"... Fourthly, from the Arab Gulf states’ perspective, two issues are at stake: How fast the US deserted old allies and how fast it now rolls the red carpet out to Islamists. The folks at this end are asking what the US is really up to and would it do the same with the visibly emboldened Gulf Islamists? More worryingly, decision makers in various Gulf capitals are asking, would the US also trade allies if it ever strikes a grand bargain with Iran, which is a top priority for the Obama administration in its second term? Where would that leave the Arab Gulf states? Flirting with Islamists is bad, but going for a grand bargain with Tehran is crossing an unforgivable red line...."
Friday, November 30, 2012
The view from the Gulf: "US Flirting with Islamists is bad, but going for a grand bargain with Tehran is crossing an unforgivable red line"
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:33 PM
Thursday, November 29, 2012
... Parce qu'elle a perdue Sedan!
"... What should we make of the French decision to officially recognize the Syrian rebels? Since November 13, only Turkey, Italy, and the United Kingdom have followed suit. The Arab League recognized the rebels the day before, while the European Union and the United States have remained deliberately vague in their offers of support to the rebels. While the Israel-Hamas conflict has certainly postponed discussion of the matter, there seems to be no willingness on the part of France's traditional partners to follow its example and to take a gamble in assisting the French in arming the rebels, as Hollande said would now be on the table, nor are we any closer to the possibility of Anglo-French operations in the country that might accelerate Assad's removal from power.Hollande's rather surprising move reflects the way that he and his advisors consider the practice of foreign policy and their overarching goal of preserving French influence. As the United States shifts its strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region and asks that Europeans exert greater influence in their immediate neighborhood, France's global influence remains characterized by diplomatic outbursts that only highlight its worrisome lack of influence in the conduct of international affairs. Having been overtaken by Germany for control over the European Union's economic policies, France also finds itself virtually alone in efforts to revive a true European defense policy.
The only way for France to reemerge on the global scene seems to be by spearheading efforts at resolving the Syrian situation, particularly in the absence of U.S. leadership. Indeed, despite the unification of the Syrian rebels, there are no signs of France reconstituting the broad-based coalition that intervened in Libya. Libya itself was a botched case with plenty of internal problems, with the added challenge of rebel weaponry being employed in the destabilization of the Sahel region - another problem that falls in France's lap. France now faces the risk of stretching itself too thin, with the situation in Mali necessitating an attentive and proactive posture.
Interestingly, Hollande's decision coincided with the release of a report by former French foreign minister Hubert Védrine on the future of NATO and the transatlantic alliance. In this much-anticipated text, Védrine recommended that France not reassess its presence in NATO's integrated military command while also looking at ways to assert greater influence over the alliance, without detailing exactly how that might be possible. This report, despite asking many of the right questions, also highlights the extent to which French foreign policy seems to lack a guiding principle.
Instead, France attempts to make its voice heard through grand gestures, such as its announcement to withdraw troops from Afghanistan before the end of the year and the decision to recognize the Syrian rebels. At a moment when France's road to sustaining leadership on the economic and political scene faces many significant obstacles, the necessity for French diplomacy to make a clear show of its guiding principles has never been stronger. The recent announcement by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius that France will vote in favor of the Palestinians' bid for non-member observer status at the UN can, in this context, be read both ways: just another grand gesture, or is France now willing to risk its political capital to exert pressure on its allies in order to influence the outcome of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa?..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:12 AM
Look at the insidiously stupid caption by Qarari Al Jazeera: "Deadly bllasts wound ...."
Deadly blasts in Iraq wound more than 150 - Middle East - Al Jazeera English
Deadly blasts in Iraq wound more than 150 - Middle East - Al Jazeera English
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:05 AM
"... From akram: " Dear Mr. Abou Khalil: Yesterday midnight, while I was enjoying an American movie during an exceptionally quiet night, a friend called me saying that al-Arabyia, the lousy House of Saud’s propagandist TV station (both lousy actually), followed directly by Sky News Arabic, was displaying, with bold font on a red background, the following “Breaking News”: Intense clashes in al-Abassyieen quarter (this is exactly where I live) ...... This isn’t the first time al-Arabyia is caught red-handed. We all remember its scandalous Syria leaks fabrications. But this time, I caught it lying... personally... not analytically, nor have been told through someone else"
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:09 AM
"... A sober assessment of the claims repeated by the Syrian opposition regarding Hizb Allah’s activities in Syria finds that many tend to be outlandish and exaggerated. Many of these accounts appear crafted to achieve broader political goals aimed at undermining Hizb Allah’s reputation and further weakening Syria. This tone of reporting also tends to misrepresent the true nature of Hizb Allah’s role in the Syrian crisis...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:04 AM
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
"...Gunmen opened fire at the Saudi diplomat's car in a neighbourhood in southern Sanaa, killing him and his Yemeni bodyguard," a Yemeni security official said. He said the diplomat was the assistant military attache at the Saudi embassy. ..."
