... over what he says are the Channel's "continuous falsification of facts". His, is the latest of a long roster of veteran reporters, anchorwomen & men & managers who have left the vulgar channel over such allegations.
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:23 PM
Foreign policy may be about to take a larger role in the presidential campaign, with Mitt Romney set to deliver a wide-ranging attack on President Obama’s handling of international affairs. This will take the familiar form of Republican charges of weakness against current threats, for example against North Korea, and inadequate assertion of US national interests, for example against Russia on missile defense. To counter this, Obama’s political advisers believe that the continued drone strikes and the killings of Osama bin-Laden and Anwar Al-Awlaki give him the cover he needs on national security “toughness.” Further, the weakening of public support for the Afghan war indicates that foreign policy is not a high priority for voters outside the community of those professional engaged in these matters. Nonetheless, we do expect to Obama to take some steps to remind voters of his international credentials. This will include high-profile events like the May NATO Summit in Chicago, but will also see some toughening of Obama’s positions in the run-up to November. Secretary of State is prominently engaged with regard to Syria. Additional measures will include restrictive trade measures against China together with new spending on cyber defenses against Russian and Chinese attacks. On Iran, the Administration must tread a delicate path. Its first objective is to gain time both for new oil sanctions to take effect and for EU-led negotiations starting on April 14th with Tehran to make progress. Proponents of a more urgent approach – which includes the whole Republican leadership other than Ron Paul – will try to exploit any temporizing by the Iranians to push Obama toward more decisive action, not excluding the military option. In navigating between these two choices, the White House will also be mindful of the need to stay aligned with Israel. Opinion in Washington about Israeli intentions remains mixed. Intelligence differences about the status of the Iranian nuclear program have narrowed recently and Pentagon officials voice confidence that their warnings to Tel Aviv against military action have gone home. Privately, however, there are growing concerns in US military and intelligence circles that Israeli action is “only a matter of time.” To guard against any surprises, US intelligence agencies have recently expanded electronic and satellite coverage of Israeli military installations. US officials believe that this coverage might provide some forewarning of any imminent Israeli deployments.
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:36 PM
Langage franc et direct. Plan Annan, soutien au Conseil national syrien, mise à l’écart rapide de Bachar el-Assad : HdN, un diplomate français qui suit de près l’évolution de la crise syrienne, nous livre sa lecture des événements. Une lecture décapante, qui ne correspond pas tout à fait à la version officielle du Quai d’Orsay, sa « maison-mère ».
« La diplomatie française a sous estimé le régime syrien parce qu’on a bien voulu le sous estimer. On ne devait pas être surpris par sa capacité de résistance. Eric Chevalier, notre ambassadeur, après avoir été recadré juste au début de la révolte, a été très bon après. Il a clairement averti Paris que la crise allait être longue. Nous connaissons très bien ce régime, depuis trente ans que nous avons été successivement amis, puis ennemis, avant d’être de nouveau amis au cours des dernières années. Notre brusque changement de position, après le début de la révolte l’an dernier, est à la hauteur du désamour que la direction de l’Etat français a conçu quand elle a vu que Bachar el-Assad ne nous avait pas écouté, et qu’il ne tiendrait pas les promesses que nous avions cru naïvement qu’il tiendrait »
"Certes, les dirigeants du CNS excellent en Occident, parce qu’ils parlent notre langage, et nous disent ce qu’on a envie d’entendre."
« Le Conseil national syrien (CNS) est en perte de vitesse sur le terrain. Nous avons soutenu un cheval perdant. Ce n’est pas faute pourtant d’avoir lancé des mises en garde. La perception des Syriens de l’intérieur est très négative vis-à-vis du CNS. Ils sont nombreux à estimer que ses dirigeants ne les représentent plus, qu’ils ne font que se montrer devant les caméras des télévisions dans des hôtels cinq étoiles, ils ne nous apportent plus rien, disent-ils. Des habitants de Homs leur reprochent même de leur avoir volé la résistance à Baba Amro. Par leurs connections avec Avaaz (l’ONG basée à Beyrouth, ndlr), les gens du CNS ont donné l’impression que c’est eux qui avaient fait sortir les habitants de Baba Amro, alors que ce sont les membres des comités de coordination sur place qui ont fait le boulot. Le CNS reste dans une opposition systématique. Chaque fois, qu’il se passe quelque chose, il réagit négativement. Le plan Annan ? Non, ce n’est pas ce qu’il faut faire. Quand les observateurs arabes sont arrivés en décembre? Non, ce n’est pas bien. Les attentats ? Tout de suite, sans la moindre preuve, ils ont accusé le régime. Ils ont, pourtant, été démentis par les Américains, et par des gens pointus comme James Claper (le patron du renseignement, ndlr) qui n’est quand même pas n’importe qui. Certes, les dirigeants du CNS excellent en Occident, parce qu’ils parlent notre langage, et nous disent ce qu’on a envie d’entendre. Mais ils se sont peu à peu déconnectés de la réalité du terrain. Nous devrions en prendre conscience. »
La majorité silencieuse. « On la sous estime. La contestation n’a pas encore entraîné la révolte de toute la population. Il y a encore une majorité silencieuse qui nous dit la chose suivante : nous n’aimons pas le régime, mais rien de ce que ces gens (de l’opposition, ndlr) font nous annoncent quelque chose qui nous ferait sortir de notre réserve ou de nos hésitations pour aller les soutenir ».
Le plan Annan de sortie de crise. « Jusqu’à maintenant, tactiquement, Kofi Annan a bien joué. Il a mis la barre relativement haut, en disant : voilà, les paramètres d’une solution (les six points de son plan, ndlr). La première réponse du régime a été : on a besoin de plus de temps, mais Annan n’est pas remonté au créneau, il est resté dans un premier temps en retrait. Il se garde le contact avec Bachar, et il laisse faire le travail de base par ses hommes sur le terrain. Ce que n’avait pas fait avant lui le Premier ministre du Qatar, Hamad Ben Jassem, qui avait traité directement et brutalement avec Bachar. La France, après avoir hésité, le soutient maintenant. On est encore en faveur de la chute du régime. On n’a pas compris que ce n’était plus d’actualité. D’un autre côté, que pouvons-nous faire d’autre ? Nous avons adopté une position tellement radicale dès le début que nous ne pouvons plus en changer. Nous nous sommes condamnés à camper sur la ligne jusqu’au-boutiste du CNS : c’est-à-dire pas de discussion avec Bachar ».
