"....Making an understanding even more urgent is the uneasy state of the region. From the outset, the political system’s frailty has drawn in neighbouring states but rarely in so perilous a fashion as now. Following the U.S. troop withdrawal and the growing sectarian rift that has opened in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab uprisings, Iraq could fast become a privileged arena for a regional slugfest. While all attention today is focused on Syria, regional actors, the Maliki government included, appear to see Iraq as the next sectarian battleground, particularly should Bashar Assad’s regime fall. Founded in reality or not, the perception in Baghdad is that the emergence of a Sunni-dominated Syria would embolden Sunni militant groups at home; the prime minister also feels that a broad Sunni alliance led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey has painted a target on his chest as part of their cold war with Iran and, more broadly, with Shiite Islam. Maliki has thus essentially thrown in his lot with the regime next door, notwithstanding their tense relations in years past; some neighbours likewise are convinced he has grown ever closer to Tehran. ..."
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:10 PM
"...Although Turkey’s state oil and gas pipeline company, Botaş, has been able to meet domestic demand by turning to more expensive imports from Russia and its neighbors, these attacks have serious implications for Turkey’s energy ambitions. PKK pipeline sabotage, as well as its ongoing insurgency against Turkish military forces and populations, comes at a time when Turkey is trying secure more energy suppliers, namely in Iraq where Turkish state and private companies are heavily invested. PKK attacks, as well as ongoing instability on the Iraqi side, could stifle Turkey’s aim to increase cheap oil and gas imports —and the lucrative pipeline tariff revenues linked to it. Ongoing PKK violence will also require Ankara to assume greater responsibility in assuring pipeline security, particularly if it wants the private sector to help build pipelines in southeastern Turkey. ........ as the PKK and Kurdish issue becomes enflamed in Syria, as Iraqi Sunni Arabs become increasingly critical of KRG energy plans in disputed territories, and as Turkey’s 2014 elections start to loom on Ankara’s horizon, the prospects of further autonomizing the KRG through its own pipeline are grimmer than ever. Without an alternative export route or a national hydrocarbons law, the KRG will be further pressed to negotiate with Baghdad or run its own energy sector as a large trucking operation. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:48 PM
'Conventional Arab threat'
"....Before the fall of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia set off protests and changes in governments across the region, Israel was surrounded by a set of outwardly unfriendly but decidedly status quo states. Israel had peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan and cold but stable relationships with Syria and Saudi Arabia. Today, however, Israel looks around the region with great consternation: Egypt has a newly emboldened Muslim Brotherhood president; Jordan increasingly is viewed as unstable in the face of growing protests; Syria is in the midst of a civil war; Bashar al-Assad has threatened to rain missiles down on Tel Aviv  should NATO try to dislodge him; and even the Saudis now are dealing with protests in their country’s Eastern Province. Furthermore, political scientists long have known that newly democratizing countries are the type of state most likely to go to war as new political parties ride the tiger of nationalism in order to win votes....
The question is whether this situation more closely resembles 1949 or 1968. In other words, is Israel about to enter an era of constant threats from its neighbors and regional instability, or are the states on Israel’s borders content to let the status quo remain despite the upheaval in their internal politics? For a number of reasons, the answer is the latter. First, Israel’s neighbors no longer have the capability to present a genuine threat to Israel due to internal problems. But the absence of a capable outside power backing them has also shifted the strategic environment in Israel’s favor.
Israel’s neighbors are wracked with economic hardships and political infighting. As Gabriel Scheinmann points out, both Egypt and Syria are in economic free fall , with foreign reserves plummeting, foreign direct investment nearly nonexistent and enormous budget shortfalls. Jordan also has a large current-account deficit and budgetary pressure (due to subsidies for food and energy) as well as a fuel shortage. None of these countries have the wherewithal to start wars with Israel, and Egypt and Jordan desperately need foreign aid from the United States that would disappear should their peace treaties with Israel be abrogated. Israel’s neighbors cannot afford to take on Israel militarily—even if their armies were up to the task.
Furthermore, the Arab Spring actually has benefited Israel by taking it off the table as a primary domestic political concern. In the past, Arab governments were able to alleviate pressure on themselves by bringing up the plight of the Palestinians and redirecting public anger toward Israel, thus papering over the fact that Arab states were failing their people. As Arab publics have gained more of a say in their own political affairs, however, bread-and-butter issues rather than perfidious Zionists have become paramount. Governments expected to be responsive to societies that have had a taste of democratic politics can no longer play the Israel card to the exclusion of all else.
While 61 percent of Egyptians  still want to scrap the treaty with Israel, this should not be mistaken for a desire to go to war or to put fighting Israel ahead of improving the economy and the rule of law. The conventional wisdom is that governments that have to take public preferences into account are going to have to put distance between themselves and Israel, and while this is undoubtedly true, it misses the big picture. Egypt and Jordan may stop coordinating with Israel on a host of issues, but that presents a very different problem than having to be on constant alert for invading ground forces. As for Syria, Assad has his hands full trying to remain in power and has passed the point where launching an attack on Israel will net any domestic political benefits. While Jerusalem is concerned about Assad passing chemical weapons to Hezbollah, the chance that Assad himself will deploy them against Israel is remote, and other groups such as the Kurdish Democratic Union Party don’t even register Israel as a concern. The struggle to fully control Syria will take a long time to play out....... In contrast, the only country today that approaches an outside power willing to fund the battle against Israel is Iran, and it is a poor substitute for the Soviets.
Not only is Iran’s economy being hammered by Western sanctions, rising inflation and falling oil prices, Tehran also is being snubbed by former friends and newly emergent foes. Hamas, which lived off Iranian money for years, has had a falling-out with its former patron  due to Hamas’s abandoning of Damascus and Bashar al-Assad. As a result, Iran’s power to issue orders to the Hamas leadership has waned, if not disappeared entirely. Iran also is unlikely to carry much sway with Sunni Islamist parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or the Islamic Action Front in Jordan. And while Syria is still in the fold, Assad is too preoccupied with hanging onto power to launch a war against Israel, and Hezbollah has been discredited through its support for Assad.
