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by CTuttle

Plans to Strike Iran “ready,” And Congress Moves The War Goal Posts Closer

4:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

I sh*t you not…! Plans to strike Iran “ready,” says U.S. Israel envoy…

U.S. plans for a possible military strike on Iran are ready and the option is “fully available”, the U.S. ambassador to Israel said, days before Tehran resumes talks with world powers which suspect it of seeking to develop nuclear arms.

Like Israel, the United States has said it considers military force a last resort to prevent Iran using its uranium enrichment to make a bomb. Iran insists its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes.

It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure than to use military force,” Ambassador Dan Shapiro said in remarks about Iran aired by Israel’s Army Radio on Thursday.

But that doesn’t mean that option is not fully available – not just available, but it’s ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it’s ready,” said Shapiro…

From the AP…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

US Congress: ‘We Will Not Fund Terrorists’, Egypt’s Gaza Border Crossing to be Permanently Opened

7:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

While this Unity deal is still very much unclear, and, faces an uncertain future, our Cretins in Congress, of both stripes, are already threatening to cut off our funding to the PA…

The U.S. House Foreign Affairs chairwoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., released a statement saying:

According to existing U.S. law, such a hybrid government cannot be a recipient of U.S. taxpayer funds because the law stipulates that the PA government must recognize the Jewish state of Israel’s right to exist, among other things. Therefore, in order to implement existing law, the U.S. must end assistance to the Palestinian Authority.

The congresswoman’s sentiments were echoed by Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia and Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the highest-ranking Democrat on the House foreign aid subcommittee, as the Washington Post reports. The White House too reiterated that Hamas is a “terrorist organization.”

Straight from Rep. Gary Ackerman’s (D-N.Y.) own House website…

“The purported deal, which does not require Hamas to accept Israel’s right to exist, or the binding nature of prior Palestinian commitments, or even to require Hamas to temporarily forego violence against Israel (as if it were some kind barbaric of addiction, or compulsion), is a recipe for failure, mixed with violence, leading to disaster. It is a ghastly mistake that I fear will be paid for in the lives of innocent Israelis.

“Rather than seizing the dynamic of this amazing Arab Spring to simply push for national elections and constitutional reform, the leadership of the Palestinian Authority has once again naively decided to test the trustworthiness of a bloody-handed bunch of terrorist want-to-be theocrats. While this step may be popular among Palestinians, many of whom wish to preserve the fantasy that they can have peace and so-called ‘resistantance’(also known in English as terrorism), the reality is that they can’t.

As in prior cases, the United States will be compelled by both law and decency to withhold any assistance that could fall into the hands or control or even partial control of anyone reporting to, or belonging to a terrorist entity, as is Hamas. And in the current political climate, even assistance that would otherwise have gone to parts of the Palestinian Authority untainted by terrorism may no longer be salvageable.

“For months, President Abbas has refused partnership with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in pursuing peace negotiations. It now appears that he is writing off partnership with the United States in helping to govern and develop Palestinian society.”

“It’s certainly historic leadership. Just not the good kind.”

What a fool tool…!

Now, one of the under-reported stories, at least in our Israeli-centric MSM, fundamental to this whole push for ‘Unity’, is the fact that both, Hamas and Fatah, are being forced to the ‘table’, by the Palestinians themselves…! Do you seriously think Hamas and Fatah are doing this willingly? They’ve tried and failed many times already…!

The CSM’s Kristen Chick gave a great overview…

Arab Spring Pushes Palestinian Rivals Hamas and Fatah to Reconcile

…Changes in the region were key in pushing both sides to the table. While Fatah’s Abbas has sought to bridge the divide in recent months, he was motivated by the failure of his talks with the US and Israel to deliver tangible progress, says Abusada, pointing to the US veto of a UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank. Fatah was also facing popular pressure for reconciliation. [...]

Gad says the upheaval currently under way in Syria, which hosts Hamas’s politburo, was likely a factor pushing the organization to the table. And it also couldn’t ignore the impatience of Gazans, who were tired of living under the blockade Israel imposed after Hamas took control of Gaza. As the wave of protests swept the region, Gazans organized protests of their own against Hamas, which were swiftly put down by Hamas security forces.

But the initial signs on the ground in Gaza were not positive, says Abusada. When Gazans went to a central Gaza City square to celebrate the announcement, they were dispersed by baton-wielding Hamas policemen. “That makes me wonder whether Hamas on the ground and Al Qassam is going to accept this and is ready to implement it,” he says.

It should be noted that Fatah is not exactly behaving itself either: IDF, PA forces still coordinating despite Fatah-Hamas pact…

…The army currently views the accord as no more than an agreement in principle that still lacks details regarding security matters, announced primarily to appease the Palestinian street.

