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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, Russia, Syria, and, a Valentine’s Fray

12:15 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

A most interesting interview…! Here’s a short snippet:Islam v West? ‘Major civilizations on collision course’

Now, delving into current MENA affairs, in the recent ‘State’ visit of al-Sisi to Moscow…

Egypt, Russia pledge close bilateral relations

In a 2+2 meeting in Moscow, Egypt’s defence minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and foreign minister Nabil Fahmy discuss arms deal, stress closer relations.

In his first trip outside the country since ousting former president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met with his Russian counterparts in Moscow to discuss a planned $2 billion arms deal.

The deal includes a Russian air defence system and, if signed as expected, will be the biggest military purchase from Russia since the Soviet era, marking a possible rekindling of a historic alliance that ended in the 1970s when former president Anwar Sadat reoriented Egypt’s position in favour of the US.

El-Sisi insisted in an interview earlier this week that closer relations with Russia are no replacement for existing relations with other countries.

His high-profile visit to Russia, in the company of Egypt’s foreign minister Nabil Fahmy, featured a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who expressed his firm support for El-Sisi’s presidential bid, not yet announced from the field marshal but widely anticipated.

El-Sisi stressed that the meeting represents “a new departure” for Egyptian-Russian military and technological cooperation, reported Egypt’s state news agency MENA.

Aside from Putin, the two-day talks were headed by Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Now, what is not reported by most…

Russian television reveals what Russia wants from Egypt

The goal behind the Russian-Egyptian cooperation and arming Egypt is Russia’s need for another base and focus point in the Mediterranean Sea, other than Syria, as it is unstable and its fate is unknown, Konstantin Sivkov, First Vice President at the Academy for Geopolitical Issue said.

Speaking during the Russia Today programme which was aired on Russian TV on November 13, 2013, Sivkov said Russia’s need for this base are many, the least of which is the water, fuel and food supply, as well as a place for sailors to rest.

During the programme Dimitri Jantiv, Middle Eastern Studies expert at the Institute of Asian and African Countries, noted that the American’s anger over this will be limited since the Egyptian army is in control of a number of things, including “the aircraft that freely flies over Egypt’s airspace, the warships that sail through the Suez Canal, the joint manoeuvres and the intelligence information.”

The interviews revealed the expected outcomes of Egyptian Minister of Defence Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s visit to Russia and the reason behind Russia’s support for him.

A Russian naval base was established, just as Russia wanted, and, as mentioned in the video, it was established to coincide with Al-Sisi’s last visit to Russia.

Now, I question whether a naval base has been set in concrete, but, I’m positive that Israel, muchless the US, must be none-to-thrilled with that agreed-upon Russian Air Defense battalion in Egypt…!

Most especially, considering the fact the Israelis don’t have the same back-door accessibility to the Russian ADA systems, like they do with all the US/Nato ADA systems…!

Russia’s Putin supports Egypt’s General Sisi for president Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Friday News Dump

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As Shir Hever makes abundantly clear in that clip, the I/P Peace Farce is nothing but a charade…! Now, I swear it’s Déjà vu, all over again, as I wrote back when Hillary was the SoS… The Fork Is Stuck In The Peace Farce’s Dead Carcass In reflecting back on that golden oldie, and but for a few personnel changes, much of it reflects exactly what’s happening today…!

However, one of those characters I’d cited, Tzipi Livni, has certainly roiled the waters recently…

Tzipi Livni claims she had sex with two Palestinian figures, Erekat and Abed Rabbo and threatens them with video proof

The chief Israeli negotiator and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, said this week that she has had sex with the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority in the peace negotiations with Israel, Saeb Erekat and the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation(PLO) Yasser Abed Rabbo.

Livni’s sexual misdemeanours have been the fodder of the political Arab rumour mill for years, but until now, what the foxy Israeli politician got up to behind closed doors was all guess work.

Lebanese newspaper Al Diyyar broke the story earlier this week that the Knesset Beauty had publicy stated that she and the chief Rabbi of Israel had decided that “It was ok for her to sleep and have sex with strangers, as long as it benefits Israel”.

According to Al Diyyar, Livni said :“The room where I had sex with Palestinian figures as Saeb Erekat and Yasser Abed Rabbo was equipped with cameras.”

She also confirmed that the videos show Palestinian officials, nude, having sex with her.

Livni is now threatening a number of Arab figures to post these shot videos on YouTube if they do not execute what she orders them.

That seemingly paints those Palestinian Negotiators into the same pathetic corner, as Abu Mazen’s complete cop-out throughout the Peace Farce, as the Palestine Papers have made so abundantly clear…!

So anyways, there’s a ton more of MENA news and views to cover…

An optimistic Arabic article…

‘A nuclear deal in sight for Iran at Geneva talks’

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi says an initial nuclear deal is likely to be reached on Iran’s nuclear program after a planned meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva.

“I’m a bit optimistic,” Araqchi told reporters after the first day of talks between Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany.

The hoped-for agreement — seen as a first step ahead of further talks on a final deal — could see Tehran to decide about changes on the dimension of its nuclear activities for as long as six months in exchange for some relief from the Western sanctions.

