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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: AIPAC, CIA, the Deep State, and, the House of Saud

11:45 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Anatomy of the Deep State

Rome lived upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face. Industry is the only true source of wealth, and there was no industry in Rome. By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and muleteers, carrying to the great city the silks and spices of the East, the marble of Asia Minor, the timber of the Atlas, the grain of Africa and Egypt; and the carts brought out nothing but loads of dung. That was their return cargo.

– The Martyrdom of Man by Winwood Reade (1871)

There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power. [1]

During the last five years, the news media has been flooded with pundits decrying the broken politics of Washington. The conventional wisdom has it that partisan gridlock and dysfunction have become the new normal. That is certainly the case, and I have been among the harshest critics of this development. But it is also imperative to acknowledge the limits of this critique as it applies to the American governmental system. On one level, the critique is self-evident: In the domain that the public can see, Congress is hopelessly deadlocked in the worst manner since the 1850s, the violently rancorous decade preceding the Civil War. {…}

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude. [2]

Diplomacy Is a Four Letter Word

Now, the Deep State also caters to AIPAC’s every whim…

Example #1…

Israel’s ideas about Iran ‘important’ for Washington: Top US negotiator

As Gareth Porter reported…

U.S. Adopts Israeli Demand to Bring Iran’s Missiles into Nuclear Talks

…White House spokesman Jay Carney highlighted the new U.S. demand in a statement Wednesday that the Iranians “have to deal with matters related to their ballistic missile program.”

Carney cited United Nations Security Council resolution 1929, approved in 2010, which prohibited any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including missile launches. “So that’s completely agreed by Iran in the Joint Plan of Action,” he added.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif not only explicitly contradicted Carney’s claim that Iran had agreed to discuss ballistic missiles but warned that a U.S. demand for discussion of its missile programme would violate a red line for Iran.

“Nothing except Iran’s nuclear activities will be discussed in the talks with the [six powers known as the P5+1], and we have agreed on it,” he said, according to Iran’s IRNA. Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, Israel, and Turkey

4:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

After a month-long hiatus, I felt it was high time that I should resume my mashups…!

Egypt is still a mess… At least 265 arrested in crackdown on Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

So with Sisi arresting the MB… Enter the Muslim Sisterhood

Col. Lang provides some insights…

Many people want to say that you can’t suppress political movements successfully. When they say that, they are wrong. The MB is finished in Egypt for at least a generation. Their bold faced attempt to write a new constitution that would have made Egypt a sharia law state was their undoing. Everyone except the R2P ladies understood the full import of what the MB was trying to do and all the while smiling and smiling and smiling. Westernized Egyptians, women generally, the military itself, the Israelis, and everyone in Egypt who stood to be the ruled and not the ruling, in MB Egypt came to understand what their lives would be like if Mursi succeeded…

The problem is that the MB will not go quietly into the night…!

Moving along to Israel…

Seriously, as Bibi just became the longest serving PM, there never was a ‘Peace Plan’… Ben Gurion Foresaw Palestinian Expulsion in 1937

The ever-intrepid Max Blumenthal hammers the point home… ‘Time is running out’: The peace process and the fierce urgency of never

So finally…

PA Official Calls for ‘Smart Resistance’ Against Israel

Nabil Shaath predicts that peace talks will fail, says the PA should then resort to pursuing statehood through the UN.

Of course the Peace Talks will fail, Bibi, all but ensures it…!

Case in point… Israel’s new settlements will coincide with the release of Palestinian prisoners

It’s insane to see Bibi even bring up Pollard once again, and Kerry Offered Pollard Release to Israel

Moving along to the sordid Turkish affair…

From the WaPo… How Erdoğan has reshaped Turkish politics, and what it means for current corruption scandal

The fallout from the anti-corruption investigation in Turkey that began Dec. 17 continues to unfold rapidly. Much of the focus has rightly been on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. As the head of the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP, or Justice and Development Party) that has dominated Turkish politics for the past 11 years, Erdoğan’s role in Turkish policymaking has been all but unchallenged until now.

Leaders who see themselves as infallible and who have no institutional constraints on their ability to make policy don’t leave power willingly. This can include leaders elected democratically. They weaken political institutions in their campaign to fend off challengers and remain in office. So whether or not Erdoğan survives is less important for Turkey than the damage being done to Turkish institutions, which in turn poses a real challenge for American interests in the Middle East that depend heavily on a strong Turkey. {…}

Erdoğan set about adapting the institutions of Turkish politics. He amended the Constitution (a process that had begun under previous governments) and the legal system, and he shifted the balance in the national security decision-making process in favor of civilians over security officials. All of this was consistent with the process of democratization, and made the political system more democratic.

But there was a darker side to this process. While removing the army from politics, Erdoğan also undermined the ability of any actor or agency to dissent from his authority or to criticize it. Over the last few years, Erdoğan has seen himself as the embodiment of the Turkish state and Turkish identity. His comments during the Gezi Park protests alongside his scolding of Turks on their morals and demands about their personal behavior are part of this. Without any institutional constraints on his policy, some argue he has become as authoritarian as the army he has replaced.

