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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: The I/P Peace Farce, Iran, and Libya

5:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Let the gnashing and rending of garments start in earnest…

UN accepts Palestinian treaty applications

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon says Palestinian applications to join 13 international conventions have been accepted.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has verified that the Palestinian applications to join 13 international conventions were ‘in due and proper form’ and have been accepted.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Thursday that Ban informed all 193 UN member states of his acceptance.

After Israel failed to carry out a planned prisoner release a few days after the end of a March deadline, the Palestinians retaliated by signing letters of accession to 15 international conventions. Thirteen were deposited at the UN, one in Geneva, and one in the Netherlands.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, said on Tuesday that Palestine will officially become a state party to 13 of the 15 conventions on May 2 – and is ready with more applications to join UN agencies, conventions and treaties depending on Israel’s actions.

Col. Lang sums it up best…

Israel offers deal to rescue peace talks’ The Telegraph

And BTW, part of the deal has to be that we release Pollard.

This is all very interesting,. The Lilliputian state of Israel, armed to the teeth and dependent on the United States seeks to dictate terms to the US for a renewal of ‘negotiations’ over a possible peace between said Lilliput and the Palestinian community. The US is not really an interested party. The US is seeking to broker someone else’s deal. So, why are we willing to bargain with Israel over this?

We deserve to be treated this way. Our situation is somewhat analogous to that of parents who are dominated and bullied by children who have learned that they have nothing to fear from such parents. pl

To be sure…The Folly of the Pollard Ploy

Interestingly, even the ‘Old Guard’ FP Neolib/Ziocons, like Zbig, Lee Hamilton, Frank Carlucci, Thomas Pickering and others, are saying… Halt Peace Talks Until Israel Complies With International Law It’s time for the secretary of state to insist on America’s position on Middle East peace. *ouch*

And, speaking of our Major League Losers Players…

Now, here’s Betrayus and Dagan, recently dispensing nonsense at Harvard… Former CIA and Mossad Directors Discuss Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Middle East Situation

Looking at recent actions in the I/P…

Israel sanctions Palestinians in new blow to peace

Israeli and Palestinian officials held fresh US-mediated talks Thursday, but the crisis-hit peace process was dealt a new blow as Israel unveiled sanctions against the Palestinians.

Israel, which collects about 80 million euros ($111 million) in taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority — two-thirds of its revenues — has decided to freeze the transfer of that money, an official said.

Israel was also suspending its participation with the Palestinians in developing a gas field off the Gaza Strip and putting a cap on Palestinian deposits in its banks, the Israeli official said, asking not to be named.

However, the official said ‘discussions under the aegis of the United States to overcome the talks crisis will continue.’

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat lashed out at the move, calling it an act of ‘Israeli hijacking and the theft of the Palestinian people’s money.’

The decision is a ‘violation of international law and norms by Israel’ in revenge for the Palestinians’ move to join a raft of international treaties as a state, Erakat told AFP

Naturally, that is a bad move on Israel’s part… Fatah leader: Israeli sanctions will lead to collapse of PA

In which, I’m sure Hamas wouldn’t mind the favor… Hamas to PA: End cooperation with Israel

Btw, Bibi has yet another huge migraine… Bennett: Bayit Yehudi will leave government if prisoners freed And, ever more grotesque Bennett… Israeli minister calls for annexing West Bank

Now, let’s remember that it is the rabid Settlers, that are the root problem… Rioting settlers, Israeli security forces clash in West Bank

Meanwhile… Bedouin homes in the Negev demolished for the 68th time

Israel to confiscate Palestinian land to build sewage plant

Moving along to Iran…

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Assad, Erdogan, and Gates

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As the Syrian delegation checked into Montreux earlier…

Syria FM says Assad’s status ‘red line’

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al- Moallem said Tuesday that subjects related to the status of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are ‘red lines’ and can’t be ‘touched,’ the state-run SANA news agency reported.

