Sunday, December 7, 2014

UN reveals Israeli links with al Qaeda in Syria


"... Reports by UN observers in the Golan Heights over the past 18 months reveal the type and extent of cooperation between Israel and Syrian opposition figures. The reports, submitted to the 15 members of the UN Security Council and available on the UN’s website, detail regular contacts held on the border between IDF officers and soldiers and Syrian rebels (al Qaeda's Jabhat al Nusra) ..."

Jordan against ISIL at home

 Al Jazeera English

"... "Just clicking 'like' or 'share' on social media in Jordan could get you in jail nowadays, which is alarming," al-Khateeb told Al Jazeera..."

US: 'Recognizing Iran’s de facto 'positive' participation in the anti-ISIL coalition'

"... The tragically failed hostage rescue attempt in Yemen will have done little to redress the public perception of the Administration’s foreign policy as, to quote a senior NSC official talking privately to us, as “almost drowning under the barrage of criticism”. It will undermine the more optimistic note being struck by Secretary of State Kerry on progress being made by the anti-ISIL coalition and on prospects for Afghanistan, together with the effectiveness of US sanctions against Russia. Behind the scenes, few officials share Kerry’s optimism. And the onslaught of public criticism continues, notably as much from Democratic voices as the more predictable Republican critics. In the White House, however, our assessment is that the atmosphere remains calm. President Obama’s nomination of Ashton Carter as the new Secretary of Defense has been well received, but our Administration contacts tell us that this does not foreshadow any loosening of control by the White House over national security policy. A seasoned Pentagon observer commented to us: “Carter has outstanding defense credentials as a master of topics like force structure, nuclear issues, acquisition and the budget. He has a conspicuous gap in war fighting. It appears that the White House wants him to lead internal Pentagon reform at a time of resource austerity, but to leave the fighting in the Middle East in their hands.”  With regard to ISIL, an emerging factor is the increasing US willingness to recognize Iran’s de facto participation in the coalition and to describe it, as Kerry did, as “positive. The State Department’s line is to keep cooperation with Iran over ISIL and, most likely in the future, against the Taliban in Afghanistan, in totally separate compartments from the nuclear negotiations. However, we understand that the even the sporadic exchanges that are now taking place at local level are having some impact on building trust. This may ease an agreement in 2015, although as we have noted Iran will then face a much more hostile political line-up on Capitol Hill. Another Middle East country with a complex relationship with Washington is Saudi Arabia, whose current production policy designed to keep oil prices low is seen by some as directed against US shale producers. Finally, on November 7th Kerry will deliver a major speech on US-Israeli relations. Given the pro-Israeli venue at the Saban Center, Kerry is not expected to hit hard. Nonetheless, the speech will be closely analyzed for the nuances it will throw on the current troubles state of US relations with Israel..."

Friday, December 5, 2014


"The commentary following the resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been notably confused. Some observers have attributed his downfall to an overcautious approach to the events in Iraq and Syria; others have suggested that he was urging the White House to be more aggressive than it desired. In many ways, this ambivalence reflects the current state of thinking about foreign policy in Washington. While it is generally expected that the new Republican-led Senate will set a more hawkish tone, there is little evidence that public opinion is in the same place. With regard to the failure – whether temporary or permanent – to secure an agreement with Iran on nuclear matters in time for the 24th November deadline, a similar tension in analysis can be seen. State Department officials to whom we have spoken remain upbeat that a settlement is within reach. However, with a harder bipartisan line forming in Congress to constrain President Obama from lifting sanctions – one of the key preconditions of any deal – the way ahead has become more challenging for the Administration.  In the same way, Secretary of State Kerry will present mixed messages at next week’s NATO ministerial meetings. Policy toward Russia, Iraq and Afghanistan will all be on the agenda. On the former, a willingness to take a tougher line on sanctions is balanced against rising concern – albeit expressed only privately – that Ukraine’s post-election government formation is taking far too long and that economic reforms, especially on fighting corruption, still seem far ahead. With regard to Iraq, Administration officials feel that cohesion within the anti-ISIL coalition is strong, especially now that tensions with Turkey have eased. There is also a growing conviction inside the Pentagon that the intensive retraining program now underway with the Iraqi National Army coupled with the beginnings of a “reawakening” of some Sunni militias will yield sufficiently positive results to assuage the demands for the deployment of US ground forces. On Afghanistan, the US focus is shifting toward the economy in the realization that, with the near total drawdown of foreign forces, financial flows to the Afghan government will shrink drastically. Kerry will encourage his NATO partners to remain engaged in the country with civil projects.  Finally, the decision by OPEC to maintain production levels leading to a further drop in the price of crude oil had, we are told, a degree of political motivation behind it given the resultant negative consequences to the Russian and Iranian economies."

