Thursday, September 30, 2010

"..Six in ten Pakistanis believe suicide attacks are 'justified' against the US military

"...Nearly nine out every ten people in FATA oppose the U.S. military pursuing al-Qaeda and the Taliban in their region. Nearly 70 percent of FATA residents instead want the Pakistani military alone to fight Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in the tribal areas.
The intensity of opposition to the American military is high. While only one in ten of FATA residents think suicide attacks are often or sometimes justified against the Pakistani military and police, almost six in ten believe these attacks are justified against the U.S. military. (The United Nations has determined that many of the suicide attackers in Afghanistan hail from the Pakistani tribal regions.)1
More than three-quarters of FATA residents oppose American drone strikes. Indeed, only 16 percent think these strikes accurately target militants; 48 percent think they largely kill civilians and another 33 percent feel they kill both civilians and militants. Directed by the Central Intelligence Agency, missiles are launched from unmanned drone aircraft in the FATA region of Pakistan. President Obama has dramatically ramped up the drone program, authorizing 122 so far during his administration, more than double the number authorized by President George W. Bush during his entire eight-years in office.2 This may help account for why Obama is viewed unfavorably by 83 percent of FATA residents in our poll.
A plurality of FATA residents consider the United States to be the party most responsible for the violence that is occurring in their region today. Nearly 80 percent of the people in FATA also oppose the U.S.-led “war on terror,” and believe its real purpose is to weaken and divide the Islamic world, while ensuring American domination. Only 10 percent thought the U.S. was motivated to defeat Al-Qaeda and its allies. Similarly, three-quarters of FATA residents thought that the continuing American occupation of Afghanistan was because of its larger war on Islam or part of an effort to secure oil and minerals in the region. 11 percent said it was because of the 9/11 attacks, and just 5 percent to prevent the Taliban from returning to power...."

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose "

Walt in FP:
"...yesterday the Jerusalem Post reported that the Obama administration has offered Israel a generous package of new benefits if it will just extend the settlement freeze for another two months. The source for the report was David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a key organization in the Israel lobby. Makovsky is also a co-author with Obama Middle East advisor Dennis Ross, so presumably he has accurate knowledge about this latest initiative, which is said to take the form of a personal letter from Obama to Netanyahu.
Assuming this report is true, it marks a new low in U.S. Middle East diplomacy. Just consider the message that Obama's team is sending the Netanyahu government. Netanyahu has been giving Obama the finger ever since the Cairo speech in June 2009, but instead of being punished for it, he's getting rewarded for being so difficult. So why should any rational person expect Bibi's position to change if this is what happens when he digs in his heels?
Although failure to achieve a two-state solution is ultimately much more of a problem for Israel than for the United States, we have been reduced to begging them and bribing to stop building settlements -- please ... please ... pretty please? ... and then only for a mere 60 days.  
Not only is the United States acting in a remarkably craven fashion, it's just plain stupid. How will this latest bribe change anything for the better? What do we think will have changed in two months? Remember that there isn't even a genuine freeze right now, only a slowdown, which means that a deal will be just a little bit harder in two months than it is today. Does Obama think his bargaining position will be stronger after the midterm elections? And if construction resumes, what then? 
Back when direct talks were announced, I said they wouldn't go anywhere, and I've made it clear in the past that I think this situation is a brewing tragedy for all concerned. And then I said I hoped the Obama administration would prove me wrong. Looks like there's little danger of that, alas.
P.S. Haaretz has reported that Netanyahu is not inclined to accept the administration's offer, which leaves us right where we started....
UPDATE:  Ha'aretz now reports that the White House is denying that any letter was sent outlining the conditions originally identified by Makovsky, thought it does not say that the information was not conveyed in some other way.   If the entire report is bogus then new puzzles arise:  where did Makovsky get these ideas?  Was it a trial balloon?  An attempt to make policy via leaks?  An attempt to show that Netanyahu was being really stubborn?  I have no idea, but unless the whole thing was just a hallucination on Makovsky's part (and that's hard to believe), then it reinforces the idea that the Obama Middle East team is improvising wildly and/or not on the same page...."

"Hezbollah killed Hariri, .. and we will face them!"

According Al Akhbar, these are the words of a non-civilian Official, close to Saad Hariri ... Armageddon by any other name!

