You are browsing the archive for Qatar.

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi

9:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!- Cpt. Renault

Several recent articles had caught my eye, and prodded me to look back on the real Benghazi clusterf*ck…! Here’s the first, from last week…

‘Arms smuggling to Syria’ From Benghazi When US Ambassador Was Killed

America has done its best to keep secret its role in supplying the Syrian rebels (terrorists of al-Qaeda), operating through proxies and front companies. It is this which makes Seymour Hersh’s article ‘The Red Line and The Rat Line: Obama, Erdogan and the Syrian rebels’ published last week in the London Review of Books, so interesting, The Independent reported on Sunday April 13.

A little-regarded theme of Hersh’s article is what the CIA called the rat line, the supply chain for the Syrian militants overseen by the US in covert cooperation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The information about this comes from a highly classified and hitherto secret annex to the report by the US Senate Intelligence Committee on the attack by Libyan militiamen on the US consulate in Benghazi on 11 September 2012 in which US ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed.

The CIA has been subjecting operatives to monthly polygraph tests in an attempt to suppress details of a reported US arms smuggling operation in Benghazi that was in progress when American ambassador was killed by a mob in the city 2 year ago, according to reports.

Up to 35 CIA operatives were working in the city of Benghazi during the attack in September 2012 on the US consulate that resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, according to CNN. {…}

Furthermore, the US’s Secretary of State John Kerry and its UN ambassador, Samantha Power had been pushing for more assistance to be given to the Syrian militants. This is despite strong evidence that the so called ‘Syrian rebels’ or ‘Syrian opposition’ are, more than ever, dominated by extremists similar in their beliefs and methods to al-Qaeda. The recent attack by militant forces on Armenian and Alawites villages in Lattakia, northern Syria, which initially had a measure of success, was led by Chechen and Moroccan extremist groups.

Here’s another one from yesterday…

Benghazi attack could have been prevented if US hadn’t ‘switched sides in the War on Terror’ and allowed $500 MILLION of weapons to reach al-Qaeda militants, reveals damning report

The Citizens Commission on Benghazi, a self-selected group of former top military officers, CIA insiders and think-tankers, declared Tuesday in Washington that a seven-month review of the deadly 2012 terrorist attack has determined that it could have been prevented – if the U.S. hadn’t been helping to arm al-Qaeda militias throughout Libya a year earlier…

‘The United States switched sides in the war on terror with what we did in Libya, knowingly facilitating the provision of weapons to known al-Qaeda militias and figures,’ Clare Lopez, a member of the commission and a former CIA officer, told MailOnline.

‘Remember, these weapons that came into Benghazi were permitted to enter by our armed forces who were blockading the approaches from air and sea,’ Lopez claimed. ‘They were permitted to come in. … [They] knew these weapons were coming in, and that was allowed..

‘The intelligence community was part of that, the Department of State was part of that, and certainly that means that the top leadership of the United States, our national security leadership, and potentially Congress – if they were briefed on this – also knew about this.’ {…}

‘The White House and senior Congressional members,’
the group wrote in an interim report released Tuesday, ‘deliberately and knowingly pursued a policy that provided material support to terrorist organizations in order to topple a ruler [Muammar Gaddafi] who had been working closely with the West actively to suppress al-Qaeda.’

‘Some look at it as treason,’ said Wayne Simmons, a former CIA officer who participated in the commission’s research.

Retired Rear Admiral Chuck Kubic, another commission member, told reporters Tuesday that those weapons are now ‘all in Syria.’

‘Gaddafi wasn’t a good guy, but he was being marginalized,’ Kubic recalled. ‘Gaddafi actually offered to abdicate’ shortly after the beginning of a 2011 rebellion.

‘But the U.S. ignored his calls for a truce,’ the commission wrote, ultimately backing the horse that would later help kill a U.S. ambassador.

Kubic said that the effort at truce talks fell apart when the White House declined to let the Pentagon pursue it seriously.

‘We had a leader who had won the Nobel Peace Prize,’ Kubic said, ‘but who was unwilling to give peace a chance for 72 hours.’

And then today, Philip Giraldi wrote this excellent exposé…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Bahrain, Bureau of Democracy, Egypt, House of Saud, Qatar, and Turkey

3:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Honestly, folks, isn’t this just lovely…?

US bankrolled anti-Morsi activists

Documents reveal US money trail to Egyptian groups that pressed for president’s removal.

…The State Department’s programme, dubbed by US officials as a “democracy assistance” initiative, is part of a wider Obama administration effort to try to stop the retreat of pro-Washington secularists, and to win back influence in Arab Spring countries that saw the rise of Islamists, who largely oppose US interests in the Middle East. {snip}

‘Bureau for Democracy’

Washington’s democracy assistance programme for the Middle East is filtered through a pyramid of agencies within the State Department. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars is channeled through the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL), The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), USAID, as well as the Washington-based, quasi-governmental organisation the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

In turn, those groups re-route money to other organisations such as the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and Freedom House, among others. Federal documents show these groups have sent funds to certain organisations in Egypt, mostly run by senior members of anti-Morsi political parties who double as NGO activists.

The Middle East Partnership Initiative – launched by the George W Bush administration in 2002 in a bid to influence politics in the Middle East in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks – has spent close to $900m on democracy projects across the region, a federal grants database shows.

USAID manages about $1.4bn annually in the Middle East, with nearly $390m designated for democracy promotion, according to the Washington-based Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED).

The US government doesn’t issue figures on democracy spending per country, but Stephen McInerney, POMED’s executive director, estimated that Washington spent some $65m in 2011 and $25m in 2012. He said he expects a similar amount paid out this year…

So, Cui Bono…?

Morsi’s fall in Egypt comforts Saudis, disconcerts Qatar

The $12 billion in aid Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait offered Egypt this week showed their delight at the army’s ousting of President Mohamed Morsi in a reversal for Islamists empowered by the Arab ferment of 2011.

It also marked a recalibration of power among Gulf Arab states which, with the notable exception of Qatar, had viewed the Arab uprisings as catastrophic for regional stability and feared the Muslim Brotherhood would use its domination of Egypt to push a radical, Islamist agenda in their own backyard.

