"Although the majority of Arabs believe Syria’s President Basher al-Assad should resign in the wake of the regime’s brutal treatment of protesters, fewer Syrians are supportive of an immediate leadership change.
According to the latest opinion poll commissioned by The Doha Debates, Syrians are more supportive of their president with 55% not wanting him to resign. One of the main reasons given by those wanting the president to stay in power was fear for the future of the country.
That level of support is not mirrored elsewhere in the region with 81% of Arabs wanting President Assad to step down.
They believe Syria would be better off if free democratic elections were held under the supervision of a transitional government.
The poll’s finding support the result of November’s Doha Debate in which 91% of the audience called for President Assad to resign.
If President Assad resigns, Syria’s relations with Turkey, Lebanon and the United States are expected to improve while relations with Iran and Israel will worsen, according to the opinion poll findings.
The poll conducted by YouGov Siraj questioned more than 1,000 people in the Arab world between December 14 and 19."
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:17 PM
As in previous years, we set out below some of the main ‘drivers’ which we expect underlie US foreign policy in 2012:1. International crises may come and go in 2012, but domestic and economic issues will dominate the political debate. Barring emergencies, foreign policy will come a distant second. 2. With all sides perceiving that the outcome of the 2012 elections will be extremely tight, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will have an incentive to co-operate with the other – even in minor ways. The immediate prospect, therefore, is for the current polarized legislative deadlock to continue. Whether either side achieves a sufficient majority at the elections to reverse this pattern does not appear likely at this stage. 3. Although many foreign policy experts hold deep reservations about President Obama’s foreign policy, his standing on this subject among the wider electorate – where, crucially, he is perceived to have been pro-actively tough on terrorism – is more robust. During the presidential campaign, he should remain relatively fireproof on foreign policy. This will give him freedom of maneuver to continue the drawdown in Afghanistan. 4. The presidential campaign will, however, spark pressure on the White House to adopt hardline positions on US ‘leadership’ and assertiveness in particular contexts. This will tend to aggravate tensions with countries like Russia, China and Pakistan with which there are underlying causes of tension. 5. Economic stringency will collide with foreign policy and defense objectives throughout the year. Proposals for expensive initiatives will receive a frosty reception. One way of responding to this need to maximize impact despite limited resources will be an expanded deployment of the ‘drone’ network as well as an enhanced role for special operations. 6. The US ‘pivot’ to the Pacific will continue as an important component of strategic thinking. The focus will be on finding a ‘happy medium’ between containing and cooperating with China. The US will encourage joint military exercises and strategic planning between India, Japan, and Australia. 7. Iran will present a recurrent theme. Rhetoric is likely to be heated and persistent calls for military action will be heard. While there is always room for misunderstanding or an unplanned violent incident, the US will strive to prevent any outbreak of large-scale hostilities. It will continue to dissuade Israel from military action. 8. The Middle East peace process will remain moribund. The continued vacillations in the ‘Arab Spring’ will present a series of awkward choices for US policy makers. These will be most evident in the cases of Egypt and Syria. The US will, however, be strongly resistant to be drawn into on-the-ground operations. 9. The US will struggle to develop even-tempered relations with Europe in the face of the continuing economic difficulties there. Political realities will exclude any expansion of IMF resources, but the Federal Reserve will act cooperatively.
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:58 AM
"The American people hear from government officials and presidential candidates nearly every day about military action against Iran. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently said that the United States and Israel would not allow Iran to get a bomb. Are these words standard fare for an election year? A strategy to restrain Israel from unilateral action? Or do these threats signify that war is in the “minds of men”?
Conservative ideologues taste the possibility that a leader whom they might influence may return to the White House. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich has already pledged to appoint John Bolton, a neoconservative superstar, as his secretary of state. Is it surprising that Gingrich, who has said he would rather plan a joint operation with Israel against Iran than force the Israelis to go it alone, is the candidate with the strongest commitment to military action?