This makes the current struggle over the corruption scandals so consequential. It is one part tug-of-war between the two main elements of Turkey’s Islamist-conservative movement, the AKP and the Gülenist movement (also known as Hizmet, or the Service), one part Erdoğan responding to what he sees as illegitimate criticism of his rule.

From FP…

Iran’s Turkish Gold Rush

At the center of Turkey’s corruption scandal is a “gas for gold” scheme that the Obama administration dragged its feet on stopping.

More analysis on the corruption clusterf*ck…

Make No Mistake About It: The Storm Has Hit in Turkey

To be sure… Turkey’s Erdoğan Will Probably Hang in There. The Economy May Not

In wrapping up, two worthy links…

A Long Ferment in the Middle East

And… All in play in the New Great Game

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou…!

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 →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Israeli Intransigence, the IAEA, and Iran

4:50 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Seriously, pups, the Peace Farce is officially over…

Official: No new peace talks planned

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have no immediate plans to hold new talks, after the Palestinian negotiating team offered its resignation in protest of Israeli settlement plans.

A PLO official told Ma’an on Wednesday that the US-brokered talks were suspended in practice, with no date set for a new round of negotiations.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that President Mahmoud Abbas would attempt to coax his two senior negotiators into returning but it was unclear if they would.

The negotiators, Saeb Erekat and Muhammad Shtayyeh, tendered their resignations last week after Israel announced plans to step up settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, Abbas told Egyptian CBC television that he would keep negotiating with Israel even if the officials declined to rejoin the talks.

“Either we can convince it to return, and we’re trying with them, or we form a new delegation,” he said, according to Reuters.

Reuters TV quoted Erekat as confirming the talks were frozen.

“In reality, the negotiations stopped last week in light of the settlement announcements last week,” he said.

From the UN…

Settlement plans threaten renewed hopes for Israeli-Palestinian peace, UN envoy warns

A senior United Nations official today voiced his growing concern at the series of settlement announcements made by Israel over the past weeks and stressed the need to avoid actions that negatively impact ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

“At this sensitive moment, it is imperative to avoid negative actions and support ongoing talks to preserve the remaining chances of achieving a two-State solution in the interest of Israelis and Palestinians alike,” said a statement issued by the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, who also voiced his deep concern at recent violent incidents.

On Tuesday, Israel reportedly announced plans to build 20,000 new settler homes in the West Bank, prompting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to threaten an end to peace talks that resumed a few months ago after a three-year hiatus.

The statement by Mr. Serry noted that settlement activity cannot be reconciled with the goal of a negotiated two-State solution, and reiterated the UN position that settlements are against international law and an obstacle to peace.

Against this backdrop, the Special Coordinator met today separately with the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

“He understands from his discussion with chief negotiator [Tzipi] Livni and other Israeli officials that yesterday’s decision to plan a large number of settlement units has been stopped,” said the statement.

Direct talks between the Israeli and Palestinian sides resumed this past August, after stalling in 2010 owing to Israel’s refusal to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.

I very much doubt that ‘sudden’ reversal in Bibi’s settlement schemes…

Netanyahu vows to build ‘thousands more homes’ in settlements

A day after forcing the Construction and Housing Ministry to “reconsider” preliminary work toward building 24,000 housing units beyond the Green Line, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that building in settlements would continue, but had to be done wisely.

“In recent months, we built thousands of homes in Judea and Samaria, and in the coming months we plan to build thousands more,” Netanyahu said in a Knesset debate on housing prices. “It was never easy, but we did it responsibly despite international pressure.”

Continuing along with Bibi’s perfidy…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Prism of Pain, GWOT, and, the US-Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act

10:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

C’mon, pups, we’re clearly losing the R2P ‘Hearts and Mind’ campaign in the MENA…!

The World Through Arab Eyes: Arab Public Opinion and the Reshaping of the Middle East

… His findings sometimes reflect significant differences in the opinions in these countries but more often demonstrate basic commonalities. At a time when some pundits see crises in Syria and elsewhere leading to the marginalization of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the region’s politics, Telhami forcefully pulls readers back to it, labeling it a “prism of pain” through which Arab publics view the region — even if their leaders do not. Arabs overwhelmingly view Israel and the United States as the greatest threats they face. This produces inconsistent preferences: manifested, for example, in their pushing for the establishment of democratic institutions in their own countries while admiring antidemocratic leaders who defy the United States, such as former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Telhami argues that that no U.S. president will make a dent in Arab anti-Americanism so long as Washington maintains its uncritical support for Israel and continues to deploy significant U.S. military forces in the region.

On the other side of the global ledger…

Why Vladimir rules and Obama bombs

On both the NSA saga and the Syrian crisis, Putin played chess while Obama played checkers with himself – and lost.

Every year, Forbes magazine publishes its list of the heads of state, financial titans and business moguls who “truly rule the world.” Predictably, a sitting US president – the commander-in-chief of the most lethal armada in the history of the world – usually gets the top spot.

Not in 2010 though, when Barack Obama was overtaken by then Chinese President Hu Jintao in the aftermath of the Wall Street-provoked financial crisis. And not in 2013, when the winner is Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Not by accident, China and Russia are the most influential among the BRICS group of emerging powers. The US corporate media’s rankings such as Time’s Person of The Year may be irrelevant, and usually extremely provincial. But as a PR coup, American recognition of Putin’s soft power is priceless, even coming after de facto recognition by the overwhelming majority of the real ‘international community’: the developing world.