Washington wants MOI Mohamed bin Nayef
[Stratfor] "... Abdullah, 88, reportedly has been placed on life support after having undergone spinal surgery the week of Nov. 18. His death could mark the end of the second generation of princes.
Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz will succeed Abdullah, but the key issue is who will replace Salman as crown prince.
The odds are now high that Salman's successor will come from the third generation of princes. ....... there are only a few second-generation princes alive who have the qualifications to become crown prince : Former intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz appears to be a suitable candidate....However, the fact that his mother is Yemeni renders his appointment questionable.
Another possibility is Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz, ...But Sattam is too uncharismatic and too inexperienced to be heir apparent. ...
Stratfor sources have reported that someone from the al-Faisal clan could be appointed as crown prince : Among the options are Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, his brother Prince Turki al-Faisal, who was the kingdom's longest serving intelligence chief, and their half-brother Prince Khalid al-Faisal, the governor of Mecca.
Saud is very ill and is unlikely to be appointed. ... Turki's career ended when he resigned as ambassador to the United Kingdom after a spat with King Abdullah.... Khalid's appointment is far from assured..Also in contention for the post is Prince Mitab bin Abdullah, one of King Abdullah's sons, who heads the Saudi Arabian National Guard...But one likely trend is emerging amid all the uncertainty : The next crown prince could very well come from the third generation,...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:10 AM
"... Israeli intelligence officials are not only worried about the large quantities of Libyan weapons reaching Gaza but also about weapons from Iran. The Iranian-developed Fajr-5 rockets were recently able to reach cities deep within Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, for the first time ever.But stopping the weapons shipments promises to be a difficult undertaking. Weapons are routinely seized coming into Egypt from Libya. Just last month, Egyptian authorities stopped two pickups, also near Marsa Matrouh, that were traveling toward Alexandria on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast. They were carrying scores of rockets and mortar rounds, authorities said.
Egyptian security officials say it’s not always clear where the weapons are headed: Islamist militants in the Sinai or Palestinian militants in Gaza. Both receive weapons from Libya, authorities say..."
Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/11/27/175702/arms-shipment-from-libya-to-gaza.html#storylink=c...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:49 AM
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Imagine, an Obama II, with a worse Rice & a recycled Feltman?!
[Le Figaro] "... L’actuel directeur des Affaires politiques de l’ONU, Jeffrey Feltman, pourrait occuper un poste de premier plan au sein de la nouvelle équipe diplomatique américaine, après la réélection de Barack Obama à la Maison blanche.
« La rumeur annonce son retour à Washington », affirme un diplomate français à Paris. Après avoir été Secrétaire d’État adjoint aux affaires du Moyen-Orient, Jeffrey Feltman a été nommé cet été au poste stratégique de responsable des Affaires politiques auprès du secrétaite-général de l’ONU, Ban Ki-moon. Depuis, M. Feltman est le bras armé du Département d’Etat à l’ONU. Il a notamment insisté pour nommer son ami Tarek Mitri au poste de représentant des Nations unies en Libye. Jeffrey Feltman avait connu M. Mitri lorsqu’il était ambassadeur au Liban entre 2004 et 2008. Il y avait alors tissé des liens étroits avec le camp sunnite proche des Hariri. C’est lui qui avait largement rédigé avec l’ambassadeur de France, Bernard Emié, la résolution 1559 de l'ONU, qui demandait en septembre 2004 aux troupes syriennes de quitter le Liban.Sur le dossier syrien, Jeffrey Feltman a rappelé ces dernières semaines sa préférence pour un règlement diplomatique de la crise, en s’appuyant notamment sur l’émissaire international, Lakhdar Brahimi.Les observateurs n’ont pas manqué de relever que Jeffrey Feltman se trouvait avec Ban Ki-moon à Téhéran lorsque le secrétaire-général de l’ONU assista cet été à la conférence des pays non-alignés organisée par l’ennemi juré des Etats-Unis. M. Feltman est ainsi devenu le plus haut-responsable américain à faire le déplacement en Iran, depuis de très nombreuses années. Y-a-t-il rencontré des officiels iraniens, en vue de négociations directes entre les Etats-Unis et l’Iran sur le nucléaire ? Certaines sources l’évoquent.Jeffrey Feltman est un fin connaisseur du Moyen-Orient. Il fut notamment en poste au consulat-général des Etats-Unis à Jérusalem au début des années 2000 (en charge des liens avec les Palestiniens), après avoir été à l’ambassade américaine à Tel Aviv. En 2003, il travailla en Irak, notamment auprès des Kurdes à Erbil...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:39 PM