Qatar, however, saw support for the Muslim Brotherhood as a means to project its influence in the Middle East, and gave Egypt $7 billion in aid during the movement’s year in power.

“I suspect the Qataris will draw back somewhat,” said Robert Jordan, a former U.S. ambassador to Riyadh. “Their infatuation with the Muslim Brotherhood has probably been dampened. They’re likely to come around to a position closer to the Saudis.”

Saudi Arabia in particular was alarmed by the popular unrest that toppled Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali, and rippled through Bahrain, Yemen and other countries.

But most Gulf rulers had fewer qualms about rebellions against Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, whose links with Shi’ite Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement had long antagonised U.S.-backed Sunni Arab states.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which has challenged Riyadh’s traditional leadership in recent years, were broadly aligned on support for rebels in Syria and Libya, but they bitterly disagreed over their attitude to Islamist groups. Now that argument appears to be over – at least for now…

From the Angry Arab…

Qatar in retreat

Aljazeera after the coup is almost dead. And the editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Abdul-Bari Atwan, has just resigned without explaining the reasons as he had promised on Twitter. House of Saud will now take full control of all Arab media. From bad to worse.

Now, here’s an interesting new wrinkle on Saudi intentions… Saudis may be targeting Iran, Israel with new missile program…

Meanwhile, right next door to the House of Saud, and home to the US 5th Fleet… Al Khalifa regime to collapse soon…

In wrapping up, Turkey is on the wrong side of history…

…So the simplistic assumption that being Islamic is enough to unify all Muslims in one “ummah” is shattered. This assumption actually started to crumble with Syria first, where Islam was seen not to be enough to unify people under a single umbrella. One could argue, of course, that the reasons for the sectarianism in Syria go back centuries and the outbreak of a civil war along the Alevi-Sunni line in that country should not have come as a surprise to anyone.

But Ankara misjudged the situation by hardly paying any attention to historical tensions that exist between rival communities in Syria based on sectarian and religious affinities.

It chose instead to demonize Bashar al-Assad – which is of course not hard to do given his brutal and ruthless nature – while overlooking the fact that large number of non-Sunni Syrians actually support al-Assad and his regime.

Turkey’s Syria policy also drove a wedge between Ankara and Tehran, because the two countries are backing opposing sides in the Syrian civil war, and worsened the already-tense relations between Ankara and Baghdad following Iraqi accusations of Turkish meddling in that country to promote Sunni interests. Ankara’s Syria policy has also resulted in gaining a new Islamic enemy for Turkey in the form of the region’s Shiites, and most notably Lebanese Hezbollah.

Now we see a new crisis looming for Turkey’s policy toward the region, with Saudi Arabia leading those standing on the opposite side of the fence from Ankara on Egypt. While Islam was seen, as a result of Syria, not to be the unifying religion that AKP circles assumed, Sunni Islam is also proving to be insufficient in doing this, given the radically different positions that Ankara and Riyadh have taken on the Egyptian coup.

Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will, of course, still try to influence the events in Egypt in line with their own political expectations. It is very unlikely, however, that they will make much headway now that major Arab powers have stepped in to shape the Middle East in line with their own expectations, and not those of a country like Turkey that is ultimately an outsider for Arabs, and one that has not endeared itself to everyone in the region, Shiite, Sunni or otherwise.

What a Clusterf*ck…! *gah*

by CTuttle

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

11:20 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, talk about your warmongering tomfoolery…

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

Syria: Game Changers, Rebel Rivalry, and UN War Crimes

4:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Before I dive into all the breaking news on our miserable Syrian foreign policy, let’s look at what Russian FM Lavrov had to say today…

Lavrov slams US, UN for undermining Geneva peace talks on Syria

…Lavrov told Bloomberg that Russia wants to understand if their partners in America and the United Nations are really consistent with the idea of the Geneva 2 conference on Syria as their actions keep sending the wrong message to the country’s opposition…

“The message the opposition is getting: ‘Guys, don’t go to Geneva. Don’t say that you are going to negotiate with the regime. Soon things will change in your favor.’ So, that’s what we want to clarify. It’s either the conference or the instigation of the opposition not to be flexible. I don’t think it’s possible to do both at the same time”

The Foreign Minister reminded that Russia has been pushing for the peace solution “irrespective of the situation on the ground,” while the West started speaking of a conference only after Assad’s forces began advancing on the rebels.

“They weren’t ready to discuss it when many people believed that the opposition would take Damascus in recent weeks. If now they’ll be moving in the direction of what some opposition leaders are saying – namely, let’s first restore military balance on the ground and then we’ll go the conference. This’ll be a disaster for all diplomatic efforts because this would never end.”

The first problem is the representation of the rebels at the talks as “not each and every important opposition group wants to go under the umbrella of the [Syrian National] Coalition because” because it’s “taking quite radical positions” and doesn’t have any vision for the country’s future.

The FM also said that “the most effective military group fighting the regime in Syria”, the Jabhat al-Nusra, isn’t going to be invited to the talks at all.

“It’s not for them to decide whether they’ll come to the conference or not. They can’t be even considered. They are terrorists and they must be treated as terrorists.”

The second problem with the invitees’ list is the participation of foreign states in the Geneva 2 conference.

“We’re absolutely convinced that all Arab neighbors of Syria must be invited. And Iran must be there that’s something, which I believe is absolutely unavoidable if we want the process, which is inclusive, and if we want all important outside players to be there to push the Syrians to an agreement. And so far there are doubts on the part of the US regarding the invitation of Iran and, I believe, this is delaying.”

The Russian FM once again warned the US against arming the rebels, but said that weapons are “anyway” coming to Syria

Well, lah-di-da… From the LA Times

U.S. training Syrian rebels; White House ‘stepped up assistance’

White House officials refused to comment Friday on a Los Angeles Times report that CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have been secretly training Syrian rebels with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons since late last year, saying only that the U.S. had increased its assistance to the rebellion.

The covert U.S. training at bases in Jordan and Turkey began months before President Obama approved plans to begin directly arming the opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders.

