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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: I/P Peace Farce, Egypt, Iran, and Turkey

5:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

US Secretary of State John Kerry cancelled plans to travel Wednesday to Ramallah after both the Israelis and the Palestinians announced moves likely to scuttle the peace talks.

Looking at the Israeli actions… Israel puts in tenders for more settler units in the east Jerusalem

On the Palestinian side… “Abbas says to join UN agencies

President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday said the Palestinians would seek membership in international organizations after Israel failed to release a batch of Palestinian prisoners on schedule.

In a televised speech, Abbas said he had started the process to sign agreements with 15 United Nations agencies and organizations and would pursue joining more.

‘The Palestinian leadership has unanimously approved a decision to seek membership of 15 UN agencies and international treaties, beginning with the Fourth Geneva Convention,’ Abbas said after signing the demand.

PA: Kerry’s ‘Jewish Advisors’ Are to Blame for Talks Failure

Meanwhile, Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard release talk infuriates US intel community

And, if you had any doubts about Israeli perfidy behind the Egyptian military coup… “Israel offers Al-Sisi $80 million support for his presidential campaign

Egyptian security sources revealed details of a meeting between Egyptian and Israeli military officials which took place two weeks ago.

The same sources uncovered two secret visits by the Egyptian coup leader and presidential hopeful Al-Sisi to Israel in the past two months, in which he met with Israeli PM Netanyahu to coordinate joint security and political issues.

In exclusive statements to Quds Press news agency, the sources said that Netanyahu offered Al-Sisi $80 million support for his presidential elections campaign. He also promised to convince the US to continue military assistance to Egypt, and to convince US President Obama to meet Al-Sisi in return for pressuring Abbas to accept the Jewishness of Israel. Moreover, Netanyahu urged Al-Sisi to pressure Abbas to stop his campaign against Dahlan, because it only serves the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

In the last meeting, the two sides discussed a number of security issues. The Israelis urged the Egyptians to neglect the Dahlan forces present in Sinai, and to coordinate with them for the sake of border security, because of their prior experience in this regard.

A number of Israeli political and security experts warned their government officials not to publicly support Al-Sisi because that would harm his image in the eyes of Egyptians, the source added.

Prominent Egyptian judge says sham elections will not legitimise the coup

Naturally, Israel must deflect and distract from the Peace Farce and their perfidy… “Peres to IAEA Chief: We Don’t Want Another Hiroshima

President Shimon Peres warned on Monday that a nuclear armed Iran could lead to ‘another Hiroshima.’

The comments were made during Peres’s meeting in Vienna with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano.

‘It’s time to put the facts on the table and realize that nuclear weapons by the Iranian leadership would be a danger to all humanity,’ Peres said.

‘The implementation of the agreements between the IAEA and Iran are advancing slowly,’ he continued. ‘Iran is trying to gain time and does not comply with the requirements. This has a negative impact on the diplomatic track. Iran continues to enrich uranium and retain the ability to develop nuclear weapons. Additionally, Iran is developing long-range missiles capable of carrying their nuclear warheads.’

‘When it comes to building trust,’ added Peres, ‘actions are important and not words. The IAEA has a mandate to fully ascertain the facts and illuminate the truth about Iran’s actions. Israel has full confidence in your ability to meet the important task fairly and benefit the world.’

Peres suggested that ‘Iran be judged by its record and not by its words and sounds. No one threatens Iran, yet Iran again and again threatens other countries. We do not want to see another Hiroshima.’

However, the intrepid Gareth Porter revealed a ludicrous Israeli demand that nobody has mentioned during the P5+1 talks… “A Poison Pill for Iran Nuke Talks

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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…

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: House of Saud, Iran, Israel, and Syria

5:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

While Prince Charles boogied down in Riyadh…

Four dead in clash in Saudi’s Shiite east

A firefight in a mainly Shiite area of eastern Saudi Arabia killed four people — two policemen and two people wanted over violence — on Thursday, the interior ministry said.

