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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

‘In the Land of the Blind’

6:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Dr. Phil delivered a most righteous rant today…

In the Land of the Blind

…If there was ever a blatant example of U.S. government hypocrisy, this was it: a mass murderer presenting a medal to another mass murderer. Wage war for humanitarian reasons but kill the children. Promote the freedom of the Internet but secretly make it a weapon of war and figure out how to shut it down. All in a day’s work in the Imperial City.

The American exceptionalism being boasted about by Republicans and Democrats alike is at the root of aberrant political class behavior, visible to anyone who cares to look. In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, but in today’s America even the man with one eye is lacking. It is clear to the world that there is no limit to Washington’s hypocrisy, but the media and Congress march briskly forward with the White House promoting a policy of war by other means all the time and everywhere. It is a recipe for disaster, which has already borne fruit in terms of lost liberties, a shattered economy, and a sharp decline in most countries’ respect for the American government and people. That a president can declare secret war on a country that does not threaten it, that the federal government can create mechanisms to attack the entire world electronically while at the same time making plans for depriving its own people of the ability to share ideas and thoughts freely is disgraceful. And awarding the highest civilian medal to a self-proclaimed baby killer who epitomizes the decay of our republic should be a moment of shame rather than celebration.

Emptywheel expanded further on what truly ails us… Gang Warfare to Protect Israel’s Secrets…

Now, Syria is a tougher nut to crack, from Asia Times…

Syria: America versus Israel

…Instead of heeding the advice of these two hawkish senators, the Obama administration should pursue a more realist foreign policy vis-a-vis Syria that prioritizes stability. Unquestionably, the headaches that this regime has caused many US administrations explain the political motivations behind Obama’s direct and indirect support for Syria’s Islamist opposition. However, the lessons of blowback should be remembered, for the United States armed radical forces on many occasions to advance larger geopolitical interests only to regret such alliances later.

Preventing the Syrian state from collapsing and protecting the region from the chaos that could result should be Washington’s top priority. This does not mean ignoring the human rights abuses of the Assad regime or the armed Syrian opposition. Rather, Washington should continue to work with regional actors such as Turkey and Iran along with Russia and China to find a political solution that holds all actors responsible for the lives lost and identifies a political solution that brings about peace, stability, and justice. The Middle East doesn’t need another Iraq War or post-war crisis.

Just to be sure, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, said today…

SCO opposes intervention in Syria, Iran

…China, Russia and four former Soviet republics in central Asia said Thursday they oppose military intervention in Syria and Iran, and regime change in Syria.

The opposition came in a statement released by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on the final day of its summit in Beijing, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.

In the statement, the countries called for “dialogues that respect Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” CNN reported.

The statement came as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday in Istanbul, Turkey — where she was attending a counterterrorism conference — that “Syria will not, cannot be peaceful, stable or certainly democratic until Assad goes.”…

…The four former Soviet republics — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — joined Russia and China in opposing military intervention or forced regime change in Syria.

The leaders of the six SCO countries said they oppose military intervention in response to Iran’s nuclear program.

“We believe any attempts to resolve the Iranian issue by force are unacceptable,” the SCO statement said. “Such attempts could lead to unpredictably serious consequences, which would threaten stability and security in the region and the entire world.”…

Now, don’t ya suppose all those ‘Stans and/or Russia could strand, all our Boyz in Afghanistan, just as easily as Pakistan has… (Gee, and I wonder why they’re so pissed…?)!

*gah*

by CTuttle

The ‘Eager Lion’ Roars…

6:40 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

“If you want peace, you prepare for peace. If you want war, you prepare for war.” ~Dennis Kucinich in House floor testimony against HR 4310 and sec.’s 1221 and 1222 …

Straight from the Lions’ den… Eager Lion commanders hold press conference…

The generals addressed topics ranging from the number of countries participating to the exercise’s focus on irregular warfare.

They also clarified that the exercise has no connection with any real-world events, including the unrest in Syria.

This exercise does not target anyone – none of the neighboring or world countries,” Edwan said.

“The message that I want to send from this exercise is that we have developed great partners throughout the region and really from across the world that have the same interest and that is ensuring that we have the ability to operate together when called upon by our nations’ leadership to meet challenges that are common to our nations,” Tovo said.

