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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, the I/P Peace Farce, Iran, and Iraqi Drones?

3:36 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

 

FDL Alum, Jim White, delivered an excellent rant today…

Morally Depraved Obama Fails in Response to Egyptian Massacre

…Just wow. The Egyptian military has staged a coup in which they have removed a democratically elected (although dysfunctional and failed) government and massacred over 600 of its citizens in cold blood. None of that rises to the level of the “threshold where we can’t give a tacit endorsement to them”? What on earth do they have to do to get the US to cut them off?

One answer to that question is in the next paragraph:

And it could destabilize the region, particularly the security of Israel, whose 1979 peace treaty with Egypt is predicated on the aid.

It would appear that Egypt can kill all of its own civilians it wants with the weapons and money we provide as long as they don’t also kill any Israelis.

But there is another insidious tie in the US aid to Egypt. US defense contractors are making tons of money off of it… …Cutting off funding to Egypt is cutting off the flow of big bucks to the superstars of US defense contractors, and that just isn’t done. It was this thought that led me to send out this Tweet yesterday:

Name one spot, anywhere in world, where US foreign policy is working for the good of anyone other than defense contractors. I’ll wait….

— Jim White (@JimWhiteGNV) August 15, 2013

Now, besides McCain and Graham demanding a halt, it seems Leahy is also calling for cuts…!

So, naturally, as another FDL Alum, Spencer Ackerman, wrote in the Guardian yesterday…

Reluctance to suspend Egyptian aid exposes White House rudderlessness

Obama again refused to use America’s massive aid leverage over Egypt – part of the president’s ‘least painful step’ approach

Perhaps the most mystifying thing about the cosmetic US response to Wednesday’s massacre in Egypt is the reluctance for the US to use its massive aid leverage over Cairo’s generals.

Former diplomats and foreign policy professionals in Washington are often quick to say the situation is more complicated than a simple aid cutoff will allow. But after President Obama responded to one of the bloodiest days in recent Egyptian history by cancelling a scheduled military exercise, even those cautious policy practitioners were stunned by his meekness.

“If I’m an Egyptian general, I take notice and think President Obama is trying to take the least painful step to demonstrate to various constituencies in the US that he means what he says about democracy in Egypt,” said Amy Hawthorne, who until recently was an Egypt policy official at the State Department, “but only the least painful step, so we won’t take him that seriously.” {…}

Yet at the Pentagon on Thursday, the message remained the same. While the US deplores the violence and urges “restraint”, Hagel – who spoke with Sisi Thursday – believes “that maintaining an open line of communication with General Sisi is very important”, said top spokesman George Little.

“All the things the US has repeatedly, publicly, called for, by our most senior officials, haven’t happened,” Hawthorne said, shortly after Obama’s statement on Egypt. “So why are they still calling for them?”

The US has massive amounts of leverage over Egypt, in the form of approximately $1.5bn worth of annual aid. Yet for a variety of reasons, it does not exercise that leverage – something several Egypt experts say substantively weakens the credibility of the warnings that Washington periodically issues to Cairo, contributing to events like Wednesday’s massacre.

Among them: the aid is “a jobs program” for American defense companies, Radwan noted…

Now, moving along to the single largest recipient of our Foreign Aid, Israel…

Netanyahu: Conflict is Not About the ‘Settlements’

The Arab-Israeli conflict is rooted in the Arabs’ refusal to recognize Israel, Netanyahu tells UN chief.

Can you say tone deaf…?

Honestly, pups, stick a fork in the Peace Farce already…! Poll: 80% of Israeli Jews say peace impossible Most especially after you consider the fact that Bibi had stated he would submit the outcome of the secretive talks, to a public referendum…!

Now, this was a most alarming development on Iran…

US Joint Chiefs Chair: Military Options Against Iran ‘Better’ Than a Year Ago

Buried in a totally unrelated New York Times article about Jordan seeking more US aid for the Syrian border, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chief Gen. Martin Dempsey threw in comments on the prospect of the US invading Iran.