Have we forgotten what Iraq and the United States have been through since 2002? Were it not for that ill-begotten war, thousands of Americans (and Iraqis) might still be living. America would be a trillion dollars richer and still be the proud, respected and economically healthy nation the world had known. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:37 AM
Friday, December 30, 2011
"... It called – nay pleaded – for Arab League intervention while ruling out Western intervention (under the title of UN or “international community” and various other code words that are used to disguise – in theory – the US/Israeli role). The SNC then changed its tune again and started calling for a no-fly zone (as if the war on Iraq and on Libya did not start with “no-fly zone” rhetoric). The council then accepted international intervention but only “to protect civilians.” The folks of the Syrian National Council assumed that we forgot the NATO bombing campaign in Libya (which included the deployment of ground troops and special forces) was undertaken under the UN pretext of “protecting civilians.” So NATO killed Libyan civilians (as the New York Times revealed in an extensive report) in order to protect Libyan civilians. Such are the rules of the US-dominated UN.Sheikh Adnan al-Arur (the fanatical cleric based in Saudi Arabia who holds sway among at least some of the protesters and whose name is often chanted in some protests went further. He threatened this week to cut off the tongues of any member of the SNC who does not call for international intervention in Syria. No one from the SNC protested the words of Arur. The alliance between Ikhwan and their liberal lackeys is too delicate to bother with reactions to the likes of Arur.But the goal of calling for international intervention is now clear: on the very first day of the Arab League Monitor’s mission, the SNC declared its failure to undertake its mission. Western media (which now are reduced to publishing the pronouncements and claims of the pro-Saudi Syrian Monitor for Human Rights) quickly echoed the opinion of the council.The criticisms of the SNC are correct but come very late in the game. They should have been raised earlier and those criticisms apply to (potential) Western intervention in Syria. Neither the Arab League nor Western governments care about the Syrian people. The notion that the league of Arab tyrants are in a position to monitor human rights violations in a sister country is ridiculous. To make the exercise of the Arab League mission more absurd, Qatar selected an intelligence commander from the tyrannical regime of Omar al-Bashir of Sudan to head the Arab League monitoring mission. ... Qatar is implementing a plan on behalf of the US/Israel, but the public has not been informed of the exact features of the plan..... Clearly, Saudi/Turkish/US/Qatari/Jordanian/Israeli/Hariri intervention in Syrian affairs is only increasing the suffering of the Syrian people but the primary responsibility of the suffering should be blamed on the Syrian regime, which is obligated to protect its population....The mission of the Arab League is not serious. It has so far failed to stop the killing and will not stop the killing. It is merely a phase to camouflage another more dangerous phase that Western governments and their clients in the region have in store for Syria."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:13 PM
"...Pardo addressed an audience of about 100 Israeli ambassadors. According to three ambassadors present at the briefing, the intelligence chief said that Israel was using various means to foil Iran's nuclear program and would continue to do so, but if Iran actually obtained nuclear weapons, it would not mean the destruction of the State of Israel."What is the significance of the term existential threat?" the ambassadors quoted Pardo as asking. "Does Iran pose a threat to Israel? Absolutely. But if one said a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands was an existential threat, that would mean that we would have to close up shop and go home. That's not the situation. The term existential threat is used too freely." ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:03 PM
Thursday, December 29, 2011
"... Leon said he believes that for the new governments being established in the region in the coming months, Israel will be a marginal issue. "The focus will be on internal issues and on building new societies," he said. "They need stability to create jobs for the people and they will have to move from the symbolic world to the real world to bring back tourists and investors."
He said the Muslim Brotherhood will have to move from the comfort of the opposition, to a point of bearing responsibility.
"Those parties will have to experience running a country and providing services to the people - so things will be more practical than metaphysical and they will deal more with internal issues than international problems. If tourists do not come back to Egypt - they will lose the next election," Leon said."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:38 PM
"... it is only Iran that can now prevent Iraq from sliding into the abyss of chaos and disintegration. This argument has a simple logic. Iran is the country with the greatest leverage with the Shia-dominated al-Maliki government. In fact, al-Maliki would not have been able to put together a coalition after haggling for nine months, and become prime minister for a second time after the last elections, had Iran not weighed in on his behalf. Iran is also the state with the greatest stake in keeping Iraq unified and ensuring its sovereignty, because Iraq's disintegration could adversely affect Iran's national integrity and its aspirations to become a regional leader in the Middle East..."
"We're intentionally setting the bar too high [for intervention] as means of maintaining the status quo, which is to do nothing"
Based on the following, we can say that the Assad regime is safer now!
"...As the violence in Syria spirals out of control, top officials in President Barack Obama's administration are quietly preparing options for how to assist the Syrian opposition, including gaming out the unlikely option of setting up a no-fly zone in Syria and preparing for another major diplomatic initiative.... the administration does see the status quo in Syria as unsustainable. So the administration is now ramping up its policymaking machinery on the issue. After several weeks of having no top-level administration meetings to discuss the Syria crisis, the National Security Council (NSC) has begun an informal, quiet interagency process to create and collect options for aiding the Syrian opposition, two administration officials confirmed to The Cable.
The process, led by NSC Senior Director Steve Simon, involves only a few select officials from State, Defense, Treasury, and other relevant agencies. The group is unusually small, presumably to prevent media leaks ...
