"French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday that a preventive strike on Iran could lead to a crisis in the region and called on world powers to toughen their sanctions on Tehran instead.
"Iran's military, nuclear and ballistic [missile] ambitions pose a growing threat that could lead to a preventive strike on Iranian facilities and provoke a serious crisis, which France wants to avoid by all means," Sarkozy told French diplomats at an annual ambassador conference.,,,
"The international community can respond effectively [to Iranian nuclear threat] if it demonstrates unity, resoluteness and imposes even tougher sanctions," the French president said..."
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:15 PM
Do they really pay these 'scholars' for such depth?
"... it goes without saying that a more influential and assertive Riyadh helps Washington achieve its overall foreign policy goals in the region, most urgent of which is checking Iran’s power and preventing it from becoming a nuclear power state.
So what is this new Saudi opportunity all about? It starts in Syria...
... turning a blind eye to Syria’s mischief and connection to Iran is now all over.
Abdullah’s recent statement suggests that Saudi Arabia is no longer viewing its relations with Syria in the same light. The House of Saud has finally decided instead to take advantage of the vulnerability of the Syrian regime and grab the great opportunities presented by the crisis it is facing:
First, with Assad potentially gone (or with his role transformed), Saudi Arabia could find a “natural” ally in a new, Sunni-dominated government in Damascus, and consequently extend its influence in the Levant. Equally, if not more, important, with a new Syrian political order that is friendly to the Saudis, Iran will lose a gigantic gateway to the Arab world and therefore find it much harder to fulfill its goals in the Middle East. This will allow the kingdom’s Lebanese allies to breathe again.
Second, Saudi Arabia could assume an undisputed leadership role in the Arab world and the region, now that Syria is facing an existential crisis, Egypt is in what could be a lengthy transitional stage in its politics, and Iraq's politics are dangerously paralyzing and unstable...
But the kingdom knows very well that if the Syrian regime falls, there will be inherent risks during the transition, all of which will require prudent but also forward-looking Saudi statesmanship and crisis management. On the security front, things could (but not necessarily) turn ugly if Assad goes, with sectarian fighting inside Syria spilling over to Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.
At home, the Saudi leadership cannot pressure the Syrian regime too much because it knows that it is in an awkward, hypocritical position (the kingdom is second to none when it comes to denial of political rights and freedoms, especially to women, in the Middle East). Its vocal opposition could awaken a so-far relatively dormant Saudi population, especially its Shiite part in the Eastern province.
Because of the risks and uncertainties of the Syrian crisis, Saudi Arabia is aware that it has to engage in a very delicate balancing act. Too much pressure could backfire. Too little could see the opportunity for greater regional leadership and containment of Iranian influence slip away. In its place, Turkey could step in as a major power broker and manage Syria’s political future.
The current upheaval in Syria and shifting sands in the greater Middle East is one of the most challenging foreign policy tasks that Saudi Arabia has had to deal with since its creation in 1932 – and it’s one whose completion is of great concern to the US as well. If it succeeds in setting itself up for leadership in Syria, the kingdom could become a revived, major player on the regional scene, and Washington could rejoice .... If Saudi Arabia fails in this balancing act, it risks becoming far less relevant and falling well behind nations such as up-and-coming Egypt and rising Turkey. And then Tehran would rejoice."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:29 PM
"... Divided, all too often over issues of personality and ego, members of the exiled opposition in particular have projected the image of an "alternative" all too reminiscent of Iraq. Many have taken initiatives - campaigning as leaders-to-be, convening conferences hosted by partisan states, meeting with U.S. officials, suggesting a future radical shift in foreign policy - that damage their legitimacy on the ground and prompt protesters to reject them rather than agree on a division of labor.In some cases, lack of grassroots support has pushed opposition figures to compensate by overinvesting in their reputation and recognition abroad. This trend, off-putting to most Syrians, ought not be encouraged...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:41 PM
Striking that some Arabs & Palestinians still shoot down ideas of arming the Palestinians!
"The Israeli army has said it is training Jewish settlers in the West Bank to repel violent protest...
Settler officials denied a newspaper report that suggested settlers would be equipped with tear gas.
Haaretz said the military had been training settlement security chiefs and their teams and giving them tear gas and stun grenades. In a written statement, the Israeli army said it was "devoting great efforts to training local forces and preparing them to deal with any possible scenario"...
According to Reuters, scenarios include protesters reaching the gates of settlements and possible confrontations...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:33 PM
"...the United States took the unusual step Tuesday of issuing sanctions against Syria's top diplomat, Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem.
The announcement came as the brother of a prominent Washington, D.C.-based Syrian opposition activist and scholar, Radwan Ziadeh, was arrested by the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and a day after a video appeared on YouTube showing Robert Ford, the American ambassador to Syria, being manhandled ...
The Treasury Department announced Tuesday that it is sanctioning the Damascus regime's foreign minister, as well as Syria's ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim Ali, and Assad's presidential and media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:21 AM
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
"... Syria's geography -- much trumpeted by the regime as a strategic asset -- was its greatest liability, as various states took advantage of the country's insecurity and sponsored numerous coups. If history repeats itself and regional political jockeying turns toward potential military action, Syrian protestors will likely expand their calls for U.S. intervention as well, especially given NATO's defeat of Libya's Muammar Qadhafi. Although the Obama administration has repeatedly stated that such action in Syria remains "off the table," Washington could soon find itself drawn into an emerging regional battleground where military intervention with allies at the right moment might be key..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:34 AM
Burhan Ghaliyoun (and others): 'The 'Transitional Council' did not even consult with us before announcing our membership!'
(Source- AKI/ Italia) The same is said of Michel Kilo', Hussein al Awdat', Aref Dalila', Ali Abdallah'... and others said that they were not called not consulted by said 'council', that they have nothing against it but that they did not wish to join it at this time!
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:14 AM
Monday, August 29, 2011
'If you're not going to bomb Iran, at least, bomb the region's "most formidable army"!' (a few months ago it was a 'rag tag' army!)
The WaPo & Fred Hyatt are all for it! Notice that in every single mention of the Syrian army, the WaPo used to call it as 'archaic, ...poorly equipped, ...' Suddenly, it became one of the region's "formidable military machines"!
"... Protesters in recent days have carried banners calling for a no-fly zone over Syria akin to the one that facilitated the Libyan revolt. “We want any [intervention]” said one banner held by protesters in the beleaguered town of Homs.
Activists who have recently visited Homs say protesters there also have begun carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles to defend against government attacks. Videos have appeared on Facebook pages teaching activists how to make molotov cocktails.
Yet although President Obama called this month for Assad to step down, world powers, including the United States, have shown little appetite for any form of entanglement in Syria.
Unlike the Libyan rebels, who through force of arms swiftly seized control of the eastern portion of their country and were rewarded with a NATO-enforced no-fly zone, the Syrian protesters control no territory for a foreign military force to protect. There is also no clearly identifiable group that can claim to represent the leaderless, disorganized and divided opposition...
A major push over the weekend to stage mass rallies in central Damascus foundered in the face of an overwhelming security presence, further dampening the mood. At least five people were killed when security forces opened fire on demonstrators attempting to gather.
