Thursday, February 28, 2013

al Maliki: "Victory of the Syrian opposition means civil wars in Iraq & Lebanon, and instability in Jordan!"

BAGHDAD (AP) —" Iraq's prime minister warned Wednesday that a victory for rebels in the Syrian civil war would create a new extremist haven and destabilize the wider Middle East, sparking sectarian wars in his own country and in Lebanon.Nouri al-Maliki stopped short of voicing outright support for Syrian President Bashar Assad's embattled regime. But his comments in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press marked one of his strongest warnings yet about the turmoil that the collapse of the Syrian government could create...
"If the world does not agree to support a peaceful solution through dialogue ... then I see no light at the end of the tunnel," al-Maliki said in his office in a Saddam Hussein-era palace inside Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone.
"Neither the opposition nor the regime can finish each other off," he continued. "The most dangerous thing in this process is that if the opposition is victorious, there will be a civil war in Lebanon, divisions in Jordan and a sectarian war in Iraq."

'Turkey is harming US interests in Syria'

"...AMERICA’S ... rosy vision of a moderate and secular Syria after Mr. Assad’s downfall will not be achieved if the United States continues to depend on regional allies that have little interest in such an outcome.President Obama has relied heavily on Turkey in seeking to oust Mr. Assad and Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to visit the Turkish capital, Ankara, later this week. But Turkey is part of the problem. It is exacerbating Syria’s sectarian strife, rather than contributing to a peaceful and pluralistic solution.
While the Obama administration has encouraged a broad Syrian opposition coalition, in which the influence of Islamists would be circumscribed, Turkey has not been of any assistance whatsoever. Instead, the Turkish government has continued to throw its weight behind the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood dominated the Syrian National Council, which is headquartered in Istanbul, and has succeeded in eclipsing other groups within the new opposition coalition, effectively thwarting the American effort to empower non-Islamists.
Moreover, while sponsoring the Sunni cause in Syria, the Turkish government has made no attempt to show sympathy for the fears of the country’s Alawite, Christian and Kurdish minorities. The Alawites and the Christians have backed the government in large numbers and fear retribution if Mr. Assad is toppled.
Turkey has provided a crucial sanctuary for the Sunni rebels fighting Mr. Assad and has helped to arm and train them.  Even more ominously, Turkey is turning a blind eye to the presence of jihadists on its territory, and has even used them to suppress the aspirations of Kurds in Syria. Last November, Islamist rebels from Jabhet al-Nusra,  which has reputed links to Al Qaeda in Iraq, entered the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain from Turkey and attacked fighters from the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, known as the P.Y.D., which had wrested control of parts of northeastern Syria. The Nusra fighters were initially repelled, but have continued to cross into Syria from their safe haven in Turkey.
......  America can’t expect the Sunni Arab autocracies that have financed the Syrian uprising, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to help empower secular and moderate leaders in Syria. However, Turkey, a NATO ally, should be expected to promote a pluralistic, post-Assad Syria. It has not.
The Obama administration must therefore reassess the assumption that Turkey is playing a constructive role in ending the violence in Syria; it must also take a hard look at its own role in contributing to religious strife.
America’s policy of punitive sanctions and not-so-veiled military threats toward Iran has encouraged Turkey to assert itself as a Sunni power. The perception that Turkey enjoys American “cover” for a foreign policy that directly confronts Iranian interests emboldened the Turkish government to throw its weight behind the armed Sunni rebellion against Mr. Assad, Iran’s main regional ally.
Turkey quickly abandoned its stated ambition to have “zero problems with neighbors” and decided to join the United States in confronting Iran. It agreed to the deployment of parts of NATO’s antimissile shield, which is meant to neutralize a supposed Iranian missile threat.
Turkey’s shift flowed from the belief that it would gain power and stature and reap the benefits if America succeeded in rolling back Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
All of this suited the United States.  Washington no longer had to fear that Turkey might be “drifting eastward,” as it did during the short-lived Turkish-Iranian rapprochement a few years ago, when Turkey broke ranks with its Western partners over the Iranian nuclear issue. Turkey also appeared to be an American asset insofar as it could potentially offset the influence of more conservative Sunni powers like Saudi Arabia.
But the Syrian crisis has had a radicalizing effect on all parties, including Turkey’s more moderate Islamist government. Under more peaceful circumstances, Mr. Erdogan might be able to live up to American expectations and promote a pluralistic vision for the Middle East. That won’t happen if the region is increasingly torn apart by violent religious conflict and its leaders believe that playing the sectarian card will enhance their power.
Removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq in 2003 had the undesirable consequence of empowering Iran. A decade later, America’s effort to remove Mr. Assad is partly an attempt to remedy this geopolitical setback. But, as in Iraq, it has had unwelcome consequences. Moreover, American policy toward Iran is encouraging opportunistic Sunni assertiveness that threatens to trigger Shiite retaliation.
The United States must beware of doing the bidding of Sunni powers — especially Turkey — that are advancing sectarian agendas that run counter to America’s interest of promoting pluralism and tolerance. Left unchecked, rising sectarianism could lead to a dangerous regional war. ..."