The options that are under consideration include establishing a humanitarian corridor or safe zone for civilians in Syria along the Turkish border, extending humanitarian aid to the Syrian rebels, providing medical aid to Syrian clinics, engaging more with the external and internal opposition, forming an international contact group, or appointing a special coordinator for working with the Syrian opposition (as was done in Libya), according to the two officials, both of whom are familiar with the discussions but not in attendance at the meetings.
"The interagency is now looking at options for Syria, but it's still at the preliminary stage," one official said. "There are many people in the administration that realize the status quo is unsustainable and there is an internal recognition that existing financial sanctions are not going to bring down the Syrian regime in the near future."....
"Due to the incredible and far-reaching ramifications of the Syrian problem set, people are being very cautious," the official said. "The criticism could be we're not doing enough to change the status quo because we're leading from behind. But the reason we are being so cautious is because when you look at the possible ramifications, it's mindboggling."
A power vacuum in the country, loose weapons of mass destruction, a refugee crisis, and unrest across the region are just a few of the problems that could attend the collapse of the Assad regime, the official said.
"This isn't Libya. What happens in Libya stays in Libya, but that is not going to happen in Syria. The stakes are higher," the official said. "Right now, we see the risks of moving too fast as higher than the risks of moving too slow."
The option of establishing a humanitarian corridor is seen as extremely unlikely because it would require establishing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria, which would likely involve large-scale attacks on the Syrian air defense and military command-and-control systems.
"That's theoretically one of the options, but it's so far out of the realm that no one is thinking about that seriously at the moment," another administration official said.
Although the opposition is decidedly split on the issue, Burhan Ghalioun, the president of the Syrian National Council, earlier this month called on the international community to enforce a no-fly zone in Syria...
Rhetorically, the administration has been active in calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside and protecting the rights of Syrian protesters, despite the lack of clear policy to achieve that result... Washington is uncomfortable acting in concert with the SNC: Officials say there is a lack of confidence that the SNC, which is strongly influenced by expatriate Syrians, has the full support of the internal opposition. U.S. officials are also wary of supporting the Syria Free Army, made up of Syrian military defectors and armed locals, as they do not want to be seen as becoming militarily engaged against the regime -- a story line they fear that Assad could use for his own propaganda, officials said...
So for now, the administration is content to let the Arab League monitoring mission play out and await its Jan. 20 report. The officials said that the administration hopes to use the report to begin a new diplomatic initiative in late January at the U.N. Security Council to condemn Assad and authorize direct assistance to the opposition.
The officials acknowledged that this new initiative could fail due to Russian support for the Assad regime. If that occurs, the administration would work with its allies such as France and Turkey (almost at each other's throats) to establish their own justification for non-military humanitarian intervention in Syria, based on evidence from the Arab League report and other independent reporting on Assad's human rights abuses. This process could take weeks,...
There is also disagreement within the administration about whether the Arab League observer mission is credible and objective...."[The Arab League monitoring mission] is all Kabuki theatre," said another administration official who does not work directly on Syria. "We're intentionally setting the bar too high [for intervention] as means of maintaining the status quo, which is to do nothing."..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:47 AM
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Christmas greetings from an ambassador whose government ... currently published by the Saudi Education Ministry declares "The Apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews; and the Swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians." A ninth-grade textbook echoes "The Jews and the Christians are enemies of the believers, and they cannot approve of Muslims." Six million schoolchildren are indoctrinated with this every year in Saudi Arabia...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:33 PM
"... Turkey has also indicated that it will move to undermine France’s position in the Middle East, particularly Syria and Lebanon, where France has the strongest links, and in the South Caucasus. Ankara has complained about France’s role in the OSCE Minsk Group, which is tasked with mediating a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. ....... with tension in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean already high, having two NATO allies at loggerheads as well as further tensions in EU-NATO cooperation is far from desirable. Turkey is clearly aiming to prevent Paris increasing its role in those countries in which France believes it has a strong influence. Unfortunately this conflict will weaken the international communities’ position in this region and serves no useful purpose at all.If the senate adopts the bill, it will damage relations permanently. It could also create difficulties for Turks visiting France, particularly academics and diplomats, as they may be asked the genocide question and could face charges. There is also fear it could lead to further legal actions, such as demands for reparations or territorial claims. With its tough response, Turkey wants to send the message to other countries not to copy the French, as the reaction will be severe. With the Arab Awakening still unfolding, requiring a unified front from Euro-Atlantic actors, Sarkozy’s timing could hardly have been worse."
Al Sharq al Awsat on Al Arabiya's 'impostor monitor': 'True, he was an impostor but what he reported is important!'
