Wednesday, October 31, 2012
ربّمما لا يهمّ هذا الأمر أحداً، في ظلّ تفجّر القمع والقتل في سوريا. اجزروا أن يقيم نتانياهو والوفد الإسرائيلي خلال زيارته لباريس؟ في فندق رويال مونصو، الذي تملكه اليوم إمارة قطر. كان ذلك حلماً قديماً لقادة إسرائيل، لم يكونوا يحلمون به عندما كان ملكاً لعثمان عائدي السوري، أن يقيموا في نفس الفندق، الذي وقّع فيه بن غوريون ورفاقه الاتفاق لخلق دولة إسرائيل. أكيد ليست قناة الجزيرة على علم بهذا؟
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:07 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:57 PM
... and in Tunisia,"... Fewer than 100 people, made up of civilians and former rebel fighters, charged into the meeting hall of the General National Congress as it voted on Prime Minister Ali Zeidan's cabinet line-up, which was drawn from liberal and Islamist parties.In chaotic televised scenes, congress members negotiated with the protesters, unhappy with some of the nominations, to leave. Voting then briefly resumed before being interrupted a second time, leading congress leader Mohammed Magarief to announce the session was postponed to Wednesday..."
"...Tuesday's violence began when a group of hardline Islamists tried to attack national guard posts in the Tunis suburb of Manouba, interior ministry spokesman Khaled Tarrouche told the AFP news agency."The response by the security forces led to the death of an attacker who was hit by a bullet," he said.Two members of the security forces were also reported to have been seriously injured. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:59 AM
'Fail once, twice, ...try again!'
"....The State Department has been heavily involved in crafting the new council as part of its effort oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and build a more viable and unified opposition. In September, for instance, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with a group of Syrian activists who were flown in to New York for a high-level meeting that has not been reported until now....
Many in the SNC are accordingly frustrated with the level of support they've gotten in Washington. "The Obama administration is trying to systematically undermine the SNC. It's very unfortunate," one SNC leader said told The Cable.
But U.S. officials are equally frustrated with an SNC they say has failed to attract broad support, particularly from the Alawite and Kurdish minorities. The new council is an attempt to change that dynamic. Dozens of Syrian leaders will meet in the Qatari capital, Doha, on Nov. 3 and hope to announce the new council as the legitimate representative... The SNC will have a minority stake in the new body, but some opposition leaders are still skeptical that the effort will succeed....... the exact structure of the council will be determined in Qatar, not before.
"We need to be clear: This is what the Americans support, and if you want to work with us you are going to work with this plan....!"
The Turkish government has been wary of the new effort because it has been heavily invested in the SNC, and the new council intentionally puts the SNC in a minority position...... the administration believes the Turks will ultimately come around to embrace the new body......
Other Syrian activists warn that the new council is far from a sure thing.
One external opposition activist with ties to military leaders inside Syria told The Cable there's a risk the Doha meeting could be only the latest example of the opposition's failure to coalesce around a common vision and plan for a post-Assad Syria......
"There's a rising presence of Islamist extremists. So we need to help these [military council leaders], the majority of them are secular, relatively moderate, and not pursuing an overly vicious agenda (like slitting throats after washing hands?) " the official said. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:51 AM
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Monday, October 29, 2012
Kurdish PYD/PKK kill & kidnap scores of FSA fighters including 'Abu Ibrahim', the kidnapper of Lebanese travellers
[CNN]"...According to Ahmad Afash, a commander from the rebel Free Syrian Army, or FSA, at least 16 FSA fighters were killed when they clashed with armed members of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, on Saturday. He said at least five Kurdish fighters were also killed in the battle..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:24 PM
.... all this to pin a sectarian accusation that Shia's are fighting for the Syrian government. (Via AngryArab)
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:07 AM
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:30 PM
"... A friend, with good sources in the Israeli government, claims that the head of Israel’s Mossad has made several trips to deal with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia—one of the results: an agreement that the Saudis would bankroll the series of assassinations of several of Iran’s top nuclear experts that have occurred over the past couple of years. The amount involved, my friend claims, was $1 billion dollars. A sum, he says, the Saudis considered cheap for the damage done to Iran’s nuclear program. At first blush, the tale sounds preposterous. On the other hand. it makes eminent sense. The murky swamp of Middle East politics has nothing to do with the easy slogans and 30 second sound bites of presidential debates.
After all, nowhere more than in the Middle East does the maxim hold true: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And both Israel and the Saudis have always detested Iran’s Shiite fundamentalist leaders. The feeling is mutual. Tehran has long been accused of stirring up trouble among Saudi’s restless Shiites.
Israeli and Saudi leaders particularly fear Iran’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons. Thus, it would only be natural that (along with the U.S.) they would back a coordinated program to at least slow up, if not permanently cripple, Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
It also makes perfect sense, that, in retaliation for the cyber attacks on their centrifuges, the Iranians reportedly launched their own cyber attack on a Saudi state-owned target: Saudi Aramco, the world’s most valuable company. Last August 15th, someone with privileged access to Aramco’s computers was able to unleash a virus that wreaked havoc with the company’s systems. U.S. intelligence experts point their finger at Tehran.
