Saturday, June 30, 2007

Alastair Crooke: "Our second biggest mistake in the Middle East"

"It is too early to judge, but it is possible that the Hamas putsch will come to be seen by Muslims beyond Palestine as an event as significant as the outcome of the Israeli-Hizbullah war last July."
"Against this background of disenchantment, the contributors to Jamil Hilal’s Where Now for Palestine? The Demise of the Two-State Solution point either towards a binational state in Israel/Palestine, or to a further chapter of armed resistance, or both."
"The activities of the US are fundamental to the present crisis. Iraq continues to radiate instability and is exacerbating tensions between the Shia and Sunni everywhere. US and EU policy in Palestine and Lebanon is driving internal tension and polarisation, and the risk of conflict involving Iran and possibly Syria overshadows everything else in the region. In all, the Americans and Europeans are engaged in six internal conflicts in Muslim societies – in Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine – in each case providing finance and weapons for one faction to use against another. As I write, Hizbullah is preparing for the possibility of renewed conflict with Israel, and Syria and Iran have also reached the conclusion that conflict is a real and imminent prospect, and are actively preparing for it."
Read Crooke's full essay, here.

Paris' take: "Michel Edde interim President of Lebanon for 2 years"

"GQ", a Lebanese Official, who was in Paris at the time Siniora was there for talks with president Sarkozy & Condoleeza Rice, rapports the following in an email:
"Michel Edde is gonna be president for an interim period of 2 years during which a new electoral law will be drafted and a new parliamentary election held, to select a president for 6 years ..."

Prior to the US airlift to the Lebanese Army, Beirut (silently) asked for Syrian Army munitions

In the first days of the Nahr el Bared clashes, an "after hour" request was made by the Siniora government, via the LAF, for an emergency shipment of munitions from the Syrian Army to the LAF. A lot of LAF's hardware (especially tanks) are soviet made of Syrian matriculation. The request and the transfer were to be kept secret. However, Damascus insisted on a public display, not appreciating the fact that Beirut accused it of supporting Al Qaeda and then asking for assistance in its fight against it.

Gen. Baptiste warns Americans not to "conflate Al Qaeda & Iraqi insurgents"

Blurring the lines and hoping that the American public will not be able to tell the difference has become an Administration trademark. Regional "ruling cliques" are attempting the same in their own attempt to direct the blame elsewhere, most notably in Lebanon, where the Armed forces are in their sixth week of combat against Al Qaeda.
Oddly, it was only yesterday when President Bush belittled Al Qaeda's presence in Iraq. But as the fortunes shift, so does the rhetoric. Closer in Rome, and after the deadly attacks against the Spanish contingent in the UNIFIL, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs cautioned Lebanon not to get swamped by "profuse accusations."
See Muckraker here, and Kevin Drum here.

Friday, June 29, 2007

CIA Terror Bombings, Bob Gates, and The Rise of Hezbollah

From the HuffingtonPost, read it fully, here.
"Among those of Fadlallah's bodyguards not killed in the explosion, 22 year-old Imad Mugniyah would join the emerging Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and, over the next decade, as a shadowy chief of security, direct a series of reprisal attacks against Americans in a bloody chain reaction of terror and counter-terror. Among Fadlallah's admirers, outraged by the bombing and ever after distrustful of the Americans he had once admired, was a round-faced, 25 year-old theology student of already recognized charisma and organizational skills. He would rise to become Hezbollah's leader -- and, after his forces fought the Israeli invasion of Lebanon to a standstill in the summer of 2006, one of the most popular figures in the Arab world: Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. "

Hariri puts final touches on arrangements for "safe houses" for Lebanon's ruling clique

According to Al Akhbar, the arrangements include living quarters for all members of Lebanon's government & Parliament, their families and staff. arrangements were made in Egypt, some gulf countries and Paris.

Ghazi Aridi lacks courage on Syria & Hezballah, says Daily Star's Young

Moreover, Michael Young is not too happy with "some" in the Siniora government blaming Al Qaeda for the UNIFIL deadly attack. Young likes consistency. He seeks continuity: Blame Syria first, and see what happens!
"The oddest statement, however, came from the Siniora government. Information Minister Ghazi Aridi noted that "[t]here is a link between the attack which targeted the Spanish contingent of UNIFIL and the fighting between the Lebanese Army and the terrorists of Fatah al-Islam in Nahr al-Bared." He went on to say, "Lebanon is the victim of a terrorist wave striking from the North to the South in which the latest target was the Spanish contingent. This attack was preceded by confessions from arrested terrorists about preparations against UNIFIL."
Read the full opinion here.

New "Think Tank" on the block: Center For New American Security

With a roster including the likes of William Perry, Madeleine Albright, Richard Armitage ... Read Steve Clemons' remarks here.

NEW "Interesting Times" blog on the NYorker website

add it to your Blog Roll, here.

