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by CTuttle

AIPAC, Bibi, Biden And Occupy

4:56 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

At today’s AIPAC conference…

Biden, Netanyahu set tone on Iran for Obama visit to Israel

…Joe Biden insisted on Monday that President Barack Obama was not bluffing about using force to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions if all else fails, even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a “credible military threat” against Tehran.

Seeking to reassure Israel and its U.S. supporters just weeks before Obama visits the Jewish state, Biden cautioned that all options, including sanctions and diplomacy, must be exhausted to ensure that the international community will be supportive if military action is deemed necessary.

But Netanyahu, speaking moments later via satellite from Jerusalem, used his address to America’s largest pro-Israel lobby to underscore Israeli impatience with U.S. strategy on Iran, a message that could foreshadow his talks with Obama.

“Words alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions must be coupled with a clear and credible military threat if diplomacy and sanctions fail,” Netanyahu said to loud cheers at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington…

After his speech, Biden met with DM Ehud Barak…!

Now, in today’s Guardian, Glennzilla had this most excellent guest posting…

Why we must resist Netanyahu and the hawks’ reckless push for war on Iran

Now, just as diplomacy is yielding results, has never been a better time to ignore the lobbying of Israel’s prime minister for war

“If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, this could presage catastrophic consequences, not only for my country, and not only for the Middle East, but for all mankind … the deadline for attaining this goal is getting extremely close.”

The above quote – from a speech given by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to a joint session of the United States Congress – is notable not only for its sense of urgency and dire threat, but also for the date on which the speech was given: 10 July 1996. That was far from the first time Netanyahu had sounded the alarm for the need to take drastic action against a purportedly imminent Iranian nuclear weapon: in a 1992 address to the Israeli Knesset, he declared, “within three to five years, we can assume that Iran will become autonomous in its ability to develop and produce a nuclear bomb” – an assertion he repeated without irony in 1995, when, in his book Fighting Terrorism, he again predicted full Iranian nuclear weapons capability within “three to five years”.

This past Sunday, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared his belief that ongoing nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 nations were futile and represented merely an effort by Iran to “buy time” to develop a nuclear weapon. Coming from an individual with nearly 20 years of public statements consistently citing the purported imminence of such a weapon, this is a questionable statement to say the least. But given the present atmosphere of heightened tension surrounding this issue, such comments are particularly dangerous and revealing…

MJ Rosenberg had penned another must-read today…

Hebron Is The Occupation

I wonder if all these Democratic politicians who attend the AIPAC pander-fest ever think about the occupation. Has any of them ever been to Hebron?

They should go to Hebron, a major city on the occupied West Bank — one that successive Israeli governments have said Israel will hold on to no matter what. It won’t change their political calculations. They kiss up to AIPAC to for campaign contributions but at least they will know what they are defending in the name of political expediency.

No, I don’t urge Republicans like Ted Cruz, John McCain or Lindsey Graham to go. They wouldn’t see anything wrong with it anyway. In fact, they would love it. Nor the likes of New York Democrats like Chuck Schumer or Kristen Gillibrand who never give the Middle East a thought; they are on AAP, AIPAC Automatic Pilot. I’m talking about the Dick Durbins, Carl Levins, Al Frankens, Tammy Baldwins and the Elizabeth Warrens who actually allow themselves to feel compassion and, if they were honest, rage.

I have visited Hebron a half-dozen times, once as part of an official U.S. government to monitor Palestinian elections. Much of what follows comes from a report I wrote back in 2006 but, note, the situation has only deteriorated…

And to further punctuate the point, just today… “You cannot come on this bus.”

Now, this just blew me away, today, like a tsunami…

Colonizer as Lender: Free Palestine, Occupy Wall Street, Strike Debt
By Folks in Strike Debt and Occupy Wall St.

Right in the place where empire was scheming to do its worst, a tent went up—and then another, and then a village. A new community was born there, an act of resistance as well as a nurturing space for eating and sleeping and living. People talked and prayed together. There was an explosion of hope in the midst of hopelessness. But before long the empire had enough. It sent in its army of militarized police, and the village was destroyed.

This is the story of Occupy Wall Street’s Liberty Square in the fall of 2011, yes. But it is also what happened earlier this year in the West Bank. The village of Bab al-Shams, whose name means “Gate of the Sun,” appeared early in the morning on January 11. Two days later, in the dark of night, Israeli soldiers tore it down…

Occupy Everywhere…!

