Monday, April 30, 2007

Arrests of Al Qaedaesque elements in Saudi Arabia and France linked to "operatives" in Lebanon

We learn from "non-civilian" sources in Beirut, that the arrests of some 170 "suspects" in Saudi Arabia is directly linked to a series of arrests in Lebanon and in France, and in every case, Lebanese "elements" were either amongst the arrested or links to them were solidly established via cell phone contacts and "coercion". This in turn, has greatly embarrassed the Siniora government who worked "diligently", especially in light of serious talk (New Yorker & Foreign Affairs...) of Saudi financing of Salafi/Jihadi groups to counter the "spread of Shiism," ... to maintain the utmost secrecy when it comes to the "investigations" in Beirut at least if not in all 3 capitals. Had it not been for the all the noise made by the relatives of those incarcerated in north Lebanon, things could have remained in the dark ...

Winograd Report: Olmert and co. unfit to lead Israel through next war

Read more here and here

"L'Esprit D'Escalier": Georges Tenet and all the things he should've said before we invaded Iraq but didn't.

Read Juan Cole's piece in Salon here.

Bush's "failure to distinguish between necessary toughness and catastrophically shoot-ourselves-in-our-foot ...from biological anomaly"

"You know, if Bush would stop his self-indulgent stubbornness for half a day, he could see plain as day that he has an opportunity to retain American control of the World Bank by easing Wolfie out. If he tries to keep Wolfie in that spot, American control could end.
I really wonder whether his failure to distinguish between necessary toughness and catastrophically shoot-ourselves-(America)-in-our-foot pigheadedness results from biological anomaly . His inability to harvest experience, and so to think and form successful judgments, is just so inexplicable."
Read more on the "Nelson Report", from Steve Clemons here.

From his "new" Hariri-owned apartment, Chirac forms a small group to "better serve" French interests

Jeudi 26 avril 2007
Jacques Chirac a demandé B Jean-Pierre Lafon, ancien SG du Quai d'Orsay et ancien amb. de France en Chine, de mettre sur pied la "structure" que le chef de l'Etat dirigera apres son départ de l'Elysée,,, Tout ancien président a droit... a conserver "un petit nombre de collaborateurs". Cette équipe, sont la raison d'etre est de permettre au futur ex-président de "servir autrement" la France, travaillera sur ce que l'entourage de Chirac a qualifié de "sujets d'avenir", notamment "l'environnement, le dialogue des cultures et le développement durable". Jacques et Bernadette Chirac vont s'installer a ... quai Volatire (VIIe), dans un appartement preté par la famille de l'ancien Premier Ministre libanais assassiné, Rafic Hariri. L'entourage du chef de l'Etat a assuré qu'aucun chiffre n'avait été fixé concernant le budget de la future fondation ni sur le nombre de collaborateurs de M. Chirac," NI LA SOURCE DE CES FONDS PRECISE GPC!!!

Saudi monarch continues on path of "originality"

"...The Saudi snub (of Maliki on the eve of the Iraq summit in Sharm) also indicates that the Maliki government faces a creeping regional isolation unless it takes long-delayed actions, Arab officials warn... The Saudi decision follows Abdullah's statement at an Arab League summit a month ago that the U.S. presence in Iraq is an "illegitimate occupation... The Saudi snub comes amid indications from Iranian officials that Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki might not attend the summit -- which could undermine U.S. hopes of a potential meeting between Rice and her Iranian counterpart..."
Read story in WaPo here.
The Spinners are Spun

Maliki seen "purging" Iraqi officers who overly challenged Sadrists

Read full WaPo article here.

Wolfowitz's resignation in the works!

From Steve Clemons and the WashingtonNote we know that "behind the scenes of the gladiatorial battle that will take place between Paul Wolfowitz and the World Bank Board today are efforts by his lawyer, Robert Bennett, and the Bank staff to negotiate terms of Wolfowitz's departure..." at the center of which is the "large financial bonus -- for performance and time on the job... estimated at about $400,000... Wolfowitz wants to make sure those funds are credited to his private bank account before saying farewell to an institution that has come to despise him."
Paul Wolfowitz has wronged a lot of people. A whole lot of people. But none more so than the People of Iraq. May this be the first steps in a long painful and humiliating political demise.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

"Letter" from six CIA officers to Tenet: "you lack an appreciation of the carnage you facilitated"

Foreign Affairs: Lebanon is an Al Qaeda appealing option

"... al Qaeda is well placed to threaten global security in the near future. Because it thrives on failed and failing states, it will have opportunities to set up new operations. One appealing option may be Lebanon, where extremist Sunni groups have long operated, particularly in the country's second-largest city, Tripoli, which was controlled by a Sunni fundamentalist group during much of the 1980s, before Syria cracked down. If the Lebanese state is further weakened or civil war breaks out, al Qaeda may seek a foothold there. The United Nations force stationed in Lebanon is likely to be a target, since the jihadists consider it to be another crusading army in the Muslim world."

Read Bruce Riedel's Foreign Affairs June essay here.

"impeachment" could be path to influence Bush, says Murtha

From Politico "... Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) said Sunday that Democrats in Congress could consider impeachment as a way to pressure President Bush on his handling of the war in Iraq. “What I’m saying, there’s four ways to influence a president. And one of them’s impeachment,” Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

The US listened to the "Wrong Saudi"

"The Arab world's Sunni leaders, Bandar argued, were ready to forge an unusual alliance with Israel to confront their common foe: the Shiite mullahs in Tehran. Working in tacit cooperation, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel would roll back Iran's regional influence by taking down the extremist Hamas Palestinian government in Gaza, containing Hezbollah's bid to control Lebanon and destabilizing Iran's main regional ally, Syria"

Read the full WaPo article here.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Patrick seale: "assassination of Hariri is not grave international crime requiring judgement by a UN tribunal"

" ... French diplomacy has been attempting to persuade the Security Council to override local objections and set up the international tribunal under Chapter VII of the UN Charter -- the Chapter which allows the Council to resort to coercive measures ..." and "the trouble is that the assassination of Hariri -- heinous though it was -- cannot in law be credibly described as a grave international crime requiring judgement by a UN-created tribunal, on the model of the tribunals set up to try the perpetrators of the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda, or those guilty of ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. Nor can the quarrel between pro- and anti-Syrian factions in Lebanon be described as a menace to peace of global proportions."