To its credit, Forbes stresses how “anyone watching this year’s chess match over Syria and the National Security Agency leaks has a clear idea of the shifting individual power dynamics.” {…}

During a House Intelligence Committee hearing, National Intelligence Director James Clapper was adamant that the NSA and the CIA cannot spy on any political leader via his/her private mobile phones without permission from the White House. So no matter the spin, Obama knew, among others, about the spying on Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff and German Chancellor Angel Merkel.

You don’t need to have read Orwell to note this is yet another instance of the imperial Masters of the Universe worldview. It’s ‘legitimate’ to spy on Americans. It’s ‘legitimate’ to spy all over the global South – including the more influential BRICS. {…}

The proverbial US Think Tankland Cassandras will be left endlessly carping about the ‘stagnating’ Russian economy, ethnic and religious ‘tension’, ‘political atrophy’ because of Putin’s ‘authoritarianism’, and assorted ills. Nonsense.

This essay by top blogger The Saker meticulously outlines the key plot twists and undercurrents of the past 20 years of US-Russia relations – including the now-proverbial Putin demonization.

Back to the facts on the geopolitical ground. Putin has seized the moment and now is arguably the key actor trying to build an emerging, alternative multilateral order. As for imperial lame duck Obama, he seems destined to keep bombing in more ways than one.

Now, in my last Mashup, I’d pointed out the serious BS emanating from our AIPAC, bought-and-paid-for, Critters on Iran, well they doubled down on the buffoonery…

Forget Sanctions: House Hawks Pushing for Iran War

Bill Would Green-Light Attack on Iran

While most of the effort of the Obama Administration has been trying to convince an unwilling Congress to “delay” any new sanctions as Iran negotiations move forward, a collection of hawks in the House of Representatives are looking to move beyond that dispute and just flat out start a war.

The ironically named “United States-Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act,” would condemn Iran for “deception” dating back to the 1980s, and would authorize President Obama to attack Iran whenever he decides talks have “failed.”

Let’s get real here, pups…

Propaganda & Ignorance in Reporting on Iran

Whenever tensions over Iran’s nuclear energy program appear to dissipate and rational, fact-based reporting begins to replace agenda-driven rhetoric in the press, the folks over at the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a Washington D.C. think tank that specializes in producing highly speculative assessments of the nuclear capabilities of countries loathed by the U.S. government, release a new study full of hypotheticals, allegations, and innuendo intended to restore alarmism to front pages and TelePrompTers.

Critical to the success of ISIS’s efforts and the endless self-promotion of its president, David Albright, are the dutiful stenographers in the media who eagerly promote to large audiences their claims as unchallenged fact, without even a shred of skepticism or hint of journalistic integrity…

The Institute for Speculation and Iran Scaremongering

Under a hysterical headline – “Iran may be a month from a bomb” – Dorell posted what is effectively a press release for a new ISIS report. In his article, Dorell not only presents ISIS head David Albright, a former IAEA inspector, as an unimpeachable expert source and uncritically regurgitates his claims about the potential timeline for Iran achieving nuclear breakout capacity, but also deliberately omits vitally important information which might undermine the ultimate goal of fear-mongering about Iran…

U.S. Director of National Intelligence has repeatedly noted that, even were this decision to be made sometime in the future, “Iran could not divert safeguarded material and produce a weapon-worth of WGU [weapons-grade uranium] before this activity is discovered.”

Honestly pups, this is what we’re reduced to…

I want American foreign policy to fail

Drones, wiretapping foreign leaders, NSA out of control: Change will only come when our foreign policy truly fails

It is difficult, and it will never be any other, to be an American and write in an American publication that the best thing to befall our great country would be a series of resounding defeats. It is upside down. It is bitter. And it is time.

Failure will make Americans a better people, their country a more humane country, and the world a more habitable world. This the only honest conclusion to draw as the outlines of official American thinking in the 21st century emerge from the mists of endemic misinformation.

Let us ask ourselves: What do the following developments, all now in the news, commonly reflect? Why is it better to view them all at once, parts of a single phenomenon, rather than separately (as our media incessantly encourage us to do)? {…}

Untamed spookery, diabolic weapons and prosecutorial trade arrangements to be forced down others’ gullets as if they were geese tell us all about ourselves and our plans. In any choice between primacy or world order — the prescient coinage of Stanley Hoffmann, a Harvard historian of the Cold War — Washington insists on the former. It continues to choose the unilateralism of the last century over the multilateralism that is the unmistakable sine qua non of our time. Military hardware and territorial dominion — 20th century technologies — trump coexistence and the mahogany tables of diplomacy, which are the technologies of our time.

And if you didn’t get the original terra, terra, terra, memo, the ADL’s Abe Foxman spelled it all out for ya…

The Jewish Condition: Then, Now, and in the Future

…It seems that people such as this hack — people who think wars of mission, armed interventions galore, and all associated strategies and tactics are yesteryear’s thinking and played poorly even yesteryear — these people are isolationists.