Indeed, a report earlier this year by Tel Aviv University cites Saudi Arabia as the
"... last hope and defense line for Israel. With most of Israel’s traditional allies in the region sent packing or undermined by the Arab Spring, the Saudis are the Jewish State’s last chance to protect its political interests in the Arab world...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:04 PM
"... a Syrian rebel group has "arrested" a Lebanese journalist in Aleppo saying his “presence as a journalist no longer receives approval in areas controlled by the rebels.”Fidaa Itani, who works for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBCI- March14ers) and several other news outlets, was travelling though Aleppo under protection of a rebel group when he was arrested and handed over to another rebel group which controls a small town some 30km away from the besieged port-city.
The rebels said on their Facebook page they found Itani’s work “incompatible with the path of the Syrian revolution and rebels.”..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:54 PM
To the lying photoshopping yoyos of Al Arabiya: The Iranian Ambassador NEVER shakes hands with a woman!
Al Arabiyah, aka. The Site of Lies, Sleaze & Fabrications had this badly doctored photo with a caption "Wife of Wissam al Hassan ignores the condolences of the Iranian Ambassador"
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:10 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:48 PM
"...It is not clear who is shooting shells from Syria into Turkey, the commander of the U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling has said, private television channel NTV yesterday.
"We are not sure if these shells are from the Syrian army, from rebels who want to get Turkey involved in the issue or from the PKK [Kurdish Workers’ Party]," he said. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:33 AM
Saturday, October 27, 2012
"...The Sunday Telegraph has been told of secret arguments raging inside Hizbollah’s ranks about whether the time has come to stop backing Mr Assad....
Now, insiders say, Hizbollah is engaged in a fierce debate behind closed doors over whether to follow suit.
“There are different points of view, with some saying that we should push for a settlement within Syria and not bank on Assad staying,” said one Lebanese with connections to senior Hizbollah circles.
Some Hizbollah members, including clerics, fear that their support for Mr Assad is dragging them into a dangerous fight with Sunni Arabs - the other side of Islam’s main sectarian divide - in Syria and Lebanon, he said.
They say it is now urgent to end their support for Mr Assad, so that a new relationship can be formed with whoever comes to power in Syria next. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:00 PM
[WSJ] "...WASHINGTON—The assassination of Lebanon's security chief a week ago robbed the U.S. and Europe of one of its closest allies in monitoring and countering the regional activities of Lebanon's Hezbollah, as well as its backers in Syria and Iran, said U.S. and Arab officials.Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan headed intelligence-gathering for Lebanon's police force, the Internal Security Forces, which was among Beirut's primary recipients of U.S. financial aid since mass protests forced Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to remove his troops from the country in 2005.Because of Gen. Hassan's ties to the West, Arab and Western officials said they believed last Friday's car bombing in central Beirut—which killed the security chief and seven others—was a warning from Syria and Iran. Its aim, these people say, was to warn anti-Syrian politicians in Lebanon and the West not to work for the overthrow of Mr. Assad's regime in Damascus."This is a big blow for the Americans because of Hassan's role inside Lebanon," said a senior Arab diplomat. "He was the top intelligence chief and interlocutor."...In late August, according to Arab diplomats, Gen. Hassan visited Washington, where he held extensive discussions with the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, David Petraeus, and other senior Obama administration officials.The two spy chiefs discussed Syria's efforts to destabilize Lebanon using Hezbollah and pro-Damascus politicians, these officials said. They also discussed Hezbollah's efforts to bolster Mr. Assad's security forces inside Syria, by sending in military advisers and fighters. Hezbollah has denied acting inside Syria.A senior U.S. official praised Gen. Hassan as "a significant figure" but stressed that U.S. intelligence ties to Lebanon go beyond one person. "It would be wrong to overestimate the damage to the U.S. from this one attack,........ His killing doesn't have to be a trigger for even more violence."Gen. Hassan also maintained close ties to French intelligence....The U.S. has specifically worked with the ISF to deploy Lebanese security officials in areas traditionally dominated by Hezbollah in south Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley...."
Le Figaro's Malbrunnot says that the DGSE concluded that:
"... Après la publication de récentes informations en ce sens dans la presse, des agents de la DGSE ont enquêté et n’ont pas trouvé trace d’émissaires qatariens venus aider les extrémistes islamistes au nord du Mali. A Paris, le ministère des Affaires étrangères a été informé par la Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure du résultat de son enquête...."But it wasn't long when the DGSE suspected Qatar of:
"...le ministre français de la Défense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, « Selon l’hebdomadaire, au début de cette année, « , de l’émirat du Qatar. Mais le président Sarkozy n’ y a pas donné suite pour ne pas incommoder son »am » le cheikh Hamad ben Kalifa Al-Thani, nous dit-on. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:09 AM
'... the scope for new initiatives remains virtually zero. Despite media reports of contacts between US and Iranian officials about the Iranian nuclear program, our understanding is that no substantive talks have taken place other than inside the P5+1 format led by the European Union. We expect a tougher line to emerge after the election. With the US military currently conducting large-scale joint exercises with the Israeli Defense Forces, US officials believe that the prospect of unilateral Israeli action is small at this juncture. On Syria, senior US officials remain deeply skeptical about both the virtues and modalities of intervention. US efforts are concentrated on supporting the mediation proposals under the auspices of the UN Security Council, while at the same time trying to track the flow of arms to the combatant parties. There is little expectation that either of these efforts will succeed....”
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:52 AM
[Al Hayat] "... However, this optimism faded away and was replaced by tension and the exchange of missiles across the border with Syria. This optimism was also affected by the positions of the Syrian opposition, which is splintered both politically and militarily.The image that all Turkish quarters had envisioned was that if a greater amount of Syrian opponents joined the Syrian National Council (SNC), which was supposed to overhaul its structure to attract more members, and if the opposition's armed military on the ground were unified, then the stage would be set for the post-US elections period, which would witness a crucial move on the part of Washington.