STATE Official: "We never suspected this is what they meant by 'Birth Pangs' of the New Middle East"

From the Middle East Policy Survey: (Excerpts)
The unexpectedly swift and complete rout of Fatah by Hamas in Gaza last week caused US officials to try to find ways to salvage some gains from the new situation. To begin with, seniorUS officials say that this outcome has, in the words or one suchofficial, "...shocked everyone into unifying behind Abu Mazen." This includes Israelis as well as Arabs, Europeans as well as Americans. "Even the Israelis realize that if they don't improve life for the Palestinians, in two years they will have a repetition of Gaza in the West Bank."
Although the crisis forced Secretary of State Rice to cancel a planned trip to theMiddle East, Egypt quickly organized a summit meeting in Cairo ...will demonstrate, at the very least, thateveryone views Abu Mazen as the last, best hope for the region, "says one key US official. "It also demonstrates that Hamas this summer, like Hezbollah last summer, may well have overplayed its hand."
(Blair)"...will be working with people who can'tdeliver," notes one US analyst. "Abu Mazen has repeatedly shown timidity and Olmert isn't much better." Criticism of Abu Mazen is nothing new and Olmert's approval rating in Israel, notes one State Department wag, "lags behind the country's annual growthrate." Even among US officials, Olmert is not highly regarded. One senior State Department official after hearing about hisrecent proposal to place a international force on the Gaza-Egyptian border said, "Olmert has a new, stupid idea every day."
Welch will meet with his "Quartet" counterparts [Russian, EU and UN officials]... none of these erstwhile partners are pressing for an outreach to Hamas. Still, veteran US officials remain far from sanguine about rescuing the situation. "We never suspected this is what they meant when they talked about `the birth pangs of the new MiddleEast'", commented one State Department official sarcastically.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Democrats looking to make it a long & hot summer for Bush and GOP

From the Huffington Post here.

A GOP Plan to rid America of Cheney

Could that really work? Could the GOP elders, headed by Senator Warner pull it? "The idea is to install a vice president who could beat the Democratic nominee in 2008. It's unlikely that any of the top three Republican candidates -- former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Sen. John McCain of Arizona or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- would want the job, for fear that association with Bush's war would be the kiss of death."
Read the WaPo here.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

CNN has trouble finding Afghhanistan and apparently, Syria, on a map!

All that is needed is Anderson Cooper and his "prose" ... The uber-news channel has gone down the toilet!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Fath el Islam: fighters have seen action in Iraq, and some, of Saudi origin, thought they were fighting Israel

Read this Le Monde article (in French) here.

"Principals meeting" on Friday could decide to shut down GITMO

Steve Clemons could be onto something here:
"I have not received confirmation that this is the case, but it sounds like this could be another important example of President Bush tacking towards the consensus neo-realist position of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, CIA Director Mike Hayden, and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten. State Department Elders John Negroponte, R. Nicholas Burns, and John Bellinger have also played vital roles in this transition of policy away from pugnacious, anti-international Cheneyism."

WINEP: Adding Hizballah to the European Union's Terrorist List

On June 20, 2007, Michael Jacobson, a senior fellow at The Washington Institute and former senior advisor at the Treasury Department, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe during a hearing titled "Adding Hezbollah to the EU Terrorist List." You can red their full remarks here.

GOP Congressman Introduces Legislation To Restrict Pelosi Trips To Syria?!

From TPMCafe "GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa apparently wasn't satisfied with the attention he got for proposing the use of an electrified fence -- the kind used on livestock -- for our southern border. He must've wanted some more. So he hit on a nifty solution: Dust off the old Pelosi-to-Syria controversy!"
Read here.

BUSH at 26% in a Newsweek Poll, while Congress is at 14% according to a Gallup Poll

Newsweek's here and Gallup's here.

Elliott Abrams to a group of Palestinians in 2006': The Hamas government must be pushed out at any cost

Via SicSemperTyrannis, by Eyad Sarraj here.

Interview with Gen. Petraeus: September? what September?

Interview in the London Times, here.

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. military forces in Iraq, June 14, 2007.

"Mahmoud Abbas is a fiction"

A sobering article by Israel Harel in Haaretz, read it here. (excerpt) "The Hamas victory in the Gaza Strip and the establishment of a "moderate" government in Ramallah do not divide the territory into Hamastan in the Gaza Strip and Fatahstan in Judea and Samaria. This is only another illusion in the basket of Israeli illusions - a fallacy that's part of the same belief that there is an Arab leader (it used to be Yasser Arafat, and now it is Mahmoud Abbas) who wants to sign an agreement with us, and one that entails relinquishing the right of return and recognizing Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and Zionist state."

WaPo: Iraqi govt' of Nuri Al Maliki teetering on irrelevance

"A growing number of Iraqi leaders, including several fellow Shiites, are expressing discontent with Maliki's ability to stanch the bloodshed, contain civil war, make progress on economic fronts and share power with the minority Sunnis."
Read the full WaPo article, here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

موفق قات ــ سوريا

Norman Podhoretz: "Bombing Iran to Smithereens" is the only sensible option

If his writings on the subject were not pukeworthy enough, looky here, he's on Video! Via TalkingPoints, watch the video here. Oh, and he promises thankful & "relieved Sunnis across the Middle East" , and guarantees no massive wave of anti-Americanism.

Bush Eyes Blair for Mideast Peace Role

The Bush Administration excels in "recycling" loyalists. But this beats all. Robin Wright has this in the WaPo where it is believed that "the Bush administration is laying the groundwork for an announcement of Tony Blair as special Middle East envoy for Palestinian governance and economic issues after he steps down as Britain's prime minister, following two months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, according to U.S. officials."
Via Laura Rosen at War&Piece, read it here.

The Failed States Index 2007

Read the full report from Foreign Policy and the Fund For Peace, here.

Cordesman: "The problem is that the US is trying to fight the wrong war"

Via Steve Clemons (who shares with us an email he got from Anthony Cordesman). read the Report here.

WaPo: "Hamas cannot be abolished by decree, and isolation will only make it more radical"

A good editorial that seems to have "escaped" the Torquemadas of the WaPo, read it here, and a good comment from Pat Lang here. (excerpt)"the most dangerous features of the joint Israeli/AIPAC/US/WINEP policy toward Palestine has been the "dangerous illusion" that the Palestinians (and, indeed all the Middle Eastern peoples) are a bit like malicious children who can be coaxed, cajoled or manipulated into doing whatever the "grownups" want them to do. This editorial warns against thinking that this is true." PL

The political prince: Bandar

The problem for Prince Bandar, however, is that the allegations came at a time when a new king, who took the throne only two years ago, has been seeking to clamp down on corruption and curb royal family privileges.... All these allegations are not new in Saudi Arabia. The only thing that surprised people was that the figure was so big,"
read the full FT piece here.