"Something honest needs to be done about coordination with the Iranians & the Syrian Armed Forces!"

"... - Kirby, the DoD press person, says that there is no "coordination" with Iranian forces in Iraq. When pressed by Blitzer he says that the Iraqi government is "deconflicting" air operations in their air space. That is a form of "coordination." One can only hope that the Americans in Iraq are helping Abadi's government "deconflict" operations in the air and on the ground. Something honest needs to be done about coordination with the Iranians. IMO Kirby should be sent to the Hill to work with McCain and his office wife.
- Ditto with regard to the Syrian armed forces.
- The FSA unicorn army is a fantasyland fiction. Kirby admitted yesterday that neither vetting nor training have begun. Someone will eventually have to confront the WH with that truth.
- Some sub-set of lunatics in NATO continues to drive the alliance towards war with Russia. This probably seems a great idea in bull sessions at State and the NSC staff. "We'll show'em!!" This is just crazy. There cannot be war between NATO and Russia. Such a war would be uncontainable and would inevitably escalate to a nuclear confrontation..."

"Terrorists elected in Bahrain!"

"... "Four seats also went to male candidates from Sunni Islamist blocs, including two from the Muslim Brotherhood's Islamic Menbar group." Shaikh Khalid said that Bahrain was facing the "Muslim Brotherhood" group and its "clear terrorist threat" to the stability of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE and considered its plans as a threat to the kingdom’s security as well. He added that Bahrain would "deal with any threat from the Muslim Brotherhood group in Bahrain in the same way it deals with any other potential threat to its security and stability."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Lebanon detains wife and son of Al-Baghdadi

Al Jazeera English

"The Lebanese army has detained a wife and a son of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, as they crossed from Syria in recent days, security officials have said..."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Obama Falsely Claims Human Rights Law Does Not Apply To Syrian Mercenary Training

"Buried down in a report about Pentagon plans to train more mercenaries to fight against Syria we find this declaration of intend by the Obama administration to (again) break the law:
The military screening plan came together after the Obama administration determined that the training program for the Syrians would not be subject to what are known as the Leahy laws, which typically govern U.S. security assistance to foreign forces.Under those laws, a small office at the State Department works with U.S. embassies overseas to ensure that recipients of State or Defense Department security assistance aren’t linked to major human rights abuses.
Because the Syrian rebels will not be part of a state-sponsored force, the laws will not apply, U.S. officials said.
Wait a second. The U.S. congress has set aside $500 million to train, equip and pay these fighters. The U.S. military will do the training. And the Obama administration claims that these are not "state-sponsored forces"? Is the U.S. no longer a nation state? ..."

Over $80 Billion Wasted in “Training” Iraqi, Afghan Forces: No Lessons Learned!

"... And yet, despite this clear history of failed efforts to train and equip forces, the US now plans to spend more than another $5 billion fighting ISIS. If it weren’t for the carbon dioxide that would be released, it would probably be better for all of us if that money were simply incinerated."

Sunday, November 30, 2014

What Obama Doesn't Understand About Syria

"... Yet the regime's position around Aleppo is so strong, given its progress toward severing the final rebel supply line to the city, that it currently has little incentive to reach any deal that would leave the rebels' fighting ability intact. Damascus would much prefer to deliver a decisive blow to the mainstream opposition in Aleppo, which would cripple the West's potential partners and leave only the regime as a supposed bulwark against the jihadis. Rebels recognize this, and given their negative experience with cease-fires elsewhere, even those in favor of a freeze are unlikely to invest political capital in convincing the skeptics in their own ranks unless they see new reason to hope for a fair deal.The crux of the American dilemma in Syria is thus clear: Degrading jihadi groups requires empowering mainstream Sunni alternatives, but doing so may prove impossible unless Damascus (or its backers in Tehran) can be convinced or compelled to dramatically shift strategy. For now, the regime treats the Western-, Arab-, and Turkish-backed opposition as the main threat to its dominance in Syria and treats the Islamic State as a secondary concern that the United States is already helping to deal with. Iran has done nothing to suggest that it objects to the regime's strategy; instead, it is enabling it.Damascus and Tehran appear to believe that achieving regime victory is simply a matter of maintaining the conflict's current trajectory. This view, however, is shortsighted and would yield an unprecedented recruiting bonanza for jihadi groups. If Washington wishes to prevent this -- and the unending cycle of conflict that it would perpetuate -- it must better balance its Iraq and Syria strategies, refine its airstrike tactics, and find ways to change calculations in Damascus and Tehran."

