Monday, May 31, 2010

UNSC: End Gaza blockade now!

Ayalon's 'Al Qaeda Operatives'

"Members of the United Nations Security Council on Monday urged Israel to lift its economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, in an emergency session to discuss the deadly Israel Navy raid on a convoy of international activists sailing to the coastal territory.

Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco said in his briefing to the UN's most powerful body that Monday's bloodshed would have been avoided if repeated calls on Israel to end the "counterproductive and unacceptable" blockade of Gaza had been heeded... Palestinians and Arab nations used the forum of the emergency session called by Turkey to call for condemnation and an independent investigation into the incident which left at least nine international activists dead. Most members of the 15-nation body joined the call for an investigation. Many council members echoed earlier statements by their their governments in denouncing or criticizing the Israeli action, and said it was time for Israel's three-year-old blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza to be fully lifted...

Many of the activists aboard the protest ships were European nationals and analysts have predicted a harsh diplomatic response from the European Union and its member states.

Sweden summoned Israel's ambassador to explain the circumstances of the incident. Two Swedish citizens were on board the seized ship.('members' of Al Qarda, as per Ayalon!)...

Germany, one of Israel's most loyal allies, expressed shock at the deadly interception and questioned whether the action by Israeli commandos was proportionate.

Two members of the Bundestag lower house of parliament were among five Germans on board the ships, (also members of Al Qarda!) the foreign ministry said...."

CNN as mouthpiece & apologist for Israel's savagery ...

via WarInContext/ here

"When a civilian passenger ship comes under military attack in international waters, should we be surprised — or even critical — when some of the passengers mount a defense?

According to CNN, which has made itself into a mouthpiece for the Israeli Defense Forces, the flotilla massacre was a “skirmish”, which the dictionary defines as a “minor battle in war, as one between small forces.” CNN/the IDF would have the world believe that Israel’s elite commandos unexpectedly met an armed force on the decks of the Mavi Marmara. Some of the Israeli soldiers were so afraid they jumped into the sea to save themselves from Arabic-speaking assailants, Israeli officials claimed.

Israel and its lackeys in the US media might try to characterize what happened in the Mediterranean today as an “incident,” or “skirmish,” or an “ambush.”

But if the IDF met “unexpected resistance,” what exactly did they expect? A reception committee with tea and breakfast? Didn’t they see the resistance the Viva Palestina convoy put up last year when challenged by Egyptian security forces?....

As for the fact that elite Israeli soldiers can in one instant be portrayed as invincible and yet the next as hapless victims — that is a paradox that can be resolved only in the minds of Israelis.

In the eyes of much of the world, this was a massacre, the dead will be seen as martyrs, and the moral bankruptcy of the Jewish state revealed in sharper clarity than ever before."

The NEW face of Al Qaeda!

Oh, .. lest we forget: The Iran sanctions 'momentum' ...

Toni Karon in TIME/ here

"... Judging by their reactions until now, the Chinese might have been expected to respond to the Turkey-Brazil-Iran proposal by demanding that any discussion of sanctions be postponed until the potential of the confidence-building mechanism had been tested. Instead, it backed the U.S., saying the onus was on Iran to do more to satisfy international concerns over the intent of its nuclear program. So what changed?

Analyst Peter Lee points out that the Chinese are claiming, through commentaries in official publications, that Beijing extracted a significant price for its support. Not only has Beijing watered down the sanctions to be adopted by the Security Council in order to ensure they don't restrain China from expanding its already massive economic ties with Iran; Chinese analysts also claim that, in the course of a protracted series of negotiations with Washington, their government also won undertakings from Washington to exempt Chinese companies from any U.S. unilateral sanctions that punish third-country business partners with the Islamic Republic.......