«حزب الله هو من اغتال الرئيس رفيق الحريري». هذا هو الاقتناع الذي بات مُعلناً عند فريق الرئيس سعد الحريري، «والتحقيق الدولي يملك أدلّة على ذلك»، يقول مرجع أمني لصيق برئيس الحكومة سعد الحريري. يضيف المرجع شارحاً وفق تسلسل زمني: «في عام 2006، وقبل حرب تمّوز، توصّل فرع المعلومات في قوى الأمن الداخلي إلى معطيات وأدلّة على تورّط أفراد من حزب الله في عمليّة التنفيذ. فزار العقيد وسام الحسن رئيس الحكومة سعد الحريري وأبلغه بالمعطيات، ثم طلب الحريري من السيّد حسن نصر الله موعداً للحسن، الذي زاره سريعاً، وأبلغه بهذه المعطيات التي لم يوافق عليها نصر الله، لكن لم يقدم نفياً لها. ثم حصلت ثلاث جلسات مع مسؤولين أمنيين في الحزب لمناقشة هذه الأدلّة».
 رئيس فرع المعلومات وسام الحسن (أرشيف)
يستفيض المرجع الأمني في شرح ما حصل بين فريق الحريري وحزب الله من مراسلات ولقاءات، أو بين قوى الأمن الداخلي (ضمناً فرع المعلومات) وحزب الله، التي يُمكن تلخيصها بعبارة بسيطة: «طرحنا مخرجاً على حزب الله حينها، هو أن يقول الحزب إنه مستعدّ لمحاكمة أي عنصر من أفراده توجد أدلّة تدين تورّطه باغتيال الحريري، وهو تماماً مثل خريطة الطريق التي قدّمها وزير الخارجيّة السوري وليد المعلّم الذي ردّد مرات عدّة أن سوريا ستحاكم أي مواطن سوري يُثبت تورّطه بعمليّة الاغتيال بتهمة الخيانة العظمى. وقد طرحنا على الحزب إخفاء هؤلاء الأشخاص أو تصفيتهم وإدانتهم معنوياً، وبذلك لا يصل التحقيق إلى أعلى من دائرة التنفيذ، لكن فوجئنا يوم أقفل السيّد نصر الله الباب وقال إنه مسؤول عن أي عمل يقوم به أي عنصر من عناصر حزب الله، وكأن جسم الحزب غير مخترَق، ونحن نعرف تماماً أنه اختُرق وأعطيناه الأدلة على ذلك، وجرت تصفية المسؤولين الثلاثة في الحزب الذين أبلغنا الحزب عن تعاملهم مع إسرائيل». 
وعند نقاش هذا المرجع، بأن حزب الله يرى اتهامه إعلان حرب، فإنه يردّ بأن «الحزب هو ما أكّد الاتهام بتصرفّات السياسيّة». ويوضح «أن كلّ النقاش الذي يدور حول شهود الزور، والذي يُحاول أن يوحي أن هذه قضيّة كبيرة، تشويه للحقائق، فهذه قضيّة صغيرة. كأنهم يُريدون إقناعنا بأن أشرف ريفي ووسام الحسن وسعيد ميرزا ومروان حمادة اغتالوا رفيق الحريري بغطاء من سعد الحريري أو الشيخ سعد قتل والده، أو أن رفيق الحريري انتحر».يدخل المرجع من هذه النقطة إلى ما نُشر في صحيفة «الشرق الأوسط» عن شهود الزور، مشيراً إلى أن حزب الله «لم يعرف كيف يتعامل مع هذه القضيّة، وأرادوا من اليوم الثاني أن يخلع سعد الحريري ثيابه». لكن الرجل يُقرّ بطريقة غير مباشرة بأن هذه المقابلة كانت مرتّبة من السعوديّة، وعند القول له إن الزميل ثائر عباس لم يزر مقرّ الحريري في الوسط التجاري قبل المقابلة، فإنه يضحك، لكنّه لا ينفي.
ويشرح المرجع الأمني أن موقف الحريري كان له وقعه السلبي على جمهوره. يقول إن «جمهور سعد الحريري لم يتقبّل الخطوة، وأنا أقول إنه لو تخلّى سعد الحريري عن دم والده، فإن الناس لن يتخلّوا».
يقول المرجع إن لديه معطيات عن أن حزب الله وحلفاءه ينوون التحرّك في الشارع بعد انتهاء زيارة الرئيس الإيراني أحمدي نجاد لبيروت التي يُفترض أن تكون في 13 من الشهر الحالي وتستمرّ ليوميْن. ويعتقد هذا المرجع أن حزب الله «سيُحاول السيطرة على أغلب البلد، ويُمكنني أن أجزم بأن لا أحد سيواجه حزب الله»، وأن أجهزة الدولة ستحمي المناطق التي يُمكنها أن تحميها. لكن المواطنين لن يُواجهوا الحزب في الشوارع، لكن ربما ستُقفل في وجهه الأزقة في عدّة أماكن، من دون أن يكون ذلك نتيجة قرارٍ سياسي، بل لأن الشحن المذهبي في أعلى مستوياته والشباب سيحمون أحياءهم بالسلاح الفردي، مثلما منعت جمعيّة المشاريع الخيريّة حزب الله لمدّة ست ساعات من دخول مركزها».
لكنّ المرجع يضيف شارحاً خطوات وتقديرات بأن «هناك مناطق ستكون مقفلة، مثل شمال لبنان، لكونه يُمثّل ثقلاً وخزّاناً للسُّنة في لبنان». ويلفت إلى أن قرار عدم المواجهة في الشارع «ينطبق على «القوات اللبنانيّة» التي سيلتزم رئيس هيئتها التنفيذيّة سمير جعجع خيار الدولة، وبالتالي فهو لن يلجأ إلى السلاح». علماً بأن المرجع الأمني المطّلع على أوضاع 14 آذار السياسية وغير السياسية تحدث عن «أن «القوّات» تملك قدرةً على الحراك، وعلى فرض سيطرتها بقوّة السلاح في أماكن عدّة. لكنّه يؤكّد أنه ستكون هناك خطوط حُمر يُدافع عنها حتى آخر عسكري مثل السرايا الحكومية ومقرّ قيادة قوى الأمن الداخلي».
وفي عودة من المرجع إلى خطوات يتوقع أن يقدم عليها حزب الله، يرى «أن أي هجوم على الرموز الأمنيّة والقضائيّة، سيُحوّل هؤلاء الأشخاص إلى أبطال وسط جمهورهم، كما يحصل مع اللواء أشرف ريفي في طرابلس وبيروت». ويشير المرجع إلى «أن رفع لافتات التأييد لريفي في الشوارع مشابه للاستفزاز الذي تعرّض له هذا الجمهور يوم حُمي العميد وفيق شقير بقوّة السلاح». ويضيف أن الحزب «يُمكنه السيطرة على البلد، لكنّه لا يُمكنه أن يحكم، ويُمكنه إسقاط الحكومة، لكنّه لا يستطيع أن يُؤلف حكومة، لأنه لا لبناني من الطائفة السنية يجرؤ على تولّي رئاستها».
وعند الإشارة إلى زيارة الوزير محمّد الصفدي للعماد ميشال عون، يرد المرجع بحزم: «المواطنون سيحرقون منزله إذا قبل تأليف حكومة أو أقدم على خطوة كهذه». ويوضح المرجع «نظريته» قائلاً: «في عام 2005، كان هناك فراغ سياسي شغله فريق 14 آذار، لأن الطبيعة ترفض الفراغ. أما اليوم، فلا وجود لفراغ حتى يُبحث عمّن يملأه، وبالتالي فإن الانقلاب السياسي غير ممكن».
ويختم المرجع الأمني اللصيق برئيس الحكومة قائلاً: «لم يعد لدى سعد الحريري ما يتنازل عنه، ولا شيء سيمنع المحكمة الدوليّة من إكمال عملها، وسيصدر قرار المدعي العام الظني في فترة رأس السنة، قبلها بقليل أو بعدها بقليل»، قبل أن يستدرك قائلاً: «هذا ما أتوقّعه، وليس لدي معلومات حاسمة عن هذا الأمر».

