Monday, March 31, 2008

Boeing's Mideast 'adviser' "opposes the creation of a Palestinian State and sees much of the Arab world as an enemy in the making..."

From Steve Clemons, here
"Gaffney is an indefatigable advocate of Israel's Likudist aspirations. In my view, his work on behalf of Israel is actually hurtful to the security of the Israeli state -- but that is a matter of fair debate. But there is no doubt that he opposes the creation of a Palestinian State and sees much of the Arab world as an enemy in the making.
How odd it is then to have learned today that Frank Gaffney is a paid adviser to the Boeing Company -- yes, the same Boeing Company that sells lots and lots of planes to the Middle East -- places like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, and the like...."

gaffney bolton twn.jpg

Iranian 'Peacemaker' Gen. Suleimani is on U.S. terrorist watch list

.... cont'd from below, (here) .... in McClatchy's, here
"The Iranians are into a lot of things, and have a lot of influence," said Judith Yaphe, a former CIA analyst who's now at the National Defense University in Washington..."

"Le Rapport Qui Derange Israel"

In Le Nouvel Observateur, here
"- Plus de 500 immeubles sont en cours de construction dans les implantations (Jérusalem est excepté). (…)
- Environ 275 nouveaux bâtiments ont été mis en chantier, dont 20% dans des implantions situées à l’est du mur de séparation.
- Parallèlement, des constructions se sont poursuivies dans tous les sites de construction qui existaient déjà avant Annapolis, y compris au moins 220 immeubles dans 37 implantations.
- Structures mobiles : dans certaines implantations particulièrement à l’est du mur de séparation, de nouveaux ensembles de mobile homes ont été créés, utilisant le « système Lego » de façon à ce que les constructions soient plus rapides et moins chères, et réalisées sans permis de construire ni plan accepté. Au moins 184 nouveaux mobile homes ont été apportés et installés dans les implantations, dont 150 (82%) dans des implantations situées à l’est du mur telles Eli, Dolev, Psagot, Ofra…
- Autorisation de plans de nouvelles constructions : le ministre de la Défense a autorisé plusieurs plans, concernant un total d’au moins 946 unités de logement.
- Une nouvelle municipalité dans les territoires – Modi’in Illit. Début mars, le ministre de l’Intérieur a autorisé la transformation de conseil local de Modi’in Illit en municipalité.
-Constructions à Jérusalem est. Depuis le sommet d’Annapolis, il y a eu un bond du nombre d’appels d’offre et de plans de construction à Jérusalem est. Entre décembre 2007 et mars 2008, des appels d’offre pour 750 logements ont été lancés alors qu’au cours de 2007 jusqu’à Annapolis il n’y avait eu que deux appels d’offre pour 46 logements.
-Constructions dans des « avant-postes illégaux ». Dans 58 avant-postes illégaux il y a eu des construction ou des développements. Au moins 16 structures permanentes ont été construites dans 7 implantations différentes et des constructions dans 8 ont été poursuivies. Au moins 38 nouvelles structures mobiles ont été rajoutées.
-Aucun de ces "avant-postes illégaux" n’a été évacué - les déclarations du gouvernement selon lesquelles deux de ces implantations « illégales » ont été évacuées le 17 mars semblent fallacieuses. L’une de ces « implantations » n’était qu’un mobile home et l’autre n’a jamais été évacuée."

McCain ‘Surprised’ by Iraq Developments

....there you have it! A prospective Commander In Snooze!
In the NYTimes, here

The Irony Behind Fallon's Ouster

In Washington-Whispers, here

".... Arab display of anger might prove to be a boomerang that, should Syria choose to flex a few additional muscles..."

Zvi Bar'el in Haaretz, here
"....The task of dealing with the Middle East's three major crises has thus been returned to individual states or small groups of countries. The Israeli-Palestinian crisis will be handed back to Egypt and Saudi Arabia; the Lebanon crisis will be dealt with by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran; and the internal Palestinian conflict will continue to be left to sporadic initiatives such as that of Yemen and Egyptian mediation. Syria might ultimately dive into this latter conflict as well....
As for Syria, it seems that its "punishment" by other Arab leaders made it clear even to them that if they wish to thwart Iran's influence in the Arab Middle East, they must hasten to rescue Damascus from that very isolation in which they seek to imprison it. Their public display of anger might prove to be a boomerang that, should Syria choose to flex a few additional muscles, will make it even harder for the Arab states to resolve the Lebanon crisis and the Palestinian conflict."