Al-Moallem made the remarks upon his arriving to Geneva, Switzerland Tuesday evening, heading a Syrian official delegation to participate in the Geneva II peace conference, which will open on Wednesday in Montreux.

The minister’s remarks came apparently to make the Syrian government’s stance clear ahead of the conference, hinting that the government’s delegation to Geneva will not accept talks about Assad’s departure.

The Syrian government repeatedly said that it wasn’t going to Geneva to hand over the power, but to negotiate with the opposition to find a solution to the crisis.

It also said that the peace talks must focus on combating terrorism in Syria, while the opposition wants the conference to lead to the formation of a transitional government without any role for al-Assad.

Syria wants the Geneva II conference to be successful as a first step to launch a Syrian-Syrian dialogue on their territories, al-Moallem said in Geneva.

The goal of Geneva II is to achieve a political solution to the conflict through a comprehensive agreement between the government and the opposition for the full implementation of the Geneva communique, adopted after the Geneva I conference in 2012.

The communique, which has been endorsed by the UN Security Council, lays out key steps to end the violence.

Funny how the Syrian delegation ran into probs en route to Montreux…

…The crisis over Syria is set to deepen after recent claims of photographic evidence of torture under Assad’s regime. The photos have been reviewed by a team of international prosecutors who said there was evidence of systematic abuse and murder involving 11,000 detainees.

It is likely to increase demands for Assad to step down and face an international war crimes trial.

And the Syrian delegation’s plane was held up when a Greek firm in Athens refused to refuel it, citing an EU trade embargo.

Now, I smell a rat about that ‘Photographic Evidence’…! How convenient that a defector should just happen to release all those gruesome photos on the eve of Geneva II, and, did you also notice how fast(and many!) MSM outlets rushed to publish them…?

Let’s remember that last rush to judgement in Syria…

Human Rights Watch’s Syria Dilemma

Which brings me to Erdogan’s recent rich hypocrisy…

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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Israeli Intransigence, the IAEA, and Iran

4:50 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Seriously, pups, the Peace Farce is officially over…

Official: No new peace talks planned

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reuters TV quoted Erekat as confirming the talks were frozen.

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

From the UN…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Netanyahu vows to build ‘thousands more homes’ in settlements

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

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

Continuing along with Bibi’s perfidy…

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by CTuttle

Syrian Mashup: Mother Agnes, Sellstrom, and, Iran for Palestine?

7:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the Euronews blurb…

Russia has denounced the findings of a team of UN investigators into a poison gas attack in Syria as, ‘preconceived’ and ‘politicised.’

The Russian reaction came after the UN report, which confirms the use of the nerve agent Sarin, was taken as proof by Western nations that Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad was behind the attack.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, who met today with President Assad, said the UN report was prepared ‘selectively and incompletely.’ Russia maintains Syrian rebels were behind the chemical attack.

Now, I ask you if you would rather trust the UN or Mother Agnes…

Children in Syria chemical attack video ‘moved between locations’ before ‘staged’ filming

Children filmed as victims of the Aug 21 chemical attack in a Damascus suburb had been deliberately moved to the location from a different region after being kidnapped weeks before, Mother Agnes told RT after presenting her own investigation to the UN.

Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib and her group carried out their own investigation. They looked through the 35 videos of the incident that were posted on the internet.

What caught Mother Agnes’ eye was that the same children resurfaced in different videos.

‘We see children in a video presented as victims of a chemical attack in Jobar. And then we see the same kids in a video out of Kfar-Batna, and they are claimed to be kids from Kfar-Batna, and then, from Ain Terma. We have seen one and the same boy ostensibly in agony in different settings,’ she told RT Arabic.