[Telegraph] "... "Most are jihadists (radical Islamists) who belong to al-Qaeda's network, or who joined it after arriving in Syria," the paper said, adding that they entered Syria via Turkey and Lebanon.Among the 142 it named 47 Saudis, 24 Libyans, 11 Afghans, 10 Tunisians, nine Egyptians, six Qataris and five Lebanese...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:24 PM
"... Police confirmed a blast took place near the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by the of prresident of Iraq's Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani.Kurdistan's intention to incorporate a swathe of territory in northern Iraq over Baghdad's strong objections is a dispute that diplomats and officials say is the biggest threat to Iraq's long-term stability...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:27 AM
[LATimes] "...France is giving more than $1.5 million in emergency aid to a newly formed Syrian opposition coalition, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced Monday.... The donation to the coalition is another sign that the blanket opposition group is gaining footing internationally. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:23 AM
"... Israel did not achieve the goal it had publicly declared: the destruction of Hamas’s rocket capability. Hamas and other Palestinian militant organizations were able to continue rocket attacks into Israel, reaching further targets with neighborhoods in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the first time. The latest Israeli failure was replayed during the 33-day war with Hezbollah in 2006 and the 22-days war with Hamas in 2008-9 respectively. While seemingly a repetition of past conflicts, the latest Israeli-Hamas duel occurred in a fundamentally different regional reality that will have have major repercussions for Israel and Arab leaders, while Iran stands to gain the most.First, Iranian Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani acknowledged: "We are proud to defend the people of Palestine and Hamas ... and that our assistance to them has been both financial and military." Since the 1979 Iranian revolution, Iran has earnestly provided political, ideological and financial support to the Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation. This was the first time that Tehran confirmed it is providing military assistance to the Palestinians.
Second, Israel, despite its superior military and technological advantage as well as its modern Iron Dome system, was unable to intercept all the longer-range Fajr-5 rockets fired from Gaza that reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Fajr-5 does not constitute a major part of Iran’s missile arsenal and capability, yet it was the first time Palestinian groups used more sophisticated rockets against Israeli targets. Iran's Revolutionary Guards chief General Mohammad Ali Jafari confirmed the missile technology transfer to Gaza by stating that "we provided them with technology [to build Fajr-5 missiles] and their production was rapid." This is a major shift in building a more formidable military capability in Gaza making Israel vulnerable in the future. The ‘invisibility’ of Israel has been shattered in the aftermath of this latest conflict and has also emboldened other groups towards Israel—most notably the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, with its leader Hassan Nasrallah stating that, "Israel, which was shaken by a handful of Fajr-5 rockets during eight days - how would it cope with thousands of rockets which would fall on Tel Aviv and other (cities) ... if it attacked Lebanon?” adding: “The time when Israel could terrorize us has expired.”Third, this was overtly a Hamas-Israel war, while covertly an Iran-Israel war. Iranian military strategists analyzed the capability of the Israelis during this latest skirmish in Gaza and have reached a conclusion that it impossible for Israel to successfully maintain a three-front war with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. Israeli military threat against Iran was also downplayed by the undersecretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Baqeri “When the Zionist regime (Israel) can’t stand the resistance in the blockaded Gaza Strip, it is clear that it will definitely have nothing to say when it comes to the power and strength of the Islamic Republic.”
Fourth, the core determinant in a war is the capacity, strength and readiness of a nation to resist the consequences of a war. This latest conflict caused widespread public panic in Israel, with more than a million seeking safety in bomb shelters — contrasted to Palestinians who do not have shelters. Moreover, it appears that the Israeli public’s readiness and support cannot be sustained in a prolonged conflict. For any military establishment, this factor is a major indicator of the public’s ability to stomach a war. During the Iran-Iraq war, Iran was able to defend itself because of the nation's human resources and their ability to steadfastly support the government — Israel does not possess the mass numbers or the required level of public support needed in a sustained conflict.