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:43 PM
"... “Bibi is traumatized from the Meshaal incident,” the official says. “He is afraid of another failure, that something will blow up in his face.”
Iranian intelligence already has cracked one cell trained and equipped by Mossad, Western intelligence officials . The detailed confession on Iranian state television last year by Majid Jamali Fashid for the January 2010 assassination by motorcycle bomb of nuclear scientist Massoud Ali Mohmmadi was genuine, those officials said, blaming a third country for exposing the cell.
In that case, the public damage to Israel was circumscribed by the limits of Iran’s credibility: Officials in Tehran routinely blame setbacks of all stripes on the “Zionists” and “global arrogance,” their labels for Israel and the United States. But that could change if the Islamic Republic produced a captured Israeli national or other direct evidence............. allowing Iran to cast itself as victim, or simply by recasting the nuclear issue itself, from one of overarching global concern into a contest confined to a pair of longtime enemies.
Some warn that the assassinations already run that risk. After the most recent killing, of nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan in January, the United States “categorically” denied involvement in the death and issued a condemnation. Western intelligence officials say he was at least the third Iranian scientist killed by Mossad operatives, who lately are running short of new targets, according to Israeli officials.
“It undercuts the consensus, the international consensus on sanctions,” says Mark Fitzpatrick, a former State Department nuclear proliferation specialist who opposes the assassinations...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:41 AM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:26 AM
"... Some dissidents among the rebels are also denouncing the Syrian National Council (SNC) - the umbrella group recognised by leading Arab and Western nations as a "legitimate interlocutor" - as a front for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood bankrolled by Gulf states such as Qatar.Kamal al-Labwani, a physician and prominent opposition leader who resigned from the SNC this month, called it "an opposition under the cloak of fanatics hiding behind a veneer of stupid liberals".According to Labwani, the ostensibly secular and multi-party SNC is no more than a façade for the Muslim Brotherhood, ... "The Brotherhood are the dominant force in the Council," Labwani said. "There is the Hama faction, the Damascus faction and the Aleppo faction of the Brotherhood, the Hama faction is backed and funded by Qatar and Turkey."As the rebellion has increasingly resorted to arms in the face of relentless repression by Assad's forces, "they are setting conditions for who they arm. And those who are not Islamists or religious, they are not being supplied with guns", he said.........Haitham al-Maleh, a veteran opposition figure and human rights lawyer who was jailed by both Assad and his father, bitterly denounces the autocratic habits of Burhan Ghalioun, the liberal Sorbonne professor who is the figurehead of the Council."I want to see the council act democratically. Until now, they are acting like the (ruling) Baath Party," Maleh, who withdrew from the SNC along with Labwani, told Reuters."Ghalioun wrote his last speech in Istanbul and did not show it to us. They went to meet Kofi Annan [the former UN secretary general now acting as special envoy for Syria] in Ankara and did not inform us. This is a disaster. I cannot be in a place where I am treated as a nonentity", Maleh said. "There is a monopoly in the leadership and no transparency"...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:15 AM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:58 AM
"... So there won't be an intervention or, in all likelihood, a diplomatic deus ex machina. What's in between those two extremes? Last week, the Obama administration announced that, along with Turkey, it would ship communications equipment and other "nonlethal" gear to armed rebels inside Syria. (Saudi Arabia and Qatar have already begun to supply the rebels with weapons.) This is an important shift in policy, since the equipment would permit rebels militias to securely communicate with one another. Such gear may be nonlethal, but it's still military. How far is the White House prepared to go in helping the Free Syrian Army, as the military opposition calls itself? For the moment, it seems, not much further...............(Giving the rebels satellite phones is, of course, one way to do just that.) And then what? White House officials have not wanted to say what they would do once the opposition begins to present a united front -- perhaps in part because they don't know. But reports that the rebels are literally running out of bullets argue that if outsiders don't act fast, there will be no insurgency to support -- at which point, Assad will be able to crush his opponents with impunity.
One person I spoke to who does have a plan is a former government official with extensive experience in Syria. The opposition, he argues, needs not just weapons but "a comprehensive military and civilian battle plan" to defeat Assad. He envisions a multilateral effort in which the United States would provide not just communications technology but real-time military intelligence to help the rebels respond to government troop movements. Gulf states would provide the bulk of the weapons and funds; the Jordanians might provide special forces to work closely with the militia; Turkey would provide the staging ground itself as well as other forms of aid; and diplomats would give strategic guidance to the SNC.
Such an effort would look less like the bombing campaign in Libya and more like, well, the CIA-sponsored campaign to arm and train the mujahideen who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan. This is, of course, not a terribly encouraging analogy, since yesterday's anti-Soviet warriors became today's anti-American Taliban. We need no better reminder of the unintended consequences of supporting foreign insurgencies. But he did not shy away from the comparison. "We need to do what we did under Reagan," he said, "which is to actively support these insurgencies." But, he adds, we need to know who we are working with, to set out clear standards of behavior (LOL) and to condition our help on maintaining those standards -- as we did not do in Afghanistan. And we need to be careful that the international effort doesn't exacerbate the problem: The Saudis, for example, are likely to bring an overtly sectarian agenda to Syria. The effort would be better off with a bigger role for the Turks, and a smaller one for the Saudis.
The neo-mujahideen strategy has plenty of problems -- beyond the possibility of a Frankenstein insurgency...... there are no good solutions; only less bad ones. And Assad's evident willingness to kill his opponents, and his opponents' willingness to keep fighting, compels outsiders to urgently devise and implement a least-bad solution rather than wait for the opposition to demonstrate that it deserves support...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:51 AM
Friday, March 30, 2012
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:15 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:05 PM
Off Balance & In need of Medication: "Whatever happens to Syria it will be coming back to us & America is turning to the 'power of ideas'!"