Friday, November 28, 2014

Lebanon’s Dangerous Downward Spiral

"... While everyone seems loath to admit it, Lebanon now has—for the first time in its history—a Sunni majority. This has been obscured by the fact that about half of these Sunnis are Syrians who are theoretically supposed to return home at some unspecified date in the future (just like the Palestinians). But unless the war in Syria winds down in the near future, there’s nothing temporary about their presence in Lebanon. Rather, their reality is now one of complete disenfranchisement and economic misery in a place they must sooner or later begin to call home. And they’re going to want to change that...."

Monday, November 24, 2014

Aaah those 'vetted moderate' rebels

"... They have also launched homemade rockets, often inaccurate, at government forces stationed in landmark structures, frequently killing civilians. In the process, they are helping destroy Syria's history and infrastructure and, with the deaths of civilians, undermining popular support for their cause..."

"... Instead & in the Interim, Iran ..."

"... Instead, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said it "was not possible to meet the deadline"....He stressed that while July 1 was the new deadline for a comprehensive deal, the expectation was that broad agreement would be in place by March 1.In the interim, expert level talks will resume in December at an as yet undetermined venue and Iran will receive about $700 million per month in frozen assets, Hammond said..."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Contrary to Turkish pronouncements, the US is not considering a no-fly zone over Syria

"... When asked about the US position on the establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria, as Turkey is pushing for, White House sources said the US is in constant discussion on a full range of possible ways Turkey can contribute to the anti-ISIL coalition and reiterated that at the moment, the US is not considering a no-fly zone or the establishment of a buffer zone...."

'The US recognizes Hezbollah for shared anti-ISIS enmity & the stabilization of Iraq & Lebanon'

"... Despite Hezbollah’s role in anti- American rhetoric, the organization shares many interests with the United States—though both sides would be loath to admit it. Both actors are at war with the Islamic State and other Sunni extremists, and both want to prop up Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Abadi’s government in Baghdad. Even within Lebanon, while Washington supports Hezbollah’s political rivals in the anti-Syrian March 14 coalition, it recognizes that Hezbollah is helping hold the country together, and that either an Islamic State expansion or a descent into chaos would be worse than the status quo.
Open cooperation, however, is politically out of the question for both parties. Indeed, a slight shift could turn suspicion into conflict. The US campaign in Syria is focused on Sunni extremists, and thus is indirectly helping the Assad regime, Hezbollah’s ally. Yet, if Washington decides to live up to its anti-Assad rhetoric and take on the Syrian regime as well as Sunni jihadists, it will also be taking on Hezbollah. Hezbollah’s hostility to Israel remains strong, another point of friction. In addition, Hezbollah is more in bed with Iran now than ever before, and any military action against Tehran over its nuclear program or other issues must seriously factor in Hezbollah’s response.
Hezbollah remains a key regional player. It is also a stalking horse for Iran and a prop to the Syrian regime. Nevertheless, the organization is also overtaxed militarily and on the defensive politically. The United States must recognize this mix of strength and weakness if its regional policies are to meet with success." 

Iran and the Syrian and Iraqi Crises

Wilson Center

"... With regard to recent events, the Obama Administration seems to be pursuing a contradictory
policy. On one hand, the Obama Administration is assisting the Iraqi Kurds and the newly-
formed government of Haider al-Abadi to fend off and roll back the advances of ISIS, and at the
same time, it is committing itself to helping the moderate opposition in the Syrian conflict and
striking ISIS strongholds. There is no military solution to the conflict in both countries,
especially in Syria. In Iraq, al-Abadi’s administration must take substantive steps to include the
Sunni Arab population. Otherwise any military gains on the ground against ISIS will prove to
be short-lived. In Syria, funneling more arms, resources, and money to the Syrian opposition
will only aggravate the situation. It may lead to further empowerment of radicals, the
emergence of new extremist groups,
and the spillover of the war into other neighboring states,
such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Israel. The only sound solution is some form of political
settlement through negotiations...."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Remarks by President Obama at G20 Press Conference | November 16, 2014 | The White House

Q But just to put a fine point on it -- are you actively discussing ways to remove him as a part of that political transition?

The FSA toy army: 'Ceasing activity & fleeing to Turkey'

While Saudi prince Miteb bin Abdullah is in Washington primarely to prode the WH to go after Assad, ...
"... The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the recognized armed opposition group against the Bashar al-Assad in Syria, has ceased its resistance in Aleppo, Syria’s second biggest city, withdrawing its 14,000 militia from the city, a ranking Turkish security source told the Hürriyet Daily News on Nov. 17.“Its leader Jamal Marouf has fled to Turkey,” confirmed the source, who asked not to be named. “He is currently being hosted and protected by the Turkish state.” 