However the administration of US President Barack Obama says it is “premature” to criticize a deal being discussed in Geneva over Iran’s nuclear energy program.

“There is not an agreement at this point,” John Kerry told reporters shortly after arriving in Geneva Friday to help seal what is hoped to be a landmark deal with Tehran.

Kerry, who broke off a Middle East tour to join the ongoing negotiations in the Swiss city, stressed that “there are still some very important issues on the table that are unresolved.”

In addition to Kerry, the foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany also arrived Friday following last-minute announcements they would join the talks.

As Bloomberg wrote today…

Iran Accord Seen Near as Top Diplomats Flock to Geneva

World powers are sending their top diplomats to Geneva for an unscheduled third day of talks with Iran, signaling a possible agreement to break the decade-long stalemate over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.

The Chinese and Russian foreign ministers are due to join their French, German, U.K. and U.S. counterparts today in the Swiss city, where negotiators have been seeking for the past two days to complete an initial accord.

“Foreign ministers don’t show up to be embarrassed,” said Jim Walsh, a security analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, who has traveled to Iran for talks with nuclear officials. “They’re in town because they’re close enough to a deal to come.”

Naturally, the PePs, and Neo/Ziocons are completely freaking out, from today’s WSJ…

Emerging Iran Deal Brings Jitters to Washington

As Secretary of State John Kerry and European foreign ministers met Friday with Iranian officials to finalize a deal curbing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for reduced sanctions, legislators back home weighed in on the possibility of a deal.

Several members of Congress blasted the administration for being too open to what they consider a substandard deal that doesn’t require Iran to fully suspend its uranium enrichment programs. {…}

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers were concerned about the deal emerging in Geneva, which would have Iran roll back its nuclear enrichment program in exchange for an easing of international sanctions. Negotiators emphasized Friday that important details remained unresolved.

“If Iran intends to show good faith during these talks, it must at a minimum abide by United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for a halt to enrichment, and it is my hope that we achieve much more,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) in a statement Friday. “I forcefully reject any notion that Iran has a ‘right’ to enrichment, a view which the administration has publicly articulated on numerous occasions.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) called the deal being pursued “terrible” and said it would endanger the country.

To put it all into it’s proper perspective, on why on earth, Rep. Engel and Sen. Cruz should happen to be on the same page, Philip Giraldi, penned another awesome essay, yesterday…

Israel and You and Me

What’s in it for us, Mr. President?

If the United States fails to take advantage of the opportunity to come to terms with Iran over its nuclear program it will be because of pressure from Israel. If the unthinkable happens and Washington actually attacks Iran, initiating another major war that will have far reaching and possibly disastrous consequences, it will likewise be because of Israel. Folks in the progressive media who find that fact unpalatable or, quite frankly scary, tend to attribute the White House’s inability to articulate a more benign and responsible foreign policy that would serve true national interests to other factors, including imperialism, capitalism, the military industrial state and misguided humanitarianism, but they are possibly deliberately missing the point. Imperialism and capitalism do not explain Syria, nor does the increasingly militarized American national security state, witness the fact that the Pentagon knows its limitations and is actually reluctant to get more involved anywhere in the Middle East. {…}

All of the above is intended to demonstrate that what passes for United States national interests have been manipulated and distorted, so much so that they have little or nothing to do with reality. Where is the “you” and “me” in what the White House is doing? We Americans have an interest in peace and prosperity but instead the president sits down with five heads of organizations who only want war on behalf of a foreign land, with more American soldiers likely dying for nothing as a result as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. And there is domestic blowback that comes part and parcel with the fractured foreign policy: homeland security in the United States is a response to the international terrorism that has plagued our country in large part because of Washington’s uncritical support of Israel. Our national security state not surprisingly incorporates many Israeli practices as America becomes more and more like Israel, not vice versa. And Washington pays for making us “safe” on a credit card, as the economy sinks and burns…

Now, moving along to other blockbuster news… Following hot on the heels of the recent Turkish, seismic shift… Turkey’s shift to China instead of NATO Egypt, seemingly, is working on a very similar Arms Deal with Russia…!

Egypt Eyes $4Bln Arms Deal With Russia

Egypt is considering spending up to $4 billion on advanced weaponry from Russia following the partial suspension of military aid and equipment deliveries from the United States, a Palestinian online newspaper said Thursday.

According to Donia Al-Watan, Moscow has offered Cairo “a historic deal giving Egypt an option to buy the most advanced weaponry without any restrictions.”

To be sure… Russian Defense, Foreign Ministers to Visit Egypt

In more news, the constant rants from the infamous Moustache of Fury, amongst numerous others, in Geneva today… US loses Unesco voting rights after stopping funds over Palestine decision along with Israel…!

Ironically, on Twitter’s big IPO, Bibi, had declared… Netanyahu launches ‘Real face of Iran’ Twitter campaign against Khamenei

Funny thing tho, today… Our negotiators are not ‘compromisers,’ Khamenei tweets Oh Snap…!

Meanwhile, Obama calls Netanyahu amid Israel fury at proposed Iran deal…!