A Civil War Iraq Can’t Win

Tony Cordesman in the NYTimes, here
"....Much of the reporting on this fighting in Basra and Baghdad — which was initiated by the Iraqi government — assumes that Mr. Sadr and his militia are the bad guys who are out to spoil the peace, and that the government forces are the legitimate side trying to bring order. This is a dangerous oversimplification, and one that the United States needs to be far more careful about endorsing.
But it is equally important not to romanticize Mr. Maliki, the Dawa Party or the Islamic Supreme Council. The current fighting, which the government portrays as a crackdown on criminality, is better seen as a power grab, an effort by Mr. Maliki and the most powerful Shiite political parties to establish their authority over Basra and the parts of Baghdad that have eluded their grasp.
Moreover, Mr. Maliki’s gamble has already dragged American forces part-way into the fight, including airstrikes in Basra. Striking at violent, rogue elements in the Mahdi Army is one thing, but engaging the entire Sadr movement is quite another. The official cease-fire that has kept the mainstream Mahdi Army from engaging government and United States forces may well be rescinded if the government’s assault continues.
This looming power struggle was all too clear when I was in Iraq last month. The Supreme Council was the power behind the Shiite governorates in the south and was steadily expanding its influence over the Iraqi police. It was clearly positioning itself to counter Mr. Sadr’s popular support and preparing for the provincial elections scheduled for Oct. 1.
American military and civilian officials were candid in telling me that the governors and other local officials installed by the central government in Basra and elsewhere in southern Iraq had no popular base....."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gen. Suleimani, commander of the Quds brigades of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, played key role in brokering Iraq cease-fire...

In McClatchy's, here
"....The backdrop to Sadr's dramatic statement was a secret trip Friday to Qom, Iran's holy city and headquarters of the dominant Iranian clergy, by Iraqi lawmakers.
There they held talks with Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Qods (Jerusalem) brigades of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and signed an agreement with Sadr, which formed the basis of his statement Sunday, members of parliament said.
In addition to Sadr, who is in Qom pursuing religious studies, Iraqi lawmakers met Suleimani, said Osama al Nejafi, a legislator on the parliamentary committee formed to solve the Basra crisis.
The Qom discussions may or may not bring an end to the fighting but they almost certainly have undermined Maliki - who made repeated declarations that there would be no negotiations and that he would treat as outlaws those who did not turn in their weapons for cash.
In another blow to Maliki, his security advisor, Saleem Qassim al Taee, known as Abu Laith Al-Kadhimi, was killed in the fighting in Basra...."
Col. Lang's comment, here
If it is true that the commander of the IRGC Quds Force mediated the intra-Shia fracas, then the US policy in Iraq of favoring the ISCI/Dawa/Badr dominated Maliki government is in serious trouble.
The role of "Wasit" (intermediary) is highly significant in the Middle East. For the Iraqis to assign that role to the Iranians would indicate an acknowledgement of what they think the situation is going to be in the future.
A Reminder: The Quds Force is the IRGC element that the US Senate branded a terrorist organization some time back pl

Dated signature and seal of Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as appearing on a statement issued March 30, 2008.

Joumblat: "Ne pas blanchir un régime d'assassins!"

...once again, as punctual as the Delta shuttle, WJ peddles the "il faut les abattre" line ... in the Journal Du Dimanche, here

Reading Khameni: The World View of Iran's Most Powerful Leader

Via War&Piece, Carnegie's Karim Sadjadpour on "Reading Khamenei: The World View of Iran's Most Powerful Leader", here

Al-Qaida recruits 'Western'-looking fighters


Watch out for those "'am a barbie girl" ringtones!

'Secret' Saud Al Faisal visit to Damascus .... to discuss Saudi operatives...

.... Apparently, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal, visited Damascus (secretly) 3 days prior to the Arab Summit to 'discuss' the crises that is about to blow! Namely that of the Saudi operatives 'captives' in Syrian custody ... said to be the main culprits in the killing of Imad Mughniyeh's ... The week ahead looks 'decisive' in Syrian-Saudi relations: A series of 'public recriminations' leading to a blow up, mainly on the Lebanese theater, or, as Suleiman Frangieh (close to Syria) foretold a 'resolution to the Presidency impasse' ... It won't be long!

.....on Maliki's Motives

"Serving Patriot" on Maliki's Motives, via SicSemperTyrannis, and this in the LATimes, here ("In Iraq, U.S. caught in middle of Shiite rivalry")
"....You noted to arbogast: "Maliki may have started this on his own trying to strengthen his own hand for the Autumn elections." Methinks there is a lot to this line of thought. Maliki, along with all the other Iraqi "patriots" in the Green Zone, must read the tea leaves as well as we do back home. Irrespective of November's winner, the US cannot sustain its current level of commitment in "Mess"-opatamia. Its army is breaking down and wheels will really begin to fly off by the end of 2008. So, there is no time like the present (and maximum strength) to drag your partner's army into an effort to knock off your chief rival and *his* army. No doubt we were and remain surprised by the obvious -- Maliki acting in his own self-interest -- but, we are yet again surprised by Iraqi actions, and probably not for the last time... Maliki knows he'll be left to the mobs in the near future. While holding off the Sunni and Kurds may be possible with the support of his co-religionists, he cannot do so while simultaneously fighting Sadrists (nationalists) for control of the key prizes (Baghdad, Basra and southern oil). As much as we vastly underestimate White House stupidity and arrogance, I think we also vastly underestimate Sadr's game, his power among the dispossessed Shi'i, and his appeal to Arab Shi'ism (vice Persian). I'm sure the Iranians support both sides of the Shi'i split in Iraq - mainly to keep their most feared foe divided and non-threatening. But, when push comes to shove, I think they will cut off Sadr's support in favor of their buddies in the SCIRI/Badr/Dawa groups. (Then again, in a country like Iraq where hundreds of thousands of small arms, light weapons and explosives are "missing," how decisive will the lack of direct Iranian support be?) Its an intriguing four way game:
1- Sadr wants all foreign occupiers out and Iraq for (Shi'i) Iraqis,
2- Iran wants quiet and influence on its western border, strategic depth from the hated Sunni and Jewish enemies and a bridge to their long lost cousins in Southern Lebanon (tweaking America along the way is like whipped cream on the sundae),
3- US desperate to extricate itself from their Iraqi tar-baby while simultaneously weakening the ascendant Persians (whose rise is fueled by continued its own ground presence and blinkered search for “victory” in the hunt for global jihadists!), and
4-Maliki, whose neck is stretched if/when he's left to his own devices by this American (overlord) protectors. No wonder the British want out so bad. It’s a race for the last lifeboat and those left on deck face some mighty cold waters..."