While the U.S. has thus far dismissed the deal Iran reached with Brazil and Turkey as a "ploy" designed to avert new sanctions, China has been more enthusiastic, stressing that dialogue remains the route to resolving the standoff. "The Security Council discussing the Iranian nuclear issue does not mean the end of diplomatic efforts," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu on Tuesday. "We value and welcome the agreement reached among Brazil, Turkey and Iran on Tehran's research reactor." And she expressed the hope that the new proposal would soon result in a formal agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Although the Iranians were taken by surprise by China's support for Clinton's sanctions announcement, Lee argues that Iran may recognize that Beijing's intervention may have been helpful under the circumstances. Curiously enough, in a speech on Wednesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tore into Russia for backing the U.S. position, warning that it would be considered a "historic enemy" if it supported efforts to pressure Tehran — but he appears to have avoided attacking China's support for the same sanctions package.

Israeli-Greek 'alliance' to make Erdogan jealous? Think again!

Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

"What is most important right now is the safety of the Greek citizens involved and their safe return home. The government and the Foreign Ministry are working to this end in close contact, coordination and cooperation with our partners in the European Union.

Israel is under obligation to provide all the necessary information and, of course, to provide for the safety of Greek citizens.

There can be no justification for the use of such extreme violence. We condemn it, and it was precisely that message that I passed on to the Israeli Ambassador to Athens, whom I called to my office, where I also announced to him that the Greek government has decided to discontinue the joint military exercise currently under way and to postpone the visit to Athens of the Head of the Israeli Air Force General Staff, which was to take place tomorrow.

We will monitor all developments very closely and we will inform the public – Greek citizens – of all developments, and of course regarding the issue of the safety of the Greek citizens. Thank you very much."

" really does have to marvel at the incredible own goal the Israelis have just scored..."

Abu' sort of laments and adds:

"...If something does go wrong, meanwhile, I am going to have a response ready. I am going to have my very best spokespersons on international and Israeli television. I am most certainly not going to let people like Danny Ayalon provide my government's response, right? Because a live wire like Ayalon -- who the Turks already hate, with an understandable passion -- will just say something incredibly crazy like how the people in the aid flotilla were terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda....

In reality, what happened today is the Israelis got their butts handed to them. The Israeli response to this aid flotilla was a fabulous gift to Hamas and Iran. (Try to imagine, if you will, the Israelis trying to go before the U.N. Security Council to gather support for sanctions on the Iranian regime right now. They would be more likely to leave New York with sanctions on their own regime!)

...... as a student of low-intensity conflict and information operations, one really does have to marvel at the incredible own goal the Israelis have just scored. The fact that Hamas and its allies didn't even have to do a thing to earn it is what I find to be most remarkable. Not that they care what I think, but the Israelis should not be talking about the people on the aid flotilla right now. They should be examining themselves and their response and asking how they hell they fumbled this so badly."

Danny Ayalon: "...people in the aid flotilla were terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda..."

'Savage-State's' Official Line:

DEPUTY FM AYALON: Good morning, everyone. I want to report this morning that the armada of hate and violence in support of the Hamas terror organization was a premeditated and outrageous provocation. The organizers are well-known for their ties to Global Jihad, Al-Qaeda and Hamas. They have a history of arms smuggling and deadly terror. On board the ship we found weapons that were prepared in advance and used against our forces. The organizers' intent was violent, their method was violent,...... The maritime blockade on Gaza is very legal and justified by the terror that Hamas is applying in Gaza. ...... Thank you very much.

Dubai Police Chief….. Praises Nasrallah and Resistance Axis tactics

"... On May 31, Dubai Police Chief Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim said in interview with Al-Quds al-Arabi: “In their conflict with Israel, the Arabs should adopt the same method as Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. If they stay in their land and strike Israel with rockets, the latter will lose. I thus advise all the Arab states to manufacture and develop their missiles in order to acquire power and force the other side to respect them and their rights. I believe it is odd that strong states in the region are unable to manufacture rockets while Hamas and the Jihad are doing that locally.
“I do not know Hassan Nasrallah in person and I am in no way connected to him. However, he made everyone respect him, including his enemies. He won the battle on the ground during the July war and was able to defeat Israel and its soldiers in thirty days.”