Stay tuned…! *gah*

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

Syria Mashup: ‘Group Think’, House of Saud, and The UN

11:42 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

With numerous articles and Airheads asserting that the UN report, which will be released Monday(and not a moment sooner FP!) will point it’s finger at Assad, let me remind them what the UN’s mission really was…!

UN inspectors examine Syria poison gas allegations

Damascus has allowed UN chemical weapons inspectors access to areas allegedly attacked with poison gas last week. The mission is to determine whether an attack actually took place – but not who was responsible.

What is clear, however, is that a major propagandistic tug-of-war is taking place concerning the claimed use of chemical weapons and alleged perpetrators. {…}

Good chance of clarification

The UN mission stands a good chance to clarify issues surrounding the most recent poison gas attack, said Jan van Aken, a Left Party member of German parliament. “By examining survivors, the inspectors in Syria can easily determine whether poison gas was used or not,” van Aken told DW. “They can tell within minutes. A bit later, after the lab work is done, they can presumably say which poison was used – or if in fact this was a chemical weapons attack at all.”

Propaganda and facts

The UN mission may not, however, answer one key question: “The inspectors can only say whether chemical weapons were used, but not who did it,” van Aken said, adding that the political propaganda battle has already begun.

According van Aken, technical evidence would not help pinpoint who was behind the attacks. The situation in Syria is too complex to allow clear-cut conclusions, he says. “Even if you find the remnants of a Syrian missile with traces of a nerve agent, you still don’t know whether Assad’s troops fired it, or whether opposition rebels seized it during an attack on an army base somewhere in the north, and later employed it.”

So, lets look at some basic facts… Turkish prosecutor: Syria rebels ordered 10 tons of sarin nerve agent in Turkey…

On May 28 Turkish security forces found a 2-kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of terrorists from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front who were previously detained.

According to media reports, sarin gas was found in the homes of suspected Syrian militants detained in provinces of Adana and Mersia following a search by Turkish police.

Five Turks and a Syrian citizen, named Haitam Kassapwho, who were arrested on the case for allegations of buying chemical weapons in Turkey, have pleaded not guilty, according to the English-language Hurriyet Daily News, which quoted from the indictment.

Prosecution attorney objected the ruling and presented the court with a 132-page document which contained evidence of the suspects’ links to terrorist groups in Syria including al-Nusra Front and al-Qaeda-linked Islamic States on Iraq and Levant (Ahrar al-Sham), a report by the Voice of Russia said.

The document says that radical Salafis groups set up a channel for carrying out terrorist attacks inside Turkey.

According to the document al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham group had tried to buy large amounts of sarin nerve gas and chemical substances used in manufacturing poisonous materials.

The prosecution believes that the suspects have links to Syrian groups close to al-Qaeda and their leaders and were buying chemical materials from Turkey to send into Syria.

Citing telephone calls made by the suspects, the document shows they ordered at least ten tons of chemicals in total.

Now, let’s not forget this previous article… Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack

Here’s a newer report… New granular evidence points to Saudi role in chemical weapons attack

As Col. Wilkerson noted in the above video clip, the ‘paucity of evidence’ coming from the White House is very troublesome…! Cherry-picked even…? And, as Col. Lang wrote recently…

The administration’s case against Syria over the 21st of August disaster is gradually disintegrating. It will continue to do so. pl

Which brings me to Robert Parry’s excellent article…

Rewarding ‘Group Think’ on Syria

“Group think” is alive and well in Official Washington, with virtually all the important pundits marching in lock-step with the Obama administration’s accusations against the Syrian government and everyone fuming over an Op-Ed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, observes Robert Parry.

…Nearly every U.S. pundit and politician – from neocon to liberal – is charging off in the same direction, accepting undocumented U.S. government claims about Syria’s alleged chemical attack on Aug. 21 as undeniably true and deriding Russian President Vladimir Putin for a New York Times Op-Ed that had the audacity to defend the Nuremberg principles against aggressive war. {…}

Buying the Official Story

Beyond reflecting the conventional wisdom’s contempt for Putin, Robinson, like nearly every major U.S. opinion-leader, has accepted the U.S. government’s version of events regarding the alleged chemical attack on a Damascus suburb on Aug. 21.

Though the Obama administration has not released a single piece of verifiable evidence to support its “Government Assessment” fingering the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Robinson and his colleagues now report those assertions as flat fact, including the strange calculation that precisely “1,429” people died from poison gas. Other estimates have cited several hundred deaths, and the U.S. government has not explained the provenance of its number.

Yet, the U.S. tally of the dead and other claims are good enough for the American pundit class, evidence not required…

However, concealing shaky evidence to induce a public consensus is not ideally how a democracy should work, especially on a question as weighty as war or peace. And it is not how an independent press corps is supposed to work, accepting evidence-free assertions from the government as fact, rather than joining in demands for the maximum possible exposure of the evidence.

If, as some expect, the United Nations inspectors next week side with the U.S. government in pointing the finger at the Assad regime for the Aug. 21 attack, more and more ridicule will be heaped on those of us who pointed out that the Obama administration was withholding its proof.