“We have stepped up our assistance, but I cannot inventory for you all the elements of that assistance,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “We have provided and will continue to provide substantial assistance to the Syrian opposition, as well as the Supreme Military Council.”

The Supreme Military Council is the military arm of an umbrella group that represents more moderate rebel factions, including the Free Syrian Army.

The training and Obama’s decision this month to supply arms and ammunition to the rebels have raised hope among the beleaguered opposition that Washington ultimately will provide heavier weapons as well. So far, the rebels say they lack the weapons they need to regain the offensive in Syria’s bitter civil war…

Do you want an inventory, Jay…? Anyways…Rebels claim ‘game-changing’ weapons…

…The “Friends of Syria” group of countries that support the rebels was expected to announce in Doha on Saturday that it would arm the opposition, FSA media and political co-ordinator spokesman Louay Muqdad said.

“We’ve received quantities of new types of weapons, including some that we asked for and that we believe will change the course of the battle on the ground.

“We have begun distributing them on the front lines, they will be in the hands of professional officers and FSA fighters,” he said.

He did not specify what weapons had been received or when they had arrived, but added that a new shipment was expected in the coming days and recalled that the rebels had asked for “deterrent weapons.”

“That means anti-aircraft weapons, anti-tank weapons, as well as ammunition,” he said.

Senior opposition figure Burhan Ghalioun confirmed that the FSA had recently received “sophisticated weapons” including “an anti-aircraft defence system.”

Another opposition source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the system was “Russian-made” but declined to say which country had supplied it.

The apparent influx of arms comes after the United States said it would provide rebel forces with “military support,” although it has declined to outline what that might entail.

“The weapons will be used for one objective, which is to fight the regime of (President) Bashar Al Assad,” Muqdad insisted.

“They will be collected after the fall of the regime, we have made this committment to the friends and brotherly countries” that supplied the arms,” he said…

*snort* Are you kidding…? When they can’t even dole out the ‘humanitarian aid‘ in a timely fashion…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Martyrs, Hawks, Patriots, and the Turkish Tempest

5:31 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

You know it’s bad when both the Left, and, the Right, agree to despair… Obama Appoints “Humanitarian Interventionists” to Key Positions, The Return of the Liberal Hawks, and, Genocide Twins Come On Board…!

Now, as the ever intrepid, Pepe Escobar, penned recently…

Meet the ‘Friends of Jihad’

Western politicos love to shed swamps of crocodile tears about “the Syrian people” and congratulate themselves within the “Friends of Syria” framework for defending them from “tyranny”.

Well, the “Syrian people” have spoken. Roughly 70% support the government of Bashar al-Assad. Another 20% are neutral. And only 10% are aligned with the Western-supported “rebels”, including those of the kidnapping, lung-eating, beheading jihadi kind.

The data was provided mostly by independent relief organizations working in Syria. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) received a detailed report in late May – but, predictably, was not too keen on releasing it…

…So who cares what the “Syrian people” might think? The Western “Friends of Syria” could not have found a more willing golden patsy to promote their usual, self-fulfilling Divide and Rule gambit – the Sunni-Shi’ite divide. It’s always handy to have dysfunctional GCC petro-monarchies posing as “liberators” so the West once again may conduct a proxy war “leading from behind”…

As it stands, the Geneva II negotiations promoted by Washington and Moscow seem to be as good as six feet under (although they are getting together today to define the framework).

The European Union has lifted its arms embargo on Syria – a move that was essentially a Franco-British delirium that went over the heads of reluctant EU members. It had to be Britain and France, of course, the two former imperial powers that almost a century ago carved up a line in the sand dividing the Levant and now want a redesign.

This would mean, in practice, that the EU has declared war on Damascus. Well, sort of. Under the EU agreement, no weaponizing will go on before autumn. And the belligerent Franco-British duo has to make sure any weapons are used only to protect civilians. Who will supervise this – a bunch of Brussels bureaucrats in army fatigues? Well, they can always revert to default – ask for American help. Every grain of sand in the Levant knows the CIA is “assisting” Qatar and Saudi Arabia to weaponize the “rebels”…

I did find it ironic that a WINEP-funded study couldn’t find an Iranian, but, did in fact find a dead American amongst the dead in Syria… Convoy of Martyrs in the Levant (PDF! 36p.) A Joint Study Charting the Evolving Role of Sunni Foreign Fighters in the Armed Uprising Against the Assad Regime in Syria

To wit: Majority of foreign fighters recently killed in Syria linked to front group for Al Qaeda…

…The majority of foreign fighters killed in Syria between July 2012 and May of this year were found to be fighting on behalf of a terrorist group that’s a front for Al Qaeda in Iraq, according to a new independent report by a security consulting firm that specializes in counterterrorism.

The report found at least 280 foreign fighters died in that time period.

Drawing on social media data, traditional media and internet platforms, the report called “Convoy of Martyrs in the Levant” by Flashpoint Global Partners concludes that the Syrian conflict is now drawing jihadiist fighters from the U.S., Chechnya, Kosovo, Egypt, Gaza, Jordan, Tunisia, Libya and Saudi Arabia.

“..The lion’s share of foreign fighters who are dying in Syria are fighting with the most hardline organization involved in the uprising: Jabhat al-Nusra,” the report said.;“The leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, Abu Mohammed al-Joulani, has recently publicly sworn allegiance to Al Qaeda leader Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri and the group has been blacklisted as a branch of Al Qaeda in Iraq by the United States government.”

From FP’s Marc Lynch…

Welcome to the Syrian Jihad

In a sermon on Friday, Islamist superstar theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi called on all Muslims to launch “a jihad in Syria against Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah, which are killing Sunnis and Christians and Kurds.”

Qaradawi declared that participation in a Syrian jihad was an individual obligation on every Muslim. He denounced Hezbollah, referring to it as “the party of Satan” and saying that it “want[s] continued massacres to kill Sunnis.” And he pushed deeper into sectarian hatred, labeling the Alawite sect, to which Assad belongs, as “worse infidels than Jews or Christians.”