It is not only the tank assaults and bombardments that are grinding down the spirit of the opposition. The security forces have grown more adept at preventing demonstrations from the outset, surrounding mosques at prayer times to stop protesters from gathering...But there is also widespread recognition that attempting to counter one of the region’s most formidable military machines with force would be futile. Kalashnikovs are readily available on the black market in a region awash with guns, and many Syrians keep one in their homes. But acquiring the kind of heavy weaponry that would be needed..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:08 PM
"To Nouri al-Maliki, your brutal & deadly assault on Camp Ashraf will land you in the International Criminal Court ..."
The ICC is becoming THE preferred pressure-destination.
"... "One of the greatest moments was when my uncle, President [John F.] Kennedy, stood in Berlin and uttered the immortal words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner,'" Kennedy exclaimed. "Today, I'm honored to repeat my uncle's words, by saying [translated from Farsi] ‘I am an Iranian,' ‘I am an Ashrafi."The crowd erupted in cheers and applause and began chanting, "MEK yes, mullahs no! They are terrorists, they must go!"
Kennedy advocated taking the MEK off the terrorist list, which it has been on since 1997, and accused the Iraqi government of committing war crimes by killing innocent members of the MEK at Camp Ashraf. 3,400 MEK members live in the desert camp in Iraq under restrictive conditions.
"To my friends in the State Department behind us, who continue to hold fast to an old policy that is supported by Tehran, you are on the wrong side of history," Kennedy shouted. "To [Iraqi Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki, your brutal and deadly assault on Camp Ashraf will land you in the International Criminal Court, where you will be held accountable."
"I love you," Kennedy told the crowd. "If you take the MEK off the list, you will unshackle a group that will help take out the mullahs in Iran."..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:01 AM
With major part of 'armed challenge' over, regional players assess how far they pushed the 'Syria regime change' card
... and most importantly, how effective they were!
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:48 AM
Sunday, August 28, 2011
"... Rubinstein reportedly made those threats during a meeting with Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator, according to a statement issued by Erekat's office....
But a US State Department spokesman said in an e-mail that Erekat's statement "is not an accurate portrayal of the US position," and denied that Rubinstein made those comments...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:35 PM
"Had the Syrian opposition been more patriotic than the regime, we wouldn't hear the voice of the Americans as we do now!"
"... But there are others who support the Assad regime for legitimate reasons. These Syrians, predominantly minorities, have profound concerns that must be duly addressed. And so far, the Syrian opposition has failed to reassure those sitting on the fence.
"It hurts every time I say that I don't want the [Assad] regime to fall," a Syrian Christian friend told me recently. "Deep down I know it should go, but survival instinct tells me to support it."
Although the opposition has little political and diplomatic experience after decades of suppression, it is fair to say that it bears some of the blame for the continued bloodshed.
Many of the dissidents are widely perceived as seeking personal political gains.
On Monday, a number of dissidents announced a "national council" in Istanbul. But the council was unilaterally announced and did not include any credible dissidents, such as Haitham Al Maleh, a former judge who has a track record of dissidence from within Syria and has spent many years of his life in the Al Assads' prisons. Unilateral, irresponsible acts by self-styled opposition members - people who command no credibility from the majority of Syrians - only reinforce the regime's propaganda.
"Who is the alternative now?" said another Christian friend from Damascus. "And why do the US and the West support the opposition? Believe me, had the opposition been more patriotic than the regime, we wouldn't have heard the voice of the Americans as we do now."
Syrians' fears are further reinforced by the fact that most of the opposition conferences were organised by the Muslim Brotherhood, the only non-state actor in recent history to slaughter other Syrians along sectarian lines..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:19 PM
"...The turn of events in Syria is particularly important, because Sunnis elsewhere see the Alawite government as the linchpin in the Shiite alliance of Iran and Hezbollah. The Alawite-Sunni clash there could quickly draw in both of the major players in the region and ignite a broader regional sectarian conflict among their local allies, from Lebanon to Iraq to the Persian Gulf and beyond.
The specter of protracted bloody clashes, assassinations and bombings, sectarian cleansing and refugee crises from Beirut to Manama, causing instability and feeding regional rivalry, could put an end to the hopeful Arab Spring. Radical voices on both sides would gain. In Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, it is already happening.
NONE of this will benefit democracy or American interests. But seeking to defuse sectarian tensions wherever they occur would help ensure regional stability. Even if Washington has little leverage and influence in Syria, we should nevertheless work closely with our allies who do. Turkey, which is a powerful neighbor, could still pressure the Assad government not to inflame sectarian tensions. And both Turkey and Saudi Arabia could use their influence to discourage the opposition from responding to President Assad’s provocations.
Beyond Syria, the two countries most at risk are Bahrain and Lebanon, and here we can have an impact. The United States should urge Bahrain’s monarchy to end its crackdown, start talking seriously with the opposition, and agree to meaningful power sharing. Washington has strong military ties with Bahrain and should use this leverage to argue for a peaceful resolution there.
In Lebanon, we should not encourage a sectarian showdown; instead we should support a solution to that country’s impasse that would include redistribution of power among Shiites, Sunnis and Christians. Lebanon last had a census in 1932, and its power structure has since favored Sunnis and Christians based on that count. Meaningful power-sharing in Beirut is as important to peace and stability in Lebanon as disarming Hezbollah. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:07 PM
"... How many will it be today? Clearly we have reached a point where anything would be too little too late. We have lost our confidence,” Gül said in an interview with the Anatolia news agency which was wired on Sunday...Gül sent a letter to Assad via Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, ... “I would not want to see you in a position where you look back and regret what you did as late and insufficient,” Gül had said in his letter.Davutoğlu recently said the Turkish government has not been in contact with the Syrian regime after Assad failed to honor his promise to stop all military operations ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:15 PM
The successful advance of anti-Gaddafi forces into Libya has brought foreign affairs back into focus – albeit temporarily forced from the headlines by Hurricane Irene. Within the Administration, President Obama has welcomed developments as a vindication of his decision to involve the US in action in Libya, but to allow NATO to take the lead. Secretary of State Clinton has expressed the hope that the successful Western intervention against Gaddafi will send a signal to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad that he too needs to leave the scene. White House officials tell us that Obama intends to maintain this balanced approach. He will also seek to strengthen international pressure against Syria, where officials are encouraged by the emerging criticism from Saudi Arabia. Initial efforts are focused on releasing blocked funds to the Transitional National Council. Whether Obama gains political credit for this operation remains doubtful. His forthcoming September 6th speech on the economy is attracting much more anticipation than future moves in Libya. His Republican challengers will seek to keep public attention firmly focused on the economy where recent statistics continue to point to a weak recovery. Of greater long-term significance is the release of the Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military capabilities. While defense analysts have deliberately sought not to use alarmist language, Chinese capabilities in anti-ship technology are causing increasing concerns. Should these continue to advance, the US naval presence in the form of aircraft carrier battle groups could be called into question. Conscious of these rising doubts about the US commitment to Asia, Vice-President Biden has forcefully sought to allay these concerns during his extended Asia trip. From our conversations with Pentagon officials, we see no sign of diminished US interest in the Pacific. In this context, the Administration is quietly encouraged by signs from North Korea that it is willing to return to the Six Party Talks. Early fears that Pyongyang might launch some destabilizing action on the Korean Peninsular over the summer are subsiding. Elsewhere, there has been a resurgence of focus in conservative foreign policy circles on Iran's nuclear program. Despite this, we see little sign that the Administration is changing its approach of containing Iran rather than contemplating military action.