Indeed, the chest-thumping by those who clambered onto the bandwagon for war has already begun. They might be called the “See-We-Were-Right-to-Be-Credulous” contingent. But some of us will still want to see whatever evidence the UN inspectors and the U.S. intelligence agencies have collected.

Show me the Money…! Err.. Receipts? US: “Never Mind That Guy Eating a Heart, We Have Handwritten Receipts For the Guns”

Let’s remember that Putin submitted his own evidence to the UN, and, Assad has too…! Btw, Putin is getting serious… Russia Sends Three More Warships to Syrian Coast

In summing up, I do happen to agree with Ban ki-Moon that there is ‘overwhelming’ proof that Chemical Weapons were used, but by whom…?

God Bless the Syrians…!

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

Chemical Attacks In Syria – Cui Bono?

2:36 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From Reuters…

Syria gas “kills hundreds”, Security Council meets

Syria’s opposition accused government forces of gassing hundreds of people on Wednesday by firing rockets that released deadly fumes over rebel-held Damascus suburbs, killing men, women and children as they slept.

With the dead estimated at between 500 and 1,300, what would be the world’s most lethal chemical weapons attack since the 1980s prompted an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York.

While U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed shock, immediate international action is likely to be limited, with the divisions among major powers that have crippled efforts to quell two and a half years of civil war still much in evidence.

Russia hastened to back up denials from the administration of President Bashar al-Assad by saying it looked like a rebel “provocation” to discredit him.

Britain voiced the opposite view: “I hope this will wake up some who have supported the Assad regime to realise its murderous and barbaric nature,” Foreign Secretary William Hague said on a visit to Paris, London’s ally against Assad.

France, Britain, the United States and others called for an immediate on-site investigation by U.N. chemical weapons inspectors who arrived in the Syrian capital only this week. Moscow, urging an “objective” inquiry, said the very presence of that team suggested government forces were not to blame.

Neighbouring Israel’s Channel 10 television quoted Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon as telling reporters that Syria had used chemical weapons, and not for the first time. {…}

If confirmed, a major gas attack could increase pressure on Obama to do more to support rebels whose links to militant Islam have helped dampen Western enthusiasm for their cause.

The Security Council, where Russia has vetoed previous Western efforts to impose U.N. penalties on Assad, began a closed-door meeting but is not expected to take decisive action, with the big powers still at loggerheads and cautiously seeking clarity over the incident.

As Col. Lang wrote…

Think about it! A UN chemical weapons use investigating team is in Damascus. They were invited into the country by the Syrian government.

These attacks are supposedly in the Damascus suburbs. Are the rebels so desperate as to make claims that are easily investigated? Is the government so inept as to do this? pl

As b at Moon of Alabama wrote…

Syria: Another False Flag “Chemical Weapon” Attack

Whenever there is some international action with regards to Syria, a United Nations security council meeting or a G8 conference, the Syrian insurgents create and/or propagandize some “massacre” that they allege to have been perpetrated by the Syrian government.

On Monday UN chemical weapon inspectors arrived in Damascus to investigate some older claims of chemical weapon use. Just in time a new incident happens with the insurgents alleging use of “chemical weapons” by the Syrian government just some 10 miles away from the inspectors hotel…

Videos of the incident show many people, including children, with respiratory problems. But non of the first responders and medical personal in those videos wear any protection against chemical weapons.

Real chemical weapons, like Sarin, are persistent agents. They stick to the cloth of the victims and any contact with those victims would practically guarantee to kill the people who try to help them unless those people take serious precautions. Whatever happened in Syria today is therefore unlikely to be the consequence of military grade chemical weapons. Many other chemical agents, like insecticides based on organophospate or some industrial process chemicals, could induce the observed symptoms.

It would of course be totally irrational for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons just the moment that chemical weapon inspectors arrive in the country. But it makes a lot of sense for the insurgents and their foreign supporters to create such an incident, as they did previously, and to use it to renew their propaganda campaign against the Syrian government. It is therefore no surprise that the British government immediately jumped all over the case.

Simply answer “cui bono?” and you will know who is responsible for this incident.

To be sure…

Russia terms reports of Syrian chemical weapons as “planned provocation”

Russian Foreign Ministry termed on Wednesday media reports about the use of chemical weapons in Syria as “planned provocation” against the ruling regime.

“Moscow considers it important to conduct an objective and professional investigation,” ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters, adding the provocation undermined the efforts for convening an international conference on Syria. {…}

Lukashevich said later in the day that a homemade rocket with ” an unidentified chemical agent” was launched Wednesday in the eastern suburb of Damascus from an area occupied by opposition militants.

“All this looks very much like an attempt to create a pretext for demanding that the UN Security Council side with the opponents of the government,” he said.

Russia urged “all those who have the possibility to influence armed extremists make every effort to end provocations with chemical agents,” he added.

*gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Putin, Rohani, Syria, and Turkey

5:20 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

(Full Transcript)

Well, it’s all over in Iran…

Rohani becomes Iran’s new president

Hassan Rohani has won Iran’s 11th presidential election following a vote that saw a massive popular turnout on June 14.

