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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, and Tunisia

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Kerry hadn’t even cleared Israeli airspace when Bibi announced those new ‘settlements’…!

One of Kerry’s (misguided) demands on Abbas was to concede on Likud’s Jewish State stance, Juan Cole served up an excellent diatribe…

Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State is like saying the US is a White State

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is adding a fifth demand to his negotiations with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas: That the Palestinians recognize Israel as a ‘Jewish state.

For Netanyahu’s demand to make any sense, he first has to define ‘Jewish.’ ‘Jewish’ has a number of possible meanings. It can mean ‘those recognized by Talmudic law as members of the Jewish “race” via maternal descent.’ The latter is the legal definition of Jewishness in Israeli law itself, and for this reason we must presume that it is what Netanyahu has in mind. It can also mean ‘adherents of the Judaic religion,’ and we can explore those implications, as well.

Needless to say no real ‘Framework’ was realized, except to agree to talk some more…

Kerry on Sunday wrapped up a three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. Before leaving for Jordan, Kerry was quoted by Israel Radio as saying that the United States and President Barack Obama are committed to presenting a ‘fair and balanced’ peace plan for the Middle East and improving security for all nations in the region.

During the press conference after his meeting with Abbas on Saturday, Kerry also said some progress were made in the peace talks, without mentioning any details.

However, the Palestinian source said on condition of anonymity that Kerry hasn’t officially presented to the Palestinian side any written document or a plan for a framework agreement, except for discussing issues such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

Nabil Abu Rdineh, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a press statement that ‘President Abbas rejects all transitional, partial and temporary solutions.’

He added that Abbas and Kerry agreed to continue their meetings in the coming weeks.

To be sure… Like lambs to the slaughter, the Palestinians are sleep-walking to disaster, again…!

And, US-Israeli agenda is to fragment Mideast.

Stay tuned… Snowden has more US-Israel secrets to expose…!

Moving along…

From the Grey Lady, recently… Saudis’ Grant to Lebanon Is Seen as Message to U.S.

Experts: Lebanese army “likely” to be attacked by Al Qaeda-linked brigade in coming days…!

Interestingly, it’s not just the Saudis’ fault… Lebanon complains to UN on Israel border espionage

So with all the Saudi perfidy in Anbar province and Syria, et al… Jordan on “alert” as tension rises on borders with Iraq, Syria

Meanwhile, Abbas met with King Playstation today… Abbas discusses peace process with Jordanian king While they both categorically rejected Israel’s demands on the Jordan Valley, they did craft a unified response to Kerry Israel, flatly, repudiated Kerry’s pathetic proposals… Israel rejects US proposals on Jordan Valley

Looking at our Libyan Fiasco…

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by CTuttle

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

5:31 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

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

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

Meet the ‘Friends of Jihad’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From FP’s Marc Lynch…

Welcome to the Syrian Jihad

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

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

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

Interestingly… The No-Plan Zone

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Reagan, Iraq, Syria, and,Tunisia

4:52 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

For some real retrospect… Reagan’s ‘Death Squad’ Tactics in Iraq

Official Washington has long ignored the genocide and terrorism that Ronald Reagan inflicted on Central America in the 1980s, making it easier to genuflect before the Republican presidential icon. That also helped Reagan’s “death squad” tactics resurface in Iraq last decade, as William Boardman reports…

…The hour-long film explores the arc of American counterinsurgency brutality from Vietnam to Iraq, with stops along the way in El Salvador and Nicaragua. James Steele is now a retired U.S. colonel who first served in Vietnam as a company commander in 1968-69. He later made his reputation as a military adviser in El Salvador, where he guided ruthless Salvadoran death squads in the 1980s.
When his country called again in 2003, he came out of retirement to train Iraqi police commandos in the bloodiest techniques of counterinsurgency that evolved into that country’s Shia-Sunni civil war that at its peak killed 3,000 people a month. Steele now lives in a gated golf community in Brian, Texas, and did not respond to requests for an interview for the documentary bearing his name.

News coverage of this documentary has been largely absent in mainstream media. The Guardian had a report, naturally, at the time of release and “Democracy Now” had a long segment on March 22 that includes an interview with veteran, award-winning reporter Maggie O’Kane, as well as several excerpts from the movie she directed. The documentary is available online at the Guardian and several other websites…

Ten years on… Syrian Rebel Faction Merges With al-Qaeda in Iraq

…Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), an official auxiliary of the parent al-Qaeda organization which was established to resist the US occupation of Iraq, has announced that it is formally merging with Jabhat al-Nusra.