"... Saudi Arabia is frustrated over how to counter Iran's maneuverings, which include expanding its influence with Iraq's Shiite-dominated government, training Islamic militants in Lebanon and arming Houthi rebels in Yemen. The kingdom's army battled the rebels in 2009 along the Saudi-Yemen border. Riyadh also alleges that Tehran is aiding an Al Qaeda branch in Yemen for attacks on oil targets inside the kingdom.
Saud said, however, that Iran's alliances with countries such as Iraq and Syria were not stronger than the allegiances those nations have to the Arab world."Syria and Iraq are Arab countries, and whatever change happens [they] will be coming back to the Arab fold and not going toward Iran," he said....Deep economic sanctions imposed on Iran have led to threats by Tehran to close the Strait of Hormuz, which would affect shipping lanes for all gulf countries. The Saudis have attempted to allay fears, saying that there is enough oil on the market and that it would boost output if necessary.Saudi Arabia and other gulf states are more alarmed by the specter of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear installations.(Not our understanding of the Wikileaks' recorded minutes!) Such an attack would probably shift international condemnation against Iran to Israel, spur terrorism against Jerusalem and possibly lead to a wider regional war. Saud said that Israel's rhetoric is reckless and that its security is not in jeopardy."Who is threatening Israel with atomic bombs? Which Arab countries are arrayed on the border of Israel? Is there a threat to Israel's security?" he asked. An Israeli attack on Iran without considering the wider consequences "would be an act of extreme uncaring for the region and its stability," (what happened to 'cutiing the snake's head'?) he said.Saud said his kingdom has been closely following the global debate over Washington's perceived loss of influence."People are saying that America is losing its power because it's not able to influence events in other countries," he said. "What you hear in the debate is that because America is not using its military force to solve things it's losing power."He said, however, that the White House was turning "to the power of ideas," which is "more important that the power of artillery."..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:22 PM
"... But Uzi Rubin, who was in charge of Israel’s missile defence from 1991 to 1999 and presided over the development of the Arrow anti- missile system, has a much more sombre view of Iran’s capabilities.The "bad news" for Israel, Rubin told IPS in an interview, is that the primary factor affecting Iran’s capability to retaliate is the rapidly declining cost of increased precision in ballistic missiles. Within a very short time, Iran has already improved the accuracy of its missiles from a few kilometers from the target to just a few meters, according to Rubin.That improvement would give Iran the ability to hit key Israeli economic infrastructure and administrative targets, he said. "I’m asking my military friends how they feel about waging war without electricity," said Rubin.The consequences of Iranian missile strikes on administrative targets could be even more serious, Rubin believes. "If the civilian government collapses," he said, "the military will find it difficult to wage a war."Rubin is even worried that, if the accuracy of Iranian missiles improves further, which he believes is "bound to happen," Iran will be able to carry out pinpoint attacks on Israel’s air bases, which are concentrated in just a few places.Some Israeli analysts have suggested that Israel could hit Iranian missiles in a preemptive strike, but Rubin said Israel can no longer count on being able to hit Iranian missiles before they are launched.Iran’s longer-range missiles have always been displayed on mobile transporter erector launchers (TELs), as Rubin pointed out in an article in Arms Control Today earlier this year. "The message was clear," Rubin wrote. "Iran’s missile force is fully mobile, hence, not pre-emptable."Rubin, who has argued for more resources to be devoted to the Arrow anti-missile system, acknowledged that it can only limit the number of missiles that get through. In an e-mail to IPS, he cited the Arrow system’s record of more than 80 percent success in various tests over the years, but also noted that such a record "does not assure an identical success rate in real combat."The United States and Israel began in 2009 developing a new version of the Arrow missile defense system called "Reshef" – "Flash" – or "Arrow 3," aimed at intercepting Iranian missiles above the atmosphere and farther away from Israeli territory than the earlier version of the Arrow. The new anti-missile system can alter the trajectory of the defensive missile and distinguish decoys from real missile reentry vehicles.Until last November, the Arrow 3 system was not expected to become operational until 2015. And that plan was regarded by U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) as probably too ambitious, because such a system would normally take a decade from conception to deployment.But Xinhua news agency reported in November that Israeli Air Force officials said they expected Arrow 3 to become operational by mid-2013, cutting even that abbreviated timeline for development of the system in half.Nevertheless, the ability of the Arrow 3 system to shoot down an incoming missile still has not been announced, although an Israeli official said Mar. 1 that such a test would take place after the meeting between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.In December 2008, Western intelligence sources were reported by Israel’s Ynet News as saying the improved version of the Shahab 3 missile had gone into production earlier that year and that Iran was believed to be able to produce 75 of the improved missiles annually.Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, then IDF chief of staff, told a visiting Congressional delegation in November 2009 that Iran already had 300 missiles capable of hitting Israeli targets, according to a U.S. State Department cable released by WikiLeaks.Those reports suggest that Iran now has roughly 450 missiles that can reach Israel, half of which are improved models with much greater precision. Even if only one-fifth of those missiles get through Israel’s missile defenses, Israeli cities could be hit by at least 100, most of which are able to hit targets with relative accuracy.The Netanyahu government has sought to minimise the threat of Iranian retaliation for an Israeli strike against Iran in part by likening war with Iran to those fought against Hezbollah and Palestinian rockets in recent years, which have resulted in relatively few Israeli civilian casualties...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:05 PM
Abu acknowledges: "...The relationship between Hezbollah and Iran remains complex and opaque, which is why it is worth taking with a grain of salt the analysis of anyone who claims to fully understand its intricacies..."