They are weak. The president was weak on Syria. A strong America is an America that remains engaged. Remaining engaged means intervening when American values and interests are at stake. Intervening means the deployment of might. {…}

And then on top of that comes this drive to find agreements with Iran on the nuclear issue. Now let me be clear: if we can reach a satisfactory deal with Iran that ensures that if Iran is deceptive or abnegates that agreement, it couldn’t in a short time break out and speedily move to a bomb, I’d be all for it. The concern is the context: America seems desperate to avoid a confrontation with Iran; the Iranians, aware of that, are playing it to a fare-thee-well.

Not only are they talking the language of moderation, but they are already offering substantive proposals that may appear more giving than they really are. Again, it’s not impossible that things can work out well, but when it appears to come from a perception of American weakness, it doesn’t bode well. {…}

I hope that we get our act together. I hope Congress starts to think of the bigger picture. I hope we are truly able to keep all options on the table, whether vis-à-vis Iran or Syria, without rushing to military action.

Make no mistake about it. If what we are seeing now is the beginning of a deep change in American foreign policy it will be bad for the Jews.

Don’t believe for a second that there is an alternative to American leadership when it comes to Israel’s security, peace in the Middle East, safety and security for Jews in Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Still, all in all, as I look to the Jewish future and the role of ADL on the occasion of our centennial, I am an optimist. Again, I am an optimist on Israel. I am an optimist on American Jews. And, despite the concerns I have expressed here, I remain an optimist about America, about the good sense of the American people, the track record over the last 70 years about its ability to overcome the obstacles to governance and to recognize that American leadership in the world is good for America, good for the world and good for the Jewish people.

God Help Us All…! *gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Bandar Bush, Code Pink, and Friends of Syria

7:10 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

I’ve been absent too long, pups! My apologies…!

There has been a slew of foreign f*ckery afoot and a whole bunch of it leads up to the House of Saud’s stoop…

Saudi Arabia warns of shift away from U.S. over Syria, Iran

* Riyadh signals anger over U.S. policy in Middle East

* Source says shift could affect arms, oil trade

* Prince Bandar set to end cooperation over Syria war

* In Washington, Saudi prince assails Obama’s Mideast moves

…Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that the United States had failed to act effectively against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said.

“The shift away from the U.S. is a major one,” the source close to Saudi policy said. “Saudi doesn’t want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.” {…}

The growing breach between the United States and Saudi Arabia was also on display in Washington, where another senior Saudi prince criticized Obama’s Middle East policies, accusing him of “dithering” on Syria and Israeli-Palestinian peace.

In unusually blunt public remarks, Prince Turki al-Faisal called Obama’s policies in Syria “lamentable” and ridiculed a U.S.-Russian deal to eliminate Assad’s chemical weapons. He suggested it was a ruse to let Obama avoid military action in Syria.

“The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious. And designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down (from military strikes), but also to help Assad to butcher his people,” said Prince Turki, a member of the Saudi royal family and former director of Saudi intelligence…

As the ever-intrepid, Pepe Escobar wrote today…

The self-beheading House of Saud

…As much as the House of Saud is completely paranoid regarding the Obama administration’s latest moves, throwing a fit will not change the way the geopolitical winds are blowing. Iran’s geopolitical ascent is inevitable. A Syrian solution is on the horizon. No one wants batshit crazy jihadis roaming free from Syria to Iraq to the wider Middle East.

The Saudi spin about creating “a new security arrangement for the Arab world” is a joke – as depicted by Saudi-financed shills such as this.

The bottom line is that an angry, fearful House of Saud does not have what it takes to confront benign protector Washington. Throwing a fit – as in crying to attract attention – is for geopolitical babies. Without the US – or “the West” – who’s gonna run the Saudi energy industry? PhD-deprived camels? And who’s gonna sell (and maintain) those savory weapons? Who’s going to defend them for smashing the true spirit of the Arab Spring, across the GCC and beyond?

Perennial Foreign Minister Prince Saud is gravely ill. He will be replaced by a recently appointed deputy prime minister.

Guess who?

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the king’s son. Instead of a “principled” stance against “double standards”, the House of Saud move at the UN feels more like nepotism.

Emptywheel delved further into Bandar’s perfidy today…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

Syria Mashup: Bumble F*cking, French Faux Pas, and Putin’s Checkmate

9:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Seriously, pups, this is the best of all outcomes on Syria that has yet materialized…!

Not only is Obama, and the Administration, afforded a face-saving means to not launch an “unbelievably small and extremely limited” war on Syria, but, they even managed ‘Bumble-F*cking’ their way In and Out of Syria…!

In all seriousness, it truly behooved Obama to step down from the brink of virtual World War…! The Russians have already put in place a significant naval prescence in the Eastern Med…! Russian Warships in Offensive Arrangement for Syrian War…!

Some very cogent analysis…

Role of the Russian Navy

The Russian naval task force off the coast of Syria is a pretty big one, and it includes some very powerful ships, such as the Moskva class guided missile cruisers, whose main function is to sink aircraft carriers. Except that the Russians never had any intention of sinking anybody, much less so a US carrier. While clearly this task was designed with several possible contingencies in mind, I would argue that one of its most important tasks was to protect a ship with no firepower at all: the Priazov’ye intelligence collection ship.