"The reply to the letter that was not sent? Israel asked for 'written commitments' ...

" Eli Bardenstein of Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv, from Monday Sept. 27, 2010, as translated by Israel News Today:
"...A moment before the end of the moratorium and the resumption of construction in the territories, Defense Minister Ehud Barak cobbled together, in conjunction with the US administration, a package of compromises that was geared to keep Israel and the Palestinians at the negotiating table.
Barak is going to try to persuade Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to accept that compromise so as to prevent the Palestinians from derailing the direct talks. Israeli political sources said that Netanyahu has not yet decided whether to accept that package of compromises. That said, the sources underscored that Netanyahu would ask to have the American package presented to the broadest forum of cabinet ministers for approval, "in order to confer legitimacy on the package of decisions," said the political source.
Barak returned yesterday afternoon from a week-long visit to Washington and New York. Throughout the entire course of his visit Barak spoke on the telephone with Netanyahu and kept him apprised of the various developments. Chief Israeli negotiator Attorney Yitzhak Molcho was on the line on a regular basis as well. the US administration made feverish efforts in recent days to find a creative solution to the issue of an extended construction moratorium in Judea and Samaria, which has threatened to derail talks. During his stay in Washington Barak met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Dennis Ross and special US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell. Barak also met with PA Chairman Abu Mazen and spoke on the telephone with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. It should be noted that Barak's political activity was conducted with a great deal of coordination with the Prime Minister's Bureau.
Sources close to the negotiations said that the American package includes a compromise for both parties on the issue of a construction freeze in exchange for a written American commitment to support the parties on other issues that are important to them in later stages of the negotiations. The sources said that in exchange for a compromise on the issue of extending the moratorium, Israel apparently demanded a written American commitment to support its demands on a number of issues, such as recognition of Israel as the Jewish people's nation-state and security strategies that pertain to defending the eastern border of the Palestinian state. The Palestinians demanded, apparently, American commitments on the issues of borders and Jerusalem, in exchange for their concession regarding the discontinuance of the complete construction moratorium. ..."
Rosen adds: 
"... This tracks fairly closely with much of what the Washington Institute's David Makovsky reported Wednesday on a draft letter from the U.S. administration to Netanyahu detailing such a package and including various pledges and assurances. And indeed, an administration official, reacting to the Makovsky piece Wednesday, even brought my attention to the existence of the Maariv article, which I hadn't seen, saying something to effect of -- many of the details in the Makovsky piece had appeared in Maariv two days before...  Interestingly, the White House did not offer a denial when queried about the Makovsky piece on Wednesday evening, instead saying, "as we've said repeatedly, we are not going to comment on any private correspondence." That's not a confirmation, but it's not a denial either.)Makovsky is off for a three-day Jewish holiday and not available to respond until Saturday night..."