Read full comment here.

Swiss Intelligence Confirms CIA Blacksites in east European locations

Bandar bin Sultan is "Off Key"

" ... Abdullah effectively torpedoed plans by ... Rice for a high-profile peace summit meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and the Palestinian president Abbas, by brokering a power-sharing agreement with Mr. Abbas’s Fatah and Hamas that did not require Hamas to recognize Israel or forswear violence. The Americans had believed, after discussions with Prince Bandar, that the Saudis were on board with the strategy of isolating Hamas..." Bandar “needs to personally regroup and figure out how to put Humpty Dumpty together again,”

Read full NYTimes article here.

US Intell: "Al-Hadi's" capture reveals Al Qaeda causing trouble in Iran as well

According to "WarAndPiece" his capture reveals many things, (1) " ... that the Bush administration reopened its detention program within three months of announcing that no secret prisoners remained in the CIA's custody" and (most importantly) that Al Qaeda could in fact "been causing problems in Iran" as well ...

" ...US intelligence services were particularly interested in his activities in relation to Iran, he said. It believes in addition to supporting terrorist activities in Iraq, Mr Hadi was involved in "causing problems in Iran as well", he said. Mr Hadi wanted Iranian al-Qaeda operatives to be more aggressive in their attacks in Iraq and possibly in Iran as well, the official said..."

Read more at the BBC and at the Times

Friday, April 27, 2007

"Round 2" of Israel's campaign against Hezballah under "serious consideration"

Hezballah-free zone "revisited".

Arab sources, close to the "responsible Arabs" speak of a relentless (and succesful)campaign by Bandar Bin Sultan at the behest of the Israelis, to garner the widest support for a "round two" against Hezballah in Lebanon. This comes at a time when, according to Israeli sources, there is a "widening support" inside Israel for a decisive war, in which Israel would use the "accordion" strategy it used successfully against the PLO in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Ultimately, so goes the Israeli (and Arab thinking), Israel would deliver a "Hezballah-weapons free" Lebanon to a pliant Lebanese Army and the UNIFIL. Some Israeli commanders have boasted that Hezballah's long-range capabilities have been totally eroded. However, one needs to remember that the July 12 2006' Lebanon war saw a total failure of Israeli intelligence on Hezballah. No one should doubt that the Party of God remains a success story of secrecy!

"Using a Federal Agency for Political puposes": Pentagon tries to knock Tenet off air!

From a TalkingPointsMemo "reader" and Warandpiece, comes this eye opener, that does " seems like an effort to deny Tenet's claims some weekend air time. Notably, the AP version of the story Fox is running doesn't mention that Al-Hadi was captured and taken into US custody in late 2006, i.e. five months ago..."

Read more here and here.

State Dept. Annual Report on Terrorism: 29% increase of attacks worldwide

McClatchy's Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay say that STATE's annual report on terrorism " ...will show a more than 25 percent increase in terror attacks worldwide in 2006 to over 14,000 -- almost all of it due to incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Friday..."

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her top aides had considered postponing or downplaying the release of this year’s edition, due to the extreme political sensitivities, several officials said. But ultimately, they decided to issue the report on or about the congressionally mandated deadline of Tuesday, the officials said."

May 1, 2003:"my fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended..."

"A Failure In Generalship"

From the Armed Forces Journal via the New York Times, comes a scathing criticism of America's Generals and a warning of a US defeat in Iraq. ''For reasons that are not yet clear, America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces, and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq,'' Lt. Col. Paul Yingling said in the article published Friday in the Armed Forces Journal.

Georges Tenet: "Slam dunk" did NOT refer to Saddam's WMDs

Kevin Drum says, "George Tenet ... is pissed off at whoever it was who leaked his "slam dunk" comment to Bob Woodward:

The phrase "slam dunk" didn't refer to whether Saddam Hussein actually had WMDs, says Tenet; the CIA thought he did. He says he was talking about what information could be used to make that case when he uttered those words. "We can put a better case together for a public case. That's what I meant," explains Tenet.

....He says he doesn't know who leaked it but says there were only a handful of people in the room.

"It's the most despicable thing that ever happened to me," Tenet says. "You don't do this. You don't throw somebody overboard just because it's a deflection. Is that honorable? It's not honorable to me."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

White House, "4 months to "turnaround"... or face a "political bloodbath"

The White House is quite comfortable for now, with Veto powers and all, but Administration insiders warn that unless things improve "dramatically" within the next 4 months, the American political scene could turn into a "bloodbath," compounded by the ever elusive "plan B."
US officials agree that the government of Nouri Al Maliki will have to be faced with deadlines, but differ on how much to increase the pressure without undermining Al Maliki. Officials (and brass) are bracing themselves for a steady toll of 90-110 KIA, and anything short of that major turnaround (within the 4 months window) will spell BIG troubles for the Administration.