"..In Souk El Gharb ..the Lebanese remember something closer to reality .. that the US took sides ..and that operation didn't end particularly well.."

Eric Umansky comments on AbouMuqawama's & here
"....In Lebanon, in September 1983, the U.S. lent direct support to what it assumed was a national institution, the Lebanese Army, in the battle at Souk el-Gharb. By doing so, it became, in the eyes of the rest of the Lebanese population, just another militia. The U.S. history in Iraq is more complicated, obviously, but what's happening now is the U.S. is throwing our lot in with ISCI in the upcoming elections. And all Abu Muqawama is saying is, there better be a whole lot of quid pro quo going on as well..."

USS New Jersey..

Moqtada Sadr orders his fighters off the streets of Basra and other cities

In the BBC, here

Dated signature and seal of Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as appearing on a statement issued March 30, 2008.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Death of the Two-State Solution

Patrick Seale, here
"....Mention of a Palestinian state is, therefore, a cruel charade -- whether the words are uttered by George W. Bush, or France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, or any other leader. When Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert utters the words, they are a blatant exercise in cynicism and hypocrisy...
In any event, Israel’s leaders seem to think that a little Arab violence -- and the constant security vigilance required to keep it within bounds -- are a price well worth paying for the control and gradual takeover of the whole of historic Palestine...."

"No good can come out of these 3!"

Al Maliki considers the Mahdi Army "more dangerous than Al Qaeda"...

In Al Jazeera, here

UK's Defense Secretary Des Brown: "We should be willing to talk to people with a history of violence - including elements of the Taliban & Hizballah..

Interview with the Telegraph, here

Zbigniew Brzezinski: The Smart Way Out of a Foolish War

In the WaPo, here
".....In brief, the war has become a national tragedy, an economic catastrophe, a regional disaster and a global boomerang for the United States. Ending it is thus in the highest national interest....
The decision to militarily disengage will also have to be accompanied by political and regional initiatives designed to guard against potential risks. We should fully discuss our decisions with Iraqi leaders, including those not residing in Baghdad's Green Zone, and we should hold talks on regional stability with all of Iraq's neighbors, including Iran...
The impasse in Shiite-Sunni relations is in large part the sour byproduct of the destructive U.S. occupation, which breeds Iraqi dependency even as it shatters Iraqi society. In this context, so highly reminiscent of the British colonial era, the longer we stay in Iraq, the less incentive various contending groups will have to compromise and the more reason simply to sit back. A serious dialogue with the Iraqi leaders about the forthcoming U.S. disengagement would shake them out of their stupor.....
It is also important to recognize that most of the anti-U.S. insurgency in Iraq has not been inspired by al-Qaeda. ....The end of the occupation will thus be a boon for the war on al-Qaeda, bringing to an end a misguided adventure that not only precipitated the appearance of al-Qaeda in Iraq but also diverted the United States from Afghanistan,....
Iraq's neighbors.....will remain reluctant to engage in any discussion as long as Washington appears determined to maintain its occupation of Iraq indefinitely. Therefore, at some stage next ye It is in the U.S. interest to engage Iran in serious negotiations -- on both regional security and the nuclear challenge it poses. But such negotiations are unlikely as long as Washington's price of participation is unreciprocated concessions from Tehran. Threats to use force on Iran are also counterproductive because they tend to fuse Iranian nationalism with religious fanaticism...., after the decision to disengage has been announced, a regional conference should be convened to promote regional stability,
...real progress in the badly stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process would also help soothe the region's religious and nationalist passions..."

More on Basra, South Iraq and Iran

More from Col. Lang at SicSemperTyrannis, here
"...In the interest of not making things worse with our cousins across the sea, I will restrict my comment on the Daily Mail article to making a request, on behalf of the uniformed services people, that we not encounter further condescension from the British on the subject of the superiority of their knowledge, sophistication, methods, etc. with regard to COIN. Enough...."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jitters over Syria's Kurdish clashes

Clinton would consider limited talks with Hamas "if Israel agrees" ...

In YNETnews, here

"To what extent could this operation in Basra be seen as an American attempt to secure their supply lines in view of a forthcoming attack on Iran?"