"... Hariri knows how to do that ...he knows the 'cogs' within the tribunal..."

"..."Lebanese parties, with Prime Minister Hariri at their head, can use their contacts to prevent an unjust accusation being levelled against Hezbollah," Sheikh Naim Qassem said in an interview with the LBC television channel. "He knows how to do that... he has influence, he has regional and international ties and knows the 'cogs' within the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. He can make the necessary efforts to ensure any accusation is not unjust," he said...
"We say to Prime Minister Hariri that he follow the necessary contacts so that the truth becomes known... he can tell Saudi Arabia to intervene," Qassem said.
Tensions over the tribunal have grown steadily in recent weeks, raising fears of sectarian violence and the collapse of the national unity government in which Hezbollah has two ministers...."

White House: "WINEP was lying about 'letter' to Netanyahu!"

Of course, Ross (Makovsky's link and leaker, if leak occured) has not missed a chance to undermine the President, and put a good light on the the Israelis ... President Obama needs to do a lot of firing ... a lot! 
Laura Rosen had it all wrong when she said: "It's plausible to presume that Makovsky's revealing of Obama's written proposal might have been given a nod by elements of the administration in order to publicize the offer Netanyahu has to date turned down -- and thus to encourage him to accept the U.S. offer for a compromise that could allow recently relaunched Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to proceed..."
"...An article published on Wednesday on the website for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy by David Makovsky, a researcher with ties to Dennis Ross, Barack Obama's chief advisor on the Middle East, reported that Obama had written a letter Netanyahu in which Obama offered to support the presence of Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the Jordan Valley even after the establishment of a Palestinian state, if Israel would agree to a two month settlement building freeze.  
Netanyahu was reportedly inclined to reject the offer...."

Abdullah Gul: "Iran must be more transparent on nuclear program"

Turkey's President Abdullah Gul: Iran must be more transparent on nuclear program -

"Assad outlasted Bush & outwitted Obama"

"... One could almost hear a collective gasp across the Middle East when Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri made a most astonishing statement earlier this month. After vehemently accusing Syria of orchestrating his father's murder in 2005, after leading a revolt that pushed Syrian troops out of Lebanon on the strength of that accusation, after galvanizing what seemed an unstoppable political movement on the power of those charges, Hariri said it had all been just one big mistake.
The reversal marked the passing of a short-lived era in Lebanese history and of Western influence in Lebanon, .... an ominous loss for moderate forces in the region, especially in Lebanon, and the disheartening evanescence of America's ability to play a meaningful role in shaping events.
When U.S. envoy George Mitchell traveled to Beirut a few weeks ago to secure Lebanese participation in Mideast peace talks, his hosts flatly rejected the request. Arab observers attributed the snub to the Lebanese government's outright fear of Hezbollah. It was a startling turn of events.
More than five years ago, following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Lebanon became the epicenter of a power struggle between East and West, between allies of Iran and backers of the United States.... Hariri, the once-inspiring heir to his martyred father, is now running scared. A fragile Lebanon stands on a knife's edge.... , and Washington's influence is now a barely audible echo of its earlier thunder.
Just as the success of the Cedar Revolution was not all the Bush administration's doing, the loss of Lebanon did not result in its entirety from the Obama administration's actions. But there is little question that policy shifts in Washington changed the regional realities to the point where Saad Hariri now feels he has no choice but to side with Syria (Iraq? Afghanistan? the economy? Frida? ) ....
One major change brought about by the Obama administration was the diplomatic unfreezing of Syria.... Assad outlasted Bush and outwitted Obama....
As the West, led by the Obama administration, has warmed to an unreformed Assad and downgraded its support of Lebanon's moderates, Hariri has gradually toned down his antagonism to Syria. His first visit to Syria came in 2009, and since then he has become a frequent caller in Damascus, each time leaving a little more of Lebanon's independence at Bashar's feet.
When the U.N. tribunal was first set up, Hariri was its vocal champion, and the Lebanese government backed it completely. Since then, the investigation has stumbled along, spending years and millions of dollars looking into the assassination. Its scores of well-paid staffers, who live comfortably in the Netherlands, proceed unimpressively with their search for the killers of Hariri and 20 others who died in the massive explosion five years ago. The panel, incidentally, also has jurisdiction to investigate the many assassinations that followed Hariri's, if they find that they are connected. No indictments have been brought so far.
Nasrallah, who in recent months has launched an intense campaign to discredit the investigation, now says the Israelis killed Hariri and calls the tribunal "an Israeli project,"...more ominously, Nasrallah has warned that if the Lebanese government accepts the verdict, with an expected indictment of Hezbollah agents, "It will be a hundred times worse than in May 2008."....
The threat of violence is so real that Walid Jumblatt, .... told the French foreign minister a few days ago that "truth and justice are important, but the country's stability is even more important."
In other words, do not antagonize Hezbollah -- and its backers in Syria and Iran.
A few days ago, the pro-Syrian Christian politician Suleiman Franjieh said, if Hezbollah members are indicted, "there will be war in Lebanon." It looks as if Hezbollah, Iran's long tentacle inside Lebanon, has now thoroughly succeeded in bullying Lebanon. As for Washington, it barely looks like a player anymore...."