However, the Turkish efforts in this regard were a complete fiasco. In fact, Ankara found itself facing a new — and perhaps more difficult — test in light of the Eid al-Adha truce project launched by UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.
This project was perceived by many Turkish parties as a prelude to correct the track of the Turkish policy, after Turkey had lost hope in the Syrian opposition. Still, Turkey is clinging to the hope of overthrowing the regime of Bashar al-Assad, but it may have begun to reconsider its position and settle for a smaller piece of the new ruling pie in Syria.
In fact, the Istanbul visit by CIA Director David Petraeus in early September revived the old Turkish optimism........For a while, it seemed that the main opposition parties responded to the Turkish move to unite their ranks in front of the American observer, but it was not long before this picture faded away, either due to Syrian tactics on the ground, which worked on dragging Turkey into the conflict by bombing its territory, or due to the Aleppo bombings, whose responsibility was claimed by al-Qaeda and which came as a fatal response to Turkey's efforts to unify the military command of the opposition.
At first, articles were leaked to Western newspapers. They said the supply of arms to the FSA and armed groups has been stopped as a punishment for their failure to unite.
These articles were followed by accusations against specific Arab countries of financing jihadist and religious groups that didn’t fall under the auspices of the FSA in Syria. Then, there were official US and international statements that formally voiced their concern over the activity of "extremist" groups that are operating on the ground without allowing anyone to have any influence on their decisions or objectives.
It seemed that criticizing the performance of the opposition's armed militias was tantamount, even if indirectly, to criticizing Ankara. Turkey bet on the scenario of a military settlement, despite the fact that it was the one refusing to provide the opposition with anti-tank weapons and other advanced anti-aircraft out of fear that these could fall into the hands of terrorist groups that might later use them against the interests of Turkey.
This is because Turkey is the most affected by the terrorists that are joining the confrontation, be they from al-Qaeda or from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Thus, Ankara faced difficulties in achieving its goal of directly overthrowing the Syrian regime militarily, and it seemed that its choice has cornered it and put it at the mercy of the actions of the Syrian political and armed opposition.
Meanwhile, it seemed like Damascus had more options to respond to this Turkish rationale.
Then, Turkey was shocked by the Syrian political opposition, which it had previously embraced, when the Syrian National Movement revealed documents that were reportedly leaked from the Syrian intelligence. Ankara believed that the disclosure of these documents was an attempt by the Syrian opposition to draw the Turkish army into a war against Syria or to embarrass the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in public. This irritated the Turkish government and pushed it to adopt a sarcastic position toward these documents and to question their authenticity.
This incident, as well as the repeated attempts by the Syrian National Council to restructure itself, probably prompted Ankara to lose confidence in the Syrian opposition or at least to reconsider its calculations regarding the future of Syria.
Based on that, some Turkish observers believe that Turkey will go back on its previous positions regarding a military settlement on the ground.
They also say that Turkey has begun to accept middle solutions that allow a transitional government to emerge that include representatives of the regime as well as Chinese and Iranian interests, which would be similar to the “blocking third” government in Lebanon....
Ankara — which previously announced its support for the Geneva statement and its reservations about imposing this statement on the Syrian opposition, and reaffirmed the need that the Syrian people choose the most appropriate solution to their crisis — is currently testing the Syrian opposition through the truce proposal to halt fighting during the Eid al-Adha holiday.
It is true that Ankara seemed to support this proposal and to use it as the foundation for discussion with Tehran — in the meeting between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Azerbaijan — and that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutolgu formally called all parties in Syria to cease fire during the Eid holiday.
However, Turkey remains in an unenviable position, whatever the results of this call for a truce proposal....... if the armed opposition rejects this proposal or is driven to fight back in response to the regime, Turkish efforts will be in vain and it will become clear to Turkish politicians that they cannot rely on the Syrian opposition. ... This test and its outcomes will represent an important experience for Turkey, which is preparing to host Russian President Vladimir Putin in an official visit in early December. The visit is a true chance to harmonize their views regarding Syria, especially because it will follow the announcement of the winner in the US presidential elections..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:48 AM
Friday, October 26, 2012
... but then again, Schenker/WINEP/ AIPAC have said the same since they started naming Hurricanes!
"... Changing political dynamics in Beirut -- largely the result of events in Syria -- also pose a challenge for Hezbollah. Today, not only does the militia face the prospect of losing Assad, it also stands to lose the next elections and control of the Government. For while Hezbollah itself continues to command broad support among Shiites, the organization's Christian coalition partner, the Free Patriotic Movement led by Michel Aoun, appears to be losing popularity. At the same time, Lebanon's small but politically powerful Druze community headed by Walid Jumblatt is poised to bolt from the Hezbollah-led bloc and realign with the remnants of the pro-West, so-called March 14 coalition, enabling it to form a Government.To be sure, this combination of developments will not lead to the unraveling of the militia anytime soon. (and yet Schenker says) Even if Hezbollah is unable to rearm, with an estimated 100,000 rockets and missiles in its arsenal, the organization could potentially conduct several more wars with Israel and has the wherewithal to indefinitely withstand all domestic adversaries...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:39 PM
"Hit the desalinization plant at the Saudi side of the Bahrain Causeway, & Riyadh would have to be completely evacuated in under 14 days!"