Rome summit pledges $60 millions to Syrian opposition

"..."The ministers pledged more political and material support to the (Syrian National) coalition ... They gave no detail of what kind of support would be supplied....
Speaking after talks with the Syrian opposition and mainly European and Arab countries supporting them, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said his country would provide Syrian opposition with $60m in new aid and work with rebel fighters.The US plans for the first time to provide non-lethal aid, including food rations and medical supplies, to opposition fighters battling the Syrian government ..."

'Arab League's' al Arabi from Rome: 'Washington will not arm Syrian rebels!'


نبيل العربي: واشنطن اعربت عن رفضها الرسمي تقديم السلاح للمعارضة السورية خلال مؤتمر روما - النهار

'Hizbullah got Scud D missiles from Syria with 700 km range'

"... TEL AVIV — Israel has determined that the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah acquired the extended-range Scud D ballistic missile from Syria.
A senior Israeli official asserted that Hizbullah obtained an unspecified number of Scud Ds from Syrian military arsenals.
A senior Israeli official asserted that Hizbullah obtained an unspecified number of Scud Ds from Syrian military arsenals.
“It can strike Israel from anywhere in Lebanon,” Gilad said.Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry’s Political-Military Directorate, said the Scud D contained a warhead of 150 kilograms and could fly 700 kilometers.
In an address to the Israel Missile Defense Association on Feb. 26, Gilad said Hizbullah recently acquired the Scud Ds. He did not elaborate.
This marked the first Israeli report that Syria transferred its top missile to Hizbullah in Lebanon. Officials said Scud D, produced in Syria with North Korean assistance, could be fitted with a biological or chemical warhead.
“We are not discussing the older missiles deployed by the Syrian Army, but a missile with a range of 700 kilometers and a warhead of 150 kilograms or more,” Gilad said.
On Jan. 30, Israel was said to have struck Syrian military facilities as well as a convoy of advanced weapons headed for Hizbullah in Lebanon. At the time, Israel was warning of Hizbullah’s attempts to acquire the Buk-M air
defense system, deemed one of the most advanced in the Syrian arsenal...."

"“The SNC was parachuted down on us to draw the domesticated opposition into a settlement with the regime,”

 'Al Khatib & Hariri in Saudi Arabia'

"...The SNC was parachuted down on us to draw the domesticated opposition into a settlement with the regime,” he added. The Russians and Americans “want to exhaust the two sides in order to lead them into a Lebanese-style settlement where there are neither winners nor losers.”
It appears that Turk had decided to sabotage the SNC from within, insisting in the same interview that “what is most important is not what some of the major powers want, but what is happening on the ground inside Syria.” He said that he was counting on the armed opposition “to bring down the regime, no matter the cost.”Turk’s views were backed by the effective leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Farouk Tayfour, who played a critical role in the Islamists’ armed uprising against Hafez al-Assad between 1979 and 1982.In the July 2012 opposition conference in Cairo, Tayfour declared that “we are willing to take matters into our own hands,” after acknowledging that the Council’s strategy of foreign intervention along the lines of Iraq and Libya had failed.
Tayfour and Turk succeed in blocking Washington’s choice to head up the SNC, businessman Riad Seif, agreeing at the last minute to a compromise candidate with no political experience, the current president, Moaz al-Khatib.
Khatib consequently dropped what was considered a political bomb in the SNC by agreeing to “negotiations with the regime,” justifying it as a personal position due to the fact that “countries make promises, but do not fulfill them. They tell the Syrians to attack, but abandon them in the heat of battle.”
Within days, Khatib’s initiative galvanized support, first from Washington then the Russians and Iranians. Soon, elements within the opposition alliance, including Seif and a coterie of Damascene opposition businessmen, as well as a faction of the Muslim Brotherhood, offered their support.
At first, Khatib’s dialogue initiative was little more than an attempt to test the waters within the SNC to see how far they would go in terms of a negotiated solution. But on 14 February 2013, in a meeting of the founding committee of the SNC in Cairo, the Coalition formally agreed to a “political solution,” while imposing some negotiation conditions.
Despite this, there remains two contradictory currents within the SNC still fighting to get their way. One side is moving in the direction of talking with certain elements within the regime, while the other continues to hold out for changing the military balance on the ground. ..."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

5 Broken Cameras Director Emad Burnat’s Statement on His LAX Detention

"........ "There are more than 500 Israeli checkpoints, roadblocks and other barriers to movement across our land, and not a single one of us has been spared the experience that my family and I experienced yesterday. Ours was a very minor example of what my people face every day."

Jordan 'Prepares' for Return Of Salafists From Syria

"...The prominent Jihadist leader Mohammad Shalabi, also known as Abu Sayyaf, revealed that the movement’s members, under the banner of Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, refused calls to join the Free Syrian Army in exchange for money and arms. He noted that if the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is toppled there will likely be a clash and confrontation between jihadist and secular militants.Some say this has preoccupied the Jordanian king’s agenda during his recent visit to Moscow to discuss the Syrian issue. These concerns have begun to act as an incentive to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis through seeking common ground between the West and its allies in the region, and Russia and its allies...."