Syria closes the Qa'a-Jussieh border crossing with Lebanon

Fatah's last stand: collapse or conspiracy?

The United States, EU and Israel were quick to offer support to Abbas, after having starved his people for years (his "elite Presidential brigade" was not paid for over a year) ... In the weeks/months to come, an inept, corrupt Abbas will find difficulties in tapping into the pool of "loyalists" at the grass root and AMONGST HIS FORCES.
"There was total frustration and disappointment," said one Abbas security officer who was among the last to abandon the presidential compound on Thursday night, June 14, and asked to be identified only as A.R. because of fear of retaliation. "We felt like there was a conspiracy to hand over Gaza to Hamas."
From McClatchy's, read it in full here.

"Please Sir ... Can I have sum' mo'..."

Courtesy of the Huffington Post

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cease Fire at Nahr el Bared looks imminent

Lebanese Army (command) says "there is something to that effect" but did not confirm, yet!

PBS Frontline: Tuesday June 19, 9:00PM: "Endgame: Surge in Iraq"

WINEP's Dennis Ross: "what went wrong in Gaza"

"Having recently met with over 30 Palestinians, including the Shabiba -- the young Fatah activists in the West Bank cities -- I found the events in Gaza produced a wake-up call for at least the younger generation of Fatah. They understood well that if they did not remake Fatah and compete with Hamas at the grassroots level, Hamas could also take over the West Bank."
Read the full WINEP essay here.

Syria's pound would be pegged to the to the IMF special drawing rights (SDR), rather than against the dollar

According to the OBG. the move should take effect in July of 2007' and "would provide more stability for the Syrian pound, provide a further incentive for direct foreign investment, and reduce the risks posed by fluctuations of currencies such as the euro and the dollar", says Adeeb Malayeh, Governor of the Central Bank of Syria . Read the OBG full brief here.

Russia denies that it started delivery of advanced fighter jets to Syria

From the IHT (AP) from an initial report by Kommersant, here and here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Lebanon's ruling "clique" will not compromise & will oversee the de-facto division of the State

Scheduling the parliamentary elections to replace the two assassinated MPs Gemayel & Eido on August 5th is a clear message to the "opposition" that the ruling "clique" has no intentions for compromise on the formation of a National Unity government, and of cloaking all such moves (elections ...) with constitutionality and legality. Consequently, and if intransigence remains l'ordre du jour, President Lahoud will put in motion the process that will lead to the formation of a "new" government, in this case, a second government, a move that will surely lead the unconstitutional government of Fouad Siniora to hold unconstitutional presidential elections and so on ... and so forth. The ruling "clique" will proceed with the cannibalization of Lebanon's Constitution and will reject all calls for reason as it has scuttled scores of Arab and European mediations and seem bent on implementing Elliot Abrams agenda.

Arming Sunni militias undercuts Iraqi government, critics say

Arming the Sunnis the get rid of Al Qaeda. Isn't this similar to "having sex to SAVE the friendship"? Read the piece from McClatchy's here.
On this, Col. Lang offered these comments:
"The present government of Iraq is lopsidedly Shia Arab and Kurd in allocation of power and resources. These formerly dominated communities have been liberated from Sunni Arab rule, ... they like the new situation... One is reminded of Ben Franklin's comment to a bystander in Philadelphia, "We have given you a republic, if you can keep it.." The Shia and Kurds are not sure that they will be able to continue to hold power in a new Iraq. The Sunni Arab, Islamist and Shia secular forces arrayed against them are relentless and the insurgent strategy they they are following has some chance of success in restoring, if not Sunni Arab rule, then a balance of state power that favors them in a way disproportionate to their numbers, but, perhaps, not disproportionate to their actual political weight in the state. After all, there are more ways of allocating political and economic power than "constitutional" elections... An effective performance by the groups with whom the US is seeking "alliance" against the jihadis would shift the actual balance of power toward a situation in which the government may find it necessary to share the "goodies." Expect to hear more and more frantic protests from Maliki et al.."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Conflict in Gaza is between Hamas & US trained-equipped Dahlan's PSS"

Harper's Ken Silverstein talks to the co-director of Conflicts Forum, Mark Perry, on events in Palestine. Read it here.

"Sunni political power is Hariri & Sunni religious power are the Salafis: The Relationship is Natural"

Where US Dollars, martyrdom & sectarian incitement have cemented the biggest threat to Lebanon and the whole region. From the WaPo, here and here from Robin Wright. And read MotherJones's "Blowback In Lebanon: Has the U.S. helped create another jihadist monster? ", here.

6:43PM second barrage of Katyushas on Metulla

UNIFIL and Kiryat Shmona on high alert.

Al Qaeda Katyushas from South Lebanon on Kiryat Shmona

Katyushas on North Israel recorded at 5:30PM Beirut time ... Brings to mind "December 2005, in an attempt to implicate Hezbollah in an attack against Israel, four fighters of Al Qaeda in Iraq launched 10 Krad rockets from southern Lebanon into Kiryat Shemona in northern Israel" (as depicted in Bruce Riedel's piece at Brookings on "Hezbollah & Al Qaeda" and the need to encourage "the animosity of one toward the other" as he says. )

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Top Commander of U.S. Ground Forces: "'Time Is Running Out' in Iraq"

From ABC news, read Gen. Odierno's exclusive interview, here.