One of SicSemperTyrannis' readers "Pale Rider" offers this
"....The supply lines that run from Camp Doha in Kuwait into Iraq are pretty tenuous, as all supply lines are. We would have to detail some significant forces to keep them open if the elements in Basra that are opposing us decided to try to shut them down......The majority of their gear is fitted for COIN not ground assault. Much of it is worn out.......A ground assault into Iran would have to be organized around the division and corps formations that aren't really in place in Iraq.......Petraeus would literally have to start this week in order to get even 50-60,000 troops in place to attack Iran......"

"We either survive this or we are finished ...."

In a telephone interview with the Guardian, here

Mahdi army militiamen aim RPGs in Basra

Secretary Rice in Beirut tomorrow?

STATE neither denies nor confirms ...

Investigator: Hariri killed by criminals

The FULL UN/IIIC Report here
(AP) The chief investigator says former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated by a criminal network that is linked to some other killings in Lebanon.
Daniel Bellemare said in his first report to the U.N. Security Council on Friday that evidence indicates the so-called "Hariri Network" existed before his assassination on Feb. 14, 2005.
He said the evidence also indicates it conducted surveillance of the former premier, and that at least part of the network continued to operate after he was killed along with 22 others in a bombing in Beirut.
Friday's report did not name any suspects in Hariri's assassination.

ANALYSIS: Isolating Syria serves to highlight its importance

Zvi Bar'el in Haaretz, here
"....But the Saudi-Egyptian penalty could become an own goal. It does not promote a resolution to the crisis in Lebanon and it highlights the chasm between the camps. This is no longer the well-known split between "moderates" and "extremists," but between the "Arab circle" and the "Iranian circle" and has emphasized the power of organizations like Hezbollah, and to some extent Hamas, to set the Arab agenda.
This summit will be considered the Arab League's largest failure, but could clarify how Syria, in spite of its isolation, is becoming the most significant state in the region's diplomatic processes. The question now will be what option Egypt and Saudi Arabia will have to resolve the Lebanon crisis and how they can extract Hamas from the Iranian-Syrian circle to resolve the Palestinian crisis ..."

Iraqi General Military Intelligence Dir. Doc.: grandfather of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, founder of the school, was Dönme—that is, a crypto-Jew..

The U.S. DoD has released translations of a number of Iraqi intelligence documents dating from Saddam’s rule. One of them is a General Military Intelligence Directorate report from September 2002, entitled “The Emergence of Wahhabism and its Historical Roots.” The report made the claim that the grandfather of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, founder of the school, was a merchant from Bursa in Turkey who was a Dönmethat is, a crypto-Jew. According to the intelligence report, his name, Sulayman, was originally Shulman.
Via MESH, read here & here

Areas of Baghdad fall to militias as Iraqi Army falters in Basra

In the Times of London, here
..... and Pat Lang offers his thoughts here
"....My problem with the present course of events is the ruthlessness of the propaganda campaign being successfully waged by the Bush Administration. The president has succeeded in "framing" the discussion in such a way that Maliki and his assembly of Badr Corps militias are represented as being the equivalent of George Washington suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion. The noble Maliki is portrayed as motivated by a selfless desire for "national" unity. The MSM has re-transmitted that idea without serious question.
In fact he [Maliki] is merely acting on behalf of an emerging alignment of pro-Iranian forces in Iraq that have successfully pulled the wool over American eyes.....
....That brings up the inevitability of heavy US involvement in this suppression of the "Whiskey Rebellion." It's just a matter of time.
McCain must fear that terribly." pl

Montagnards Veterans...

"Punishing Hamas Has Backfired"

ICG's Gareth Evans writes in the CSM, here

What's Behind the Saudi Snub of the Syrian Summit?

CFR's Sara Moller wries here
"... Shhh... you're disturbing our deliberations..."

Iraqi Prime Minister ‘Irrelevant’ in Shiite Power Struggle

CFR's Vali Nasr writes here

Thursday, March 27, 2008

German-Based IRANIAN Journalist arrested by Turks for 'assisting the FBI in the flight of Gen. Alireza Ashgari from Iran..

This huge story from Laura Rosen, here

EXCLUSIVE: McCain’s Foreign Affairs Speech Plagiarizes 1996 Address By Adm. Timothy Ziemer (UPDATED)»

War is awful and when nations seek to resolve their differences by fighting, a million tragedies ensue. [Link]When nations seek to resolve their differences by force of arms, a million tragedies ensue. [Link]
War is wretched beyond description. [Link]It might not be the worst thing to befall human beings, but it is wretched beyond all description. [Link]
Nothing, not the valor with which it is fought, nor the cause with which it serves can glorify war. [Link]Not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war. [Link]
"Chez Pepe Abed", Jbeil, Lebanon. Photo by Herge.

WINEP on the Damascus Arab Summit: Arab Divisions Ensure Modest

From WINEP's Schenker, here

"President Bling Bling" laying a wreath in honor of Charles DeGaulle

Syrian Tycoon Bristles At US Sanctions Against Him

Rami Makhlouf interviewd In the WSJ, via SyriaComment, here

..yet the Guardian says "UN tribunal gears up to try Lebanon PM's killers ... is a ticking timebomb"

In the Guardian, here and read more HERE

IFRI: "Iran's 'risk taking' in perspective"

(In English) From the Institut Francais Des Relations Internationales, here

Hezbollah rockets can reach Dimona ..