And don’t let the “medium” descriptor fool you as it only refers to the physical size. This ship is packed with advanced electronic and communication intelligence gear (including special electronic intelligence equipment “Profil`-M”, “Rotor-S”, “Prokhlada”, “Vizir”, “Konus”, “Zarya-1″, sonar MG-349 «Uzh», MGP-303). Combined with the extremely powerful radars and anti-air capabilities of the rest of the Russian naval task force the electronics onboad the Priazovie made it impossible to strike Syria with any degree of tactical surprise. These considerations, in turn, must have counted as an important element in Obama’s decision to accept Putin’s “Russian Gambit”. Exactly has I had predicted, while the entire world was focused on whether the Russians had or had not delivered all, or part, of the S-300s to Syria, the Russians came up with a totally different move which took the world by surprise.

Saving Obama’s sorry face:

Anybody who has seen the video of Kerry running his mouth about Assad giving up all of his chemical weapons before the end of the way even though this was, quite Kerry, “impossible” will see this was not a planned statement but just Kerry thinking out loud. So why are the Russians now eagerly confirming that yes, indeed, this option had been discussed with Obama in Saint Petersburg? Because Putin, Lavrov & Co are hyper-pragmatists. They don’t want to humiliate these idiots Obama and Kerry and they are quite happy to give them a face-saving way out, as long as that contributes to the Russian objective for Syria. This is what the State Department first said that Kerry statement was ‘rhetorical’ – even they had no clue. And is it not fitting that one thoughtless statement by a US politician almost started a war (Obama’s “red line”) while another, no less thoughtless statement by another US politicians (Kerry’s “give up all weapons in a week”) prevented it? Karma is beautiful!

Btw, Assad did recently test out the UK/US/Nato Air Defences…!

Now, if you look at the French proposal to the UNSC, you can understand why the Russians were quick to expose that French foreign faux pas…!

Let me point out what Putin had to say… Putin: Syria chemical arms handover will work only if US calls off strike…!

And, Syria agrees to Russia weapons plan to ‘uproot US aggression’…!

Checkmate…!

So, will Saner minds and wits prevail…? *gah*

by CTuttle

Syria Mashup: Mercs, Mission Creep, and Putin

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the Washington Post

Kerry: Arab countries offered to pay for invasion

Secretary of State John Kerry said at Wednesday’s hearing that Arab counties have offered to pay for the entirety of unseating President Bashar al-Assad if the United States took the lead militarily.

“With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes,” Kerry said. “They have. That offer is on the table.”

Asked by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) about how much those countries would contribute, Kerry said they have offered to pay for all of a full invasion.

“In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost,” Kerry said. “That’s how dedicated they are at this. That’s not in the cards, and nobody’s talking about it, but they’re talking in serious ways about getting this done.”

Don’t worry, Bandar Bush, we’ve got this one…!

I still want to know exactly How this ‘limited airstrike’ is truly in our ‘National Interest’…? Or even what our Objective is…! Wtf, over…? Dempsey Can’t Say What U.S. is Seeking in Syria. Seriously…?

Let’s be very clear here, folks…

What Congress Will Be Voting on Is Another War, Not a “Limited Punitive Strike”

After 12 years of US executive branch deceit, the US Congress is on the verge of backing another war in the Middle East — this time with a vote.

Make no mistake about it. Obama doesn’t mean a word of limiting his actions as commander in chief to a limited strike to punish the Syrians for allegedly using Weapons of Mass Destruction. (As to who dispersed them in a rather primitive fashion it is still not clear, despite alleged definitive statements from White House representatives.)

The odds of the US launching a combined sea-based and airforce bombing attack on the Syrian military command and elite forces, but not provoking some sort of counter-action from Syria, Iran, Hezbollah or even the Al Qaeda rebels who are fighting the Assad regime are about zero. Remember how long it took NATO and the US to degrade the Libyan armed forces before the fall of Gaddhafi? Does anyone anywhere truly believe that Obama intends to stop at one strike as compared to using the strike as the kindling wood.

So we can assume the White House and the pentagon are aware that the counterattack will result in Obama authorizing a full-scale military assault on Syria, although without infantry on the ground (but you can be sure special forces and paramilitary intelligence units are already in Syria as they were in Libya). Needless to say, an attack on US interests or Israel will quickly see NATO nations, including the now sidelined UK, fall in line with a “coalition of the reluctant” to force regime change…

The ever-intrepid, Emptywheel, parsed the Senate’s weasel-worded AUMF into lingua franca…

Parallel Processing: AUMF Assad Spanking and Then Article II Regime Change

…I’ve described this AUMF as telling the President, “Here are some limits we’d like you to abide by, but if you don’t like those, go ahead and operate under your own authority.”

To the extent that the White House can tie its acknowledged covert plans to back the rebels to the other whereas clauses in the AUMF, then it also authorizes that part of the equation.