Former US paratrooper & diplomat had joined Gaza flotilla

A retired U.S. diplomat, Edward L. Peck, was among 11 Americans who had joined the flotilla of activist ships that were forcibly diverted Monday from Gaza, where they were planning to unload humanitarian supplies and demonstrate their ability to break the years-long Israeli blockade on the impoverished Palestinian territory.
Peck is an interesting and controversial character. A former Army paratrooper, he was in the Foreign Service for three decades, serving in a number of posts in the Arab world, including as chief of mission in Baghdad under the Carter administration. In the Reagan years, he worked on terrorism issues in the White House. He has sinced emerged as an outspoken critic of U.S. and Israeli policies the Middle East. (Here's the transcript of a 2006 interview he gave with Democracy Now, the left-wing radio show, in which he describes certain actions by the United States and Israel as fitting the defintion of terrorism.)
In an interview on CNN in October 2001, Peck warned that invading Iraq would be a mistake. "But when you take out Saddam Hussein," he said, "the key question you have to ask then is, what happens after that? And we don't have a clue. Nobody knows, but it's probably going to be bad."
Peck also supposedly inspired President Obama's former preacher, Jeremiah Wright, to say "the chickens are coming home to roost" after the September 11, 2001, attacks. He was also highly critical of the U.S. handling of the 2006 Lebanon War, accusing the Bush administration of deliberately extending the fighting.
Although there are reports that Israeli toops fired shots at the ship Peck was on, the Sfendoni, I'm told he is OK and headed home to New York (all of the casualties seem to have taken place on the Marmara, much larger vessel). Peck was among four other Americans representing the Free Palestine Movement, an activist group from California.

... Suddenly, Turkey is the "Muslim nation" ...

... Not the NATO member, the EU applicant or the rising power of Eurasia ... Now Turks are simply known as "Muslims"...

Netanyahu cancels Washington trip

"Netanyahu decided to cut short his visit to Canada and return to Israel early," a statement from the Israeli government said, reported by Reuters.

Israel's savages kill at least 16 peaceful Gaza aid carriers

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Hizbullah will only disarm in response to pressure emanating from its own constituency..."

...flagged by mideastwire, this story in FP's/ MEChannel/ here
" ..... While Hizbullah's military arsenal remains a thorn in American-Lebanese relations, talk about forced disarmament is futile. If the Lebanese army forced Hizbullah to disarm, it would lead to its disintegration and to another Lebanese civil war. Alternatively, if the Israelis moved in to disarm Hizbullah, it would result in heavy human casualties on all sides and have disastrous consequences for Lebanon and the region. These types of military interventions are not the answer.

The answer to Hizbullah's successful disarmament is in an intra-Lebanese process of political dialogue. The international community is responsible for creating the political, security and economic incentives and atmosphere in Lebanon and in the region that help promote and support disarmament. It is time to reframe the debate about Hizbullah's weapons by focusing on their Lebanese consumer -- not on their Iranian supplier.

While Iran remains Hizbullah's main arms supplier, young Lebanese Shi'a are its foot soldiers. Hizbullah is first and foremost a Lebanese party and its immediate political goals are Lebanon-centric. ...... The majority of Lebanese, Shi'a and non-Shi'a alike, disagree with the U.S. government's classification of Hizbullah as a terrorist organization.... They credit Hizbullah with the liberation of southern Lebanon from Israeli occupation in 2000, and for defending them against Israeli tanks and warplanes in 2006. Consequently, Hizbullah has been able to successfully create a narrative that they've resisted Israel's military (a high-priority issue for Hizbullah) to meet their constituents' need for physical security, political and economic empowerment (a high-priority issue for Lebanon's Shi'a). As a result, Hizbullah will only disarm in response to pressure emanating from this constituency. Lebanon's Shi'a, in turn, will demand the party's disarmament only if they regard an open-ended military resistance to Israel as detrimental to their physical, political and economic interests and if Lebanon's army can defend them.