"Elliott Abrams? worse than disingenuous. Dishonest!"

The problem with Abrams' op-ed is in his sourcing. He writes:
The World Bank reported this month that "If the Palestinian Authority (PA) maintains its current performance in institution-building and delivery of public services, it is well-positioned for the establishment of a state at any point in the near future." The West Bank's economy will grow 8% this year, said the bank. Meanwhile, tax revenues are 15% above target and 50% higher than in the same period last year.
Good news, right? Absolutely. But Abrams left out one of the other major findings of the report (.pdf) -- the one that undermines his entire op-ed:
Sustainable economic growth in the West Bank and Gaza, however, remains absent. Significant changes in the policy environment are still required for increased private investment particularly in the productive sectors, enabling the PA to significantly reduce its dependence on donor aid. 
h. The obstacles facing private investment in the West Bank are manifold and myriad, as many important GoI restrictions remain in place: (a) access to the majority of the territory’s land and water (Area C) is severely curtailed; (b) East Jerusalem -- a lucrative market -- is beyond reach; (c) the ability of investors to enter into Israel and the West Bank is unpredictable; and (d) many raw materials critical to the productive sectors are classified by the GoI as “dual-use” (civilian and military) and their import entails the navigation of complex procedures, generating delays and significantly increasing costs. ... Unless action is taken in the near future to address the remaining obstacles to private sector development and sustainable growth, the PA will remain donor dependent and its institutions, no matter how robust, will not be able to underpin a viable state.
The point of the whole friggin' World Bank report was that the very real economic gains we have witnessed in the West Bank over the past few years will turn out to be ephemeral if they are not followed by a political settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Abrams continues:
Regarding security, cooperation between Israeli and PA forces has never been better. This month the International Crisis Group acknowledged that "In the past few years, the Palestinian Authority (PA) largely has restored order and a sense of personal safety in the West Bank, something unthinkable during the second intifada. Militias no longer roam streets, uniformed security forces are back, Palestinians seem mostly pleased; even Israel -- with reason to be skeptical and despite recent attacks on West Bank settlers -- is encouraged."
Again, nothing wrong with that paragraph, and you can read that report as well. But again, Abrams doesn't mention a key finding ofthat report:
The undeniable success of the reform agenda has been built in part on popular fatigue and despair – the sense that the situation had so deteriorated that Palestinians are prepared to swallow quite a bit for the sake of stability, including deepened security cooperation with their foe. Yet, as the situation normalises over time, they could show less indulgence. Should Israeli-Palestinian negotiations collapse – and, with them, any remaining hope for an agreement – Palestinian security forces might find it difficult to keep up their existing posture. ... Without a credible Israeli-Palestinian peace process or their own genuine reconciliation process, Palestinians will be stuck in their long and tenuous attempt to square the circle: to build a state while still under occupation; to deepen cooperation with the occupier in the security realm even as they seek to confront it elsewhere; and to reach an understanding with their historic foe even as they prove unable to reach an understanding among themselves.
The Crisis Group report that Abrams cites, like the World Bank report, only supports the thesis of Abrams' op-ed if you very selectively cut and paste from the reports. Otherwise, the reports he cites actually undermine the central argument of his op-ed. (And it goes without saying that Abrams did not similarly endorse this Crisis Group report. Or cite the 2009 address by Keith Dayton to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (.pdf) in which Dayton similarly warned that security gains in the West Bank were ephemeral absent political progress.)
Abrams has to know this. I mean, even assuming Abrams did not himself read the entire Crisis Group report, that bit above was from the executive summary....
I have heard from many people I admire and trust that Abrams is one of the most brilliant people in Washington. But this is the kind of stuff that gives think tank researchers a bad name. I simply cannot believe that Abrams was not aware of the conclusions of the reports he cites when he cited them. Not mentioning those conclusions in his op-ed, then, is worse than disingenuous....

"Welch & Abrams meet Siniora ... "The Dishonorablly Dishonest & Disingenious Club!" 
The point of this post is that unlike most readers of the Wall Street Journal, those paid to study security issues in the Middle East for a living (and are thus familiar with the sources Abrams cites) know when an author is selectively sourcing his argument and deliberately avoiding evidence or conclusions that might weaken his thesis. Again, this is worse than disingenuous. This is dishonest."

'Two more days' in order to get 'Sixty more days' in order to get ....... skewered!

"...The meeting of the League's committee on the peace process had been scheduled for Monday Oct 4 but one Arab League source said it was now postponed until Wednesday Oct 6. That would give Mitchell a precious two days more to try to bridge the negotiating gap. ... An Arab League member nation diplomat tells me that while there has been some talk of postponement, he's not aware of any final decision on this...."