‘Who are those children? We want to know the truth,’ Mother Agnes says. {…}

First of all, there are family members who say they have recognized their children. They pointed to specific videos from Kfar Batna and Jobar. I cannot go into detail, because I don’t have permission from the families to mention names. So I’ll put it in general terms: as of now, we know that people have recognized some of the children. In some cases, it was a mother or a father who recognized their child in a video. In other cases, it was an aunt or an uncle, or some other relative, because some of the parents had been killed during the fighting, as the insurgents advanced through the townships and villages of Latakia. I cannot judge whether what those people say is true; that would require a DNA test. As far as we are concerned, we are trying to figure out why all those people would start claiming they see familiar faces in those videos. We look specifically at the footage selected by the Americans, and we see that it has been supplemented with footage provided by Al Jazeera, or by one of the coordination committees. We have 35 videos in our brief, but there are about 200 to 230 videos in total, each different from the others. They are peddled by a variety of sources – from local coordination committees to NGOs to media organizations. As we examined the videos, trying to identify the children in question, we noticed signs suggesting this or that had been staged and directed. For example, there is footage of a boy receiving first aid. And then there is a different video where you can see the same boy receiving first aid all over again, but in a different setting. It is like a movie production, where scenes are repeatedly edited and re-filmed. You shoot one scene, you don’t like it, so you alter the settings and you try again.

Some more from Deputy FM Ryabkov…

‘Proof of rebels using chem arms’

UN experts to return to Syria soon; America maintains its aggressive military option against Assad regime

The Syrian regime has handed Russia new materials implicating rebels in a chemical attack outside Damascus on 21 August, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said today after talks in Damascus.

‘The corresponding materials were handed to the Russian side. We were told that they were evidence that the rebels are implicated in the chemical attack,’ Mr Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies after talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem late yesterday. He said that Russia would “examine the Syrian materials implicating the rebels with the utmost seriousness.’

To the fury of the West, Russia has repeatedly expressed suspicion that the chemical attack was a ‘provocation’ staged by the rebels with the aim of attracting Western military intervention in the conflict.

Mr Ryabkov also said Russia was disappointed with the UN report into the chemical weapons attack published this week, saying it was selective and had ignored other episodes. ‘Without a full picture… we cannot describe the character of the conclusions as anything other than politicised, biased and one-sided,’ he said.

Mr Ryabkov is on a visit to Damascus to present the Syrian regime with the results of the agreement between Moscow and Washington reached in Geneva at the weekend to rid Syria of its chemical weapons. He said he emphasised to Mr Muallem the importance of the Syrian side ‘strictly and swiftly’ handing over details of its chemical weapons arsenal to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the first step in the agreement.

Yoichi Shimatsu, who covered the Tokyo subway gassing in 1995, wrote a scathing critique on the UN’s Sellstrom Report…

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by CTuttle

Syria Mashup: UN Report, Missiles in the Med, and Iran

4:53 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Straight out of the gates F/UK/US pointed the finger at Assad…

U.N. report on sarin attack in Syria points to Assad, envoys say

…U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declined to say whether rocket fragments and other physical evidence collected from a Damascus suburban area by U.N. investigators made it clear whether it was the Assad regime or the rebels fighting him who launched the sarin gas attacks.

But U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and British U.N. envoy Mark Lyall Grant stated unequivocally that the inspectors’ findings confirmed their conclusions that it was Assad who was behind the worst chemical weapons attack in 25 years.

‘The mandate of the chemical weapons team was not to investigate culpability, but the technical details of the United Nations report make clear that only the regime could have carried out this large-scale chemical weapons attack,’ Power told reporters after Ban briefly discussed the report.

Among the weapons fragments and components recovered from the scene of the attacks were pieces of 122-millimeter rockets that the regime has relied on heavily throughout the civil war and that the rebels are not known to possess, Power said.

She also dismissed a claim by the Assad government that insurgents infiltrated regime-controlled areas of the capital to launch the poison gas strikes as a scenario that ‘defies logic.’

Grant said the type of rockets used in the attacks and the area from which they were fired confirmed that ‘there is no remaining doubt that it was the regime’ that attacked with prohibited munitions.