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:19 AM
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:10 AM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:49 AM
Bush had his crusade in Iraq and now Sarkozy gets his in Libya... paving the way to a return to Saladdin's graveside in Damascus!
"... le ministre de l'intérieur a déclaré, lundi 21 mars, sur Le Figaro.fr : "Le monde entier s'apprêtait à contempler à la télévision des massacres commis par le colonel Kadhafi, heureusement, le président a pris la tête de la croisade pour mobiliser le Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies et puis la Ligue arabe et l'Union africaine"..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:27 AM
"... "This is a situation where continued activity by the Security Council might be helpful, if it is pushing the parties in the right direction," Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.
Russia's draft resolution calls on the Syrian government to "expedite the implementation of the announced reforms in order to effectively address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of Syria's people."
The Russian draft calls for an immediate end to all violence, stresses that the only solution to the current crisis is "an inclusive and Syrian-led political process," and urges the opposition to engage in political dialogue with the government.
Churkin circulated the proposal Friday, two days after strongly hinting that Russia would veto a U.S. and European-backed resolution calling for an arms embargo on Syria and the freezing of assets against Assad and key supporters of his regime..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:45 AM
Friday, August 26, 2011
This reminds me of certain rogue elements at the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington.
"The principle that there will be some military presence to help train Iraqi military and police has been largely agreed upon," Iraqi Ambassador Samir Sumaida'ie said in an exclusive interview with The Cable. "You'll see it when you see it. Americans want everything now or yesterday. We don't do it like this. We do it in our own sweet time."
We also asked Sumaida'ie for his take on the Arab Spring, especially the protests raging in Syria, Iraq's neighbor. He said the downfall of the Assad regime is both inevitable and a good thing for the region.
"The Assad regime is steadily losing its friends, its credibility and its grip. It only has Iran behind it, along with a shy neutrality from Russian and China. Other than that, it has lost," he said. "The coming change in Syria will alter the balance of power in the region and will eventually weaken Iran and reduce its capacity to project its power through Hezbollah, Hamas, and other instruments. And it will release Lebanon from the overbearing dominance of Syria."
His comments seemed to contradict the pro-Assad comments made by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki,..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:16 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:01 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:01 AM
Thursday, August 25, 2011
"Russia and China snubbed U.N. Security Council talks on Saturday convened to discuss a draft resolution that would condemn Syria's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, U.N. diplomats said.
"Russia and China didn't think it necessary to show up," a council diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "It's a pretty clear message," another diplomat said... Diplomats said the latest meeting produced no changes among the 13 Security Council members that attended. Currently, nine members, including the draft's sponsors, Britain, France, Germany and Portugal, plan to vote for it.The United States is not sponsoring the resolution but has made clear it supports the text and condemns the violence against the demonstrators...
Russia and China dislike the idea of any council discussion of Syria and have suggested they might use their veto power to kill the resolution. Lebanon, India, Brazil and South Africa have also said they have problems with the text...
Envoys said the latest draft, submitted to the council on Wednesday by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal, could be put to a vote next week.Western envoys said they were especially frustrated with the positions of Brazil, India and South Africa, which are considering abstaining from the vote."We're trying to explain to them that abstaining on this issue means siding with Russia and China -- and Syria," one diplomat said..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:44 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:41 PM
"...Assad deserves no pity. He has killed tens of thousands even during his tenure. Political prisoners in Syria languish in secret prisons. But the same is true in Obama's American gulags, which span the globe from Guantanamo to Bagram to Diego Garcia to the Californian state prison system, where inmates go insane after years in solitary confinement. Where is Obama's moral standing? Who tells Obama it's his time to scoot?...
What's interesting about the US war of words against Assad is its "here we go again" quality. No matter which side of the Rubik's cube of regime change one examines, the United States repeatedly deploys tactics without strategy - tactics proven counterproductive time after time after time. In a world with one superpower, it's almost as though, in order to guarantee order in the universe, the gods have given the United States one undefeatable enemy: its own incompetence...
So many questions remain unanswered. They all boil down to: What next?
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:57 PM
"...What has received less publicity is the small but vital part played in that offensive by British intelligence officials, who from their seat in the Libyan highlands have been advising the rebel leadership on the strategy behind their final assault...
It is a clandestine operation that got off to a spectacularly inauspicious start in March when seven SAS soldiers and an MI6 officer were detained by militia members outside the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, during a botched mission to make contact with anti-Gaddafi leaders. Since then, the British auxiliary efforts have been conducted more clandestinely.
A British diplomatic source said: "From quite an early stage there has been a view that Gaddafi's stranglehold would only be broken if there were practical measures on the ground as well as the air campaign. We are not talking legions of SAS crawling through the undergrowth. What we are talking about is offering expertise, diplomatic support and allowing others to be helpful."
These small detachments of Caucasian males, equipped with sunglasses, 4x4 vehicles and locally acquired weaponry, do not welcome prying eyes, not least because their presence threatened to give credence to the Gaddafi regime's claims that the rebel assault was being directed by Western fifth-columnists.
Amid frustration and even disdain in British and Allied circles about the ragtag nature of much of the Libyan rebel army – whose reputation as fair-weather fighters proved to be literal in April when two days of rainfall halted their offensive – London has been content for the Benghazi-based National Transitional Council to use funds to buy in ex-SAS men and others with a British military background to help train and advise anti-Gaddafi forces.
The Independent understands that the contracts for the security companies, often signed in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, have involved funds provided by Western countries to the NTC, although much of the money has come from previously frozen regime bank accounts and assets..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:22 AM
"We all should have listened to Dick Cheney. At least, that’s what the former vice president probably wants us to think after revealing in a new memoir that he pushed President George W. Bush to bomb Syria in 2007. In In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir, which will publish next week, Cheney wrote that he wanted military action against a suspected nuclear reactor, but was met with no support. The former vice president has said his memoir will have “heads exploding” all over Washington, D.C. Cheney made his comments in a Dateline interview, scheduled to air on Aug. 29. The memoir covers the September 11 terrorist attacks and private conversations between Cheney and Bush about whether Saddam Hussein was a threat prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. And one more thing: Cheney says he kept a secret resignation letter in a safe in case of a catastrophic health emergency—because, he said, “there is no mechanism for getting rid of a vice president who can’t function.”
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:57 AM
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Yikes! Did he say 'both sides'?
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:13 PM
"... Of course, Ford could have requested permission to leave Damascus, but instead he chose to tell the Syrian government about his trip only after he returned to the U.S. embassy.
"In this case, he informed the Syrian Foreign Ministry after the visit, and he made clear to them that the reason that he didn't inform them before the visit was because they haven't been approving any visits by anybody, anywhere,"...