Lang on Petraeus: "... he sees the utility of using the less "offensive" groups against the more "offensive" ones"

"He sees that the "galaxy" of insurgent groups; Sunni and Shia secular Iraqi nationalist, Arab tribals, Baathis, specifically Iraqi jihadis, AQ in Iraq takfiris, etc, are a melange that have little in common other than a deep desire to avoid the long term control of Iraq by some coalition of Iranian oriented Shia parties and militias. Having seen that, he sees the utility of using the less "offensive" groups against the more "offensive" ones. This is wisdom. He will have a hard time doing that in the context of the simplistic simpletons in power and the masses of people whom they taught to bray "Bad! Bad!" every time they hear the word, Baath.I wish him luck. I really do."

Inciters of Sectarian Strife & Sedition score one in Beirut: Bodies of two kidnapped young boys found ...

Lebanon: France Moves To Incite Civil Unrest

From Rami Zurayk. Professor of Ecosystem Management Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at the American University of Beirut )(AUB) comes this scathing assessment of France's (under Chirac) role in Lebanon, and the reasons behind the Elysee's "merchant's" sudden-death support of the Hariri tribunal", when " ...Chirac may still need the Hariris, one of the biggest fortunes on earth, with tentacular connections to help him in his legal predicament. This may well be the dark side of this friendship..."

read the full essay here and read Le Monde's piece "Liban : le dernier combat du président Chirac" here.

Le Monde summarizes what is on most people's minds on both sides of the Mediterranean, " ...Le fait que M. Chirac et son épouse aient choisi de loger, après leur départ de l'Elysée, dans un vaste appartement parisien prêté par l'un des fils de M. Hariri ne fait que souligner le poids du facteur personnel dans l'attachement du président français au dossier du Liban..."

Rice rejects House subpoena!

Bloomberg: Egypt, Saudi Arabia Edge Away From Bush as Mideast Chill Grows

From SyriaComment and Bloomberg comes Janine Zacharia's ""

Read it in ful here.

New levels of "dishonesty", Murdoch's NYPost, rewrites AP stories ... on the Democrats & Iraq

From the "talking Points", check out the rewrite that The New York Post has done on an AP story it ran today. The Post's version is far, far, far worse -- almost comically so, in fact -- for Harry Reid and the Dems than the AP story was in its original form.

Update: (from Greg Sargent) " ...It gets better. I just heard back from the author, David Espo. He told me: "I didn't write anything remotely like that. My name was on the story and I didn't write it anything like the way it was printed."

Iran fools the CIA but "NOT" the Kurdish Counterterror Service (KCTS) ...

GIVE ME A BREAK! Someone likened this article to the "fine reporting by Michael Totten" ...

Read here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Rice subpoenaed": House vote requires her to testify...

From IraqSlogger we learn that today, the House of Representatives' "Oversight Committee" voted 21-10 " ... to subpoena Condoleezza Rice to compel her to testify about her knowledge of the pre-war intelligence claims that made the case for the invasion of Iraq..."

Read the story here.

Laura Bush wants you to know that when it comes to Iraq, no one is suffering more than the First Couple. No one.

Via AmericaBlog, comes this.

No one. Not the millions of Iraqi families who have lost someone or live in the fear of losing someone. Not the families of over 30,000 killed or wounded American servicemen. Not the over FOUR millions Iraqi refugees ... NO one!

Lord have mercy!

"Jon Stewart on Dubya I and II"

Via "Warandpiece" and Atrios comes this GREAT Jon Stewart quote:

"... Basically, first-term president Bush, you invaded to remove the threat of Saddam Hussein. And you, current president Bush, are there to battle the threat created by the lack of Saddam Hussein..."

UN Slams Failure to Grant Due Process

RAMADI-JANUARY 23, 2007: A U.S. Marine leads detainees towards a combat outpost. According to American forces, the detainees were captured after a someone in a vehicle opened fire on U.S. and Iraqi troops. The forces killed one and detained seven others from the vehicle and another following it.
John Moore/Getty
From IraqSlogger, "the new UN report on human rights criticized Coalition authorities for indefinitely holding detainees without charge or trial, charging, "The current legal arrangements at the detention facilities do not fulfill the requirement to grant detainees due process."
Read full UN report here. (pdf)

U.S. quietly increasing back-channel contacts with Iran

Warren Strobel and Nancy Youssef writing in McClatchy suggest that the US increased its back-channel diplomatic contacts with Iran in recent months via Switzerland exchanging "diplomatic messages on a variety of nuts-and-bolts subjects, including the fate of a U.S. citizen missing in Iran, the future of five Iranian operatives whom American forces seized in Iraq, and old financial and property disputes."

see full story here.

Cheney gets grilled by Democrats

Harry Reid: “I’m not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody who has a 9 percent approval rating,”

news photo

UN: Iraq Withholding Casualty Stats

Karbala, IRAQ: An Iraqi displaced woman from the restive province of Diyala attends 25 April 2007, a photo exhibition organized by the province's displaced residents in the holy city of Karbala, central Iraq, for the victims of violence who were killed in
Karbala, IRAQ: An Iraqi displaced woman from the restive province of Diyala attends 25 April 2007, a photo exhibition organized by the province's displaced residents in the holy city of Karbala, central Iraq, for the victims of violence who were killed
See full story from IraqSlogger here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"White House wants Gates to keep his thoughts to himself ..."

Says Laura Rosen on "WarAndPiece", citing a comment by Michael Hirsh in NEWSWEEK. Read more here and here.

"Bushism of the Day"

From Slate:
"My job is a job to make decisions. I'm a decision—if the job description were, what do you do—it's decision maker."—Tipp City, Ohio, April 19, 2007

Haaretz: U.S. denies considering proposals "to allow Iran to continue enrichment"

From "warandpiece" comes a piece in Haaretz, in which the "the United States denied Tuesday that it is considering proposals that would allow Iran to partially retain its uranium enrichment program. We're not considering any proposals that would allow the Iranians to retain any enrichment-related activities," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. "We would hope the Iranians would take us up on the offer for negotiations, but the conditions for entering those negotiations are the same."

read all piece here and here.