‘Even at first glance, the report reinforces the view that the British government has held for a long time that it was the regime’s responsibility,’ he told reporters.

Both Western envoys noted the sarin attacks near Damascus were the most wide-scale violation of the chemical weapons ban since Iraqi President Saddam Hussein attacked Kurds with poison gas in 1988.

Russia’s U.N. envoy, Vitaly Churkin, expressed outrage at the confirmed use of chemical weapons in the attacks nearly a month ago but warned that ‘allegations that the opposition has used chemical weapons cannot be shrugged off.’

And, here’s the forseen French response… France: UN report indicates Syrian regime was ‘guilty’ in deadly chemical weapons attack.

Now, as Jim White pointed out…

Working Thread: UN Chemical Weapon Report on Syria Released

…But of course, these inspections came on August 26 in Moadamiyah and August 28 and 29 in Zamalka, so 5 to 8 days passed between the attack and the analysis. The key point to keep in mind when considering the rocket evidence is this:

Limitations:
The time necessary to conduct a detailed survey of both locations as well as take samples was very limited. The sites have been well travelled by other individuals both before and during the investigation. Fragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team.

People had plenty of time to move things around before the UN inspectors came onto the site. The possibility that evidence has been manipulated cannot be ruled out…

From Arms Control WonkCWC Challenge Inspections: Syria as the Test Case?

Btw, the UN also had this to report today… UN: Libyan weapons being smuggled to Syria.

Now, Phil Greaves penned a great read on Syria today(h/t b @ MOA)! It is a long read so I will only highlight what I’ve suspected for some time, but, couldn’t quite put my finger on it…

Syria: Has Obama forsaken the insurgency?

Last throw of the Dice: missiles in the Med.

On September the 3rd, two days prior to the G20 summit in St Petersburg, the world awoke to reports that Russia’s defensive radar systems had detected two ballistic “objects” launched from the central Mediterranean on a flight path toward Syria’s eastern coast, where Russian navy ships currently reside; the missiles post-launch had apparently “fell into the sea”. At the time the finger was immediately pointed to Israel – who have attacked Syria at least three times with impunity in the past year alone – or possibly the United States, whose large Naval presence in the Med seemed the obvious primary suspect. Curiously, both Israel and the United States denied responsibility when the Russian reports were first released, then, only a few hours later Israel claimed responsibility for an apparent joint “test” launch with the Pentagon of a defensive missile system. The sheer recklessness of such an act – even if the innocent explanation were true – is hard to explain in such a circumstance. The US eventually confirmed the Israeli line that it was indeed a “test” missile launch with US assistance; after having first denied any knowledge of the incident.

The most likely explanation is Israel or the US were attempting to test Syria’s coastal defenses prior to any possible attack, but to do this without giving any notice to Russia in such a tense scenario seems reckless to say the least. Russian diplomats have repeatedly hinted that Russia would “help” Syria militarily in the event of a missile strike. It is quite possible that this incident was indeed an Israeli/US provocation in an attempt to garner a response from Syria, and in turn instigate a wider campaign. A report from Lebanese daily As Safir takes it one step further:

A well-informed diplomatic source told As-Safir newspaper that “the US war on Syria had started and ended the moment those two ballistic missiles were fired,… The source further told the Lebanese daily that “the US forces fired these two rockets from a NATO base in Spain, and were instantly detected by the Russian radars and confronted by the Russian defense systems, so one of them exploded in the airspace and the second one diverted towards the sea.” In this context, the source pointed out that “the statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry, which stated the detection of two ballistic missiles fired towards the Middle East, intended to neglect two points: the first was the location from which the two rockets were fired, and the second was their downing. Why? Because the moment the full military operation was launched, Head of the Russian Intelligence Service contacted the US intelligence and informed it that “hitting Damascus means hitting Moscow, and we have removed the term “downed the two missiles” from the statement to preserve the bilateral relations and to avoid escalation. Therefore, you must immediately reconsider your policies, approaches and intentions on the Syrian crisis, as you must be certain that you cannot eliminate our presence in the Mediterranean.”

