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by CTuttle

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

11:20 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, talk about your warmongering tomfoolery…

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

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

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

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

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

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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*