Karzai brother & the Kabul Bank

"...Sources told Al Jazeera that Farnood made loans worth $90m to his airline Pamir Air and $70m to natural gas operations of Hasseen Fahim, the brother of Afghanistan's first vice-president Mohammad Qasim Fahim. Those figures are in addition to the $160m spent on properties in Dubai, the sources said ..."

I was the reporter who broke the story of how the Israeli government was selling the pilfered Pollard material to the Eastern Bloc in return for increased emigration of Jews

Our friend Richard, author of Clinton’s Secret Wars                                                      
The recurring pressure from Israel to repatriate convicted spy Jonathan Pollard is clearly an expression of common sense if Israel wants to recruit any other agents in place. The KGB was always conscientious in extracting its snared spies by one means or another. 
If anything smacks of impudence it’s the current Israeli pressure when contrasted with the stormy ocean of pious Israeli government denials when the case first broke. 
My own view is that Pollard should never be released. 
I was the reporter who broke the story of how the Israeli government was selling the pilfered Pollard material to the Eastern Bloc in return for increased emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union. 
I don’t recall the exact date of my story but I believe it was 1987.  My sources were senior U.S. serving counterintelligence (CI3) officials.  According to them, the Israel-Soviet deal on emigration was made on Cyprus in 1981 and was the brilliantly cunning idea of top Israeli defense official Ariel Sharon.  (CI3 officials also told me at that time that Mossad was “full of Soviet moles.”) 
The recruitment of Pollard was not an aberration – he became an operative of Israel as early as 1981 when he was working for the U.S. Navy’s Field Operations Intelligence Office. Israel was targeting certain oil fields in southern Russia and Pollard’s task was to gather information on the targeting. 
In any case, although Sharon appears to be the initial villain, high level Israeli officials including Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Shamir and others knew of Pollard’s existence. Shamir, for example, was very active in peddling the Pollard data to the Soviets. 
At the time of his arrest, the Justice Department alleged that Pollard had provided Israel with 1,800 documents or 100,000 pages. The damage Pollard inflicted on U.S. security was enormous.  Senior DOD officials told me that Pollard stole from the Navy's Sixth Fleet Ocean Surveillance Information Facility
(FOSIF) in Rota, Spain, the daily report, a top-secret document filed every morning at 0800 Zulu time (Greenwich Mean Time) that contained NSA data on events in the Middle East and North Africa during the previous 24 hours. NASA and Navy Intelligence shared the site. 
The U.S. Navy’s obsessive focus was on Soviet ballistic missile submarines cruising the Mediterranean whose weapons were aimed at the United States; ships which had to be quickly destroyed in the event of war. 
Pollard gave the Israelis the Rota reports for a year, also providing them with the  National SIGINT Requirements List, a day-to-day compendium, listed by priority, of NSA collection units around the world that would have included things such as alerts to U.S. bases in a region before an insertion by U.S. Special Forces or a forthcoming bombing mission. 
Pollard also plundered the Defense Intelligence Agency's Community On-Line Intelligence System, which was one of the government's first computerized information-retrieval-network systems, called  DIAL-COINS, that contained all the intelligence reports filed by Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine attaches in Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa. 
Pollard also stole a huge 10-volume manual called Radio Signals Notations or RAISIN, lauded as the bible of signals intelligence that lists how the United States collects signals around the world. This outlined the sites, frequencies, and significant features of Israeli communication spied on by the United States including the U-2 “Senior Stretch” flights from Cyprus, the RC-135 electronic warfare flights, the joint CIA/NSA listening post in the U.S. Embassy in Israel, along with all the known communications links used by the Soviet Union. All of these were compromised by Pollard. 
The Pollard thefts had sinister consequences. U.S. agents in the Eastern Bloc or the Soviet Union were rolled up and America’s ability to collect technical intelligence on Soviet designs was shut down or crippled, leaving us blind. 
At the time I broke my stories, I did not know former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, now deceased.  However, friends eventually put us together and I talked with him informally over 30 times about what Sy Hersh, myself and others had written about Pollard.  Weinberger could not calmly discuss Pollard but hardened into furious rage each time. 
Sy Hersh and I became friends over the story. He had a book coming out about Israel and after I talked about the moles in Mossad, he called me at UPI and began by saying, “Thanks for screwing up my book,” chiding me for ruining one of the book’s exclusives.  The book had plenty more of them, and Sy remains for me a gigantic figure in journalism for his integrity and toughness. 
To conclude, Pollard should sit where he is until we can, with grace, send his body to Israel for burial.
I was on the JCS damage assesment board for this matter.  Richard Sale is altogether correct in his account of how greatly Pollard and the Israelis hurt us.   Ehud Barak was Director of General Staff intelligence during the Pollard operation.  While Pollard stabbed the United States in the back, Barak was smiling and smiling in his best "hale fellow well met" manner in dealing with DIA.  pl

Turning a Blind Eye to Egypt

"...The Middle East peace process and America’s security relationship with Egypt will continue to drive short-term policy considerations. But an investment in human rights and democracy is critical to the long-term welfare of the Egyptian people, to the region’s stability, and to the United States. It will define what type of ally Egypt will be for America for future generations.
Since President Obama’s Cairo speech, his administration has been disturbingly quiet in word and deed about the Egyptian government’s repression of democracy...."