Fifth, the latest incursion exposed Israel’s social and military vulnerabilities, with far-reaching consequences, which also carries ramifications for Arab leaders in the region. The Syrian crisis revealed that the leaders of the Arab nations — especially Qatar and Saudi Arabia — are providing military and financial support to the Syrian opposition that seek to overthrow the Assad government. Coupled with conferences and coordinating efforts to bolster the opposition have exacerbated the internal conflict within a Muslim country. Yet, when it came to the latest Israeli aggression in Gaza or for that matter past incursions — Arab leaders have provided only rhetoric with no tangible actions.... Ultimately, this showed that the Arab leaders are wolves toward Islamic nations and lambs toward Israel. Even Hamas has brought the question of Arab leadership and reaction under question with its leader Khaled Meshal thanking Iranians for their military and financial support and asked Arab leaders to follow suit.
Ultimately, the latest Israeli military expedition in Gaza has been a major setback for Israel, Arab leaders who have remained silent and the credibility of Palestinian Authority in the West Bank who are no longer seen by most Palestinians as their legitimate representative. On the other hand, Hamas has gained popularity among Palestinians and Muslims for not succumbing to yet another Israeli bombardment....."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:05 AM
Syria: "The menagerie of 'rebel' has not been able to hold ANY ground at all against government forces when they wish to retake it"
Neocon tools at the WaPo relying SOLELY on 'rebels' sources ...
[WaPo] "... None of the battles alone represented the kind of decisive military victory that the rebels need if they are to claim control of an entire city or province and prod the international community for greater support. The rebels, most of them grouped loosely under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army, have not demonstrated the capacity to capture any of the country’s major cities, and whether they will ever be in a position to dislodge the regime from the heavily guarded capital without help is in question...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:50 AM
[WaPo] "...But the leaders of Hamas’s military wing, which is largely based in the Gaza Strip, have taken a different stance, analysts say. In recent years they have received financial and military assistance as well as training from Iran, one of President Bashar al-Assad’s closest allies, and have remained supportive of the Syrian government.
The group’s difficult position on the Syrian uprising was evident in comments Meshal made at a news conference in Cairo on Wednesday. He thanked Iran for its support during the recent Israeli military operation targeting Gaza but noted that his praise came despite “disagreements on the situation in Syria.” ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:31 AM
Monday, November 26, 2012
[Gizmodo] "... In Saudi Arabia, if a woman leaves the country, her husband or male "guardian" will receive a text message to let him know that, even if she's traveling with him, ho boy! His woman is on the loose. Saudi Arabia: where technology and misogyny unite!..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:15 PM
[VOA] "...Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has criticized France's support for Syria's opposition, calling the decision “unacceptable.”Speaking to reporters ahead of a visit to France on Monday, he said the move to recognize the new opposition coalition as the “sole legitimate representative” of the Syrian people amounted to “regime change.” ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:11 PM
Sunday, November 25, 2012
'Though coming to an unwelcome surprise to them, US officials are not displeased with the cease-fire agreement that has brought at least temporary calm to the Gaza crisis. Secretary of State Clinton active involvement did, they believe, restore a small measure of American authority in the region. Vis a vis Tel Aviv, Washington was able both to reiterate its strong support for Israel's right of self-defense and to counsel restraint. In Egyptian President Morsi, Administration officials believe that they have found a possible new partner in the Middle East in the new post-Arab spring circumstances. They are concerned about his assumption of additional powers, but overall see his role in the Gaza crisis as effective and supportive of US interests. Some commentators foresee a new round of US pro-active engagement in the Middle East peace process and indeed in general foreign policy. We are less sure. Once Congress reconvenes after its Thanksgiving break, President Obama’s focus will once again be on the “fiscal cliff” problem that needs to be resolved by December 31st. On this some technical progress is being made, but the most intractable issues lie ahead. We see plenty of volatility in the coming weeks. We also believe that Obama will continue to adhere to a policy of crisis avoidance on issues like Iran and Syria rather than seeking to bring things to a confrontation. ....'
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:55 AM
"... The second military buildup this year illustrates how far relations between Baghdad's central government, led by Shia Muslim Arabs, and ethnic Kurds have deteriorated, testing Iraq's federal cohesion nearly a year after US troops left...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:42 AM
"... BEIRUT - The Lebanese army said Saturday it had arrested five Syrian men found with explosives and suspected of planning an attack on a Shi'ite Muslim procession Sunday...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:29 AM
Saturday, November 24, 2012
"... Egyptian protesters set fire to Muslim Brotherhood offices on Friday, state television reported, as rival rallies were held nation-wide a day after President Mohamed Morsi assumed sweeping powers. The offices of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, were torched in the canal cities of Ismailiya and Port Said, the broadcaster said.....