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AIPAC, BRICs, Syria, And The Third Intifada?

5:46 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Speaking of War Clubs, on the eve of AIPAC’s annual Confab in DC, ex-AIPAC’er, MJ Rosenberg goes off…

…At one time I wouldn’t have believed AIPAC would dare try something this nervy.That is it because traditionally AIPAC has been very cautious about not taking actions that suggested putting Israel’s interests over America’s. Demanding that Israel be exempt from cuts that virtually every American will feel seems so counterproductive as to almost be suicidal for the lobbying powerhouse.

Nonetheless, everything I hear indicates that Bloomfield is right although I doubt AIPAC will have the gall to insist on insulating AIPAC from the cuts that will occur in this year’s budget. More likely, it will wait until Congress is putting the 2014 cuts in place (there is more Congressional discretion in allotting the pain after 2013) before demanding not just that Israel go to the head of the line but that it not be forced to stand in the line at all.

No matter when Israel is exempted, and by how much, it is wrong and would represent nothing more than another power play by the lobby. After all, a cut of $175 million out of a $3 billion U.S. grant is nothing that Israel can’t handle. Besides, since when is any foreign aid gift automatic, so automatic that it is provided whether the donor can afford it or not. Even teenagers don’t demand a car when his parents are filing for bankruptcy. Additionally, if aid to Israel (the largest chunk of the foreign aid budget) is protected, mandated sequestration cuts will have to be proportionately increased on other recipients, primarily African countries which receive much needed development assistance (hunger, poverty, disease prevention) .

But that’s AIPAC or, to use the more encompassing term, the Israel lobby…

Now, ex-CIA Philip Giraldi, asks the burning question on Syria…

Who’s Turning Syria’s Civil War Into a Jihad?

The West, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia all have their own angles in the conflict—but Salafism and anarchy may be the big winners…

…Perhaps even more important, people in Washington should have also been asking why Saudi Arabia and Qatar wanted to overthrow al-Assad and what kind of government they had in mind to replace him. Saudi Arabia’s rival as regional hegemon, Iran, is viewed in Riyadh as ascendant due to the rise to power of a friendly Shia regime in Iraq as a result of the American invasion and regime change. This has permitted the development of a geographically contiguous Arab bloc closely tied to Tehran and its regional interests, running through Iraq, across Syria, and connecting with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. To break up that de facto coalition, the Saudis, who see Syria as the weak link in the chain, have sought to replace Assad’s Alawite-led government with a Sunni regime. But there is also a second agenda. Because the ruling minority Alawites are considered to be heretics similar to Shi’ites, a change in religious orientation would be necessary, with the Saudis serving as protectors of the Sunni majority. The Riyadh-backed Sunni regime would of course be expected to conform with the particularly Saudi view of proper religious deportment—the extremely conservative Wahhabism that prevails in the Kingdom, which is closer to the views of the more radical insurgents while hostile to the secularists. It would also make the country’s significant numbers of Christians, Alawites, Shi’ites, and Kurds potential victims of the arrangement.

All of which means that the Saudis and their allies Qatar believe in change in Syria, but on their own terms, and they actually oppose enabling a populist or democratic evolution. In fact, Riyadh has been actively engaged regionally in doing what it can to contain the unrest resulting from the Arab Spring so that the populism does not become untidy and spill over into Saudi Arabia itself. This has meant that from the beginning Saudi and Qatari objectives in Syria have differed from the goals of either Turkey or the Western powers, which should have been seen as a recipe for disaster…

Btw, Syria’s Assad ‘will take part’ in 2014 presidential poll…

Talking about real War Criminals, isn’t this rather rich…? Somalia Asks Kerry for Immunity for Alleged War Criminal in U.S…