Monday, November 17, 2014

'Executive Orders'

'The most closely watched foreign policy deadline in Washington is the November 24thtimeline for concluding a nuclear agreement with Iran. While Secretary of State Kerry has described these negotiations as “difficult but serious,” there is a rising sense among officials close to the issue that an agreement is within reach. Our expectation is that this will be a highly technical document that will be carefully constructed to avoid any obvious identification of “winners and losers.”  An agreement – if one emerges – will face fierce opposition on Capitol Hill, not only from Republican opponents like Senator McCain, the incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, but also from prominent Democrats. Whether they have the power to block an agreement seems doubtful, as the Administration can take most of the actions it needs through Executive Orders. Nonetheless, President Obama will need to deploy some political capital to gain support for an agreement. US officials are also aware that any agreement may face opposition from hardliners in Tehran. They are also concerned that Israel might contemplate unilateral action aimed at upending a deal...  On a more optimistic note for the Administration, the Pentagon now sees signs that its bombing campaign against ISIL is starting to take a toll on their logistics. Some observers are quietly confident that the tide of war has turned against ISIL.'

'Official Stresses Iran's Key Role in Iraqi Army's Ground Operations against ISIS'

"... "The Iranian advisors were present in the battle ground during the Jarf Asakhr operations and provided excellent counselling to the fighters of popular front," Governor-General of Karbala province Aqil al-Tarihi told FNA on Sunday.Stressing that the cleanup and liberation operations in Jarf Asakhr were all carried out by the Iraqi forces, he said, "Iran helped the success of the operations with its useful consultations."
Late September, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Gholam Ali Rashid announced that Iran's military advisors were present in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine to provide those nations with necessary military recommendations.
"Some of our commanders are in the field to give military advice to the Iraqi army, Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance movement," Major General Rashid said, addressing a conference attended by a group of senior military commanders in Tehran..."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

'Israeli infested sections!'

'Some may see President Obama's decision to deploy an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq in support of the anti-ISIL campaign as an early outcome of the heavier than expected  setbacks for the Democrats in the November 4th mid term elections. It is certainly true that, with Senator John McCain's assumption of the leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Republicans will set a much more hawkish tone in Washington. However, our understanding of the decision is that, as we have foreshadowed, it emerged from rapidly increasing unease in the Pentagon, notably from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dempsey, that Obama's resistance to ground troops and reliance on air power risked a serious deterioration in the situation on the ground. For the time being, the role of the new troops will be to intensify the training of the Iraqi National Army and the Kurdish Pesh Merga. They will complement the already significant deployment of US Special Forces and Intelligence Officers. Pentagon strategists have told us privately that they highly doubt that this training role will be sufficient to achieve Obama's announced goal of "degrading and ultimately defeating ISIL". The debate about the eventual deployment of US forces in a combat role is thus underway. The new tone of hawkishness also extends to Russia where concerns about President Putin's intentions following the elections in Eastern Ukraine continue to rise. Controversy over assurances allegedly given by Obama in his letter to the Iranian Supreme Leader is rising among both parties in key sections of the Senate and House (See Israeli infested sections!). This will additionally constrain his freedom of maneuver to reach an agreement on the nuclear issue in time for the November 24th deadline...'

'Injecting the ISIS into Egypt

"On Monday, Egypt’s most dangerous militant group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, also pledged obedience to the organization that calls itself the Islamic State, becoming its first significant international affiliate in the bet that the link will provide new money, weapons and recruits to battle the government in Cairo..."

“I Sent ISIS Fighters To Europe”

“The Western world thinks there is no ISIS in their countries — that all the jihadis have gone to fight and die in Syria.” BuzzFeed News’ Mike Giglio speaks with the men who claim to have helped ISIS slip into Europe...."

RAND: "Syrian Regime collapse, not a likely outcome, is the worst possible outcome for U.S. strategic interests."

Thanks to MoA:
"... While still seeing the Assad regime as an adversary based on its patron-client relationship with Iran and its implacable hostility toward Israel, U.S. decisionmakers are also dealing with the threats caused by the dramatic recent gains made in Iraq by ISIS and the influence it wields within the Syrian rebel movement. To examine these challenges, this perspective draws on a December 2013 RAND workshop to assess four possible future scenarios for the conflict in Syria: prolonged conflict, regime victory, regime collapse, and negotiated settlement. The authors update and reassess these scenarios based on developments in Syria and Iraq through August 2014 and explore the implications that each has for Syria, the region, and the United States.
  • Negotiated settlement was deemed the least likely of the possible scenarios.
  • Regime collapse, while not considered a likely outcome, was perceived to be the worst possible outcome for U.S. strategic interests..."
"So you rub it a little on this side and Genie will solve all your middle eastern problems & make you charismatic!"