How, then, to bring Lebanon's Shi'a to these conclusions? (more/ here)

Saad Hariri in Damascus, Monday ...

I believe it's more of an 'Act of Good Faith', after his trip to Washington ... Though can say, without any doubts that less 'banalities' will be traded in Damascus.

(Yawn...) Israel stations nuclear missile subs off Iran

Not really a news item .... From the Psy-Ops expertise of the London Times/ here

The first has been sent in response to Israeli fears that ballistic missiles developed by Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, a political and military organisation in Lebanon, could hit sites in Israel, including air bases and missile launchers.

The submarines of Flotilla 7 have visited the Gulf before. But the decision has now been taken to ensure a permanent presence of at least one of the vessels.....

The deployment is designed to act as a deterrent, gather intelligence and potentially to land Mossad agents. “We’re a solid base for collecting sensitive information, as we can stay for a long time in one place,” said a flotilla officer..."

"A Lebanese-Israeli success story ..."

Lebanon and Israel flags
For Your Entertainment! A shameless letter from Israel: Don't you love the term, Lebanese-Israeli? Like Arab-American? Eurasian? Ad nauseum Haaretz/ here
My name is Therese Abou-Mrad. I am a student of Political Science and Public Policy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I live in Kiryat Shmona and my mother tongue is Arabic. I have been in the State of Israel now for ten years; on the day that marks the withdrawal from Lebanon, it is possible to congratulate me, or to note my bad luck, because my father was a member of the South Lebanon Army.......

My father was the former spokesman of the SLA, the governor and commander of a sector in south Lebanon. I grew up in a home that imbued me with the values of loving my homeland and defending my home, those values according to which my father acted in the South Lebanon Army. At the age of 10, I was torn away from my home, from the family and way of life I had known. I had to go to a new country and build a new life in a new society.

I chose to be a regular Israeli citizen. I finished my studies at the Danziger high school in Kiryat Shmona in the year following the Second Lebanon War. In its wake, I decided to do national service in my town. After making a contribution to the country, I went on to study political science at the Hebrew University as part of the program for outstanding students "Atidim - cadets for the public service."

Today, when I am already 21 years old, I refuse to say to the State of Israel: "you owe me something," or "you owe my father something." I have a great deal of criticism about the way in which the withdrawal was carried out by the Israel Defense Forces and the attitude toward the SLA members; there was a betrayal. But at the end of the day, I believe with all my heart that a person is responsible for his future. I chose to overcome the crisis I experienced at such a young age and to continue to grow after that. I have not given up my Lebanese identity for even one moment; I believe fully in the justice of the way my father chose and the decisions he made; but at the same time, I am not prepared to accuse the State of Israel for everything that has not been successful in my life.

During my first years here, I suffered from racism, because children can be very cruel. But when I explained to my friends in junior high why I spoke Arabic, they understood (thank God for their 'understanding')....

Nevertheless, it bothers me, as an Israeli-Lebanese youngster, to hear stories in the media that present only the painful angle and ignore the successes. It bothers me to see such melodramatic and one-sided reports that try to play on the viewers' emotions so as to win a little more rating.

There is no doubt that it is important to relate that even today the SLA members do not live happily and peacefully. I grew up without a family since, except for my parents and brothers, everyone remained in Marjayoun. But it is also important to present the success stories of those who adapted to their new life. Moreover, my father and his colleagues fought for their aims, in order to defend their homes; it annoys me to hear former SLA members, as well as Israelis, claim that the SLA was set up in order to defend Israel. The SLA is my father's past, my past, and what made me what I am today..."

"Overtures to Iran foundered amid conflicting US government interpretations & determinations of the complicity of the IRGC in the Khobar attack... "

Newly declassified documents obtained by the National Security Archive revisit President Bill Clinton's 1999 overture to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, and his response to Clinton.