UAE: "No discussions of Bahrain!"

"...Dr Kristian Ulrichsen of the London School of Economics (LSE), had been scheduled to speak about Bahrain at a conference, "The New Middle East: Transition in the Arab World", which was jointly organised by the LSE and the American University of Sharjah.
The title of Dr Ulrichsen's talk was "Bahrain’s Uprising: Domestic Implications and Regional and International Perspectives".
Towards the end of last week the UAE authorities intervened and said no discussion of Bahrain would be allowed. Rather than accept what it regarded as a restriction on academic freedom, the LSE pulled out, causing the conference to be cancelled.
A statement issued by the UAE foreign ministry on Monday said Ulrichsen "has consistently propagated views de-legitimising the Bahraini monarchy". ..."

Ahaa! The Leveretts are right, again!

Notice: Reuters admits that "limited progress" in talks was achieve!
(Reuters) - ".... Describing the "unintended consequences" of sanctions, the report noted that those with the best access to state resources, including the elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), had been best placed to circumvent the sanctions, while smuggling networks had become an integral part of the economy.
"This does not necessarily harm the regime. To the contrary, it has facilitated a symbiosis between state-affiliated organizations such as the IRGC and transnational smuggling networks," it said.
"Over time, organized crime networks likely will become more sophisticated, enabling them to survive even after sanctions have been lifted. Iran's proximity to two countries rating highest on the corruption scale - Iraq and Afghanistan - likely contributes to cross-border criminality, undermining longer-term stability."
Increasingly tough sanctions imposed on Iran's oil and banking sectors over its nuclear program have put enormous pressure on Iran's economy and forced it to seek innovative ways around them....
The ICG's recommendations are broadly similar to those of many other Iran experts. It calls for a gradual easing of sanctions in return for Iranian concessions on its nuclear program, accompanied by direct talks between Iran and the United States.
But the report, "Spider Web: The Making and Unmaking of Iran Sanctions", is unusual in underscoring the difficulties of easing sanctions, despite the limited progress made this week in talks between Iran and major world powers on Tehran's nuclear program.
Sanctions have become so extensive and complex, and ....  easing the sanctions was "like dancing in a minefield".
"There are tripwires everywhere," the expert said. ..."

Regardless of the regional apocalypse: 'Let's do it!'

"...But let’s not sugarcoat the option. Intervention in Syria, however indirect, carries real risks. Colin Powell was wrong about WMD in Iraq, but he was right about the Pottery Barn rule: you break it, you bought it. President Obama’s instinctive desire to minimize American exposure to what is virtually certain to be a nasty post-Assad situation in Syria is rooted in serious and sensible concerns.
At Via Meadia, we endorsed the idea of arming the rebels faster and earlier, despite our Pottery Barn rule qualms, because we believed that the impact of change in Syria on Iran’s thinking was worth the risks and costs........Unfortunately, jumping in now is very problematic. We’ve already incurred most of the costs of inaction, and if we act, we’ll face a new set of unpredictable risks. But on balance, the chance that helping the Syrian people push the Assad regime out the door will induce the Iranians to see the wisdom of compromise continues to tip the scales toward helping the Syrian rebels ..."

Lavrov: 'Kerry might seem bombastic but he is all for "dialogue between the government and the opposition."

"... Lavrov said the new U.S. top diplomat seemed to grasp the gravity of the crisis in Syria and that the former Cold War foes had agreed to do everything in their power "to create the best conditions to facilitate the soonest possible start of a dialogue between the government and the opposition."..."

Kerry: "A change in the Syrian regime"

"...Speaking in a Paris stopover during a joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Kerry said the U.S. is "examining ways to accelerate" a change in the Syrian regime. ..."

Iraq PM Warns: "No light at the end of the tunnel...." unless ...

"... He called on outside countries to "be more reasonable regarding Syria..... If the world does not agree to support a peaceful solution through dialogue ... then I see no light at the end of the tunnel...."

Everywhere you look, ...

"... The Syrian Islamic Front (SIF) -- an umbrella group of six organizations that is considered one of the key jihadi elements within the Syrian opposition -- is another benefactor of money from sympathetic charities. SIF has clearly expressed ties to government-linked NGOs in Turkey and Qatar: The video proclaiming the creation of this new group in December showed SIF members providing aid to Syrian civilians with boxes and flags bearing the logos of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), which the German Interior Ministry banned for contributing funds to Hamas...
Other boxes and flags in SIF's December video belonged to Qatar Charity, which used to go by the name Qatar Charitable Society. As evidence submitted by the U.S. government in a criminal trial noted, in 1993 Osama bin Laden named the society as one of several charities that were used to fund al Qaeda's overseas operations. In 1995, the group's funds were used to support an assassination attempt against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
These charities form an international network that has financed radical groups across the Muslim world. Most significantly, Qatar Charity is known to have operated in northern Mali when it was overrun by Islamist groups, including al Qaeda's affiliate in North Africa. These jihadists were not only well armed, but also well funded ... 
Other charities that in the past supported al Qaeda and jihadi causes may also be on the rebound. For example, when the Treasury Department designated AHIF, the Saudi charity linked to the U.S. Embassy bombings, for "having provided financial and material support to al Qaida," it noted that AHIF's leadership "has attempted to reconstitute the operations of the organization, and parts of the organization have continued to operate."...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Syrian Arab Army buying off Free Syrian Army 'informers'