Confirmation long-time Iranian accusations of US ties with Jundallah?

".... Just as hinting falsely that Iran was negotiating away its enrichment technology was a move by the Times that could have disastrous effects on the ongoing negotiations, I felt that providing this strange story on McHale would give ammunition to those in Iran who see the CIA behind Jundallah. However,there is another possibility. In a Twitter discussion with Arif Rafiq on the disclosure, Rafiq suggested that “the US is coming clean about something that has concerned Iranians for years. Could be a plus”..."

Are you: “A) Moderate, B) Very moderate, C) Crazy moderate or D) Other.”

“We’re completely out of our league,” one former CIA vetting expert declared on condition of anonymity, reflecting the consensus of intelligence professionals with firsthand knowledge of the Syrian situation. “To be really honest, very few people know how to vet well. It’s a very specialized skill. It’s extremely difficult to do well” in the best of circumstances, the former operative said. And in Syria it has proved impossible,,"

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Regardless, 'the American public mood remains skeptical about further ground wars...'

'... The (US) election outcome will not turn on foreign issues and, while there is a widespread perception among experts and some emerging evidence of top-level tension between the White House and Pentagon over Iraq, the public mood remains skeptical about further ground wars. President Obama will be able to continue to argue, therefore, that his policy of restraint is more attuned to public opinion than that of the those who want to go beyond air strikes in Iraq. The conduct of foreign policy, notably with regard to any moves to lift or ease sanctions on Iran, will undoubtedly become less comfortable for the Administration, but will not, in our judgment, face the same level of dysfunction that is likely on domestic issues. Returning to Iraq, the official narrative in public presentations and briefings remains that the airstrike policy against ISIL is on track to achieve its long-term objective of degrading and destroying ISIL. Behind the scenes, however, we understand that serious concern is rising in the Pentagon that confusion over the White House’s aims in Syria is undermining the operation. There are also signs of bickering among the generals. No one in Washington believes that there is an easy answer to the Syrian dilemma, so there appears to be little prospect that the strategic coherence for which critics are calling will materialize in the immediate future. In the face of rising tensions in Jerusalem Secretary of State Kerry has been forced to mount a strong defense of US relations with Israel in response to media allegations of a crisis between Washington and Tel Aviv. Nonetheless, there is little doubt that Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu hold each other in low regard, with the result that Israeli influence over US policy is near non-existent. ...'

'The neocons’ revenge or the year of the hawks'

"... You could call it the neoconservatives’ revenge or the year of the hawks. But it has produced an interesting moment in Washington, where even the dovish side of the Republican Party now acknowledges the midterms were a win for their party’s American exceptionalists...."

Hawks & Kooks to dominate US Foreign policy? ...

Hawks & Kooks to dominate Foreign policy ..

'Jamal Ma`ruf and the moderate rebels'

The AA News Service

"Did you notice how restrained the US media have been about the defeat and humiliation of Jamal Ma`urf forces in around Idlib? And this is the guy who was the last hope for Western policies of liberating Syrians. Does that mean you will have to resurrect, Dr. Engineer Actor Plumber, General Salim Idriss?"

'Covering Syria; Anne Barnard & Liz Sly'

Covering Syria; Anne Barnard and Liz Sly

Do you notice that the propaganda pitch by those Western correspondents in Beirut ... ...?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

" Syrian rebel forces join battle to protect Kobane" (grand title in Qatar's Al Jazeera!)

Al Jazeera 

"... 50 Arab fighters from the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) arrived in the embattled town on Wednesday in a move aimed at halting ISIL's advance across northern Syria....  the FSA fighters were only equipped with light arms and machineguns..."

"The US has been at war since 2001 -- nearly this entire century so far ..."

"... The problem that Obama has, which has crippled his foreign policy, is that his principles have not been defined with enough rigor to provide definitive guidance in a crisis. When the crisis comes, that's when the debate starts. What exactly is the national interest, and how does it apply in this or that case? Even if he accomplishes that, he still lacks a figure with the subtlety, deviousness and frankly ruthlessness to put it into place. I would argue that the same problem haunted the George W. Bush and Clinton administrations, although their challenges were less daunting and therefore their weakness less visible.
There is a sphere in which history sweeps a president along. The most he can do is adjust to what must be, and in the end, this is the most important sphere. In another sphere -- the sphere of principles -- he can shape events or at least clarify decisions. But the most important level, the level on which even the sweep of history is managed, is the tactical. This is where deals are made and pressure is placed, and where the president can perhaps shift the direction of history.
Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has not had a president who operated consistently and well in the deeper levels of history. This situation is understandable, since the principles of the Cold War were so powerful and then suddenly gone. Still, principles without definition and execution without precision cannot long endure."