Discussing his recent meeting with Israeli leaders, Dempsey declared that the sanctions were “having an effect” on Iran, but that Israel wants the US to keep emphasizing the prospect of military action.

Of that, Dempsey insisted that “we have better military options than we did a year ago,” ominously adding that “we’ve continued to train and plan” for the invasion, threatened off and on by US and Israeli forces for 30 solid years…

Seriously, Why Israel Is Obsessed With an Iranian Bomb…!

In wrapping up, Wtf kinda noise is this…? Iraq seeking US drones to curb al-Qaida threat…!

Why not, I suppose, since they’re such a smashing success in Yemen…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

What Really Happened To Richard Engel?

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Folks, I smell a Rat…! But, first, let’s quickly dispense with some of the nonsense swirling about Syria…

The Assad government is not “falling.”

…Yes, the demise of the Syrian government exists mainly in the “minds” of a couple of vendu think-tank analysts in Washington, the corporate media bandwagon, and the enfants terribles Wilsonians now riding high in the Obama Administration. The attempt is being made to simply BS Assad out of power. Obama is now functioning fully as the reincarnated Lincoln and sees himsef as “clothed in a great power.” Well, pilgrim, he has placed the US in the position of an alliance with an AQ affiliate (al-nusra). The Syrians that he recognised as government are demanding that he stop condemning their AQ ally and are coming to Washington to tell him and the Wilsonians that he must de-list al-nusra as a terrorist group.

Group Think and the desire to be loved by colleagues and the powerful account for a lot of the intellectual irresponsibility on display but it is also the fact that many of those “running their mouths” over Syria are simply ignorant, callow creatures created by ten years of war and the super-abundance of government money that allowed the hiring of the pitifully under experienced.

The only real question in my mind is whether or not Syria actually wasted a few SSMs last week. Let’s see some evidence, some wreckage, statements by Clapper about heat signatures at launch, something.

The civil war appears to be a stalemate. Having painted himself into a corner BHO will eventually have to opt for intervention of some kind. pl

Now, it would seem that even ex-FDLer, Spencer Ackerman has been sucked into the proverbial Media vortex…

Islamic Extremists Rescue NBC Reporter Held in Syria

…Securing Engel’s freedom is a particularly unexpected turn for Ahrar al-Sham, which the Associated Press describes as “Islamic fundamentalist brigade home to many foreign jihadis.” A recently revamped rebel command structure excluded the group, along with the al-Qaida-aligned Jabhat al-Nusra, seemingly to secure Western backing. Such groups are given to criticizing the U.S. — not for intervening in Syria, but for not intervening enough in Syria, and being prissy about the company it keeps.

Ahrar al-Sham might give Westerners pause. But Danger Room pal Matt Fanning, a Fort Worth-based IT consultant who closely tracks Syrian rebel groups, says the jihadist organization is one of the most effective and the most media-savvy of the rebel coalition. Their weapons of choice include roadside bombs and car bombs, tactics that “clearly came from Iraq,” Fanning says.

Ahrar al-Sham is also one of the most prolific Syrian jihadi groups on YouTube. Ahrar al-Sham takes video cameras along on raids — to capture giant explosions for upload — and doesn’t mind displaying maps of its operations against Assad’s forces. “Sham also releases probably three to five videos a day where Nusra is good for about one to three a week,” Fanning says.

But Ahrar al-Sham’s ideology is no less extreme. It’s issued religious edicts against the ruling Alawite minority and has been criticized for rounding up Shias as hostages. “I agree with al-Qaida on certain things and disagree on others,” one Ahrar al-Sham fighter, a veteran of al-Qaida in Iraq, told The New York Times in July. His nuanced view of suicide bombing: OK against government troops, not OK against civilians…

Basically, Spencer, fails to see the forest through the trees…!

Now, b at MOA, asked some very penetrating questions of Richard’s abduction…

Another Indication That Richard Engel’s Kidnapping Story Stinks

… There is now new evidence that this was indeed a fake event and that, whatever Richard Engel may believe, he and the people with him (which included one ever unnamed “British engineer” who is more likely some special operations guy) were not in the hands of Shabiha but in the hand of well known experienced video fakers.