Then, in yesterday’s markup, John McCain succeeded in adding one more whereas, explicitly stating that regime change was the goal of all this (he also added non-binding policy language later in the AUMF to the same effect). {…}

That is, there is the AUMF authorizing the limited spanking, and then the whereas language that not only recognizes the President’s authority to do more under Article II, but explicitly lists regime change (and accelerating the arming of rebels, implicitly) among the goals here…

Two interesting notes on our covert actions on the ground in Syria, first… CIA trained unit in Syria

And then this very revealing piece…

Jordanian king dismisses 4 officers over passing sensitive info to Syria

The four officers leaked information about a situation room, which was established by the Saudi Arabian defense minister, the CIA, and the Israeli intelligence agency the Mossad on Jordanian soil, the report said quoting a British diplomatic source.

The officers are also accused of providing the Syrian army with certain information about the routes, which Saudi militants used while entering Syria to fight against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The senior military officers were advisers to the chairman of Jordan’s chiefs of staff and had strongly objected to Amman’s participation in a foreign-sponsored insurgency in Syria.

That just might put a dent in our Bandar/CIA/JSOC ‘Grand’ Designs in Syria…!

Now, as Putin, host of the G-20 Confab in St. Petersburg, of which, Obama is actively working on the side lines, laid it all out…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Al Qaeda, Egypt, Iran, and Yemen

5:31 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

 

From the intrepid Pepe Escobar…

Al-Qaeda to the rescue

When the going gets tough, count on the Ministry of Truth to get going.

The end of Ramadan was imminent. The jihadi chattering classes of that fuzzy entity, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), went on overdrive. It was jailbreak galore from Libya to Pakistan via Iraq. And all this in perfect synch with two successive fatwas issued by that perennial bogeyman, former Osama bin Laden sidekick Ayman “Doctor Evil” al-Zawahiri.

Imagine a rushed crisis meeting at the highest levels of the Orwellian/Panopticon complex: “Gentlemen, we have a golden opportunity here. We are under siege by defector spy Edward Snowden – liberated by the Soviets – and that terrorist hack Greenwald. Snowden may be winning: even among US public opinion, there’s a growing perception we may be more of a threat than al-Qaeda.

So we must show we are vigilantly protecting our freedoms. Yes; we’re gonna scream Terra, Terra, Terra!” {…}

…The bottom line is that the Bush-Obama continuum never ceases to reassure us – not to mention that old fox al-Zawahiri. Doctor Evil, as warped a strategist as he is, figured out a while ago that if the “al-Qaeda” global bogeyman myth is now “stronger than ever” it’s thanks to the Obama administration and its poodles, European and Persian Gulf-based, with their Three Stooges strategy from Libya to Syria. Afghanistan is a completely different story; there’s no “historical” al-Qaeda left, only a handful in the Pakistani tribal areas…

Doctor Evil and the Orwellian/Panopticon complex are on the same side – and that explains why he’ll be allowed to be a motor mouth fatwa machine for as long as he wants, and won’t be nabbed like some patsy in the underwear bomber mould. The complex is back in offense. Reform the NSA? Interfere with our metadata? What for? We have just alerted the US government to “pre-9/11″ levels of terrorist chatter!

AQAP might well decide not to participate in this worldwide “pre-9/11″ script. Real jihadis, after all, are not foolish enough to be caught by XKeystroke. So here’s a Dylanesque riddle for you. All along the watchtower, a false flag is approaching – said the joker to the thief. There’s too much Terra confusion, and we won’t get no relief.

Emptywheel asks… Was It NSA or a Yemeni “Ally” Leaking the “Clear Orders” from Zawahiri to Wuhayshi?

From Foreign PolicyWashington Spin War Erupts Over Terror Alert.

To be sure…

…In Washington Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said an alert that forced U.S. embassy closures across the Middle East and Africa may remain in place all month.

“Our current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond,” Carney said during a media briefing.

“And our information suggests that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August,” he said.

From RT…

US Special Forces on alert against Al-Qaeda attacks following intercepted communiques

…”While I can’t go into specific details, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee noted yesterday that this information was collected using Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, rather than the Patriot Act,” said Democrat Senator Ron Wyden as cited by The Guardian newspaper. “I still haven’t seen any evidence that the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of Americans’ phone records is providing any unique value to American counterterrorism efforts.”

Some alleged that the shutdown of US embassies and the media hype it caused may have been blown out of proportion.

“The NSA takes in threat information every day. You have to ask, why now? What makes this information different?” asked Amie Stepanovich, a lawyer with the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “The NSA’s choice to publish these threats at this time perpetuates a culture of fear and unquestioning deference to surveillance in the United States.”

The range of diplomatic facilities affected by the alert seems a bit baffling, argues The Washington Post. While the focus of the security beef-up seems to be in the Persian Gulf region, the closures also included some unlikely locations.

Among those are Rwanda and Burundi, two Central African countries with small Muslim minorities and little experience with Islamist extremism or terrorism. The US recently opened a new fortified embassy in Burundi and moved embassy staff in Rwanda to a new high-security building, so in both countries the diplomatic personnel are apparently well-protected.

There is also hardly any apparent explanation for the closure of diplomatic sites in Madagascar and the tiny Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, the newspaper adds.

And, No, al Qaeda Is Not About to Blow Up Your Blouse…!