France 3: "Citizen Chirac will move to a house ... made available to him by the Hariri family..."

Les Chirac provisoirement quai Voltaire à Paris

Jacques et Bernadette Chirac vont habiter provisoirement dans un appartement appartenant à la famille Hariri
- La nouvelle résidence des Chirac, quai Voltaire -
La nouvelle résidence des Chirac, quai Voltaire
Le couple présidentiel s'installera à titre "très provisoire" dans ce duplex de 180 m2, quai Voltaire, face au Louvre.

Il s'agit d'un appartement prêté par un membre de la famille Hariri. Jacques Chirac est très proche de la famille de l'ancien Premier ministre du Liban Rafic Hariri, assassiné à Beyrouth en février 2005.

Al Ahram:"Questioning the Shia crescent"

"In the first of two pieces examining Iran's rising regional role, Amal Saad-Ghorayeb* argues that rather than building a sectarian alliance, Iran in Iraq aims to confront US-led imperialism "

Read full essay here.

Former Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan "under travel ban"?

Days after Jordanian Mukhabarat confiscated an Al Jazeera interview of Jordan's former Crown Prince Hassan with Ghassan BenJeddou, we learn that a Jordanian government official "personally" called off all scheduled appearances of Prince Hassan in the United States. Think tank, church and club officials with whom the Prince had prior arrangements were "very surprised by the method of cancellation." All this comes on the heel of the infamous "Al Jazeera confiscation" of an interview in which Prince Hassan voiced severe criticism of the US's role i Iraq, raised question marks as to Bandar's "financing of Salafi-Jihadists", lambasted "those who raise the specter of Sunni-Shia'a internecine feud" ... and had no "good" words about Israel's policy in the Palestinian territories.

Wolfowitz hires "star" DC lawyer to with scandal fallout

From The Huffington Post:

Wolfowitz Hires Star DC Lawyer In World Bank Scandal
Associated Press JEANNINE AVERSA April 23, 2007 09:18 PM
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has hired a prominent attorney as he fights to keep his job, in jeopardy for arranging a generous compensation package for a bank employee with whom he has been romantically linked.
"I want to be sure that he receives appropriate treatment and fair treatment," Robert Bennett ... a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, said Monday.

Lang: Kagan/Keene/Petraeus method imposes "additional riskls on US troops"

"The probability that the Kagan/Keene/Petraeus method will actually pacify parts of Iraq is not the subject of this post.Here, I am concerned with the additional risks that this method imposes on the troops involved" says Col. Pat Lang.

Read more here.

Lebanese Judicial Document: "Amine Gemayel informs authorities that Geagea asked him to leave or he'll be "eliminated"

Former President Amine Gemayel, and stalwart member of the March 14 movement (Cedar Revolutionaries) informed Lebanese Authorities back in 1988 that his recent ally, Samir Geagea threatened him, that unless he left the country, he will face "physical elimination." These were the days that saw the most "Geagea activity", culminating in the assassination of another Sunni Prime Minster, Rashid Karameh. It is noteworthy that the assassination of Gemayel's son Pierre, is clouded with "serious speculations" and a GREAT DEAL of non-transparency.

NEW Poll by Beirut's "Information International: Nassrallah & Aoun top the "leadership" echelon ... emigration a serious issue

In this most recent Poll, Jawad Adra's "Information International" scans the spectrum for Lebanon's reactions to political leaders (Za'ims), foreign Ambassador's "interference" and ... emigration. Here are a few conclusions:

--Hassan Nasrallah remains the "first Zai'm", but his popularity shows some fatigue.
--Nassrallah, Aoun, Jumblatt and Hariri remain well entrenched at the leadership of their sectarian constituencies.
--BUT 24% of ALL RESPONDENTS, showed NO preference to "any Zai'm".
--Over 30% of respondents showed a SERIOUS inclination towards emigration, up from 15% in August 2006'
--Around 12% of Lebanese "youth" have submitted some type of "emigration form." (about 135,000 applicants)
--55% of all respondents had some "fears of a resumption of civil hostilities", but over 60% believed in a brighter future ... starting just about November 2007'.
--US, French, British and Iranian ambassadors generate most vitriol as to their "blatant interference." Saudi ambassador recorded most "positive."

Imad Moustapha to NEWSWEEK: American outreach will benefit all

"A Little Less Lonely These Days"
"The Syrian Ambassador to the US didn't used to get many visitors. Suddenly, his date book is filling up. What he makes of the new American outreach- and how Syria hopes to gain from it"

Read Full interview here.

Monday, April 23, 2007

"Bushism of the Day"

"There are some similarities, of course—death is terrible."—on comparisons between the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, Tipp City, Ohio, April 19, 2007, from SLATE.

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid: Bill and Schedule for Iraq withdrawl "within days"

Alex Wong/Getty

From IraqSlogger's "Eye On Congress" we learn that the proposed Senate bill that will call for redeployment and set a schedule will "immediately transitions the U.S. mission away from policing a civil war— to training and equipping Iraqi security forces, protecting U.S. forces and conducting targeted counter-terror operations."

Read IraqSlooger's piece here.

Syria's Ambassador: Imad Moustapha: "Israel will eventually realize that it can’t continue with a military solution forever"

(Photo courstesy of and from Ambassador Moustapha's collection)
From Joshua Landis (SyriaComment) and Shafique Jamal, MPAID1 read the full interview here and here.