…Rohani won 50.70 percent of the ballots with 18,613,329 votes… …(of)Nearly 50.5 million Iranians, including more than 1.6 million first-time voters, were eligible to participate in the June 14 elections. The Interior Ministry put voter turnout at 72.7 percent

I always hate to see a good man forced to eat crow…

“Ahmadi Bye Bye, Rowhani Hi Hi”

So I just ordered crow for dinner. I was wrong with my Iran election prediction. While I expected that Hassan Rowhani would get the highest vote count in the first round of the election, I did not expect him to get over 50 % and thereby win outright. I had expected 35+% for Rowhani and 25%+ for Ghalibaf. Rowhani won with 50.76% and Ghalibaf conceded after having reached only some 16.56% of the votes. The total voter turnout was 72.7%. Rowhani will be inaugurated as president on August 3 2013.

I take some consolation in that fact that I was not as wrong as the Washington Post editors:

Mr. Rouhani, who has emerged as the default candidate of Iran’s reformists, will not be allowed to win.

Or as wrong as the Israeli-Iranian expert Meir Javedanfar:

[I]t is safe to say that moderate candidate Hassan Rowhani has no chance of success. There is little doubt that Mr Rowhani and the Stanford educated reformist Mohammad Reza Aref are far more popular than the conservative candidates. However, the supreme leader would not allow votes in their favour to be counted.

As I have maintained all long: Iran is a democracy, the Supreme Leader is not a dictator and in Iran the votes do count…

Now, moving along to the Syrian Fiasco… From McClatchy…

Chemical weapons experts still skeptical about U.S. claim that Syria used sarin

Chemical weapons experts voiced skepticism Friday about U.S. claims that the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad had used the nerve agent sarin against rebels on at least four occasions this spring, saying that while the use of such a weapon is always possible, they’ve yet to see the telltale signs of a sarin gas attack, despite months of scrutiny.“It’s not unlike Sherlock Holmes and the dog that didn’t bark,” said Jean Pascal Zanders, a leading expert on chemical weapons who until recently was a senior research fellow at the European Union’s Institute for Security Studies. “It’s not just that we can’t prove a sarin attack, it’s that we’re not seeing what we would expect to see from a sarin attack.”

Foremost among those missing items, Zanders said, are cellphone photos and videos of the attacks or the immediate aftermath…

Let’s clarify further…

UN, Russia criticise US military aid to Syria…

A US pledge to step up military aid to Syrian rebels because of alleged use of chemical arms by the regime has provoked strong reaction from around the world.

…The UN secretary general said arming either side in the 27-month war, which has cost tens of thousands of lives, “would not be helpful”.

Ban said he has been “consistently clear that providing arms to either side would not address this current situation. There is no such military solution.”

The harder US line also dismayed Moscow, which had been working with Washington to organise a peace conference.

US data on chemical weapons was “unconvincing”, it said, warning the Washington against repeating the mistake it made when invading Iraq after falsely accusing Saddam Hussein of stocking weapons of mass destruction.

Top Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov also said the US decision to provide military aid to Syrian rebels would damage international efforts to end the conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama are to meet at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland on Monday…

Speaking of the G-8 confab, from the Host… G8 Summit: David Cameron pushes for no-fly zone over Syria…

…The Prime Minister will use this week’s G8 summit to convince world leaders to step up action.

David Cameron will support US plans to impose a no-fly zone over parts of Syria, as he attempts to convince world leaders to act against the “dictatorial and brutal leader” President Bashar al-Assad during the G8 summit in Northern Ireland this week.

The Prime Minister is expected to discuss the dramatic escalation of international involvement in the Syrian civil war at a meeting with Mr Assad’s ally, Vladimir Putin, in Downing Street on Sunday.

He will press the Russian President to sanction a catalogue of further measures against the Syrian regime, leading up to a possible no-fly zone, marshalled by US and allied jets and Patriot missiles operating from across the border in Jordan.

The push for action comes after Barack Obama said he would give “direct military aid” to Syrian rebels, citing evidence that Mr Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons…

Not, bloody likely, bloke…

Lavrov: No-fly zone in Syria would be illegal…

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saying he doubts Syria has used chemical weapons, warned Saturday that a no-fly zone would violate international law…

You don’t have to be a great expert to realize that this will be a violation of international law. We hope our American colleagues will direct all their practical activity into implementing a joint U.S.-Russian initiative to convene a conference devoted to improving the situation in Syria,” Lavrov said.

In a statement Friday, Lavrov suggested that U.S. military aid to the rebels would simply increase the level of violence in Syria. On Saturday, he said the government of President Bashar Assad might actually use chemical weapons.

“Right now the regime is not against the wall; the regime, as the opposition itself is saying, is seeing military success on the ground,” he said. “Why would the regime use chemical weapons, especially in such small quantities? Just to expose itself? From a military point of view, it makes no sense.”

Rather Cheeky from McJowls, eh…? President McCain declares war!