What makes Qaradawi’s sectarian diatribe so disturbing is not that it represents some radical, new expression of extremism. It is that in today’s Arab world, there is nothing particularly distinctive about his comments at all. For many months, Arab and Muslim figures of all stripes have been loudly calling for support to the predominantly Sunni Syrian rebels, as have many Arab governments (and the United States and its allies, of course). The Muslim Brotherhood’s branches have strongly supported the Syrian opposition — acquiring too much power along the way, in the minds of some. Egyptian Salafis have described providing arms and funds to the Syrian rebels as “a form of worship” and killing Assad as a religious obligation. As the killing and destruction has escalated, such support for Syria’s rebels has rapidly morphed into extreme anti-Shiite and anti-Alawi rhetoric…

Interestingly… The No-Plan Zone

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Eternal War, Libya, Iran, And, Syria

2:01 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

(Phyllis Bennis is a superstar…!)

Thursday, the US State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism released it’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism 2012, from Chapter 2 Country Reports: The Middle East and North Africa Overview…

The Near East region continued to experience significant levels of terrorist activity in 2012, further complicated by ongoing regional instability across portions of North Africa and the Levant. Al-Qa’ida was not a part of the popular uprisings that led to democratic transitions across the Middle East and North Africa, but violent extremists looked for opportunities to exploit the political transitions underway.

In Libya, the security vacuum in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution provided more opportunities for terrorists to operate. This vacuum, combined with the weakness of Libya’s nascent security institutions, allowed violent extremists to act, as we saw too clearly on September 11 in Benghazi, when J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and three staff members, died during attacks on U.S. facilities.

Al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) – even with diminished leadership and capabilities – continued to conduct attacks across Iraq, while Shia militants largely ceased attacks but continued to threaten U.S. targets in Iraq. AQI also took advantage of a significantly depleted security situation in Syria. Operating under its alias, al-Nusrah Front, the group sought to portray itself as part of the legitimate Syrian opposition and attempted to hijack Syria’s struggle for democracy. The United States designated al-Nusra as an alias of AQI in December 2012.

Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has also taken advantage of the instability in the region, particularly in Libya and Mali. Kidnapping for ransom operations continued to yield significant sums for AQIM, and it conducted attacks against members of state security services within the Trans-Sahara region.

In the spring of 2012, a Yemeni military offensive, with the help of armed residents, regained government control over territory in the south, which AQAP had seized and occupied in 2011. Although weakened, AQAP was not eliminated as a threat. AQAP increasingly turned to asymmetric tactics to target Yemeni government officials, pro-government tribal militias known as Popular Committees, and their leaders, soldiers, civilians, and U.S. embassy personnel.

In 2012, there was a clear resurgence of Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism, through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), its Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and Tehran’s ally Hizballah, who remained a significant threat to the stability of Lebanon and the broader region. Attacks in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Far East were linked to the IRGC-QF or Hizballah. In fact, Hizballah’s terrorist activity has reached a tempo unseen since the 1990s with attacks plotted in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa.

Despite these persistent threats, governments across the region improved their own counterterrorism capabilities, effectively disrupting the activities of a number of terrorists. The Iraqi government displayed increased capability and efficacy in pursuing multiple Sunni violent extremist groups. Though AQIM’s presence and activity in the Sahel and parts of the Maghreb remains worrisome, the group’s isolation in Algeria grew as Algeria increased its already substantial efforts to target it. And in 2012, Yemeni forces were successful in reducing the physical territory that AQAP had previously gained in Yemen as the result of political turmoil…

Notably absent from their MENA assessment for 2012, is Syria…! Fancy that…!

Now, let’s look more closely at our Libyan fiasco…

Libya: Overview: In 2012, Libya was marked by grave insecurity, most apparent in the September 11 terrorist attack that resulted in the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three staff members. The prevalence of loose weapons, the continued ability of extra-governmental militias to act with impunity, the country’s porous borders, and the lack of government capacity to apply the rule of law outside of Tripoli contributed to this insecurity.

Despite these challenges, on July 7, the Transitional National Council peacefully transferred power to a new, democratically elected parliament, the General National Congress. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and his cabinet have prioritized efforts to strengthen and centralize national security institutions, integrate and disarm armed militias, and confront criminal and terrorist groups that have taken advantage of the security vacuum. This government has recognized that continued instability threatens Libya’s democratic transition and economic future.

The United States remains committed to Libya’s democratic transition and focused on Libya’s insecurity and the need to support Libya’s government in its efforts to address it. The State Department and USAID have provided funding to implementers who support Libya’s emerging civil society, advised Libya’s new political leaders, and empowered minority communities as they seek to understand and participate in the democratic transition, particularly the drafting of a constitution that denounces violence and ensures the rights of all Libyans.

Let’s not forget that this is a State Report, reporting only on the Snafu from last year, and not a compilation of this year’s foreign f*ckery in the MENA…!

So, let’s update it a tad…

Libya becomes ‘the new Mali’ as Islamists shift in Sahara

…Regional rivalries are aggravating the problem for Paris and its Western allies, with a lack of cooperation between Saharan countries helping militants to melt away when they come under pressure and regroup in quieter parts of the vast desert.

Security officials say lawless southern Libya has become the latest haven for al Qaeda-linked fighters after French-led forces drove them from strongholds in northern Mali this year, killing hundreds.

“The south of Libya is what the north of Mali was like before,” said a senior adviser to Mali’s interim President Diouncounda Traore, asking not to be named…

…But the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 flooded the Sahara with pillaged weapons and ammunition. Tuareg separatists used them to seize power in northern Mali, only to be ousted by even better-armed Islamists who set up training camps and imposed harsh Islamic law until the French forces arrived.

The Islamists have also exploited Libya’s weakness. Veteran al Qaeda commander Moktar Belmokhtar bought weapons there after Gaddafi’s fall and his fighters passed through southern Libya to carry out a mass hostage-taking at an Algerian gas plant in January, in which 37 foreigners died…

Now, Iran quickly rejected the report…

Tehran says U.S., not Iran, sponsors terrorism

Iran on Friday rejected a U.S. State Department report that accused Tehran of increasing its support for terrorism overseas to levels not seen for two decades, saying it is the United States that backs terrorists in the Middle East.
“Iran itself has been the victim of state-sponsored terrorism, which has claimed the lives of thousands of innocent Iranian people,” said Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman for Iran’s U.N. mission. “Iran has been actively engaged in counterterrorism activities by all possible means and is a party to many counterterrorism international legal instruments,” he said…

…”It should be mentioned that the U.S. government has no merit to label other nations of sponsoring terrorism as it has a long … record (of) supporting terrorist groups in our region as well as Israeli state terrorism,” Miryousefi said.