[Stein's-SpyTalk] "... "I would say that if Iranian missiles hit the desalinization plant at the Saudi side of the Bahrain Causeway, Riyadh would have to be completely evacuated in under 14 days," added Gwenyth Tddd, a former Fifth Fleet political advisor and White House national security official. "The Saudis have a huge aquifer, but they have severely depleted it over the past three decades because of their dream to export home grown wheat, etc.--an insane policy."
"Dubai cannot function without desal," Todd added by e-mail. "All those hotels, water features, ski slopes-just imagine.
"And Bahrain, which means 'Two Seas' in Arabic, has also screwed itself on the fresh water front. Bahrain's geology involves a limestone barrier that allowed the center of the island to create a wonderful fresh water aquifer, surrounded by the Gulf, hence the Two Seas. But then came the Khalifas" -- Bahrain's royal family--"and the dream of a super-luxury skyline."
They've toyed with Bahrain's geological foundation, Todd said, creating new, grave vulnerabilities.
"... Four decades ago, there were fresh water lakes and swimming holes all around. But in building all these big towers, they punched holes in the limestone barrier, not only causing the loss of a lot of fresh water, but also letting in the salt water, creating a problem with brackish water. Farmers are screwed and the various 'Ayns' are mostly dry. Meanwhile, the Khalifas have been madly filling in the Gulf to expand their land mass area, so the traditional fishermen are also screwed...."
Iran is not so vulnerable--at least on that front..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:31 PM
[Quadrant, via SST] "... Unless defections from the 600,000-strong, predominantly Sunni, Syrian army reach significant proportions—which is unlikely—the rebels seem to be pinning their hopes of toppling the regime on enticing foreign powers to enter the conflict on the ground and in the air. In other words, replaying the Libyan scenario. But—as many are starting to realise—Syria is not Libya; nor is it Iraq. Assad is not friendless as was Gaddafi. No one claims that the Assad regime as it stands is a democracy, but it was and is moving towards one. On the other hand, the much publicised efforts its opponents inside and outside Syria are making to demonise Assad and his government have to be seen for what they are: exaggerated and often spurious claims aimed at drawing ill-informed foreign powers into a conflict that will probably draw the whole region into a wider and bloodier one. This is no time for ad hoc solutions, or for settling old scores..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:52 PM
[RT] "... Amid a violent crackdown on a popular uprising, Bahrain paid CNN to get favorable coverage, says a former reporter who believes her documentary on the protests there was censored by the network.Former CNN journalist Amber Lyon made the documentary more than six months ago. It was aired domestically in the US, but never made it to CNN international, raising claims that the management pulled the plug on the story. RT spoke to Lyon to get the full story of what happened.RT: You feel your documentary should have been aired internationally. Why?Amber Lyon: I’ve created a lot of documentaries for CNN that didn’t air internationally. Most I feel should’ve been aired internationally because seasoned, decades-long employees have approached me after it wasn’t aired and told me this should’ve been aired on CNN International and told that they felt that something strange was going on and that I should investigate it. And that’s where it was uncovered that we felt that this documentary was censored, because Bahrain was actually a paying customer for CNN. Bahrain is paying CNN to create content that shows Bahrain in a favorable light. Even though CNN says its content is editorially independent Bahrain can affect that – what we’ve seen with that documentary not airing and also with the constant struggle I had at CNN to get Bahrain coverage, accurate coverage of the human rights abuses on-air while I was there.RT: CNN prides itself as a bastion of excellent journalism and impartiality, but in this case have they let themselves down?AL: What CNN is doing is they are essentially creating what some people have termed “infomercials for dictators.” And that’s the sponsored content that they are airing on CNN International that is actually being paid for by regimes and governments. And this violates every principle of journalistic ethics, because we’re supposed to be watchdogs on these governments. We are not supposed to allow them to be a paying customer as journalists. And that’s the issue here – that CNN is feeding, then, this propaganda to the public and not fairly disclosing to the public that this is sponsored content.For example CNN has been doing these programs for Georgia, Kazakhstan, also as we said Bahrain. One of the programs that they aired for Bahrain was called Bahrain i-List and had a CNN reporter Richard Quest lie from Bahrain for one full week. He was live at the racetrack at one point. There were mentions on his page about pearl diving and all the happy sides of Bahrain. But hard to find were the actual accusations from the majority of the Bahrain people that this regime needs to get out and that this regime is abusing and torturing doctors and journalists. Also difficult to find [were] accurate, simple disclosures on the CNN site and on this video telling viewers that this video you’re watching on this news channel – the most trusted name in news – is being paid for by this regime.”RT: You witnessed first-hand some heavy-handed tactics in Bahrain while you were making this report. Can you tell us about that?AL: We were able to kind of dodge our minders and sneak into some of the villages and actually see these atrocities – patients who had run out of hospitals that were shot with birdshot, ambulance drivers who were beaten. And as we were heading back out of these villages we were violently detained by security forces in Bahrain. About 20 masked men with machine guns, who then tried to erase all the video that they found, and luckily my female producer and I were able to hide some discs in our bras and we were able to actually get out of the country with this content. You can imagine Bahrain’s surprise when we got back to the US and this content was airing on CNN, and right after that is when the phone calls started coming into the network complaining about me and trying to get my coverage off the air.There is constant demonization of Syria, Iran and other countries on the US mainstream media, but similar atrocities are happening in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and I think this is an overall really harmful to journalism [sic] theme of these mainstream outlets following in the steps of US government and kind of shadowing how the US government feel about these areas.You are very hard-pressed to find criticizing [sic] going on of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, but you just see it all day long, demonization of Iran and Syria. This is dangerous to the American public because they are not being given the accurate story and accurate picture of our foreign policy and what’s happening in these other countries, and I fear that we are starting to see a constant demonization of Iran on US networks in what appears to be a systematic matter. For many of us, journalistically, that are noticing this, we are fearing [that] we are going to head into Iraq Number Two, except this time it’s with Iran.Note: Bahrain denied Lyon’s allegations in a statement, saying they never purchased media space during the period of unrest. Officials also pointed out that, while the documentary was not meant for CNN International, the channel continues to cover the Bahrain uprising, frequently from a critical perspective..."