The Angry Arab News
"... There are some rumors in Turkey -still impossible to verify- about the hidden wars between some FSA groups and Al Qaeda affiliated ones mostly operating in northern Syria.
Syrian media has been reporting the deadly strifes of the FSA groups that cannot share the troophies of looting but what I am telling is you a little bit different. According to rumors, some FSA groups (mostly in Aleppo) informs Syrian army about the their rival groups and thus the attacks of Syrian army becomes more deadly. One of my journalist friend (prefers not to be named) told me that sometimes FSA militants informing the army about the Al Qaeda affiliated groups who are much more stronger and refusing to cooperate.
"They inform the army about the location of arm depots, the location of headquarters or even field hospitals of the rival groups and these critical informations help army to destroy easily its strtategic targets. For instance, army hit one of headquarters in Azaz las month with the help of a rival group. Sometimes they give the information for money..." 

The Leveretts: "The coming collapse of Iran sanctions"

"... Once it becomes evident Washington won't seriously impose secondary sanctions, growth in Iranian oil shipments to China and other non-Western economies (for example, India and South Korea) will accelerate. Likewise, non-Western powers are central to Iran's quest for alternatives to US-dominated mechanisms for conducting and settling international transactions - a project that will also gain momentum after Washington's bluff is called.  Conversely, if Washington sanctions major Chinese banks and energy companies, Beijing will respond - at least by taking America to the WTO's Dispute Resolution Mechanism (where China will win), perhaps by retaliating against US companies in China.
Chinese policymakers are increasingly concerned Washington is reneging on its part of the core bargain that grounded Sino-American rapprochement in the 1970s - to accept China's relative economic and political rise and not try to secure a hegemonic position in Asia. 
Beijing is already less willing to work in the Security Council on a new (even watered-down) sanctions resolution and more willing to resist US initiatives that, in its view, challenge Chinese interests (witness China's vetoes of three US-backed resolutions on Syria).
In this context, Chinese leaders will not accept American high-handedness on Iran sanctions. At this point, Beijing has more ways to impose costs on America for violations of international economic law that impinge on Chinese interests than Washington has levers to coerce China's compliance..."

Iraq's NS Advisor al Fayad: "Turkey & some Arabs behind terrorism resurgence in Iraq & Syria!'

"... The first cause is the rise of terrorist activity in the country, which in turn can be traced back to the terrorist safe havens that were created by the situation in Syria and the turmoil in some of the Arab Spring countries....
Al-Monitor:  Today, al-Qaeda combatants can easily move between the countries of the Middle East, be it Iraq or Syria. Is this due to a lack of security coordination between the countries of the region?
Fayad:  Yes, there is an absolute lack of security coordination between the countries of the region, apart from certain places and American efforts. One scarcely finds systematic coordination between the countries affected by these groups. Unfortunately, some countries provide extremist groups with support so as to further their agendas in other countries. This clearly goes against the principle of coordinating to fight these groups. For instance, transporting militants into Syria has been facilitated, with many coming from Arab countries by way of Turkey....
Al-Monitor:  What about Iraq’s foreign policy? Have diplomatic efforts helped national security in any way?
Fayad:  I was not aware that Iraq had a foreign policy. Political and social strife, a weak national identity and disunity still influence Iraq’s representatives abroad. With all due respect to the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we have yet to craft a political policy that reflects the identity of the new Iraq. No single strategy is capable of reconciling divergent points of view, burying the hatchet between rival groups and resolving the aforementioned problems. The routine performance of the political system has not worked wonders, nor has it indicated that it has the capacity to resolve problems. Another factor is the fact that the administration is preoccupied with domestic issues and internal security, which in itself is a serious structural flaw.
Al-Monitor:  Does the danger of a nuclear Iran weigh heavily on Iraq? The whole world fears the Iranian nuclear program; why, then, does Iraq seem reassured, despite the fact that it shares a border with Iran?
Fayad:  Proximity to Iran is irrelevant in this matter. Honestly, we have bigger fish to fry which are closer to us than Iran, such as addressing daily infiltrations and bombings. We may not be immune to strategic threats abroad, but these are not the primary concerns of the Iraqi people. As far as the Iraqi government is concerned, Iran is a neighboring country whose common border stretches for more than 1,000 km and has sectarian pull.
Iraq seeks to advance its own interests by establishing good relations with Iran and other countries. But, frankly it does not sense the danger of Iran going nuclear. What we do sense, however, is Turkey meddling in Iraqi affairs and the Arab countries sending militias and armed groups into Iraq, in addition to their refusal to politically engage with Iraq......"