Bibi is still absolutely apoplectic…

Netanyahu presses for U.S. action over Fatah-Hamas deal

Israel is expected to demand that the international community boycott the new Palestinian government if it does not meet the conditions the Quartet has set for Hamas.

While there’s some promise in this new push for Unity, it would seem that the first real blossoms of this Arab Spring are finally about to bear fruit for the Gazans…

Egypt FM: Gaza border crossing to be permanently opened

Egyptian FM tells Al-Jazeera that preparations are already underway to permanently open Rafah border crossing, which would allow goods and people in and out of Gaza with no Israeli supervision.

Egyptian youth call for million-man marches to support Palestinians…

That is exactly what I’ve been hoping for since the demise of Mubarak…!

Take deep breaths, Bibi, deep breaths…

by CTuttle

Bibi Will Address Joint Session of Congress by Personal Invite of Cantor/Boehner

6:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

That above video is a great recap of Netanyahu’s ’09 Bar Ilyan speech. Considered by many as Bibi’s rebuff to Obummer’s much heralded ‘Cairo fluff Speech’….!

Interestingly, over a month ago I’d pondered in this old post…

Btw, I do wonder if Bibi’s ‘dramatic speech’ will be delivered in front of Congress or AIPAC’s annual convention(what’s the difference)…?

Well, it’s a two-fer… From today’s Haaretz…

PM to address Congress in late May with ‘Bar-Ilan II’ speech

Netanyahu tells Likud gathering: No one will dictate terms to us

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was invited yesterday to address a joint session of Congress in late May. In his speech, the prime minister is expected to present his plans ahead of a Palestinian attempt to gain international recognition for a state at the United Nations General Assembly in September.

The speech is already being hailed as “Bar-Ilan II,” a nod to the speech Netanyahu gave at the Israeli university in 2009 in which he pledged a commitment to the two-state solution.

Netanyahu spoke to a gathering of Likud members in Tel Aviv yesterday, offering a possible preview of his remarks to the American Congress.

“We will stand strong before efforts to dictate conditions that will leave us without security and without peace,” Netanyahu said, hinting at the unilateral steps planned by the Palestinians in the UN.

Netanyahu said that John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, invited him to address Congress. [...]

Looking to meet with Obama too
Netanyahu has not yet received an formal invitation because a special vote needs to be held on the matter in Congress. Netanyahu will likely address Congress on May 22, when he will be in the U.S. to participate in the conference of pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.

In announcing his intention to invite Netanyahu, Boehner said that “America and Israel are the closest of friends and allies, and we look forward to hearing the Prime Minister’s views on how we can continue working together for peace, freedom, and stability.” [...]

The invitation for Netanyahu to speak in Congress followed much lobbying by his advisers during meetings with congressmen, especially among Republicans.

Netanyahu adviser Ron Dermer, who has close ties with Republican congressmen, and Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, intensively pursued the matter….

As I also had noted in my Tuesday post…

…”The president will be speaking in greater detail about America’s policy in the Middle East and North Africa in the coming weeks,” Clinton said at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, a gathering sponsored by Qatar and the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

Well, it seems like Déjà vu…

As the ever intrepid MJ Rosenberg, pointed out today…

Eric Cantor Runs Interference for Bibi

Leave it to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). With President Barack Obama expected to deliver a major speech outlining a new (or, at least, revised) Middle East peace strategy soon, Cantor decided it was time to invite Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to deliver a speech before a joint session of Congress.

This is one of the benefits of having a Republican House at the same time that a Likud prime minister is in office in Israel. The two right-wing parties can work together to thwart any Democratic president’s attempt to advance U.S. national security by brokering Middle East peace.

The last time this happened was in the 1990s, when Bill Clinton was president, Newt Gingrich was speaker, and the self-same Netanyahu was Israel’s prime minister. Netanyahu, joyously anticipating Clinton’s defeat for a second term, worked with the Republicans to subvert Clinton. Douglas Bloomfield, AIPAC’s long-time legislative director, recalled:

No Israeli leader was as adept at playing partisan American politics, nor as disruptive as the American-educated Netanyahu, who understood the politics of divided government. Even before becoming prime minister, he joined forces with Gingrich against common enemies: then-President Bill Clinton, Rabin and the Oslo peace process. Their goal was to make sure all three failed.

Gingrich was happy to play this game with Netanyahu, but he is more than matched by Cantor, who is not only a pro-Likud zealot but has also publicly admitted that he would use his position to help Netanyahu withstand any pressure from his own President. [...]

And it’s why he expects and needs the United States to stop it from happening. That is something Obama can do, but not by simply shouting “no.” Obama needs to tell Netanyahu that the only way to avoid a unilateral solution is by brokering a bilateral one. Running to Eric Cantor won’t change a thing.