"... Hezbollah eventually forced Israeli troops out of southern Lebanon in 2000 and again defeated Israel in the 2006 Lebanon War, known in Lebanon as the July War. But even if Hezbollah’s senior leadership continues to pledge its fealty to the supreme leader in Tehran, there is ample reason to doubt Hezbollah is enthusiastic about attacking Israel again.First, Hezbollah’s core strength long ago ceased to be its relationship with Iran and is instead its relationship with its political constituency in Lebanon, which supports Hezbollah both by voting for its endorsed candidates in elections as well as through financial donations. This constituency, almost exclusively Shiite, was long made up of Lebanon’s economic and political downtrodden, but it is much wealthier today than it was in the early 1980s. People living in southern Lebanon and the predominantly Shiite suburbs of southern Beirut have a lot more to lose, materially, today than they did even in the 1990s. Hezbollah knows this, and it knows the war in 2006 was painful for its constituency. This might explain why the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, made the extraordinary concession after the war’s conclusion that he would not have ordered the July 12 kidnapping of Israeli soldiers that triggered the fighting had he known that the consequences would be so severe.Second, Israelis worried in the aftermath of the war in 2006 that they had lost their deterrence capability. Never again, they fretted, will our Arab enemies take us seriously. They could not have been more wrong. From the perspective of Hezbollah, each major Israeli offensive on Lebanon since the end of the Lebanese Civil War has been progressively more severe. Operation Accountability of 1993 was a brutal air and artillery campaign that destroyed more than 6,000 homes in southern Lebanon. Operation Grapes of Wrath of 1996 was likewise an air and artillery campaign, but one that also targeted civilian infrastructure in Beirut. And during the 2006 war, Israeli air and ground forces struck all over Lebanon, killing more than a thousand Lebanese and displacing hundreds of thousands more, while destroying billions of dollars worth of infrastructure. None of these punitive campaigns accomplished any of Israel’s immediate objectives. They were all, in a sense, failures. But all of them laid the groundwork for a pretty credible deterrent threat. When Israeli commanders speak of destroying the entirety of the southern suburbs of Beirut in a new campaign, as they did in 2006, Lebanese and Hezbollah leaders must take them at their word.Third, while Israel did not, in fact, lose its deterrent capability in 2006, the Iranians just might have. Israelis weathered the war in 2006 relatively well, with very few civilian casualties despite a 34-day bombardment of northern Israel by Hezbollah’s missiles. If the cost of a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, which Israel considers to be an existential threat, were a similar assault from southern Lebanon, that would be a price Israel could live with. If Iran was counting on Hezbollah to intimidate Israel into not attacking Iran, that strategy has obviously failed.I nonetheless believe that Hezbollah will strike Israel if the latter attacks Iran. The relationship between Hezbollah and Iran remains complex and opaque, which is why it is worth taking with a grain of salt the analysis of anyone who claims to fully understand its intricacies. But the financial, political and ideological ties between the two sides’ senior leadership will likely trump any constraints imposed by Hezbollah’s war-weary constituency.More interesting than the question of whether or not Hezbollah will strike Israel is the question of how it might do so. An expansion of the battlefield beyond southern Lebanon and northern Israel to Israeli targets abroad, such as embassies, might be one option Hezbollah would consider ...Another scenario, also quite possible, is one in which Israel pre-empts any action by Hezbollah by attacking targets in Lebanon -- specifically, sites suspected of housing Hezbollah’s medium-range rockets -- simultaneous to an attack on Iran. Such a pre-emptive attack would almost certainly trigger a response in the form of Hezbollah rockets. Previously, analysts had worried that a new war between Israel and Hezbollah would spill over into Syria, but the ongoing crisis there makes that less likely.In the end, Hezbollah finds itself in much the same position as the United States as it watches the clouds of war gather between Israel and Iran. Like the United States, it has reason to hope conflict can be averted. But like the United States, it is realistic about the likelihood that it will be drawn into a conflict once the first shots are fired."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:43 PM
"Do you think we could have turned the tide against the U.S. [Iraq] invasion? Why would Syria be different?"
"...... In a March 12 meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah asked his Jordanian counterpart to permit weapons shipments into Syria in exchange for economic assistance to Jordan, these officials say. Jordan hasn't yet agreed, they said....Saudi Arabia has argued strongly for weapons supplies to Syrian rebels despite U.S. concerns. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was traveling Thursday to Saudi Arabia to meet with the king and other senior Saudi officials, was expected to raise any Saudi plans to arm the Syrian rebels, U.S. officials said. The officials said the Obama administration remains opposed to introducing more arms into the conflict......Many Middle East officials view Saudi Arabia's arming of Afghan jihadis in the 1980s, through official and unofficial channels, as a prime contributor to the Afghan civil war and the rise of violent Islamic jihad. That has led to worries in many countries over the prospect of Saudi Arabia arming Syrian rebels now.In Baghdad, Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned that arming the Syrian opposition could invite a repeat of the insurgency and sectarian strife that consumed Iraq for years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. "It will lead to regional and global proxy wars in the Syrian arena," he said.Jordanian officials said they are unlikely to resist Saudi pressure for long. "We are a non-interventionist country. But if it becomes force majeure, you have to join—this is the story of Jordan," said a top Jordanian official.An arrangement between Saudi Arabia and Jordan, even if informal, would mark the first attempt to send in large quantities of weapons to Syria's rebels.....Jordanian officials point to Iraq as a precedent, saying they would expect to support the rebels at the last minute, when sentiment to arm them peaks.Jordan at first denounced the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq but later aided the war effort, despite the lucrative oil deals it held with Iraq. "We have to have both feet on the ground. Do you think we could have turned the tide against the U.S. [Iraq] invasion? Why would Syria be different?" ......Jordan remains nervous about arming the rebels, ...."You have to be very careful who you arm and don't arm. We don't quite know who this opposition is," said a third Jordanian official..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:51 AM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:36 AM
"... ..."Forty-one civilians died in the US attack. Fourteen members of the extended al Haydara clan were killed, along with 27 members of the al Anbouri clan. Three more people later died when they stepped on left-over cluster munitions.As a surviving woman later told reporter Jeremy Scahill, for Al Jazeera, ‘At 6am they were sleeping and I was making bread. When the missiles exploded I lost consciousness. I didn’t know what had happened to my children, my daughter, my husband. Only I survived with this old man and my daughter.’
Among those killed that day were 22 children....