Israel should not be completely unconcerned. The reduced capacity of the new Egyptian government already has turned lawlessness in Sinai into a real headache for Israel, and Hezbollah’s capacity to bombard northern Israel with rockets has not gone away while the chances of the group obtaining Syria’s chemical-weapons arsenal has gone up. Nevertheless, the Arab Spring actually has made Israel’s borders more secure, and the risk of a war with a neighboring government is perhaps at its lowest point in decades. While Islamist parties coming to power may assault Israel with unpleasant rhetoric, that is the only bombardment that will reach Israel for the foreseeable future."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:41 PM
"... Syrian forces have been steadily gathering armour and troops on the outskirts of Aleppo, many parts of which are believed to remain loyal to the regime. The foreign minister, Walid Moualem, on Sunday claimed rebel fighters had been ousted from neighbourhoods in Damascus they had held for more than 10 days. Speaking during a visit to Iran, Mouallem said of the rebel campaign: "So they moved on to Aleppo. I assure you their plots will fail."
The coming battle is seen by both sides as a crucial phase in the uprising. Rebels advanced without the heavy weapons they had been pleading for ....
The commander said unless the opposition could get access to heavy weapons it would take "two to three years" to defeat Assad's military machine. He did not think Damascus would wage a large-scale frontal assault on Aleppo; instead it would bomb rebel-held districts from the sky....'
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:29 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:18 PM
"...Iran has warned neighbor Turkey that it will meet a harsh response should Ankara carry out any strikes inside Syrian territory, a pro-Damascus daily reported on Monday."Any attack on Syrian territory will meet with a harsh response, and the Iranian-Syrian mutual defense agreement will be activated," the Al-Watan newspaper said."Turkey has received very strong warnings in the past few hours and the following message – beware changing the rules of the game," the paper added.....
Al-Watan cited an "Arab diplomat" as accusing Turkey of seeking to use its fears about the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which already enjoys rear-bases in the far north of Iraq, as a pretext to intervene in Syria.
"Ankara is preparing an agreement with Washington to intervene militarily in the Syrian (crisis), using the Kurdish card as an excuse," the paper said.
"Turkey has agreed with the United States on a military intervention limited to the north of Syria, specifically the northern province of Aleppo, to pave the way for the creation of a safe haven guarded by the armed gangs."
Turkish newspapers have reported that some Kurdish-majority regions of northern Syria have been flying the flag of Syria's PKK ally, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), in what they have said is a deal with the Assad government, which was a longtime backer of the Kurdish rebel group's insurgency in Turkey. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:11 PM
Way Forward in Syria Is Not Via Iran: pThe new Johns Hopkins SAIS dean, Vali Nasr, is right to worry, in this New York Times op-ed, about the dangers lurking in a post-Assad Syria, which could turn out to experience a civil war like Lebanon or Iraq did–only with scant hope of outside forces (the Syrian army in Lebanon, the U.S. Army in Iraq) [...]/p
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:56 AM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:45 AM
Monday, July 30, 2012
'Syrian troops after regaining Damascus'
"... IMO, the rebels have miscalculated. Their force has not "evolved" enough to confront significant conventional forces in an urban environment or anywhere else that the conventional forces can "pin" them in place against terrain or some other obstacle.
They will pay heavily for this error. They will lose a lot of men, and be driven from the city. Following that defeat IMO the Syrian millitary will move further north and northwest to regain control og the "sanctuaries" on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey. They will succeed in doing this unless Turkey intervenes directly in the fighting.
This would not mean the end of the war. Following such a defeat the rebels are likely to spend an extended period re-building their force in Turkey...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:23 PM
"... JERUSALEM - Mitt Romney told Jewish donors Monday that their culture is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the nearby Palestinians, outraging Palestinian leaders who called his comments racist and out of touch.
``As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality,... And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things,'.....'' the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who breakfasted around a U-shaped table at the luxurious King David Hotel.
The reaction of Palestinian leaders to Romney's comments was swift and pointed.
``What is this man doing here?'' said Saeb Erekat..." (POWERFUL reaction!)
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:47 PM
It was a not-so-subtle reminder that, even in a country friendly to the United States, the CIA was itself being watched.
In a separate episode, according to another two former U.S. officials, a CIA officer in Israel came home to find the food in the refrigerator had been rearranged. In all the cases, the U.S. government believes Israel's security services were responsible.
Such meddling underscores what is widely known but rarely discussed outside intelligence circles: Despite inarguable ties between the U.S. and its closest ally in the Middle East and despite statements from U.S. politicians trumpeting the friendship, U.S. national security officials consider Israel to be, at times, a frustrating ally and a genuine counterintelligence threat.
In addition to what the former U.S. officials described as intrusions in homes in the past decade, Israel has been implicated in U.S. criminal espionage cases and disciplinary proceedings against CIA officers and blamed in the presumed death of an important spy in Syria for the CIA during the administration of President George W. Bush.
The CIA considers Israel its No. 1 counterintelligence threat in the agency's Near East Division, the group that oversees spying across the Middle East, according to current and former officials. Counterintelligence is the art of protecting national secrets from spies. This means the CIA believes that U.S. national secrets are safer from other Middle Eastern governments than from Israel...."The incident, described by three former senior U.S. intelligence officials, might have been dismissed as just another cloak-and-dagger incident in the world of international espionage, except that the same thing had happened to the previous station chief in Israel.