Ignatius romancing ISIS wants US boots back in Iraq & Syria: NOW!!

"... When the jihadists stand and fight, as they have done in the northern Syrian town of Kobane, they get pounded. U.S. officials estimate the jihadists have lost 400 fighters in that battle. U.S. airstrikes have also hammered their infrastructure in Iraq and Syria, including oil wells and supply depots.
There is some solid military planning in the U.S. strategy but it also includes some wishful thinking. The most dubious assumption is that Iraqi and Syrian recruits can win this fight against the extremists without U.S. advisers alongside them in battle."

Obama's WH: "The intent is not to create a field force to liberate Damascus"

Via MoA. Very informative interview of Gen. John Allen, the WH's anti-ISIS Czar!
"...Q: But you don’t see the FSA units that are being trained to fight ISIS as being those who will later fight the regime’s armed forces?No. What we would like to see is for the FSA and the forces that we will ultimately generate, train and equip to become the credible force that the Assad government ultimately has to acknowledge and recognizeThere is not going to be a military solution here [in Syria]. We have to create so much credibility within the moderate Syrian opposition at a political level . . . that they earn their spot at the table when the time comes for the political solution. Now, there could be FSA elements that ultimately clash with the regime, that may well be the case, as they seek to defend themselves and those areas that they dominate and as they seek to defend their families and their ways of life . . . it could be an outcome. But the intent is not to create a field force to liberate Damascus—that is not the intent. The intent is that in the political outcome, they [the moderate Syrian opposition] must be a prominent—perhaps the preeminent voice—at the table to ultimately contribute to the political outcome that we seek..."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Umm Mahmoud, Abou Mahmoud, Mahmoud... & ... the fantasms & infighting of a mercenary force!

"... A spokeswoman for Legion 5, an umbrella group of rebel units that receive American support through a covert CIA program, said that rebels are using TOW anti-tank missiles in their battle to slow the government advance. ... who identified herself only by the nom de guerre Um Mahmoud, or Mahmoud’s mother, denounced a claim by another rebel figure, Gen. Abduljabbar al Akidi, the former head of the opposition Aleppo military council, that the rebels were sending 1,500 troops to Kobani to fight. Gen. al Akidi made the claim Thursday to Al Jazeera, the Arabic-language satellite TV channel.
Um Mahmoud said the situation was far too dire in Aleppo for the rebels to spare that many fighters...."

Winds in Washington: "Tel Aviv now exercises less of a veto over the US-Iran talks..."

'... The Administration is also gearing up for a final push on the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran, hoping to meet the late November deadline for an agreement. From conversations we have held with senior contacts, there is little doubt that the dividing line runs – as it always has – between the differing US and Iranian requirements for the residual enrichment capability to be left to Tehran post settlement. A senior State Department analyst commented to us: “This is more a political problem rather a technical one. It depends entirely on what the political leadership in Washington and Tehran can convince themselves that their arguments have prevailed.” The US is making sure that it is keeping top Israelis officials, for example the defense minister, fully informed about the negotiations, but our sense is that Tel Aviv now exercises less of a veto over the talks. Returning to ISIL, the Administration’s message is that this will be a long engagement, with little expectation of rapid breakthroughs.  Indeed, we are advised that Pentagon pessimism about this operation is at an all-time high.'

Friday, October 24, 2014

27 abducted Lebanese soldiers & Cedarland Banana Republic still 'negotiates'

Al Jazeera English

"... Despite his arrest warrant, Hujeiri still moves around the town of Arsal freely... He is out of the hands of the Lebanese state, ... "

"American policymakers continue to see Saudia as indispensable not because it has shown itself willing to change.. but because it does not.

"... Anti-Shiism today is not so much the product of a retrograde or orthodox interpretation of Islam — widely labeled Wahhabism — as it is the convergence of several political forces, the most important of which is a vulnerable state.Confronted by a number of internal and external threats — the Iranian pursuit of influence in the Gulf; the rise of Shiite power in post-invasion Iraq; the uprising in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia’s satellite state; and most importantly, the rise of a range of domestic challenges to Saudi authority since 2003, including criticism of deep state corruption and the absence of political rights — leaders in Riyadh have responded by fomenting discriminatory anti-Shiism. Rather than broadening participation or overturning inequalities, the regime’s impulse has been to pursue the politics of sectarian escalation...
With these priorities in mind, it is unlikely that American officials will do much to challenge Riyadh on either al-Nimr’s verdict or try to alter its sectarian behavior more generally. Critics have called on the United States to rethink its strategic ties to Riyadh. But doing so would require confronting not only the contradictions in American policy, especially given that it is close to a Saudi state that supported the rise of ISIS, even if indirectly, even while it now claims to be committed to the Islamic State’s destruction..."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Iranian Foreign Minister at the Council on Foreign Relations

"... It is a sensible and sophisticated presentation that drives US neocons crazy. They can hardly control their grief at no longer having Mr Ahmadinejad around. He was so much easier to hate ..." (Gary Sick)

STATE Official: “We have to face whether we are going after ISIL or Assad or both, but for the present we just want to postpone the decision.”