Early this year we have looked at the roles of citizen journalists from Syria. One was Khaled Abu Salah who faked and uploaded many videos of Syrian government atrocities, one day playing nearly dead while playing very well and enraged just few days later. The other fake journalist was one “Danny” who presented his fake videos with Anderson Cooper on CNN. {…}

Now here is a video, uploaded yesterday, in which the fake citizen journalist Khaled Abu Salah interviews the just freed Richard Engel the evening before Engel returns from Syria to Turkey.

How come that this known serial producer of fake videos is involved in a murky kidnapping case that looks like a propaganda set up for “western” media consumption?

Further:

-Who smuggled Richard Engel into Syria? Was it Avaaz?
-Did “Danny” and Khaled Abu Salah knew that he was coming?
-Did they prepare the kidnapping and the liberation of Richard Engel?

Some of the answers may be found if Richard Engel explains how he came to meet Khaled Abu Salah for this interview. Engel should urgently answer that question.

The Grey Lady’s Robert Mackay pointed out much of the Agitprop being generated… As Last Member of NBC Team Escapes Syria, More Details on Hostage Drama Emerge… Yesterday, he did a great job in exposing the real disparities in reports from Syria… Accounts of a Siege in Syria Differ on Rebel YouTube Channels and British Television…! Fancy that, eh…?

Btw, I’ve highlighted much of these shenangians in play, before… The Syrian Morass…

*gah*

by CTuttle

‘Concern’ Over Syria’s WMDs

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

C’mon Folks, this is just another shiny bauble of fear, once again, being dangled before a gullible populace…!

From the WaPoo…

Clinton: U.S. will act if Syria uses chemical weapons

…Clinton did not directly address new reports that Assad may be moving chemical weapons or making other possible preparations to use his known stockpile. But the Associated Press, citing an unnamed U.S. defense official, reported that international “intelligence sources” have detected signs in recent days that Syria has been moving chemical weapons components to new locations.

The official, who according to AP spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about intelligence matters, said officials don’t believe any developments with the weapons are imminent but are trying to figure out what the Syrians are doing…

Give me a freaking break…! C’mon now, Spencer and Noah…! You do realize you were just played…?

Right…?

…All that’s certain is that the arms have now been prepped to be used, should Assad order it.

“Physically, they’ve gotten to the point where the can load it up on a plane and drop it,” the official adds…

Funny how quickly, b at MOA, blatantly pointed out the Obvious

…There is no need for the Syrian army to combine stuff and fill it up because the precursors are already stored in the ammunition when that artillery ammunition or aerial bomb is fabricated. They are stored in two separate chambers and the ammunition is safe for transport and storage. Only firing the ammunition or dropping the bomb will combine the binaries.

What the anonymous American official claims is not happening in Syria. If the Wired writers Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman, (an avid defender of Israel firsters some might note), had even some basic knowledge about ammunition engineering they would not fall for such a stupid claim some anonymous official makes.

The claim that “the Assad regime in Syria have begun combining the two chemical precursors” is definitely wrong. Whatever the Syrian army is doing or not doing with its strategic weapons, it is not what that anonymous “American official” claims…

Another FDL Alumna, Marcy, also took Spencer to task…! On Toobz and Gases… With some blistering commentary too…!

Now, I’ve written about this before… Bibi’s ‘ready’ to secure Syria’s WMDs…!

So, let’s look at some recent revelations… FSA-Israeli Connection: Spiritual Leader of FSA declares his complicity with Israel on Israeli TV, and, even more on the failed ‘FSA’, whatever abomination incarnation it’s under…!


Syria’s opposition warns of a rise in extremists

…Jabhat al-Nusra now has somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 fighters, according to officials of a non-governmental organization that represents the more moderate wing of the Free Syrian Army. They say that the Al-Qaeda affiliate now accounts for 7.5 percent to 9 percent of the Free Syrian Army’s total number of fighters, up sharply from an estimated 3 percent just three months ago and 1 percent at the beginning of the year.