There are 19 nations participating in Eager Lion 12 which include: Australia, Bahrain, Brunei, Egypt, France, Italy, Iraq, Jordan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Qatar, Spain, Romania, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States…

Remember, It’s all just a ‘coincidence’

…Experts in the region said the exercises were most certainly more than just building bridges between different countries.

Report: Syria rebels get better weapons as US boosts support

“You can’t honestly say that there is not a message when you get 19 nations together in multilateral force less than 50 miles away from the Syrian border,” Michael Stephens of London-based military and security think tank RUSI told msnbc.com from Qatar.

“There is no possible reason as to why the Americans wouldn’t want a joint operation held close to Syria,” he added. “It enhances deterrence (and) the Americans could’ve quietened it down if they wanted to.”

Media reports in Jordan claimed that the exercises were a message not only to Syria but Iran.

Syria violence spills into streets of Lebanon’s Tripoli

However, American and Jordanian military officials strenuously denied that there were operations taking place close to Syria.

It’s not about Syria, it’s just a pure coincidence,” U.S. Central Command Maj. Robert Bockholt told msnbc.com from Jordan. “Eager Lion 12 has been pre-planned.“…

Now, seriously, where is that proverbial carrot of ‘diplomacy’ again, Miz Starr started off with…? It’s been nothing but stick, I mean really… US Officials: IAEA-Iran Deal Won’t Interrupt Sanctions…

And, straight from the horse’s ass mouth… U.S. to keep heat on Iran over nuclear work – W.House…

Meanwhile, hot off the AP wire… UN nuclear chief : Deal with Iran reached on probe…

…Amano’s talks included Jalili as well as Iran’s foreign minister and other officials including the head of Iran’s nuclear agency, Fereidoun Abbasi.

Iranian lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahtpisheh told The Associated Press on Monday that Tehran will likely accept more inspections of Parchin “if it feels there is good will within the (IAEA).”

But Falahtpisheh warned that this new openness will likely come with expectations that the West would in return ease international sanctions on Iran.

“In opening up to more inspections, Iran aims at lowering the crisis over its nuclear case,” he said. “But if the sanctions continue, Iran would stop this.”

A political analyst in Tehran, Hamid Reza Shokouhi, said Iran is carefully watching to see if the West shows more “flexibility and pays attention to Iranian demands” during Amano’s trip.

“Then Iran will show flexibility, too,” Shokouhi said…

I wouldn’t hold my breath…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

UN’s IAEA Report to ‘Suggest’ Iran Nuclear Weapons Work

6:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the BBC today…

The UN’s atomic watchdog is planning to reveal evidence that Iran has been working secretly to develop a nuclear weapons capability, diplomats say.

The evidence is said to include intelligence that Iran made computer models of a nuclear warhead.

Iranian officials say the International Atomic Energy Agency report, due next week, is a fabrication.

Israeli officials have said a military option to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons is drawing nearer.

Diplomats, speaking anonymously, have been briefing journalists on the IAEA’s next quarterly report on Iran.

They said the report would also include satellite images of what the IAEA believes is a large steel container used for high-explosives tests related to nuclear arms…

Of next week’s report, one Western diplomat told Reuters news agency: “There are bits of it which clearly can only be for clandestine nuclear purposes. It is a compelling case.“…

Israeli President Shimon Peres, when asked by Israeli television if “something was bringing us closer to a military option rather than a diplomatic one“, he replied: “I believe so.”

He continued: “I estimate that intelligence services of all these countries are looking at the ticking clock, warning leaders that there was not much time left“….

In otherwords, Aluminum tubes and Yellowcake grade fabrications ‘intel’ there, folks…!

Arms Control Wonk has already disproved some of the IAEA’s latest assertions, like a Syrian Spinning Factory in Hisaka, actually being a fabric company, and not harboring centrifuges for heavy water…! Some simple Journalistic gumshoe work blew that one out of the water…! Fancy that…!

Now, get a load of this Yahoo…

Israel May Attack Iran and Obama is Not Happy About It

Rumors that Israel is poised to attack Iran’s nuclear installations, exacerbated by the recent test of a Jericho long range missile capable of hitting that country, have gotten Obama administration officials worried.

They are not worried Iran will develop a nuclear weapon or if the administration is it is not saying. A military official recently stated the Obama administration is worried Israel will strike Iran without consulting it first.

There is a good reason for Israel to attack Iran without asking permission of President Barack Obama. He would try to stop it…

There is, however, an excellent reason why Israel should attack Iran. If Iran gets a nuclear weapon and places it on a missile or even smuggles it close to Israel on a ship, it will use that weapon to commit genocide against the Jewish people.