You got to love the Saudi outlets!
The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: The false "monitor" on Arabiyya TV: I recommend that you all read this piece: it is about the yet another embarrassing episode in which a man claiming to be an Arab monitor wa...
The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: The false "monitor" on Arabiyya TV: I recommend that you all read this piece: it is about the yet another embarrassing episode in which a man claiming to be an Arab monitor wa...
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:12 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:05 PM
"...But I am a victim of violence against women insofar as violence against children is actually violence against mothers. Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghan women are my sisters because we are all at the grip of the same unscrupulous criminals who call themselves leaders of the free enlightened world and in the name of this freedom and enlightenment rob us of our children. Furthermore, Israeli, American, Italian and British mothers have been for the most part violently blinded and brainwashed to such a degree that they cannot realize their only sisters, their only allies in the world are the Muslim Palestinian, Iraqi or Afghani mothers, whose children are killed by our children or who blow themselves to pieces with our sons and daughters. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:00 AM
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
"...Today, decisions made in (Moscow) Ankara, Beijing, Paris, Berlin, Tehran, Riyadh and even Doha are having an effect on international affairs that might have been unthinkable just a few years ago. A quick glance at a few of the crises currently on the boil suggests the "multipolar" world may be a more unpredictable place than Mr Vedrine imagined. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:41 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:34 PM
'Field Marshall Ziadeh'
"... "What's needed is international intervention," Ziadeh explained via telephone. "We need a buffer zone along the Turkish borders where the situation is still escalating. Maybe the UN has to declare some 'safe cities.'"The dissident's call for international military intervention marks a shift in thinking within Syria's increasingly embattled pro-democracy movement; in an interview with Yahoo News in August, Ziadeh said that "none of the Syrian opposition is calling for military intervention."..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:27 PM
"... A statement from Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said the residents would be moved to Camp Liberty, a former US military base near the Baghdad international airport. At Camp Liberty, the UN's refugee agency will interview the residents to determine their eligibility to get refugee status, before they can eventually be resettled in third countries, Clinton said....The People's Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran first moved to Camp Ashraf during the rule of Saddam, who saw the group as a convenient ally against Iran. The group is committed to the overthrow of Iran's rulers. The group carried out a series of bombings and assassinations against the Islamic republic in the 1980s and fought alongside Saddam's forces in the Iran-Iraq war....Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, "believes that the agreement lays the foundation for a peaceful and durable solution to the situation, respecting both the sovereignty of Iraq and its international humanitarian and human rights obligations", according to a statement released by his spokesperson."The secretary-general reminds all concerned that any violence or attempt at a forcible solution would be unacceptable," the statement said.Officials from the US embassy in Baghdad will also visit regularly, the state department said...."
'Friends of Saddam are also my friends!'
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:08 PM
Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman
Salaries of U.S. Jewish Communal Leaders – Forward.com
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:07 PM
"Afghanistan's High Peace Council, in a note to foreign missions, has set out ground rules for engaging the Taliban after Kabul grew concerned that the United States and Qatar, helped by Germany, had secretly agreed with the Taliban to open an office in the Qatari capital, Doha.
U.S. officials have held about half a dozen meetings mostly in Germany and Doha with representatives of Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban's Quetta Shura, this year to prepare the way for face-to-face talks between the group and the Afghan government...The government would prefer such an office in either Saudi Arabia or Turkey, both of which it is close to, but was not averse to Doha as long as the authority of the Afghan state was not eroded and the office was only established for talks, officials said."We are saying Saudi or Turkey are preferable, we are not saying it has to be there only. The only condition is it should be in an Islamic country," said a government official.President Hamid Karzai's administration recalled its ambassador from Doha last week, apparently angry that it had been kept in the dark about the latest round of contacts with the insurgent group.Officials said Kabul was also deeply concerned about reports that the United States was considering the transfer of a small number of Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay military prison to Doha as a prelude to the talks."We are a sovereign country, we have laws. How can you transfer our prisoners from one country to another. Already it's a violation to have them in Guantanamo Bay," the official said.The Afghan government wanted the prisoners to be returned to its custody, the official said...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:40 PM
The Guardian: "Assad is right when he says the state is entitled to use force against armed rebels, but wrong to portray all opposition as "terrorist"
"... In one sense Assad is fortunate. The opposition is multifaceted and divided. It includes eminent figures with secular and moderate views who want to protect Syria's complex multicultural society from a takeover by extremist Sunni or Salafi forces. Men like Michel Kilo stand out. He spent three years in prison recently for calling for reform, but since the uprising started continues to warn publicly against sectarianism and armed revolt.The best step for Assad would be to talk with Kilo and others from the internal opposition and the "local co-ordinating committees" who reject violence. As a dramatic sign of change for the vast number of Syrians who support neither the regime nor the uprising, the opposition should be given access to state television for public debates on how to find a peaceful transition to a system of pluralistic democracy. Assad should promptly repeal article 8 of the constitution, which gives his Ba'ath party the "leading role in society and state", publish the draft new constitution that independent consultants have been preparing, and allow political parties to operate freely.Whether Assad can summon the determination to push for real reform in place of the dither and denial that have characterised his response to the protests so far is unclear. He is right when he says the state is entitled to use force against armed rebels, but wrong to portray all opposition to his regime as "terrorist".It is also uncertain whether the US, Turkey and other states who have called on Assad to resign can change course now. The Arab League's plan imposes obligations on the opposition too. Rather than taking sides with the exiles, the west should support the call for dialogue before it becomes too late...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:29 PM
Monday, December 26, 2011
"... A member of the Arab League mission and before heading to Damascus, met Syrian 'opposition' figures in Egypt and agreed in order to "tighten the noose"the opposition needed to identify the name, number & locations of the Syrian Army's battalions and "we will take your word at face value & report it!"