The police came under fire when they attempted to arrest the two wanted activists in the flashpoint Awamiya district of the oil-rich Eastern Province, said a ministry statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

The activists, named as Hussein Ali al-Faraj and Ali Ahmed al-Faraj, were both also killed.

Two other police were wounded and required hospital treatment.

Security forces who tried to arrest those suspected of being behind “armed unrest” were shot at and retaliated, a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying.

They seized ‘two weapons, a large quantity of ammunition, a bulletproof vest and weapons sights,’ he added, warning the authorities would crush any such resistance with ‘an iron fist.’

Speaking of that ‘Iron Fist’… The Saudis’ American Shopping Spree: F-15s, Helicopters & More

From the WSJ… Saudi Arabia Replaces Key Official in Effort to Arm Syria Rebels

Moving along to Iran…

First round of nuclear talks end; U.S.: We respect Netanyahu, but won’t always agree

The first round of nuclear talks in Vienna between Iran and the six world powers came to a close on Thursday morning. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held a quick press conference soon after the talks were concluded, calling the discussions “a good start.”

‘We have had three very productive days during which we have identified all of the issues we need to address in reaching a comprehensive and final agreement,’ said Ashton. ‘There is a lot to do. It won’t be easy but we have made a good start.’

‘In addition to our political discussions, we have started the technical work,’ she said. ‘And we have set a timetable of meetings initially over the next four months with a framework to continue our deliberations.’

The sides agreed to hold a further round of talks in Vienna on March 17-20. The agreed-upon framework includes a schedule for follow-up meetings, and an agenda for issues to be discussed. {…}

U.S. official: We respect Netanyahu, but won’t always agree

A senior U.S. official said following the talks that all sides feel that ‘some progress’ has been made and that ‘we have a path for how the talks will proceed.’

‘There will not be a written agenda or framework – but we all know what it is and all issues will be on the table,’ said the official.

‘This will be a complicated, difficult and lengthy progress but we aim to get the job done in six months,’ the official said, adding: ‘While we have much more work to do – we have come some distance in a relatively short time.’

The U.S. official echoed his counterparts in calling the dialogue ‘substantive,’ and said that specific dates had been set for meetings over the next four months, with another month of negotiations left open on the calendar because ‘it will be more intense.’

‘Nothing will be agreed until everything is agreed,’ the U.S. official said.

To be sure…New IAEA Report Shows Iran Complying With Nuclear Agreement

From Reuters… Iran’s most sensitive uranium stockpile falls after nuclear deal

So, Bibi, and Eric Cantor, need to STFU…! On Iran, Extraordinary Claims Should Require Extraordinary Evidence

Meanwhile, onto the I/P Peace Farce…

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by CTuttle

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

6:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Some recent developments on the P5+1 talks…

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

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

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

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

From the Supreme Leader himself…

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

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

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

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

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

Now, here’s a real game-changer…

Iran says Russia could build nuclear reactor in exchange for oil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moving along to McInsane…

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

Now, Col. Lang penned a great post today…

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Arab Spring, Iran, P5+1, and Syria

9:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

So the ball is now in the P5+1′s court(s)…

Iran says differences over implementing nuclear deal solved: negotiator

Differences between Iran and the world powers over implementing an interim nuclear deal have been solved, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said Friday.

“Nuclear talks ended in Geneva (on Friday) and agreement reached on the remaining issues,” Araqchi was quoted as saying by Press TV.

“Announcement will be made in the next few days if parties agree to do so,” he added.

Iran and the European Union (EU) held a meeting in Geneva on Thursday and Friday to discuss remaining issues pertaining to the implementation of the interim nuclear deal clinched between Tehran and the major world powers in November.

I wonder how David Cameron will respond to the new proposals, and this…

UK, US were ‘malign’ force in Iran: Straw

Former foreign secretary Jack Straw said Friday that Britain and the United States had been a “malign force” in Iran in the past, after a relationship-building visit to Tehran. {…}

In an interview with BBC radio, Straw said his group had been well received by the government of President Hassan Rouhani and reported “considerable optimism there” about a rapprochement with the West.