Fath-Hamas "feud" spills into Lebanon's camps

As predicted in a Thursday posting, the Fath-Hamas "feud" spills into Lebanon's camps. The first flare ups happened just this evening in the Bedawi camp in North Lebanon.

Seymour Hersh: "The General’s Report"

Hersh on “preparing the battlefield” and the "authority to whack—to go in and conduct ‘executive action,’ ” the phrase for political assassination. “It was surrealistic what these guys were doing,” the retired operative added. “They were running around the world without clearing their operations with the ambassador or the chief of station.”
"The findings, when promulgated by the White House, were “very calibrated” to minimize political risk, and limited to a few countries; later, they were expanded, turning several nations in North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia into free-fire zones with regard to high-value targets."
Read Sy's whole essay here, and connect the dots!

On Harb, Nassif & Register: Al Hurra's "nuit des long couteaux"

"...Overall, al-Hurra came across as a third-rate Lebanese TV station rather than America's flagship public diplomacy enterprise... (failing) to win any significant audience or generate any meaningful political debate... conservatives suddenly decided to go after Register, it was rather hard to find even a single person not on al-Hurra's payroll with a good word to say about it... After a scathing Government Accountability Office report criticised the station's management and performance, Harb left under a cloud of criticism. Register, an old CNN hand, was brought in to try and salvage the sinking station..." From AbuAardvark here.

Wolfowitz writes a "character reference letter" on Libby's behalf: With friends like Wolfie, Scooter needs no enemies

I don't know whether to laugh or cry ... Pukeworthy From the SpiceJar, here.

Afghan Official Disputes Evidence That Iran Is Arming The Taliban

"Despite claims by the United States that there is "irrefutable evidence" that Iran is smuggling weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Defense Minister of Afghanistan today disputed those claims". from the Blotter, here

Cheney, still pushing for Iran strikes

While the WaPo describes what ails the Regime in Tehran here, the NYtimes spells the cure (Cheney's) here

HAMAS Wins! Thanks to Us

Via TalkingPoints, a reasonably good essay. Here.

Friday, June 15, 2007

On Fath's "perpetual sham", from a UN Military observer in the Middle East

(From reader JfM on SicSemperTyrannis)
"The Hamas-Fatah swing fest has been a’brewin since Hamas stood up. While some of the Hamas juice undoubtedly comes from outside assistance, a large share is merely the deep disgust within the Palestinian population—particularly the disenfranchised youth—for the legacy of and empty promises by Fatah. Fatah has delivered nothing on their pledges to better the lives of the people, and has rather unabashedly continued the corrupt policies of Arafat. I empathize with the Hamas repudiation and, if I lived in Gaza, probably would be predisposed to lift arms against Fatah too.
As a UN military observer on three tours over a ten year period I remember walking thru the camps in South Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank and around Beirut’s southern environs and seeing Fatah’s two-faced policy in action. People lived in bleak cinder block hovels. Raw sewage ran in the streets. I was told the Fatah strictly prohibited any improvements to these shanty slums as to maintain the visuals of ‘the camp’ being a temporary living arrangement vice the permanent village that it really was. People were forbidden to paint their houses, plant a garden, or improve their lots so as to be ready at a moments notice to return to their homes in downtown Haifa or Tel Aviv from which they were displaced 40 plus years before. It was a perpetual sham and to the lasting discredit of Fatah. Fatah has done little or nothing ever to truly improve the lot of the Palestinian people and now faces the fire from the next generation who won’t sit quietly for what went before. Unfortunately there no true beneficiaries from the current Palestinian dust-up. While I am not sorry to see Fatah get rocked, I am very worried about what may or likely will follow. "

A new Iran "timeline" emerges

"... But on a June 6th visit to Washington for the US-Israel Strategic Dialogue, the Israeli team leader, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, said he and Secretary of State Rice agreed to review sanctions' effectiveness at the end of the year. "Sanctions must be strong enough to bring about change in the Iranians by the end of 2007," Mofaz was cited by JTA..." Read more from Laura Rosen at "Tapped" here.

NEW Think Tank in town with an "Iraq Plan" (Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

"...The next White House will likely have the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a new, bi-partisan, national security-oriented think tank at 13th and Pennsylvania Avenue. CNAS launches a roll-out June 27, featuring a new Iraq report that has already generated some interest around town. The paper, Phased Transition: a Responsible Way Forward and Out of Iraq, is expected to argue for reducing the US troop presence in Iraq by 100,000 to 60,000 by the end of 2008, and a total withdrawal by 2012..."
Read more from Laura Rosen at "Tapped", here

Lebanon's Patriarch Sfeir to "intermediary": M14's intransigence has undermined all attempts to reach an "accord"

Sfeir apparently "understands", however and in a typical Patriarchal fashion, "does not condone" the idea of a two government state. At least this was his position as he spelled it this morning, in confidence, to an "intermediary". It remains to be seen where the Patriarch will stand AFTER the shortly upcoming "visit" of the three Horsemen of the Apocalypse, aka. Fares Said, Samir Frangieh and Mansour Ghanem-el-Bawn!

Gaza: What is happening and why it is important

Via War&Piece this piece from MideastWeb, here.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lebanon's Central Bank gearing up for a Two government state

Governor Riyad Salameh has prepped all employees and asked them to remain "neutral" when and if the scenario of a two government state becomes reality. The Mufti (the Qabbani one ..) unusual tempo and context, is evidence that the country is sprinting towards meltdown. A major complicating factor is however, the impact that the "Gaza (and soon West Bank) fratricide" will have on the Palestinian Camps in Lebanon, and in turn on the Lebanese morass. Jeffrey Feltman offered his government's condolences ... !!