He cited the recent removal from the U.S. list of terrorist organizations of the Mujahadin-e-Khalq, a dissident group that calls for the overthrow of Iran’s Shi’ite Muslim clerical leadership and fought alongside the forces of Iraq’s late Sunni Muslim dictator Saddam Hussein in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

“The recent delisting of the MEK terrorist group … and also allowing it to publicly lobby in Washington is a clear indication that the U.S. government has double standards in dealing with terrorism and uses designation of others as terrorist only to serve its illegitimate political interests,” he said…

Speaking of the MEK, translated from Le Figaro

Two members of the Iranian opposition movement People’s Mujahedin were found dead a month ago in the Idlib region in western Syria, says an MEP in contact with the anti rebellion Bashar al-Assad. They fighting alongside insurgents seeking to overthrow the Syrian regime, backed by Iran. Considered by France as a terrorist organization, MKO have a base in Iraq, based in the Paris suburbs. Services to Arab and Western intelligence would use against Iranian interests, or allies of Tehran, as the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

In recent developments on Syria… In spite of McInsane’s screeches, Syrian rebels need heavy weapons, I was certainly pleased to read this…

U.S. withholds millions pledged to help Syrian opposition

The United States is withholding $63 million that it had pledged to the main Syrian opposition organization because the Obama administration is frustrated with the group’s disarray and is searching for more credible partners to support in the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar Assad, knowledgeable officials said Friday.

The decision not to fund the Syrian Opposition Coalition contrasts sharply with the Obama administration’s continued public expressions of confidence in the group, which has been central to U.S. policy on Syria since last fall and which the administration recognizes as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

But U.S. officials said privately that they are fed up with the group’s inability to organize, appoint a government-in-exile or reach decisions on a wide range of issues. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity so as to more freely discuss sensitive diplomacy…

More on the Syrian Rebels…

Saudi edges Qatar to control Syrian rebel support

…The outcome, many Syrian opposition leaders hope, could strengthen them in both negotiations and on the battlefield – while hampering some of the anti-Western Islamist hardliners in their ranks whom they say Qatar has been helping with weaponry.

Anger at a failure by one such Qatari-backed Islamist unit in a battle in April that gave Syrian government forces control of a key highway helped galvanise the Saudis, sources said, while Qatari and Islamist efforts to control the opposition political body backfired by angering Riyadh and Western powers.

The northern rebel commander said Saudi leaders would no longer let Qatar take the lead but would themselves take over the dominant role in channelling support into Syria.

“The Saudis met leaders of the Free Syrian Army, including officers from the Military Council in Jordan and Turkey, and have agreed that they will be supporting the rebels,” he said after attending one of those meetings himself.

Prince Salman bin Sultan, a senior Saudi security official, was now running relations with the Syrian rebels, backed by his elder brother, intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

Qatar also gave ground in the political field, accepting finally, late on Thursday, that the National Coalition should add a non-Islamist bloc backed by Saudi Arabia.

“In the end Qatar did not want a confrontation with Saudi Arabia and accepted the expansion,” said a source close to the liberals who were allowed to join a body which the United States and European Union want to become a transitional government.

The rebels, whose disunity has been a hindrance both in the field and in manoeuvring for a possible international peace conference in the coming weeks, still face a huge task to topple Assad, who has long labelled his enemies Islamist “terrorists” and has his own powerful allies abroad, notably Iran and Russia.

What a Clusterf*ck…! *gah*

by CTuttle

Wilkerson: Chemical weapon use in Syria ‘could have been an Israeli false flag operation’

6:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

(H/T wigwam)

Here’s the extended Cenk interview… Col. Lawrence Wilkerson: Chemical weapon use in Syria ‘could have been an Israeli false flag operation’

…“I think the president’s statement was very circumspect, very prudent,” Wilkerson says. “We don’t know what the chain of custody is. This could’ve been an Israeli false flag operation, it could’ve been an opposition in Syria, … or it could’ve been an actual use by [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad. But we certainly don’t know with the evidence we’ve been given. And what I’m hearing from the intelligence community is that that evidence is really flakey…. “This could have been an Israeli false flag operation,” he said. “You’ve got basically a geo-strategically, geo-political — if you will — inept regime in Tel Aviv right now.”

Now, to add fuel to that wild conspiracy theory, why would the AIPAC funded and staffed, WINEP, at their upcoming 2013 Soref Symposium, scheduled for May 9, host members of the Free Syrian Army…?

Schedule:

— Noon: Israeli Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni delivers remarks on “Israel’s New Government and the Challenge of Peacemaking with the Palestinians”

— 2:30 p.m.: Anwar Esmat El Sadat, founder and chairman of the El Sadat Association for Social Development and Welfare; and Dennis Ross, former senior Middle East adviser to four presidents and counselor at WINEP, participate in a discussion on “Egypt’s Revolution, Two Years On: Transition in Distress?”

— 4 p.m.: Col. Abdul Hamid Zakaria, commander and spokesman for the Free Syrian Army; and Col. Abdul Jabbar Akidi, Free Syrian Army commander and head of the Revolutionary Military Council in Aleppo, participate in a breakout discussion on “Inside Syria: The Battle Against Assad’s Regime.” (The session is off the record)

— 7 p.m.: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel deliver remarks on “U.S. Defense Policy in the Middle East”

LOCATION: Ritz-Carlton Hotel, 1150 22nd Street NW, Washington, D.C.CONTACT: Brittany Parker, 202-452-0650 ext. 244; press@washingtoninstitute.org [Note: Speeches by Tzipi Livni, Anwwar El Sadat and Chuck Hagel will be available via live-stream at https://www.washingtoninstitute.org. RSVP to Brittany Parker at press@washingtoninstitute.org for media credentials]

Btw, ya just gotta love Chuck’s recent remarks… Hagel to Israel: Attacking Iran Will Be Considered After June Vote – Nations Will Conduct ‘Joint Assessment’ After Iran’s ElectionWtf…?