This Yoyo is said to be juggling!

"... Still, Abbas must realize the danger of fanning the flames of violence. If the riots, which so far have been mostly restricted to smaller villages around Hebron, does indeed spread to cities such as Ramallah and Nablus and greater numbers of Palestinians take to the street, the situation could deteriorate into a third intifada.
There are more radical elements within Fatah which would like to see this happen as a means of usurping Abbas’s power.
Though there is little Abbas can do to stop the riots, he could rein in the Fatah leaders who are encouraging escalation...."

“We are not coming to Rome simply to talk ... We are coming to Rome to make a decision about next steps..."

“We are determined that the Syrian opposition is not going to be dangling in the wind wondering where the support is or if it’s coming,” Mr. Kerry said at a news conference in London. “And we are determined to change the calculation on the ground for President Assad.”

'Too supportive of the Saudis?'

"...When, in December, 1995, the Agency set up a unit to dismantle al-Qaeda and capture or help the U.S. military kill Osama bin Laden, one of that unit’s first actions was to ask Mr. Brennan—who was then what George Tenet has described as “CIA’s senior officer on the Arabian Peninsula”—to secure from the Saudi intelligence service some very basic information and documents about bin Laden. The Saudis did not respond, and so the bin Laden unit sent frequent messages to Mr. Brennan asking him to secure the data. When we finally received a response from Mr. Brennan, it was to tell us that he would no longer pass the bin Laden unit’s requests to the Saudis because they were annoyed by them. DCI George Tenet backed Mr. Brennan’s decision, and when I resigned from CIA in November 2004, the Saudis had not delivered the requested data. ..."

NYTimes: The US, Saudi Arabia & Jordan supplying Croatia-sanctioned weapons to Syria's rebels

"... But one senior American official described the shipments as “a maturing of the opposition’s logistical pipeline.” The official noted that the opposition remains fragmented and operationally incoherent, and added that the recent Saudi purchase was “not in and of itself a tipping point.”“I remain convinced we are not near that tipping point,” the official said.
The official added that Iran, with its shipments to Syria’s government, still outstrips what Arab states have sent to the rebels...
Another American official said Iran has been making flights with weapons into Syria that are so routine that he referred to them as “a milk run.” Several of the flights were by an Iranian Air Force Boeing jet using the name Maharaj Airlines, he said.
While Persian Gulf Arab nations have been sending military equipment and other assistance to the rebels for more than a year, the difference in the recent shipments has been partly of scale. Officials said multiple planeloads of weapons have left Croatia since December, when many Yugoslav weapons, previously unseen in the Syrian civil war, began to appear in videos posted by rebels on YouTube....
Officials familiar with the transfers said the arms were part of an undeclared surplus in Croatia remaining from the 1990s Balkan wars. One Western official said the shipments included “thousands of rifles and hundreds of machine guns” and an unknown quantity of ammunition.
Croatia’s Foreign Ministry and arms-export agency denied that such shipments had occurred. Saudi officials have declined requests for interviews about the shipments for two weeks. Jordanian officials also declined to comment.
Danijela Barisic, a spokeswoman for Croatia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that since the Arab Spring began, Croatia had not sold any weapons to either Saudi Arabia or the Syrian rebels. “We did not supply arms,” she said by telephone.
Igor Tabak, a Croatian military analyst, said that after a period when many countries in the former Yugoslavia sold weapons from the Balkan wars on black markets, Croatia, poised this year to join the European Union, now strictly adheres to international rules on arms transfers.
“I can’t imagine bigger quantities of weapons being moved without state sanctioning,” he said. “It is not impossible, but it is just very improbable.” He added that it was possible that such weapons could be moved by the intelligence services, ... .An official in Washington said the possibility of the transfers from the Balkans was broached last summer, when a senior Croatian official visited Washington and suggested to American officials that Croatia had many weapons available should anyone be interested in moving them to Syria’s rebels.... One Western official familiar with the transfers said that participants are hesitant to discuss the transfers because Saudi Arabia, which the official said has financed the purchases, has insisted on secrecy.
Jutarnji list, a Croatian daily newspaper, reported Saturday that in recent months there had been an unusually high number of sightings of Jordanian cargo planes at Pleso Airport in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital.
The newspaper said the United States, Croatia’s main political and military ally, was possibly the intermediary, and mentioned four sightings at Pleso Airport of Ilyushin 76 aircraft owned by Jordan International Air Cargo. It said such aircraft had been seen on Dec. 14 and 23, Jan. 6 and Feb. 18. Ivica Nekic, director of the agency in charge of arms exports in Croatia, dismissed the Croatian report as speculation...."

Monday, February 25, 2013

"Ready for dialogue even with those who carried arms!"