The extremist group is growing in part because it has been the most aggressive and successful arm of the rebel force. “From the reports we get from the doctors, most of the injured and dead FSA are Jabhat al-Nusra, due to their courage and [the fact they are] always at the front line,” said a message sent Friday to the State Department by the moderate Free Syrian Army representatives, who have been warning of the rise of the extremists…

God Help the Syrians, one and all…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

More Persian Fantasies…

6:37 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Here’s some more Phil Giraldi at Antiwar today… Creating American Terrorists… Folks, it’s f*cking spooky what he points out about the NDAA…

…So let us accept that the government now has the power to send a team of military police to anyone’s home in any state in the Union and can demand that that person surrender without any recourse to a lawyer or judicial due process. The military can then detain the individual incommunicado for any length of time and can presumably send him to Guantanamo for special confinement, claiming that the reason for the detention is support of terrorism, which can be almost anything, including a letter to the editor of the local paper complaining about the goonery of the Transportation Security Administration. Once in detention, the suspect only has such options as are granted to him by the military. He cannot see a lawyer, cannot invoke habeas corpus or other constitutional privileges, cannot confront any witnesses against him, and cannot challenge any information prejudicial to him even if it is hearsay or fabricated. In other words, the accused can be arrested for no reason and held indefinitely without any protections that enable him to push back against being detained. Most people would consider a criminal justice system that permits such detention ipso facto a police state.

Now let us accept for a moment that the White House and Justice Department are well-intentioned and will not use their newfound authority to detain anyone in a questionable fashion. The expanded powers will only be used to detain foreign terrorists who are caught in flagrante, more or less. That would be fine, perhaps, but for one small problem. Because the definition of a terrorism supporter has become enormously elastic, it can be stretched to include anything. If the whole world has become a battlefield, speaking out or acting against powerful vested interests can be dangerous because those interests can turn around and exploit the system to label one a terrorist. And once you are labeled a terrorist, your constitutional rights vanish and you might as well sit around and wait for that knock on the door — or, rather, for the door to be kicked in…

Read the whole article…! And, today, Emptywheel revealed this particularly obnoxious provision in the NDAA… The OTHER Assault on the Fourth Amendment in the NDAA? Drones at Your Airport?

Now, onto Iran…

A point that I’ve raised a few times before was that most of the assassinated Iranian Nuclear Scientists had met earlier with IAEA officials, just prior to their subsequent demises…! So what could possibly motivate the Iranian Officials to participate in any future IAEA meet-ups…?

Interestingly…

Indignant

The attacks are making some in the West uncomfortable.

Hans Blix, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1981-97 and a former Swedish foreign minister, told Reuters: “When it comes to the murder … What is the effectiveness of it?”

“I think people will be indignant, and in fact not only in Iran. I think people everywhere are indignant.”

The result of more frequent and public attacks could be increased tension, analysts say, raising risks of a clash between U.S. and Iranian forces in the Gulf or of a unilateral Israeli air strike on Iran’s nuclear sites, either one of which might result in temporary closure of the strategic waterway…

{snip}

…Speculation has lingered about a possible divergence of views between the United States and Israel on tactics. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to the Jan. 11 killing by saying the United States had nothing to do with any “violent acts inside Iran” and condemning such actions.

US Iran expert Sick wrote: “The US government had made no such intervention in previous assassination cases. If the perpetrator was, as widely suspected, Israel, this was a serious warning not to interfere in US diplomatic efforts.”

He wrote that while the Israeli government distrusted the diplomatic track, the Obama administration had looked hard at the potential effects of a war with Iran and “has decided that a return to the negotiating track is essential”.

Asked where the Iran standoff was heading, Blix replied: “For the moment the decibel level is fairly high. But it is clear to me that the Obama administration … does not want war and bombing. That is quite clear.”