Aboul Gheit: "Lieberman's views do not represent Israel, but mine do represent Egypt & Palestine.."

"... Gheit added that "despite the international efforts, I am not optimistic." He added that the Palestinians would not be able to remain in the peace talks after Israel's decision not to extend the moratorium...."

Mossad targeting Dubai's police chief ...

"...In an interview published on Thursday, Tamim told United Arab Emirates government-owned daily al-Ittihad he believed Mossad was behind two threats he had received, one in an e-mail and the other in a phone call to one of his relatives.
He said Dubai police had managed to track the email's source, but gave no more details. The e-mail said: "Protect your back if you are going to keep your tongue loose."
In the phone call, his relative was told to pass on a message for Tamim "to remain silent". The paper said the call was made by a "dual nationality Westerner, who was later confirmed to be a retired Mossad agent." ..."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Syria: "The Hariri Tribunal cannot lead but to War!"

كلام المعلم إعلان سوري للحرب على المحكمة (أرشيف)
The WSJ & Al Akhbar.

سمع حزب الله سؤالاً سعودياً ومصرياً مشتركاً: ماذا سيحصل بعد القرار الظني؟ 
 ـــــ توافرت لدى دمشق، كما لدى حزب الله، معلومات كافية عن إخفاق المسعى السعودي لتأجيل طويل الأمد للقرار الظني، ترافق مع إشارات التقطها الطرفان من أكثر من مصدر، وجّهت الاهتمام من سبل معالجة القرار الظني والحؤول دون إصداره إلى استكشاف مرحلة ما بعد صدوره. كان المظهران الأبرز في ذلك ما سمعه في 22 أيلول مسؤول العلاقات العربية في الحزب الشيخ حسن عز الدين من السفير السعودي علي عواض عسيري، ثم ما سمعه أيضاً بعد يومين، في 24 أيلول، من القنصل العام في السفارة المصرية أحمد حلمي، وتمحور حول السؤال الآتي: ماذا سيحصل بعد صدور القرار الظني؟

عَكَسَ السؤال ما يشبه اليقين بأن القرار سيتهم أعضاءً في حزب الله باغتيال الحريري الأب، ومحاولة استطلاع ردّ فعل الحزب حياله. تزامن ذلك أيضاً مع مواقف أميركية وأخرى مصرية تمسّكت بدعم المحكمة الدولية وإحقاق العدالة. ضاعفت ردود الفعل هذه خيار دمشق وضع المواجهة مع المحكمة على نار حامية.
 ـــــ يبدو الرئيس السوري أكثر اطمئناناً إلى اقتراب العراق من تذليل العراقيل أمام تأليف حكومة نوري المالكي التي تحظى بدعمه وإيران، وتحفظ له السيطرة على الحصة السنّية فيها. ويتحدّث بعض المعلومات عن أن الزيارة المرتقبة للأسد لطهران مطلع الأسبوع المقبل، ترمي إلى وضع اللمسات الأخيرة على تأليف الحكومة العراقية الجديدة، بعدما نجح الرئيس السوري في استيعاب تناقضات التنافس بين المالكي وإياد علاوي، الأمر الذي سيتيح له الالتفات إلى الداخل اللبناني للمضي في معركة المواجهة مع المحكمة الدولية.
والواقع أن دمشق باتت الآن أكثر استعداداً للتمييز بين موقفها القائل بوقوفها على مسافة واحدة من الأفرقاء اللبنانيين في نزاعاتهم على الملفات الداخلية وإدارة شؤون الحكم، وبين تصرّفها على أنها فريق مستهدف في المواضيع الاستراتيجية كالتهديد الذي تمثله لها ولحليفها القويّ حزب الله المحكمة الدولية. لن تقف عندئذ على الحياد، ولن تتردّد في خوض المواجهة. كان كلام المعلم إنذاراً أول إلى استدارة مختلفة حيال السباق المحموم بين مَن ينتظر القرار الظني، ومَن يريد الحؤول دون إصداره.