Police also fired tear gas at protesters trying to storm another FJP office in Alexandria, a police official told AFP. "The situation in Alexandria is tense and security forces are eager to exercise self-restraint and maintain security and protect vital establishments," General Abdelmawgud Lutfi, head of Alexandria security, said in a statement. Earlier an FJP official told AFP the party's office was stormed in Alexandria, where clashes broke out between rival demonstrators. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:29 AM
"... Like so much of the language that journalists use about Israel, ever frightened of being called anti-Semitic, “rogue” is soft. Israel is a criminal state.No other country has such a record of lawlessness. Israel has defied hundreds of United Nations resolutions.
The right of Palestinians to return to their homeland, the most basic right of all human beings, has been reaffirmed at least 135 times as “the will of the international community”, yet has been defied contemptuously.
Israel has a Godfather, the United States, which uses it to guard America’s empire in the Middle East.
“We have never had it so good,” said an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman in 2006. “The hasbara effort (propaganda) is a well-oiled machine.”
Relentless propaganda that presents Israel as perpetual victim has seeped into western consciousness to such a degree an openly piratical attack on a ship carrying humanitarian aid is described by the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent merely as a “potential public relations disaster for Israel”. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:25 AM
Friday, November 23, 2012
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:35 AM
"... The flags that were hoisted by the rebels at the base were not the one used by rebels groups that have pledged allegiance to the secular Free Syrian Army. Rather it was a black flag flown in particular by Islamist groups that are heavily involved in the fight against the government in this province. One building at the captured base flew the flag of Jabhat al Nusra, a group of fighters that have called openly for the establishment of a Syrian state based on Islamic law and that some fear has ties to al Qaida..."
[NYTimes] "... Now, 13 years after King Hussein’s death and King Abdullah’s ascension, the fantasy of a handover to Hamzah, 32, has captured the imagination of a resurgent protest movement that poses the biggest threat in decades to the stability of Jordan, a pivotal American ally. This dream of a transition to a new king within the same dynasty, critics say, is an apt reflection of the ambiguous character of the protests, animated by the democratic spirit of the Arab Spring uprisings but also by nostalgia.“There is a popular outcry for Hamzah,” said an organizer in the two-year-old secular opposition network Hirak, which began raising demands for political reform and local development after the start of the Arab Spring revolts. (Its name comes from the Arabic word for movement.)....
The political tremors are disconcerting for American policy makers because of the role Jordan has played as a dependable ally and a stabilizing buffer zone in a volatile region. Jordan is the only Arab country besides Egypt to sign a peace treaty with Israel,...
Supporters of King Abdullah argue that the attention paid to Prince Hamzah is evidence that, in contrast to the other Arab Spring movements, the protests here are essentially conservative....
The opposition movement has directed special hatred toward King Abdullah’s glamorous Palestinian wife, Queen Rania, whose influence the organizers have cited as one of their top complaints. Tensions between East Bank natives and Palestinian immigrants, who make up about half of Jordan’s population, are the major fissure in Jordanian politics. And while East Bank natives have dominated the public sector, Palestinians have flourished in the private sector and stand to gain from liberalization.
The king views Hirak as advocating “the status quo,” one diplomat who has talked to him said.