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:25 AM
Via MoonOfAlabama; '
What will happen in Aleppo?Probably what happened in Damascus – the rebels will lose. ...But the rebels look to be doing well on TV?That’s because they are winning the propaganda war better than the real war. ...But why is the Syrian army shelling its own people?You could just as easily ask why are the rebels using the Syrian people as human shields? It’s a dirty civil war and the rebels sometimes choose to fight in residential areas. ...So what do Syrians want?Hard to tell. But for sure this is not Egypt – there are no Tahrir Squares or vast protests against the regime.There is no discernible sign in any of the big cities – Homs, Aleppo and Damascus for example,that the people even wish to rise up against the regime ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:11 AM
"... However, as Human Rights Watch notes, increasing numbers of Palestinians have picked up arms and joined the FSA. Colonel Kassem Saadeddine, spokesperson for the FSA, confirmed that "Palestinians are fighting alongside us, and they are well trained." And while it’s impossible to know just how many have joined, it’s remarkable to think about the impact the Palestinians could have if even just one percent of the population joined the fighting; that would be a total of 5,000 fighters (imagine that!)...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:04 AM
"... "The Turkish police are watching the border, but with their eyes closed," said Ahmed al-Debisi, a Syrian pharmacist and opposition member based in Antakya, who is trying to clandestinely make gas masks out of Coke cans ....
It seems the Antakya area is becoming a magnet for foreign jihadis, who are flocking into Turkey to fight a holy war in Syria. One Turkish truck driver said he passed through the Bab al-Hawa border post on Wednesday night and spotted four foreign fighters with guns and rough Arabic accents, leading him to believe they were Pakistani, Afghan or possibly Chechen.
Another border zone, just inside Syria, was seized by Kurdish militias, leaving the Turks deeply concerned that the rapid unraveling of the Assad government could reinvigorate Kurdish militants in Turkey......
Every night, the border is bustling along illegal crossing points. Medicine and supplies flow into Syria, and bloodied fighters trudge out.
But Antakya used to be a hot weekend destination for Syrians coming across to shop. One tourist operator said he used to get 2,000 customers per day, but now it is down to zero. The operator, who did not want to be identified because he was embarrassed about going bankrupt, said he had just laid off the last of his three secretaries.
"This conflict did not affect us," he said. "It finished us."..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:51 AM
... in Arabic this means that the insurgency's back is broken!
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:23 AM
"..."If they continue this kind of tragic attack on their own people ... I think it ultimately will be a nail in Assad's coffin," Mr Panetta told reporters travelling with him from Washington. "His regime is coming to an end."Mr Panetta said he would use his meetings in Tunisia, Egypt, Israel and Jordan to reinforce an international consensus that Assad must step down and allow a peaceful transition to a democratic form of government...."
Saturday, July 28, 2012
"...With the Syrian regime proving resistant to a quick collapse, and anti-Assad sentiment within the regime stifled by fear of victor's justice, what's Plan B?
It seems to be Send in the Clowns.
In other words, find an ex-regime figurehead who is at least superficially palatable to the Syrian populace and sufficiently obedient to the foreign coalition, and can also persuade the Assad regime that his first act will be to push a bill through the (presumably unrepresentative, hand-picked, and tractable) transitional legislature granting a graceful exit to Assad and amnesty to his associates (aside from some carefully-chosen scapegoats) from prosecution for their past crimes in the name of reconciliation....
The initial candidate for the exalted role of transition leader is Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, who fled Syria amid widespread huzzahs a few weeks ago.
Tlass has been literally grooming himself for his role as popular leader for months, growing out his military haircut into a heroic Byronic mane prior to his defection.
His photographic prop is a big cigar, presumably to reinforce the image of manly leadership,...He is also, apparently, France's great hope for clout in Syria, as this priceless excerpt from the Christian Science Monitor reveals:
Now, Mustafa [his father] and Tlass's sister, Nahed Ojjeh, are living in Paris, where Ms. Ojjeh is a prominent socialite who once dated a former French foreign minister....
However, Qatar appears comfortable with another high-level defector, one who also happens to be Sunni (as is Tlass), but was an important cog in the Assad machine and has hands-on experience with the nitty gritty of restoring order in a violent and dangerous set of circumstances.
The man is Nawaff al-Faris, formerly Syria's ambassador to Iraq. According to an interlocutor communicating with the As'ad AbuKhalil's Angry Arab blog, Ambassador Nawaff is quite a piece of work, having earned his bones with the Ba'ath regime as battalion commander during the legendary Hama massacre of 1982,....
The longer regime collapse is delayed, the greater the risk that important elements of the insurrection might slip the leash, start fighting with each other as well as against Assad, and contribute to the creation of a failed state where Syria used to be....
Bashar al-Assad is doing a pretty good job of staying in power and crushing the insurrection. The longer he is able to cling to power, the more shattered and divided Syria becomes - and the less useful it is to the West and the Gulf states as a proxy warrior in the battle with Shi'ite Iraq and Iran."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:25 AM
"... “It would be difficult for Republicans to get 35 percent of the Jewish vote, but it’s not impossible,” said Mik Moore, the treasurer of the Jewish Council for Education and Research, the super PAC that produced and financed the Web video in which comedienne Sarah Silverman offers to allow billionaire casino-executive Sheldon Adelson an evening of lesbian-style sex known as “scissoring” if he pulls his support for Romney.