Confusion persists over whether or not the US military will continue with its plan to build the Sunni "walled ghetto"

Baghdad, IRAQ: US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker speaks to the media 23 April 2007 during a press conference in the heavily fortified Green Zone area in Baghdad.
Wathiq Khuzaie/AFP/Getty

Baghdad, IRAQ: US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker speaks to the media 23 April 2007 during a press conference in the heavily fortified Green Zone area in Baghdad. " ... Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, seemed to contradict Maliki's position in a press conference Monday morning."We will continue to construct the security barriers in the Adamiyah neighborhood. This is a technical issue, ...''

Read Full IraqSlogger article here.

TNR: Laura Secor's "The Case of Doing Nothing" against Iran

Sunday, April 22, 2007

"time out from the scandal", Wolfowitz finds time for some "reflections"...

From Talking Points, and Josh Marshall comes "A time-out from the scandal. World Bank Prez Paul Wolfowitz shares a moment with Jeri Kehn, wife of fmr. Senator and possible Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner ..."

AP: Asst. Sec. of State David Welch: "Siniora's indecision" is to blame for impasse

From AP's piece on "Hariri panel", "... The weak government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora has demanded the tribunal be created, but the opposition parliament speaker has stalled on convening the legislature to approve the court. The deadlock threatens Saniora's government..." while Western diplomats "have expressed disappointment that he has not resolved the crisis, ... the State Department's top Mideast diplomat (David Welch) suggested the U.S.-backed government in Beirut is to blame for a political impasse over the international tribunal ..."

Read full story here.

Ze'ev Schiff: "Israel tells Gates: Syria preparing for war"

"The gist of the Israeli message in its recent talks with United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates is that Syria is preparing for a military confrontation with Israel. "

Read the Full Haaretz article here.

Syria's "Chalabasti" Fareed Ghadri applies for a Job at the World Bank!

From sources VERY close to his household, we learn that Fareed Ghadri's plans for "leading" Syria are taking second place to his ambitions at the World Bank. Syria's "Chalabasti" (as he is fondly known) has formaly applied for a "job" at the World Bank, perhaps sensing that this Institution could be a place where he can "water his horses" before proceeding to bigger things in life. Fareed will (if enrolled) bring in NEW ideas on fighting nepotism, at a time when the Riza's of the world have haunted the Bank's board of governors. Ghadri belives that the "Brotherhood's" inlays on the Washington scene, are causes for concern!

One thing though, Ghadri's qualificatons are close to nill, but a good word from Meyrav Wurmser would be handy.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wolfowitz: Finish the guy already! (wear these blue ribbons!)

About when will "enough be enough"? And the list of those involved in Riza's "fortunes", reads like a "Who's Who" of the Bush Administration.

SALON's Sidney Blumenthal had this to say: "Back in 2003, Wolfowitz had taken care of Riza by directing his trusted Pentagon deputy, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith -- who had been in charge of the Office of Special Plans and had been Wolfowitz's partner in managing the CPA -- to arrange for a military contract for her from Science Applications International Corp. When the contract was exposed this week, SAIC issued a statement that it "had no role in the selection of the personnel." In other words, the firm with hundreds of millions in contracts at stake had been ordered to hire Riza."

"Exactly how this deal was made and with whom remains something of a mystery. The person who did work with Riza in her new position was Elizabeth Cheney, then the deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. And Riza's assignment fell under the purview of Karen Hughes, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. But these facts raise more questions than they answer. "

Read more here and here.

Conspiracy to hide WMDs in IRAQ "uncovered" by right wing blogs

Glenn Greenwald, writing in SALON, "Five years from now, and 20 years from now, and 50 years from now, there is going to be a substantial portion of the American population which insists that Saddam really did have WMDs when we invaded. It is not uncommon for a substantial portion of the population of any country to live in a purely mythical world, where desire -- rather than reality -- dictates beliefs."

Read full article here.

HUMVEE ride through Ramadi in ruins

Are these the fruits of "Liberation"?

"Bushism of the Day"

From Slate, there goes Bushism of the Day:
"I said to her, make sure the rug says 'optimistic person comes to work.' "—describing his instructions to the first lady in choosing a rug for the Oval Office," --Tipp City, Ohio, April 19, 2007

Friday, April 20, 2007

Col. W Pat Lang: The US is "re-medievalizing Baghdad"

Everything Old is New Again
"U.S. soldiers are building a three-mile wall to protect a Sunni Arab enclave surrounded by Shiite neighborhoods in a Baghdad area ... When the wall is finished, the minority Sunni community of Azamiyah, ... will be gated, and traffic control points manned by Iraqi soldiers ... "Shiites are coming in and hitting Sunnis, and Sunnis are retaliating across the street," ... It said the concrete wall, including barriers as tall as 12 feet, "is one of the centerpieces of a new strategy by coalition and Iraqi forces to break the cycle of sectarian violence" in Baghdad. " -- Yahoo News
To this, Col. Lang offered the following comment:
"Mahalle," "Mukhtar," "Muhtasib." These are terms in Arabic that one should become familiar with:"Mahalle" signifies a "quarter" of a pre-modern Islamicate city, functioning as a sub-jurisdiction underneath a city government. (It is one of several Arabic words for that.) They were often walled and had an inner social and business life as well. Such subdivisions of European cities were also common before the renaissance. Within a "mahalle" lived the self-segregated members of ethnic, guild, sectarian and tribal groups. People grouped themselves in that way because they did not trust others outside their own groups. Typically the streets on the outer edges of the "mahalle" were open at first and then were gradually encroached on by building until it was easy to put up a gate and install watchmen. Yes, I know, we have gated communities in the
"Mukhtar" denotes the "selectman" of a "mahalle." He is the community leader.
A "muhtasib" was an official of a "mahalle" who supervised the economic activity and markets of a "mahalle."
This kind of organization of Islamicate cities gradually disappeared in most places in the late 19th and 20th Centuries C.E. It disappeared as the colonial
powers sought to impose the kind of town planning that they were familiar with
and as early independent governments sought to foster a civic life centered on
inter-communal loyalty and "national" identity.
Baghdad was a lot like that before 2003. There were still places in the city that were inhabited by all one thing or another but the trend was towards integration in housing and in marriage.
We are successfuly re-medievalizing Baghdad, so it would be a good idea to become familiar with the old terms. They are lurking in the back of the collective mind of the city and will be back.