'.... Externally, the picture is not much better. While the commanding general of the anti-ISIL operations in Iraq and Syria is reporting optimistically about progress, the two major open questions – the deployment of US ground forces and the long-standing dilemma over Syria – remain unresolved. On the latter, the US finds itself being drawn deeper into Syrian politics in the form of a meeting with the Kurdish PYD party. Its armed wing the YPG is providing the main body of opposition on the ground to ISIL in Syria, but its links to the PKK in Turkey, which the US regards as a terrorist organization, is complicating relations with Ankara. A State Department official put it this way in a comment to us: “We know we have to grapple with the question of whether we are going after ISIL or Assad or both, but for the present we just want to postpone the decision.” The ground troop question is becoming ever more urgent in the light of ISIL’s consolidation in Anbar province from where it can threaten Baghdad airport. As a Democratic strategist commented to us: “The logic of war is forcing the President in a direction to which he is profoundly resistant.” On other subjects, following last week’s high level talks with Iran, a top State Department official is due to clarify the US position in a major speech on October 23rd. Our sense is that US officials feel that an agreement is within grasp – albeit far from assured. As US officials like to repeat: “even if the deal is 98% done, the final 2% could see it fall apart.”.."

'Out of courtesy'

"... Because of the consistency of such behaviour, the source added, many in the international community have started meeting opposition figures “only out of courtesy”. According to official sources, Saudi Arabia and other key backers in the region have been left dissatisfied by infighting within the opposition..."

Western 'artificial creations' will collapse, says Israel's Ya'alon!

Yaalon predicts end to Middle East newly created 'artificial' states.  Not those TWO who are (by order of antiquity) 5000 & 3000 years old!!!!
"... "We have to distinguish between countries like Egypt, with their history. Egypt will stay Egypt," Ya'alon, who is on a visit to Washington, tells Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep.In contrast, Ya'alon says, "Libya was a new creation, a Western creation as a result of World War I. Syria, Iraq, the same — artificial nation-states — and what we see now is a collapse of this Western idea."

Border Incidents Escalate Again: Iran Kills Pakistani Soldier

"... The big question is whether Iran feels that Pakistan’s Frontiers Corps is aiding the groups that cross into Iran or whether the Pakistani forces came under fire in this case through a mistake when they were chasing the same “miscreants” Iran presumably wished to target..."
'“The FC personnel were chasing miscreants when they came under attack by Iranian forces. It was a targeted attack on Pakistani forces,” the spokesperson added. One FC vehicle was completely destroyed due to intense firing by Iranian forces.Iranian border guards continued firing for six hours. However, Pakistani forces did not retaliate to the offensive of the neighbouring country.'

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

US & Syria to share intelligence on ISIL, via Moscow!

Al Jazeera English

"... Also on Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Paris, to discuss the latest developments in Iraq and Syria.Kerry said the US had agreed to "intensify intelligence cooperation with respect to ISIL and other counter-terrorism challenges of the region".He said Moscow would also explore whether it could do more to help arm and train Iraq's embattled military..."

Z Moussawi wants to testify against 'several' Saudi banks & the Arab Bank ..

... and the crusade of the 'invisible hand' against the whole Arab banking sector continues!

"... After a federal jury in Brooklyn found Arab Bank liable last month for financing Hamas operations during the Second Palestinian Intifada, Moussaoui sent a handwritten letter to the clerk of the court from a super-maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado, where he is serving a life sentence. (Moussaoui said he heard about the jury verdict on Fox News.) “I want to testify against financial institutions such as Arab Bank, Saudi American Bank, the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia” and several individuals, Moussaoui wrote, “for their support and financing of Usama bin Laden and Al Qaeda from the time of the Eastern Africa embassy bombing, U.S.S. Cole bombing and 9/11.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

'America'ss allies' logic of the situation believe that the US will be compelled to intervene on the ground'