Adelson has promised to spend $100 million of his own fortune to defeat Obama. He will be with Romney in Israel and will help host a fundraiser for the candidate while he’s there...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:14 AM
With both President Obama and Governor Romney last week making foreign policy speeches to the same audience of veterans, international issues edged back into the political debate. As Romney undertakes an international visit to the UK, Poland and Israel, he will have the opportunity to clarify his own foreign policy views – an area in which he is less experienced than on the economy. In anticipation of calls by Romney for further support for Israel and to coincide with his there, the Administration has announced an enhanced security package for Israel. Our contacts with the Romney campaign suggest, however, that under his Administration foreign policy would still come a distant second to the economy. Overall, his approach might not be radically different from Obama’s. There would be a stronger tone toward Russia and China, but there is unlikely to be any delay in the timetable of withdrawal from Afghanistan. Caution toward direct US military intervention, notably in Syria and Iran, would continue. There might also be a new emphasis on Latin America, the “rebalancing” of US strategy toward the Asia-Pacific and Obama’s emphasis on drones and special forces in the counter-terrorism sphere would continue or even be extended. The military budget would be less under pressure. This all lies ahead. For the present, the dominant issue is Syria and, by extension, Iran. Despite the sharply deteriorating situation there, military intervention by the US remains unlikely. There are certainly voices inside the Administration advocating a more robust approach and, as the bloodshed mounts, they will become more influential. However, Obama’s closest advisers, among them Tom Donilon, the National Security Adviser, continue to warn that intervention carries unwanted risks. Behind-the-scenes exchanges with Russia have yet to see are a meeting of minds. Romney’s Israel visit will return the spotlight to Iran as the chief regional risk. On a more reassuring note, intelligence community analysts are cautiously optimistic that tensions on the Korean Peninsular are easing. They are not yet ready to anoint the new leader Kim Jong-eun as a reformer, but they do see him as fully in control and showing some signs of rethinking some of his father’s economic tactics. They do not see any change with regard to North Korea’s nuclear program.
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:09 AM
"... Police on the armored vehicles then started shooting at the protesters in the early hours of Friday, injuring around 14 including Shakhouri who was arrested, the activist said.
Mansour al-Turki, the Interior Ministry spokesman, told Reuters the gathering did not exceed 300 people and said the arrests of the "troublemakers" had nothing to do with the gathering, which occurred in a different part of the city..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:03 AM
Hezbollah's Moussawi: 'On July 11, 2006 I was meeting with a 'deposed Arab ruler' & five of his lieutenants ...'
Moussawi then told al Mayadeen's Ghassan bin Jeddo that the meeting (s) was per repeated requests of the 'deposed Arab ruler' and that the ousted guy was adamant to have many of his non civilian lieutenants present (all of whom are alive and in power)...'
Bin Jeddo discarded the posdibilty that the 'deposed' was Bin Ali or Qaddafi (both for obvious reasons) that of course left Mubarak, Tantawi & co.
Moussawi neither denied nor confirmed.
Reminder: Mubarak's regime was one that championed all things anti-Hezbollah. To hear that they requested regular meetings with one of the region's most effective organizations (HzB) to 'coordinate' is not surprising.
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:41 AM
....but in conclusion, Fisk will not miss an opportunity to quantify Bashar Assad's 'numbered days'.
"... How long would the President last, then? "Bashar will not run away from Damascus – this is rubbish in Western newspapers." Then came the killer line. "A month or two, maybe"
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:19 AM
And yet, Western media loves the term 'rebels'
"... A Dutch freelance photographer, Jeroen Oerlemans, contacted by telephone in Turkey, described a harrowing ordeal during which he and his captured colleague, a British photographer, John Cantlie, were held at a camp in Syria by a group of several dozen foreign jihadists, who kept them hooded and blindfolded and repeatedly threatened to kill them.
Mr. Oerlemans said their captors apparently included no Syrian fighters, but instead jihadists from Bangladesh, Britain, Chechnya and Pakistan. The photographers were seized on July 19 shortly after they entered Syria at Bab al-Hawa, a border crossing with Turkey that has been reported under control of a jihadi group..."
Friday, July 27, 2012
".... All told, the trajectory of recovery has been flatter than initially reported; but for the last quarter of 2009 and the last quarter of 2011, when growth rose to 4%, output has expanded less than 3% every single quarter of the recovery and below 2% a full third of the time. Since the recovery began in the third quarter of 2009, the output gap has scarcely closed at all, falling from roughly $1 trillion to about $800 billion. Little wonder that unemployment remains well above its long-term rate.
The poor performance will open up additional room for criticism of President Obama by his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. But even slow growth has typically been enough to carry incumbents to victory..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:11 PM
In Incirlik, it would look like a Star Spangled SQUARE!
(Reuters) - Turkey has set up a secret base with allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria's rebels from a city near the border, Gulf sources have told Reuters.News of the clandestine Middle East-run "nerve centre" working to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad underlines the extent to which Western powers - who played a key role in unseating Muammar Gaddafi in Libya - have avoided military involvement so far in Syria."It's the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main co-ordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom," said a Doha-based source."The Americans are very hands-off on this. U.S. intel(ligence) are working through middlemen. Middlemen are controlling access to weapons and routes."The centre in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 100 km (60 miles) from the Syrian border, was set up after Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud visited Turkey and requested it, a source in the Gulf said. The Turks liked the idea of having the base in Adana so that they could supervise its operations, he added.A Saudi foreign ministry official was not immediately available to comment on the operation.Adana is home to Incirlik, a large Turkish/U.S. air force base which Washington has used in the past for reconnaissance and military logistics operations. It was not clear from the sources whether the anti-Syrian "nerve centre" was located inside Incirlik base or in the city of Adana.Qatar, the tiny gas-rich Gulf state which played a leading part in supplying weapons to Libyan rebels, has a key role in directing operations at the Adana base, the sources said. Qatari military intelligence and state security officials are involved."Three governments are supplying weapons: Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia," said a Doha-based source.Ankara has officially denied supplying weapons."All weaponry is Russian. The obvious reason is that these guys (the Syrian rebels) are trained to use Russian weapons, also because the Americans don't want their hands on it. All weapons are from the black market. The other way they get weapons is to steal them from the Syrian army. They raid weapons stores."The source added: "The Turks have been desperate to improve their weak surveillance, and have been begging Washington for drones and surveillance." The pleas appear to have failed. "So they have hired some private guys come do the job...........
"The Qataris are coming; The qataris are coming!'
"The Qataris mobilized their special forces team two weeks ago. Their remit is to train and help logistically, not to fight," said a Doha-based source with ties to the FSA.Qatar's military intelligence directorate, Foreign Ministry and State Security Bureau are involved, said the source. The United States, Israel, France and Britain - traditionally key players in the Middle East - have avoided getting involved so far, largely because they see little chance of a "good outcome" in Syria."..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:05 PM
"... The developments in Kurdish areas, however, suggest no matter who wins the civil war, the fighting is shifting the politics of Syria and its neighbours in ways that cannot be predicted.