A State Department spokesperson, speaking on background terms, replied: ‘I don’t have any information for you with respect to the December 17, 2009 incident in question. I refer you to the Government of Yemen...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:22 AM
(AP) — ".... The U.S. is hoping to help unify the splintered opposition's ranks while pushing for humanitarian aid and further isolation of Assad's regime. Saudi Arabia, along with fellow Gulf nation Qatar, has called for a more aggressive approach, ....International opponents of Assad are struggling to pin down a strategy on Syria as a peace plan put forward by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has so far failed to get off the ground. Syria has accepted the six-point plan,... Assad said Thursday that he wants the plan to succeed, but insisted that the opposition must first commit to a cease-fire as well...."Clinton will hold extensive talks with Saudi counterparts on the situation in Syria and on American efforts to stop bloodbath in Syria," a Saudi Foreign Ministry official in Riyadh said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he not authorized to discuss the talks.The talks came a day after an Arab League summit in Baghdad, where divisions among Arab nations over Syria were clear. In a sign that they see little hope in diplomatic efforts from the League, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf countries sent only low-level officials to the summit. In the end, the summit issued a joint resolution that held little new beyond expressing support for Annan's efforts.....For the U.S. and its allies, Syria is proving an especially murky conflict and one with no easy solutions. Assad's regime is of Washington's clearest foes, a government that has long been closely allied with Iran and anti-Israel groups Hamas and Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-led Gulf countries are eager to see Assad's fall in hopes of breaking Syria out of its alliance with their regional rival, Shiite-majority Iran.But the Syrian opposition is chronically fragmented. The Syrian National Council, a nominal opposition umbrella group based abroad, has limited authority on the ground. Syrian army defectors have set up a military leadership based in neighboring Turkey, but they too have only nominal command over the multiple armed rebel groups inside Syria. The U.S. has warned that al-Qaida and other Islamic militants are also taking advantage of the turmoil, attacking Assad's regime and trying to gain a foothold inside Syria.....Asked what might constitute success for Sunday's Friends of the Syrian People meeting in Istanbul, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, "We want to focus on humanitarian aid ........."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:35 AM
"...Concerned about the situation in West Asia due to Iran’s nuclear programme and Syria’s internal affairs, India, China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa on Thursday agreed that the issues in these countries should be resolved only through dialogue.PM Manmohan Singh said on Thursday, “We had an in-depth discussion on the situation in West Asia. We agreed that a lasting solution to the problems in Syria and Iran can only be found through dialogue.” ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:24 AM
"... at Haaretz, Amir Oren says that Israel has put off an attack until 2013 because of a U.S. analysis showing that Iranian counterattack would kill 200 Americans at once. Oren doesn't say where these Americans would die, but that the analysis has scotched Israeli plans:
"... According to a war simulation conducted by the U.S. Central Command, the Iranians could kill 200 Americans with a single missile response to an Israeli attack. An investigative committee would not spare any admiral or general, minister or president. The meaning of this U.S. scenario is that the blood of these 200 would be on Israel's hands..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:06 AM
Chubb Corp. gets $9.4 billion judgment against Hezbollah after the group defaulted in a lawsuit over the Sept. 11 attacks!
"A U.S. judge entered a $9.4 billion judgment against Hezbollah after the Lebanon-based group defaulted in a lawsuit over the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan today said that Hezbollah, designated a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department, must pay the damages to insurers including Chubb Corp. (CB) that sought to recoup payments to business and property policyholders for losses from the attacks.
The insurers won default judgments in 2006 against al-Qaeda and Hezbollah after the groups didn’t contest the suit."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:53 AM
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
As for the Saudis & Qataris, they seem to have been told to step aside and allow for the big boys to play. (US-Russia-China & Iran)
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:28 AM
"... Welcoming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's decision, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said he has to deliver what he has promised by accepting a proposal which mandates, among others, an immediate ceasefire and troop withdrawal.
"Given Assad's history of overpromising and under-delivering, that commitment must now be matched by immediate action," Clinton told reporters in Washington, according to an AP report. "We will judge Assad's sincerity and seriousness by what he does, not by what he says. If he is ready to bring this dark chapter in Syria's history to a close, he could prove it by immediately ordering regime forces to stop firing and begin withdrawing from populated areas."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:59 AM
Sunday, March 25, 2012
"The United States, European allies and even Israel generally agree on three things about Iran's nuclear program: Tehran does not have a bomb, has not decided to build one, and is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead.
Those conclusions, drawn from extensive interviews with current and former U.S. and European officials with access to intelligence on Iran, contrast starkly with the heated debate surrounding a possible Israeli strike on Tehran's nuclear facilities.
"They're keeping the soup warm but they are not cooking it," a U.S. administration official said.
Reuters has learned that in late 2006 or early 2007, U.S. intelligence intercepted telephone and email communications in which Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a leading figure in Iran's nuclear program, and other scientists complained that the weaponization program had been stopped.
That led to a bombshell conclusion in a controversial 2007 National Intelligence Estimate: American spy agencies had "high confidence" that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003.
Current and former U.S. officials say they are confident that Iran has no secret uranium-enrichment site outside the purview of U.N. nuclear inspections.
They also have confidence that any Iranian move toward building a functional nuclear weapon would be detected long before a bomb was made.
These intelligence findings are what underpin President Barack Obama's argument that there is still time to see whether economic sanctions will compel Iran's leaders to halt any program...
There are also blind spots in U.S. and allied agencies' knowledge. A crucial unknown is the intentions of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Another question is exactly how much progress Iran made in designing a warhead before mothballing its program. The allies disagree on how fast Iran is progressing toward bomb-building ability: the U.S. thinks progress is relatively slow; the Europeans and Israelis believe it's faster.
U.S. officials assert that intelligence reporting on Iran's nuclear program is better than it was on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, which proved to be non-existent but which President George W. Bush and his aides used to make the case for the 2003 invasion.
That case and others, such as the U.S. failure to predict India's 1998 underground nuclear test, illustrate the perils of divining secrets about others' weapons programs.
"The quality of intelligence varies from case to case," a U.S. administration official said. Intelligence on North Korea and Iraq was more limited, but there was "extraordinarily good intelligence" on Iran, the official said.