Jabhat al-Nusra had been publicly endorsed by al-Qaeda officials repeatedly as the preferred Islamist faction in Syria’s ongoing rebellion. AQI says that the merged group will replace the name Islamic State of Iraq with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

It is time to declare to the Levant and to the world that the al-Nusra Front is simply a branch of the Islamic State of Iraq,” confirmed AQI leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Baghdadi went on to say other alliances were possible so long as the group agreed to similar harsh definitions of Sharia Law

Now, I was certainly surprised to see The Grey Lady publish this today…

Wider Use of Car Bombs Angers Both Sides in Syrian Conflict

…The attack, witnesses and the government authorities said, was the latest of dozens of car bombs to rip through Syrian business districts and neighborhoods during the country’s two-year war. It again turned a wary but busy downtown commercial area into a scene of terror and chaos. The Syrian government blamed its opponents for Monday’s attack and said it had killed at least 15 people and wounded at least 53.

The proliferation of car bombs across Syria has frightened and enraged many on both sides in this battle, government supporters and opponents alike. The use of these powerful and indiscriminate weapons — rejected by some rebel factions — has undermined support for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and left many Syrians angry at the government for failing to stop the bombings.

In Damascus, the Syrian capital, on Monday, some residents blamed the United States and its allies, which back the opposition, for the devastation…

“This is America, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia! They are funding those people to do those explosions!”

… In December 2011, when car bombs began hitting government security buildings — and killing civilians nearby — government supporters and opponents alike viewed the explosions as an ominous turn in the conflict.

Until then, the fighting had largely pitted rebels with small arms and roadside bombs against the army and security forces. But suddenly, the Syrian capital was witnessing scenes reminiscent of the Iraqi insurgency. Checkpoints and blast walls went up everywhere

…Now, the Nusra Front has become a major force on the battlefield, leading other rebel groups in more conventional fights. That poses a quandary for the United States, which supports the opposition but rejects the Nusra Front and accuses it of ties to Al Qaeda.

The bombs have killed Syrians of all sects and views

Now, in wrapping up, from the ‘Cradle of the Arab Spring’…

Tunisia Now Exporting “Jihadis”

…Families here told IPS that they have no way of contacting their sons once they leave — whether by choice or coercion they will never know — for the warring nation nearly 3,000 miles away. At most, family members receive an inaudible telephone call from Libya, where the soon-to-be militants are trained, the muffled voice on the other end of the line saying a quiet and final goodbye.

After that point, no news is good news. If they are contacted again, it will only be an anonymous caller announcing the death of a son, brother or husband, adding that the family should be proud of their martyred loved one…

…But beneath the moderate veneer, a strong ultra-conservative undercurrent remained, steered by Salafist-controlled mosques – like Fath, Ennassr, Ettadhamen, and the great mosque of Ben Arous located on the outskirts of Tunis – that are now serving as headquarters for the smuggling of fighters.

The imams of these mosques often hail from the Gulf and are skilled at convincing young men – who run the gamut from poor, uneducated Tunisians, to wealthy professionals — that they must “help their Syrian brothers” in the “jihad” against Assad.

Charity organisations like Karama wa Horrya, Arrahma, Horrya wa Insaf, which provide basic humanitarian assistance to the poor, also play a role in this network that gathers able-bodied Tunisians, transports them to Libya and then, after a brief stop in Turkey, sends them onwards to the frontlines of the Syrian war such as the north-western border with Lebanon, and the city of Aleppo.

Young fighters’ first point of contact in Syria is with the Jabhat al Nusra (meaning the ‘Support Front for the People of Syria’), considered the most aggressively militant arm of the FSA…

One final, must-read from Chris Hedges… When War Hawks Become Human Rights Officials…

Good Gawd, y’all…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

As The Arab Spring Turns Into Summer…

9:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

It seems this Friday just happened to be another Friday, in that, once again a few Arabs, seemed to be a little pissed off with the ‘promised’ pace in the Arab Spring’s reforms and progress…

First off, from Tunisia…

Tunisian rally faces off tear gas

…Tunisian police used teargas yesterday to disperse stone-throwing demonstrators demanding progress in reforms promised after the president’s removal in the first of the Arab Spring revolutions.