With Imbroglios on each side, Syria finds security in status quo.

On the eve of Syria's elections, Joshua Landis, in SyriaComment has two articles by Patrick Seal and Marc Perlman that suggest that Syrians have understood too well the magnitude of the Iraqi and Palestinian imbroglios, and baring any serious movement on the Palestinian track of Peace and consequently on the Syrian track, Syrians have decided to thread lightly and in "security,"

Read more here and here.

"Muslim Brotherhood" opens office in Washington, DC and its counsel is a former US Ambassador ...

From sources close to the Syrian branch of the "MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD", I just learned that the "Bros" are opening an office in Washington, DC and their "counsel" will be former US Ambassador to Qatar Elizabeth McKune. The "Bros" have apparently studied all four corners of their strategy with "officials in Foggy Bottom, the NSC and on Capitol Hill, including deputy assistant Secretary of State, Scott Carpenter. In a nutshell, the Administration's policy of cultivating dubious allies in the Middle East continues unabated. After Fath il Islam, Esbat al Ansar in Lebanon (Sy Hersh "redirection"), comes the "Brotherhood" from Syria ... What next? a Zawahiri "liaison office" on "K" street?

Reminder: The "Bros" are the back bone of the "Syrian Salvation Front" with dissident former Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam as "front president."

The Hariri Tribunal: "...consensual approach that won't survive after 2009..."

Joshua Landis at SyriaComment, lists a number of "analysts" who agree that the international tribunal called for by the UN to try the Hariri murder case "... will be established under chapter 7." An analyst friend of Prof. Landis (in Washington) has this to say:

" ... The tribunal is less driven by the fortunes of Bush than you think. There is a real bureaucratic and policy consensus at this point that drives the process. This is not a mere Bush fantasy, this is an consensual approach of the US, Canada, the EU, key Arab states, implemented though UNSC resolutions and actions. It won't survive after 2009, but until then, that's what policy toward Syria and Lebanon will look like."

Read more here and here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"Plastic surgery Loan" offered at a Lebanese bank ... reflecting the country's priorities!

Daily Star "laments": Lebanon should prepare for less attention in Paris

Michael Young in the Daily Star writes that "whoever replaces Chirac as president, those in Beirut who regard France as a vital ally in frustrating Syria's designs to regain power in Lebanon will have to brace themselves for less attention in Paris." And for once aptly notes that "... Chirac's closeness to the Hariri family will almost certainly ensure that a new French administration swings the pendulum in the opposite direction, to compensate for the perceived excesses of the current president." In conclusion, Young worries that the feud between Democrats (the American ones) and Republicans, could undermine President Bush's Mideast"strategy" (which one?) , ... and chipping at Syria's isolation.

Read the full article here.

POLL: 82% of Israelis believe the US considers Israel’s interests in making foreign policy

From Kevin Drum comes a World Public Opinion poll, that points out to at least one "weirs outlier."

Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, November 2006

Israelis are unique in that they trust the United States to act responsibly in the world, believe it takes Israel’s interests into account, and think it should maintain its current number of overseas military bases. Nonetheless, only one quarter of Israelis (24%) say the United States should "continue to be the preeminent world leader in solving international problems." Like most other publics, a majority (62%) thinks it should instead "do its share" with other countries in solving international problems. Only 10 percent would like it to withdraw from most efforts to solve international problems." Asked whether the United States is "playing the role of world policeman more than it should be," Israelis are evenly divided (48% agree, 48% disagree). Israelis express very high confidence that the United States will act responsibly in the world: 81 percent say they trust the United States to do so a great deal (56%) or somewhat (25%); just 16 percent say they do not trust the United States to act responsibly. An overwhelming majority of Israelis ((including 57 percent who say it does so "a great deal"). Israel is the only country out of seven polled where a majority believes the United States takes their interests into account. A majority of Israelis (59%) believe the United States should either maintain or increase its overseas bases: 39 percent want it to keep the current number and 20 percent think there should be more. Twenty-two percent think 16 the number should be decreased. A slight majority of Israelis (52%) believes that relations with the United States are staying about the same, while one-third (32%) believes they are improving and just 12 percent say they are getting worse.

Read Full Report here.

The Forward:" Democrats Warn Olmert About Playing Politics"

"Washington - Israeli officials and Democratic lawmakers are working to mend fences after the fallout between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi following Pelosi’s visit to Damascus. But Democrats are still angry about what they see as Olmert’s desperate attempts to align himself with President Bush even if it means wading into American political controversies."

Read full article here.

Georgetown Times: McCain sings "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb ...IRAN"

From the Washington Note, the Raw-Story uncovers a G'town times story where McCains rendition of an old Beach Boys song speaks volumes of the man's "diplomatic" inclinations.

McCain then added, "Iran is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. That alone should concern us but now they are trying for nuclear capabilities. I totally support the President when he says we will not allow Iran to destroy Israel."

The paper notes that McCain stopped short of answering the actual question and did not say if he supports an invasion of Iran."

read the story here and here.

"Bushism of the Day"

"My attitude about the world changed, and I know the attitude about the world from a lot of folks here in America's attitude changed."—Discussing the Sept. 11 attacks, Fairfax, Va., April 10, 2007

American Prospect: Al Qaeda in Iraq: "Our Enemy's Enemy"

From Laura Rosen (War and piece) comes a Prospect piece on Al Qaeda in Iraq by Marc Lynch, here.