“The American public is clearly somewhat war-fatigued.”

Anyways, some interesting questions abound… Who’s Running Covert OPS In Iran? Coupled with this little tidbit… New U.S. Commando Team Operating Near Iran…

Drawing Careful Conclusions from the Iran Assassination…

Here’s a great working timeline on Iran…

Here’s another great primer…

…Intensifying the drums of war with over-the-top statements that Iran, with an inferior set of missiles and a vastly inadequate Navy, represents “the greatest threat to world peace” and that “the actions and policies of Iran threaten the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States” ignore the inconvenient reality that US intelligence has found no evidence of a nuclear weapons capacity in Iran…

The Iranian Navy might not be as inadequate as first thought…

…Amiri underlined that significance of submarines are not just indebted to their arms and equipment, “rather the tactical issues are very important”, given the geographical specifications of the waters surrounding the county.

“For example,” he stated, “if an ordinary submarines can sit in the Persian Gulf’s bed it would be the worst threat to the enemy.”

“That is one of the US concerns since Iranian submarines are noiseless and can easily evade detection as they are equipped with the sonar-evading technology” and can fire missiles and torpedoes simultaneously, he added.

“When the submarine sits on the seabed it can easily target and hit an aircraft carrier traversing in the nearby regions,” Amiri reiterated…

Funny that Ehud Barak is now saying… Israel says ‘very far’ from decision to attack Iran…

…Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday any decision about an attack on Iran was “very far off”. {snip}

…Asked if the United States has asked Israel to tell them before any assault against Iran, Barak said, “We haven’t made any decision to do this. This entire thing is very far off.”

Barak also hinted that Israel — presumed to have the only nuclear warheads in the region — was coordinating with Washington its plans to deal with Tehran’s nuclear project.

“I don’t think our ties with the United States are such that they have no idea what we are talking about,” he said.

When asked whether “very far off” meant weeks or months, Barak said, “I wouldn’t want to provide any estimates. It’s certainly not urgent.” The March leadership election in Israel’s main opposition Kadima party “will happen sooner,” he said…

Nothing to see here folks, move along…!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch Beltway… House Foreign Affairs Chair: Iran Talks ‘A Foolish Waste of Time’ Opposes Any Theoretical Talks With Iran…

Wtf…?

*gah*

by CTuttle

‘Battlefield Executions’, ‘Patterns of Life’, ‘Nancy Pelosi of Kandahar’, and Other Blasphemies

1:45 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Transcript here

My, my… With Karzai in town there’s been a sudden surge in AfPak articles. Spanning the political spectrum from Breitbart’s dubious reporting: Mullah Omar Has Been Captured! To Spencer’s Windy article: Five Messages From the Obama-Karzai Press Conference…

I’d first like to expand and expound upon Spencer’s ‘listicle’ points…

1. Unity, Stand Together as One.

This point is pretty generic and I can only add that I found it interesting that ISAF/NATO rebranded the whole operation aimed at Kandahar, it is no longer Operation Hope err… Omid, it’s now called Operation Hamkari (Co-operation, in Dari… natch!)

2. The ‘Peace Jirga’ Will Be as Successful as the War Effort Allows It to Be. A reporter expressed skepticism that the Taliban will embrace any reconciliation plan offered by a forthcoming “consultative peace jirga” in Kabul. That effort has been a signature agenda item for Karzai since the January international conference on Afghanistan in London, especially since polls show that the Afghan people badly want a negotiated end to the war. But while U.S. officials have been careful to emphasize the differences between reconciliation efforts with Taliban leaders and reintegration efforts to absorb low-level Taliban fighters, Karzai instead talked about the “thousands of Taliban who are not ideologically oriented, who are not part of al-Qaeda or other terrorist networks.” Those “country boys” have been radicalized, he said, “at times, [by] misconducted by us.”