"Stars & Bucks Coffee"


"Benchmarks": De-Baathification:"ill-conceived, alienated the Sunnis, fomented sectarianism and established a recruitment pool for insurgents"

Via Matt Yglesias, from the National Security Network (new) here.

Lantos calls Shroeder & Chirac a "political prostitute" and a coward

The subject was of course "Iraq"! Here.

Longtime Al Jazeera broadcaster knocks U.S. credibility in Mideast

Al Mirazi in the Oregonian via the WashingtonNote.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

De Soto's Report: Depicts a relentless "pattern of malevolent intervention designed to frustrate any hopes of peace to stimulate violence and warfare"

More on De Soto's report here and here.

Fatah forces loyal to PA President Abbas on the verge of collapse, flee to Egypt

From McClatchy's, read it here.

Lebanese MP Walid Eido assassinated: Sunnis community shows grave strains & schism!

The Lebanese Sunni community has been strained beyond the breaking point!
First came the "decapitation" when the assassination of PM Hariri threw the Sunnis out of their orbit and made them renege on a long and proud heritage of Arab Nationalism & support for the Palestinian cause. More importantly, and as the campaign of recrimination grew stronger, it drew the line in the sand with their co-coreligionists, the Shia'as. It was a "Sunni-Strategy" implemented word for word, with easy access to enormous financial capabilities and by a daily dose of "international support" to the "men in the trenches", the Cedar revolutionaries of M14 and the Sunni Leadership at the helm.
The summer of 2006' threw the (hence) smooth plan off balance: Israel's aggression against Lebanon achieved none of its goals. On the contrary, it prompted the proponents of the "Sunni-Strategy" to look at some "off the shelf" quick fixes. Throngs of Salafi Jihadists were recalled from their "epics" to join their brethren in Lebanon as they became the shield against the "Iranian and Shia'a crescent." Serious cracks were seen in the war's aftermath, most notably when there were "calls to arms" by the zealots surrounding the amateur Hariri: Many in the FUTURE movement began voicing serious doubts, and some threatened "dissent."
As the "Sunni Strategy" gained momentum, more financial resources were allocated for this endeavor ... leading us to the Fath el Islam "Bank heist" and things thrown completely off whack. The events in the North (Nahr el Bared) were in more ways than one the "straw that broke the Sunni Strategy's back."
Sunni Leaders (covert & overt) have been voicing discontent, bordering on "rebellion" (those who are members of the FUTURE movement of Saad Hariri) that "whatever has been concocted for the community does not serve the Sunnis at all, but instead, has weakened it tremendously."
Today's horrific bombing should be seen in this context!

US General: "US Surge" needs an "Iraqi Surge" to guarantee success

"One obvious reason for the increased estimate in needed forces is that the security situation isn't a fixed picture. Building an army and a police force takes time. But as Iraqi forces get closer to meeting their U.S.-mandated goals, Iraq's myriad political-security picture deteriorates." Ackerman, here.

Iraqis Are Failing to Meet U.S. Benchmarks

"With only three months until progress reports are due in Washington, the deadlock has reached a point where many Iraqi and American officials now question whether any substantive laws will pass before the end of the year"
Read the full NYT story here.

Senior UN Official: American pressure has "pummelled into submission" the UN's role as an impartial Middle East negotiator

read the full "damning" (Pdf.) report here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Brzezinski: US & Israel should put demand for Iranian disarmament in context of "nuclear free zone"

Zbigniew Brzezinski at the "America in the World" Conference (this morning at the Hyatt Regency) says the US and Israel should "try to put their demands for Iranian disarmament in the context of support for a regional nuclear-free zone (i.e., Israeli nuclear disarmament)." After all, he says, "if we're supposed to believe that Israel's nuclear arsenal isn't a sufficient deterrent to ensure Israeli security in the face of Iran's nuclear program, then it obviously isn't a very valuable asset" comments Matt Yglesias (Atlantic Online)

Siniora just about ready to "request" an International force all along Lebanon's borders

All that is needed at this time is the "sanitization" of the adjacent areas (especially along the Northern border) from the "radicals." At that stage, the Koleiat air strip (see here Lamb's article) would hence be of value. Of course, one would wonder: How is it that with all the Saudi, French and Iranian "initiatives", there are still voices within the M14 movement who talk of escalation and intransigence?! The answer remains with US Ambassador Feltman who is still the primary peddler (perhaps the lone one) of instability in Lebanon, and the sole subverter of accord between the Lebanese. The French initiative was stillborn due to a severe case of Abramsitis!

Giuliani:"Democrats are terrorist coddlers who are soft on Israel"

Qatari Government Taking Over AlJazeera?

"Pro-US Coup at Al Jazeera"? Read here.

Saudi King "shelves" the Abrams-Bandar ["Sunni-Strategy"]

"This strategy was based on the Sunni fear of an ascendant Iran and of an Iraq falling into the Iranian sphere as another Shia major oil producer. Abrams worked closely with Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, the Saudi National Security Adviser, to push this plan forward. We hear that this has now been shelved at the insistence, we are told, of Saudi King Abdullah."
From the SWOOP via War&Piece, here.

Rice Talks With WSJ's Editorial Board on Iran, Russia, Libby ...

The full WSJ interview here

Hurricane Gono

UN's Roed Larsen mulls same old tired line in an attempt to undermine Lebanese accord

From UPI read it here. The reality of the matter is that every time Roed Larsen goes on the record to say anything, it's during times of severe crises or times when a crisis looms large. Larsen contacted Speaker Berri just yesterday and showed "unaccustomed inquisition" as to the internal situation. He took notes and decided that it was due time to say something explosive that will surely undermine the "French (and Saudi) initiative" and stop any prospects of a National Unity government in its tracks. The pariah of the United Nations does it again!