Clinton's overture, delivered via the Omanis by then Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Martin Indyk and the NSC Senior Director for Near East and South Asia Bruce Riedel, ultimately foundered amid conflicting internal U.S. government interpretations and determinations of the complicity of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps in the 1996 Khobar Towers U.S. Marine barracks bombing, and limited U.S. government understanding of internal Iranian power dynamics.

The exchange shows the familiar difficulties for an American president in at once keeping lines of communications open and not having its message to Tehran lost in interpretation, and also the Kremlinology within the U.S. government over interpreting the agency of Iranian actions. It also suggests the internal power struggle apparent in the past year may have emerged far earlier.

As the accompanying analysis by Malcoln Byrne writes, "It is known that both governments at different times in recent years have tried to signal their interest in closer ties. But

either international events or domestic opposition have conspired to scuttle every overture."

A highly confidential U.S. overture to Iran in summer 1999 foundered because the intelligence community and FBI believed members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) had a role in the infamous Khobar Towers bombing of June 1996, and because U.S. officials overestimated the Iranian president’s ability to manage the sensitive matter of U.S. relations within Iran’s power structure, according to newly declassified documents.

The new documents, including President Bill Clinton’s message to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and Tehran’s response, highlight the complexities facing current U.S. policy-makers in their ongoing approaches to the Islamic Republic, particularly the challenge of balancing closer ties to Tehran with concerns over allegations of past support for terrorist groups. Those concerns led the Clinton administration – notwithstanding the president’s personal interest in a rapprochement with Tehran – to order updated contingency plans for military strikes against Iranian targets. ...

According to Clinton administration officials, (Note 2) the absence of solid proof that could withstand legal scrutiny and U.S. public opinion led the president to opt not to retaliate directly against Iran (although he did order CENTCOM to revise its strike options, telling his advisers, “I don’t want any pissant half-measures”). ...

As a kind of compromise, the Clinton administration chose instead to send a letter to Khatami that indicated Washington now had direct evidence of IRGC involvement in the Khobar attacks, insisted that Tehran bring to justice those responsible (either in Iran or Saudi Arabia), and sought Khatami’s help in ending Iranian support for terrorism. Yet, the message also stated that the United States wanted to work toward better relations with Iran and noted the attack had not occurred on Khatami’s watch but before his election. ....

One interesting aspect of the Khobar case is that Iran’s possible motives for such a brazen assault on U.S. interests were unclear to many observers at the time. ....

But the surprising eruption of political discord within Iran’s ruling circles since the presidential elections of June 2009, prompted in part by the Revolutionary Guards’ rise as a leading power-broker, add to the likelihood that divisions among the elite were already underway in the 1990s, in the wake of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s death in 1989. It even raises the question whether it is possible that elements of the IRGC, or perhaps from another branch of the regime such as the Ministry of Information, might have taken it on themselves to participate in a dramatic attack against an American military target – in fact, the most serious of its kind since the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut of October 1983. ....

But the American side appears to have miscalculated Khatami’s ability to take over the reins of this process on his own, without having to take account of the views of other key Iranian leaders. ...

It is also interesting that the Iranian response, like the American message, includes language that seems, in retrospect at least, to leave the door open for future approaches. Phrases such as “no hostile intentions towards Americans,” “respect for the great American people,” and “vigorously pursue the policy of détente” .... It is also important to note that the IRGC did not commit another attack like Khobar in the wake of the Clinton letter, which suggests that the message got through that Washington would retaliate the next time. ....

Saturday, May 29, 2010

This Memorial Day ... in Palestine...

A more belligerent Obama would not make the Tehran regime collapse ...

Zakaria/ here

".... The critics are angry, for example, that Obama did not make the Green Revolution triumph in Iran. But the Iranian regime is both repressive and resourceful, using guns and money to keep itself in power. It also has some significant support among the poor, the old, and those in rural areas. This is not a regime like North Korea's that survives solely on its brutality. Nor is it isolated like Pyongyang. Brazil and Turkey are hardly alone in their overtures to Iran. The 118 countries that make up the nonaligned bloc routinely pass resolutions supporting Tehran in the battle over its nuclear program. A more belligerent speech by Obama would not have made the Tehran regime collapse.