"So is he trying to get expelled from the country?" one member of the State Department press corps asked Nuland.
"He is trying to do his job, ... She added that Ford had received the support of State Department leadership in advance of the trip.
Meanwhile, Syrian ambassador to Washington Imad Moustapha has returned to Washington after spending some time back home...
How would the State Department feel if Moustapha just ignored the U.S. government and began hopping around the United States without permission? Nuland said that he would be granted permission if he requested to travel somewhere ...
Ford's expulsion from Damascus would actually solve a tricky problem for the State Department, which is facing a tough confirmation fight for him this fall...Though Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) reversed himself and now supports keeping Ford in place as ambassador, there are still multiple GOP senators who have no intention of letting Ford's nomination get through the Senate. Given these dynamics, Ford's unauthorized visit to Jassem represents a win-win scenario for the State Department. On the one hand, it bolsters the State Department's case that Ford is a crucial link to the Syrian revolution. And if he gets thrown out of Syria, State can avoid a messy confirmation fight they are almost sure to lose...."
'Members of the UNSC, headed by Nawfal son of Maaruf al Dawalibi (worked for the Saudis since the late 1960s, & Khaled al Aqleh, in Riyadh'
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:54 AM
"Libya needs any help it can get from the international community, including from Israel, a spokesman for the opposition to Muammar Gadhafi's regime told Haaretz Tuesday by phone from London.
When asked what sort of assistance Libya required, Ahmad Shabani, the founder of Libya's Democratic Party, said: "We are asking Israel to use its influence in the international community..."
Shabani, 43, is the son of a former minister in the cabinet of Libya's king, who was deposed in 1969... educated in Britain ... The weight he carries in Libya's emerging political fabric is unclear. But in recent months Shabani has appeared in the Western media as a spokesman for the opposition.
When Shabani was asked whether a democratically elected government in Libya would recognize Israel, he responded: "The question is whether Israel will recognize us."..
According to Israeli intelligence, since the uprising, as part of a huge black market in weapons in Libya, arms have been smuggled from Libya to the Gaza Strip via Egypt. Shabani said the opposition was aware of the smuggling and hoped to end it..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:23 AM
Some, want the International Criminal Court to investigate Syria under Chapter VII: 'Threat to world security & peace'
The US favors using this organization to prosecute others while cites provisions (ASPA act) "prohibiting U.S. co-operation with the Court, and permitting the President to authorize military force to free any U.S. military personnel held by the court ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:04 AM
Who said that these 'great' organizations were politically motivated? God forbid. Never!
"... Unlike Iraq, the misinformation in Libya has sometimes taken on the feel of a comic opera.
When the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi began, he blamed Al Qaeda and youths “fueled by milk and Nescafé spiked with hallucinogenic drugs.” When that did not get enough traction, he said of the rebels: “They feel trigger happy, and they shoot especially when they are stoned on drugs.”
His maladroit spokesmen at one point showed journalists what they said were 36 million doses of confiscated hallucinogens — which proved to be Tramadol, a common painkiller.
Still, the rebels have offered their own far-fetched claims, like mass rapes by loyalist troops issued tablets of Viagra. Although the rebels have not offered credible proof, that claim is nonetheless the basis of an investigation by the International Criminal Court.
And there is the mantra, with racist overtones, that the Qaddafi government is using African mercenaries, which rebels repeat as fact over and over. There have been no confirmed cases of that; supposedly there are many African prisoners of war being held in Benghazi, but conveniently journalists are not allowed to see them. There are, however, African guest workers, poorly paid migrant labor, many of whom, unarmed, have been labeled mercenaries.
Both sides, of course, pronounce victory as a certainty..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:48 AM
"... Calls for regime change will thus help Syria, as Mr Assad defies the west with ease. As elsewhere in the Middle East, defying Washington is a cause of strength and popularity, as Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran show. Every passing day will now be seen as a humiliation for Mr Obama, while the fragmented and shambolic Syrian opposition will be more credibly dubbed “American stooges”, or “Zionist agents”. For a population that is vehemently anti-American and anti-Israel, such labels are powerful and destructive.
The regime has been barbaric in responding to the brave people on the streets, but we must be careful about accepting the narrative that the whole of Syria is demanding change. The largest cities of Aleppo and Damascus remain relatively calm, while opinion in western capitals is led by reports generated via opposition movements, often using social media of questionable reliability. The army has committed many atrocities but hundreds of its members appear to have been killed, too. In the absence of international media, it is debatable whether the protesters are altogether peaceful.
Already, calls for military intervention are being made by Syrian opposition activists in meetings at the White House and US state department. Yet such movements have led us astray before, as when politicians such as Ahmed Chalabi misled the US about realities in Iraq. In truth, Mr Assad's regime is much less likely to fall than that of Muammer Gaddafi: there have been no high-profile political or military defections, while Mr Assad remains relatively popular among senior military commanders, Syrian mosque clerics, the middle-classes and business leaders...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:01 AM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:44 AM
"...While it is clear Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has lost power, it is not certain who has gained it. The anti-regime militiamen that are now streaming into the capital were united by a common enemy, but not much else. The Transitional National Council (TNC) in Benghazi, already recognised by so many foreign states as the legitimate government of Libya, is of dubious legitimacy and authority.
There is another problem in ending the war. It has never been a straight trial of strength between two groups of Libyans because of the decisive role of Nato air strikes. The insurgents themselves admit that without the air war waged on their behalf – with 7,459 air strikes on pro-Gaddafi targets – they would be dead or in flight. The question, therefore, remains open as to how the rebels can peaceably convert their foreign-assisted victory on the battlefield into a stable peace acceptable to all parties in Libya.
In Iraq, the Americans – over-confident after the easy defeat of Saddam Hussein – dissolved the Iraqi army and excluded former members of the Baath party from jobs and power, giving them little choice but to fight. Most Iraqis were glad to see the end of Saddam Hussein, but the struggle to replace him almost destroyed the country.
Will the same thing happen in Libya? ... "
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:36 AM
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
For all of their disagreement over particulars, Western pundits share a nearly unanimous consensus that Syrian President Bashar Assad has bungled his response to the current uprising. The Syrian regime is “digging its own grave,” the International Crisis Group concluded. One prominent analyst went so far as to assert that the president "is losing his marbles." The Obama administration’s recent call for Assad to resign, while long overdue, is largely premised on such boat-without-a-paddle views of the Syrian leader.
In fact, Assad's strategy and tactics have proven astonishingly effective. By any objective measure of political vulnerability, Assad should have been among the first casualties of the Arab Spring. That he’s held on this long is no small achievement.
Assad likely recognizes this (the assumption that he is somehow ignorant of political realities apparent to outside observers is another glaring absurdity of conventional wisdom in the West), but that doesn’t mean the game is over. At this stage, maintaining Alawite solidarity is his primary goal, not subduing the masses. So long as the security apparatus remains loyal, he can be overthrown only through a long and bloody civil war that may prove unpalatable to regional and international governments. Even if the regime collapses, it’s quite possible that Assad and his security barons will regroup in the coastal mountain enclaves of their ancestors (offering physical protection and access to Iranian resupply by sea) and set up a de facto Alawite micro-state. Although the Syrian president’s predicament is unquestionably dire, it’s a good bet he knows what he’s doing."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:38 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:28 PM
"The Turkish army says it has killed up to 100 Kurdish rebels in a week of air and artillery strikes on suspected PKK bases in northern Iraq...