Moving along to Egypt… So was it a ‘coup’ or not…?

In Egypt, U.S. Senators Label Morsi’s Ousting a ‘Coup’ as Tension and Confusion Reigns

…The simultaneous visits of both Burns and the two senators represent a significant shift on the part of the US—an active re-engagement after several weeks of semantic gymnastics over how to define this crucial phase of Egypt’s revolution. The American government is deeply distrusted by both players in the dispute and seemed, until recently, to be willing to take a back seat and endorse the EU mediation efforts.

But the renewed US engagement hasn’t brought much more clarity to the situation. Last week, Burns’s boss, Secretary of State John Kerry, made the strongest comments yet in favor of the post-Morsi government while on a visit to Pakistan, stating that the Egyptian military’s intervention was aimed at “restoring democracy.”

On Tuesday however, Senators McCain and Graham seemed to be singing from a completely different songsheet. The senators openly labeled Morsi’s ouster as a “coup”—a word the White House and State Department have studiously avoided for weeks and one which, when invoked, draws the ire of the transitional government and its supporters.

Still, McCain stated that cutting off the U.S.’s $1.3 billion in annual aid to Egypt—an action mandated by current U.S. law in the event of a coup against a democratically-elected government—would be “the wrong signal at the wrong time.” But Graham, in comments to reporters on Tuesday, offered a blunt assessment of the Egyptian playing field—one that directly challenges the transitional government’s statements of its own legitimacy. “The people who are in charge were not elected. The people who were elected are in jail,” he said. “The status quo is not acceptable.”

Interestingly… Egyptian govt rejects McCain’s ‘clumsy’ statements on Morsi’s ouster…!

Moving on to Iran, this about sums it up…

America displays more stupidity on Iran

…The problem with this approach that has failed for many years is that it is based on a series of arrogant assumptions or aggressive preconditions that no self-respecting government in the world would accept. It mentions substantive issues with Iran only in terms of Iran’s nuclear efforts, without acknowledging that Iran also has security, economic, nuclear rights and other concerns to discuss about how it is treated by the U.S. and the Western powers.

The statement accuses Iran of not engaging substantively and seriously, when the evidence shows that Iran has offered many substantive gestures (including freezing nuclear enrichment for two years and allowing all its enrichment facilities to be inspected by the United Nations), but now refuses to advance further mainly as a response to the U.S.-Israeli-driven campaign of sanctions, threats and cyberattacks against it. The U.S., Israel and others in the West never waste an opportunity to threaten to use military force against Iran, but in this context they also demand that Iran be responsible for taking the initiative to resolve this issue peacefully…

…Iranians and Rouhani took the first step of moving their national policies in a different, perhaps more fruitful, direction. Why could the White House not simply have replied to Rouhani’s calls for respect and equal treatment with the same magnitude of fusion between the display of new style and substance that hold the promise for a better world for all? Why did the White House instead reassert the aggressive ways that have only steadily increased tensions across the entire region for the past decade or more?

From the dynamic duo of Flynt and Hillary Leverett… America’s Iran Policy, the Undermining of International Order, and the Bankruptcy of Washington’s Approach to Nuclear Diplomacy…

And in closing… Yemen Scholar Says U.S. Drone Strikes May Have Driven al-Qaida Membership…!

You don’t say…? *gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Hezbollah, The I/P Peace Charade, and Syria

5:10 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From Der Spiegel

EU Terror List: Hezbollah Unlikely to Feel Sanctions

EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday to put the military wing of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on the bloc’s list of terrorist groups. But sanctions will have little impact on the “Party of God,” which has long since become Lebanon’s most powerful political force. {…}

On Monday, European Union foreign ministers agreed to put this armed wing of Hezbollah on the bloc’s list of terrorist groups. The move marks a striking about-face in European policy regarding the Shiite militants. Previously, European leaders had argued that Lebanon, already in a vulnerable state, would be further destabilized if the influential group were declared outcasts.

Sanctions Won’t Be Felt

But Britain, the Netherlands and France have pushed just such a measure through, arguing that by interfering in the Syrian civil war, Hezbollah is now threatening the fragile peace inside Lebanon as well. European restraint on the matter no longer makes sense, they argue. {…}

Civil and Military Division Unclear

The fact that outsiders are unable to discern where Hezbollah’s civilian wing ends and the militant one begins is likely to mean that the organization will escape the EU’s measures unscathed, say Western diplomats in Beirut. The decision in Brussels was purely symbolic, serving only to appease the United States, which declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization in 1995 after two devastating attacks against the Israeli embassy and a Jewish organization in the Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires. Since then, the US has been pressuring its allies to follow suit…

Now, in looking at the latest I/P Peace Farce being peddled by SoS Kerry, as I’ve written before: Talk is Cheap and The Freeze Farce Is Over, I’d adopted the same ‘wait and see’ attitude as longtime I/P blogger, Richard Silverstein…

Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talk Charade

I’ve held off writing about John Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy attempting to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, because I thought there was “no there, there” and figured it might collapse of its own weight. But developments in the past 24 hours indicate that while this is still likely, all parties have already been guilty of bad judgments which should be pointed out. {…}

They’ll supposedly be getting 100 freed Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails for decades. The Israel Broadcasting Authority says the prisoner release would happen in four stages and the first one would only happen during the second month of negotiations. A lot can happen in that time. And I’d say a guarantee of this happening is pretty thin. Furhter, the Palestinians seem willing to overlook that Israel, after past prisoner exchanges, promptly rearrested whoever it still wants behind bars.