"... Yet Qatar is not nefariously trying to replace the Shia Crescent with a Brotherhood Banana, curving from Syria through Gaza, Egypt, and on to Libya and Tunisia. Doha is much more pragmatic and less Machiavellian than that..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:04 PM
[FOX] "... On the night of Sept. 11, in what would become his last known public meeting, Stevens met with the Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin, and escorted him out of the consulate front gate one hour before the assault began at approximately 9:35 p.m. local time.... Although what was discussed at the meeting is not public, a source told Fox News that Stevens was in Benghazi to negotiate a weapons transfer, an effort to get SA-7 missiles out of the hands of Libya-based extremists. And although the negotiation said to have taken place may have had nothing to do with the attack on the consulate later that night or the Libyan mystery ship, it could explain why Stevens was travelling in such a volatile region on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks...
According to an initial Sept. 14 report by the Times of London, Al Entisar was carrying 400 tons of cargo. Some of it was humanitarian, but also reportedly weapons, described by the report as the largest consignment of weapons headed for Syria's rebels on the frontlines. ... The cargo reportedly included surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles RPG's, and Russian-designed shoulder-launched missiles known as MANPADS.
The ship's Libyan captain told the Times of London that "I can only talk about the medicine and humanitarian aid" for the Syrian rebels. It was reported there was a fight about the weapons and who got what "between the free Syrian Army and the Muslim Brotherhood."
"The point is that both of these weapons systems are extremely accurate and very simple to use," Fox News military analyst Col. David Hunt explained. He said the passage of weapons from Libya to Syria would escalate the conflict...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:23 AM
'American Militiaman or skilled Hezbollah fighter?'Via AngryArab, here;
"... In Sunni neighbourhoods, gunmen set up roadblocks of burning tyres, stopping passers-by and asking whether they were Sunni or Shi'ite - a chilling throwback to the civil war. A Reuters cameraman was asked about his religion. Despite confirming he was Sunni he was prevented from filming because he was told he had a "Shi'ite beard"...."... and here,
"... Amr Al Ali was fighting in the village of Zahraa, on the outskirts of Jousiya. "Initially we had the upper hand," he said. "But recently Hezbollah have come in with thousands of soldiers because the Syrian army couldn't fight us alone."
The young fighter claims he recognised his enemies as Hezbollah by their combat skills and American-made M16 assault rifles. But Sheikh Ali says the situation is far from clear cut. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:12 AM
Thursday, October 25, 2012
US Official 'disdainfully': "Just because we can’t stand two-thirds of them doesn’t mean we are going to try and reshuffle the deck!"
[FLC] "... This week’s assassination of Lebanese Security chief Wissam al-Hassan, a Sunni, is thought by US experts to be the work of Syrian operatives allied with Hezbollah [which has thrown in its lot with the Assad regime]. US officials believe this will not be the last of the killings in Lebanon ordered by the Syrians and fear that one too many may prove to be, in the words of a well-placed official, ‘a tipping point” for Lebanon, leading to civil conflict there. [However, a Wall St. Journal story that the Administration is actively seeking the replacement of the current Lebanese Cabinet is dismissed by US officials. “Just because we can’t stand two-thirds of them doesn’t mean we are going to try and reshuffle the deck,” said one State Department official disdainfully]..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:56 PM
One guets the feeling that events in the Middle East are really over the heads of State & other officials!