Can you say ‘Pocket Veto’…?

*gah*

by CTuttle

Hillary to Meet Libyan Rebels and Netanyahu’s Illusory Peace Plan

7:46 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Now, in all seriousness, Madame Secretary, whom exactly are you meeting up with in Tunis…? Let’s look at the actual demographics… Even the DNI, James Clapper, flatly states that it’s probably a losing proposition…

White House Disputes Predictions that Gadhafy Will Crush Rebels

The dueling assessments of Gadhafy’s fortunes emerged as the Obama administration turned aside growing demands that it take more concerted action, including military steps, to bring down the Libyan dictator and end the bloodshed.

In Brussels, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the NATO defense ministers agreed that NATO would act in Libya “only if there is a demonstrable need, a sound legal basis, and strong regional support.”

In Washington, James R. Clapper, director of national intelligence, raised new objections to imposing a no-fly zone, saying that Libya has a “substantial” air defense network, including “a large, large number” of portable, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, that would threaten U.S. and allied aircraft flying over the country. [...]

Clapper said the view of the intelligence community is “kind of a stalemate back and forth, but I think over the longer term the regime will prevail.” He acknowledged that the conflict could stagger to a close, with rebels holding parts of eastern Libya and Gadhafy still in control of Tripoli. Or Libya could shatter into fiefdoms and tribal enclaves like Somalia — a fertile incubator for Islamist extremists. [...]

[Clapper]said two elite Libyan army units, the 9th and 32nd brigades, are loyal to Gadhafy, well equipped with tanks, artillery and air defenses, and highly disciplined. They suggested that Gadhafy’s forces could hold out indefinitely even with an international arms embargo.

Gadhafy “seems to have staying power, unless some other dynamic changes at this time,” Burgess said. “Initially, the momentum was with the other side. That has started to shift. Whether or not it has fully moved to Gadhafy’s side at this time I think is not clear.” But the initiative, he said, “may actually be on the regime side at this time.”

Early on in this sordid Libyan affair, a Gorilla Guides’ member noted that this would devolve into a full-scale ‘civil war’…! He was right…! I trained with the 10th SFG and I wanted to point out this excellent diary from Col. Pat Lang’s blog and the sad shape they’re in…

#Libya – De Opresso Liber

…I’m certain there are SFODAs (SF Operational Detachment Alpha) that have planned and trained for employment in Libya to support guerilla operations. But given our decade long preoccupation with Iraq and Afghanistan, those teams may not be immediately available or not immediately ready to move into Libya. On the other hand, I’m sure there are teams with Arabic and desert training ready to go in the 3rd, 5th or 10th Groups. The headquarters for the operation would probably be in Stuttgart, Germany where EUCOM, AFRICOM and, conveniently enough, 1st Battalion, 10th SFGA are located. An assessment/ command team should be immediately inserted into Benghazi to make contact with the Libyan resistance. In a previous post I alluded to the difficulty and criticality of this initial contact. How this team will be received is unknown. However, I am getting the impression that the resistance forces initial euphoria is being tempered by the realization that they have a difficult struggle ahead of them. This assessment team will serve as liaison to the resistance leadership and a command element to the SFODAs to follow. The assessment team will determine the size, abilities and needs of the resistance fighting forces and relay this information to Stuttgart so the SFODAs can properly prepare for their insertion. The ODAs will be in isolation intensively preparing for their insertion and mission execution.

An ODA can usually train, advise and/or lead a battalion to regimental size force. In addition to a couple of ODAs in Benghazi organizing the main resistance forces, I would insert an ODA each in Zawiyah and Misrata to shore up the resistance in those areas. I could envision SF troops working to break up armored assaults by Qathafi’s forces on these two areas while using the resistance forces for supporting fires similar to the Hizbollah regulars did in the last dust up in Lebanon. Holding these two areas would keep pressure on Qathafi and give time for the main resistance forces around Benghazi to organize. As I write this, I am watching a report of former Libyan soldiers in the Benghazi area preparing captured equipment and training youths for military action so things are already moving in the right direction. The ODAs can also direct any air or naval support that may or may not be available. That would be a tremendous force multiplier and would IMHO pretty much guarantee that Qathafi’s forces would not be able to overrun the resistance. The taking of Tripoli will still be a tough nut to crack. The SF troops could ensure that the final battle is done smartly and with patience rather than seeing an angry armed mob just surging toward the palace and getting themselves slaughtered.

I suppose there’s always the 82nd Airborne…!