Prosthetics workshop in Damascus

"About 60 Iraqi families show up every day, carting children who are missing limbs, gravely ill with untreated leukemia or bowed to 90-degree angles because Iraqi hospitals lacked the expensive braces to combat spinal disabilities ..."
From McClatchy's Middle East Diary, here and from Salon here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

French "Special Envoy" Cousseran and Chirac's "Aventures Libanaises & Nippones"

Cousseran, we all remember well, was head of the DGSE (French CIA) and at the heart of the "Affaire Des Proteges" when Chirac suspected him of and others of preparing an iron clad file of Chirac's fiduciary indiscretions in Lebanon & Japan. Read the full story in Le Monde (dated June 23 2002) Cousseran is President Sarkozy's "special envoy" to Lebanon today, in a last ditch attempt to find a way out of the political impasse. Le Monde (excerpt):
L'Elysée accuse les services secrets d'avoir enquêté sur M. Chirac sous le gouvernement de M. Jospin'
ANNONCE n'est pas encore officielle mais la décision est acquise. Les chefs des services d'espionnage et de contre-espionnage français, dont la nomination incombe au président de la République, doivent être remplacés au cours des semaines à venir. La cause de ces changements n'apparaît pourtant pas ressortir à la seule tradition d'une majorité succédant à une autre. Le directeur général de la sécurité extérieure (DGSE), Jean-Claude Cousseran, et son homologue de la Direction de la surveillance du territoire (DST), Jean-Jacques Pascal, sont accusés par l'Elysée d'avoir commandité - ou au moins toléré - des investigations visant la personne de Jacques Chirac et d'éventuelles « relations financières » du chef de l'Etat dans deux pays étrangers : le Liban et le Japon..."
"...M. Chirac avait au moins raison sur un point : une note de la DST sur le sujet avait bien été transmise au parquet de Paris, via la police judiciaire, le 19 janvier 2001. Elle ne visait toutefois en rien le président. Rien ne filtra de l'accès de tension entre les deux têtes de l'exécutif, mais l'épisode connut finalement un rebondissement public : au mois de janvier 2002, le quotidien régional L'Est républicain divulgua l'existence de la note, et celle d'une information judiciaire ouverte au mois de juin précédent - qui visait en réalité le député européen (RPF) Jean-Charles Marchiani, proche de Charles Pasqua mais qui eut longtemps, aussi, ses entrées dans le premier cercle chiraquien ( Le Monde du 8 janvier). L'entourage du président de la République semble en avoir conservé le sentiment d'un « coup » politique destiné à lui nuire, à quelques mois de l'élection présidentielle. A en croire certains de ses membres, il semble également avoir suspecté l'existence d'autres investigations confidentielles, notamment auprès de banques libanaises, destinées à identifier d'hypothétiques versements politiques effectués par le premier ministre et homme d'affaires libanais Rafic Hariri - avec qui M. Chirac entretient des liens d'amitié notoires..."

U.S. and Pakistani intelligencers: "Musharaf is on his way out"

From TPMuckraker, read it here and Patrick Seale here.

U.S. arming Sunnis in Iraq

In reality this is more temporary that one is lead to believe. Read it full here. And read Col. Lang's comment "Temporary Friends" here.

Lebanon 2007' by Mazen Kerbaj

A Clown in Israel

MP Ahmad Al Tibi telling the clown Ghadri "you are a back stabber... you should be ashamed of yourself"

Gen. Aoun: "it's time to end this Cleptocracy, and form a National Unity Government paving the way to an accord on a New President"

Lang in the CSM: Iran won't be a threat to Europe for a long time, so there's no need for antimissile defense on Russia's doorstep

"These statements indicate a resumption of statesmanship on both sides. We must not forget that history did not, in fact, end with the fall of the USSR. Mankind is still at risk from far more dangerous weapons and vanities than those likely to be possessed by Islamic fanatics." Lang.
Read it full here.

Daily Kos: As a Soldier, Fouad Ajami Sickens Me

You make such comparisons flippantly because you have never served in the military—much less in a war where a shadowy enemy was slaughtering your closest friends. You dismissively throw passages from the Soldier’s Creed around because people like you and Libby have no idea what really happens when a soldier "falls." Read the full letter (and more) here.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Sopranos & this viewer's loyalty

Even though the final episode of the Sopranos seemed hurried, the whacking of Phil Leotardo and the return to normalcy in New Jersey satisfied this viewer just out of a sense of loyalty to Anthony Soprano and his clan.

Tripoli FUTURE MP Allouch belittles the New Yorker and Sy Hersh and calls for the creation of the "Tripoli-Gazette-Tribune-Herald and Straights"

Appearing on NTV across from Al Akhbar's (and soon OTV's) Jean Aziz, Allouch, unknown to most Tripolitans and Lebanese alike, commented on Seymour Hersh's "redirection" and belittled the New Yorker, in a last ditch attempt to dissociate the FUTURE movement (and allies) from all the Faths, and all the Junds and all those who (publicly) call Al Zarqawi their "Amir & Leader".

Bush's hallow words on Middle East "orderly change" find a "dwindling audience" of jesters and impostors

Read WaPo here and Haaretz here.

Politicizing the "International Tribunal": The Salvador Option in Beirut

Via Remarkz, read Trish Schuh 's piece here.