The oppositionist then asks, "we need a 'war room' type..." to which the 'monitor/ conspirator' answers, "the 'war room' already exists!"Finally, the oppositionist says, "don't waste your time with detention centers ... just document the military deployments and we will give you mass demonstrations!"
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:31 PM
Sunday, December 25, 2011
The LATimes on a roll (bankroll that is!): 'Saudi women' promising victory: can now buy lingerie in stores from female salesclerks!'
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:54 PM
"... Thousands of Iranian prisoners serving jail sentences mainly on drugs and riot charges have been released by the Syrian authorities and returned home, said a source that spoke to Al Arabiya on condition of anonymity....According to the source, this unexpected step aims at emptying Syrian prisons that are now ready to receive as many revolutionaries and political activists as possible...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:45 PM
Saturday, December 24, 2011
"... One article about Kafranbel on a Syrian-Kurdish website is entitled, "Kafranabel: the Syrian city most famous for its sarcastic signs." The article states, "Kafranabel...has become famous for its signs that have been circulating among Syrians on the pages of the social network Facebook, through which they express with a sarcastic style the misery that the Syrians suffer and the daily killings that they face."
Another article about Kafranabel by Rami Al-Amin described how "this little town...was able to send to the entire world messages that combine humor with severity, a kind of black comedy that the sons of this region use to tell us, 'The worst affliction is what makes you laugh.'"..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:53 PM
"... Riyadh is, by and large, driven by humanitarian rather than political considerations. Never had Riyadh exploited the poverty of other countries to find satellite states.
On the other hand, Tehran presents a different model. It is driven by its national interest. Interestingly, tension in the region help Tehran establishes proxy relationship with others....
Iran has dedicated resources for ambitions and dreams that cannot materialize.... Saudi Arabia needs to support neither political parties nor radical terrorist organizations. As Saudi Arabia never suffered from a historical complex, it does not live in the illusion of power..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:45 PM
"...Like Hezbollah, the Sadrist Trend is becoming a well-organized, entrenched part of the Iraqi polity. With the Iraqi government unable to provide adequate security and services, al-Sadr has stepped in with action and rhetoric that resonate with the Shia masses. He is following the same playbook that Hezbollah used to gain strength in Lebanon.
Yet Iraq may not go down the Lebanese path. Unlike Hezbollah, the Sadrist Trend lacks a reliable external patron in Iran. Rising tensions between Moktada al-Sadr and Tehran, together with escalating intra-Shia violence in Iraq, reveal that the group does not always share Iran’s agenda. This creates an opportunity for the United States to capitalize on the intra-Shia cleavages and counterbalance Iran’s destabilizing interference in Iraq. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:59 AM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:50 AM
Friday, December 23, 2011
"...The United States and Europe imposed their own sanctions on Syria, but Russia and China in October vetoed a Security Council resolution that would have only condemned Syria’s crackdown. Last week, Russia surprised the Council by proposing a new resolution calling on both sides to halt the violence, with no sanctions. It is clearly an effort to shield its ally from tougher penalties.The Arab League must speak out forcefully against his abuses, make clear it won’t permit him to manipulate the monitoring mission and ensure that sanctions that have imposed are carried out."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:00 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:56 PM
"...State TV said suspected al-Qaeda militants had targeted two security service bases in the Kafr Sousa area. But the opposition said the attacks - which came a day after Arab League observers arrived - were staged by the government to justify its crackdown. ..."and in Baghdad,
"... At least 65 people were killed and at least 196 were wounded in 20 explosions just days after the final U.S. troops withdrew, police said. The attacks targeted civilians across all walks of life. One took place at a market. Another, at a school as children were arriving. A third was at a coffee shop.The attacks were a painful reminder of Iraq's most violent years.