AP via Haaretz, here

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The worst the Sunni-Takfiris can do is "some attack that might be bloody in nature but certainly not mortal to any of the societies of the West..."

"WHY MCCAIN is the WRONG MAN" writes Pat Lang
"So, this transcendent threat is greater than anything else around? It is greater than the shakiness of the economy, the threat of pestilence, the competition provided by an emerging China, all of that?
I don't think so. The Sunni takfiri networks command the allegiance of a few thousand at most. The worst they could POSSIBLY do to all those they hate and despise would involve some attack that might be bloody in nature but certainly not mortal to any of the societies of the West. Transcendent? If you want transcendence in a threat, you must find something more than a few radicals who through a clever ruse stole a few airplanes and crashed them into buildings. And we accept such rubbish?
Our ancestors who fought at Gettysburg or on any number of other flaming fields who scoff.
What is the matter with him? He should know better than to think this or talk like this.
We should form "a new international group of countries" to "confront" this threat? I guess they did not teach Thucydides at the Naval Academy when he was there. The Delian League was the Athenian Empire in all but name. What sort of "league" would we call this?" pl

MEPGS: "...If you don't stop them in Lebanon, they will come to the Gulf..."

".....US officials have been working behind the scenes to affect the summit. The most obvious example of this was seen in Vice President Cheney's visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this week where he found, as expected, his hosts' willingness to work to undermine Syria's efforts to regain its standing in the Arab world.
What US officials see as Saudi Arabia's "uncharacteristically bold" approach toward Syria ... based mainly on two considerations. The first is the assassination of Rafik Hariri, a long time confidante of the Saudi ruling family. The second and more strategic consideration is the belief, as one Arab diplomat put it last week, "The Syrians need to be taught not to rely on Iran." Indeed, it is the fear of a rising Iran and the radicalization that it promotes, that has led to the conclusion, as one veteran diplomat put it last week, "If you don't stop them in Lebanon, they will come to the Gulf.
....Still, the US has its work cut out. Veteran US analysts believe that the Saudis are convinced the Bush Administration is to blame for the growing problems of the region. One US analyst explained the Saudi view this way, "We let Iran into Iraq..."after seven years in office, the Administration is, in the view of one well placed official, "...seen to it that the US is neither, feared, liked or respected."
Still, US officials from the President on down, continue, in fact, have redoubled their efforts to address regional problems. President Bush will make his second visit this year to the Middle East in May... attend[ing] ceremonies marking Israel's 60th independence and[ing] again with Palestinian leaders ....also surely include a stopover in Amman, omitted from his last visit.... the President may make return visits to Riyadh and Cairo, say
Administration insiders...Rice, too, will continue to make regular visits to the region, including one this weekend. Her focus tends to be on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which US officials describe as "going well as can be expected" considering the situation on the ground in Gaza, where Hamas rules and the fact that talks are being conducted by two weak leaders, Palestinian Abu Mazen and Israeli Ehud Barak. ..."These are `shelf' talks. No wonder they are going well. They are going nowhere"....[ leaving ] key (US) official has repeatedly call[ing] for the "decapitation" of Hamas leadership, arguing that such an approach worked in 2004].
......Aware that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict always has the potential for deflecting attention away from other issues, the Syrians have tried to steer the Arab League summit agenda in that direction. If successful in warding off Arab attention from its role in Lebanon, a number of key US officials say privately that time will be on their side. "Short of us whacking them, what can possibly derail Syria's comeback in Lebanon?" asks one veteran US official. The US response, so far, has been underwhelming, in the view of a number of officials. Several weeks ago the destroyer USS Cole ......other measures of support have proven to be equally
ineffective, not to mention equally embarrassing to some. Last week, for example, Secretary Rice met with former Christian warlord Samir Geagea, prompting one of her aides to defend the decision by pointing out that he was "no worse" a character than Druze leader Walid Jumblatt who has gotten ..."the full White House treatment ." Other measures to help the Lebanese, such as support for its national army has again been more rhetorical than real. The explanation offered privately is that any serious arming of the Lebanese Armed Forces runs the risk of falling into the hands of Hezbollah some time in the future....
.....Ultimately, some veteran US officials predict that the current Lebanese government will suffer, in the words of one State Department official a "slow, slow death." Speaking for a number of his colleagues he says, "As long as Syria and Hezbollah want Lebanon to be weak, there is no way to turn this thing around." Even the prospect of the convening of an International Tribunal to investigate the assassination of Hariri, scheduled to be up and running by June... elicits little prospect of altering the situation on the ground in Lebanon. Although it does rattle the Syrians ...(but) recent signs from those involved in putting together the prosection have not been encouraging.
According to informed sources, the Dutch, who will host the Tribunal in the Hague, are getting increasingly nervous as they confront the prospect of a trial which exposes them to danger but has little prospect of bringing the perpetrators to justice....
A Syrian comeback will be yet another gain for its more powerful ally, Iran. And waiting in the wings, especially if Barack Obama is elected President, is the likelihood of the next Administration beginning a dialogue with Iran. "It's the Saudis greatest nightmare -- a grand bargain between Iran and the US," says one key State Department official.