What’s fascinating to me is that hot on the heels of yesterday’s Israeli air strike in Syria…

…Israeli aircraft bombed a warehouse in Syria Friday that reportedly held Iran-made Fateh-110 missiles bound for Hezbollah. It’s the second time in four months that Israeli aircraft have hit targets in Syria.

Again today in Damascus…

That awkward moment when Israel launches Air Strikes in Syria…! Ya think…?

Hmmm, a very interesting wrinkle… Israeli jet shot down over Damascus: Hezbollah TV…

Anyways, in other news and views, Marc Lynch, also at FP, wrote a great article…

How Syria Ruined the Arab Spring

Hopes for peaceful change have been replaced by sectarian animosity and unending bloodshed.

… Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey had a variety of motives for supporting the opposition, and worked through different networks to accomplish their goals. They have often worked at cross-purposes, funneling weapons and cash to competing local forces in ways that undermined hopes for opposition unity and disproportionately empowered not only Islamists, but armed groups over peaceful ones.

Syria also radically changed the media narrative in both the Arab world and the West. During the early days of the so-called Arab Spring, the international media rushed to cover half a dozen rapidly moving storylines — Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen — while anxiously checking in on almost every other Arab country to see if it might be joining the wave. These days, the international media’s coverage of the region is almost completely dominated by Syria, broken only by episodic coverage of Egypt during moments of crisis.

Coverage from inside Syria is dominated by war correspondents, for obvious reasons, while much of the outside coverage relies dangerously on video footage and information found on the Internet provided by activist networks. In Egypt, an army of freelance journalists could rush to check claims about clashes or protests, but that luxury isn’t available to the media covering Syria’s endless claims and counter-claims…

Al Jazeera’s one-sided coverage of Syria and perceived support of Qatari foreign policy has cost it that central position. It is increasingly seen as just another partisan media outlet — and nothing has replaced it. As a result, the Arab media is increasingly fragmented, with regional and national media alike divided along sectarian and political lines and much less of a unifying, common media space. Social media doesn’t really replace that shared broadcast public sphere — instead, it encourages the formation of polarized bubbles as the like-minded seek each other out and reinforce their prejudices…

Ex-CIA Desk Chief, Philip Giraldi, wrote recently…

Drones for “Regime Protection”

The CIA’s insurance plan for Karzai and Maliki—and what it means for Syria

Media reports of CIA preparations to use drones to target al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria, should the post-Assad situation warrant such an intervention, are only partly correct. The plan to use drones under certain circumstances is in reality part of the much larger CIA program in Iraq that parallels the program being set up in Afghanistan. CIA initiatives in both countries are related to what is being mandated by the National Security Council as a policy of “regime survival” to help keep in place governments that are at least nominally friendly to Washington and that will be dependent on American technology and intelligence resources for the foreseeable future to maintain their own security. The CIA will bear the brunt of the two operations, as it can do so without a highly visible military footprint. In Iraq it includes, among other elements, the continued training of something akin to an elite counter-terrorism Praetorian Guard to protect senior officials while also advancing efforts against a growing Salafist presence in the country, linked to resurgent Sunni terrorism that is attempting to weaken the government of Nouri al-Maliki. The Obama administration is hoping to develop a level of cooperation with the Iraqi government that will enable the identification of extremist elements, some of which are taking the opportunity to transit into Syria. They are a threat to what are perceived to be the long-term interests of America and Iraq’s Shia government. Those who are identified as al-Qaeda-linked militants could become drone targets in Syria, if the situation in that country deteriorates

Dronez away, Bitchez…! *gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Hagel, Iran, Kerry, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and, Qatar

7:07 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Some more SoS Kerry:

…We came to Turkey yesterday most importantly to join with other foreign ministers from the Core Group supporters of the Syrian opposition in order to outline our vision – the support group – but also to hear and listen to the Syrian opposition outline their vision for the future of their country and for the important principles that were affirmed last night of pluralism, of the equality of all Syrians, of the effort to reject extremism, and most importantly to recognize the shared goal, the most important goal of trying to find a political resolution to end the killing, to end the destruction, and to keep Syria whole. That was a critical commitment by all parties, and I believe we’ve left here with clarity with respect to how we might try to reach out to the Russians, reach out to the others, and see if there isn’t a way to achieve that.

But absent that, we also committed to raise our assistance levels to the Syrian opposition in order to make it clear that we are not equivocating with respect to that commitment and that President Obama and others are deeply committed to a transition that affords the people of Syria the right to choose their future and to move away from this path of destruction which the Assad regime is wreaking on their own citizens, on their own country.

As you know, the United States, in fulfillment of our obligations with respect to supporting the opposition, committed to doubling our nonlethal aid and to giving much of that to local leaders who are trying to lay the groundwork for a stable and a democratic future. And each of the countries represented that were here yesterday all made a commitment to direct their military aid and assistance directly and uniquely, solely, through the Supreme Military Command General Idris. I think that may be one of the most important single things that was agreed on last night that can make a difference to the situation on the ground…

Interestingly, it was a much diminished crew of Syrian War Enthusiaists in attendance:

…In a joint statement by the 11 countries attending the Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul, extreme concern was expressed over the Syria conflict and condemnation for the brutal campaign of the Syrian regime. But U.S. Secretary State John Kerry, at a press conference Saturday, said they were all still committed to a political solution.

I was pleased to today continue our discussion with our allies. They share the view we should have a peaceful transition,” Kerry said. “That’s the first priority of everybody.

Remember, at one point, there was 114 nations participating in the ‘Friends of Syria’ talks, as b at MOA succinctly pointed out today…!

Now, where is that Chuck Hagel that the AIPAC apparatchik had so feared?

Arms deal with Middle East allies signal to Iran – Hagel

… “The bottom line is that Iran is a threat, a real threat,” Hagel, who arrived in Israel on Sunday on his first visit there as defense secretary, told reporters on his plane.