Whether this account of events holds true or not, at the very least the missile launch appears to be an intentional provocation by either Israel or Washington, in a last-ditch attempt to incite retaliation and salvage the now broken strategy against Assad. Either way, Russia’s decision to quickly publicise the detection and subsequent flip-flop of denial and acceptance from Israel bolsters the theory in the As Safir report: why would Israel accept responsibility for this provocative “test”, yet deny responsibility for every other act of aggression they commit unimpeded? Could it have been to save the face of another defeated attempt to continue the war? It was following this incident, that Obama and Putin were due to meet at the G20 conference. With both leaders eager to go into any negotiations on Syria from a position of power at such a crucial stage, it also adds to the theory that Obama was in a rush to commence the war before opposition became too overbearing; as indeed it now evidently has.

Apparently, Kerry pointed out the basic facts on the ground to Bibi yesterday…

Why Israel hails Syria chemical weapons deal

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called a tentative US-Russian agreement on dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal a breakthrough that could weaken Iran.

Why is it always Iran, Iran, Iran with the Ziocons…?

I’ll betcha this stroke of genius by Rouhani, has Bibi’s britches in a bind…

Iran said ready to dismantle underground nuclear facility

Rouhani might offer to close Fordo if West eases sanctions, Der Spiegel reports, based on intelligence sources; Israel has yet to respond.

I wonder if Putin is behind it… Putin to visit Iran for first time in six years.

In summing up, Israel fears it may be asked to surrender its CW after Syria. Ya think…? And. AIPAC is already backpedaling…

Pro-Israel groups suspend lobby for Syria strike

Jewish organizations maintain their support for Congressional authorization of military force despite the pending US-Russia deal

…A spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which organized a Capitol Hill blitz last week aimed at persuading Congress to back a strike, confirmed Monday that lobbying has been suspended for now.

The American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, which also had been involved in the lobbying, said they would suspend lobbying, too.

“We sent many messages over the last week and a half; we are not formulating new letters to the Hill,” Jason Isaacson, the AJC’s director of international affairs, told JTA. “Our message is out there should it be required.”

Glimmers of hope appear, pups…!

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

More Evidence Points To The Syrian Rebels

3:40 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As U.S. Forces Prepare to Act on Syria as Chemicals Alleged. A lot of new developments have since arisen that points the finger squarely at the Syrian Rebels and not the Syrian Regime. First off, it is almost certain that military grade Chemical Weapons were not used, instead, it is likely that it was some combination of Toxic Industrial Chemicals! (PDF6pgs)

From the Huffington Post…

…Jean Pascal Zanders, an independent researcher who specializes in CBW and disarmament, said that in videos of the aftermath of the attacks, the hue of the victims’ faces appeared to show many suffered from asphyxiation. However, he said the symptoms they exhibited were not consistent with mustard gas or the nerve agents VX or sarin. Mustard gas would cause blistering of the skin and discoloration, while the nerve agents would produce severe convulsions in the victims and also affect the paramedics treating them, neither of which was evident from the videos or reports. “I’m deliberately not using the term chemical weapons here,” he said. “There’s plenty of other nasty stuff that was used in the past as a chemical warfare agent, so many industrial toxicants could be used too.”

Now, as I’ve noted before, prior to the new findings in those Rebel-held tunnels…

Syrian rebels’ Damascus chemical cache found by Syrian Army

The Syrian army has discovered a storehouse belonging to rebels in the Damascus area of Jobar, where toxic chemical substances – including chlorine – have been produced and kept, State TV reported.

Military sources reported that the militants “were preparing to fire mortars in the suburbs of the capital and were going to pack missiles with chemical warheads.”