Fouad Ajami begs Bush to save Libby and compares him to a "fallen soldier"

From the WSJ Oped, here. Ajami shamelessly compares a convicted felon to soldiers on the battle field.

Long term "military outpost" envisioned in Iraq

From WaPo, here.

Israeli critic, Norman Finklestein rejected at De Paul University. Deshowitz lurks in the background

Something in the shape of Dershowitz crawled from beneath that same rock, and another critic of Israel finds himself in hot waters. Read it here.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Avram Burg: "Defining Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end"

"the strategic mistake of Zionism was to annul the alternatives. Israeliness has only body; it doesn't have soul." Burg.
Read it in Haaretz here.

Off the Record: U.S. Responsibility for Enforced Disappearances in the “War on Terror”

Read the Report here.

The Future of Syria: Challenges and Prospects (Kattouf & Rubin at WINEP)

"The regime's miscalculations are overshadowed by U.S. mistakes. Washington was arrogant during its most recent high-level dialogue with Damascus: no government, let alone that of Asad and the Baath Party, would have accepted the U.S. demands" Kattouf.

The UN is a fraud. It’s little more than a rubber stamp for US-Israeli aggression

"Bush’s interest in the Hariri case is a perfect example of the administration’s disdain for the UN. Bush doesn’t care about Hariri. What he’s looking for is a way to implicate Syria so he will have a reason to expand the war beyond Iraq." Read it fully here.

Steve Colbert to prison-bound-Libby: Mark your territory by "Scootering" toughies & start a gang "Los Elefantes"

Watch it here, via Crooks&Liars.

Bandar Bin Sultan: Briber-Bribee

Via War&Piece from the BBC, Bandar on a decade long "pay-roll". Here. And when he was "challenged as to whether there is corruption in deals with the Saudi royal family, replies: "Yes. So what?" Watch that 2001 interview here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Harriet Libby to Scooter: "Make that call"

Scooter Libby is not a man who will do well in a penitentiary. G W Bush is not a President who can afford a "pardon." From SUPERB source, we learn that Harriet Libby, a former staffer on Senator Biden's on the Senate Judiciary Committee, have made a stern request of her estranged husband: "Make THAT call" she says! Now whether Scooter dials his former employer's number to explain that his demise will not happen without further casualties (remember, the man is going "up" on obstruction) .. or dials the "Federales", is something to be seen. But be sure that Harriet Grant Libby will be "heard."

Bush signs "Partial Resumption of Travel to Lebanon to Promote Peace and Security"

This by no means heralds the era of US carriers into Lebanon. From the Remarkze crew. Read it here.

Exclusive: Iraqi Lawmakers Pass Resolution That May Force End to Occupation

Read more here.

Lebanon's ISF, Rifi & Al Hassan asked "Arab and International Intelligence services" to stop harassing Lebanese Jihadists

Back on August 8 2006, and according to Al Hayat's Hazem Al Amine (M14 cannot say that Al Hayat has a "pro-Syrian" bias), the heads of the ISF asked "Arab and International Intelligence services" to refrain from harassing Lebanese (and others) Jihadis returning from Iraq, and alludes to the umbilical cord between these Salafi-Jihadi groupings and the FUTURE movement of Saad Hariri. Read the piece here in Al Ghad.

Foreign Affairs Council Report blasts Rice's leadership at the State Department

from the Huffington Post, read it here.

Geagea's men and the "Frontier law" (or lawlessness)

From Anecdotes from a Banana Republic comes a firsthand account of an "after-bombing" Lebanese Forces frenzy to find a Syrian, any Syrian to blame. Read here. While Geagea's buddy from the North, Ahmad "Pistollero" Fathfat says that "Fath el Islman has nothing to do with Al Qaeda." Obviously, Fatfat, known for great intellect and a brother who did "odd jobs" for Zal Khalilzad in Baghdad (buddies from the AUB years) thinks that whatever is happening in NeB is not worthy of AlQ. (One reader's comment)

Lebanon U.N. peacekeepers' vacationing spot targeted by bomb

from AP here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

At the doorstep of Saad Hariri's mansion, "beggar" Mufti praises Israel as a "merciful state"

Sheikh Moustafa Ghader, Mufti of Hasbaya & Marjeyoun, who was the "best informant" to the Syrian intelligence apparatus, lambasted Syria and praised "merciful" Israel, while asking the LAF to bomb the camps to smithereens. He must have been paid very handsomely by the little Hariri.

"Dismembered Palestine"

Le Monde has a very good piece here, here and OCHA's report here.

Bahiya Hariri: "I paid off Salafis and thugs to protect the back of the LAF"

This woman moves from one PR success to another. What is she going to tell us next? That she "paid off Salafi terrorists" because it was her way to corrupt Lucifer? Read her pearls in An Nahar, here. The Hariris have learned the tools of the trade from the "best". The Saudi regime is very good at "buying off". However, the commodities are also good at coming back to bite a lot of people in the pattootie.

Has Iraq Become The Largest Humanitarian Crisis on Planet?

From IraqSlogger, read it here.

Lebanon and "more pangs"

Greg Djerejian comments on Anthony Shadid's WaPo piece. The later could find no one except An Nahar's Sarkis Na'oum to talk to. Na'oum is a "wealth" of unbiased information, as unbiased as Norman Podhoretz!

De Borchgrave: "Guns of August"

From Comte Arnaud De Borchgrave, and the New Crazies cheerleading squad "The Case for Bombing Iran," was the headline over Podhoretz's long piece in the June issue of Commentary, the magazine he edited for 35 years (until 1995) and where he serves as editor at large. "I hope and pray that President Bush will do it," Podhoretz wrote. His son-in-law Elliott Abrams is deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush. His son John is editorial page editor of the New York Post. "

Monday, June 4, 2007

Siniora to Saudi daily: "Saudi members of Fath el Islam have seen the light, the rest are criminals"

Via AngryArab. Read what Siniora said to the Saudi Daily "Okaz" here. Careful Fuad, careful!