"Hizballah & Syria: Outgrowing the Proxy Relationship"

"Today, for strategic and ideological motives, Syria is more pro-Hizballah than Hizballah is pro-Syria."

From Joshua Landis (SyriaComment) comes a good essay by Emile El Hokayem (Henri Stimson Center, Washington, DC) on Hezballah and Syria, read it full here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

You are the "legitimate" Government .. do what you have to do .. if you fail .. go to "dialogue"

That was then ... Wait a minute, are these "readily available" shake to heat policies?

" ... An aide to (former President) Hrawi, ... said that the United States had essentially told Hrawi and the Syrians: “We will not give you a green light, but you are a legitimate government we recognize, and we understand any step you may have to take. If you succeed, we will congratulate you. If the battle is prolonged, we will have to express our regret over the continued violence in Lebanon. If you fail, we will not condemn the action but call on the Lebanese to resort to dialogue to sort out their differences.”

Read more here in "The American Raj Requires Instability"

Harper's: "The Vast Power of the Saudi Lobby"

"Indeed" says author John McArthur ," ... when I think of pernicious foreign lobbies with disproportionate sway over American politics, I can't see past Saudi Arabia and its royal house, led by King Abdullah."
And he adds, "... according to Seymour Hersh, Bandar has virtually joined the Bush administration as a shadow cabinet member. Hersh's New Yorker article last month described "the redirection" of U.S. foreign policy against Iran and Arab Shi'ite terrorists in collaboration with such Sunni-dominated countries as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt (this in spite of the fact that Sunni rebels, funded in part by Saudi "private citizens," have killed the bulk of American solidiers who have died in Iraq)."
Read the full piece here.

AsiaTimes: THE ROVING EYE: Hezbollah's Big Challenge

A good analysis of the Sunni-Shia'a divide, and a depiction of the "game of what many call Hariri Inc was to rebuild the former "Paris of the East" from top - downtown - down during the 1990s, and then the rest of Lebanon would also join the party. It didn't happen. Shi'ites not only didn't profit from it, they were bombed by Israel last summer ..." while the "US game in Lebanon is hardcore. It involves $60 million support for a Hezbollah witchhunt operated by the Internal Security Force at the Interior Ministry; and generous, active support to al-Qaeda-affiliated Sunni jihadis, ... boiling down to the same game: "smashing any true nationalist resistance movement, whatever it takes, to the benefit of easily pliable client regimes. Thus the Nuri al-Maliki client regime in Iraq killing Sunnis (and, as much as possible, also Sadrists); the Abbas client regime in Palestine against Hamas; the Siniora client regime in Lebanon attacking Hezbollah."

Read full article here.

Shaha Riza's "volunteer" works racks a $235,000 bill at the DOD

One of Laura Rosen's readers (CM) at War& said the following:
"... I've been interested in the news today that Victoria Toensing is claiming
Ms. Riza to be a volunteer for her trip to Iraq. The Government Accountability
Project has put up the contract that SAIC had for this work here:
Not so sure why SAIC would need a contract for a volunteer. This contract names Riza and two others as Subject Matter Experts and the total contract is for $235,000.
It is for Time and Materials (with the government providing transportation) --
even given that SAIC likely took 1/3 of this for overhead, this is a decent
amount of money for 90 days of work that does not seem to result in any written reports. ..."

Carnegie: Lebanon's Crisis: "...plenty of blame to go around" ... BUT Siniora deserves praise!!!

With "members" like Ziad Baroud, a NEW electoral law is not in the cards anytime soon!

Interview with Ziad Baroud, member of the National Council for a New Electoral Law

--What is your reading of the current political crisis?
Lebanon's crisis is due to a state-building process that did not get off to the right start; attempts to build the state were aborted and failed to create institutions able to manage the country's political and sectarian diversity. Lebanon thus became an arena for local, regional, and international contestation, with political factions that do not conceal their ties with the outside world. Political forces in Lebanon cannot be isolated from all external connections or alliances, but there must be limits, so that such alliances do not undermine the state. The problem is that the 1926 Lebanese constitution, amended in 1990 after the Taif Agreement, allows for manipulation by political forces.

--So where does the blame lie for Lebanon's crisis of institutions, and what is the solution?
There is plenty of blame to go around. Let us consider Lebanon's three major political institutions: the offices of president, speaker of parliament, and prime minister. The presidency's crisis began the day President Emile Lahoud's tenure was extended. Until then the Lebanese state was different from other countries in the Arab world, and actually encouraged the transfer of power. We have not had presidents who wanted to become kings; in fact, since 1946 any attempt by a president to extend his term has provoked a crisis. Lahoud's move hurt relations between Lebanon and the international community and provoked UN Security Council Resolution 1559. The Lebanese and President Lahoud himself have paid dearly for this extension.

Regarding the parliament, Speaker Nabih Berri called for convening a dialogue session, but one must remember that in addition to being speaker, he also heads a political force, Amal. I might not agree with him not calling Parliament into session, but Berri is not actually holding Parliament captive constitutionally because he is not obliged to set a date for the Parliamentary session. What is required of Berri now is that he manage the dialogue and avoid taking sides, because he has become the only one capable of playing this role.
Regarding the office of the prime minister, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is under a lot of pressure. His government succeeded in several aspects, particularly in negotiating the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 under Chapter VI, not VII (which would have given the UN the right to implement the resolution by force). Siniora also pointed the way toward a Lebanese solution to the problem of Hizballah's arms, leading the government to approve a seven-point plan on which Resolution 1701 was based. The problem today is political polarization, and I do not know if it could have been prevented. The demonstrations and tent camp near the prime minister's headquarters have made Siniora a prisoner in this tragic scene, which seems out of character for Lebanon. This country has never seen one group able to dominate the other, and this diversity created a sort of internal balance. Now the presidency, parliament, and prime ministry are in crisis; it is impossible to imagine a solution unless we reexamine the nature of our institutions.