The seemingly coordinated explosions Thursday struck during the height of morning rush hour, hitting a number of Baghdad's primarily mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods. Nine car bombs, six roadside bombs and a mortar round all went off in a two-hour period, targeting residential, commercial and government districts in the Iraqi capital, two police officials told CNN...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:53 PM
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:09 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:06 PM
"... (Reuters) - Pakistan's powerful army is fed up with unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari and wants him out of office, but through legal means and without a repeat of the coups that are a hallmark of the country's 64 years of independence, military sources said.Tensions are rising between Pakistan's civilian leaders and its generals over a memo that accused the army of plotting a coup after the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May.
"Who isn't fed up with Zardari? It's not just the opposition and the man on the street but people within the government too," said one military source who asked not to be named.
"But there has to be a proper way. No action is being planned by the army. Even if we tried, it would be very unpopular and not just with the government and the opposition but most Pakistanis too."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:40 AM
Knowledgeable reader 'Anon' writes:
Knowledgeable reader 'Anon' writes:
"Drawing on my lebanese civil war "sense" I enhanced this photo and removed the shadows in order to get a better look at the people behiend the banner, here is what I came up with: None of the people in the photo seem to be older then 40 years of age .
12 out of the 12 people in the photo who's heads are not coverd seem to have a 4 to 6 weeks worth of hair on their heads indicating that they have not been to town for a while.
16 out of 16 pairs of feet showing bellow the banner are wearing tennis shose, in a syrian village in winter, what are the odds.
4 people standing immediatly behined the banner are wearing the exact model tennis shose indicating that they didn't bring their own "training" shose and a standerd teniss shose was issued for them.
These guys are in a paramilitary training camp."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:30 AM
Youth Against Normalization: #BDS: #Lacoste: NO ROOM FOR PALESTINIAN ARTISTS: "The prestigious €25,000 Lacoste Elysée Prize is awarded by the Swiss Musée de l’Elysée with sponsorship from Lacoste, the clothing brand. ...
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:26 AM
"The National Assembly in Paris voted by a show of hands to back the bill making it illegal to deny the mass killing of Armenians was genocide by a large majority, ... Turkey rejects the term "genocide" to describe the killing of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe publicly opposed the bill.Under the bill, those publicly denying genocide would face a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros (£29,000: $58,000).Armenians say up to 1.5m people were killed by the Ottoman Turks in 1915-16.Ankara says closer to 300,000 people died...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:22 AM
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The governments of China, India, Russia, Brazil, most of South America, most of Africa & Iran!
"... We urge Syria’s few remaining supporters in the international community to warn Damascus that if the Arab League initiative is once again not fully implemented, the international community will take additional steps to pressure the Assad regime to stop its crackdown. Bashar al-Assad should have no doubt that the world is watching, and neither the international community nor the Syrian people accept his legitimacy...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:27 PM
"... The Ottomanists felt some Sunni fraternal ties to the Ba’athists who themselves were not especially religious. First off, they would have wanted to keep the Shia from ruling. The Turks lost that wager. They also hoped that the Kurds could be prevented from having something like a state, which is precisely what they have now: yes, something very much like a state. So the Ankara-Baghdad connection was already very much frayed when Americans began to leave
.The Sunni-Shia break became ever more serious. Bloody it already always was. Iraq is, for all intents and purposes, now a Shia state, which connotes an anti-Sunni state. This means that it needs to resist the Sunni typhoon now gathering in Iraq . It’s also why Syria Iraqhas been in dissent from the Arab League moves against the Assad onslaught in Sunni areas of . Perhaps the most devastating and intrinsic evidence of how deeply Shia the rulers in Baghdad are is the fact that on the very morrow of the U.S. departure for Kuwait, Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki had Sunni Vice President Tariq Al Hashimi arrested and charged with all kinds of crimes, including murder. By the way, Syria left most of its military hardware in the country. This belongs, we are told, to America . A comprehensive report of all these happenings is to be found in the Christian Science Monitor. My wager: The reports will get worse. Iraq
The reports from what is now Arab Winter are desolating. (I know the analogy of the seasons is a cliché by now.) In any case, the news is not only chilling but searing hot. If even the Arab League admits that there are already 5,000 dead in
there likely are many more. The opposition announced late Monday that at least 114 in its ranks had been killed during the day, including 80 army defectors. Syria Syriais less lucky than because it is a French imperial paste job of sects, ethnicities, and tribes. If the House of Assad falls that does not necessarily mean the Alawite pyramid collapses. And, if it does, nothing like civilized rule will replace it. You believe otherwise? Just wait. Egypt
If you were compelled to make a choice in
, who would you anoint? Of course, we won’t be anointing anyone. The Egyptians will … and maybe more by gang warfare than by suffrage. Many of us were thrilled when, in the early weeks of the rising, respectful and respected folk committed acts of bravery, of decency, of ethical clarity. It turns out that these men and women, mostly but not all young and youngish, were less in number than they seemed. It is now the military, a somewhat reformed military, versus the religious ultras that are fighting for the rule and the soul of Egypt . The Obama administration has not given so much as a hint as to whom they favor. Early in the process, they were for Mubarak. Hillary declared him and his wife “friends of my family.”Then the administration switched. I suspect—but I certainly don’t really know—that the president himself would tilt towards the orthodox Muslims, the fanatics. And he probably believes that, if only Egypt Israelwould stop building housing in , the fanatics would stop being fanatics." (There, in the last sentence, Peretz finally puked his Zionism!) Jerusalem
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:32 AM
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
...and doing away with its 'raison d'etre'?