[MEPGS] 'Despite being the subject that dominated the final Presidential debate, the Middle East offers few prospects for activist US policy whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney wins the election. In fact, both candidates implied as much, with their wariness about issues as diverse as the civil war in Syria, the coming showdown with Iran over its nuclear program or the vulnerability of US diplomats in places like Libya. While it is a truism in American politics that few if any votes are decided on foreign policy, as one veteran State Department official said this week, “The candidates were also reflecting the reality of the limitations of US power.”Nowhere is this more evident than in Syria. The vast array of competing and sometimes coordinating political and military groups fighting the Assad regime has left US policymakers unable to discern whom to back. “There are at least 350 different rebel fighting units,” says one State Department expert. “And on any given day secular and Islamist groups will link up and then detach themselves.” He cited the repeated change in leadership of the groups fighting in Homs as an example of the unwillingness of any of the groups to coalesce..... the regime has lost control of the border posts with Turkey and retains control of only two crossings into Iraq, leaving only the border with Jordan under control [The Lebanese border has always been a “sieve” to use the word of one US analyst].Of even greater concern to the Assad regime, say US officials, is the rebels’ continued efforts to cut the main highway between Aleppo and the capital of Damascus. The rebels’ seizure of the key crossroads town of Maarat an Numan [which echoed a famous engagement during the Crusades] caused the regime to level the town by air attacks. But even here, Assad & Company may be seeing the degrading of its once uncontested airpower. Thanks to Qatari provision of shoulder held anti-aircraft weapons (“Manpads”), Syrian jets and especially helicopters have become vulnerable.As the Syrian regime thrashes about in what some analysts see as its death throes [“There are 3 million Alawites and 15 million angry Sunnis at war,” says one veteran State Department official. “You do the math.”], it appears to have struck out, not only at refugees fleeing to Turkey -- increasing the odds of a very strong response by the vastly more powerful Turkish military – but also Lebanon. This week’s assassination of Lebanese Security chief Wissam al-Hassan, a Sunni, is thought by US experts to be the work of Syrian operatives allied with Hezbollah [which has thrown in its lot with the Assad regime]. US officials believe this will not be the last of the killings in Lebanon ordered by the Syrians and fear that one too many may prove to be, in the words of a well-placed official, ‘a tipping point” for Lebanon, leading to civil conflict there. [However, a Wall St. Journal story that the Administration is actively seeking the replacement of the current Lebanese Cabinet is dismissed by US officials. “Just because we can’t stand two-thirds of them doesn’t mean we are going to try and reshuffle the deck,” said one State Department official disdainfully].Another controversial published report, this one in the New York Times, that the Administration and Iran have agreed “in principle” to meet one-on-one after the US election, was also vehemently denied by Administration insiders. “Just a case of bad journalism,” scoffed one State Department insider. But it is clear that the Iranians are awaiting the outcome of the US elections before even beginning to decide their future course of action. However, US officials believe that despite the increasing hardship being caused by the economic sanctions, the top leadership, notably Ayotollah Khameini, has not budged from its refusal to seriously negotiate an acceptable agreement regarding their nuclear program. “There are pragmatists who would like to see a deal,” notes one veteran diplomat. “Unfortunately, they do not hold the reins of power.” And long time Iran watchers see no sign that the tight group around Khameini changing its collective mind anytime soon.....This leaves US officials looking towards next year as a time of decision. By mid-year, if sanctions have not caused a major reversal in Iran’s stance on nuclear development, the odds of a military confrontation will greatly increase, say most observers. (Yawwwn) Whether it is Israel acting with US connivance or the US taking the lead.... "
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:51 PM
[Le Figaro] "...Dans ce genre de raid, qui n'obéit pas vraiment aux règles de la Charte des Nations unies, les autorités civiles et militaires ont pris l'habitude de ne jamais s'exprimer. ...
Depuis environ cinq ans, Israël reproche au Soudan d'armer la branche militaire du mouvement islamiste palestinien Hamas. Se faisant justice lui-même, l'État hébreu n'a pas l'intention de laisser s'établir une ligne de ravitaillement hostile Iran-Soudan-Sinaï-Gaza.....
Techniquement, le raid est intéressant. L'objectif était situé à quelque 1 900 kilomètres des bases aériennes de Tsahal. Une distance bien supérieure à celle des installations nucléaires iraniennes. Par ailleurs, les Israéliens ont visiblement été capables de neutraliser - par des mesures de guerre électronique? Par une approche en rase-mottes? - la défense antiaérienne soudanaise.…"
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:30 PM
[American Conservative] "...On balance, all of the above suggests that the frequently repeated threat by the Israeli leadership to attack Iran is not a serious plan to take out Iran’s nuclear sites. It is more likely a long running disinformation operation to somehow convince the United States to do the job or a deliberate conditioning of the Israeli and US publics to be supportive if some incident can be arranged to trigger an armed conflict. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:13 AM
Silvan Shalom: "I can tell you that Morsi's actions against the Palestinians are much harsher than it was under Mubarak!"
[JPost] "... Defying expectations, the current regime in Egypt has acted more harshly against Hamas than the previous one, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio on Thursday.
"It's good for the public to know that the current leadership is acting against Hamas in a very tough way," Shalom said, specifying that it is destroying tunnels "one after the other," limiting movement and blocking it from carrying out terrorist activity from Egyptian territory.
"I can tell you that Egypt's actions against Hamas are much harsher than it was under the previous regime," Shalom said.
According to Shalom, Hamas thought it would have more freedom to operate from Egypt under the leadership of President Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood movement that spawned Hamas. Instead, Shalom said, Hamas "finds itself exactly in the opposite situation."
"The security cooperation between us and Egypt is excellent, and is continuing as normal,"..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:57 AM
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Muslim Brotherhood official: "What Morsi said in his letter to the Zionist entity is treason to millions of Egyptians!”
"...“What Morsi said in his letter to the Zionist entity… is national and religious treason to millions of Egyptians,” wrote Hamrawi in a press statement Saturday, ending his 28-year membership in the Muslim Brotherhood. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:20 AM
[WaPo] "... Hostilities have been simmering for weeks, but erupted into barrages from Gaza immediately after the Qatari ruler left the territory Tuesday. Militants from the ruling Hamas movement joined the fray, undercutting the emir’s appeal to avoid confrontation with Israel........
The Qatari emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, had urged the Iranian-backed Hamas to do everything possible to avoid violence with Israel.
But the emir’s visit and promise of $400 million in aid bolstered Hamas’ flagging popularity and might have encouraged it to join the latest round of hostilities, which had previously involved smaller militant groups.