Anybody remember my note about a SAS team being recently accosted…? Qaddafi controls the roads folks, and, he’s not about to relinquish control over them…! It takes months, if not longer, to train ragtag troops to maneuver properly… As if on cue, Al Jazeera posts this timely YouTube clip… Gaddafi forces mount onslaught… Btw, the BBC has an updated map of the facts on the ground, and, what each side has available…

Now, Enough babble…

What is the common denominator linking proposed solutions for the housing market and the Israeli-Palestinian dispute? In both cases, it’s all just talk. Bibi believes that words replace deeds, and he puts what we say ahead of what we do. His attempts to mitigate international pressure on Israel by promising a “path-breaking” speech in a few weeks, either before the U.S. Congress, or at the annual AIPAC conference. The key element is that it be delivered in Washington. Why? Is the Knesset insufficiently distinguished for his taste?

At the same time, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, increasingly eccentric with each public appearance, claimed in interviews with Arieh Golan on Israel Radio and with the Wall Street Journal that Israel needs $20 billion in additional aid, in view of the volatile situation that has developed in the region. Implicitly, this call for more dollars is a precondition for presenting a “daring plan” to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Dan Halperin, a former diplomat in Washington and an expert on U.S.-Israel relations, says that Bibi and Barak have forgotten a well-known American saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. In view of the Americans’ disappointment after Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan speech, only acts of substance will impress them and the rest of the world. They’ve heard enough speeches.

Ironically, I must say that this marks a milestone, in that, I actually agree with Mark Halperin, mark this day on the calendar, folks…! Btw, I do wonder if Bibi’s ‘dramatic speech’ will be delivered in front of Congress or AIPAC’s annual convention(what’s the difference)…?

Anyhow, as the Jpost said today…

‘Next 6 months crucial for resumption of negotiations’

UK ambassador says Egyptian politicians may use anti-Israel rhetoric to win voters, creating dangerous situation for Israel.

…”If the peace process continues to be completely stuck as neighboring countries go into elections to determine their new political shape, those elections will effectively become auctions for who could be more critical of Israel, and I think that’s extremely dangerous,” he said.

“As someone representative of a country that really cares about Israel’s security and position in the region, the last thing we want to see is elections in the region turning into who-could-be-more-critical- of-Israel competitions. The way to avoid that is to have progress with the talks.”

Gould said the next six months would be pivotal to the prospects of resurrecting talks between Jerusalem and the Palestinian Authority that have been stalled for more than two years.

“September is going to be extremely difficult, because you have the deadline that Obama set out for UN representation for the Palestinians,” he said. “If there is no progress by then we’ll be in trouble.”

I smell trouble brewing then, so does Jonathan Cook…

Netanyahu’s Illusory Peace Plan

Benjamin Netanyahu’s advisers conceded last week that the Israeli prime minister is more downcast than they have ever seen him. The reason for his gloominess is to be found in Israel’s diplomatic and strategic standing, which some analysts suggest is at its lowest ebb in living memory.

Netanyahu’s concern was evident at a recent cabinet meeting, when he was reported to have angrily pounded the table. “We are in a very difficult international arena,” the Haaretz newspaper quoted him telling ministers who wanted to step up settlement-building. “I suggest we all be cautious.”

A global survery for Britain’s BBC published on Monday will have only reinforced that assessment: Israel was rated among the least popular countries, with just 21 per cent seeing it in a positive light. [...]

Netanyahu reportedly intends to unveil his peace plan during a visit to Washington, currently due in May. But on Monday Ehud Barak, his defence minister, added to the pressure by warning that May was too late. “This is the time to take risks in order to prevent international isolation,” he told Israel Radio.

But, assuming Netanyahu does offer a peace plan, will it be too little, too late?

Few Israeli analysts appear to believe that Netanyahu has had a real change of heart.

“At this point it’s all spin designed to fend off pressures,” Yossi Alpher, a former director of the Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, wrote for the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue website Bitterlemons. “The object of the exercise is to gain a day, or a week, or a month, before having to come up with some sort of new spin.”

Indications are that Netanyahu will propose a miserly interim formula for a demilitarised Palestinian state in temporary borders. The Jerusalem Post reported that in talks with Abbas late last year Netanyahu demanded that Israel hold on to 40 per cent of the West Bank for the forseeable future. [...]

His plan accords with a similar interim scheme put forward by Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu’s far-right foreign minister and chief political rival on the right.

Palestinians insist on a deal on permanent borders, saying Israel would use anything less as an opportunity to grab more land in the West Bank. At the weekend Abbas reiterated his refusal to accept a temporary arrangement.

Bibi, you’re caught between a rock and a hard place…! Maybe you can do something ‘dramatic’, but, stringing together mere words and phrases on the floor of the US House won’t cut it…!

*gah*