"... On Monday, Samir Nachar, a member of the coalition, said that Sheik Khatib had met in the past week with Muhammad Hamsho, a prominent Syrian businessman who is close to Maher al-Assad, ...News of the meeting, which surfaced in the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, prompted a new round of criticism in some opposition quarters of Sheik Khatib. The newspaper quoted Faiek al-Meer, a member of the banned opposition Democratic People’s Party, as saying that Sheik Khatib had met with Mr. Hamsho without telling other coalition members.Mr. Nachar said that Sheik Khatib had briefed him and other coalition members on the recent meeting, which he said had been initiated by Mr. Hamsho.
“Hamsho asked to meet Moaz al-Khatib and the latter agreed,” Mr. Nachar said in an interview. “The meeting did take place, yes. Al-Khatib was straightforward about it place but he refrained from going into details.”
Mr. Hamsho is one of several Syrian figures on whom the United States Treasury Department has imposed sanctions since Mr. Assad’s harsh crackdown on a peaceful protest movement that began in March 2011 and has since evolved into a civil war...."

What if China Not Just Hacked — But Sabotaged — the F-35?

"... We know China has hacked the F-35 program persistently. In 2008, an IG report revealed that BAE and some of the other then 1,200 (now 1,300) contractors involved weren’t meeting security requirements; last year an anonymous BAE guy admitted that the Chinese had been camped on their networks stealing data for 18 months. In April 2009, WSJ provided a more detailed report on breaches going back to 2007.
The Joint Strike Fighter, also known as the F-35 Lightning II, is the costliest and most technically challenging weapons program the Pentagon has ever attempted. The plane, led by Lockheed Martin Corp., relies on 7.5 million lines of computer code, which the Government Accountability Office said is more than triple the amount used in the current top Air Force fighter.
Six current and former officials familiar with the matter confirmed that the fighter program had been repeatedly broken into.
[snip]
Foreign allies are helping develop the aircraft, which opens up other avenues of attack for spies online. At least one breach appears to have occurred in Turkey and another country that is a U.S. ally, according to people familiar with the matter......"

Karzai Expells Special Operations Forces From Afghan Province Over Program at Heart of Petraeus’ “Success”

Karzai Expells Special Operations Forces From Afghan Province Over Program at Heart of Petraeus’ “Success”

Seen in Ersal, North Lebanon

'Jabhat al Nusra in Ersal after ambushing Lebanese soldiers: The Neo-Sunnis are coming!'

Seen in SOLIDERE

Al Qaeda's flag & operatives: 'The Neo-Sunnis are coming! (Rafic Hariri's burial place in the background)'

Dubai's 'Al Ghad' Takes on Al-Jazeera

"... Al-Ghad, whose slogan is “Today’s News with Tomorrow’s Vision,” is the media wing of the United Arab Emirates’ war against the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that has received much support from Qatar’s al-Jazeera.Set to launch officially in March, the channel’s primary backers are UAE Deputy Prime Minister Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, along with four other investors from the Gulf and one from Egypt.The project is the brainchild of figures such as Dubai police chief Dhahi Khalfan; Palestinian politician Mohammed Dahlan, who now lives in Abu Dhabi; and the losing candidate in the Egyptian presidential elections Ahmed Shafik, who has been in exile in Dubai since last summer.
A source close to Shafik denied to Al-Akhbar that he had a role in financing the channel....So far, al-Ghad’s initial, experimental broadcast has been from Cairo and its London headquarters, located in the same Hammersmith district building as daily newspaper al-Hayat.
The Saudi-owned al-Hayat suffered from a financial crisis that resulted in a consolidation of its staff to one floor, allowing it to rent out its other floors. The studio once used by the al-Hayat-LBC (Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation) channel before the cancellation of its merger is now being leased by al-Ghad."

Old christian armenian begging for his life in islamic court

Apparently this poor old man 'converted' to their brand of Islam: Watch how! These are tears of joy you see, not fear!

Syria wants Belgium to add more tartare sauce with 'moules-frites' servings!

"... "It's a dramatic situation, it's a real tragedy for the population in Syria. We are afraid of a very long civil war in the country, so we are trying to support a political solution if it's possible," Belgium Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said at a news conference in Amman."We are in favour of negotiations but without President Assad."
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who also addressed the conference with Reynders, said that Amman too wanted a "political solution that will ensure that Syria remains united."..."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Israeli Consul/ Atlanta: (Martin Luther) King represents "the militant wing of the civil rights movement"

'Israel hates legitimacy!'
"... The Israel Consul in Atlanta wrote that he "places great importance on forming connections with the black leadership," but added: "In my opinion the time is not yet ripe for his visit to Israel." He explained that this was because King represents "the militant wing of the civil rights movement," and that important organizations "are not in agreement with him and oppose his methods." He also added that alongside the global fame King had attained, he also had managed to alienate groups of moderate African Americans...."