“There is a very, very long history to this, to poor relations between Iran on the one hand and US and UK on the other,” Straw said.

“If you were an Iranian, just an ordinary Iranian, you could be forgiven for thinking that over the decades the US and the UK have been a very malign force — and indeed we have been.

“We organised together a coup d’etat to remove a democratically elected president in my lifetime in Iran, we played a very, very bad and undermining hand as popular support for the Shah flowed away in the late 1970s,” he said, referring to the coup that overthrew Mohammad Mossadegh, who was in fact prime minister.

Straw continued: “And then for example the West supported Saddam Hussein in a war which he provoked and for which Iran was the victim.”

Earlier, as the negotiators headed into the conference rooms in Geneva… Iran’s Khamenei says nuclear talks show U.S. enmity

Underscoring Khamenei’s charges, AIPAC, and the Chickenhawks were busy at it… Support for Iran sanctions bill nears filibuster-proof majority

Moving along to Syria…

While Iran is excluded from the Geneva II talks, the FSA still can’t get it together…

Opposition groups say they share goals, but no agreement for talks

Several factions of the Syrian opposition, meeting together for the first time, called Friday for a new coalition but did not reach agreement on who should attend peace talks later this month, or whether they would attend at all.

With less than a fortnight to go until the first direct talks between the opposition and President Bashar Assad’s government – set for Jan. 22 in Switzerland and called “Geneva II” – Western backers have struggled to unify rebel groups.

The main opposition body in exile, the National Coalition, has been plagued by bickering. It postponed a decision on whether to attend Geneva II until next week after nearly a quarter of its 121 members threatened to resign following the re-election of its Saudi-backed leader, Ahmad al-Jarba.

Meanwhile, we just keep sticking our thumb in the proverbial dam…

U.S. trys to prevent spillover of Syrian crisis to Lebanon

In a communique by the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Spence expressed the United States’ commitment to the “Lebanese army and preventing spillover from the Syrian conflict into Lebanon.”

He underscored the strength of the U.S.-Lebanese defense relationship and the United States’ support for Lebanon in the context of regional developments.

The statement pointed that Spence also discussed with the Lebanese officials the U.S. support for the Lebanese army through ongoing security cooperation programs.

Spence held talks during his trip with various political and military leaders, including President Michel Suleiman, Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji and Army Chief of Staff Major General Walid Salman.

U.S. assistance to the Lebanese army and Internal Security Forces, totaling more than one billion U.S. dollars since 2005, has strengthened the capacity of Lebanon’s security forces and supported their missions of securing Lebanon’s borders and defending the sovereignty and independence of the state.

Today, the dynamic duo of Hillary & Flynt Leverett asked the burning question…

Is Obama Trying to Resolve or Prolong the Conflict in Syria?

Suppose a great power declares that it supports a peace process aimed at finding a political solution to a terrible, ongoing conflict. Then suppose that this great power makes such declarations after it has already proclaimed its strong interest in the defeat of one of the main parties to said conflict. And then suppose that this great power insists on preconditions for a peace process—preconditions effectively boiling down to a demand for pre-emptive surrender by the party whose defeat the great power has already identified as its major goal—which render such a process impossible. Is it not reasonable to conclude that the great power in question is (how to put this gently) lying about its purported support for peace?

That, in a nutshell, is the Obama administration’s posture toward the ongoing conflict in Syria…

In wrapping up, here’s two excellent discussions on the MENA and Empire…

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AIPAC, Bibi, Karzai, and Syria

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Never underestimate the sheer might of AIPAC, Bibi, and the Neocons…!

Naturally, AIPAC has ‘serious concerns’ with Iran deal

Gareth Porter reported today on our Foggy Bottom Neocons’ duplicity…

U.S. Officials Hint at Reservations on Final Nuclear Deal

The “first step” agreement between Iran and the United States that was sealed in Geneva over the weekend is supposed to lead to the negotiation of a “comprehensive settlement” of the nuclear issue over the next six months, though the latter has gotten little attention.