More than 700 protesters gathered in Kasbah square in the centre of the Tunisian capital but were quickly dispersed by hundreds of police officers in riot gear. Protesters shouted “We are not afraid” as police pushed them out of the square, where Prime Minister Beji Caid Sebsi has his office.

Protests also took place in Sidi Bouzid, the central Tunisian town where a vegetable seller set himself on fire last December, setting in train protests that brought to an end the 23-year rule of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

From Egypt…

Egyptians extend protests at Tahrir Square

Egyptians gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday, after a week of demonstrations, to tell the ruling generals they are failing to meet demands to reform the system…

From Syria…

1 Million Protesters Push Syria’s Assad to the Brink…

An estimated 1 million Syrians took to the streets Friday to press for the ouster of President Bashar Assad, whose use of force and offers of dialogue have failed to stop a four-month revolt. At least 32 protesters were killed around the country, including more than 20 in the capital of Damascus…

From Jordan…

Jordanian police beat up journalists covering demonstration

…At least 10 people, mostly journalists, were injured yesterday when police tried to stop clashes between pro-reform demonstrators and government supporters in central Amman.
Police used batons to disperse the clashes outside city hall, beating and injuring nine journalists who were wearing orange vests marked “press,” an AFP reporter at the scene witnessed. The wounded included an AFP photographer and a female activist.
“We were beaten by police, although we were wearing special press vests,” said the photographer. “We thought we would be safe when we stood next to the police and away from the clashes.”
A photographer who works for another international news agency said he was ordered by police not to take pictures, while New York Times reporter Kareem Fahim was beaten by 10 policemen.
Around 2,000 people, including Islamists and youth groups, marched from the nearby Al Husseini mosque to the city hall before the clashes occurred with hundreds of government supporters.
“Rulers, we want to reform the regime. We want the palace to hear the voices of Jordanians,” the demonstrators chanted.
They carried banners reading “We need political, economic and social reforms for future generations,” and “It’s our right to fight corruption.”

From Bahrain…

Thousands rally for political reform in Bahrain

Tens of thousands of Bahrainis shouting “one man, one vote” attended a rally for political reform held by a leading opposition party on Friday, days before the group decides whether to pull out of national reform talks. Bahrain’s Sunni rulers have launched a national dialogue to discuss reforms and heal deep rifts in the Gulf island kingdom…

Now, lets put some proper perspective on the problem…

More Harm Than Good…

…Now, before Tunisia and Egypt even have new governments in place, the IMF has jumped to offer them loans for vast infrastructure projects in the desert—as if the fund didn’t know that young Arabs there want ways to start businesses and have careers, not temporary construction jobs.

The Greek debacle and the North African drama raise existential questions about the IMF. Responsible governments have no business borrowing vast sums from abroad, rather than from domestic sources. That’s what tinpot regimes do. And lending even more to borrowers who can’t pay what they already owe? That’s what loan sharks and mafiosi do.

The IMF’s business model sabotages properly functioning capitalism, victimizing ordinary people while benefiting the elites. Do we need international agencies to enable irresponsible—verging on immoral—borrowing and lending? Instead of dreaming up too-clever-by-half schemes to stumble through crises after they happen, why not just stop imprudent banks from accommodating foreign borrowing by feckless governments? After all, it’s French and German taxpayers who are on the hook—not just the Greeks and the Irish…

Now, today in Libya, we’ve officially recognized the Rebels, freeing up the $34 Billion that we had froze, shortly after Qaddafi had announced that he was earmarking that specified amount to the African Development Bank…

U.S. formally recognizes rebel group as Libya’s government

…The chief effect of recognition may be financial. The rebels have been pleading with Washington and other governments for months to release frozen Libyan assets, including $34 billion held in U.S. banks, and that now appears increasingly likely.

At the Istanbul meeting, France said it was taking steps to unfreeze $250 million, while Italy said it was moving to unfreeze $100 million. U.S. officials said it would take time to release the Libyan money because of legal restrictions, but the task is easier if the council is the recognized government.

The rebels have said they need $3.5 billion this year to prosecute the war and administer the cities and towns they control.