'The US hoping that $75 millions could make the Lebanese Army a "credible alternative" to Hezbollah'

 'Arsal (North Bekaa) residents commandeering a military vehicle, hit during clashes between gunmen allied with the Free Syrian Army and the LAF in which two soldiers were killed in Arsal
 (Photo: AFP - STR)
"...The United States considers the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) as a wise investment that can preserve American influence and perhaps help Lebanon to prevent the Syrian civil war from spreading into a country that experienced its own prolonged sectarian conflict from 1975-89.
“The LAF can be a model of what can work,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Matthew Spence told a Washington audience Wednesday [Feb. 20].
While U.S. support for the LAF is comparatively modest — $75 million a year — it provides training as well as weapons and is an important element to “underscore the US partnership” with Lebanon, Spence said......
The war in Syria has also reignited sectarian tensions, particularly in the impoverished and predominantly Sunni north. There have been deadly incidents between Alawis and Sunnis in Tripoli that required deft handling by the LAF to defuse....
Spence, speaking at the Aspen Institute, noted that the Free Syrian Army, an opposition group, has threatened to cross the border into Lebanon to attack Hezbollah.
Spence suggested that Hezbollah’s support for Assad was hurting its popularity in Lebanon and providing an opportunity for the LAF to be seen by Lebanese as a “credible alternative” to the Shiite group.
While Hezbollah remains overwhelmingly dominant, Spence’s argument may be useful mostly in convincing a stingy U.S. Congress to maintain aid to the LAF especially at a time when automatic budget cuts due to go into effect March 1 will harshly impact overall U.S. military spending.....
The LAF has had to use its limited power carefully and has acted as a kind of fire brigade, deploying special forces and 11 mechanized brigades to prevent minor incidents from escalating.
Nerguizian warned, however, that pockets of the country — especially the North Bekaa area bordering Syria — were becoming “ungoverned spaces.” ..."

'Secret protocols' with the governments of Yemen, Algeria, Mali & Pakistan

"... It’s not clear how many such secret government-to-government protocols exist. At least some were made with since-deposed dictators such as Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen. Others may have been signed with the leaders of Algeria and Mali, the legal expert said. Given the widespread unpopularity of the drone program, the disclosure of these agreements could prove extremely embarrassing both for the United States and partner governments. That’s especially true of Pakistan, where Islamabad’s troubled military alliance with Washington and an intense U.S. drone campaign against Taliban and al-Qaida targets have provoked fierce anti-Americanism. ..."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Israel isn’t going to interfere & stop weapons shipments to Syrian rebels ..."

"... Israel is closely monitoring the kinds of weapons that are being sent to Syrian rebel groups, and it’s consulted with U.S. officials about which weapons they consider too sophisticated to be passed to the groups that are battling to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to Israeli officials with knowledge of the situation."Israel isn’t going to interfere and stop weapons shipments to the rebels at this point, but it wants to make sure it knows what they have,... once you send a weapon somewhere, you can’t control where it goes. The fear is that the same gun used to shoot a Syrian soldier will one day be used to shoot an Israeli soldier" said an Israeli military official who agreed to discuss the matter with McClatchy only on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss it publicly...."

Friday, February 22, 2013

Poll: "View that Turkey’s Middle East policy a 'success', in decline"

"...Kadir Has University of Istanbul conducted a poll in 26 Turkish cities with 1,000 persons between Dec. 26, 2012 and Jan. 6, 2013. The most striking finding was that 43.5% of the respondents chose Turkey’s “remaining neutral, not interfering in any manner” as the most appropriate option in Syria’s internal strife.But today, the Turkish government is providing opposition forces in Syria with all kinds of support, short of declaring war on Damascus.
Only 11.4% of the respondents approved the option for Turkey to “support opposition forces” — in other words, exactly what it is doing now....
This table becomes more meaningful when considering replies to the question, “What are the conditions that would require Turkey to militarily intervene in Syria?’’
The majority of respondents, 79%, responded that only the “existence of a direct threat against Turkey” would justify military intervention in Syria....
Respondents were asked when would they approve of "intervention in Syria by international forces," and responded:
  • 17.5%  to change the Assad regime
  • 11.4%  to protect the Syrians from massacres by the Assad regime
  • 36.5%  there should be no international intervention
  • under any condition
Overall, the research determined that the number of people seeing Turkey’s Middle East policy as successful is declining.
In 2011, 37.7% of poll respondents found the Middle East policy successful. In 2012, this figure was down to 35.4%...."

Marco Rubio: "The US shouldn’t dictate the Jewish state’s settlements policies"

 'An American Senator, we're led to believe!'
"... Rubio, who has said he will oppose Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel — citing, in part, some of Hagel’s past positions on the Middle East — also said that Hagel did not come up in discussions with Israeli officials this week...."

US Dipolmat: "for President Assad - there's quite a number of the population, maybe as many as half, if not more, who stand behind him."

'Syrians know their Bashar'
'b' at MoA
"...A member of the UN independent panel investigating human rights violations in Syria, Karen Abuzayd, said what we have asserted here all along.
A majority of the people of Syria stand behind their president Bashar al Assad.
Thanks to J. Bradley for a comment that pointed to Monday's CBC Radio Show As It Happens.
Starting at 2:00 minutes into the first part of the show Karen Koning AbuZayd, a former U.S. diplomat, is interviewed about the latest UN Human Rights Council report (pdf) about the situation in Syria.
At 5:35 min into the audio with regard to a question about a possible indictment of Assad a comparison is made to Milosovic and Serbia. There Karen Abuzayd, who was involved with Bosnia, says:
"... Milosovic had a lot of his population strongly behind him, throughout, until the end, until now I would say, and the same goes for President Assad - there's quite a number of the population, maybe as many as half, if not more, who stand behind him."