The establishment of a Kurd-ruled zone inside Syria has long been a goal of the Kurdish population. Leaders of the anti-Assad opposition have said they would oppose such a zone, and Kurdish fighters have said they would not allow the Free Syrian Army to operate in the region.
Turkey fears a Syrian Kurdish state run by the PKK will radicalise its own Kurds, who number 12 million of its population of 74 million. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of Syrian Kurdish fighters have taken part in PKK raids inside Turkey over the years...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:19 AM
MOSCOW. July 27 (Interfax) -" Any attempt to attack the Russian naval supplies and maintenance facility at the Syrian port of Tartus will be rebuffed immediately, a source in the Russian General Staff told Interfax-AVN on Friday.
"If the armed Syrian opposition ventures to implement their threat and to attack the Russian naval supplies and maintenance facility, Russia has ample capabilities in the region now to provide an adequate response. We won't recommend hotheads in the Syrian opposition doing that," he said.
"The Syrian side, too, has taken corresponding measures to enhance the naval supplies and maintenance base's protection and defense," he said."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:36 AM
'I warn the Russian Army!'
"... "We have a warning for the Russian forces: if they will send any more weapons that kill our families and the Syrian people we will hit them hard inside Syria," said Louay al-Mokdad, a logistical coordinator for the Free Syrian Army (FSA)...Informers inside the regime are telling that us that there is a big weapons' shipment arriving at Tartous in the next two weeks. We don't want to attack the port, we are not terrorists, but if they keep acting like this we will have no choice....."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:20 AM
Military secrets that he was never privy to! Unless you consider "How to use hair gel & roll a Cuban cigar" a top secret military secret.
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:11 AM
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Casually: "How were those assassinations carried out? Was it the Israelis? Was it the Americans? How was it done?"
Rehm: Martin Indyk, we continue to hear those within Damascus throughout Syria saying, where is the United States? What is the United States doing? What more can it do?
Indyk: Well, I think that those who are calling for U.S. military intervention are likely to continue to be disappointed. The heart of the matter is that the president wants to run on a campaign platform of ending wars in the Middle East, not starting new ones, and that is broadly popular in the United States..... Simply put, the American people are war-weary after 10 years of war in the greater Middle East.
Rehm: Mm hmm.
Indyk: And so that kind of military intervention is unlikely. So the focus is much more on helping to support the opposition, perhaps now training them, supporting Saudi Arabia and Qataris....., .........
Rehm: Of course, the question becomes, how were those assassinations carried out? Was it the Israelis? Was it the Americans? How was it done?
Sadjadpour: Perhaps Aram knows more than I do. What I've read about the assassinations are is it's conflicting because the Syrian regime claims that there were suicide bombings conducted by terrorists. But journalists who went to the scene (and Sadjapour the 'expert' is talking about a most important HQ in Damascus, after this decapitation attempt) didn't see any signs of major explosions.....
Nerguizian: Well, I don't argue with Karim. You don't have a reliable set of narratives..... it's still an ongoing story. I don't think we have a clear picture. There's talk of involvement of Jordanian intelligence, potentially Turkish intelligence, but it's all heresy at this point.
Rehm: Martin Indyk.
Indyk: I think that if we look at the longer term trends in this battle, we can draw some more interesting conclusions which is that, first of all, ... we are witnessing is the last months -- I'm not sure about last days -- of this regime."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:28 PM
"... Unidentified fighters have shot down an Iraqi army helicopter in clashes that have killed at least 19 people including 12 policemen, a regional official has said.The fighting around the town of Hadid on Thursday follows a warning last weekend from al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq to push back into areas the group was driven out of by the US military after sectarian fighting peaked in 2007.
Diyala provincial spokesman Salih Ebressim Khalil said fighters opened fire on the helicopter, killing one soldier, wounding another and forcing the aircraft to make an emergency landing. The rest of the crew was unharmed....
In a statement posted online last Saturday, local al-Qaeda leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced a new campaign dubbed "Breaking the Walls".
He said it sought to undermine the nation's weakened Shia-led government by realigning with Sunni tribes, and returning to areas it was driven from before the American military withdrew from Iraq last December.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq is regarded by Iraqi officials as significantly weaker than at the peak of its strength in 2006 and 2007, but it is still capable of spectacular mass-casualty attacks across the country...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:03 PM
"... The military has been at work super-sizing its bunker-busters for years, and the Massive Ordnance Penetrator is the premier upgraded weapon. Supposedly, it can penetrate 60 feet of reinforced concrete, although it depends just how hard that concrete is. Although the Pentagon has spent over $200 million developing 30 of the bombs, there are doubts over how well equipped it is to destroy the hardened facilities believed to house Iran’s nuclear program...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:51 PM
WaPo's Ignatius: "Option of a US-led military intervention in Syria is receding in the face of reality"
"... An advertisement of the limits of U.S. power was the tirade last week by U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice, who called the Russians “pitiful,” “dangerous” and “deplorable” .... In this fulmination, she was emulating her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has described Russian actions as “despicable” and “intolerable.” This diplomacy-by-insult toward a country we are nominally seeking as a partner is counterproductive. Enough, already.The reality, whether the Russians like it or not, is that the Syrian opposition is stumbling its way toward the gates of Damascus. Major Syrian figures are defecting, and more are said to be on the way. Meanwhile, the United States and its allies are divvying up the pieces of an increasingly potent covert action program — with the Saudis and Qataris providing money and weapons, America providing communications and logistics (a.k.a. command and control) and the Turks, Jordanians, Israelis and Emiratis providing intelligence support on the ground.
Even as the opposition pushes Assad toward the door, officials should worry about what comes next. U.S. officials reckon that well over 100 al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters are active in Syria, and that the numbers are growing as the fighting intensifies. A jihadist state that provides a new foothold for al-Qaeda would be a disaster for the region. Preventing this outcome should unite every player — including Russia, the United States, Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran.