But many of the demonstrators who turned out for four days of protests in Amman and other cities last week said that economic grievances were beginning to translate into new demands for democratic political change, toward the adoption of a constitutional monarchy like Britain’s.....Demonstrators in Amman and other places around Jordan blamed official corruption for the country’s poverty, and they pinned the corruption on a lack of accountability for King Abdullah. At rallies, protesters held hands to perform what they called “the corruption dance,” chanting that King Abdullah was Ali Baba, the legendary thief. “The corruption is woven into the fabric, and everything is connected to it, even the unemployment,” said Gassem Gharaibeh, 40, a Hirak activist in Irbid. But the protesters also had more specific complaints about King Abdullah’s authenticity. Educated abroad while his father groomed his brother for the throne, King Abdullah is sometimes derided for being more fluent in English than in Arabic. “We are speaking Arabic, clear Arabic, leave!” demonstrators chanted in Amman.They accuse Queen Rania of building a lifestyle of extreme luxury while her family grows rich on its connections.... “Rania and Abdullah stole Jordan!” goes another popular chant.But there is still much love for King Hussein, and many appear to extend that nostalgic glow to Prince Hamzah. East Bank Jordanians say that Prince Hamzah was often sent to move among them, to polish his Arabic and to work on the common touch that his father had.“Hamzah would be better, because King Hussein trained him to be a king,” said Sahel Majali, 54, a businessman in traditional dress sitting on a stoop with a grandson in Amman. “King Abdullah should apologize to the Jordanian people, because his bad decisions have gotten us into this terrible place.”....Prince Hamzah has stayed silent, far from the public eye. But three organizers with Hirak said its 70-member steering committee, which meets in the headquarters of an Amman labor union, was leaning toward an embrace of Prince Hamzah, too....."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:19 AM
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
"An explosion hit a bus in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday, wounding at least 21 people. One of the casualties was in serious condition, one sustained light-to-moderate injuries, and the rest were lightly wounded.Police opened an immediate manhunt for two suspected terrorists..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:03 AM
"... The strategic Persian Gulf island of Bahrain, scene of continuing protests since early last year, is on the verge of severe disruption, the State Department warned Tuesday.“We are worried that the society is moving apart,” a senior official told reporters on a background telephone briefing. “It is clear that if the society breaks apart, Iran will be the winner and the beneficiary..."
Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/11/20/175207/us-warns-bahrains-society-could.html#storylink=c..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:05 AM
[Assafir] "... The irony here is that the Arabs, who reject Iran’s role in the region and complain about its strategic spread to Gaza, contented themselves with issuing a modest statement during the recent foreign minister’s meeting in Cairo held under the auspices of the presumed revolutionary spring. The statement was verbally preceded by confessions of weakness on the part of some of the ministers who admitted to a lack of resolve, and limited their ambitions to offering financial and humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, as if the Arab League was but a division of the Red Crescent organization or a wailing wall upon which people come to lament the Palestinian cause.The paradox is that some Arab countries are themselves responsible for the present vacuum. It has been engendered by their inability or unwillingness to supply the Palestinians with means that would empower them, while unashamedly objecting to Iran’s behavior aimed at filling that same void with any available military means....In addition to their material effect, Iranian military capabilities reaching Gaza play another role in this time of deep polarization. They prove that the conflict with Israel can transcend ever-increasing sectarian barriers and fears, whereby the Shiite Islamic Republic of Iran does not hesitate to offer support to the Sunni Palestinian resistance movements in their fight with the common enemy...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:59 AM
[WaPo] "... Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has headed to the Kurdish autonomous region to calm tensions after clashes between Kurdish and Iraqi forces.The official says Talabani met on Monday with the leader of the autonomous region, Massoud Barzani... Tensions have since flared after Iraq’s central government last month formed a military command for areas bordering the Kurdish region, including disputed areas. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:45 AM
Her Majesty's Government: "We recognize the new Syrian opposition but they have much to do to win the support of the Syrian People!"
"... Britain on Tuesday recognized Syria's newly formed opposition coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people, ... Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament he took the decision after he met coalition leaders in London...
"On the basis of the assurances I received and my consultation with European partners yesterday, Her Majesty's Government has decided to recognize the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people,..They have much to do to win the full support of the Syrian people" he added...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:27 AM
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
[BBC] "... In Syria's second city, Aleppo, Islamist rebels are unimpressed with the new grouping.In a video posted online, an unidentified speaker sits at the head of a long table with at least 20 others, in front of a black Islamist flag. He lists some 13 armed Islamist groups who reject the opposition coalition."We are the representatives of the fighting formations in Aleppo and we declare our rejection of the conspiratorial project, the so-called national alliance," he says. "We have unanimously agreed to urgently establish an Islamic state."..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:18 AM
Monday, November 19, 2012
[YNETnews] "... While the Arab world condemns Israeli attacks on the Gaza .....
Against this backdrop, editor-in-chief of the most-read (BIG hell NO!) newspaper in the Arab world, "al-Sharq al-Awsat", Tariq Alhomayed tried to turn his readers' attention to another tragedy in the Arab world; revealing what he believes brought upon the escalation in southern Israel – the Iranians and Assad. ...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:40 PM
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Ryan Crocker: “I would like to see us or others try to engage the Iranians now on Syria because Syria is their only ally"
"...“Hezbollah is being very cautious,” Crocker observed about the Shiite Islamic militant group based in Lebanon, adding that “they are being cautious in large part because of guidance from the Iranians to be cautious."Crocker, who was US ambassador to Syria from 1998 to 2001, warned against getting too deeply involved with the Syrian opposition at this stage “because you could find yourself decisively committed to the outcome that is most injurious to our interests. We simply, as far as I can tell, don’t know enough right now.” ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:28 AM
Syria: " initial optimism in Washington about the new opposition coalition is ebbing in the face of good intelligence that deep fissures remain"
'Eh bien ...non!'
