

And that’s when this really becomes a scary movie; if Obama the neo-con concludes that to get to his new, dominant American century first he needs to do some vacuum-cleaning in Southwest Asia, blowback or not, he’ll do it – to the delight of the Keyboard Warrior brigade.

Ever more Pepe…

…Here’s a crash course on the “democratic” machinations of the Arab League – rather the GCC League, as real power in this pan-Arab organization is wielded by two of the six Persian Gulf monarchies composing the Gulf Cooperation Council, also known as Gulf Counter-revolution Club; Qatar and the House of Saud… {snip}

The report is adamant. There was no organized, lethal repression by the Syrian government against peaceful protesters. Instead, the report points to shady armed gangs as responsible for hundreds of deaths among Syrian civilians, and over one thousand among the Syrian army, using lethal tactics such as bombing of civilian buses, bombing of trains carrying diesel oil, bombing of police buses and bombing of bridges and pipelines.

Once again, the official NATOGCC version of Syria is of a popular uprising smashed by bullets and tanks. Instead, BRICS members Russia and China, and large swathes of the developing world see it as the Syrian government fighting heavily armed foreign mercenaries. The report largely confirms these suspicions.

The Syrian National Council is essentially a Muslim Brotherhood outfit affiliated with both the House of Saud and Qatar – with an uneasy Israel quietly supporting it in the background. Legitimacy is not exactly its cup of green tea. As for the Free Syrian Army, it does have its defectors, and well-meaning opponents of the Assad regime, but most of all is infested with these foreign mercenaries weaponized by the GCC, especially Salafist gangs…

Now, there’s truly much f*ckery afoot, as the dogs of war are unleashed…

Russia accuses West of arming Syrian rebels…

…Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Western states were stirring up trouble in Syria, where Assad has pursued a violent crackdown since March on protests against his 11-year rule.

“Western states inciting Syrian opposition to uncompromising actions, as well as those sending arms to them, giving them advice and direction, are participating in the process of fomenting the crisis,” Itar-Tass news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying.

He did not specify which nations were arming Syrian rebels. {snip}

…Ryabkov, speaking on a visit to Colombia, said Russia would take “drastic measures” if the West kept trying to intervene in Syria’s internal affairs through the Security Council.

“The U.N. council is not a tool for intervention in internal affairs and is not the agency to decide which government is to be next in one country or another,” Ryabkov said. “If our foreign partners don’t understand that, we will have to use drastic measures to return them to real grounds.” {snip}

…Russia’s lower house of parliament adopted a statement on Friday condemning the West for “intervening in other states’ affairs and imposing outside decisions on them”.

Some lawmakers in the assembly, which is controlled by Putin’s ruling party, called for firmer resistance to the West.

“There is criticism in the Duma that Russia’s position on Syria is not strong enough. They say Russia should press its point harder,” Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, told Reuters…

The Russian Duma response is on a par with our own fetid, AIPAC-led Congress Critters’ rabid response…! Here’s a poignant example…

…Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, who chairs the Middle East subcommittee on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told FoxNews.com the U.S. should consider arming the opposition.

“They are essentially completely defenseless right now, and I think that’s inhumane,” Chabot said.

As MJ Rosenberg bluntly pointed out… Iran War: What Is AIPAC Planning?

Now, I don’t blame the Russians for their concern(s)… Billions at stake as Russia backs Syria… And, the fate of Russia’s only military base outside the former Soviet Union, a naval facility in the Mediterranean port of Tartus, Syria…! Of which the Russians have recently dispatched one of their aircraft carriers to…!

But I digress… Now, it seems that the War Propaganda machine is working some serious overtime… 15,000 elite Iranian special-ops ‘head’ to Syria… I remain dubious about that claim…! And it would seem that I’m not alone…

Chemical Weapons and Iranian Invasions: Syria Hysteria Turns to Wild Rumors

State Dept Claims Assad Allies Planning ‘Exit Strategy’…

As Pogo famously said, We have met the enemy and He is us…!

*gah*