The PKK has confirmed three deaths, while local reports say a family of seven were killed by the bombing....Most of the 132 targets reportedly hit were described by the army as "shelters" but they also included nine anti-aircraft sites and one arms dump.
Kurdish sources often give very different figures and accounts from the Turkish military and it is often impossible to verify such figures independently. Officials in northern Iraq say a family of seven was killed in its car on Sunday. Barham Ahmed Hama Rasheed, mayor of the town of Rania, said those killed included three children and a baby aged three months.
Kardo Mohammed, a member of the Iraqi Kurdish parliament, said the shelling constituted a breach of international conventions and agreements between the two countries.
"The Turkish shelling targeted civilians basically, and the proof is the killing of these seven civilians, including children," he was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.
"We do not believe that the planes cannot differentiate between civilian and military, or a child and a fighter carrying a rifle," the Iraqi Kurdish MP added.
The Turkish military insisted that all targets were repeatedly assessed and only attacked "after it was established with certainty that they were not areas inhabited by civilians"...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:17 PM
"... A group of opposition members have been meeting in neighboring Turkey in recent days, but participants gave conflicting reports about exactly what emerged. Obeida al-Nahhas told The Associated Press that a council had been formed but the details were still being completed; others said there was no council to speak of yet...
The unrest in Syria shows no sign of abating, with both sides of the conflict energized. Protesters pour into the streets every Friday, defying the near-certain barrage of shelling and sniper fire. But the regime is strong as well and in no imminent danger of collapse ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:53 AM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:13 AM
Images of jubilant Libyan revolutionaries are the last we will see of a genuine revolt. What happens next will be more vulgar and less discreet than what goes on in Egypt and Tunisia to coerce the revolutions there.
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:32 AM
"...Israeli newspaper Maariv today reported that Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), intervened at the eleventh hour and withdrew the decision to recall the Egyptian ambassador in Tel Aviv to Egypt...Tantawi ended the crisis in the last moments, reported Maariv correspondent Eli Berdenstein. He also claims Tantawi rebuked Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf by pulling rank and quashing his decision to recall the ambassador.
Maariv reports that the crisis erupted because Sharaf s decision to send the ambassador back to Israel hinged on an Israeli apology over the killing. Essam Sharaf, in a Facebook post, wrote, Egyptian blood is too precious to be shed without reaction..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:05 AM
"We as the Kurdish parties of Syria decided that we don’t want blood spilled between us & the Syrian regime"
Rudaw: What do you make of the Iraqi Kurdistan region’s silence about the events in Syria?
Abdulhakim Bashar: I believe that Syria is a sensitive case and any interference may cause a civil war. So we have to be careful and not do anything until the course of events is clear. We have to see what will happen to this regime and what will replace it. Then we can draw our own plan. The Syrian opposition has so far not recognized the rights of the Kurds and unless they do so we don’t know what the future of Syria will look like.
Rudaw: Is your party -- the Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria -- taking part in the protest?
Abdulhakim Bashar: We as the Kurdish parties of Syria decided that we don’t want blood spilled between us and the Syrian regime. We allowed the youth to take to the streets and ask for democracy and freedom and then we began holding our own conferences and meetings.
Rudaw: Don’t you think the lack of action by the Kurdish parties has created a gap between the parties and the Kurdish youth?
Abdulhakim Bashar: I don’t think so. In a city such as Qamishli where around 400,000 people live, we can bring 50,000 to the street. Two hundred or 300 people on the streets isn’t really a turn out. The Kurdish people are with the Kurdish parties. Around 50 percent of Syria’s Kurds are with our party and we can even mobilize the supporters of the other parties.
Rudaw: Fawzi Shingari, the leader of the Kurdish Accord in Syria, said in an interview with Rudaw that the Kurdish parties can liberate the Syrian Kurdish areas within 24 hours because the Syrian army no longer has a major presence in those areas. Do you think this is possible?
Abdulhakim Bashar: That information isn’t correct. The Syrian army and the Syrian regime’s intelligence apparatus are still in the Kurdish areas and there is heavy weaponry. Even if we manage to liberate the areas, how can we defend our people against a Syrian bombardment afterwards? You can’t take risks with the Kurdish cause. We have fighters and have fought in the past, but today you can’t bet on the lives of your people.
Rudaw: What is the plan of the 11 parties in the Council of Kurdish parties?
Abdulhakim Bashar: We are now preparing for a Kurdish National Congress in Syria. It may occur within 2 weeks. The parties, men and women, young people and intellectuals will take part so that we can draw up our future road map. We as the Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria have three main conditions for the Syrian opposition: To change Syria’s name from the Syrian Arab Republic to the Syrian Republic; to recognize Kurdish rights in writing; and to accept that Syria is not part of the Arab world."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:36 AM
Monday, August 22, 2011
On Syria: 'Reaching a strategic accomodation with the Saudis to "manage intra-Muslim conflicts (aka. Thwart Iran!)"'
"... What went wrong? At the deepest level, the problem was not an overreliance on the Turks. It was, rather, the faulty American assumptions that made Erdogan's zero-problems policy appear attractive in the first place.
At the heart of Obama's grand strategy was a mistaken definition of the strategic challenge. Now that the Arab uprisings have dragged the United States through a crash course on Middle Eastern realities, U.S. policymakers can more easily recognize the deepest drivers of politics in the region -- namely, the vast number of severe conflicts that set Muslims against Muslims. From a practical strategic point of view, there is no such thing as "the Muslim world." Any effort to write a narrative of cooperation with a thing that does not actually exist is bound to encounter severe difficulties.
The United States must therefore dispense entirely with grand strategies that seek to foster a conciliatory image of the United States and to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Instead, it should focus on the key challenge posed by the Arab uprisings: managing intra-Muslim conflict.
This requires returning to the question that Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah first posed to Obama: What is the strategy of the United States toward Iran? At stake in Syria today is nothing less than the future of the Iranian regional security system. It should not escape notice that the Saudis, though hostile to the populist wave in general, have now aligned themselves against Assad. As much as they fear revolution, the Saudis fear the Islamic Republic of Iran even more, and they see the Syrian crisis as an opportunity to deal a severe blow to it. The United States should adopt a similar view.
The contest on the ground in Syria, obviously, has profoundly local causes. Nevertheless, the regional struggle between Iran and its rivals will play a significant role in shaping it. After Assad falls, a proxy war will erupt, with outside powers seeking to cultivate Syrian clients...
Writing a new grand strategy is important, but not urgent. It can always be put off until tomorrow, "when things calm down." In the meantime, the phone is ringing. The world was treated to images of cheering Libyans retaking their capital on Aug. 21; the United States will surely be called upon to play a role in the messy political transition that will follow. The Aug. 18 terrorist attack in Israel has raised the specter of another Gaza war, while also escalating tensions with Egypt. And next month, the question of Palestinian statehood may well be taken up by the United Nations.