“These holy missions come in response to the repeated, continuous crimes of the enemy against our people, which killed four and injured 10 in the past 48 hours,” the military wing of Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees said in a statement...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:08 AM
Hussein Agha and Robert Malley | The New York Review of Books
"... Alliances are topsy-turvy, defy logic, are unfamiliar and shifting. Theocratic regimes back secularists; tyrannies promote democracy; the US forms partnerships with Islamists; Islamists support Western military intervention. Arab nationalists side with regimes they have long combated; liberals side with Islamists with whom they then come to blows. Saudi Arabia backs secularists against the Muslim Brothers and Salafis against secularists. The US is allied with Iraq, which is allied with Iran, which supports the Syrian regime, which the US hopes to help topple. The US is also allied with Qatar, which subsidizes Hamas, and with Saudi Arabia, which funds the Salafis who inspire jihadists who kill Americans wherever they can.
In record time, Turkey evolved from having zero problems with its neighbors to nothing but problems with them. It has alienated Iran, angered Iraq, and had a row with Israel. It virtually is at war with Syria. Iraqi Kurds are now Ankara’s allies, even as it wages war against its own Kurds and even as its policies in Iraq and Syria embolden secessionist tendencies in Turkey itself.
For years, Iran opposed Arab regimes, cultivating ties with Islamists with whose religious outlook it felt it could make common cause. As soon as they take power, the Islamists seek to reassure their former Saudi and Western foes and distance themselves from Tehran despite Iran’s courting. The Iranian regime will feel obliged to diversify its alliances, reach out to non-Islamists who feel abandoned by the nascent order and appalled by the budding partnership between Islamists and the US. Iran has experience in such matters: for the past three decades, it has allied itself with secular Syria even as Damascus suppressed its Islamists.
When goals converge, motivations differ. The US cooperated with Gulf Arab monarchies and sheikhdoms in deposing Qaddafi yesterday and in opposing Assad today. It says it must be on the right side of history. Yet those regimes do not respect at home the rights they piously pursue abroad. Their purpose is neither democracy nor open societies. They are engaged in a struggle for regional domination. What, other than treasure, can proponents of a self-styled democratic uprising find in countries whose own system of governance is anathema to the democratic project they allegedly promote?
The new system of alliances hinges on too many false assumptions and masks too many deep incongruities. It is not healthy because it cannot be real. Something is wrong. Something is unnatural. It cannot end well....media war that started in Egypt reaches its zenith in Syria. Each side shows only its own, amplifies the numbers, disregards the rest. In Bahrain, the opposite is true. No matter how many opponents of the regime turn up, few take notice. It does not register on the attention scale. Not long ago, footage from Libya glorified motley fighters with colorful bandanas and triumphant spiel. The real battles, bloody and often from the skies, raged elsewhere. Casualties were invisible. ..." (MUST continue, here)
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:54 AM
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Saudi/Hariri/FSA thugs playing in Beirut: 'My friends had to prove they are Sunnis so that they would let us pass!'
'Commander Hariri, wounded on the battlefront of Megeve!'
[Telegraph] "... Rabih Baaklini, 30, a Christian, said that he came under fire when his car was stopped at a militia checkpoint: "As we tried to pass, masked gunmen leapt out around the car. I panicked and tried to flatten the accelerator, but hit the brake instead. We all dived to the car floor as the men shot at us. A bullet scraped my jeans and landed in the gearbox. They pumped 16 bullets into the car. It's a miracle we survived."Mr Baaklini added: "I am Christian, but the neighbourhood I am from has Shia in it. I heard them talking among themselves over my ID, saying that I was Shia."Other residents in Beirut reported seeing militia checkpoints. "They were so aggressive. My friends had to prove they are Sunnis so that they would let us pass," said a French resident who encountered a checkpoint in south Beirut with her car full of Lebanese friends. "It is as though Lebanon suffers from a reflex: whenever there is trouble, revert to the sectarian behaviour of the civil war in the 1980s."...After his ordeal on Sunday night, Mr Baaklini drove to an army checkpoint only 200 metres from where the militiamen had opened fire on his car. They said they could do nothing. “I told the soldier I would leave the country! The soldier said that if he had the means, he would too,” said Mr Baaklini."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:30 PM
US to door-mat president of Lebanon: 'It's not our business, but nonetheless, here''s what you should do!'
Opportunities arise! We helped wean Syria out of Lebanon with Rafiq Hariri's assassination, the US hopes to wean Hezbollah out of government with a new assassination.
