".. It added that Brazil was recalling its ambassador to Israel for consultations — something that not even Arab countries such as Egypt or Jordan have done at the time of this writing...."
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
"... Time is not on Israel's side. At some point, something will likely happen to weaken its position, while it is unlikely that anything will happen to strengthen its position. That normally would be an argument for entering negotiations, but the Palestinians will not negotiate a deal that would leave them weak and divided, and any deal that Israel could live with would do just that.
What we are seeing in Gaza is merely housekeeping, that is, each side trying to maintain its position. The Palestinians need to maintain solidarity for the long haul. The Israelis need to hold their strategic superiority as long as they can. But nothing lasts forever, and over time, the relative strength of Israel will decline. Meanwhile, the relative strength of the Palestinians may increase, though this isn't certain...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:15 PM
NSA provides the Saudis with “internal security” tech support! (Aka. tools for crackdown on dissent!)
"... The National Security Agency last year significantly expanded its cooperative relationship with the Saudi Ministry of Interior, one of the world’s most repressive and abusive government agencies. An April 2013 top secret memo provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden details the agency’s plans “to provide direct analytic and technical support” to the Saudis on “internal security” matters.The Saudi Ministry of Interior—referred to in the document as MOI— has been condemned for years as one of the most brutal human rights violators in the world. In 2013, the U.S. State Department reported that “Ministry of Interior officials sometimes subjected prisoners and detainees to torture and other physical abuse,” specifically mentioning a 2011 episode in which MOI agents allegedly “poured an antiseptic cleaning liquid down [the] throat” of one human rights activist. The report also notes the MOI’s use of invasive surveillance targeted at political and religious dissidents...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:05 PM
"... The Saudi response (as outlined in an opinion-piece by a top Saudi establishment commentator, Abdulrahman Al-Rashed, who heads Al-Arabiya television) is that the ISIS threat needs to be understood properly – since there is a “genuine [Sunni] revolution against a sectarian repugnant rule” in both Syria and Iraq. ISIS tapped into this ‘Sunni anger’ to become “the star at the box office” for Sunnis all over the world … However, “were it not for Assad and Maliki, ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front would not have existed.” (This Saudi meme is the ‘narrative’ that has almost universally been taken up by the mainstream western media.)Saudi Arabia is prepared, Abdulrahman suggests to confront ISIS, but only – and only if - “a political solution [is] imposed in Syria and Iraq” — a regime change that leads to wider Sunni mobilization. The sectarian policies of Assad and Maliki “triggered this chaos. Therefore, the solution lies in strong central governments in both Baghdad and Damascus with American, Western and regional support.”But let us be clear: When Abdulrahman insists that Nouri al-Maliki must be ousted, he is not proposing that another Shi’i simply take his place – as would occur under the present political dispensation in which the Shi’i amount to 60 – 65% of the electorate. He is calling for the overthrow of the system – with a Sunni (or a Riyadh approved Iyad Alawi) ‘strongman’ placed in power (à la Sisi). Ditto for Syria. It is a call for the purging of the Middle East..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:51 PM
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Gaza Crisis—and U.S. Policy Toward Russia, Ukraine, & the Iran Nuclear Talks
"... That is what Israel has brought on itself. The two-state solution is, at this point, in my view, effectively dead, and we are on what is going to turn out, I think, to be a very, very slow, very, very bloody, very painful but ultimately inevitable trajectory toward a one-state solution.”
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:33 PM
"... In the absence of Israeli data backing claims of Iron Dome efficiency, and based on the unambiguous evidence I have reviewed, a conclusion seems clear: The Israeli government is not telling the truth about Iron Dome to its own population, or to the United States, which has provided the Israeli government with the bulk of the funding needed to design and build the much-heralded but apparently ineffective rocket-defense system."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:29 PM
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
... need we remind him what we are doing in SYRIA, IRAQ, Yemen ...etc?
"... WASHINGTON — In presenting the most detailed case yet alleging Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that Russia had funneled large quantities of heavy weapons to Ukrainian separatists and trained them how to operate SA-11 antiaircraft missiles, the type of system that is believed to have been used to shoot down the Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:20 AM
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
"... Two Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes with smugglers near Turkey's border with Syria, a Turkish official said July 22, as Turkey's struggle to control illicit movements across its porous frontier with Syria becomes more difficult...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:14 AM
"... Tehran: Iran has diluted its entire stock of medium-enriched uranium as required under a November deal with world powers, the UN atomic agency said in its latest report seen by AFP Monday. Even as talks to reach a nuclear deal with Iran were extended beyond an initial July 20 deadline, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Tehran was standing by its international commitments. As agreed under a so-called Joint Plan of Action reached in November, the Islamic Republic has cut half of its stock of 20-percent enriched uranium down to five-percent purity. .."