Another issue the Palestinians would apparently give up is their efforts to win international recognition in bodies like the United Nations. That’s giving up a whole lot in return for very little. {…}

But today’s worst outrage, which sent me into a paroxysm of righteous indignation, was the report by Laura Rozen that John Kerry may plan to appoint Martin Indyk his “peace envoy.” You’ll recall that the estimable George Mitchell had that role towards the beginning of Obama’s first term. But Mitchell failed because Obama wasn’t willing to use the power of his office to pressure the Israelis to deal. Despite such a failure, at least one might say that Mitchell was truly an honest broker. He had no strong affiliation with either side nor any hostility against either side.

Indyk is an entirely different story: there seems to be a notion among U.S. presidents that to secure Israeli-Palestinian peace they need a former Aipac analyst on their team. That’s how they got Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and a number of other similar figures. They both are or were affiliated with WINEP, Aipac’s foreign policy think tank. Neither Ross nor Indyk has any special affinity or interest in the Palestinians, except as a means to an end (a peace deal that responds to and guarantees Israeli interests). The latter was also U.S. ambassador to Israel under Pres. Clinton. The NY Times calls the Brookings think-tanker “a seasoned hand,” which as usual for the Times is beside the point and misses the key reasons for his appointment and his political affiliations. {…}

This iteration of the peace process is dead on arrival. The sooner John Kerry realizes this the less political face he will lose. What is being proposed shows that Obama has no real interest in settling the conflict. He wants to be seen to be doing something. And what he’s seen to be doing he hopes will last for the next three years so he can kick the can down the road for the next guy. Or, as Mitt Romney so inimitably put it: “to kick the football down the field.”

Once again, Bibi pushed the Pollard canard…

‘PM asked US to free Pollard as incentive for entering peace talks’

Netanyahu reportedly wanted to present ministers with symbolic victory to ease opposition to restarting peace talks

The US reportedly refused an Israeli request to free imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in exchange for Israel releasing Palestinian prisoners, ahead of new peace talks with the Palestinians…

…The Cabinet, on Sunday, will vote on the release of Palestinian prisoners ahead of a scheduled first round of talks between Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Washington.

Israeli officials have indicated the prisoners will be freed in phases, beginning at 4-6 weeks into the negotiations, and continuing at 6-8 week intervals, depending on the progress of the talks. Under Israeli law, the prisoners’ names will be published 48 hours before their release to allow families of their victims to appeal the decision with the Supreme Court.

Israel has reportedly refused to release an additional 21 pre-Oslo prisoners, either because they are Israeli citizens or for other security reasons.

Kerry announced the resumption of peace talks, after a hiatus of almost three years, on Friday. “We have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming negotiations,” he said.

While Israeli leaders had confirmed the talks would be taking place and have even boasted that Israel had not been required to cave in to Palestinian preconditions to do so, Palestinian officials said that the path to resumed negotiations had not yet been cleared, and that the imminent meetings in Washington were aimed only at seeking to finalize the terms for the new negotiations.

Seriously, as I’ve noted before… Bibi: There’s No Solution to The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. It is nothing but another stalling tactic as Israel continues to expand the Settlements and grow richer off the fruits of the Occupied Territories…!

Moving on to Syria…

U.S. plan to arm Syria rebels gains support in Congress

U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to provide vetted Syrian rebels with weapons and strategic military aid has gained traction in Congress, U.S. lawmakers said Tuesday…

Lawmakers have been split on the proposal, but on Monday House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers said a “consensus” had been reached among the panel’s members to accept Obama’s plan despite “very strong concerns about the strength of the administration’s plans in Syria and its chances for success.”

On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner also weighed in in favor of the committee’s approach, saying “their effort to help the right set of rebels in Syria is in our nation’s best interest.”

While not legally required, intelligence committee approval of U.S. military assistance has traditionally been key to administrations moving ahead with such aid.

Like the House panel, the Senate Intelligence Committee has held several closed-door debates in recent weeks on the merits of increased military aid to rebels in Syria, where a conflict now in its 28th month has killed some 100,000 people.

Senate intelligence chair Dianne Feinstein has refused to divulge what progress if any has been made in committee on backing Obama’s push.

But on Tuesday Senator Richard Burr, who sits on the panel and who supports arming the rebels, strongly suggested a logjam had been broken.

“The White House has all the authority they need right now,” the Republican told AFP…

White House spokesman Jay Carney refused to comment on any Syria debates in Congress, “especially ones that are behind closed doors,” nor would he catalogue the assistance that is being provided.

But “the president, as he made clear not long ago, is committed to ramping up that assistance as necessary, because of the circumstances that we find and because of the need for the opposition to further strengthen and unify,” Carney said…

In summing up, the intrepid Pepe Escobar penned another must-read… War against Iran, Iraq AND Syria?

*gah*