Israel, which regards a nuclear Iran as an existential threat, has a different calculation.(After its misadventure in Lebanon (2006), Israel is panicking: loss of credibility, deterrence and regional clout, are prompting all kinds of miscalculations!)..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:37 AM
"Nobody is discussing military operations," the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said last week. The insurgent Free Syrian Army has been driven out of strongholds in the central city of Homs, Idlib province in the north and, most recently, Deir el-Zour, in the east. Last Tuesday, Syrian soldiers supported by tanks rolled from four sides into Deir el-Zour, which is about 60 miles from the Iraqi border, forcing the rebels to flee and take shelter in homes and apartments after a short gun battle. Their retreat may make it more difficult to bring guns across the Iraq border from the overwhelmingly Sunni Anbar province. The swift Syrian army advance was in contrast with the month-long siege of the Baba Amr district of Homs which killed hundreds of people and left much of the area in ruins. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have blithely advised arming the insurgents, but there is little sign of them doing so.
What went wrong for the advocates of regime change? In general, they overplayed their hand and believed too much of their own propaganda. By this January, everything they did was predicated on international military intervention, or a convincing threat of it. But this ceased to be an option on 4 February when Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution, backed by the Arab League, calling on Assad to step down. The experience of the US, EU, Nato and the Arab Gulf states in overthrowing Muammar Gaddafi turned out to be misleading when it came to Syria.
This has been the experience of revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries throughout the ages. What succeeds in one country proves a recipe for disaster in another. There was also a misreading of what had happened in Libya. Watching al-Jazeera television, it might appear that heroic rebel militiamen – and at times they were heroic – had overthrown a tyrant but, in reality, military victory was almost wholly due to the Nato air assault...
In the second half of last year Assad appeared to be facing an all-powerful international coalition. It included Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the US, EU and Turkey. It emerged, however, that everybody was in favour of somebody doing something to bring him down – so long as that somebody was somebody else. There was talk of "safe havens" being established on the Jordanian or Turkish borders, but neither Jordan nor Turkey showed any enthusiasm for an act that would lead immediately to armed conflict with Syria. King Abdullah of Jordan said ruefully that he had nothing against "safe havens" so long as they were a long way from Jordan. Turkey cooled on the idea as it became apparent that it was becoming embroiled in a regional Shia-Sunni conflict that would lead to Iran retaliating against Turkey in defence of its Syrian ally...
The Syrian regime will not fall without a radical change in the balance of forces. The appointment of the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan as a UN-Arab League peace envoy is a face-saver to mask the failure so far of the regime's opponents."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:33 AM
Saturday, March 24, 2012
WASHINGTON, Mar. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An espionage ring smuggled 800 krytons to the Israeli Ministry of Defense for use in the clandestine Israeli nuclear weapons program according to newly declassified FBI files. The secret documents were originally scheduled for public release in the year 2036, but were obtained under appeal to the Justice Department by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep). The documents available online at http://www.IRmep.org/ila/krytons reveal new details about the failed effort to indict the nuclear smuggling ring's masterminds. ...
(continue here and comment)
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:54 PM
"US concern about Israeli intentions is reflected in increased US electronic & satellite surveillance of Israeli installations"
As President Obama heads to Seoul for the March 26-27 Nuclear Security Summit, attention is swinging toward the Korean Peninsula to which Obama will be travelling. With North Korea about to conduct a new long-range missile test, Administration officials are doing what they can to damp down tensions on the Korean peninsular.... The conference will, however, give Obama an opportunity to warn against the dangers of nuclear proliferation and to build international support for his strategy of isolating Iran. Here US officials believe that their argument that time should be allowed for sanctions to bite is gaining traction. Despite an unproductive meeting on March 20th between Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Dempsey and Israeli Chief of Staff Gantz at which the latter repeated Israel’s right to take its own decisions on its national interests, Intelligence Community analysts believe that their and Israeli assessments of Iranian capabilities are essentially the same. “We are looking at the same facts,” one analyst commented to us. “The difference between is that the Israelis believe that time is working against us.” US continuing high concern about Israeli intentions is reflected in increased US electronic and satellite surveillance of Israeli installations. Finally, we have been warning recently over the deterioration of US-Russia relations. This now appears to have led to a Russian decision not to participate in the May 20th-21st NATO summit in Chicago.
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:45 PM
"Looks like you just have to be the ‘right' terrorist organization to hold a fancy party in the US Congress!"
"...Those supporters, many of them paid, include Giuliani, Rendell, Vermont Governor Howard Dean, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. John Lewis (D-GA), former FBI Director Louis Freeh, former Sen. Robert Torricelli, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, former National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers, former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former Rep. Lee Hamilton, former CIA Director Porter Goss, senior advisor to the Romney campaign Mitchell Reiss, retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, and former Sen. Evan Bayh.
Congressional aides attended the event on Thursday in the hearing room both out of curiosity and hunger for free food. But multiple aides told The Cable the event was bizarre, even by Congressional standards.
"Looks like you just have to be the ‘right' terrorist organization to hold a fancy party in the halls and hearing rooms of Congress," one House aide told The Cable. "Hope everyone who ate their kabobs doesn't get hit with material support subpoenas."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:39 PM
Friday, March 23, 2012
MEPGS excerpts March 23, 2012
“Iran and Syria; Syria and Iran”, said one US official this week. Then he added, “That’s today. Tomorrow could be Egypt and that could be even worse.” However, with President Obama ‘s appearance before the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the focus was most directly on Iran. The President received plaudits from a wide variety of observers and government officials. As one well informed observer put it, “He made it clear where the Administration stands. Until now, many, even officials within the Administration were uncertain whether US policy would eventually lead to acceptance of the inevitability of Iran gaining a nuclear weapon. By ruling out a policy of “containment”, the President drew a line where one had not existed before.
This declaration clearly encouraged those who have taken a hard line on Iran, not only in the US but among European countries as well. who are concerned that “unacceptable” progress in developing a nuclear weapon by Iran is measured differently in Washington than in Jerusalem. What Israeli Defense Minister Barak has called Iran’s potential “zone of immunity” [from attack] will occur a lot sooner for Israel than for the US. And US officials, aware that Israel prizes its ability to act independently above most everything else, know it will not easily for them to accept that only the US can be in a position to set back, if not halt, Iran’s march to a nuclear weapon.