Monday, July 21, 2014
Al Jazeera English
"... Most analysts believe that any kind of ceasefire is inevitably going to require Egypt to ease its pressure on Gaza to some extent; whether they officially open the border at Rafah or decide to quietly allow the tunnel network to function again..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:00 AM
"... Hamas, though, continued to fire dozens of rockets into Israel throughout the night and Friday, 87 of which hit Israeli soil, the military said. About 40 were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. Residents in southern Israel were hunkered inside their homes or in bomb shelters, as the military advised them to stay within 30 seconds’ travel time to protected areas..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:56 AM
"... By his estimate, nearly half the fighters in Aleppo have left over the last year, most of them from small rebel groups. In the last six months the attrition has picked up as an emboldened Assad government retakes territory throughout the country: in Damascus and Homs, in central Syria, as well as in Aleppo, in the north...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:06 AM
Sunday, July 20, 2014
"... Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, has refrained from replying to the fabricated news aired by Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV Channel on meeting with his Israeli counterpart.In his official account on Twitter, he said “I had opted between answering and not answering.”
“I was content not to reply seeking reward from Allah and mitigate the sins in these days.”
Meanwhile, Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs, demanded an apology from Al Jazeera for fabricating news about the meeting of Shaikh Abdullah and Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:54 PM
"... The Gulf of Tonkin incident, which misleadingly sold the US on a full-scale war in Vietnam, and the claim of “mobile biological weapons labs” by the “Curveball” informant that helped selling the world on the Iraq War, are but two examples of falsehoods willfully interpreted as truth by a supine press and a public conditioned to believe the worst.The West cannot allow a similar travesty to unfold in Iran. Its leaders should accept that the case against Iran is political, not technical, and work to end this long and burdensome affair."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:42 PM
Supposedly, " Jordan no longer shares the US view that the Syrian opposition presents an alternative to President Assad"
"... But a number of Jordanian analysts believe that the United States' ramping up support for the moderate opposition is too late and comes in the midst of changing geopolitical conditions in the region. Political commentator Fahd al-Kheitan told Al-Monitor that Jordan no longer shares the US view that the Syrian opposition can present an alternative to President Bashar al-Assad's regime.He said that time has confirmed that the Syrian opposition is divided and controlled by regional powers, while most fighters on the ground are leaning heavily toward radical forces and jihadists. He added that the Syrian crisis is no longer a priority for the so-called Friends of Syria group, in light of recent developments in Egypt and Iraq and the rise of the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS)..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:33 PM
"...According to information acquired by Al-Monitor from sources in Tehran, Gaza and Beirut, a new strategy was adopted after the July/August 2006 war in Lebanon with respect to military support. The main goal was protecting the fighting groups from the danger of a military siege by making them capable of producing as many rockets as they need on the spot,” Hashem reports.
A senior Hamas official told Palestine Pulse’s Adnan Abu Amer, “Another motive that led [the Izz ad-Din] al-Qassam [Brigades] to start local production of rockets is the closure of tunnels by Egypt. This restricted the entry of raw materials needed for the manufacturing of rockets. However, despite the cut-off of the main source of supply of al-Qassam with rockets of multiple ranges from different origins, this did not prevent it from producing local rockets reaching targets deeper inside Israel.”