Frontline: "Bush's War" (Part II)

BREAKING: Condi Rice Flirts With VP Possibility

Steve Clemons says, here
'As one major Republican operative told me yesterday:
".......Someone like Condi Rice doesn't go to Grover Norquist's den to talk about the Annapolis Middle East peace process. ..She's going to secure her future in Republican politics and to position herself as a 'potential' VP candidate on the McCain ticket.."'
and here
"The first question Condoleezza Rice received at the meeting was one about her "political future." She responded by saying that she was not interested in more government ... So, she is telegraphing a "no" about the possibility of a Vice Presidential possibility.... she gave a tour de force discussion of America's global foreign policy and national security positions. She talked about everything from North Korea to China to Iran to Iraq to Israel/Palestine. She talked about military-sculpted policies and diplomatic-sculpted policies....."

A Aoun-Frangieh & Church Detente?

Click to view full size image

Who are the "Iraqi Security Forces?"

Lang on the "Iraqi Security Forces":
"........So, there is fighting in Basra among the Shia? What a surprise! A showdown there between forces of the Mahdi Army and the rest has been "in the cards" for some time. The MSM talks as though the "Iraqi Security Forces" are something other than representatives of millitia anti Sadrist forces among the Shia. That is not the case. The security forces really represent the power of some of the Shia parties/militias being used in this case against the Sadrists. There is an ongoing struggle among the major Shia factions in Iraq. One of these is the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr. Others include the Dawa allies of Prime Ministers Maliki, the al-Hakim faction (SIIC), the Badr Force (generally allied with Hakim) and Fadila in the Basra area.
Need a score card? Well... the "security forces" are full of Badr Force militia men. These people belong to an organization that was raised originally by Iran to fight against IRAQ. They have been recruited into the "security forces" in large numbers. They intend to break the Mahdi Army if they can and the US seems to approve of that idea.
Reinforcements have been sent from Karbala to Basra. Karbala is virtually ruled by the Badr Force.
The US has been treasuring the idea that the apparatus of the Iraqi state is other than a congeries of militia factions and parties.
Once again the untruth of that is exposed.
Who is firing into the Green Zone? I doubt if anyone really knows." pl

For a new Iran policy

From the Center For European Reform, here, examines Europe's stance toward Tehran and questions how policymakers can craft a more effective response to Iran's nuclear program.

Cheney 'Iran' Allegations, contradict International findings...

In the LATimes, here
"...In its latest report, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, says Iran is enriching uranium at its plant in Natanz to less than 3.8%, which is the level necessary to create fuel for a civilian reactor. Weapons-grade uranium is enriched to 80% or 90%.
Cheney's comment also contradicted the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies, which concluded in a report revealed late last year that Iran had halted its efforts to develop nuclear weapons in 2003..."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

So You Wanna Be a Hizballah Fighter?

Andrew Lee Butters in TIME, here

Report accuses BBC of bias against Israel during Second Lebanon War

In YNEtnews, here
"....The report went on to say that the BBC's policy towards Israel was a known reality, but that the fact that British soldiers were fighting on the front line while a station financed by their parents' money broadcast words of support for their enemies was intolerable..."

Go to Damascus

Yoel Marcus in Haaretz, here

Frontline: "Bush's War" (Part I)

"....We gotta see how we can Bring in Saddam Hussein into that..."
"....We paid the INC millions of Dollars to ... shove crap at us...."
"... Any Invasion of Iraq would break the back of our counter-terrorism strategy..."

The Gulf growing weary of the Lebanon longer sees the failure to resolve the conflict as meriting action against Syria..."

In NOW-Lebanon, here
"...What this signals is that, as the rest of the Gulf States grow bolder in matters of GCC foreign policy, more and more diplomats from both sides of the regional “cold war” will be forced to expand their efforts in the Gulf. As far as Lebanon is concerned, this means that Future Movement head Saad Hariri’s close ties with the kingdom may not always be enough to keep all the Arab states firmly behind the March 14 forces in Lebanon...."

Le sous-préfet limogé se défend d'être violemment anti-israélien

Le Point, here
Le sous-préfet limogé se défend d'être violemment anti-israélien

Mubarak to Putin & Medvedev: "Your appearances are very much alike,"



Mubarak' & Abdallah's Arab-Summits' attendance record

Did NOT attend Beirut 2002' & Khartoum 2006'
Attended Sharm' 2003', Tunis 2004', Algeria 2005' & Riyadh 2007'
Did NOT attend Tunis 04', Algeria 05' & Khartoum 06'
Attended, Beirut 02', Sharm 03' and of course Riyadh 07'.
Basically, the only TWO summits these 2 attended simultaneously were Sharm & Riyadh, both of which happened in their respective realms! Mubarak though, has his hands full at this time with a deepening political crisis.