Yet the Israelis are also aware that just in the past few weeks have tough economic sanctions begun to affect Iran. New sanctions by the European Union; cutbacks in oil purchases by Japan and the latest blow, the cut-off of Iran’s access to the Belgian-based “SWIFT”, an international clearing house for financial transactions have the potential not only to seriously damage the Iranian economy, but in the view of US analysts, to threaten the stability of the regime.
The Parliamentary elections held earlier this month in Iran, which, according to US analysts, significantly enhanced the power of the “Supreme Leader”, Ayotollah Khameini, may, paradoxically, increase the chances for Iran to accede to international pressure on the nuclear issue. “For Khameini & Company, the name of the game is ‘survival,” says one State Department official. In his view, by emerging stronger from elections that, unlike those for President in 2009, were calm and peaceful, resulted in a splintering of power among many factions, thereby enhancing Khameini’s role as ultimate arbiter. Secure in power, he now has the authority, so the argument goes, to allow a deal with the so-called “P-5 + 1[Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany) in talks slated to begin in April.
In the meantime, the sanctions will continue to tighten adding incentives day-by-day for the Iranians to make a deal. It is expected by those involved in setting up the talks that the first round will be a mere exchange of formalities. Two more rounds, hopefully in succeeding months, will better determine whether the Iranians are serious about making a deal or merely stalling for time.
This scenario still leaves time for Israel to stay its military hand – something all those negotiating with Iran desperately desire. “There is no doubt that the Israeli threat of military action has had a salutary effect of pushing outside powers to squeeze Iran,” says one State Department insider. “But this will all boomerang should Israel not give us enough time.” Moreover, what worries some observers is Barak’s role. One veteran US official who dealt with Barak when he was Israel’s Prime Minister, found him to be “always convinced he was right, even when, in retrospect he was wrong.” Most Israeli analysts say that Barak is a “step ahead” of Prime Minister Netanyahu in his willingness to use military force against Iran. And while Netanyahu has used bellicose words himself, some veteran observers believe that ultimately the Prime Minister will back down in the face, not only of the prospect of international opprobrium, but after analyzing his own domestic polling which shows a minority supporting unilateral military action by Israel. “Bibi [Netanyahu’s nickname] lives and dies by the polls,” says one veteran diplomat, noting that in recent months he went against his own ideology on terrorism when he made a lopsided prisoner swap with Hamas for the release of one Israeli soldier and balked at the last moment in a deal with Turkey that would have reset Israeli-Turkish relations. “In both cases, Bibi went with the majority, according to the polls.”
Making deals with Turkey has become a problem for other international actors as well. With its formidable military and key geographical location, it is uniquely suited to pressure the Assad regime in Syria to halt its violent crackdown on armed and unarmed opposition. While, US officials strive to keep in contact with their Turkish counterparts, rumors have emerged that the key Turkish actor, Prime Minister Erdogan is in poor health. Since many analysts see him as something of a “one man band” [to cite a State Department official’s phrase], his absence from the scene could severely hamper international efforts to pressure Syria. [Although, Turkey is hosting a meeting of Syrian opposition figures on April 1].
Absent a strong Turkish role, pressure from the outside has had almost no effect on the actions of the Assad regime.... And US officials, like their European counterparts have continued, what might euphemistically be called a “cautious” approach to involvement in Syria. Only some of the Gulf States, led by Qatar, have begun to think in terms of greater assistance to those fighting the Assad regime. “The Qataris are pressing the Saudis to do more in the way of arming the resistance,” says one well informed US official. And, although the Saudis have made it clear they want Bashar and his entourage to go, they have not, as yet, devoted the means to making that happen..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:50 PM
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Syria: "The UNSC statement represents a face-saving way out for anyone who wants to back away from previous hard-line positions!"
'A very Unhappy British rep... leaving as the 'Statement is recited!'
"...“The positive outweighs the negative,” is perhaps the phrase that best expresses the official Syrian position on the United Nations presidential statement issued on Wednesday......... from the Syrian government’s point of view, the statement is still nothing but “empty words” even though it represents a face-saving way out for anyone who wants to back away from their previous hard-line positions against the Syrian regime.The Syrian position seems to highly value Russian efforts at the UN Security Council (UNSC), especially Moscow’s insistence to all concerned parties that its acceptance of this non-binding compromise does not mean a change in its principled position on the crisis in Syria.Syrian official sources say that “there is a clear direction now toward a political solution led by Syria and sponsored by the international community.”The source adds, “The question of President Bashar Assad stepping down...has been thrown in the trash bin. The only option offered by the international resolution is a dialogue within the framework of a political process led by Damascus.”...They point out that “there would no longer be a predetermined result to the dialogue which is what previous Arab decisions had demanded when Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco wanted a dialogue with set limits and a predetermined outcome, namely Assad’s departure.”These sources indicate that as far as Damascus is concerned “the mechanisms of the solution have become clear to everyone. The first step is to calm down the situation and provide emergency humanitarian aid, to be followed by a dialogue involving all those that have weight on the ground, after armed groups lay down their weapons.”They stress that “the last point is significant because it is the first time that the UNSC has recognized the presence of armed groups inside Syria.”The sources confirm that “Syria is committed to positive engagement. Now the opposition, along with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco, should do the same. If that were to happen then it will be the beginning of the end of the crisis.”....Sources close to the Syrian regime note that a “colossal efforts” was made by the Russians to get to this statement, pointing out that “Moscow exerted tremendous pressure and was keen to inform all concerned parties from the US to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar that its acceptance of the statement does not mean that there has been a change in its principled position on the Syrian crisis.”.........The sources point out that the statement also confirms the willingness of Syrian authorities to provide humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting but “at the right time,” meaning it will be up to the Syrian government to determine if it is possible to do so based on the situation on the ground.The same sources maintain that the question of humanitarian assistance is not a simple one. It requires defining a clear mechanism for delivering aid after it gets inspected.“There is a basic question at stake, namely, who guarantees that aid items won’t include weapons especially since civilians in many conflict areas have fled, leaving only the fighters who know how to fend for themselves. So why is there this insistence on delivering materials to these places?” they wonder.......When asked about the Syrian government’s position on this statement, the sources confirm that “for Syria, the outline is clear and that is: reject anything having to do with the Arab League and welcome anything related to the humanitarian situation based on conditions on the ground.”.... These sources confirm that the UN statement is a reflection of the Syrian authorities success in controlling the situation on the ground.They say: “the Russians cannot defend you this way unless you are strong. They would not have been able to do the same thing had you been defeated. Incidentally, every time you hear about an attack or explosion in Damascus or Aleppo, know that armed groups are responding to a setback they suffered somewhere else in Syria.”These sources are keen to confirm that “the whole story with Annan and his initiative is, until this moment, nothing but dust in the wind.”He came to Damascus and held talks offering what is called in diplomatic language a “non-paper,” and we replied in kind. We welcomed his effort without a paper. He left. He told us I will send a team to discuss the details and we welcomed that step too.“In the end,” they say, “we welcome any effort that contributes to finding a Syrian solution to the crisis without undermining Syrian sovereignty. But until now, there is no agreement with Annan and no agreement on his initiative.”The sources add that the UN envoy “sent a delegation of observers to Syria to discuss matters on the ground. But you know, observer missions are flexible.”“The Arab observers,” they add, “came here to carry out a specific mission and ended up working on delivering assistance to troubled areas. The same thing happened with Annan’s team. They are touring flashpoint areas and are still exploring the situation on the ground.”