These and many other matters will soon fill up the calendar of U.S. officials. But if Washington is not careful, all these urgent issues will push aside consideration of grand strategy, precisely when it is needed most."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:56 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:31 PM
Look at this great journalistic style:
"...The younger Assad should recall how Turkey, frustrated with the terror originating in its southern neighbor, threatened military action against his country in the late 1990s during which he was busy climbing up the military ranks to replace his older brother, Basil, who unexpectedly died in a car crash, forcing his father Assad to nominate the junior Assad, his only son, as the rightful heir. Like father, son Assad knows very well that Turkey means business and that it does not fool around. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:19 PM
On May 12, 1996, Madeleine Albright (then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) appeared on a 60 Minutes segment in which Lesley Stahl asked her “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” and Albright replied “we think the price is worth it.” She later complained that she had been sand-bagged by the question and did not mean it!
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:25 PM
Our friend Michael Bronner (co-producer of among other films, 'the Green Zone') writes: ' As Seif al-Islam al-Gaddfi - son and erstwhile heir apparent of Col. Muʿammar al-Qaḏḏāfī - is now reportedly in custody and, perhaps, headed for the Hague, linked below (in the HuffPost World)is a piece I wrote a few months ago about a Libyan road trip our CBS team made with Seif al-Islam in his previous iteration: The public face of Gaddafi's grand deal with the US and UK to surrender his WMD programs in exchange for improved relations. ...'
"... "Mr. Michael! Your meeting with Mr. Saif al-Islam is tomorrow! In London!" said Mr. L., the young Gaddafi's squire (or something). I was still in Colorado, and it was snowing.Several delayed flights later, finally in a London black cab en route to town with 45 minutes to make the meeting, the phone rang again. It was Mr. L.--"Mr. Michael! The meeting! It is no longer in London!"--"Um..."--"Mr. Saif al-Islam has been called urgently to Geneva. The meeting will take place aboard his airplane. Mr. Ali is waiting for you at your hotel. You can take a shower."Wayne Nelson, a longtime CBS producer and my partner on the piece, was also waiting at the hotel, having flown in from New York. We got into a silver sedan with a stranger who introduced himself as Mr. Ali, a spark plug of a fellow who shepherded us to London City Airport - out onto the tarmac and into a waiting biz jet.As we climbed aboard, we saw them loading Seif's skis into the hold. The plane had sofas for seats. The pilots and flight attendant were spun-up, ready to go. After about 20 minutes, the young Gaddafi, supposedly bound for urgent business, popped up the jet stairs in a ski hat, ready to party and grinning ear to ear...
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:16 AM
"... But according to Dr Omar Nashabe, an expert in criminal justice and head of the research unit at Al Akhbar newspaper, while circumstantial evidence can be reliable in court, the source of the information used to deduce the circumstantial evidence - in this case - is controversial; that of "co-location", where cell phones constantly used in close proximity are assumed to be used by the same person, and "attribution", where an individual is identified as the carrier of a specific phone. He told Al Jazeera:
"It is mainly based on telecommunications, and this is a controversial source of evidence because in the past there have been official reports by both the Lebanese governments and international telecommunications networks that show infiltration and tampering of the cellular networks in Lebanon by suspects who are Israeli agents, or who work for the interests of the Israeli intelligence. Therefore the so-called evidence of the telecoms network is controversial, and will be heavily scrutinised by the defence when court procedures start."
Since mid-2009, the Lebanese authorities have arrested approximately 70 people on suspicion of working with the Israeli intelligence services. By July 2010, they had arrested two Lebanese nationals working specifically within the telecoms sector on charges of spying for Israel. According to security officials at the time, one of those arrested, Tarek Rabaa, a telecoms engineer with Alfa, is said to have been in contact with Israeli intelligence since 2001.
Charbel Nahhas, former Lebanese minister of telecoms, said in a press conference at the time that this was the "most dangerous espionage act in Lebanese history". A few months later, following an international conference on telecoms held in Mexico, Nahhas pointed out that a further investigation had demonstrated that Israel has had access to telecommunications-related data in Lebanon "for quite some time" and has had the capabilities of altering and manipulating it.
"Therefore, the problem is not with the nature of the evidence, but rather with the source," said Dr Nashabe. Furthermore, the uses of "co-location" and "attribution" as methods are not necessarily enough to stand on their own. "There needs to be additional cross-referencing with other information, such as witnesses, but this is not mentioned in the indictment.... In my opinion, this won't stand in court. It is weak, especially for the high standards of an international court of law."...
For quite some time now, the question of the court's neutrality has been a point of contention within the Lebanese political sphere. Hezbollah has continually stated the court was merely a tool being wielded by the United States and Israel to bring down the party, and to serve the interests of Israel.
To some, however, the wording within the indictment can only be interpreted as political, and thus lacks any impartiality.
One such example can be found in Paragraph 59 of the indictment. Here, Bellemare stated: "All four accused are supporters of Hezbollah, which is a political and military organisation in Lebanon. In the past, the military wing of Hezbollah has been implicated in terrorist acts."
"This should say 'allegedly' implicated in terrorist acts," said Dr Nashabe. "There is no international court that gave a verdict stating Hezbollah was involved in terrorism. In fact, there is no international consensus that categorises Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation."
Until today, there is no UN position on the resistance movement as a terrorist organisation. Several countries, including the United States, Israel, and Canada have officially labelled the group as a terrorist organisation - though the European Union, notably, has not.
"Is this considered professional, and does this meet the highest standards of international criminal law?" asked Dr Nashabe.
Furthermore, the STL is the first international tribunal set to indict someone for a terrorist crime. "One would think after everything that has happened, any tribunal of this sort, they would target al-Qaeda, for 9/11," observed Dr Nashabe. "But instead, the first indictment in terrorism targets Hezbollah, instead of al-Qaeda.This is because Hezbollah is a threat to the security of Israel. There is a fact, a reality, that for the US and Western powers, it is absolutely unacceptable to threaten the security of Israel."
Starting as early as 2006, leaks to the Western media started appearing. First in Le Figaro, then in Der Speigel in 2009, and then in a programme aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2010, details of the investigation and the published indictment were made public. Specific information on the telephone networks were revealed, as well as seeming connections to members of Hezbollah. The CBC report went so far as to claim that Hezbollah politicians were also involved.
These leaks brought into question the court's credibility, which was further diminished by US diplomatic cables from Wikileaks, which described Bellemare asking for US assistance and a list of suspects, and New TV's "hakika-leaks", which aired recordings of the investigation team meeting with Saad Hariri and one of the key witnesses at the time, Mohammed Zuhair Siddiq, discussing elements of the investigation.
A recent poll conducted by the Beirut Center For Research on the public's impression of the STL revealed that a large majority in Lebanon believed it to be "biased and non-transparent". The poll found that 63.5 per cent of respondents doubted the credibility of the tribunal following the media leaks, two years ago, of the indictment's contents.