Commentary: A New Hamas in the Making? | The National Interest
Commentary: A New Hamas in the Making? | The National Interest
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:02 PM
STRATFOR: "Most of the Syrian opposition's claims have turned out to be grossly exaggerated or untrue"
"...This is important for two reasons. Firstly, it may be the first time a mainstream US-based intelligence-gathering firm openly questions the existing narrative on Syria. Secondly, Stratfor's findings begs the question: what are we basing our policy initiatives on if our underlying assumptions are inaccurate?
How unstable is Syria, really? How widespread is opposition to the regime of Bashar al-Assad? The death-toll that has us riveted with disgust - today, the highest daily death rate yet - how accurate are those numbers? Who do they include and are they verifiable? Are local activists even capable of distinguishing between a dead pro-regime civilian and a dead anti-regime civilian - especially now that both sides are armed and firing?..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:40 AM
Saturday, December 17, 2011
(Satire, of course!) ... "I mean, is this what we compromised & submitted to? You preparing yourself for another exile' and me getting drunk on Twitter? What is happening to the Americans? they keep sending us this Feltman while they reach out to Bashar. And what is it with this new position vis a vis the brave Colonel Ass'ad? Yesterday we all agreed that he commanded the loyalty & respect of tens of thousands; Now suddenly he barely has 1000 deserters? They even say that all the spectacular attacks he mounted on Bashar's forces are not confirmable? What is going on? No, and the best our two best hope for toppling Bashar are threatening each other now? Sarko wants the Armenian votes so he is allowing the 'Genocide' legislation pass & the Turks are threatening him? I know ...I know all about Turkish threats, but still Eyad, still. No and the best part is the 'fearless' (hah) Qatari! Now that he is sensing the end to his Coppertone show, he wants to dump it on the UNSC? to Vladimir & Hu? We're f---ed Eyad! Big time!'
"... The Iraqiya bloc, led by ex-premier Iyad Allawi, walked out of parliament in protest at what it charged was Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's monopolising of decision-making.
The boycott comes just a day after US forces handed over control of their last remaining base, with virtually all remaining American troops due out of the country in the coming days.... The bloc, which controls nine ministerial posts, has not, however, pulled out of Iraq's national unity government."We can no longer remain silent ..."The bloc accused Maliki's government of "placing tanks and armoured cars in front of the homes of Iraqiya leaders in the Green Zone," the heavily-fortified home to leading politicians and ministers ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:12 PM
"...The real story behind the U.S. withdrawal is how a clever strategy of deception and diplomacy adopted by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in cooperation with Iran outmanoeuvered Bush and the U.S. military leadership and got the United States to sign the U.S.-Iraq withdrawal agreement.
A central element of the Maliki-Iran strategy was the common interest that Maliki, Iran and anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr shared in ending the U.S. occupation, despite their differences over other issues... ... (good read on the details)
'The caricature that could've made sense!'Publicly, the Maliki government continued to assure the Bush administration it could count on a long-term military presence....
But Maliki had a surprise in store for Washington.
A series of dramatic moves by Maliki and Iran over the next few months showed that there had been an explicit understanding between the two governments to prevent the U.S. military from launching major operations against the Mahdi Army and to reach an agreement with Sadr on ending the Mahdi Army's role in return for assurances that Maliki would demand the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces.