Btw, I do feel sorry for a lot of those Eager Lion participants, since they’ve just had their tours extended…

Anyways, in summing up, Gezi Park has been cleared out…

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Our Failed FP, Noam Chomsky, Bibi, and, Iran

4:46 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

That RT clip is an object lesson in how obtuse our MSM FP press and/or Think Tank advisers are…!
Consider Judith Kipper‘s bio… Judith Kipper is the adviser for Middle East Programs and director of the Energy Security Group at the Council on Foreign Relations(CFR) and a longtime consultant on international affairs for ABC News Then, on the other hand you have Flynt Leverett(and Hillary)…!

From their most recent post…

Iran and American Foreign Policy: Where Did the US Go Wrong?”— Noam Chomsky and The Leveretts at MIT…

…It was in this critical spirit that we came to MIT. We left deeply inspired by Prof. Chomsky, an incarnation of that spirit, whose comments were simultaneously powerful, profound, and delightful. One example:

“It’s now sixty years since the U.S. overthrew the parliamentary government in Iran. And since that time, not a single day has passed in which the U.S. hasn’t been torturing Iran, constantly. Jimmy Carter was asked about this, and he said, ‘Well, it didn’t really matter, it’s ancient history.’ Obama’s standard line is, ‘Let’s not look to the past; let’s look to the future.’

That’s a very convenient position for criminals. ‘Let’s forget everything that happened.’ Somehow, victims don’t feel that way. They have memories. You see this all over the world. The victims have memories which the perpetrators don’t know about, or like to forget: ‘It’s all in the past; let’s forget it.’ I think it’s useful to remember a quip of William Faulkner’s, who said, ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’ And that’s true in this case. For victims, the past isn’t past.”

But, while deeply appreciating the past, Prof. Chomsky is also very much forward looking, telling his audience that Americans have the power to demand different policies from their government. In that regard, we will always treasure Chomsky’s verdict on our book, Going to Tehran, offered at the beginning of his remarks:

“The most important thing I can say tonight is actually very brief. Three words: Read this book. That’s good advice. You’ll find a lot of information that’s not generally available, some that’s not available at all, also very valuable insights and understanding which is sharply different from views in the United States, attitudes in the United States that are so conventional and unchallenged they can fairly be called a ‘party line.’ [You’ll also find] perspectives that may help, if they’re widely enough understood, to halt a very clear drift towards what could be a terrible war.”

To rebut some of Kipper’s obtuseness…Lavrov Discussed Iranian Role in Syria Peace Talks

…The Russians and Americans agreed during Kerry’s visit to Moscow to set up a conference of international players to end the war in Syria. Moscow wants to involve all the nations which took part in the Geneva conference on Syria last summer, and says without Iran’s participation the conference cannot succeed.

Saudi Arabia and Iran were not involved in the Geneva talks, Lavrov recalled.

“Our American partners blocked Iran, and the Saudis were not invited as ‘compensation’ for the absence of Iran,” Lavrov said in an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta to be published on Monday.

“If we admit that Iran has a very solid influence on what is going on, then it is obliged to be represented in the negotiations as a participant in the ‘external ring’ [of neighboring states],” Lavrov said. “I said this to John Kerry. He kind of agreed with this, but said that a number of states in the region were categorically opposed to this.”

All the Syrian opposition groups should be represented in the talks, Lavrov said, including those struggling for a division of Syria.

As Assad stated yesterday…

US-Russia-led meet welcomed by Assad

Syrian president says he welcomed a US-Russian peace initiative to end the civil war. However, it won’t end up in success because of the fragmented opposition, according to the embattled leader…

U.S.-Russian peace initiative to end Syria’s civil war is welcome but not likely to actually succeed, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said May 18, while ruling out any resignation from his post in an interview with an Argentine newspaper.

“To resign would be to flee,” he told daily Clarin when asked if he would consider stepping aside as called for by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. “I don’t know if Kerry or anyone else has received the power of the Syrian people to talk in their name about who should go and who should stay. That will be determined by the Syrian people in the 2014 presidential elections,” al-Assad said…

Funny thing about those 2014 elections… CIA: Assad to Get 75% of Votes in Next Term, Syrian Gov’t in Advance…

Anyways, the foreign f*ckery continues apace…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Bye-Bye Sykes-Picot, Game-Changers, and, Tiddlywinks

5:05 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius had recently raised the topic of redrawing the borders of Syria and/or the Middle East…

An opening emerges for Syria talks

…Here, American diplomatic pressure will be crucial. To empower Idriss, the United States may expand its current training and nonlethal assistance to include supplying weapons — even as its real hopes remain with a negotiated peace deal backed by Russia.

For Russia, the Syrian endgame offers a test of President Vladimir Putin’s sincerity and his clout. He regally left the details to Lavrov Tuesday, after keeping Kerry waiting three hours.

This lèse-majesté may impress Russians, but it won’t get the job done on Syria. If Putin has finally come to understand that Russia would potentially suffer most from the dissolution of the 1916 Sykes-Picot boundaries in the Middle East, then he will have to put his personal political energy behind the deal, rather than making a handoff to Lavrov.