“The Iranians essentially smuggled in rockets via the brains of Palestinians, keeping rocket-making knowledge intact despite wars and attacks. It’s the same strategy the Iranians adopted in their nuclear program, under the philosophy that knowledge can’t be bombed,” Hashem adds. ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:30 PM
'The shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 17 has upended the debate about Russia in Washington. Having earlier in the week extended economic sanctions against Russia to include major banks, defense and energy companies, the Administration was settling for a surly Russian reaction (which materialized) and then a drawn-out period of pressure on Moscow to reconsider its policy on Ukraine. US officials now tell us that the new crisis has substantially accelerated this timetable. There are two schools of thought in Washington. The first – which is prevalent in circles close to President Obama and which wants to view the incident as “inadvertent” – is that this will bring home to President Putin the enormous risks to Russia’s reputation and to the Russian economy of failing to reach a speedy settlement. This was the theme of the July 17th telephone conversation between the two leaders. The second school which is held widely in the foreign policy community and which will grow as evidence of direct Russian complicity emerges is that the aircraft destruction signals that Putin is fixed on a confrontational strategy, that the US should side unreservedly with Ukraine and that the US and EU should proceed without delay to so-called Stage 3 sanctions which would place whole sectors of the Russian economy under embargoes similar to those in operation against Cuba, North Korea and Iran. Our sense is that the White House still hopes that the former approach emphasizing non-confrontational diplomacy will bear fruit, but top officials acknowledge that the trend could move in the harsher direction. The key variable is Putin’s attitude. In terms of events in Gaza the US approach continues to spring from its unwavering support for Israel's right of self-defense. Secretary of State Kerry remains actively engaged in regional exchanges to bring about a cessation of the conflict, but will not seek to second-guess Israeli perceptions of its military objectives. As we expected, an extension of the Iran nuclear talks has been announced. Explaining the background for this decision, US officials have highlighted the progress that has been achieved and, while not making light of the obstacles in the way of an agreement, have emphasized the positive. Our assessment is that US officials still feel an agreement is possible. Finally, events in Ukraine have overshadowed the modest outcome of the latest round of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, but US planners know that the issue of relations with China is only just being engaged.'
"... Ces soldats israéliens sont des membres des unités d'élite. Au moins un char de cette unité a été détruit au cours des combats par des missiles de type Sagger. Un commandant de l'unité a pour sa part été blessé lors de cette opération...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:33 AM
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
"... The deep tensions at the very top of the Ramallah leadership were most obvious during a meeting Kerry held with lead Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Abbas several months prior to his February meeting with Netanyahu. During the meeting, as Kerry looked on in discomfort, Abbas turned on the sometimes long-winded Erekat.Abbas then turned to Kerry. "Don't listen to him," he said. "You're negotiating with me."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:32 PM
The Weekly Standard
"... Have Hamas’s fortunes been revived? Well, think of the solidarity it has received from the Arab League, and the angry, vociferous protests from Arab governments to Washington. Think of the vast protests in the streets of Arab capitals. Right—they were non-existent..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:25 PM
Sunday, July 13, 2014
'When IS crosses the border between Iraq & Syria and battles the Assad regime, it is aligned with America’s goal of regime change in Damascus'
"... But now, Washington is going to “vet” this vast, dispersed opposition of 1,500 groups and find moderates. Good luck. The complexity of Washington’s task can be seen in the American attitude toward the Islamic State. When the group battles the Maliki government in Iraq, it is a deadly foe and must be ruthlessly attacked. But when it crosses the (now-nonexistent) border between Iraq and Syria and battles the Assad regime, it is aligned with America’s stated goal of regime change in Damascus. No other country has this strategic incoherence. The Sunni groups are battling what they see as apostate regimes in Baghdad and Damascus. Those Shiite and quasi-Shiite regimes are being supported by the region’s Shiite powers — Iran and Hezbollah. America alone is searching for the good guys...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:17 PM
"...“I need weapons. I need money. I need a no fly zone or anti-aircraft weapons. I need intelligence data,” Kholouf, who’s held the post since May in the Syrian interim government, told McClatchy....But if the FSA receives support, he said it will be able to undercut other Islamist groups, including Jabhat al Nusra, which on Friday declared it had established an “Emirate in Aleppo,” to counter the Islamic State’s “Caliphate.” He said that Nusra had at most 6,000 to 7,000 fighters, and predicted that if FSA succeeded against the Islamic State, at least 60 per cent of them would join FSA..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:30 PM
— One week after radical Islamists in Iraq declared a “Caliphate” spanning the Iraqi-Syria border with its capital in Mosul, Al Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al Nusra, said it is setting up an “Emirate” in besieged rebel-held parts of Aleppo..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:24 PM
" — A supposedly secret but locally well-known CIA station on the outskirts of Irbil’s airport is undergoing rapid expansion ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:45 PM
'... Kerry now faces a series of crises. In Afghanistan, the US purports to have no preference between the Presidential candidates, but wants a fair process. However, as an NSC official commented to us, “we may end up by alienating both candidates, souring our bilateral relations and making it more difficult for them to govern.” Kerry – together with a number of other foreign ministers – has joined the Vienna talks on Iran. These are now approaching the July 20th deadline, with the sides far apart on the primary issue of Iran’s residual nuclear program. With hardliners watching on in both Washington DC and Tehran, both sides will have to swallow hard if there is to be an agreement. With regard to the conflict between Israel and Hamas the Administration is offering appeals for caution and offers to facilitate a cease fire, but there is clear resignation in the White House, Pentagon and in Congress that the fight will continue until sides have decided that they have had enough. Add in Ukraine and Iraq/Syria and Kerry’s agenda is a full and unappealing one. ....'