Some Americans still talk about a major U.S.-led military intervention, but this option is receding in the face of reality: Syria has an air defense system tighter than Pakistan’s, and a chemical-weapons arsenal that can be quickly dispersed to scores of locations. Getting military forces into Syria would be hard, but getting them out would be even harder.
As one U.S. official stresses, the intervention proposals don’t meet the first requirement of what he describes as “Strategy 101” — namely, that in uncertain situations, the potential benefits of intervention should far outweigh the potential costs...... "
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:47 PM
'FSA commanders remain suspicious of al Qaedaesque groups in Syria, and jealous of the deep Gulf pockets that are funding them'
'Al Qaeda flag in Syria'
".... But no matter the color, the implications were the same: that elements of al-Qaeda or the group’s supporters were present in this part of Syria.
There has been much speculation about whether Islamic radicals have gained a foothold in the chaotic battlefield that is Syria today. They have, albeit a small one. But as Karl Vick’s story in the Aug. 6 issue of TIME (subscription required) relates, should the conflict spiral out of hand, their role may grow exponentially.
In late January, the jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra li Ahl Ash-Sham, or the Support Front for the People of Syria, announced its formation and goal to bring down the regime of President Bashar Assad. In the months since, it has claimed responsibility for many of the larger, more spectacular bombing attacks on state security sites, including a double suicide car bombing in February targeting a security branch in Aleppo that left some 28 dead.....
...... “We don’t really like to accept people we don’t know. We don’t need foreigners,” Ibrahim said, although he admitted that there were some foreign jihadists in his group, from Kuwait, Libya and Kazakhstan....
In another town in northern Idlib, another jihadist — belonging to a different group — shared Ibrahim’s goal of an Islamic state. “Abu Zayd” is a 25-year-old Shari’a graduate who heads one of the founding brigades of Ahrar al-Sham, a group that adheres to the conservative Salafi interpretation of Sunni Islam......
.... Abu Zayd denied the presence of foreigners, even though TIME saw a man in the group’s compound who possessed strong Central Asian features. “Maybe his mother is,” Abu Zayd said unconvincingly. “We are not short of men to need foreigners.”
Regardless, foreigners are coming across into Syria. One prominent Syrian smuggler in a border town near Turkey said that he had ferried 17 Tunisians across the night before. It was a marked uptick in his business. He said he hadn’t seen many foreign fighters for about a month prior to the Tunisians. “Before that, every day there were new people, from Morocco, Libya and elsewhere,” he said. (In the course of several hours of waiting to cross back into Turkey, I saw at least a dozen Arabs who were clearly not Syrian and were identified as foreigners by the smuggler.)
It’s unclear how large the Jabhat and Ahrar are, given their shadowy natures, but it’s clear that their activities are becoming more public. Both participate in operations alongside regular FSA units, although some FSA commanders remain suspicious of them and jealous of the deep Gulf pockets that are funding them.....
Abu Mohammad, a local FSA commander with 25 men, said he dealt with the Jabhat because he needed their “explosives, bullets and other things … They have experience that I can benefit from, and I can also give them some help, information that benefits them.”
Abu Mohammad said he preferred the Jabhat to the “more showy” Ahrar. “If you ask [the Ahrar] for a device, they will give you a camera so you can film [the explosion], and they take credit for it,” he said. Still, he wasn’t really sold on the Jabhat either. “I am one of those people who is afraid of extremism,” he said. “I told [the Jabhat], It’s possible that perhaps one day we will stand armed against each other because of your activities. If they intend to do to us what happened in Iraq, it’s wrong.”..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:30 PM
"...Forming a unity government is a contentious issue for the SNC. Abdel-Basset Sieda, its Kurdish leader, was forced on Tuesday to deny reports that he agreed to the transfer of Assad's powers to another regime figure who would lead a transitional period, as in Yemen...
"The transitional period has already started," said Obaida Nahas, an SNC member who is close to the Muslim Brotherhood. "Bashar no longer controls the country the same way he did just a few weeks ago. There is a new reality in Syria. The balance of power has shifted."
Still, the SNC faces serious credibility problems. It is divided internally – between liberals and Islamists and between Arabs and Kurds – and at odds with other groups, such as the Damascus-based National Co-ordination Bureau (NCB), which opposes armed opposition. Several key figures have walked out.
Hazem al-Nahar, a dissident, has described "a Babel of contradictions and competing voices that leaves ... regime loyalists and opponents alike mistrustful and dismissive of the Syrian opposition."..
The SNC's critics complain that it is too close to foreign backers such as Qatar and Turkey – the organisation is based in Istanbul – and that for all its international links it has failed to secure the Libya-style military intervention it had hoped for. US backing, in particular, has been limited to cash and non-lethal equipment, with some covert intelligence support, the significance of which is hard to gauge.
"Sieda is the not real decision-maker," complained Khalaf Dawood of the NCB. "He and [predecessor Burhan] Ghalioun are just pawns. The Islamists control the SNC even though there is no democratic basis for that. The Turks and the Saudis are running things and the Americans might be behind them. We don't want to end up swapping one corrupt dictatorship for another."
SNC officials emphasise close co-ordination with the FSA, whose men now receive regular pay through the council. "The SNC want to create a war chest so they can bribe fighters on the ground because that's the only way they can have any leverage on the ground," said the Syrian commentator Malik al-Abdeh....
On the ground, where events are driven by the largely autonomous Local Co-ordination Committees (LCCs) – the tansiqiyat – and the FSA, there is deep scepticism. "Everything is now down to the revolutionaries in Syria, including the FSA," argues the activist and blogger Razan Ghazzawi. Another opposition figure said: "The SNC is somewhat discredited inside Syria and will remain so unless it gets its act together and does something substantial for the people.".....