A video shot by RT’s sister channel Russia Al Youm shows an old, partly ruined building which was set up as a laboratory. After entering the building, Syrian Army officers found scores of canisters and bags laid on the floor and tables. According to a warning sign on the bags, the “corrosive” substance was made in Saudi Arabia.

Now, while I suspect the Saudis, British MP Galloway thinks it’s the Israelis…

“If there’s been any use of nerve gas, it’s the rebels that used it…If there has been use of chemical weapons, it was Al Qaeda who used the chemical weapons,” claims Galloway in a video distributed on the internet.

“Who gave Al Qaeda the chemical weapons? Here’s my theory: Israel gave them the chemical weapons.”

Btw, whatever happened to the initial 1,300 dead that was(is) wildly hyped about in our MSM…?

Now, contrary to PM Cameron’s assertion that Assad refuses to allow the UN inspectors access…

Prime Minister David Cameron discussed the situation in Syria with President Obama and Prime Minister Harper.

A Downing Street spokesperson said:

The Prime Minister and President Obama discussed the situation in Syria this afternoon.‬

They are both gravely concerned by the attack that took place in Damascus on Wednesday and the increasing signs that this was a significant chemical weapons attack carried out by the Syrian regime against its own people. The UN Security Council has called for immediate access for UN investigators on the ground in Damascus. The fact that President Assad has failed to co-operate with the UN suggests that the regime has something to hide.

They reiterated that significant use of chemical weapons would merit a serious response from the international community and both have tasked officials to examine all the options. They agreed that it is vital that the world upholds the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons and deters further outrages. They agreed to keep in close contact on the issue.

The Prime Minister also spoke to Prime Minister Harper who agreed that the situation was extremely troubling and that the international community must respond appropriately.‬

Well, lah di da…

Syria will let UN inspectors probe chemical attack: FM

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem says Damascus will provide the UN team with access to the site of the recent alleged chemical attack in the country.

In a telephone conversation with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Saturday, al-Muallem added that his respective country has cooperated with the UN team of chemical experts present in the country.

He added that Damascus is now holding talks with the UN inspectors on the access to the site of the alleged chemical attack.

Now, as Obama adds another Ballistic Missile Cruiser to the Eastern Mediterranean… Putin Responds To Syria Escalation: May “Reinforce Naval Grouping In Mediterranean” Following US Buildup

Speaking of Russia, Putin’s been keeping a very close eye on Syria, as As-safir reported that Russian satellites had tracked the origin of the attack to a rebel held area…

“The Russian said that the rockets, two of the manufacture of domestic and carrying chemicals, set off from the area controlled by «the banner of Islam», led by Zahran Alwash, the most prominent forces of the armed opposition in Gota.” [Google translate]

And, if there was any doubt about the Syrian Rebels possibly using chemical weapons…

Syria Rebels: We’ll Use Chemical Weapons, Too

Rebel forces say they will retaliate for regime’s chemical attack with all the means they possess, no compunctions.

Senior commanders in the rebel forces in Syria published a videotaped announcement Thursday in which they expressed their intent to respond to the chemical gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces last week, by hitting back with all the means at their disposal and no “red lines.”

The rebel commanders announced that thus far, their forces had refrained from taking over the Syrian regime’s chemical wapons stores, but they will no longer set any limitations on themselves in the fight against the Assad regime.

God Help the Syrians…! *gah*

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Iraq, Israel, Syria, and the US War on Islam

5:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the ever intrepid, Pepe Escobar…

Meet a moderate Syrian insurgent

Hi, my name is Mostafa and I’ll be your moderate insurgent today. I’m addressing you all because we badly need your help. We could have started a Facebook page, like We Need Your Weapons or something, or ask the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to make a YouTube video, but I prefer to speak straight to your heart.

Our Supreme Commander, the blessed General Salim Idriss, has acknowledged we are now receiving many new weapons from many friendly Arab countries, which helped us “destroy more than 90 armored vehicles” of the Syrian regime. And Amrika helped us to get the guns, of course. But we need more.