“The Iranians must be prevented from developing that capacity to build a nuclear weapon and deliver it,” he said… … Asked about renewed debate in the Israeli media that Israel might have to strike Iran by itself, Hagel said “every sovereign nation has the right to defend itself and protect itself”.

Iran presents a threat in its nuclear programme and Israel will make the decisions that Israel must make to protect itself and defend itself,” he said.

But Hagel added the United States and other countries believe there is still time for diplomacy and tough international sanctions to have an impact.

The military option is one option that remains on the table, must remain on the table,” he said. “But military options, I think most of us feel, should be the last option.

Hello…? I swear it’s a full-court press …

Iran is biggest threat to nuclear pact’s credibility: U.S.

… “The actions of Iran and North Korea should concern every member of this conference,” Countryman told a news briefing.

“It is clear that if Iran succeeds in the project of constructing nuclear weapons, then it is not only the Helsinki meeting that becomes irrelevant, but it is in fact the entire credibility of this treaty.”

Countryman was referring to a decision last November to put off talks on banning atomic bombs in the Middle East that were due to have taken place in Helsinki in December.

Iran blamed the United States at the time for a “serious setback” to the NPT.

“The possession of such weapons by Iran constitutes a threat to the entire region and an impetus for greater proliferation, lateral proliferation of weapons, than we have ever seen.”

Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon would be a “genuine tipping point and would cause more damage to the treaty than anything else that has occurred in its history”, he added

What a crock of sh*t!

As my long-time fave Persian blogger, Iran Affairs’ Cyrus Safdari, had to say to the Leveretts:

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

Al-Nusra Runs Rampant In Syria

9:16 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

C’mon, folks…! Was there ever any doubt as to the Saudi/Qatari, Petrobuck-fueled, Wahabbist influence…?


Islamist Factions Imposing Saudi-Style Religious Codes on Residents…

…The police are charged with enforcing an extremely harsh interpretation of Sunni Islam, and while the rebels insist they are aimed at “fighting crime,” the locals say that mostly they are forcing people to pray and stopping women from driving cars.

Women are expressing serious concern about the trend, saying that they were on board for a “revolution for freedom” but the rebels are determined to take away social and individual freedoms they enjoyed under the Assad regime.

Secular rebel factions insisted that the entire story was “made up” by the regime to discredit the rebellion, but Islamist factions seemed to endorse the move, saying that a virtue-and-vice squad is “part-and-parcel of the freedom revolution” and that since Sunnis are a majority in Syria they have a right to impose such rules on society.

So, now get a load of this Hof Guff…

Syria’s Time Is Running Out

…”…the United States and others should immediately establish security assistance relationships with this new government, providing arms and training…Although the administration has so far resisted arming the opposition, arms are now the coin of the realm for anyone wishing to influence the course of Syria’s future. The United States and its allies — most notably Turkey — must dominate the logistics of external arms transfers, ensuring that weapons go to those advocating a non-sectarian, decent political system for Syria and are denied to those seeking a sectarian outcome…The negative reaction of the mainstream Syrian opposition to the U.S. designation of Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organization is understandable. ….. the timing of the designation was amateurishly lamentable — unnecessarily neutralizing the impact of U.S. recognition of the Syrian Opposition Council…”

Huh…?

Anyways, some real insight…

Civil war at stalemate, says Russia

…Syria’s civil war has reached stalemate and international efforts to persuade President Bashar Al Assad to quit will fail, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday.

Mainly Sunni Muslim rebels seeking to overthrow Assad are fighting on the edge of the capital Damascus and expanding southwards from their northern strongholds in Aleppo and Idlib into the central province of Hama. {…}

… But Lavrov said the Syrian president was not about to bow to pressure from opponents or more sympathetic leaders in Moscow and Beijing.

“Listen, no one is going to win this war,” he told reporters aboard a government plane en route to Moscow from the Russia-EU summit in Brussels. “Assad is not going anywhere, no matter what anyone says, be it China or Russia.”

Lavrov said Russia had rejected requests from countries in the region to pressure Assad to go or offer him safe haven, and warned that his exit might lead to an upsurge in fighting.

He also said Syrian authorities were gathering the country’s chemical weapons in one or two areas and that they were “under control” for the time being. “Currently the (Syrian) government is doing all it can to secure (chemical weapons), according to intelligence data we have and the West has,” he said. {…}

In Aleppo, rebel leader Colonel Abdel-Jabbar Al Oqaidi said his fighters considered the skies above Aleppo to be a no-fly zone and repeated a warning that they would attack planes using the city’s airport.

Snipers fired at an airliner preparing to take off from Aleppo on Thursday, forcing it to abandon its departure.

“The airport was being used as a military airport to transport troops and (Iranian) Revolutionary Guards,” Oqaidi told Reuters. “We forbid planes from flying in Syrian air space. We will set up a no-fly zone.”

What a D*ckhead, no…?

And, if there’s any doubters left amongst ya… An insight into Syria’s frontline…

Btw…

…According to Lavrov, American partners recognise that the major threat will be posed if chemical weapons fall into the hands of terrorists.

“We tell them – you do back the opposition, including its armed struggle. Thus, it may happen what you fear. We determine the priorities. No clear answer is available yet,” Lavrov said.

The minister stressed that Russia re-checked all rumours related to chemical weapons. “Till now, according to our data, which is correlated with the West, chemical weapons are under control. The Syrian authorities concentrated their arsenals in one or two centres. Earlier, all was strewn across the country.” “This is the important problem. Everyone should realise that ‘the hands’ should not provided aid that continues to be rendered,” the minister added.

According to Russian and American special services, the Syrian government does everything possible to safeguard chemical weapons, Lavrov pointed out.

Fancy that…! So we have purported Scud-Style missiles being lobbed, but, no real proof, and, we’re all supposed to Arm Cheer the USA FSA on…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Madame Shillary is Worried That ‘Extremists’ Are Hijacking The SNC, Sacks SNC

3:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Here’s an example of the ‘spin’ being put on the ‘recent’ discovery of Jihadists amongst the Syrian Rebels… Syria: Rebel Fighters Are Becoming Radicalised…

Sky has seen new evidence that the Syrian uprising is becoming more and more radicalised and being fought by Islamic fundamentalists and extremists.