"Politically speaking, this investigation has been moving very smoothly in parallel with political developments, mainly US foreign policy," Dr Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a political analyst in Lebanon, told Al Jazeera. "In 2008 we saw a rapprochement towards Syria, so Syria was dropped as the main suspect. Hezbollah's name wasn't really conspicuous until Syria's name was dropped, and then it was used to drive a wedge between Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran. Now that things got heated again with Syria, you're seeing in the media, like in the recent Der Speigel article, that they're bringing Syria and Iran back into the game," she said.
According to Dr Saad-Ghorayeb, even the composition of the court is biased. "When you have the involvement of former CIA agents, such as Robert Baer, involved in the investigation, how can you claim it to be neutral?"...
The big bang anticipated from the release of the indictment resulted in a mediocre pop - which fizzled out soon after its publication,...
Dr Saad-Ghorayeb (says) that Saudi Arabia and the US were working with a number of tactics in parallel. "The Saudis and the Americans have been heavily intervening in Syria, as well as pressuring Hezbollah through the tribunal. They are hitting out at this axis using different tools," she said. "The tribunal is an extremely blunt instrument that has the power to unleash the Sunni street."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:45 AM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:16 AM
"...Regardless of the eccentricities of its leader, and despite the corruption and the secret police, Gaddafi's Libya also had most of the apparatus for government that would be found in a "normal" country. The need here is to heed the lessons of Iraq and not dismantle it at a stroke and then start again from scratch but to take control of it and reform where necessary.
Libya also has a couple of advantages over its revolutionary forerunners, Tunisia and Egypt, which could prove important in the immediate aftermath.
The first is that it has a substantial economic cushion: large oil revenues, a small population (6.5m) and $70bn in its sovereign wealth fund. Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, its tourism potential – Mediterranean beaches and spectacular historical sites – is virtually untapped, so there is room for some relatively easy growth, especially if exiled Libyans start returning in large numbers...
Libya's other advantage, noted by Tom Gara in a blog post for the Financial Times, is the defeat of Gaddafi's security forces.
"The backing of Nato air strikes means the physical infrastructure of the regime, from intelligence offices to security headquarters and military equipment, has been severely downgraded to the point of collapse," he wrote...
Exactly what this means for Libya is still unclear, but we have only to look at Tunisia and Egypt to see its potential importance. In Egypt, where the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces took charge after Mubarak's fall, and to some extent in Tunisia too, the survival of unreconstructed security forces is proving a barrier to political change.
The difference in Libya is that the destruction of Gaddafi's army does at least open up the possibility of politicians (mostly, former Qaddafi yes-men!) rather than the military, gaining the upper hand. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:13 AM
...and the scumbag Prada-revolutionary, editor of the Al Akhbar/English, who's triumphant addition to the journal has been confirmed, (reported by AngryArab), still understands Nato's motives in Libya, while other Sancerre sipping, Volvo driving leftists are calling for more of the same elsewhere in the Arab world! 'Flowers & Sweets' in the streets!
"... The United States is already laying plans for a post-Qaddafi Libya. Jeffrey D. Feltman, was in Benghazi for meetings with the rebels’ political leadership about overseeing a stable, democratic transition. A senior administration official said that the United States wanted to reinforce the message of rebel leaders that they seek an inclusive transition that would bring together all the segments of Libyan society...'kudos to that 'understandably' euphoric moment!'With widespread gunfire in the streets of Tripoli, Human Rights Watch cautioned NATO to take measures to guard against the kind of bloody acts of vengeance, looting and other violence that followed the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government.“Everyone should be ready for the prospect of a very quick, chaotic transition,” said Tom Malinowski, the director of the Washington office of Human Rights Watch."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:00 AM
Sunday, August 21, 2011
"As President Obama departs Washington on holiday, he leaves behind an unsettled place. He is being criticized both for going on holiday at all and for his choice of Martha’s Vineyard as his destination. He will take with him much on which to reflect. Very little will concern foreign policy. Other than issuing a strong statement on Syria, Obama’s preoccupations have been wholly domestic. Even the upsurge of violence in Iraq and Afghanistan attracts little interest. This is likely to remain so. Although the forthcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11 will allow him and the wider country to reflect on America’s position in the world, the recent new evidence of weak economic recovery have raised substantial new doubts about Obama’s prospects in 2012. Even some of Obama’s closest advisers are now openly saying that he is not obsessed with being reelected – although his pace of fund-raising remains active.... In the Middle East, the strongly-worded statement criticizing the August 18th rocket attacks in Southern Israel and the mild reaction to renewed Israeli construction in East Jerusalem indicate that the US will give full support to any Israeli reaction. A State Department official commented to us, “we are stressing to the Egyptians not to take Hamas’ side.”..."
As seen & heard on NEWtv (news) with Mona Ashmawy interviewing Egyptians celebrating the removal of israel's flag and replacing it with Egypt's!
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:07 PM
in Naharnet's Live News section:
-Time Magazine journalist Nicolas Blanford to LBC: I did not conduct the interview with the STL suspect, but someone else did.
And for a laugh, read this:
"MP Antoine Zahra to Future News: The interview with the STL suspect was imposed on the Time magazine journalist because he was present at the Hizbullah official’s residence when the suspect arrived."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:22 AM
Whoa again!"... Hussein Oneissi, one of the suspects accused by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon of being involved in the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri, was likely the suspect interviewed by TIME Magazine, reported the daily An Nahar on Sunday. Sources told the daily that the meeting probably took place last Tuesday or Wednesday in the presence of a non-Lebanese Arabic interpreter...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:17 AM
"... On Facebook and Twitter, opposition activists inside and outside of Libya were cautiously excited about what appeared to be rebel gains after months of a virtual stalemate. They urged fellow Libyans to exercise restraint and to disseminate only confirmed news as a flurry of rumors raised hopes and then dashed them when they turned out to be false.
"It is clear that the situation is moving against Gaddafi," U.S. assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman told a news conference after meeting Libyan rebel leaders at their headquarters in the eastern city of Benghazi. "The opposition continues to make substantial gains on the ground while his forces grow weaker," Feltman said. "It is time for Gaddafi to go and we firmly believe that his days are numbered."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:19 AM
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Seriously, after reading Schenker's 'recommendations' & weighing their effectiveness, one gets the feeling that Dabid Schenker secretly hearts Bashar Assad & wishes his regime well!
"... short of dropping bombs on Damascus, to hasten Assad’s fall... there’s no need to wait before implementing:
If the United States were to be joined in its energy sanctions by the EU...there is no guarantee that these measures—even in place for years—would be successful in bankrupting and dislodging the regime...Energy sanctions, in other words, are perhaps the best arrow in the U.S. policy quiver, but, to mix metaphors, they are not a silver bullet...
In addition, when it comes to aiding the Syrian opposition, the Obama administration should elevate and routinize its contacts with key leaders in the movement, both at home and abroad. If asked, Washington should assist the opposition to better organize its ranks, as well as to develop a publicly articulated vision for Syria’s future that is tolerant, pluralist, and democratic. U.S. support for the opposition might also include the provision of modest funding for Thuraya satellite phones, which can help regime opponents on the ground in Syria to better communicate with each other and with the outside world. At the same time, to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to Syria’s future, President Obama himself should consider an Oval Office meeting (and photo op) with respected Syrian opposition figures.