[AP] "...The new comments signaled that the United States believes government change may now be realistic, given anger over the bombing. Nuland said the United States would not "prejudge" the outcome of the attempt to forge a new ruling coalition but stressed that Washington was very concerned by increasing political instability in Lebanon since the bombing and wanted to see the Lebanese take steps to calm the situation. "This is obviously a Lebanese affair," she said. "And while we don't want a vacuum of a legitimate political authority, we do support this process that is now under way to produce a new government that's responsive to the needs of the Lebanese people..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:08 PM
'Libyan Mahdi al-Harati of the US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office -listed terrorist organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in Syria'
[AbuM] "... The indirect approach with proxies, as with client or partner states, tries to obfuscate or eliminate a fundamental policy problem with a different strategic execution. Few would claim they wish to engage in nation-building in Syria, or advocate launching a counterinsurgency or counter-terrorism campaign there. To do so would evoke images and memories of Iraq and Afghanistan, of thousands of American troops and strategic folly.But trying to create a friendly state or quasi-state out of the Free Syrian Army through supplying them with weapons requires precisely them to execute policies we would rather leave unspoken. When we look at the aftermath of the Benghazi attack, we recognize that a Libyan government which effectively translates its pro-U.S. proclivities into meaningful policy outcomes will have to engage in counter-terrorism operations against jihadists. It will need to undergo nation-building efforts to develop a military powerful enough to take on militias and other paramilitary organizations, and develop criminal justice institutions and practices to ensure that the rule of law can prevail.In Syria, we frequently hear that providing arms to the rebels will enhance U.S. goals to unify the opposition, marginalize jihadists such as Jabhat al-Nusrah which operate outside the FSA’s already loose command structure, and earn the loyalty of the future government in Syria. This would occur, supposedly, through the U.S. preventing Qatar or Saudi Arabia from taking control of arms flows, outgunning the jihadists, and collapsing the Syrian regime before they can establish a foothold within the country.For U.S. patronage to translate into those outcomes, though, the U.S. must induce some nasty behavior by its friends on the ground. It should be very obvious that Qatar and Saudi Arabia will search for preferred proxies. As recent reporting reveals, the Qatari and Saudi governments are trying to steer arms towards hard-line Islamists, and rebel groups, in turn, are shifting their behavior and appearance to cash into these arms. One the one hand, this is heartening, as it means that alternate arms provision might at least discourage aping hard-line Islamist or jihadist practices. But these faux jihadists are hardly the real concern.If the U.S. seeks out groups it believes align with its values, this encourages the Saudis and Qataris to more aggressively support their own proxies, in order to maintain leverage among the rebel co-belligerents. It is entirely possible to have a scenario where aggressive patronage produces unity within each patron’s preferred factions of the rebel forces, but creates starker divide among the coalition overall. As much as the United States would like to disassociate itself from the concept, using proxies to shape political outcomes and state consolidation is still a form of nation or state-building behavior, one made palatable by the lack of direct exposure but all the more difficult by the lack of leverage.Frequently, the first impulse of a proxy group, whether it takes arms or not, is going to focus using them on fighting its primary enemy (the Syrian state) rather than asserting dominance over fighters who are driving at similar aims. When relatively moderate rebels killed an extremist leader, it was not because he was initially unwelcome, but because he was trying to assert control over rebel activities.****************** Attempting to marginalize the jihadists sounds well and good, but it involves engaging in a severe and likely violent power struggle that jeopardizes the interests of several major regional state and non-state actors engaged in the Syrian civil war and its broader proxy conflict.****************So the United States is left with a situation where it must potentially fracture the rebellion by attempting this marginalization during the course of the conflict, or by hoping its arms have bought enough loyalty, capacity, and willpower for the rebel groups to undertake a second or third phase of Syria’s civil war in order to purge the country of jihadist groups. In either case, U.S. anti-extremist efforts work at cross-purposes with either unifying the rebels or shortening the civil war. This is doubly problematic when one considers that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Gulf states have demonstrated their ability to resource and implement proxy strategies in countries such as Libya. Even in the case of Syria, the United States would need the support of the very countries propagating the movements it hopes to quash.When the U.S. engages in proxy warfare in the context of the Syrian civil war, it thus encounters not simply implementation problems, but these implementation problems, like those of partner and client strategies, reveal a fundamental lack of ability to prioritize policy aims. Advocates of proxy warfare cannot decide or agree about their policy objectives, let alone their prioritization. It is nice to say that the U.S. wishes to shorten the Syrian war, build opposition unity, protect safe areas, and marginalize radicalism. These goals all conflict at various junctures (shorten the Syrian civil war requires minimizing infighting among rebels or killing off undesired rebels postwar), and without prioritization, the result is a mess..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:35 PM
[Tikun Olam] "... Gideon Levy writes in Haaretz that Israelis (Jews) have largely shed their previous veneer of democratic values and now hold views that can only be described as authoritarian-racist, if not fascist.
"... The majority of the Jewish public, 59 percent, wants preference[s] for Jews over Arabs in…job [appointments] in government ministries. Almost half the Jews, 49 percent, want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones; 42 percent don’t want to live in the same building with Arabs and 42 percent don’t want their children in the same class with Arab children.
A third of the Jewish public wants a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset and a large majority of 69 percent objects to giving 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank.
A sweeping 74 percent majority is in favor of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. A quarter – 24 percent – believe separate roads are “a good situation” and 50 percent believe they are “a necessary situation.”
Almost half – 47 percent – want part of Israel’s Arab population to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority and 36 percent support transferring some of the Arab towns from Israel to the PA, in exchange for keeping some of the West Bank settlements.
Although the territories have not been annexed, most of the Jewish public (58 percent ) already believes Israel practices apartheid against Arabs. Only 31 percent think such a system is not in force here. Over a third (38 percent ) of the Jewish public wants Israel to annex the territories with settlements on them, while 48 percent object.
…The survey indicates that a third to half of Jewish Israelis want to live in a state that practices formal, open discrimination against its Arab citizens. An even larger majority wants to live in an apartheid state if Israel annexes the territories.
…The interviewees did not object strongly to describing Israel’s character as “apartheid” already today, without annexing the territories. Only 31 percent objected to calling Israel an “apartheid state” and said “there’s no apartheid at all.”
In contrast, 39 percent believe apartheid is practiced “in a few fields”; 19 percent believe “there’s apartheid in many fields” and 11 percent do not know.
In an accompanying op-ed, Levy adds:
"... Israelis have never appeared so pleased with themselves, even when they admit their racism. Most of them think Israel is a good place to live in and most of them think this is a racist state. It’s good to live in this country, most Israelis say, not despite its racism, but…because of it..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:09 PM
[EW] "... This Eli Lake story describing what has happened to one of two Benghazi suspects arrested in Turkey confirms something I long suspected: he was headed for Syria.
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:14 PM