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:52 PM
"... Analysts say Riyadh sent troops last year because of alarm that Bahrain had not contained protests that had the potential to spill over into the Shi'ite Eastern Province region, where major Saudi oilfields are located.
An opposition politician, who did not wish to be named, said Saudi Arabia now feared that the conflict in Syria, in which Shi'ite Iran and its ally Hezbollah back Bashar al-Assad's rule, could sharpen Bahrain's sectarian divide - detracting attention from Syria and firing up Saudi Shi'ites.
"The Saudis are worried (the stalemate) could push the Shi'ites towards Iran... and at what could emerge as a consequence of Syria," he said.....
Unrest in the Saudi Eastern Province has flared again in recent months.
"The Saudis really don't need unrest in the Eastern Province right now," said Michael Stephens, researcher at the Doha-based Royal United Services Institute. "The policy priority for Saudi Arabia has been Syria for last three months."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:55 PM
"... this means that Washington, which at one point subcontracted its Syria policy to Ankara, has now called the Turks off the regime of Bashar al-Assad.According to well-informed Turkish and US sources, during his meeting with Secretary Clinton, Davutoğlu put forward a set of measures, including, among others, creating a buffer zone and/or a humanitarian corridor, as well as organizing and equipping the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The secretary of state responded in no uncertain terms that the Obama administration had no interest in pursuing any of these options. In fact, according to one account, Clinton told her Turkish counterpart no less than three times, “We are not there.”This conversation fits well with the administration’s message to other regional allies, namely Saudi Arabia, against arming the FSA and pushing Washington’s preferred policy of going through the Russians, in an attempt to reach a “political solution” to the Syrian crisis.There were hints of Davutoğlu’s agenda on the eve of his meeting with Clinton, along with some speculation about Turkish-US consultation regarding the creation of a safe zone in northern Syria. The idea was that Turkey was prepared to move in this direction following the failure to reach an agreement with Moscow ..... Apparently, the Turks, much like the Saudis, were looking to the first Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis as a possible forum to bypass the Russians and begin a more muscular effort, with US backing. The Saudis found out at the meeting that no such action was forthcoming, and withdrew in frustration, while publicly voicing their preference for arming the Syrian rebels.The Turks got their answer from Secretary Clinton well before the Tunis gathering, and, according to the Turkish sources, were dismayed at the Obama administration’s extraordinary passivity and refusal to lead.The message conveyed to the Turks was the same one made clear to the Saudis. According to one US source, when Davutoğlu ended up asking Clinton where the administration was on the issue, her response simply repeated the mantra about the Arab League initiative and going to the Security Council again for another go at the Russians. In other words, it was more of the same.Not surprisingly, following the meeting, the Turkish foreign ministry pulled back, stating that direct intervention “is not on our agenda at the moment.” The Turks may have finally decided that more aggressive measures are needed. However, and despite the fact that Clinton may not have objected to Turkey moving on its own, Ankara remains reluctant to lead such an endeavor on its own, especially without explicit US approval and backing. In effect, therefore, the administration was actively blocking any such move on Turkey’s part, just as it held a red light to possible Saudi and Qatari plans to arm the FSA.However, last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan once again floated the idea of a buffer zone, adding that the next Friends of Syria meeting, scheduled to take place in Istanbul on April 1, would come up “with very different results,” ..... there has been speculation that the Saudis, too, are waiting for the April 1 meeting before beginning their efforts to arm the FSA in earnest. The purpose of such declarations could be to pressure the US to take more aggressive action.If this reading is correct, then it would explain the Obama administration’s eagerness to support the Kofi Annan mission, as well as its praise for the non-binding UN Security Council statement issued yesterday. Secretary Clinton hailed the statement even when it contained no mention of Assad’s departure from power, no time constraints on Annan’s mission, and no specific or credible threat of action in case of Syrian non-compliance, ....... Whether the Saudis and the Turks will decide to proceed regardless with their plans following the next Friends of Syria meeting, remains to be seen. But the administration’s latest move certainly has limited their maneuverability.The Obama administration’s reasoning is simple. It calculates, rather correctly, that such regional efforts will likely end up drawing the US in down the road, one way or another. President Obama wishes to nip in the bud any possibility of this happening in an election year. And so, such regional moves were opposed in order for the president not to be forced to take action he’s adamantly intent on avoiding, regardless of the consequences.As a result, the administration has found itself in the surreal position of siding closer with Assad’s Russian ally..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:44 PM