His conservative opponents believe that Obama needs to get tougher, to push around these other countries and show them that America means business. There's just one problem: that policy has been tried extensively and failed miserably. The administration of George W. Bush consciously defined its foreign policy as tough and aggressive. "It is better to be feared than loved," Dick Cheney used to say, quoting Machiavelli. Donald Rumsfeld chose a less upmarket source, often citing Al Capone's line: "You will get further with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word."

Have we forgotten the results of this experiment in foreign policy as machismo? America's oldest allies in Europe turned against the United States. Governments publicly criticized Washington on policy after policy and refused to support its efforts. By 2007, large majorities of people in country after country, even historically pro-American places like Britain, had turned against America.

Turkey, as it happens, proved a case study of how not to handle an ally. The Bush administration treated the country with the usual mixture of high-handedness and arrogance, threatening it with dire consequences if it would not allow U.S. troops to attack Iraq from Turkey. Seemingly unaware that Turkey had become a flourishing democracy, and that 95 percent of the Turkish public opposed a war with Iraq, the Bush administration was totally blindsided when the Turkish Parliament voted no, upending U.S. war plans.

There is a broader trend that Obama's critics have completely missed. Countries like Turkey and Brazil (and China and India) have been growing in economic power over the last two decades. In 1995 the emerging-market countries made up about a third of the global economy. This year they will make up half—and rising. They weathered the economic crisis far better than the Western world. They are politically stable, rich, and increasingly confident, determined to play a larger role on the world stage. Under these circumstances, the idea that Obama just needs to throw America's weight around more is foolish and dangerous. Brazil and Turkey will not become more cooperative if Washington threatens them more. America's task is to find ways to partner with and convince the emerging powers of the world that they have an interest in a more stable and decent world. And Al Capone is not much of a model for how to make that happen."

EU's calls for immediate end to Gaza embargo

AFP/ here

"EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Friday called for an immediate end to Israel's Gaza blockade, as an aid flotilla prepared to set sail for the enclave despite the embargo.

"The continued policy of closure is unacceptable and politically counterproductive,..... We would like to reiterate the EU's call for an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza."

The multi-national aid flotilla organised by the Free Gaza Movement, which Israel has vowed to halt, is due to sail for Gaza on Saturday in defiance of the embargo...."

"...Not all American Jewish groups & lawmakers are on the same page ..."

The Cable/ here

"... Most are uncomfortable with President Obama's policy of placing pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and want to make sure that the administration's efforts to bring the two parties to the negotiating table doesn't come at the expense of the U.S.-Israel alliance.

Other Jewish lawmakers openly support pressuring Netanyahu, and take a stance that diverges from the Israeli government's approach to key issues. One of them is Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, who is circulating a letter supporting the proximity talks around the Senate this week,obtained by The Cable.

The letter, addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, hasn't been sent and is still open for signatures. But a couple of its lines are already raising eyebrows in Senate offices on both sides of the aisle.

"We strongly believe that a permanent peace agreement ... can only be achieved with the United States bringing the parties together and driving them to a settlement," the letter states (emphasis added). Later on, it argues, "While the Israeli Government has announced a moratorium on settlement activity, for too long the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem undermined confidence."......

Netanyahu is certain to be irked by the letter's language......

Whether or not the U.S. should "drive" the two parties to make peace is another point of contention. The Palestinians see the proximity talks as a great way to keep the Obama administration actively involved, while the Israeli government and its supporters feel that although the U.S. has an important role to play, the Obama administration shouldn't be pushing Netanyahu to do things he doesn't want, or isn't able, to do.

"It's unclear what more Senator Feinstein wants to push Israel to do," said one GOP Senate aide. "At what point do we really want to force democracies to do things their people don't support?" (he is funny that GOP aide... He is really funny!)