Towards the Syrian regime, meanwhile, the administration should establish a declaratory policy targeting the Syrian military in order to encourage more desertions. The message from Obama should be that Syrian military officers will be held accountable for war crimes committed against the Syrian people.
Within the United Nations, the administration should move forward on a broad range of initiatives, including pressing the U.N. Security Council to level sanctions against Syria for the regime’s ongoing violation of its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency. While China and Russia may be loathe to sanction the Assad regime for its human rights violations (Russia this week announced it would continue to sell weapons to Syria), they might prove more amenable to abstaining from—rather than vetoing—a resolution hitting Damascus for its efforts develop nuclear weapons.
The administration’s best potential source of leverage against the Assad regime, however, resides in the Middle East. The Gulf States—and Qatar, in particular—have been an important source of foreign direct investment in Syria in recent years. Washington should work with its Gulf allies to ensure that that spigot is turned off. (Since April, Qatar, promisingly, has been featuring the Syrian opposition and its officials on the air on Al Jazeera).
Most important, in this regard, is swaying Syria’s immediate neighbors, all of which have complicated relationships with the Assad regime...If Turkey joins the growing coalition of states that have written off the Assad regime—and also levies sanctions—it would undermine support for the regime among the country’s Sunni business elite, a critical pillar of regime stability. Regrettably, relations between Washington and Turkey are not what they once were. But that doesn’t mean that Obama shouldn’t make every effort to bring Ankara in line with the growing international consensus on the Assad regime..."
Someone harping on the 'rogue elements' theory ...
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:37 AM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:05 AM
Friday, August 19, 2011
During a recent conversation with a Hizballah source, a TIME reporter found himself introduced to one of the four members of the organization accused of playing a role in the assassination of Rafik Hariri. The accused man arrived alone aboard a scooter at the home of his Hizballah comrade. While discussing the indictments, he revealed his true identity and confirmed it by showing an old ID card, but agreed to be interviewed only on condition that neither his name nor the location be revealed. �
TIME: Why did you agree to this interview? �
I want to send a message to the world that I wasn't involved in the assassination of Rafik Hariri and that all the charges attributed to me are empty.
TIME: But what can you say about the cellphone data analysis?
Everyone knows that the Mossad can manipulate the cellphone data with the help of spies, and some of the spies were arrested which gives clear evidence that Israel can manipulate the telecommunications data. If the tribunal was built on [genuine] evidence I would have given myself [up] from the first day. �
TIME: Let's go back to the day of the assassination. Where were you on February 14, 2005? �
I was carrying out my [military] work and I cannot reveal where, but I can prove that I wasn't in the area of [the] Saint George [Hotel], the place of the assassination, and I was at least an hour-and-a-half away from that area. �
TIME: Then you deny your participation in this terrorist act? �
Absolutely. I was even surprised when I heard the news that Hariri was assassinated, and I stopped with a friend of mine in one of the coffee shops to watch it on TV. And the next day I went to my work as usual and people saw me. If I had participated in the assassination I would have taken more measures. �
TIME:� After the formation of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, did you expect you would be among the four defendants? �
For several years, Syria was accused of the assassination, and the whole international community encircled Syria on this basis. But after Syria's cooperation with the international community, Hizballah was accused of the assassination and � they put our names as the killers. �
TIME: Why don't you hand yourself over to the Tribunal? �
I will not turn myself in to a tribunal the main goal of which is to end Hizballah and not ... [to] reveal the [identity] of the real assassins. This is a politicized tribunal � admitted to even by some of its members. If they are looking for the truth, let them search somewhere else than Lebanon. Let them go to neighboring countries and they will find the real suspects. �
TIME: Do you mean Syria? �
Of course not. They have to go to Israel which has the first and only interest in the killing of Hariri. Can't you see that the only beneficiary from this assassination is Israel and its allies? �
TIME: Do you think Hizballah will deliver you to the Tribunal? �
If I was guilty, Hizballah would have turned me over from the first day to the so-called international justice. I said it once and will repeat it for the last time: I am innocent of all charges against me. �
TIME: The Lebanese authorities are also looking for you. �
The Lebanese authorities know where I live, and if they wanted to arrest me they would have done it a long time ago. Simply, they cannot. �
TIME: What do you think will happen to the Tribunal? �
Since the day of its formation, the Tribunal has had no credibility. I am sure it will continue, but Lebanon will not execute any of its resolutions. The international community has to find a better way to end the Resistance [Hizballah], Syria, and Iran. �
TIME: What are your future plans? �
I will continue living my ordinary life without giving any attention to the Tribunal and any of its resolutions.
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:13 PM
"... The probe into the cellphone networks was first revealed in October 2005 in the initial report of a U.N. commission investigating the assassination. The cellphone evidence does beg a question, however. The indictment acknowledges that the conspirators were aware that the locations of mobile phones can be traced — that's why, it argues, they sought to disguise their tracks by activating the "red network" in a stronghold of Sunni Islamists in north Lebanon where few Shi'ites are found. But if they were that diabolically clever, it's puzzling that the conspirators would use their carefully camouflaged "red network" phones while also carrying not only other operational color-coded phones, but even their personal cellphones which can still be traced even when not being used. Hizballah's highly secretive and technologically profficient personnel would have known that the only way to avoid a trace is to remove the battery and sim card from the phone. Yet, according to the indictment, it was the proximity of the four men's personal phones to the color-coded secret phones that helped identify them.
Another surprise is the apparent lack of supporting evidence in the indictment. Although the tribunal's pre-trial judge assessed that the accumulated evidence was sufficient to indict the four accused, it was widely assumed that after six years of investigations the tribunal would have amassed evidence beyond just the telecoms records.
The reliance on the cellphone data for the prosecution case suggests that Nasrallah will soon make another of his periodic televized addresses to sow doubt on the tribunal's credibility. Hizballah accuses Israel of killing Hariri, arguing that only the Jewish state stood to benefit from the assassination. A year ago, Nasrallah broadcast what he said was footage from Israeli reconnaissance drones intercepted by Hizballah technicians showing the routes taken by Hariri's motorcades in and around Beirut. He said that this demonstrated Israel had been monitoring Hariri's movements.
Nasrallah's effort to demolish the tribunal's case in the public mind will have been assisted by the arrest in June last year of a senior employee of Alfa, one of two state-run mobile phone operators, on charges of collaborating with Israel. Charbel Qazzi, a senior technician, admitted under interrogation that he had been spying for Israel for 14 years. His position within Alfa reportedly granted the Israelis the ability to track and monitor individuals and tamper with telecoms data.
Meanwhile, the four accused Hizballah men are rumored to be living openly and without fear of arrest in areas under the Shi'ite party's control. It is highly unlikely that Hizballah would hand over any of them to a tribunal it says was established as a means of attacking the organization. ...Judging from the comments and relaxed attitude of the accused Hizballah member interviewed by TIME, it's a safe bet that the dock will be empty when the trials finally begin."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:04 PM