But within hours of the agreement, there are already indications from senior U.S. officials that the Barack Obama administration is not fully committed to the conclusion of a final pact, under which economic sanctions would be completely lifted.

The administration has apparently developed reservations about such an “end state” agreement despite concessions by the government of President Hassan Rouhani that were more far-reaching than could have been anticipated a few months ago.

The signs of uncertain U.S. commitment to the “end state” agreement came in a background press briefing by unidentified senior U.S. officials in Geneva via teleconference late Saturday night. The officials repeatedly suggested that it was a question of “whether” there could be an “end state” agreement rather than how it could be achieved.

“What we are going to explore with the Iranians and our P5+1 partners over the next six months,” said one of the officials, “is whether there can be an agreed upon comprehensive solution that assures us that the Iranian programme is peaceful.”

The same official prefaced that remark by stating, “In terms of the ‘end state’, we do not recognise a right for Iran to enrich uranium.”

Later in the briefing, a senior official repeated the same point in slightly different words. “What the next six months will determine is whether there can be an agreement that…gives us assurance that the Iranian programme is peaceful.”

“We’ll see whether we can achieve an end state that allows for Iran to have peaceful nuclear energy,” said one of the officials.

Looking at Bibi’s recent perfidy…

Shifting gears, Israeli team heading to US to try to shape final nuclear pact

After speaking with Obama on Sunday, Netanyahu dispatching national security adviser to Washington; says permanent deal must dismantle Iran’s program.

“I spoke last night with President [Barack] Obama. We agreed that in the coming days an Israeli team led by the national security adviser, Yossi Cohen, will go out to discuss with the United States the permanent accord with Iran,” Netanyahu told members of his Likud party.

Taking a gander at our own Critters’ actions… Interim deal on Iran splits Congress on new sanctions

And, I mustn’t leave out Bandar Bush… Why Saudi Arabia Doesn’t Trust the Iran Deal, Either

However, the EU had chimed in today…Brussels satisfied with Iran nuclear deal

Meanwhile, in Tel Aviv… Wary of war, Israeli public gives Iran deal a chance

Here’s a great primer on what looms ahead… Four Emerging Myths About the Iran, P5+1 Deal.

Now, getting to the root of the real problem in Israel and the MENA… Israel-Palestine: Enough Negotiations Already!

Moving along to Karzai’s latest demands…

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AfPak, Egypt, Israel, P5+1 and Turkey

7:33 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

At the end of that Press TV interview, it would appear that Karzai’s little snit over delaying the signing, is all about his handgroomed Prez candidate and Washington’s preferred puppet…! Now, in eating some crow, by thinking that we couldn’t possibly have bought off the entire Loya Jirga, I was sorely mistaken…

Loya Jirga Head Rejects Karzai Demand to Delay U.S. Pact Signing

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s demand to delay the signing of a security pact with the U.S. until after April’s presidential vote is unacceptable and will harm the country, the head of a council of tribal elders said.

Karzai has “no right” to delay the signing of the accord that would pave the way for a continued American presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, chairman of the loya jirga council called by the president, said yesterday.

“Every demand of Mr. Karzai and ours have been practiced and accepted by them,” Mojaddedi told reporters in front of the council’s compound in Kabul.

…After that, the agreement would have to be signed by both countries before it’s ratified by Afghanistan’s parliament and signed into law by Karzai, according to two U.S. officials who briefed reporters Nov. 21 on condition of not being identified discussing the process.

Karzai’s public show of toughness is a throwback to his stance ahead of a 2011 loya jirga to consider the U.S.-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement, said Jawid Kohistani, a Kabul-based political and security analyst. The legally binding agreement was signed in 2012.

The president’s speech ahead of the council that year was similarly combative, Kohistani said. Karzai then backed down and signed after that loya jirga gave him “political cover.”

“It will be interesting to see if he now allows himself to be persuaded by the council and moderates his tone, as he did then.”