The extremists also get a vote in this process, unfortunately. Hard-liners within Assad’s camp could step up their use of chemical weapons, hoping to set off a regional bonfire. Sunni jihadists could slaughter Alawites, in revenge for past attacks but also to torpedo a peace deal. Hezbollah and Iran could decide that their interests would be so harmed by Assad’s removal that they would rather torch Syria and take their chances. And Israel could continue its recent attacks, drawing Arab reprisals.

There are many ways this peace initiative could fail, but at least it has begun.

Honestly, do take a gander at what the Sykes–Picot Agreement is all about…!

Now, let’s look at recent developments from ‘on the ground’… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Clueless In Syria and Faust Wants His Soul Back

4:04 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Pepe is right (again) when he concludes that the Partitioning of Syria has been the Neo/Ziocon’s main objective all along…! Divide et Impera…!

Since my last posting, a ton of sh*t has occurred in the MENA, with global ramifications…!

Let’s dive right into that sh*t pile… UN:Call for Calm after Reported Israeli Air Strikes in Syria

“The Secretary-General calls on all sides to exercise maximum calm and restraint, and to act with a sense of responsibility to prevent an escalation of what is already a devastating and highly dangerous conflict,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in the statement.

“The Secretary-General urges respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries in the region, and adherence to all relevant Security Council resolutions,” he continued…

…Top UN officials, including Mr. Ban and his political chief, Jeffrey Feltman, have said on numerous occasions that a political solution is the only answer for long-term in the country and the region…

Even China is calling for political dialogue in Syria…

China calls for all relevant parties in Syria to launch political dialogue and carry out political transition as soon as possible, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday.

In response to a media request for China’s take on the current situation in Syria at a regular press briefing, Hua said that China pays close attention to the development of the situation and believes a political solution is the only correct way for solving Syrian crisis.

She said China also calls for all relevant sides to earnestly respect Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity, remain restrained, avoid any actions that might escalate the tension and play a responsible and constructive role in solving Syrian issue through political means.

It seems the EU is “satisfied” with the recent U.S.-Russia deal on Syria…

…An EU spokesman said on Wednesday that the bloc was “very satisfied” with the joint call by the United States and Russia for an international conference on Syria to end the country’s escalating crisis.

“The EU would welcome any dialogue that would bring two sides to the negotiating table. The EU has repeated on many occasions that the solution of the conflict lies in a comprehensive political settlement,” said Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

The EU “stands ready to assist in any way possible and hopes that the conference will be a beginning of a peace process,” he said in an email to Xinhua.

Following hours of talks with Russian officials, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that the two had agreed to convene an international conference on Syria that would be attended by representatives of the Syrian regime and the opposition

More on that meeting between Kerry and Putin…

Seeking Syria accord, Kerry tells Putin of common ground

…The U.S. secretary of state sought Russian help in ending Syria’s civil war on Tuesday, telling President Vladimir Putin in Moscow that common interest in a stable Middle East could bridge divisions among the big powers.

Putin, however, kept John Kerry waiting three hours before their meeting at the Kremlin, fiddled with a pen while his guest spoke and made no mention in his own public remarks of the conflict in Syria, which has generated some of the frostiest exchanges between Washington and Moscow since the Cold War…

Funny, how true to form, the Rebels are once again rejecting all that ‘talk’… Syrian rebels to reject U.S./Russia-sponsored peace talks? (H/T Fairleft)

Anyways, today, Obama had a little chit-chat with Bibi…

…The White House said in a short statement that Obama and Netanyahu, who is visiting China, spoke by telephone, and discussed “regional security issues and Middle East peace.”

U.S. officials have declined to comment in detail on air strikes by Israel on targets near Damascus on Friday and Sunday which Israeli sources said destroyed Iranian missiles apparently destined for the Hezbollah militia.

But Obama said on Saturday after the first set of Israeli raids that the Jewish state was justified in seeking to “guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.”

The blowback to Bibi’s buffoonery was swift…Saudi Arabia urges UN action against Israel

…Saudi Arabia on Monday called for UN action to end Israeli strikes on Syria, describing the raids as a “dangerous violation” of the sovereignty of an Arab state, the official SPA news agency reported.

The Saudi cabinet voiced “deep concern from the worsening situation in Syria” and urged “swift action by the UN Security Council to stop these Israeli attacks on Syrian territories and ensure they are not repeated,” said SPA.
…its government on Monday described Israel’s raids as “flagrant attacks and a dangerous violation of the sovereignty of an Arab state, warning of its dangerous effects in the region’s security and stability.”

Egypt condemned the raids as a “violation” of international law, Britain warned of “increasing danger” to the Middle East, while the Syrian regime’s main regional ally Iran said it would shorten the existence of the Jewish state.

The National Coalition, the war-torn country’s umbrella opposition group, also condemned the attack while accusing Assad’s regime of complicity by weakening the army in its battle with Syria’s people.

Russia said the raids threatened to escalate tensions in neighbouring countries.

“We are looking into and analysing all the circumstances surrounding the especially concerning reports of the May 3 and May 5 Israeli air strikes,” the foreign ministry said in a statement…

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called Monday for “a political solution” to the conflict in Syria.