Your President Mr Obama told the Blessed King of Saudi Arabia last Friday that he is committed to providing more support for us. Your Secretary of State Mr Kerry said on Saturday there must be more support for us “in order to have an impact on the ground”. Your CIA said they will make sure only moderate insurgents get the weapons, and not the bad guys.

But your Congress is blocking our weapons. Oh people from Congress!

Don’t be such a spoiler! We have such a brotherhood of nations here. People from 29 different countries! OK, there are a lot of Salafis, a bit hot headed. But for us they are all brothers. In fact most of us are moderate insurgents…

Let’s look at some of the recent spillover effects from the Syrian Fiasco…

First, from the UN Envoy to Iraq, today…

UN: Iraq and Syrian conflicts merging

Iraq’s escalating violence can no longer be separated from the civil war in neighbouring Syria because “the battlefields are merging,” the UN envoy to Iraq warned yesterday.

Martin Kobler told the UN Security Council that Iraqi armed groups have an increasingly active presence in Syria. As a result, he said, the Syrian conflict is no longer just spilling over into Iraq, but Iraqis are reportedly taking arms against each other inside Syria, he said.

“These countries are interrelated,” Kobler stressed. “Iraq is the fault line between the Shia and the Sunni world and everything which happens in Syria, of course, has repercussions on the political landscape in Iraq.”

Kobler said the last four months have been among the bloodiest in Iraq in the last five years with nearly 3,000 people killed and over 7,000 injured. He said the perpetrators are taking advantage of the ongoing political stalemate in the country and the Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011 and has killed over 93,000 people.

Kobler did not give any figures of Iraqis killed in fighting in Iraq but warned that the violence in both countries “could easily spiral out of control if not urgently addressed”.

What’s critically important, he said, is to address the roots of the conflict in Iraq and find a political solution to the civil war in Syria…

Now, it seems Kuwait is wading into the fracas…

Money, guns flowing from Kuwait to Syria’s most radical rebel factions

Syrian rebels have a new source of weapons and cash from inside Kuwait, and their benefactors in the oil-rich state are sending the aid to the most militant and anti-West factions involved in the fight to topple Bashar al-Assad.

The role of Saudi and Qatari governments and individuals in the funding and arming of Islamist fighters in Syria has been well known since the civil war began more than two years ago. But now, guns and money are flowing from private sources and Salafist-controlled NGOs based in Kuwait, and they are going to rebel factions aligned with Al Qaeda.

“We are collecting money to buy all these weapons, so that our brothers will be victorious,” hard-core Sunni Islamist Sheikh Shafi’ Al-Ajami announced on Kuwaiti television last month, listing the black-market prices of weapons, including heat-seeking missiles, anti-aircraft guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Days later, Al-Ajami addressed a small throng outside the Lebanese Embassy in Kuwait and gleefully described slitting the throat of a Shiite Muslim in Syria…

Btw, those ‘Rebels’ are getting mighty brazen…

…Rebel fighters from an unidentified faction have crossed the “disengagement line” between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, capturing an unmanned army post and sparking a clash with Israeli patrols nearby.

The rebels are speculated to have taken the post to provoke Syrian troops to return fire against them across the ceasefire line, sparking an Israeli retaliation. The rebels fled the base before the Israeli troops arrived.

A precautionary tale… Don’t mess with the Kurdish ladies…!

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by CTuttle

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

4:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, lah-di-da… From the LA Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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by CTuttle

Pouring Gas On The Syrian Inferno

5:09 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From this past Sunday’s Bobblehead shows…

Lawmakers say Syrian chemical weapons could menace U.S.

…Lawmakers sought to remind viewers on Sunday news programs of Obama’s declaration while discouraging a U.S. foothold on the ground there.

“The president has laid down the line, and it can’t be a dotted line. It can’t be anything other than a red line,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican. “And more than just Syria, Iran is paying attention to this. North Korea is paying attention to this.” Added Sen. Saxby Chambliss, also a Republican: “For America to sit on the sidelines and do nothing is a huge mistake.”