Egyptian government scrambles to ease bread shortages amid political crisis

"Egyptian food riots watch", In the IHT, here and here
"....The crisis comes at a time when many Egyptians already are disgruntled with Mubarak's government because of its long hold on power, favoritism and corruption..."

A Debate among the Sunnis: "How al Qaeda Will Perish"

A column in the WSJ, here

The Next President And the Middle East

Daniel Levy in the AmericanProspect, here and Carnegie has this Report, here

Monday, March 24, 2008

Is 'success' of U.S. surge in Iraq about to unravel?

In McClatchy's, here and the BBC has this story, here
"..The freeze on offensive activity by Sadr's Mahdi Army has been a major factor behind the recent drop in violence in Iraq, and there were fears that the confrontation that's erupted in Baghdad and Basra could end the lull ..."

(Muqtada & Mottaki)

The naive armchair warriors are fighting a delusional war

"Calls for the west to use force to restore its values in the face of radical Islam reveal a profound detachment from reality" says Alastair Crooke (nemesis of Mustapha Alloush), in the GUARDIAN, here, via War&Piece "..............No, the west's war is a military response to ideas that question western supremacy and power. The nature of this war on "extremism" became evident when five former chiefs of defence staff of Nato states gathered at a think-tank in Washington earlier this year. Their aim was not to query the realism of a war on ideas, but to empower Nato for an "uncertain world"......."

Why we should fear a McCain presidency

In the FT, here
"It may seem incredible to say this, given past experience, but a few years from now Europe and the world could be looking back at the Bush administration with nostalgia. This possibility will arise if the US elects Senator John McCain as president in November..."
and Steve Clemons has this to say, here
"....John McCain apparently thinks he can win by stirring up the storms of pugnacious nationalism and fear -- and calling for "rogue state rollback" in much the same tenor that John Foster Dulles and Curtis LeMay talked casually about "massive retaliation" against and "Rollback" of the Soviet Union...."

mccain flak.jpg

Petraeus: Iran 'behind Green Zone attack'

In the BBC, here
"....He said Iran was adding what he described as "lethal accelerants" to a very combustible mix...."

DoD takes action to assure the extension of the authority of US military law over all civilians serving with or for US military forces

"....The directive requires DoD to inform the US Department of Justice (DoJ) that it is proceeding against particular civilians. This provision exists to allow DoJ to take charge of the case involving civilians if it wishes. If DoJ declines then the military is authorized to proceed under its own legal system.
This would appear to settle the issue of how to deal with private armies of the "Blackwater" type in criminal matters...."

Report: Iranian, Syrian missiles to pound Israel in next war

In YNETnews, here ".....According to this scenario, the war will last for about a month and will include the participation of Syria (military operations on the Golan Heights front and the firing of many Scud missiles at the home front,) Lebanon (the firing of thousands of Hizbullah rockets at the Galilee and Haifa as well long-range missiles at central Israel,) and the Palestinian Authority (relatively limited conflict that would include short-range rockets fired from Gaza and the West Bank as well as terror attacks such as suicide bombings within Israel...."

إستنفار إسرائيلي على الحدود مع لبنان عشية أربعين مغنية (لطف الله ضاهر - أ ب)

Massive public debt remains biggest challenge for Lebanese banks

In the DailyStar, here & OBG here

Saudi Inflation Reaches 27-Year High

In the WSJ, here

Sunday, March 23, 2008

4000 US Soldiers Killed In Iraq


Israel shifts stance on agreement with Hezbollah

Melman & Stern in Haaretz, here

"...Israel has a carte blanche to kill, destroy and settle..."

Good opinion by Gideon Levy in Haaretz, here
"....The amount of support being shown for Israel these days is almost embarrassing .... If you haven't been here, you're nowhere.....The stance of the European leaders is particularly perplexing. We're not speaking about the U.S., with its Jewish and Christian lobbies, but rather opinionated Europe; it, too, has lost its ability to act as an honest broker, the type that wields its influence to bring an end to the conflict that endangers it, too......
.....not genuine is the idea that blind, unconditional friendship is friendship. The support for Israel as a just enterprise that is extended by most of the West does not mean accepting all of its caprices. A true friend of Israel, one that is sincerely concerned for its fate, is only that friend who dares to express sharp criticism of its policy of occupation, which poses the most serious risk to its future....."

Father of Iran’s drive for nuclear warhead named? crescendo, and in the London Times, here
"........The National Council of Resistance of Iran,(Iran's equivalent of Curvball???) a coalition of groups opposed to the regime in Tehran, was the first to identify Fakhrizadeh, 47, as one of the leading figures in Iran’s nuclear programme ...."

"Bush threatened trade reprisals against friendly countries... , spied on its allies, and pressed for the recall of UN envoys..."

In the WaPo, here

Feds to Appeal Ruling in AIPAC Case

Via War&Piece, (good crop today), in AP, here & in JTA, here

"...German Intelligence Was 'Dishonest, Unprofessional and Irresponsible'..."