'With President Obama focused on discussions with Congressional leaders to address the fiscal cliff problem and preparing for a trip to Southeast Asia, the sudden flare up of hostilities in Gaza came as a most unwelcome surprise. Aside from the immediate dangers of new tensions in addition to those already present in Syria, US officials are deeply concerned about a potential permanent reversal of relations between Israel and Egypt. In calls to the leaders of Egypt, Israel, and Turkey, Obama is seeking to build a regional mediation effort to head off further escalation in the form of a ground invasion of Gaza. There is little confidence in Washington that these efforts will succeed. Publicly, the Administration continues to be supportive of Israel’s right to self-defense, particularly against reported acquisition by Hamas of more sophisticated ling-range rockets, but we understand that, behind the scenes, US officials have strongly urged their Israeli counterparts to think through the implications of their actions in the light of the radically changed political landscape in Egypt. They are also worried that the fighting may spill over to Jordan where the government already faces public protests. Meanwhile, with regard to Syria, initial optimism in Washington about the formation of a new, more representative opposition coalition is ebbing in the face of continuing intelligence that deep fissures remain. From conversations with our Administration contacts, it is clear that these developments come at a very awkward time in terms of personnel transitions at the State and Defense departments and when public attention is fixed on the economy. Washington will be looking at Cairo and Ankara to assume leadership roles in mediating the crisis. The events in the Middle East have obscured what may have more important longer-term implications for US foreign policy, namely the change of leadership in China....'
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:19 AM
Friday, November 16, 2012
"... Once again the Obama Administration is facing the prospect of dealing with an all-out invasion of Gaza by Israel, as it prepares to gear up for governing. As with Israel’s “Cast Lead” attack in January 2009 when Obama first took office, this round of fighting has been precipitated by several months of increased rocket attacks by Hamas and other allied groups, notably Palestinian Islamic Jihad (“PIJ”), which many analysts consider under the influence of Iran. And it takes place against a backdrop of a vastly changed Middle East. One that increases the leverage of Hamas. The most important change is in Egypt, where the Moslem Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an off-shoot, holds power. In Syria, war rages threatening stability of Jordan, the only other Arab country to have a peace treaty with Israel.
But according to US officials, the Netanyahu government appears, so far, to take these changes into account. “They seemed to have learned some lessons from the last time around,” says one veteran US analyst. As a result, there is no private anger at Netanyahu and public statements strongly backing Israel have come not only from Washington but London and even (to a somewhat lesser extent) Paris. All appreciate that the Israelis are holding back on a full scale assault, hoping instead that the use of precision guided missiles (aka. as 'assassinations from the air') and the threat of invasion will be enough to intimidate Hamas. However, as one veteran analyst pointed out today, “These things have a way of getting out of hand in the Middle East.”There is a clear recognition that the changed Middle East, especially since the uprising in Syria, has prompted radical forces such as Hezbollah, Iran and Palestinian groups like PIJ to try to turn the attention of the newly empowered Arab population throughout the region to press their governments to take a harder line against any Israeli military action. In that way, it could take some of the pressure off of Syria’s embattled regime. The most dramatic evidence of effectiveness of this approach was the visit today to Gaza of Egyptian Prime Minister, Hesham Kandil. But last thing (his boss) Morsi wants is his hand forced by Hamas,” says one veteran US analyst. This new crisis between Israelis and Palestinians only further complicates Administration policy making at a time when the proverbial “window” for dealing with increasing troubles in the region seems about to close. Until the Gaza situation erupted, US policy makers were already struggling to keep up with fast moving events having to do with Syria’s war and the need to speed up the negotiating process over Iran’s nuclear program. Earlier this week, US, European and Arab diplomats finally hammered out an agreement in Doha, to create a unified opposition to the Assad regime in Syria. Nearly ninety per cent of the opposition groups have joined this new umbrella organization, which one European diplomat described as the “last, best chance” to influence the course of events in Syria. While US diplomats, notably former Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, were active in Doha, it was France that most strongly endorsed the new umbrella organization. ...On Iran, while the time line may be as short as that for Syria [A need to produce progress before the end of the year], European and American officials are working in concert and share the same sense of urgency. The so-called “P-5+1” (US, Britain, France, Russia China and Germany) who have presented a solid front in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, are now preparing for a major push over the next six weeks. Before meeting with Iran, the P-5+1 will have its own internal discussions. The expectation is that they will then invite Iran to a sit-down where a formal proposal will be presented. However, US officials insist this proposal will differ in no significant way in ones already given Iran (most recently in Baghdad in May). “We are not going to offer any “grand bargain” insists one well-informed US official. Instead, Iran will be given a list of incentives, notably a lessening of the current economic sanctions, in exchange for major concessions by Iran regarding its nuclear development. “The Iranian response will test whether they are serious about negotiating,” (yawn, yawn...) says one well-placed official. “But I must say I am not optimistic.”...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:12 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:42 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:02 AM
[Reuters] "... Erdogan said he would speak by phone with U.S. President Barack Obama later on Friday and that Ankara was also seeking talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the prospect of a full Israeli ground invasion.The United States says it has asked Turkey and Egypt to encourage the Islamist Hamas movement that rules Gaza to cease rocket fire ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:59 AM
Thursday, November 15, 2012
'Who won that staring contest?'