Obama has placed himself in an unfortunate position by acting hostile and even petty toward Israel while practicing appeasement with Iran. A more sensible American government, say that of President George W. Bush, could talk to Israel, dissuade it from doing something desperate, but also reassure the tiny Jewish state that should an attack be necessary, American forces would participate. Obama has thrown away that capability. Israel has no assurance that if it came down to it, American military forces would attack Iran on the behalf of Israel and the Islamist country’s other neighbors. So, as it has many times before, Israel finds itself alone…

Unfortunately this means that a match is going to be set to the Middle East, likely just in time for the 2012 elections. So much for smart diplomacy.

That folks, is the sort of mindset that has dominated the discourse on Iran for decades…! Cyrus Safdari posted some of the ‘Greatest Hits’ over the past 18 yrs…

Israel about to bomb Iran – after 18 years of speculation and sabre-rattling??

They say Americans have 20-second attention spans so it easy to mislead and spook them over and over again by keeping people in a constant confused state of fear and insecurity — and we’re certainly in one of those cycles now about a supposed Israeli attack on Iran. But some of us have longer memories and have a terrible habit of keeping old news clippings , and so we can see through this repetition of hype.

So, I was curious just how long we’ve been fed this ceaseless hype and speculation about the ever-imminent Israeli attack on Iran (which the US media automatically labels as being “pre-emptive,” when it most certainly is not.)

Well, turns out that I have at least 18 years worth of such reports about an imminent Israeli strike on Iran saved up, averaging about 1 such report for every 2-3 months. Below are some these reports arranged by date, going back to the mid-1990 – the same BS, over and over again. And just for more context, I’ve also included here the repeated claims about how Iran just so close to getting nukes (marked with a bolded, red *asterisks*) just to give you an idea of how long THAT claim has also been fed to us…

I’ve been railing against this very same IAEA, or otherwise, bullsh*t for years, here’s a pertinent one I’d wrote earlier this year… IAEA Claims ‘New Info’ On Iranian Nukes… Sound familiar…?

Meanwhile, right next door to Iran, we have a real nuke crisis…

Pakistan Carts Its Nukes Around In Delivery Vans…

God Help us all…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Despite The Deluge Our Drones Continue To Rain Down Terror In Pakistan

2:47 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Rather than dropping food, water and medical supplies, we’re dropping hellfire missiles! When we have the golden opportunity to alleviate the pain and suffering, we’re only exacerbating it…!

From Uruknet…

…A US drone fired four missiles on two vehicles in the Shaidano Dand area of Kurram on Friday night.

At least six people are reported dead, but the toll is expected to rise as more villagers trapped under the rubble of a building are discovered.

According to local residents, the drones were still carrying out aerial flights over the area after the initial attack, creating panic among people.

Since August 2008, over 1,000 have died in raids by US drones which have frequently targeted South and North Waziristan—areas which have been heavily affected by the recent floods.

If the Nato forces in neighbouring Afghanistan were to divert even a fraction of their efforts towards humanitarian relief many thousands of lives could be saved. But it seems that the ‘war on terror’ is far too important for that.

That is sure to win over the ‘hearts and minds’ of the Pakistanis…!

As Mark LeVine wrote recently…

The real war on ‘terror’ must begin

More broadly, how do you help the sixth most populous country in the world – with 170 million people – recover from a flood that literally submerged one-third of the nation under water, while, in a cruel twist of fate, leaving many without fresh drinking water?…

…But today a new ‘war on terror’ must begin – one that demands a commitment of attention, resources, and expertise far exceeding that devoted to the now outdated war. Failing to do this will result in a rise in extremism on a potentially unparalleled scale…

…Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, has seen plenty of major disasters, but after flying across the flood-hit country he declared, visibly shaken, that he has “never seen a disaster as bad”…

…If an unprecedented relief effort on a scale that at least equals the amount of resources devoted to the other ‘war on terror’ is not mounted soon, an unfathomable level of anger and desperation will develop, with consequences that are impossible to predict.

‘Militant’ organisations are already on the ground handing out food and supplies, while the Pakistani government, as usual, stumbles – its hugely expensive army ill-equipped or trained to take on such a massive rescue operation.

As Al Jazeera noted "Pakistan army leads relief drive." But concludes that it has been overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the disaster.