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:35 PM
Thursday, July 10, 2014
"... A Syrian rebel brigade defected to the Islamic State this week, a sign that the extremist group continues to build strength after seizing vast territories in western Iraq and eastern Syria, anti-government activists said Tuesday.The 1,000-strong Dawud Brigade, which had been based in Sarmin, a town in Syria’s Idlib province, arrived Sunday in Raqqa, a city in northeast Syria that the Islamic State has made its main headquarters for more than a year...... The big question was whether other groups or individuals would follow suit.....“Frankly speaking, people in the countryside of Idlib are in a real panic about the advancement of the Islamic State,” he said...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:45 AM
"... The long-range Hamas rockets that reached Hadera 110km north of Gaza Tuesday, July 8, have been identified as the Syrian-made M-302 Khaibar missile, that was used by Hizballah against Israel in the 2006 Lebanon war to pound Haifa. This weapon uses Iranian technology deriving from the Chinese WS-1 which has a 175 kilo warhead. Hizballah engineers posted in the Gaza Strip have since helped Hamas improve the M-302 and extend its range and accuracy. But still, even after improvements, the M-302’s main shortcoming is its lack of precision..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:35 AM
'" I can assure you the Israelis have no intention of reoccupying Gaza. They do not want the responsibility of managing the Gaza people. They will simply go in, kill as many young men(assumed to be Hamas) as possible and utterly destroy as much infrastructure and economic assets as they can. They will then withdraw and leave the people to their own devices. My nephew is a Golani captain and his unit is just outside Gaza the above is the essence of his unit's orders."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 6:13 AM
Al Jazeera English
"... Palestinian Authority (PA) forces surveyed the scene from behind the youth, who threw stones and dodged volleys of tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and live ammunition fired by Israeli soldiers from their watchtower.For many, this non-interference on the part of the PA is a major source of anger,...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:53 AM
"... The rocket attacks on Israel are an attack of chaos on order. In the old Middle East, the constant threat facing the Jewish state was invasion by regular armies. In the new Middle East, Israel faces the danger of irregular forces from irregular entities disrupting domestic order. The Gulf wars and the Arab Spring have broken down most of our old enemies — Iraq, Syria and Libya — but another enemy has risen up: chaos...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 5:49 AM
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
"... Regarding Iraq, Hillary takes issue with the conventional Washington wisdom—espoused with particular fervor among Democrats—that the current crisis is all the fault of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki:“This is an excuse. This is a bipartisan failure of catastrophic proportions for the United States—first with Republicans in invading Iraq, and now with the Democrats essentially blaming it on Maliki. The idea that Maliki can be more ‘inclusive’ and bring in foreign fighters—one of the key leaders in this is Chechen, for Russia—the idea that that can become a more inclusive government is snake oil and should be seen for what it is.Maliki won the last election, it’s a parliamentary democracy. He is now going to go about the very messy process—like he did last time—of assembling a coalition in a state that is majority Shi’a. So surprise, surprise, the majority government is going to be Shi’a. The Sunnis have never accepted this, they’ve never accepted to live under a Shi’a-dominated political order, and they have very powerful patrons outside the country—like the Saudis, like the Qataris—that have armed, funded, and trained this to the hilt, and now we have a disaster on our hands.” Hillary also disputed the accumulating collection of overly facile demands from Washington elites that the United States micromanage some new and, at least from an American perspective, “superior” political reality in Iraq: “We shouldn’t be in there manipulating political outcomes to our favor. People don’t want to live in a militarily dominated, U.S. political order in the Middle East. We need to pull back and rethink this policy.”Yes, but old habits die hard in official Washington."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:48 AM
"... If Washington and its partners want to push back against both Assad and ISIS at once, they will have to be less squeamish about picking allies in Syria. Otherwise, they may not find any left at all..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:41 AM
"... On the streets of Copenhagen he is known as Big A, a convicted drug trafficker and the leader of one of Denmark's most notorious organised crime gangs. But on the frontline in northern Syria, Abderozzak Benarabe is just another have-a-go jihadi, a man who joined the fight against Bashar al-Assad through a mix of restlessness, curiosity and a need for some kind of personal redemption...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:22 AM
Monday, July 7, 2014
Shin-Bet's Diskin: "This is the result of the policy conducted by the current government, whose essence is: Let’s frighten the public over everything that’s happening around us in the Middle East"
"... Dear friends: Take a few moments to read the following words and share them with others. I see the severe and rapid deterioration of the security situation in the territories, Jerusalem and the Triangle and I’m not surprised. Don’t be confused for a moment. This is the result of the policy conducted by the current government, whose essence is: Let’s frighten the public over everything that’s happening around us in the Middle East, let’s prove that there’s no Palestinian partner, let’s build more and more settlements and create a reality that can’t be changed, let’s continue not dealing with the severe problems of the Arab sector in Israel, let’s continue not solving the severe social gaps in Israeli society. This illusion worked wonderfully as long as the security establishment was able to provide impressive calm on the security front over the last few years as a result of the high-quality, dedicated work of the people of the Shin Bet, the IDF and the Israel Police as well as the Palestinians whose significant contribution to the relative calm in the West Bank should not be taken lightly......"