Anthony Cordesman wrote a very sober analysis of what’s at stake…

Just the Beginning: Afghanistan Troop Deal Prelude to Another Half Decade of War

The current debate over a bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan disguises far more serious challenges in the years to come. The BSA is a necessary first step in creating the conditions for United States troops to stay in Afghanistan and function there. But even if Afghan President Hamid Karzai can be persuaded to stop manipulating the issue in an effort to gain domestic political support, it is only a prelude to the real challenges the U.S. faces in staying in Afghanistan.

First, the United States must make hard choices as to how many U.S. troops it will keep in country, their role as advisors and enablers to the Afghan forces and how much money it is willing to pay to keep the Afghan forces combat capable. Senior U.S. officers have said it will take some 11,000 to 13,600 U.S. and allied troops to support Afghan military and police forces through at least 2016, and these estimates seem all too accurate given the problems in Afghan forces — particularly the police elements. It will also take some $3 billion to $5 billion in aid, although all of this aid does not have to come from the U.S.

The U.S. will also be advising forces that cannot now defeat the Taliban, Haqqani Network and other insurgents. They can only create a layered defense that may be able to secure most population centers and key lines of communication. U.S. combat forces will leave a nation very much at war, and the U.S. cannot predict how much aid and assistance Afghanistan will need…

Please read the entire article…! In other noteworthy Af/Pak news… The ruling parties in northwestern Pakistan have blocked the supply lines of US-led forces.

Moving along to the P5+1 negotiations… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Bibi, Karzai, and, the P5+1

1:45 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Mere hours after the ink dried on that Security Pact, in which Kerry assured… No combat role for US forces in Afghanistan, Karzai threw a hard fastball right under Kerry’s voluminous jowls…

United States gives Afghanistan year-end deadline for crucial security deal

Karzai’s surprise move, which came just a day after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the pact’s language had been agreed upon, suddenly threw its future into question and seemed certain to reignite tensions with Washington.

…In a statement certain to irritate the United States, which is eager to clinch the deal as soon as possible, Karzai told the assembly any agreement on the status of U.S. forces would have to wait until after a presidential election in April.

“This pact should be signed when the election has already taken place, properly and with dignity,” Karzai, who cannot run in the 2014 vote under the constitution, told the elders…

A senior Afghan official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Karzai intended to leave the pact unsigned until he is sure the international community will not interfere in the election. Karzai’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi, confirmed that, adding that the grand assembly and parliament also had to approve the pact.

“Once we are assured of peace and security, and transparent elections, then President Karzai will sign this pact after the election if this is approved by the Loya Jirga and passed by the parliament,” Faizi said.

He did not explain how Karzai intended to sign the document after a new president had been elected.

Karzai has appeared wary of being too closely associated with the security agreement, which would formally invite foreign forces to stay in Afghanistan.

“President Karzai just doesn’t want to own the agreement,” said Kate Clark of the Kabul-based Afghanistan Analysts Network think tank. “He kept handing the responsibility for agreeing or not agreeing to the agreement to the people in the hall, to the delegates of the Loya Jirga.”

Once a weasel politician, always a politician…! Speaking of which…

Obama Promises To Respect ‘Dignity’ of Afghans If U.S. Troops Stay

President promises U.S. troops won’t enter Afghan homes except under ‘extraordinary circumstances’

President Barack Obama sent a letter to President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday, striking an empathetic and diplomatic note about how American troops will conduct themselves in Afghanistan, as the two countries near an agreement for a continuing U.S. presence there.

In the days before the U.S. and Afghanistan agreed on language for a bilateral agreement to keep U.S. troops in the country for at least another decade, there were reports that the Afghan government would demand an apology for the suffering of the Afghan people during military operations. Obama’s letter stopped short of that, but promised to treat Afghans with “dignity.”

“Over time, and especially in the recent past, we have redoubled our efforts to ensure that Afghan homes are respected by our forces and that our operations are conducted consistent with your law,” Obama said in his letter(6pg PDF), which was posted on the Afghan government’s website. “We will continue to make every effort to respect the sanctity and dignity of Afghans in their homes and daily lives, just as we do for our own citizens.”