Now, here’s an interesting take on the MENA miasma…

…US policy in the Middle East is undergoing a double change. Toward Syria, the posture is becoming noticeable harder. While senior analysts in the intelligence community continue to warn of potential chaos and bloodletting on a large scale in the event of a sudden collapse of the Assad regime, the deepening of the humanitarian crisis is moving the Administration toward more active support of the opposition. The supply of non-lethal aid that will allow the opposition to consolidate their positions in territory they hold is already underway. No decision is yet in place on whether this assistance will escalate to arms, but US officials tell us privately that this is the “logic of the situation.” Regarding Iran by contrast the Administration is adopting a softer approach. The package offered to Tehran at the 26th/27th P5+1 meeting in Almaty had less of the “take-it-or-leave” tone of previous offers. As an NSC official commented to us: “We are deliberately embarking on a process in which there is a prospect of genuine give and take.” This approach does not lack for critics either inside the national security community nor on Capitol Hill where Senators are pressing for a resolution that would bind the US to support Israel in the event of an attack on Iran by the latter. At the very least, President Obama is preparing for an “earful of criticism” when he visits Israel later this month. One argument he will employ is that by being tougher on Syria, he is also weakening Iran. However, with an important element of US naval forces delaying its deployment to the region for budgetary reasons, Obama is not looking for a pretext for war. With regard to China, the chronically unresolved dilemma in US policy between regarding China as a necessary partner on trade, finance and issues like North Korea or seeing it as a military competitor and threat to US allies is trending in the adversarial direction. Intelligence analysts see increased and more hostile patrolling by the Chinese navy in disputed waters of the South and East China Seas. The consensus is that tensions are on the rise for 2013, including over Tibet.

Ironically, it would seem that China is actively pursuing alternate Global trade and financial routes, apart from the Western MOTU’s, and denominated in Yuan…! China key to BRICS bank…!

Indeed, ‘May you live in interesting times’…

In summing up… The Third Intifada?

*gah*

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

More Persian Fantasies After Baghdad Talks…

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As Niles had equivocated in that great RT clip, the ball is squarely in the West’s ballcourt, and, the Oily Bomber, along with all of our AIPAC bought-off Congress Critters, are the sick individuals that are failing us miserably…

the Obama Administration seems no more prepared to deal with the big issues that will determine diplomatic success or failure—namely, accepting the principle and the reality of internationally safeguarded enrichment in Iran and recognizing that a negotiated solution will necessarily entail significant sanctions relief—than it was during its initial experience in multilateral negotiations with the Islamic Republic during 2009-2010. Until that changes, the chance for anything other than failure or, at best, an extremely narrow deal of little strategic significance—is negligible…

…the Iranians assess that the Obama Administration has an interest in keeping the negotiations going at least through the U.S. presidential election in November. As Flynt points out, they have been using the talks as a way of probing Western seriousness about a potential deal…

But the talks are not going to produce anything of strategic significance unless the United States substantially alters its approach

Just to be sure…

No gaps exist between the U.S. and Israel on Iran nuclear program, says official…

Senior official involved in Baghdad talks says U.S. is pressuring Iran because it perceives it as a real threat to world security, not because of Israeli pressure…

…The U.S. official, who is intimately acquainted with the P5 + 1 talks which took place in Baghdad last week, asked to remain anonymous owing to the sensitive nature of the issue.

According to the official, the U.S. government does not feel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to pressure it over negotiations with Iran.

We are the ones who are pressuring ourselves because we see a nuclear Iran as a real danger to global security, and not because of Israel, ” the U.S. official said.

Even if we do not have the patience, we need to give diplomacy a chance before military action…it is still not too late, and I think that Israel thinks that it is already too late,” the official added…

…On Friday, the head of the U.S. negotiation team, undersecretary of state for political affairs Wendy Sherman, arrived in Israel along with officials from the White House National Security Council working on the Iran nuclear issue – Gary Seymour and Puneet Talwar.

The American team had a three-hour meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, with National Security advisor Yaakov Amidror, and a number of other senior Israeli officials who deal with the Iran issue, in order to update them on the talks in Baghdad.

According to the U.S. official, the Israeli government was the first to be updated by them on what happened in Baghdad after the talks were over. “We updated the Israelis in detail before we updated our own government,” the official said.

This shows how much trust and security we have in our ties with Israel.

Former AIPAC employee, MJ Rosenberg, totally eviscerates that ‘anonymous’ US official’s foreign delusions…

Mainstream Media & Bloggers Are Too Scared To Mention AIPAC In Iran Coverage

Every piece of legislation dealing with Iran, including all the sanctions bills, were written in AIPAC’s offices and then handed over to favored senators and representatives for introduction. For the last decade, every AIPAC annual conference, attended by the President and half the Congress, has had as its centerpiece the need to confront Iran. Just this week, as negotiations began in Baghdad, the Vice President met with the ultra-right Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, which is led by this guy. (Watch the youtube, you will fall off your chair laughing). And the next day the Senate Majority Leader met with the same group. The message to the Conference in both cases: trust us, we will not deviate from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policy that sanctions not be lifted no matter what Iran offers. And we didn’t!