Hezbollah's 'Dany/Dani': “false flag” operations or an unknowing journo (s) getting duped...

New Yorker & New York Times getting duped and/or complicit in duping readers!
  • What fails the Smell Test here is that both Enders and Filkins employ a fake name “dany/dani” who 1) says the same thing in two different pieces for two different news orgs and 2) he says DAMAGING THINGS about Hizbullah that give the appearance to the unknowing reader in the US that the reporter has managed to really get inside the super secret, evil apparatus of HIZBULLAH! Even though, for those of us a bit more familiar with the terrain, the whole “dany” episode smacks of many past examples over the years of either “false flag” operations or an unknowing journo getting duped.
  • I certainly hope, at the least, it is NOT the case of journos and activists manufacturing quotes, sources, scenes etc as we see on occasion in Syria, Iraq int he past etc (as but two examples).
  • The process of verifying who someone is should simply not be attempted by journos unless done very rigorously when COVERING ONE OF THE MOST SECRETIVE ORGNIZATIONS IN THE WORLD. I mean come on, NO ONE in Hizbullah, both reporters say, will talk to them, and they BOTH find a miracle dany (a christian cover name in any case mind you!) and BELIEVE HIM, DONT EVEN RAISE THE difficulty of verifying his identity with readers…. And then this Dany, FOR BOTH, says “the truth” to these American reporters…and it is slightly rich in “admissions” of guilt and snippets of off-putting extremity which make dany’s party look BAD."

Russia accuses U.S. of double standards over Syria

"... A spokeswoman for the U.S. mission at the United Nations said it had not blocked any statement of condemnation but had sought to balance the text with criticism of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, which it said Russia had rejected."We strongly condemn all indiscriminate terrorist attacks against civilians or against diplomatic facilities," said Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the U.S. mission...."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

“How can we possibly satirize that?"

"... The straw that broke the camel’s back was Lebanon’s adoption of a new electoral law that requires members of each sect to vote for candidates from their sect only. A senior staff member at The Onion, Andy Mitchell, revealed the pressure that the magazine’s writers have been under in an interview earlier today. “How can we possibly satirize that? Anything we will come up with will look extremely normal. This is fucking insane.”
He added: “The law says Maronites, and I am not quite sure what Maronites are, must vote for Maronites candidates, Shiites for Shiite candidates, Sunnis for Sunni candidates and so on. Except for Jews. Jews can vote for candidates of any sect they choose! Now if we had put that in a satirical article, we would have been accused of unreasonable exaggeration.” 
“And why do they call it the Orthodox Electoral Law? There’s NOTHING Orthodox about it...."

"It is unraveling"


GregorydJohnsen ‏@gregorydjohnsen
Decisions have consequences. US abdication to Saudi on Yemen, throwing weight behind horrible GCC deal, well, this is the result.
"... In the worst days of the popular uprising, secessionist tribal groups carrying the old South Yemeni flag seized a military base in the southern province of Yafai, prompting retaliatory airstrikes. If southern politicians refuse to participate and the National Dialogue collapses, this could well occur again on a much larger scale. Will Picard, head of the Yemen Peace Project, wrote last night about the potential for a renewal of Yemen's 1994 civil war. "More violence is certain," he concluded. "Little else is."
You really had to have your head in the sand to miss what is starting to kick off in  - pretty sad.
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STOP the Presses: A John Kerry scandal!

... or so thought Malbrunnot "... Vanessa Kerry, la fille du nouveau chef de la diplomatie américaine, est mariée avec Brian – Beyrouz en farsi – Vala Naheed, un médecin d’origine iranienne qui a encore de la famille en République islamique. 
« Il se rend encore à Téhéran voir ses proches », affirme un homme d’affaires français dans le Golfe. Téhéran a plutôt bien accueilli la nomination de John Kerry au poste de secrétaire d’Etat...."

'Glorifying & Sanitizing Terrorism'

'Damascus'
Look at CBS with its "alleged car bomb" (as opposed to what?) and USA's glorifying the "the latest bombings and the recent mortar attacks suggest they may be shifting to guerrilla tactics to destabilize the seat of Assad's power" ... and the jewel by AFP "... The attack was “carried out by armed terrorist groups linked to Al-Qaeda that receive financial and logistic help from abroad,” the foreign ministry said, using government terminology for rebels..."

"Arming Syrian rebels Will Hinder Peace"

"...If the Obama administration’s goal is to convince Alawites, Christians, Kurds and Shiites to unite against the Assad regime, it does not make sense to arm a Syrian opposition; these groups view it as the biggest threat to their future in a post-Assad Syria. Washington should instead encourage reconciliation between the factions, which is precisely what the administration did recently when Vice President Biden endorsed Syrian opposition leader Moaz Al-Khatib’s overture to Assad on negotiations. ..."