The Syrian rebels have all but given up on military intervention by the West but after 18 months of grinding battle and a feeling they have been abandoned by the international community, they are making their own bombs and weapons and becoming much more self-sufficient.

There are some weapons and arms being smuggled across the borders from sympathetic Muslim neighbours.

We saw brand new rocket propelled grenade launchers with their rockets still in their plastic wrappers which had been smuggled across the Turkish border and an anti-aircraft gun which the rebels told us had come from Iraq.

But although that means that the rebels have many more weapons than they have had before, it is still small fry in comparison to the heavy weaponry, tanks and artillery employed by the regime.

What is increasingly obvious is the number of Jihad (holy war) flags and Jihad paraphernalia worn and used by the rebel fighters. The black headbands worn by many of the fighters are a symbol of Islamic fundamentalism – used by extremist groups and usually anti-Western.

The common refrain from many of the rebel fighters is that they have been forgotten by the outside world.

A number of commanders told us they were disappointed, angry and frustrated by the lack of help from the international community.

One said: “All we get is words, not actions.”

Y’all should know by now, that I’ve been screaming my head off about the F/UK/US/Arab League promotion of Jihadists in Iraq, Libya, Syria, amongst numerous other places! Afterall,’Divide and Conquer‘ is the primary means to Regime Change…!

Now, one should read all of Madame Shillary’s statement in Zagreb, to get the full impact…

QUESTION: Secretary, if I could ask you about Syria. Mr. Brahimi’s attempt at a ceasefire has evidently failed, and the violence is increasing again. What are your views on what needs to be done now to bring the violence down?

And turning to next week’s opposition conference in Doha, what gives you confidence, if you have any at all, that this could produce the beginnings of a government in waiting where the SNC has failed to do that? And are you sure that your key allies, including Turkey, are ready to swing behind whatever is the outcome of Doha? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well Andy, those are all very important and timely questions. And I want to start by thanking Croatia for their assistance in dealing with the extremely difficult problems presented by both Syria and Iran.

Look, I sincerely regret, but I, unfortunately, was not surprised by the failure of the latest ceasefire attempt. Despite its reported commitment to the UN Special Envoy, Mr. Brahimi, the Assad regime did not suspend its use of advanced weaponry against the Syrian people for even one day. And the shelling in the suburbs of Damascus was as bad last weekend as at any time in the conflict.

So while we urge Special Envoy Brahimi to do whatever he can in Moscow and Beijing to convince them to change course and support stronger UN action, we cannot and will not wait for that. Instead, our efforts, and those of our partners in the EU and the Arab League, are focused on pressuring the regime through increasing and tightening sanctions, meeting the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people who are displaced, assisting those countries that they seek refuge in, and helping the opposition unite behind a shared, effective strategy that can resist the regime’s violence and begin to provide for a political transition that can demonstrate more clearly than has been possible up until now what the future holds for the Syrian people once the Assad regime is gone.

So we are working very hard with many different elements from the opposition – yes, inside Syria as well as outside Syria. Some of you might remember I hosted a meeting in New York during the UN General Assembly. We facilitated the smuggling-out of a few representatives of the Syrian internal opposition in order for them to explain to the countries gathered why they must be at the table. This cannot be an opposition represented by people who have many good attributes but have, in many instances, not been inside Syria for 20, 30, or 40 years. There has to be a representation of those who are on the frontlines, fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom.

And there needs to be an opposition leadership structure that is dedicated to representing and protecting all Syrians. It is not a secret that many inside Syria are worried about what comes next. They have no love lost for the Assad regime, but they worry, rightly so, about the future. And so there needs to be an opposition that can speak to every segment and every geographic part of Syria. And we also need an opposition that will be on record strongly resisting the efforts by extremists to hijack the Syrian revolution. There are disturbing reports of extremists going into Syria and attempting to take over what has been a legitimate revolution against a repressive regime for their own purposes.

So the Arab League-sponsored meetings, starting in Doha next week, will be an important next step. I have been constantly involved with my counterparts, both in the EU and in the Arab League, in particular with the hosts of the meeting next week in Qatar. We have recommended names and organizations that we believe should be included in any leadership structure. We’ve made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition. They can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice that needs to be heard. So our efforts are very focused on that right now. Thank you.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) This completes the statements for the press. Thank you.

As The Cable is reporting…

Clinton explains State Department efforts to build new Syrian opposition council

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged Wednesday that the U.S. government has been working to establish a new council to represent the Syrian opposition, to be unveiled in Qatar at a major conference next week.

The Cable reported Tuesday that the State Department has been heavily involved in setting the stage for the Nov. 7 rollout of a new opposition leadership council, which will subsume the Syrian National Council (SNC), a group of external opposition leaders that the administration has decided is too consumed by infighting and ineffectiveness to represent the Syrian opposition.

U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford will travel to Qatar for the conference and has been working to craft the new council in a way that better represents a wider array of both internal and external opposition groups. U.S. officials and opposition leaders are calling the initiative the “Riad Seif plan,” named after the former Syrian parliamentarian and dissident who has been active in preparing the new initiative.

“We call it a proto-parliament. One could also think of it as a continental congress,” a senior administration official told The Cable.

Needless to say, it’s going over like a lead balloon…

Syrian opposition figures bristle at new US push to overhaul leadership

Members of Syria’s opposition-in-exile bristled Thursday at the Obama administration’s suggestion that Washington will handpick more representative leaders at a crucial conference in Qatar next week.

The new U.S. push appears aimed at creating a unified leadership that could work more closely with the West. But there are signs of resistance among deeply fractured opposition groups wary of attempts by foreign backers to dictate strategy in the civil war against President Bashar Assad.

“This direct tutelage and these dictates are not acceptable to the Syrian people anymore,” said Zuhair Salem, the London-based spokesman for Syria’s banned Muslim Brotherhood opposition group. The Brotherhood is part of the main political opposition group, the Syrian National Council, which is dominated by exiles…

b at MOA further extrapolated on what a Cluster F*ck we’ve created… U.S. Installs New Political Proxy Opposition…

God help us all…!

*gah*