To put it simply, there would be no Iran hysteria was it not for the lobby. After all, was there hysteria over North Korean nuclear weapons? The North Korean regime is insane which the Iranian regime is not. And we have over 100,000 troops in South Korea, not to mention that Seoul, the South Korean capital, is virtually on the border with the crazy north.

But Iran is different. And that is because of the lobby. (If groups other than the lobby cared much about Iranian reprocessing, would not Biden and Harry Reid have met with them. Of course, they would have. But they know Iran is strictly an Israel lobby issue. And that means it is enmeshed in the question of who will or will not receive campaign contributions from PACs and individuals who take their marching orders from the lobby.

Imagine if there was no lobby. (Such a lovely thought)

…And that is among the many reasons that I wish the timid MSM and bloggers would start telling the truth to the American people. This whole issue is not about us. It’s about Netanyahu and AIPAC. And, largely due to them, we may never be able to resolve it.

George Washington is spinning in his grave, waiting for Rachel Maddow to address this issue. Fat chance.

Neither Maddow or the other “progressives” want to risk offending people who might slow their advance to the heights. That is why this is the ONLY issue that the wise don’t touch with a ten foot pole.

Career comes first. And last…

Now, I may not be paid for my I/P blogging, but, I have always soldiered on…!

God help us all…!

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*

by CTuttle

Israel or Iran, Cui Bono…?

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Let me start off the discussion with something Trita Parsi had mentioned to Laura Rozen recently…

…The United States wants Iran to stop enrichment to 20 percent, to turn over its stockpile of low enriched uranium, and to halt plans to make Fordo operational. “But what can they and the Europeans” offer in return? asked Parsi, who is the author of a new book on U.S. diplomacy with Iran. A “mutual freeze on any mutual escalation” is one possible formulation, he said. But western powers are “asking Iran to give up things they already have.” It’s hard to imagine, he added, that the United States would be prepared to offer Iran a corresponding suspension of sanctions already in place–particularly while a presidential election is under way in the United States…

Iran Affair’s Cyrus Safdari expands on the fallacy…

…And it occurred to me that in reality no one in the US can offer anything that Iran would logically and presumably ask for. For example, on the question of removal of sanctions: Can Obama actually remove the sanctions? He has the legal authority to rescind some Executive Orders, of course, but that is only a small part of the web of sanctions imposed around Iran. He would have to go up against the US Congress, which as that Tom Friedman character recently said, is “bought and paid for” by Israel. So how would these sanctions be removed, exactly? How could the State Department actually get Adelson to stop funding think tanks that hire PhDs as advocates acting under a guise of scholarly objectivity to promote the idea that giving up on sanctions amounts to Chamberlain bowing to Hitler? How could Obama get editors to stop or start using keywords and phrases over and over again in their publications, “Nuclear Weapons Program”, “Terrorism”, etc.? How could he do any of this, even if he didn’t have to worry about getting re-elected, because after all he can’t do anything unless he’s re-elected… {snip}

…So, am I right? Assuming that Washington wants to resolve things with Iran peacefully and is willing to make the necessary compromises to do so, IS anyone in Washington really in a position to deliver on such promises and to implement such policies in the face of domestic opposition, where being ‘weak on Iran’ is blood in the water for the opposing campaign? To sell any sort of real change in Iran policy to the public, or at least those who pay for his election campaigning, the President would have to be willing to consume a great deal of political capital. Can he get the necessary laws passed, and other laws rescinding? How many votes in Congress would that require? How much fighting will be required for each vote? Its just not possible. No politician in the US can do this. Even assuming he could win some of the fights, it would consume far more resources than any politician can be willing to dedicate to a single cause…

MJ Rosenberg, in Al Jazeera, cited Jeffrey Goldberg a few times…

Assassination in Tehran: An act of war?

The murder of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran suggests that Israel and neoconservatives are pushing for war.