"...The general wisdom is that the president, freed of worries about being re-elected, will seek his revenge,....
Such thinking, however, is fanciful. The White House’s approach towards Netanyahu and Israel is unlikely to alter significantly.
Netanyahu’s bullish mood was certainly on display as voting in the US election was under way: his government announced plans to build more than 1,200 homes for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem, the presumed capital of a future Palestinian state.
The reality, as Netanyahu understands well, is that Obama’s hands are now tied as firmly in the Middle East as they were during his first term.
Obama got burnt previously when he tried to impose a settlement freeze. There are no grounds for believing that Israel’s far-right lobbyists in Washington, led by AIPAC, will give the president an easier ride this time.
And as Ron Ben Yishai, a veteran Israeli commentator, noted, Obama will face the same US Congress, one that has “traditionally been a stronghold of near-unconditional support for Israel”.
Obama may not have to worry about re-election but he will not want to hand a poisoned legacy to the next Democratic presidential candidate, nor will want to mire his own final term in damaging confrontations with Israel. Memories are still raw of Bill Clinton’s failed gamble to push through a peace deal — one that, in truth, was a far-more generous to Israel than the Palestinians — at Camp David in the dying days of his second term.
And whatever his personal antipathy towards the Israeli prime minister, Obama also knows that, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict aside, his policies in the Middle East are either aligned with Israel’s or dependent on Netanyahu’s cooperation to work.
Both Obama and Netanyahu want the Israel-Egypt peace agreement to hold. Both need to ensure the civil war in Syria does not spiral out of control, as the cross-border salvos in the Golan Heights have indicated in the past few days. Both prefer repressive West-friendly dictators in the region over Islamist gains.
And, of course, both want to box in Iran on its nuclear ambitions. So far Netanyahu has reluctantly toed the US line on “giving sanctions a chance,” toning down his rhetoric about launching an attack. The last thing the White House needs is a sulking Israeli premier priming his cohorts in Washington to undermine US policy.
A sliver of hope for Netanyahu’s opponents is that a disgruntled US president might still take limited revenge, turning the tables by interfering in the Israeli elections due in January. He could back more moderate challengers such as Olmert or Tzipi Livni, if they choose to run and start to look credible.
But even that would be a big gamble.
The evidence shows that, whatever the makeup of the next Israeli governing coalition, it will espouse policies little different from the current one. That simply reflects the lurch rightwards among Israeli voters, as indicated in a poll this month showing that 80 percent now believe it is impossible to make peace with the Palestinians.
In fact, given the mood in Israel, an obvious attempt by Obama to side with one of Netanyahu’s opponents might actually harm their prospects for success. Netanyahu has already demonstrated to Israelis that he can defeat the US president in a staring contest. Many Israelis are likely to conclude that no one is better placed to keep an unsympathetic Obama in check in his second term.
Faced with a popular consensus in Israel and political backing in the US Congress for a hard line with the Palestinians, Obama is an unlikely champion of the peace process – and even of the Palestinians’ current lowly ambition to win observer status at the United Nations. A vote on this matter is currently threatened for 29 November, with Mahmoud Abbas apparently hoping that the anniversary of the 1947 UN partition plan for Palestine will provide emotional resonance....
The reality is that the White House is stuck with an Israeli government, with or without Netanyahu, that rejects an agreement with the Palestinians. As violence flares again in Gaza — as occurred in the run-up to the last Israeli election — it looks disturbingly like four more years of the same."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:46 PM