…But Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat, said Sunday the United States needs to consider those weapons. She said that when Assad leaves power, his opponents could have access to those weapons or they could fall into the hands of U.S. enemies.

“The day after Assad is the day that these chemical weapons could be at risk… [and] we could be in bigger, even bigger trouble,” she said…

…”The worst thing the United States could do right now is put boots on the ground on Syria. That would turn the people against us,” said McCain, the Republican who lost the 2008 presidential election to Obama.

His friend, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, also said the United States could safeguard the weapons without a ground force. But he cautioned the weapons must be protected for fear that Americans could be targeted. Raising the specter of the lethal bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Graham said the next attack on U.S. soil could employ weapons that were once part of Assad’s arsenal.

“Chemical weapons — enough to kill millions of people — are going to be compromised and fall into the wrong hands, and the next bomb that goes off in America may not have nails and glass in it,” he said…

US lacks evidence in accusing Syria of using chemical weapons

…The United Nations and the Secretary General have been notified about alleged chemical weapons use in Syria by American politicians. In response, a spokesman for the UN chief warned that “the United Nations is not in a position to comment on assessments based on national intelligence information.

But a team of UN advisers “have been in contact with the US authorities on the latest developments,” the spokesperson for the Secretary-General said in a statement.

The statement added that a “technical expert team to conduct a fact-finding mission” has been put together and is on standby, ready to begin work in “24-48 hours.”

So far the expert team is still awaiting its marching orders, after UN chief Ban Ki-moon promised the probe in late March, following an official request by the Syrian authorities to appoint an independent mission to investigate the alleged chemical attack that claimed lives of at least 25 people on March 19.

Although following the Syrian plea, the United Nations said the team would not include experts from Russia and China to ensure it wasn’t biased. Russian EU envoy Vitaly Churkin criticized “this kind of logic” saying in that case he “would recommend excluding all NATO countries too.”

Following this development, in early April, Syria refused to let the UN proposed team enter Syria as it – contrary to the Syrian request – was planning to deploy “throughout Syrian territory” and not at particular locations of alleged attacks. “Syria cannot accept such manoeuvres on the part of the UN secretariat general, bearing in mind the negative role that it played in Iraq and which cleared the way for the American invasion,” a Syrian foreign ministry official explained at the time.

The official stressed that Syria had specifically asked for “a neutral and honest technical team to visit the village of Khan al-Assal” in the province of Aleppo…

Opinion divided on investigation in Syria over chemical weapons

…Speculation on chemical weapons in Syria has flared up. The White House has stated that the government troops may have used them against the rebels. The international community is divided on whether to send an investigation panel to the country.
Amateur videos have sprung up online, showing various victims of chemical gas. This come after Washington’s accusation that Damascus has used chemical weapons.
One video shows people left unconscious and others reporting aches and dizziness after what they say was a Syrian government air raid in Aleppo on April the 13th.
And a picture purportedly showed a flock of sheep killed by chemical weapons.

…The Syrian government has denied accusations from western countries. It compares the US accusation to claims about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction to justify its 2003 invasion.
In the meantime, fears are growing in both government troops and rebel groups. Some are calling for a UN investigation, while others doubt UN neutrality.
Yahya Sulaiman, a retired soldier, said, “The UN is under control of the western countries. We don’t think it represents the justice. If the UN investigation doesn’t make clear the investigation period, their access to Syria may also bring foreign spies, who’s true purpose is to inspect Syrian military facilities.”
UN chief Ban Ki-moon says the investigation panel is ready to get access to Syria at any time. US President Barack Obama has expressed support for a UN mission.
Russia has warned not to use the allegations as an excuse for foreign military intervention. The final decision is still up in the air.

All Syria options ‘fraught with risk for US’

As the UK’s former Ambassador to Syria wrote recently…

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