In mid-March 2007, Maliki ignored pressure from a personal visit by Cheney to cooperate in taking down the Mahdi Army and instead abruptly vetoed U.S. military plans for a major operation against the Mahdi Army in Basra. Maliki ordered an Iraqi army assault on the dug-in Sadrist forces.
Predictably, the operation ran into trouble, and within days, Iraqi officials had asked General Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard, to intervene and negotiate a ceasefire with Sadr, who agreed, although his troops were far from defeated.
A few weeks later, Maliki again prevented the United States from launching its biggest campaign yet against the Mahdi Army in Sadr City. And again, Suleimani was brought in to work out a deal with Sadr allowing government troops to patrol in the former Mahdi Army stronghold.
There was subtext to Suleimani's interventions. Just as Suleimani was negotiating the Basra ceasefire with Sadr, a website associated with former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezai said Iran opposed actions by "hard-line clans" that "only weaken the government and people of Iraq and give a pretext to its occupiers"....
In July, he revealed that his government was demanding the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops on a timetable... The ambitious plans of the U.S. military to use Iraq to dominate the Middle East militarily and politically had been foiled by the very regime the United States had installed, and the officials behind the U.S. scheme, had been clueless about what was happening until it was too late."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:34 PM
"... This may bolster the SNC’s standing with Mr Assad’s enemies abroad, especially those in the United States who see in Syria’s conflict a chance to isolate Iran and tilt the regional balance of power against it. But Mr Ghalioun’s comments did not go down well with some colleagues, who think he jumped the diplomatic gun. Nor did some rude remarks he made about the Kurds, an important minority in Syria. Ghalioun has yet to win the avuncular mediating status of his Libyan counterpart, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, now the interim president...Barely two months old, the SNC is still fragile. Many of its members, both in exile and within Syria, grumble that policies are often conjured up on the spur of the moment and are sometimes naive. Views differ within the SNC on whether to seek foreign intervention. And some SNC members think Islamists are over-represented. The enthusiasm of Turkey’s Islamist government for the SNC may account for the Islamists’ disproportionate presence in it.The Free Syrian Army is also causing problems for the SNC. It is probably smaller and less united than its leader, Colonel Riad Asaad, says ... But the SNC is trying to keep the uprising peaceful and wants to bring the Free Syrian Army under tighter political control. Representatives of the council and the army recently met in Turkey and agreed to co-ordinate, with the soldiers promising to scale back their attacks. But a few days later defectors killed seven pro-government soldiers at a checkpoint in the north-western province of Idleb.The defectors think the SNC too timid. Borderlands close to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon are becoming more violent; some opposition people want outsiders to create buffer zones and humanitarian corridors...Wary Western diplomats describe the SNC, whether or not it can contain the Free Syrian Army, as “the best we have”, though it is far from achieving the recognition given to the National Transitional Council in Libya..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:29 AM
Both President Obama and Secretary of Defense Panetta attended ceremonies this week to mark the withdrawal of the last US combat forces from Iraq and thus the end of a nearly decade-long war. Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki was in attendance. The rest of the United States barely noticed. The Congress was absorbed with internal wrangling over last-minute budgetary fixes and popular opinion has long lost interest in the war. For Obama, however, ending the war represents the eventual fulfillment of a campaign pledge which, his advisers believe, will stand him in good stead in forthcoming foreign policy debates with Republican challengers. While some conservative commentators criticize the Administration for failing to maintain a larger residual force in Iraq, this does not enjoy any resonance with wider political opinion. Here, the attitude is one of ‘moving on’. A similar psychology is in active play with regard to Afghanistan. Even though most expert opinion holds deep concerns about the viability of a pro-western government following the coalition’s withdrawal in two years, there is little appetite for extended engagement in the country as a whole. A Republican president, were one elected in 2012, would have to pay heed to this fact, even if his campaign rhetoric suggested a more robust policy of delaying the departure of US troops. Of more immediate concern is the rising role of the Egyptian military in confronting democratic change. There are few friends of the Muslim Brotherhood in Washington. Nonetheless, there is growing alarm that heavy-handedness by the army may play into the hands of extremists. US officials recognize that their influence in Egypt is limited, but they are seeking to moderate the actions of the Egyptian military leadership. With the situation in Syria continuing to drift, as US analysts see it, toward civil war, the exhilaration over the “Arab Spring” with which the year begun has turned to profound trepidation that the region may be on the brink of new instability. The intelligence community is keeping a watchful eye on Iranian activities. As before, however, we see no evidence that the Administration is minded to confront Tehran militarily.
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:12 AM