Here’s a juicy little tidbit about those very same Al QaedaLibyan Rebels…

Now, speaking about ‘prosecuting’ and ‘administering the cities and towns they control’. The House of Saud is in full panic mode…

Saudis Seeking Arms amid Growing Fears

Saudi Arabia’s hunger for weapons has grown with the upcoming US withdrawal from Iraq and instability in Yemen and Bahrain.

…”Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf countries in general realize that they must rely on themselves to defend themselves during this critical period marked by the beginning of a US withdrawal from Iraq,” said Anwar Eshki, director of the Middle East Institute for Strategic Studies. [...]

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, has traditionally bought US and British arms, but it showed no hesitation in contacting a new supplier, Berlin, with which it is negotiating the purchase of 200 Leopard tanks, according to reports in Germany.

The order is worth some two billion Euros ($2.8 billion), German magazine Der Spiegel said on its website.

“The kingdom is looking for weapons in Germany and even in Russia, knowing that with the vacuum left by the Americans in Iraq, Iran might begin to extend its influence to the Levant reaching out to the Mediterranean sea,” said Eshki.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, whose country sent about 1,500 troops to Bahrain, freeing up local security forces to crush a month-long uprising, recently reiterated Riyadh’s rejection of “foreign adventures” in Bahrain.

“Persian [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC) states have strategy to maintain their security,” Faisal said on July 5…

As, b at M of A, pointed out some of the unique features of those 200 Main Battle Tanks…

German Tanks For Saudi ‘Peace Support Operations’

…But the question is not really about a $1+ billion tank deal with the Saudi, they do have lots of U.S. build M1A1 as well as British Challengers and could easily get more, the question is about the specific version of this first class tank the Saudis have asked for.

The Leopard II A7+ (PSO) variant was specifically developed for “Peace Support Operations”. Such Orwellian termed operations, as this video of a pretty lousy military show depicts, consist of suppressing demonstrations and rebellions as well as general fighting in urban terrain.

Hmmm… Yeppers, it’s all those pesky Iranians fault…

Btw, can we finally be rid of this annoying Beach Boy earworm…?

…There is almost “near certainty” that Netanyahu is “planning an attack [on Iran] … and it will probably be in September before the vote on a Palestinian state. And he’s also hoping to draw the United States into the conflict,” Baer explained.

….It should be noted that the Iranian regime is quite capable of triggering a war with the United States on its own through some combination of colossal stupidity and sheer hatred. In fact, Baer says, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard would welcome a war. They are “paranoid.” They are “worried about … what’s happening to their country economically, in terms of the oil embargo and other sanctions.” And they are worried about a population that increasingly despises the regime.

They need an external enemy. Because we are leaving Iraq, it’s Israel. But in order to make this threat believable, they would love an attack on their nuclear facilities, love to go to war in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and Iraq and hit us where they could. Their defense is asymmetrical. We can take out all of their armored units. It’s of little difference to them, same with their surface-to-air missile sites. It would make little difference because they would use terrorism. They would do serious damage to our fleet in the Gulf.

Given all that, is it possible that the United States would allow Israel to attack when the president knows “we would be forced” to join the war on Israel’s side?

Baer’s response: “the President is up for re-election next year” and Israel is “truly out of control.”

What happens when you see 100 F-16′s approaching Iraq and there is a call to the White House [from Netanyahu] that says “We’re going in, we’re at war with Iran”? What does the President of the United States do? He has little influence over Bibi Netanyahu. …We can’t stop him. And he knows it.

Hmmm…! I suppose not…!

Now, this was some great news which actually did instill some hope in my cold, cynical heart…

Thousands of Israelis and Arabs march in Jerusalem to support Palestinian independence…

Several MKs participate in the ‘March for Independence,’ the first such Jewish-Arab event in 20 years…

Arab League seeking full status for Palestine at UN…

The Arab League will ask the United Nations to upgrade the Palestinians to full member status, a draft statement from a league meeting in Qatar said yesterday. “It was decided to go to the United Nations to request the recognition of the state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital and to move ahead and request a full membership,” said the communique.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the move, saying if the Palestinians really wanted peace, “they would sit down for negotiations, without preconditions. There is no replacement for negotiations. Unilateral steps will not bring peace closer and will not bring any solution.”

Even the ever-odious Mustache of Fury just had to chime in… …PA bid for UN recognition means ‘next to nothing’…

*gah*