…Writing about a piece in the current edition of Foreign Affairs that endorses bombing Iran as a neat and cost-free way to address its nuclear programme, Goldberg explains why he thinks the author, Council on Foreign Relations fellow Matthew Kroenig, is wrong. Goldberg says he now believes:

…that advocates of an attack on Iran today would be exchanging a theoretical nightmare – an Iran with nukes – for an actual nightmare: A potentially out-of-control conventional war raging across the Middle East that could cost the lives of thousands Iranians, Israelis, Gulf Arabs and even American servicemen.

Think about that for a minute. Uber-hawk Jeffrey Goldberg is saying that the threat posed by Iran is a “theoretical nightmare” while a war ostensibly to neutralise that threat would present an “actual nightmare”.

{snip}

…Here is Jeff Goldberg again in a column subsequent to the one I already cited:

If I were a member of the Iranian regime (and I’m not), I would take this assassination program to mean that the West is entirely uninterested in any form of negotiation (not that I, the regime official, has ever been much interested in dialogue with the West) and that I should double-down and cross the nuclear threshold as fast as humanly possible. Once I do that, I’m North Korea, or Pakistan: An untouchable country.

In short, for those hell-bent on getting the US engaged in a war that even Jeff Goldberg views as a “nightmare” for both the US and Israel, this is a very good day indeed.

Congratulations. Or something like that.

Jim Lobe really hammers home the point…

Whoever Killed the Scientist Was Aiming at Much More

…My sense of the last week or so was that the mostly verbal confrontation between Iran and the U.S., particularly regarding the Strait of Hormuz, was spinning out of control much more rapidly than anyone had expected and that the possibility of a conflict had suddenly become very real in ways the Obama administration certainly never intended. (See Anne-Marie Slaughter’s CNN column, “Saving Face and Peace in the Gulf,” as an example of “this is getting really dangerous all of a sudden”. Until last fall, of course, she was Clinton’s director of policy planning and a very influential figure in the administration.) So there seemed to be a real effort to dial things back, expressed not only in repeated statements by senior administration officials, including Clinton, emphasizing Washington’s readiness to negotiate, but also, if the always well-informed Laura Rozen is to be believed, a lot of diplomatic — some of it, I’m sure, behind the scenes — manoeuvring to get the P5+1 process back into gear, with Turkey serving as the convenor/mediator.

Under these circumstances, the timing of today’s assassination was particularly remarkable. Among other things, it makes me believe that the U.S., which condemned the attack and categorically denied any role in it (See Clinton’s statement in her press conference with the Qatari Prime Minister here), was not in fact involved.* That leaves two obvious suspects: 1) Israel and 2) a faction within the Iranian regime. If there was indeed an Israeli hand behind it, the assassination was not just an effort to set back the Iran’s nuclear program and induce fear among other scientists working on it. I think it was also a provocation designed to 1) blow up prospects for progress in any p5+1 negotiations that might convene over the next month or so; 2) strengthen hard-line factions in Tehran that oppose negotiations; and 3) possibly provoke retaliation that will further escalate tensions, if not armed conflict. Of course, all three of these overlap and reinforce each other. If it was an internal Iranian faction, which, frankly, I find more difficult to believe, both 1) and 2) above also apply…

About the possible internal Iranian faction within the Iranian Regime, both Emptywheel and Jim White are pointing to JSOC ops, as opposed to CIA ops, and, even the possibility of Mossad posing as CIA agents…!

Alex Kane at Mondoweiss had this to add…The headline you aren’t seeing: Iran wants talks, Israel pushing for war…

Foreign Policy has been abuzz with numerous posts…

Iran agreed to nuclear talks and an IAEA mission… And… Do Israelis really want to bomb Iran?

Now, as ex-CIA Middle East desk Chief, Philip Giraldi, updates his 2007 prognostication of What World War III May Look Like… He then paints a mighty bleak picture of What War With Iran Might Look Like…

God help us all…!

by CTuttle

Those ‘Sneaky’ Persians…

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Last year, at about this time, I wrote a post entitled… The Persian ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ and ‘the Phantom Menace’…! In it, I had featured Nami Shirazi’s most excellent post: The Phantom Menace: Fantasies, falsehoods, and fear-mongering about Iran’s nuclear program… An extensive look at all the din and hue in the MSM, of how close Iran was to the bomb, starting in 1984…! Basically, it averages out to Iran always being about two years away from the bomb…!