"As the pace of operations against ISIL accelerates but with inconclusive results, there are signs of rising tension between President Obama and his leading military advisers. In a visit to the Pentagon on October 8th, Obama received what a Department of Defense contact described to us as a “reality check.” With top Pentagon spokesmen acknowledging that air strikes by themselves will not check ISIL advances, the talk in Washington has turned to ground troops. Talks with regional allies, notably Turkey, about supplying combat forces have proved fruitless. As a State Department official remarked to us: “They all believe that the logic of the situation will compel us to intervene on the ground, so they will not make the first move.” Administration contacts tell us that both Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Hagel accept this logic, but Obama and his inner circle remain resistant and thus the official line remains that ground troops are not under consideration. Another unresolved dilemma for the Administration’s posture is Syria. Advisers close to Obama now advocate giving less priority to efforts to unseat the Assad regime, at least until ISIL is sufficiently weakened. We do not, however, see this as likely to emerge as official policy. One unexpected beneficiary of the turmoil in Iraq may be the nuclear negotiations with Iran. Following a bilateral meeting between US and Iranian officials on October 14th in Vienna, Kerry will resume talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javed Zarif together with the EU negotiator Katherine Ashton there on the following day. While expectations for these sessions are modest, US officials tell us that the conflict with ISIL on which the US and Iran find themselves broadly aligned has made these talks more collegial. As one official put it: “We have found that we have interests in common.” Whether this will lead to tangible results remains to be seen."

'Kobani will be remembered as a turning point for Turkey in the expanding US-led coalition’s war on ISIL'

"... Turkey is in the least enviable position in the region. Bursting at the seams with Syrian refugees, crawling with foreign and local jihadis, and on the receiving end of increasingly unrealistic demands from the West, the country is facing renewed internal violence from Kurds throughout the country.
Certainly, the Turkish leadership has made several mistakes in its quest to see the Assad regime removed..."

The origins of Russia’s new conflict with the West

"... The Ukraine crisis demonstrated that the West has no means to impose its twenty-first century worldview on Putin. To paraphrase Anthony Lake’s words of a quarter-century back, the US does not have leverage over Russia’s ways, now even beyond Russia’s borders..."

The U.S. government does not trust the Free Syrian Army!!

"... Being excluded from Tuesday’s coalition meeting is only the latest clear signal to the Syrian Opposition Coalition and the FSA from the Obama administration that they don’t see these groups as a credible or trusted partner in the fight against ISIS..."

The Syrian clowns of Saudia & Qatar

'Mama & the Emir'

"... The two countries are seen as competing for influence in regional affairs. Over the weekend, the Syrian National Coalition failed to agree on a prime minister during a summit in Turkey. A member of the SNC said the biggest dispute at the Istanbul meeting centred around a split between the favoured candidates of vital funders Saudi Arabia and Qatar..."

'Kurdish forces at Kobani benefit from U.S. airstrikes while being targetted by Erdogan'

"... Turkey has blocked military aid or Kurdish volunteers from crossing into Kobani, but Idriss said he is hopeful that talks with the Kurdistan Regional Government, the largely autonomous Kurdish area of Iraq, will lead to weapons and ammunition support. If that comes to pass, the question is whether Turkey will allow it in.The airstrikes in Hakkari, about 250 miles east of Kobani, may suggest that the answer is “no.”

Read more here:

Our friends in the Middle East are issuing new passports

Friday, October 10, 2014

Taking down Assad "not on the front burner"

"... Turkish Kurds fought a decades-long insurgency in which 40,000 people were killed. A truce last year has been one of the main achievements of Erdogan's decade in power, but jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan has said the peace process would collapse if Turkey permits Kobani to fall...."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Romancing ISIS continues in Erdogan's Turkey

"... Former Deputy Prime Minister Emrullah İşler defended the terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is known for its brutal treatment of people in every place it has taken over, in a tweet he posted to his Twitter account late on Wednesday, stating, “ISIL also kills, but at least doesn't torture.”İşler's tweet, seen as supportive of the terrorist ISIL, which has been attacking the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani with heavy artillery for over three weeks, drew ire on Wednesday.İşler wrote: “What was the crime of the youth who died after he was struck by stones in the head? Even ISIL cannot hold a candle to those who did this. ISIL also kills, but at least does not torture.”

Moscow & Tehran to Erdogan: 'Do not attempt regime change in Syria!'

'MOSCOW. Oct 8 (Interfax) - Moscow believes it is unacceptable to take advantage of the fight against the Islamic State as a pretext for regime change attempts to in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said."It is unacceptable to use antiterrorist combat slogans in order to make attempts to change regimes. I hope nobody is talking about this," Lavrov said in commenting on some remarks by Turkish leaders.Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Tuesday that Ankara would agree to join a ground operation against the Islamic State in Syria if the U.S. guaranteed that its antiterrorist strategy implied the continuation of the struggle with Bashar al-Assad's regime.'