Obama promised that under the new agreement, U.S. forces would not enter Afghan homes for military operations, except under “extraordinary circumstances involving urgent risk to life and limb of U.S. nationals.” One of the chief complaints among Afghans has been the practice of “night raids” where coalition troops enter homes in the middle of the night searching for suspected insurgents.

Now, if y’all believe that, I’ve got a slighty used bridge for sale, real cheap…!

Let’s look at what the WH had to say about it, Stateside…

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Breakthrough Imminent? Edition

7:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

It seems that we’re about to see a pivotal shift in International Relations, fully exposing our misbegotten Foreign Policy, all within the next couple of days…!

Starting, alphabetically, with Afghanistan…

Afghanistan rejects provision of US security pact

Afghanistan has rejected a key provision of a security pact with the United States that would allow the US forces to stay in the country beyond 2014.

A spokesman for the Afghan President Hamid Karzai insisted that the government would not allow the US military forces to enter people’s homes after the end of combat operations in 2014.

He emphasized on Karzai’s position that he would not accept any agreement allowing US forces to enter Afghan homes for “the purpose of aggression.”

Karzai and other high-ranking Afghan officials have repeatedly expressed their opposition to such US attacks on Afghan homes.

American and Afghan representatives are working on compiling a draft of the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement to present it to the Loya Jirga, a traditional Afghan assembly of elders consisting of some 3,000 Afghan tribal leaders from all over the country.

The assembly will consider the deal on Thursday. If the assembly agrees, the deal will be sent to the parliament for final ratification.

Here’s some analysis and commentary on the impending Loya Jirga in Kabul, from both: Jim White and DSWright…!

Shifting gears back to Iran and the P5+1 talks…

I had to laugh when I saw this Israeli op-ed…

Sorry, the French won’t save us from Iran

Israel media tempers excitement over the French president’s visit, and reports on political maneuvering within the Knesset

Despite the excitement around the visit of French President Francois Hollande to discuss, among other subjects, the Iranian nuclear program, and the gratitude in Israel for France’s tough stance on a potential deal with Tehran, some Israeli commentators argue that any optimism should be tempered.

“Hollande split into three” during his visit, writes Israel Hayom’s Boaz Bismuth. “First there was the Israeli Hollande, the one who spoke about Iran as if he were the Israeli prime minister. Yesterday was the Palestinian Hollande, who spoke as if he were Abbas. Today we will have the third Hollande, the salesman who is trying to increase the French economic presence in Israel…The change in American policy in the Middle East and the Iranian threat are causing the French to suddenly dream that for the first time in history… they will be able to be a friend of the Israelis and a friend of the Palestinians.”

I suppose it’s starting to dawn on Bibi that the jig is up…

Netanyahu takes Iran’s nuclear campaign to Kremlin

At odds with ally Washington over terms of an emerging international nuclear agreement with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will on Wednesday take his campaign against the deal to Moscow.

“We’d like them to have a better understanding of our concerns and the need to prevent Iran from having a breakout capacity,” an Israeli official told AFP ahead of the trip.

“A breakout capacity means that they have the capability to develop a nuclear weapon at a time and a place of their choosing in the future,” the official said.

So, while Bibi is reading headlines like this in Tel Aviv… Iranian Jews Protest in Favor of Nuclear Program! On the other side of the pond, Bloomberg had this to say… Iran Nuclear Deal Sought in Geneva Following Israeli Objections

And, sticking to this side of the pond, McClatchy, reports…

Obama tries to ward off new sanctions against Iran

“What we are suggesting, both to the Israelis, to members of Congress here, to the international community, but also to the Iranians, is ‘Let’s look, let’s test the proposition that over the next six months we can resolve this in a diplomatic fashion,’ ” the president said. “I think that is a test that is worth conducting.”