Others say they expect the SNC to collapse and disappear when Assad goes. The SNC's position is complicated by the competing agendas of outsiders. France combines historic Syrian links with strong current interest – its intelligence service helped Tlass defect – and is lobbying hard for a transitional government.
Britain fears that could be a distraction from preparing for the practicalities of the post-Assad era. "The key thing is to come together for the transition," said a UK official. "Forming a government now will lead to infighting and divisions over personalities. There have already been a lot of disagreements – SNC v non-SNC, Arabs v Kurds. Now we need to say to them: 'This is a new stage and you need to improve your credibility.'"
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:05 PM
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
"... Last night July 21st 2012 ELAL flight LY75 from Tel Aviv to Hong Kong turned back one hour after leaving Ben Gurion airport. The passengers were told after landing that there was a hydraulic problem. Wwhen they landed the plane was surrounded by ambulances and security forces. The flight was then delayed and eventually left at 7:04AM this morning.Not one Israeli media outlet has written anything about this incident, which is suspicious, as they usually report on events like these. The only reason I can see for this media silence is a gag order by the courts. This would suggest that it was not a technical problem but a security issue..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:05 AM
"...Where does one start? Bandar certainly used to be a firm pair of hands, but recently that grasp has been shakier. Although Bandar endeared himself to successive U.S. administrations for being able to get things done -- as well as the sumptuous parties he hosted at his official residence in Virginia overlooking the Potomac -- the prevailing story about him recently has been about his mental state. William Sampson, a (friendly) biographer, noted that Bandar's "first period of full-blown depression" came in the mid-1990s. Another biographer, David Ottaway, described Bandar as a "more than occasional drinker," and most conversations about him seemed to revolve around, only partly mischievously, whether he had finished detoxification or not.In October 2010, the Saudi Press Agency announced that Bandar had returned to the kingdom "from abroad," to be met at the airport by a bevy of princes. This development prompted me to write a Foreign Policy article making the case that "Bandar is back."
To my slight embarrassment, Bandar then disappeared from sight. But I wasn't wholly surprised about last week's announcement because Bandar has recently reemerged....
Although the kingdom's main obsession is Iran, its immediate pre-occupation is Syria. On that issue, Bandar may indeed be the man for the moment. Over the years, he has acquired a reputation for discreet diplomacy and intrigue in both Syria and Lebanon. According to a source close to the ruling family, King Abdullah regards Bandar, who bad-mouthed the then crown prince during his tenure as ambassador to the United States, with caution. At one point, Abdullah went so far as to take Bandar to the side and tell him: "I know you do not represent me in Washington."............ the kingdom may be adjusting its Syria policy, there is no denying that the General Intelligence Directorate (GID), the Saudi CIA, is badly in need of a shakeup. Its recent record is, to say the least, mixed: Shortly before the 9/11 attacks, Prince Turki al-Faisal, the kingdom's chief interlocutor with the then Taliban regime in Afghanistan, "was relieved of the post at his [own] request." In Ghost Wars, his Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the CIA and Osama bin Laden, Steve Coll wrote: "Turki's vast personal riches . . . bothered some of his rivals in the royal family. They felt the Saudi intelligence department had become a financial black hole. . . . Turki's rivals clamored for accountability at the [General Intelligence Department]."
Both Muqrin and Nawaf, the men who served as Saudi intelligence chiefs between Turki and Bandar, lacked flair. Muqrin, who has now been shunted into an undefined advisory role, trained as a fighter pilot, like Bandar. But his primary credential for the job was that he was loyal to King Abdullah. His other qualification was that, like the king, he was not a Sudairi -- the largest group of seven full brothers who have dominated Saudi royal politics for decades and still do, despite the passing of three of them. Nawaf, who took over from Turki, was even more of an Abdullah yes-man. The fiction that he was leading Saudi foreign intelligence was unsustainable after he suffered a stroke during the 2002 Beirut Arab summit. He is still alive, but confined to a wheelchair.
Even if Bandar has regained some of his previous form, the troubles of the Middle East, from a Saudi perspective, are surely more than can be handled by one man. In Syria, Riyadh wants Bashar out but does not want the contagion to spread to Jordan. To Riyadh's fury, it also finds itself competing for influence in Syria with tiny Qatar, which appears to be just as generous with money and weapons but much far more nimble in responding to events on the ground. Meanwhile, Iran looms over the horizon, gaining in nuclear potential while also, from the kingdom's perspective, fanning the flames of Shiite Muslim discontent in Bahrain and even at home, in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province. Recent clashes between Saudi Shiites and security forces following the arrest of firebrand Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr (literally: Tiger, the Tiger), resulted in the deaths of several protesters and the injury of dozens more.
Bandar's appointment suggests another weakness in Riyadh: King Abdullah, it appears, cannot identify or perhaps trust any other talent within the House of Saud for such a role ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:43 AM
'Aleppo child praises the FSA below an Al Qaeda flag (Jabhat al Nusrah)
"...The (ISI) said in a statement posted on radical Islamist websites on Tuesday that it was behind the recent attacks, which it called its "Destroying the Walls" campaign and said was the start of a "new stage of jihad".At least 116 people were killed and about 300 wounded in bomb and gun attacks on Monday, by far the bloodiest day of violence since U.S. troops withdrew in December. A day earlier 20 were killed in bombings as part of a co-ordinated surge of violence....
The bloodshed coincided with an intensifying of the conflict in neighboring Syria. Iraqi officials have warned that al Qaeda militants are passing in and out of Syria through the 680 km (420 mile) border between the two countries, and Baghdad has sent troops and tanks to the frontier to strengthen security ..."
"...However, the Free Syrian Army failed to decapitate the regime and didn't receive much-needed reinforcements. It was therefore unable to withstand the overwhelming might of the regime’s continued onslaught, and the rebels withdrew fighters from several areas.“The regime’s army is huge, well-equipped and getting better and newer weaponry every day, so the FSA should just stop this messing about and wait for the 2014 elections because they’re not going to win,” said Housam, a 30-year old living in one of Damascus’ upper-class neighborhoods. ..."From the looks of it, the battle for Hamah is pretty similar, with heavier 'insurgents' presence & losses!