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:58 AM
... and from there, to Syria! Funny that Hussein & Diehl forgot to mention the elite units within the Saudi Special forces!
"... Hussein said it would take “collective action” by “a regional coalition” to eliminate the al-Qaeda state. Then he grimly ran down the list of potential actors: Iran, he said, would limit itself to defending Baghdad and the Shiite Holy places. Turkey, which chose not to intervene in Syria, would be even more reluctant to fight in Iraq. And the United States? “This government is not going to send troops.”
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:50 AM
Sunday, July 6, 2014
"... Today, it’s unclear if the United States has much influence at all. One U.S. official working on Iraq told The Daily Beast that any candidate the United States publicly endorsed today in Baghdad would lose any prospect of becoming prime minister, given the current climate in Baghdad. "The other regional players have clients; we do not, and it's smart not to go down that road; guarding our role as a neutral broker and facilitator makes nobody happy but is essential for retaining a foundation for longer-term influence,” this official said..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:36 PM
'At a time when calls from foreign policy experts for a more assertive US engagement overseas, President Obama’s caution finds itself perfectly in tune with public opinion whose antipathy to the use of force overseas has not budged despite the tumultuous events in the Middle East. Doubts among top Republicans are also beginning to surface. With resentment at the person of Prime Minister al-Maliki deeply entrenched at the State Department and Pentagon, the advocates of intervention among Obama’s advisers are making little progress. The longer-term implications for the US posture in the Middle East arising from events in Iraq and deepening violence between Israel and Palestine are, as far as we can tell from private conversations with knowledgeable officials, being allowed to take care of themselves. The emergence of Kurdistan as a de facto independent state is being quietly tolerated. None of these implications may be more important than the future role of Iran. With nuclear talks now at a pivotal stage in advance of the July 20th deadline and a curious overlapping of interests at least temporarily present in Iraq, US officials see the door as half open to a realignment in US-Iranian relations. Secretary of State Kerry has warned of the formidable obstacles that lie ahead, so officials are warning that it is prudent to keep expectations modest. However, with the US top sanctions official included in the negotiations, there is some prospect of change....'
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:20 AM
Friday, July 4, 2014
Islamic State 'seizes key Syria oil field' as JAN & other factions withdraw & swear allegiance to IS
"... Nusra Front fighters also withdrew from two towns in Deir Az Zor on Thursday, according to the Syrian Observatory.Nusra pulled out of Mayadeen and Shuhail, its regional stronghold, while local tribal fighters had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:24 AM
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
"Mr. Obama needs to call on the political leader with the best-armed forces in the region, Mr. Assad!"
Gelb in a NYTimes' editorial:
"... But instead of capitalizing on Mr. Assad’s anti-jihadi instincts, the Obama team now proposes to do what it has resisted doing for almost three years — to send hundreds of millions of dollars in arms aid for the Sunni rebels battling the Assad government. This move has American priorities backward. It will turn Mr. Assad away from the jihadis in Iraq, and back to fighting American-backed rebels in Syria.
The greatest threat to American interests in the region is ISIS, not Mr. Assad. To fight this enemy, Mr. Obama needs to call on others similarly threatened: Iran, Russia, Iraqi Shiites and Kurds, Jordan, Turkey — and above all, the political leader with the best-armed forces in the region, Mr. Assad. Part of the deal would need to be that the Syrian regime and the rebels largely leave each other alone..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:56 AM
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
"... Despite being endorsed by the West as the leaders of the struggle against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, none of the bodies involved in the dispute are currently playing a significant role in the civil war. The coalition is widely seen as ineffective, its interim government is little more than a list of names, and the military council has been overshadowed on the ground by rebel formations and extremist groups that have been more active...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 1:35 AM