As Jim White had noted last Sunday: "US Charitable Donations Lag…" Yet, tragically, our US Taxpayer dollars are only exacerbating the Pakistanis’ plight…!

*gah*

Btw, Don’t Forget To Donate…! I’d like to add these fine folk too…!

by CTuttle

“I fell prey to a conspiracy…I was misquoted by the media.”

10:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Hmmm… Don’t you just love it when the truth just slips out

Q All right. And I want to talk, of course, about another issue that has come up and again — (inaudible) — about the phone security companies(sic) that have been operating in Iraq, in Afghanistan and now in Pakistan. Xe International, formerly known as Blackwater or Data Corp. Under what rules are they operating here in Pakistan?

SEC. GATES: Well, they’re operating as individual companies here in Pakistan in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Because they are theaters of war involving the United States, there are rules concerning the contracting companies. If they’re contracting with us or with the State Department here in Pakistan, then there are very clear rules set forth by the State Department and by ourselves.

Q Which were, of course, set aside by the government in Iraq.

SEC. GATES: Well, that was a long time ago.

Q Okay. But is there a separate set of rules in place right now?

SEC. GATES: I would say they are very stringent rules.

Oopsie…

Pentagon backtracks after Gates ‘admits’ Blackwater operating in Pakistan

The Pentagon has gone into damage control mode after Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeared to confirm that security contractor Blackwater is operating in Pakistan.

The admission, quickly denied by Defense Department officials, has set fire to long-simmering rumors inside Pakistan about the involvement of for-profit contractors in the war against the Taliban.

Not just the Pentagon…

No Blackwater in Pakistan, says Malik

* Interior minister challenges those claiming Blackwater’s presence to prove it through documentary evidence

Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Saturday denied the presence of the Blackwater security agency in Pakistan, adding that US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has stated that he was misquoted by the media when they said that he had admitted to Blackwater’s presence in the country.

Talking to reporters after the hand-over ceremony of explosives scanners to Islamabad police at the Islamabad Sports Complex, he termed the reports regarding presence of Blackwater in the country “part of a conspiracy”.

Referring to the US defence secretary’s statement that Blackwater was operating as an individual company in Pakistan, Malik said Gates had told him, “I fell prey to a conspiracy…I was misquoted by the media”.

Challenged: Categorically ruling out the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan, he said, “I state again with full responsibility, and according to the available record, there is no Blackwater in the country. It is just hype being created by certain elements”.

Don’t believe the hype…

A senior minister from the NWFP Bashir Ahmed Bilour on Friday confirmed the presence of Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater, in the NWFP.

Bilour further disclosed that not only do Blackwater officials exist in the NWFP, they have also been imparting training to Pakistanis.

However, he added, that Blackwater is operating in a limited capacity in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira also acknowledged the presence of US security agencies in Pakistan after several months of denial.

Some more hype…

The US contractor Blackwater is operating in Pakistan at a secret CIA airfield used for launching drone attacks, according to a former US official, despite repeated government denials that the company is in the country.

The official, who had direct knowledge of the operation, said that employees with Blackwater, now renamed Xe Services, patrol the area round the Shamsi airbase in Baluchistan province.

He also confirmed that Blackwater employees help to load laser-guided Hellfire missiles on to CIA-operated drones that target al-Qaida members suspected of hiding in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions, confirming information that surfaced in the US media in the summer.

Ironically that Guardian article was written prior to the Khost tragedy, also this Grey Lady article…

Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret C.I.A. Raids

…Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred. Instead of simply providing security for C.I.A. officers, they say, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield.

So tell me that after the Khost tragedy we’re not vowing revenge

CIA deaths prompt surge in US drone strikes

Beginning the day after the attack on a CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan, the agency has carried out 11 strikes that have killed about 90 people suspected of being militants, according to Pakistani news reports, which make almost no mention of civilian casualties. The assault has included strikes on a mud fortress in North Waziristan on January 6 that killed 17 people and a volley of missiles on a compound in South Waziristan last Sunday that killed at least 20.

“For the CIA, there is certainly an element of wanting to show that they can hit back,” said Bill Roggio, editor of The Long War Journal, an online publication that tracks the CIA’s drone campaign. Roggio, as well as Pakistani and American intelligence officials, said many of the recent strikes had focused on the Pakistani Taliban and its leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, who claimed responsibility for the Khost bombing.

With a whole lot more to follow…

What the f*ck are we doing…?