Now, in my latest installment, I’d like to feature the prolific, Robert Naiman, in both the Huffpoo and AlJazeera, today, in which he takes the Grey Lady, out behind the woodshed…

The New York Times misleading public on Iran

The paper has made faulty allegations about Iran’s nuclear programme without running proper corrections

…It’s deja vu all over again. AIPAC is trying to trick the United States into another catastrophic war with a Middle Eastern country on behalf of the Likud Party’s colonial ambitions, and the New York Times is misleading the public with allegations that say that the country is developing “weapons of mass destruction”.

In an article attributed to Steven Erlanger on January 4 (“Europe Takes Bold Step Toward a Ban on Iranian Oil”), this paragraph appeared:

The threats from Iran, aimed both at the West and at Israel, combined with a recent assessment by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran’s nuclear programme has a military objective, is becoming an important issue in the American presidential campaign [emphasis my own].

The claim that there is “a recent assessment by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran’s nuclear programme has a military objective” is misguided…

…Of course, referring to Iran’s “development of nuclear weapons” without qualification implies that it is a known fact that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. But it is not a known fact: It is an allegation. Indeed, when US officials are speaking publicly for the record, they say the opposite.

As Washington Post’s Ombudsman Patrick Pexton also noted on December 9:

This is what the US director of national intelligence, James R Clapper, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March: “We continue to assess [that] Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.

To demand a correction…

Yes, certainly a correction is in order… *crickets*

In the Huffpoo, Robert takes aim at the Wapoo…

WaPo: Sneaky Persians Menace Pentagon’s Noble Aim to Keep U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Forever

…In a front page exposé on January 4, the Washington Post revealed that sneaky Persian agitators are conspiring to thwart the Pentagon’s noble aim of keeping 10,000-30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan on “non-permanent,” “non-U.S.” bases after “all foreign troops are supposed to be withdrawn” in 2014, just as these sneaky Persians conspired to thwart the Pentagon’s noble aim of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq.

The Post story is quite instructive, even if it is not exactly “news” in the common sense of the term. It presents the world from the point of view of diehard Pentagon revanchists who want to keep U.S. troops in Muslim countries forever against the will of the majority of Americans and against the will of the majority of people who live in these countries. It presents this diehard Pentagon revanchist view as if there were no interests in the world besides those of Pentagon revanchists and wily Persian agitators, such as the interests of the majority of people who happen to live in the United States, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Of course, in the world view of the diehard Pentagon revanchist, the concerns of these mere residents are largely irrelevant, if they have no military implications. How many divisions do these mere residents control? These mere residents are just pawns in a game of Pentagon-sneaky Persian chess…

Now, the intrepid, MJ Rosenberg, takes the Mittster out back…

Mitt Romney embraces the Neocons

Mitt Romney’s newfound relations with the neocons could spell disaster for the United States, as the war drums begin.

Misleading claims

His disturbing emphasis on Iran, which in no way presents a military threat to the United States – over the economy, no less – is very telling.

Romney insists that the administration’s engagement efforts have failed. Not quite.

Obama has hardly engaged in any diplomacy with Iran. After an initial foray in that direction, he quickly pulled back, deterred first by the Iranian government’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in 2009 and then by a Congress that, guided by AIPAC, vehemently opposes any negotiations with Iran.

According to Iran expert and journalist Barbara Slavin, the Obama administration has spent a grand total of 45 minutes in direct engagement with Iran.

Romney’s claim that “we have no sanctions of a severe nature” is just as false. The sanctions regime imposed by Obama is unprecedented in its severity. (Take a look at the full range of sanctions.)

According to a law signed by Obama in December, as of next summer, anyone who buys Iranian oil will be banned from doing business with the US. We have the largest economy in the world, so this act could do much to damage not only Iran’s economy, but also the economies of some of our most trusted allies, such as South Korea. If Iran retaliates by keeping its oil off the world market and causing prices to skyrocket, the dire effects will be felt globally. Including here at home.

Sanctions will probably not succeed in preventing an Iranian bomb (since the days of the Shah, Iranians of all political stripes, including the Green Movement, have supported Iran’s right to nuclear development), but it is just absurd to argue that Obama has resisted imposing them.

As for the claim that Obama was “silent” when Iranian demonstrators took to the streets, Romney must know that the US’ embrace of the demonstrators would have been the kiss of death to their movement. Or maybe Romney actually believes that their cause would have been advanced if they could have been convincingly portrayed as US puppets…

Can I get off this clown car, I’m getting sea sick…!

As MJ stole my line…

God help us all…!