Obama said the proposal would require Iran to halt advances on its nuclear program, as well as roll back elements that get it closer what he called a “breakout capacity, where they can run for a weapon before the international community has a chance to react.” The regime would be subject to more vigorous inspections, in some cases daily, the president said.

Some Democratic and Republican lawmakers, encouraged by intense pro-Israel lobbying, are moving to stiffen sanctions against Iran, a move that Obama said would undermine the Geneva talks.

Obama even trotted out NSA Susan Rice to allay the Warhawks’ bloodthirst…

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AIPAC, The Grey Lady, Iran, and the P5+1

10:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

In Salon today, Patrick Smith, wrote an excellent rant…

Chomsky’s right: The New York Times’ latest big lie

More misleading half-truths from a paper too cowed by power and myth to tell the truth about U.S. foreign policy

…In this case, we have the irresponsible use of inverted commas, as the Brits say, to shape national opinion on a question of vital importance. The question is Iran. And now to the supine, corrupted and corrupting organ.

You have taken a wild guess, and you are right. We have our familiar problem with our friends on Eighth Avenue, the New York Times, faithful servants of the sanctioned orthodoxy. I give these folks an “A” for clever disguise this time, and I flunk them in the professional ethics class. Simply shameful, this round of reckless chicanery…

Here is the situation.

As all know, a deal with Iran over its nuclear program is the biggest game going these days — an historic opportunity, as previously asserted in this space. Fumble this, and the Obama administration will go down as hopelessly moronic on the foreign-relations side.

You may know, too, that a round of talks between six world powers and the Iranians just hit a pothole. It is essential to understand why.

The paradox is apparent, not real. Knowing why reveals what a nation with imperial ambitions looks like when it is nearing exhaustion and would rather decline than shape up, re-imagine itself, and take a new and constructive place in the global community. Not knowing why encourages Americans to preserve their righteous self-image even as the moths of history chew holes in it…

As Gareth Porter, reported recently about that ‘Last Moment’ draft…

Russian Foreign Minister Reveals Amended Draft Circulated at ‘Last Moment’

…Lavrov said the United States circulated a draft that had been amended in response to French demands to other members of the six-power P5+1 for approval “literally at the last moment, when we were about to leave Geneva.”

Lavrov’s revelation, which has thus far been ignored by major news outlets, came in a news conference in Cairo Thursday that was largely devoted to Egypt and Syria. Lavrov provided the first real details about the circumstances under which Iran left Geneva without agreeing to the draft presented by the P5+1…

Lavrov noted that unlike previous meetings involving the P5+1 and Iran, “This time, the P5+1 group did not formulate any joint document.”

As Pepe Escobar wrote…

France clueless on Iran

Here is definitive proof – if any was needed – that the Gallic fit-throwing that burned the possibility of an interim Iranian nuclear deal last week in Geneva was completely pointless.

The key “concern” expressed by Israel-firster French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to derail an interim deal was about the Arak heavy-water reactor.

Well, UN inspectors this week reported that they had detected no new developments in Arak over the three months since August. [1]

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, was also in Tehran on Monday, and – unusually for his trademark paperboy role for Washington – had nothing to complain about.

Fabius used the Arak gambit at the last minute in Geneva to derail the talks, provoking the ire of even fellow European diplomats. That was out of pure disinformation; Tehran was already doing what Fabius insisted they were not doing.

A EU diplomat (non-French) confirmed to Asia Times Online that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had already informed US Secretary of State John Kerry about these euphemistically defined “confidence-building measures”. Kerry was fully aware before he landed in Geneva on his way to sign an interim deal.

But guess what: the French were clueless. Kerry did not tell anybody else on the P5+1 table (comprising the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany) because he feared any leaks. This proves once again that this infinitely complex negotiation is really between Washington and Tehran. Russia and China are behaving – so far – as sort of quiet (and wary) observers. Yet Kerry, Francophile that he is, should have know better about Gallic peacock instincts.

Meanwhile, there’s a Battle Royal happening in the Halls of Congress and DC…

To be sure… From Foreign Policy’s The Cable… Read the rest of this entry →