“The situation in Syria is a real tragedy,” Fabius told a press conference in Hong Kong, adding that if it continued, it could be a “human and political disaster.” …“Obviously it’s something that one can understand, but at the same time, it’s a risk,” he said of the raids.

As a side note, Israel Has the Gall to Actually Complain to the UN About Stray Syrian Mortar Shells…

Now, here’s a very interesting wrinkle… US to arm Syrian rebels: Putin’s rebuke, Chinese “peace plan” mar Netanyahu’s Chinese trip…

…Negative diplomatic ricochets are pursuing Israel in the aftermath of its air force attacks on Syria. In the first place, they are seen to have had no effect on Hizballah’s successful military intervention on the side of the Assad regime or the Syrian war at large. In the second, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, while in Shanghai, was given a sharp dressing-down by President Vladimir Putin Monday, May 6, a warning that Russia would not tolerate further Israeli attacks on Damascus and would respond.…

…Intelligence agencies in Moscow and the Middle East take it for granted that by the time Washington goes public on this decision, some of the Syrian rebel factions will already be armed with American weapons.

…US military instructors have been working with Syrian rebels at training camps in Jordan and Turkey for some months. So putting the arms in their hands only awaited a decision in Washington.

…Putin’s message to Netanyahu was intended to reach a wider audience than Jerusalem, such as Barack Obama in Washington and President Xi Jinping in Beijing ahead of Netanyahu’s talks there Tuesday… …when US Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Moscow that day, in an attempt “bridge the divide” between their governments on the Syria conflict, he was preceded by a barrage of Russian condemnation of the Israeli air strikes in Damascus “as a threat to regional stability,” a stiff warning from the Russian foreign ministry to the “West” to stop “politicizing the issue of chemical weapons in Syria,” and Moscow’s “concern that world public opinion was being prepared for possible foreign military intervention.”

…The Chinese government’s cold shoulder to Israel was exhibited less directly than Moscow’s but no less firmly. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was invited to visit Beijing and meet President Xi two days before the prime minister arrived in the Chinese capital Tuesday to begin the official part of his visit. The Chinese president unveiled his peace plan before meeting the Israeli prime minister…

Let’s not forget that Mossad has already been very active in Syria…Israel spy agency has presence in Syria, says senior rebel general

Here’s a fascinating read on our failed policy…

America’s hidden agenda in Syria’s war

…The commander – a moderate Sunni and an influential rebel leader from Damascus who said he has met intelligence operatives from Western and Arab states – said the US officials were especially keen to obtain information about the identities of Al Nusra insurgents and the locations of their bases.

Then, by to the rebel commander’s account, the discussion took an unexpected turn.

The Americans began discussing the possibility of drone strikes on Al Nusra camps inside Syria and tried to enlist the rebels to fight their fellow insurgents.

“The US intelligence officer said, ‘We can train 30 of your fighters a month, and we want you to fight Al Nusra’,” the rebel commander recalled.

Opposition forces should be uniting against Mr Al Assad’s more powerful and better-equipped army, not waging war among themselves, the rebel commander replied. The response from a senior US intelligence officer was blunt.

“I’m not going to lie to you. We’d prefer you fight Al Nusra now, and then fight Assad’s army. You should kill these Nusra people. We’ll do it if you don’t,” the rebel leader quoted the officer as saying.

What the commander says transpired in Jordan illustrates a dilemma that has preoccupied, even paralysed, Syria’s opposition and their international supporters – how to deal with the expanding role of Islamic extremists in the anti-Assad insurgency.

Other meetings with Western and Arab intelligence services have shown a similar obsession with Al Nusra, the commander said.

“All anyone wants is hard information about Al Nusra, it seems to be all they are really interested in. It’s the most valuable commodity you can have when dealing with these intelligence agencies,” he said…

Funny thing tho… Free Syrian Army rebels defect to Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra…

Yet, here’s a perspective, from within Syria…

Syrians deserting the FSA: Faust wants his soul back

The reality is that opposition militias and the official army have reached a military stalemate – one step forward and one step back as progress on one front is checked by loss and retreat on another…

…In the midst of this harsh war, Syrians have found themselves at a crossroads: obliged to choose between either their personal interest and life or the country’s freedom. A question occurs to me here – Is it possible for fighters who quit the FSA to go back to their old lives? It seems highly improbable, given that Syria has been ripped into so many different pieces with different authorities holding sway over particular areas – here the regime, there such and such battalion.

The country is now a hotch-potch of hot and cool areas. Families have been displaced across the country in their millions. Most fighters are wanted by intelligence forces and they can’t go back to their original villages and towns, nor can they meet their families who were forced to flee. This is how our lives – and not just that of FSA fighters – have been trapped, in the eye of a tornado that is hurtling at breakneck speed. Where and how we get off is anyone’s guess. One thing is for sure – it won’t be an emerald city.

In wrapping up… Take a gander at this load of crap from Carnegie…Building a Syrian State in a Time of Civil War…

God help the Syrians…! *gah*