"...A twin blast has killed six members of the Kurdish intelligence forces known as the Asayish and wounded three others in a town north of the capital Baghdad, hospital and police sources said.The first bomb was planted outside a house of a member of the Asayish in Tuz Khurmatu, Salahuddin province, 170km north of Baghdad. ..."Milliyet via Al Monitor;
"...Actually, it would be more accurate to speak of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) — the Syrian extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — being in charge in Northern Syria. If reports circulating are true, Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani has dispatched 2,000 of his fighters to control the region. Some reports say these fighters are already in Syria, while others say they are waiting at the border.Will the PKK and the PYD allow them to cross over? Will the PYD, which mostly obeys PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, fight Barzani’s force? Or will the two reach an understanding? ..."... Obviously, there is NO 'understanding'!
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:12 AM
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Obviously, it's not only the FSA's commanders in Turkey who are out of touch with the field!
"...The U.S. government, meanwhile, is facing calls to step up to the plate in Syria as diplomatic efforts continue to fail. The Obama administration is reportedly planning intensively for the Assad government’s collapse—and also moving to boost its assistance to the FSA in the form of non-combat training and supplies, and possibly intelligence, according to The New York Times. “It looks like we’re moving to an end-
game,” says Joshua Landis, a Syria expert with the University of Oklahoma. “There is intense pressure on the United States to do something.”
Despite the FSA’s recent gains, in Antakya, the Turkish city near Apaydin that is serving as a hub for the Syrian opposition, the sense remains of a disjointed military effort lacking a cohesive command chain of command—a difficult prospect for foreign governments looking to channel support. “The FSA in Turkey is not well-connected to what’s actually going on inside Syria,” says David Pollock, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who met with opposition leaders in Antakya recently. “Turkey keeps them on a very tight leash.” ..."
Monday, July 23, 2012
"..."Syria has become a convenient battlefield for everyone, a place to divide the Arab world, said Farid Khazan, a Lebanese lawmaker and a professor of political science at American University of Beirut. "You won't be able to reshape that country without messing up the entire region."Tensions between Sunnis and Shiites in Syria have already destabilized communities in northern Lebanon and Iraq, according to U.S. and Mideast strategists. In Jordan, officials fear that the rise of fundamentalist Sunni groups in Syria, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, could threaten King Abdullah's monarchy......
The conflict has huge ramifications for neighboring countries. As violence rises, Syrians are fleeing in ever-larger numbers. Tens of thousands of Syrians have fled to Lebanon since Thursday, while thousands more are pouring into Iraq by land and by air, and Jordan says that more than 100,000 Syrians are now within its borders.
Lebanon has already had several sectarian clashes between supporters and opponents of Syria's regime. Lebanon also is a stage for regional rivalries to play out between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which back feuding Lebanese political factions.
"I don't think Lebanon has ever been through a situation this sensitive and complicated as right now. The divisions are very deep," a senior Hezbollah official said. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:00 AM
"... But Habous also said that depends on whether his forces get high-tech weapons from the United States to finish the job. He cited Stinger missiles, the shoulder-fired rockets the Central Intelligence Agency supplied Afghan holy warriors in the 1980s, “that can neutralize the helicopters and tanks of Assad’s regime.” According to Habous, “This is all in the hands of the Americans. They have the say and we will hold them responsible for more victims."Another rebel commander, Ahmed Nema, who heads the military council for the Free Syrian Army in Daraa, said on Sunday, “The regime is falling no matter what. I expect in four weeks the regime will go down, but because we lack advanced equipment it could go longer.”
The interviews with Habous and Nema were arranged by the Syrian Support Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobby that has pressed the Obama administration to arm elements of the FSA. ......
In the past, White House and State Department officials have said they are reluctant to send weapons to the rebel fighters because the weapons could end up in the hands of extremist groups or even terrorist organizations. In an interview Friday, Rep. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said 25 percent of the opposition has "extremist ties." He would not elaborate on the source of that information.
Portable Stinger missiles would be especially easy to sell on the black market and could end up in the hands of America’s foes, said Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, a nonpartisan membership group in Washington. Similar weapons sold to Libya in the Cold War known as SA-7 missiles went missing in 2011 during that country’s revolution........
When asked about these concerns, Habous said, “We guarantee we will be responsible for receiving these kinds of weapons and distributing them and controlling them and putting them only in the hands of professionals who will use them properly.”.......
Nema said his fighters near the Jordanian border have come across Russian intelligence officers providing communications support (Just like that, casually! Were they waving?) and repairs on aircraft as well as cargo flights to Syrian government forces......
The CIA has been scrambling in recent weeks to account for Syria’s stocks of chemical and biological weapons. One Western diplomat who works closely with U.S. efforts to secure those weapons told The Daily Beast that the locations of the weapons was known to U.S. and regional intelligence services. The problem, this official said, was whether the CIA or other regional intelligence services for Jordan, Turkey or Israel had the manpower ready to secure those stocks in the event of a quick regime collapse."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:49 AM
"... And about vetoes – if I am not mistaken, the US has cast 60 vetoes on the Palestinian issue alone. So, why don’t you question my American colleagues about the impact of the image of the US in the Middle East of those continuous vetoes? Sometimes even vetoing their own presidential and secretary of state’s public statements..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:33 AM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:22 AM
Sunday, July 22, 2012
"....This leads me to conclude that the bigger story that links Syria with the other Arab uprisings and recent Middle Eastern developments is that the will and actions of indigenous Arabs, Iranians and Turks will always have a greater impact than anything done by powers abroad. The striking inability of the Americans, Russians and their assorted allies to shape events in Syria follow similar serial failures in recent decades in their attempts to promote Arab-Israeli peace, democratic transformations, economic trajectories or other such strategic issues. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:27 AM