Al Qaeda Video Shows ID Cards, Night-Time Attack

Islamic State of Iraq video display of I.D. cards of two U.S. soldiers kidnapped in Diyala, Iraq May 12.
From and IraqSlogger
ISI video display of I.D. cards of 2 U.S. soldiers kidnapped in Diyala.The 10-mins video, entirely below, includes images of what is alleged to be the attack on the US outpost and the ID cards of the two missing US soldiers.

Al Qaeda/Salafis & "allies" make good on their threats: low casualties bombings continue in Beirut

I would mostly look at the "allies". Salafis would go for maximum casualties. However, their mainstream "allies" would go for terrorizing of the populace, especially the Christians! Look closer at the roster of criminals who adorn the Lebanese political landscape and complete its leadership! Look closest to the non-muslim ones!

Gary Sick on the US-Iran Arena

From Steve Clemons, read a good analysis of the recent "formal negotiations" between Iran and the U.S. which took place in Baghdad written by Iran expert and Columbia University/School of International and Public Affairs scholar Gary Sick .

Hariri on Al Arabiya: "yes I made payments to Jund al Sham, but these were miscellaneous disbursements"

Quite convincing wouldn't you say? "Miscellaneous" like for stamps, sundry furniture, office supplies and transportation? She made same acknowledgments on Al Jazeera.

Cheney above the Law!

And the list of usurpations reads like ....that.

Akkar MP Hussein withdraws from Hariri's FUTURE movement and parliamentary bloc, citing "sectarian stoking"

Fatfat met Fath el Islam leader one week before events

This is according to the Jordanian daily, al Watan (translation courtesy of Remarkz, here)

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Lebanon: "... a matter of "unintended consequences" by the NSC/OVP..."

"I think that this is is truly a matter of "unintended consequences" from the NSC/OVP point of view. Cheney, Abrams et al have been encouraging the Saudis to spend money on various "projects" near and dear to their hears involving opposition to both the AQ apparat and to the drive for increased power of the Hizbullah/Iran combination in Lebanon. Money has been spent to support Iraqi nationalist insurgent groups, traditional Sunni tribes (Shia tribes, also maybe?) and on Sunni zealots in Lebanon who have been patronized by the "Future" people as a potential counterweight to HA" says Col. Lang. Read him in fill at SicSemperTyrannis here.

The northern bother (Israel's that is): Syria

"The main reason why the Israel Defense Forces is currently not recommending a large-scale ground operation in the Gaza Strip is not talked about much publicly: It is the apprehension that this summer Israel is liable to be engaged in a different war - against Syria." Read the full Haaretz piece here.

Fath el Islam operatives "conveniently killed" in Tripoli

The Nahr el Bared imbroglio is biting the sponsors of FeI real hard in the derriere, and day after day, the bite mark is becoming more evident. However, it is too early to divulge ALL that is available because the Army is still at the "front", but whatever is trickling down to the people in the know is sufficiently damaging. Going back just a notch in time, FLC learned from SENIOR Military/Judicial officialdom that 2 detainees (from the Ain Alaq bombing when 2 civilian buses were bombed) have ADMITTED to Judge Jean Fahd, that they were "executing these operations to keep the pressure on the Syrians at critical times". Interestingly, many of the slain FeI fighters in the first day of Nahr el Bared's fighting (the Med-Bank "customers") were directly linked to the Ain Alaq detainees BUT were (according to Military investigators) "conveniently killed before we could talk to them" in the firefight with the ISF Intel-Section, said an officer in charge ... Basically, and in retrospect, it's the failure at Ain Alaq (bombers caught) that led to the ensuing fiasco in Tripoli and to the whole thing exploding in a "time-release" fashion in the face of the ISF's Intel-Section, the FUTURE movement and ... consequently in Siniora's face!
(UPDATE: We also learn that the man arrested in Achrafieh with loads of explosives ... has "friends" with VERY serious clout who are working for his immediate release.)

Friday, June 1, 2007

ABC News Learns of Plans to Keep Troops in Iraq Beyond 2009

Via War&Piece, Read ABC's "Soldiering On" here.

Rice tries to minimize sense of division within the Administration while Al Baradei lumps Cheney with the "New Crazies"

Rice’s assurance on strategy came as sr. officials at STATE expressed fury that Cheney staffers have said that the VP believes diplomacy with Iran is pointless, and is looking for ways to persuade Bush to bomb Iran. Read the full NYTimes piece here, and for Steve Clemons' piece, the one that first pointed to "Cheney's insubordination", click here (or scroll down the FLC to Thursday May 24th)

Fath el Islam detainees to Lebanese Army Intelligence: "we were sponsored by the FUTURE movement until very recently"

As posted previously, Fath el Islam's main sponsor, Hariri's FUTURE movement, started weaning the Salafi group almost 3 months ago. FeI tried to get Hariri's attention to resume disbursements, by sending messages with a clear "return address" (INERGA bomb yards away from Siniora's "fortifications" at the Serail) and other such incidents, ... to no avail. Upon further "interrogation", FeI's detainees divulged that Internal Security Forces (Intell-section) was well aware of the "return address" behind the attacks, and made contact with FeI to cease such activities in return for mediation for resumption of disbursements. When all failed, FeI decided to go and "collect" ... Affaire A Suivre!

U.S. trying to open a dialogue with al-Sadr

Read the story here