Via War&Piece, DerSpiegel interviews WMDs sleuth, David Kay here
"....Kay: The BND was convinced that his information was so valuable that they distributed over 100 reports on 'Curveball' to their allies. I stand by my criticism of the BND to this day: To not have checked up on the exile Iraqis in Germany who knew him, not to have made all the appropriate efforts to validate the source, is a level of irresponsibility that is awfully hard to imagine in a service like the BND..."

The Treasury department has issued a warning of the risks of doing business with Iran’s central bank

Via War&Piece, In The FT, here
"The move is an attempt to raise pressure on Tehran through measures that fall short of formal sanctions but go further than the private warnings US officials have delivered to regulators and financiers in recent months..."

Friday, March 21, 2008

"The longer we stay in Lebanon, the harder it will be for us to leave..trapped by the case we make for having our troops there in the 1st place"

These words were John McCain's in 1983 when he "broke with President Ronald Reagan and most of his party to oppose invoking the War Powers Act to extend the deployment of U.S. peacekeepers in Lebanon."
Read more about his inconsistencies at FP/Passport, here

As Tensions Rise in Lebanon, Residents Again Fear the Worst

In the WaPo, here
"....Abdullah, once considered Syria's closest ally among the Saudis, dispatched Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal in February to Washington, Paris, London, Berlin and Moscow to ask for a united stand on Lebanon and continued pressure against Syria, said U.S. and Saudi officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Saudi intelligence chief, meanwhile, went to Beijing and Persian Gulf countries to seek cooperation, the officials said. The United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and even Russia -- an ally and arms supplier to Syria -- all have informed Syria that the world holds it responsible for ending Lebanon's internal crisis, officials said...."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

5 years after the US invasion, no one misses Saddam, but Baghdadis are nostalgic for the relative freedom & stability they had before the Americans...

In DerSpiegel, here .... Iraqis describe how their lives have changed since the invasion ...

Guards for African leaders battle; dozen injured


State Department accused of shilling for Iran..

Via FP/Blog, here and World Politics Review, here
"....Symptomatically, the above-cited AFP and AP reports fail altogether to mention Iran. But as a Feb. 5 report in the Financial-Times-Deutschland points out, this putatively "U.S.-backed" model of "Nabucco without Iranian gas" makes "little sense," "since all the central Asian states taken together dispose of less than one-fourth of the natural gas reserves of Iran." Indeed, it was precisely the prospect of being able to tap into Iran's vast natural gas reserves that motivated the Nabucco project from the start...."

"The Bush Legacy Project" to make sure that Bush's approval ratings stay going to be a smashing success!

"...Brad Woodhouse points out that Ronald Reagan's approval ratings went from 40% in 1987 to 57% in 1988 to 63% on the day he left office...................... But what are George Bush's legacies? The economy has been mediocre throughout his presidency and he's leaving it in tatters as he steps off the stage. On the foreign policy front, Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, Afghanistan is slowly slipping back into chaos, and Iraq remains a hideous quagmire. Bush is obviously hoping that Iraq will turn around and he'll get the credit, but what are the odds? Close to zero!"
Continue, here

Cheney's former chief of staff disbarred

From CNN, here

DoD sponsored Report: "NO 'smoking gun' (i.e., direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda"

Via War&Piece, the 5 volumes report available, here

(A Cherished "chart" of yesterdays)

Iraq: "America in Muslim eyes"

Hoya (and my Professor) John Esposito answers "What will the world be like five years after a war with Iraq?” in MESH, here

A Bad War Gone Worse

Simon Serfaty in the Washington Quaterly, spells out the misuses of Historical "precedents" in the case for War in Iraq AND (most importantly) in the analysis of mistakes in the last 5 years, here , via World Politics Review, here

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Amine Gemayel seeks his late son's vacant ministerial seat ... and hopes to represent Lebanon at the Damascus Summit

In AsSafir, here

Bush keeps talking about Iraq, but no one can understand what he says

In the Daily Star, here
"The whole world has been hearing Bush for five long years, and yet no one understands what he says. He describes a heroic effort to liberate a people out of the goodness of his own heart. Virtually everyone else has witnessed grotesque examples of shameless lies to mask otherwise naked aggression, lofty rhetoric to conceal petty personal grudges, and dogmatic refusals to accept the advice of professionals. The US military has lost almost 4,000 men and women in Iraq, and still Bush and other senior officials have to sneak in and out of Baghdad like fugitive criminals. Nonetheless, the Americans have the audacity to pressure Arab allies like Saudi Arabia to expand their own presence in a failed state stamped "Made in the USA."

(King Canute, in his attempt either to turn the tide, or demonstrate the impossibility of doing so..)

Security forces fear double Hezbollah revenge attack in Israel and abroad

Amos Harel in Haaretz, here
"Israel's intelligence community has gained possession of fragments of information hinting at plans for a Hezbollah revenge attack [possible simultaneous attacks in Israel and on Israeli diplomatic offices] ...although this intelligence is partial and unfocused, it was enough to send into high alert troops of the Israel Defense Forces at the northern border...."

CNN's Kyra Phillips "gently corrected" by Gen. Petraeus as she repeats McCain's Iran-AQI gaffe ...

...Petraeus noted that Syria was typically the path for weapons and fighters for AQI: Watch here, from TPM