--The Lebanese government seems to be bucking opposition demands, especially regarding an international tribunal to investigate the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri. How will this showdown be resolved?
I think that the government cannot give the opposition everything it is demanding. The government is supported by a parliamentary majority; Hizballah's supporters demonstrated in the streets because they could not exert that sort of pressure via the parliament. The government and the opposition will be forced to concede some demands, but each faction is holding its ground for now because they know that neither has the upper hand—hence the deadlock. As for the recent petition by seventy parliamentarians asking the UN Secretary General for an international tribunal, it is notable that it did not face large-scale opposition. In fact, approving a tribunal system under Chapter VI could suit everyone: the opposition and Berri would have taken a stance against it, but if it were passed in the Security Council, they would save face and survive this crisis. A tribunal under Chapter VII, without Lebanese consent, would be far more problematic. I am not confident, in any case, that the UN is ready to set the precedent of forming a tribunal under Chapter VII to investigate an assassination.

Ziad Baroud is a lawyer, human rights activist, and member of the National Council for a New Electoral Law. This interview was conducted by Omayma Abdel Latif, an Egyptian journalist and Projects Coordinator at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. It was translated from Arabic by Paul Wulfsberg.

Col. Pat Lang: "Pacification of Baghdad will not succeed without a tremendous fight..."

Col. W Pat Lang, has these remarks on today's "deadliest of attacks" that killed over 120 Iraqis and wounded almost 200. You can read more of Col. Lang's comments here at Sic Semper Tyrannis 2007.

"In what is clearly a coordinated demonstration of capability, suicide and
other bombers struck all over Baghdad today to show the world and the Shia
Arab population of Baghdad that the Petraeus/Kagan/Keene plan for the in
the course of which many Shia will suffer.The bridge demolitions last week were undoubtedly part of the plan for this counter-offensive. As can be seen
from the BBC chart below, there are many advantages to be derived by the
insurgents from isolating East Baghdad from the increasingly Sunni Arab
western side of the city.It will be interesting to see how this campaign
develops over the coming months."

TIME from Matt Yglesias: "Turkey & the Kurds": Military expediency awaits Political decision!

See today's Time comment, by Scott McLeod, here.

Ajami, Ross: "tender mercies for Iraq" and "sticks", and more sticks for Iran.

Dennis Ross is making ultimatums, and Fouad Ajami (in the New Republic) describes Iraq as a place where "there is still the furtive shadow of hope, an echo of deliverance, an undisguised sense of fulfillment at the spectacle of men and women released from a terrible captivity." Oh, did I say that Ajami's piece was a book review?

The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace
By Ali A. Allawi

Majority Expect U.S. Will 'Lose' War In Iraq

From Juan Cole comes this sobering ABC/Washington Post poll.

"CLINTON DOOMED" says Matt Yglesias

"Pathetic" results across the boards!

Last night Richard Perle, who had his own segment on Frontline's "America at a crossroads" showed the Senator from New York spelling the Iraq-War position that she never digested! By the way, Perle's "segment" caused me indigestion, insomnia and some reckless leg syndrome jitters!

Salon: "Iraq: Why the media failed"

From Helena Cobban & Salon, comes a good analysis of the US media's failures to challenge and tickle the truth. Fabrications and distortions led to wars, and the medias (across the board) just "promoted" the line. In retrospect (there is no retrospect) serious reviews of the reasons behind the war in Iraq (for example) are scarce.

"The media had serious preexisting weaknesses" says author Gary Kamiya and "when a devastating terrorist attack and a radical, reckless and duplicitous administration came together, the result was a perfect storm."

A great investigative reporter added just the other day (during a Friday Lunch) that the "fear of losing access" by a vindictive Administration looms large. Remember this is an Administration who actually used the media (some) to settle political scores (PlameGate).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

EDB, a "foreign" journalist in Beirut, writes on "Ban Ki Moon, british sailors & the good news from Iraq .."

See her at Anecdotes From A Banana Republic, here.

Bushism of The Day!

"Iraq is a very important part of securing the homeland, and it's a very important part of helping change the Middle East into a part of the world that will not serve as a threat to the civilized world, to people like—or to the developed world, to people like—in the United States." —Washington, D.C., April 3, 2007

more pearls at

The phobia doing well, thank you:“The Virginia Tech campus has a very large Muslim community ..."

"Yesterday, while details of the shootings were still sketchy, Schlussel told readers, “The Virginia Tech campus has a very large Muslim community, many of which are from Pakistan.” When news reports indicated that the shooter was Asian, Schlussel said, “Pakis are considered ‘Asian.’”
read more here and here.

INTERVIEW: Nicholas Sarkozy: "the Lebanese must hold Hezballah accountable for their suffering.."

Laura Rosen, at "War & Piece" has the interview of the "National Interest" with Nicholas Sarkozy:

"... The role of France and the international community is to help the Lebanese defend the sovereignty and integrity of their country. This past summer in Lebanon, like all too often in its history, innocents paid with their lives for a conflict that was not their own. But who should the Lebanese first hold accountable for their suffering? My response is clear: first and fore most they must look to Hizballah. Because I think friendship is reinforced by honesty, I must say to our Lebanese friends that Hizballah was the aggressor. But I also say to the Israelis that their reaction was excessive and disproportionate. I have always defended with the same force the security of Israel and the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon. Today, it is essential that the commission of inquiry into the assassination of Mr. Hariri must be allowed to finish its work, and that Hizballah shows that it is a political organization by setting aside its arms..."

Read Full Interview here.