*heh* Don’t raise your hopes for the Afghan peace jirga! And about those ‘country boys’… 85% in Kandahar Call Taliban "Our Afghan Brothers"… I might add that the Taleban has already said they’d boycott the jirga… I actually saw a alemarah.info cite saying they’d do so, however, neither google, nor, yahoo would let me retrieve their statement…! The better half told me she didn’t want the FBI harassing us when I’d grumbled about it…! I told her we’re probably already high on a list some where…! She was not amused… But, I digress…!

3. Let’s Not Talk About Corruption. You’ll be shocked to hear that persistent issues in Afghan government corruption or capacity to deliver services for the Afghan people were addressed only in general terms from a joint presidential White House press conference, for all the talk about “frankness.” Karzai pledged his “dedication and extreme care to ensure” that U.S. economic aid to Afghanistan is “spent well.” Obama said that he was encouraged by Karzai’s words and initial actions since his second inaugural, but there is “more to do.”…

More to do…? You’ve already gotten in bed with his brother, Ahmid…! Which leads me to Wali’s recent asinine analogy; "I’m the Nancy Pelosi of Kandahar"… Ironically, Miz Pelosi had this to say upon her recent jaunt to Afghanistan and personal visit with Wali Karzai… "Pelosi says corruption holding back Afghanistan" Now, moving right along…

4. “Long-Term Relationship.” Three words spoken very often by both presidents. “This is a long-term partnership that is not simply defined by our military presence,” Obama said. “After July 2011, we are still going to have an interest in making sure Afghanistan is secure.” Music to Karzai’s ears. Let’s see if Obama’s political enemies continue to misrepresent July 2011 as the beginning of a U.S. troop bugout.

It would be nice if our troops bugged out like the Dutch, Canadians, and, possibly the Germans… But, that’d be a mere pipe dream like this…

5. Civilian Casualties Must Be Avoided. They’re “not just a political problem for me,” Obama said about the most inflammatory issue in Afghan eyes. “I am ultimately accountable” for every civilian death in Afghanistan. In a surprisingly personal recognition, Obama said that civilian deaths are “something I have to carry with me.” Karzai praised Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s efforts to avoid mistakenly killing Afghan civilians, but recent reports indicate those casualties are again on the rise.

More recent reports, along with this Shootings of Afghans on Rise at Checkpoints, and even this Afghanistan reports surge in civilian deaths

Now, this would truly be noble of our Peace Nobelist Prez…

Obama: I Am Accountable for Afghan Civilian Casualties

If it wasn’t for that whole ‘Pattern of Life’ thingy going on…

…So we should not be surprised to find the Obama Administration outstripping its mentors and models from the Bush years in the production of Orwellian nomenclature. Nor is it remarkable that these perversions of language are leading to further perversions of law, morality and plain common sense.

We refer to the recent story in the Los Angeles Times about the vast expansion of the CIA’s powers to murder people in Pakistan with missiles fired by robot drones. These remote-control killings were originally aimed at specific, known, named individuals suspected of being top "militant" leaders. But now, people are being targeted not because of any action they are known or alleged to have taken, but simply because they seem to fit an arbitrarily designated "pattern of life" — even if the remote-control killers don’t know the victim’s name.

This "pattern" is put together from clumps of data gathered by surveillance robots hovering high in the sky above Pakistani towns and villages, watching people as they go about their ordinary business, and from whatever bits of local gossip the CIA can glean from paid operatives raking through their neighbor’s private lives. Naturally, the CIA refuses to describe "the standards of evidence" by which it decides to kill unknown, defenseless people with missile strikes on houses, compounds and neighborhoods. And of course, the Agency claims it is targeting only "militants" (however that infinitely elastic term is being defined these days).

Yet at the same time, the Terror War operatives cannot resist boasting that they are sweeping up so much information that they can determine "the characteristics of individual people." And since is it the pattern of observed daily life that yields the designation of a person as a "militant," the CIA must inevitably be tracking countless numbers of innocent people as well. Otherwise, how could they discern specific "patterns of life" that indicate the existence of a hitherto unknown "militant" within a given population? You can only get such data by observing that population as a whole.

We truly have sunk to new lows…!