المعلم: المحكمة والقرار الظني ضدان لا يقودان إلى الاستقرار بل إلى الحرب

 ـــــ طابق كلام الوزير السوري ما قاله النائب سليمان فرنجية الأسبوع الماضي بعد يومين من مقابلته الأسد، وما كان قد قاله جنبلاط أيضاً غداة زيارته الرئيس السوري في 4 آب. كلا الزعيمين، الماروني والدرزي، بمفردات مختلفة لرسالة واحدة مباشرة، خشيا من قرار ظني يقود إلى حرب أو إلى فتنة. بالتأكيد لم يلقَ كلام المعلم ردّ فعل مشابهاً من الحريري أو من تيّار المستقبل. ومن المرجح أن لا أحد يتوقع من رئيس الحكومة رداً على الوزير السوري، الذي حمل في موقفه رسالة واضحة من الأسد إلى أن سوريا أصبحت ـــــ أو تكاد ـــــ في قلب المواجهة الجديدة.
يشير ذلك إلى امتحان صعب سيواجهه الحريري: لا يسعه رفض الموقف السوري الجديد من نعت المحكمة بالمسيّسة والتوجس من عنف سيسببه القرار الظني، كي لا يتهم بخروجه عن الالتزامات التي قطعها للأسد بعد المصالحة مع سوريا بإرساء علاقات مميّزة بين البلدين وحماية المقاومة. ولا يسعه أيضاً الموافقة على كلام المعلم الذي يؤول إلى إرباك الحريري أمام تيّاره وقاعدته الشعبية وحلفائه. إذ لا يعدو اتخاذه موقفاً مناهضاً للقرار الظني قبل صدوره، على غرار ما قاله حزب الله وجنبلاط وفرنجية وقالته سوريا، إلا إعلان خروجه من المحكمة.
6 ـــــ يضع موقف وزير الخارجية السوري المعادلة التي أطلقها رئيس الحكومة وتيّار المستقبل، وهي التشبّث بالمحكمة والاستقرار في آن واحد، أمام المأزق. شأن حزب الله، أورد المعلم معادلة معاكسة، بل مناقضة تماماً لتيّار المستقبل: المحكمة والقرار الظني ضدان لا يقودان إلى الاستقرار، بل إلى الحرب. كان حزب الله قد أرسل الإشارة الأبلغ إلى هذه المعادلة في 18 أيلول، لدى تبنيه في المطار استقبالاً شعبياً للمدير العام السابق للأمن العام اللواء الركن جميل السيّد، اختلط فيه الأمن بالسياسة. بيد أن هذا التحرّك حصل بالتنسيق المسبق بين الحزب والأجهزة الأمنية المعنية في المطار.
فحوى هذه الرسالة أنها انبثقت أولاً من قرار مدروس ومتعمّد اتخذ على أرفع مستوى في قيادة حزب الله، وأنها قرنت التحرّك الأمني بالموقف السياسي كي يقول الحزب إنهما توأمه، عندما يكون في مواجهة تحد يعرّض المقاومة وسلاحها لتهديد مباشر على نحو ما حدث في 5 أيار 2008. لم يُصغَ حينذاك إلى إشارات طابقت بين الأمن والسياسة، بمقدار ما رمى الاعتصام في وسط بيروت إلى إظهار وجه آخر لموقف سياسي رافض.

Justice & politics in the Melhis Report

David Khairallah, Professor of International Law at Georgetown University, lectured at the GU's CCAS, back in January 2006'.This piece goes to the heart of the judicial politicking plaguing Lebanon today, and threatening a ...conflagration.
"Syrian hegemonic control in the post Taef period has generated deep popular resentment among Lebanese of practically all sects and segments of society. The fact that they entered the country to put an end to the blood shed and the civil war which plagued Lebanon for over fifteen years; that they have helped reunite and rebuild the army, and that for many years they were perceived as elements of stability by American and Lebanese officials, all that has given way in the collective Lebanese memory to the transgressions committed by the symbols of the Syrian hegemony in Lebanon. . 
The Hariri assassination has caused an angry uproar and created opportunities for many parties, inside and outside Lebanon, to seek concessions from, or settle scores with the Syrian regime.
In Lebanon, the majority within the Christian communities, especially among the popular leadership, already held a strong resentment to the Syrian presence. The death of Mr. Hariri, and the assassination attempt on Druze member of parliament Marwan Hamadeh before him, have alienated Sunna and Druze and turned their leadership, former partners and apologists for the Syrian presence, into the most vociferous enemies of the Syrian regime
Certain leaders and a powerful media have effectively translated resentment of the Syrian hegemony into Syrian responsibility for Mr. Hariri’s murder.  Mr. Jumblat, the Druze leader, accuses the Syrian leadership of being behind the murder of Mr. Hariri and all political assassinations that followed, and calls for the overthrow of the Syrian regime even if it takes direct American intervention. 
The leadership of Al-Mustaqbal, Mr. Hariri’s group, which controls the largest representation of the Sunna and some Christian representatives in parliament, are allies of Mr. Jumblat and have joined forces with the US in flagging the Hariri’s assassination to increase pressure on the Syrian regime. The magic expression that connotes Syrian guilt is a call to “unconditional compliance with the international investigation committee”.
 The Shia, represented overwhelmingly by Hizbullah and the Amal Movement, along with some secular nationalist parties and traditional leadership such as Suleiman Franjieh and Omar Karami in the north of Lebanon and others, make a clear distinction between the need to diligently and professionally pursue an investigation to find and punish the guilty party, and the acting against the Syrian regime based on unsubstantiated accusations. 
General Aoun, the most popular Christian leader, as has been demonstrated by the last parliamentary elections (and next, in 2009'), and who has the most consistent stand against the Syrian presence in Lebanon, has withheld accusation of the Syrians pending the conclusion of the investigation. 
Responsibility for Mr. Hariri’s murder, the wave of assassinations that followed, and the collapse of the security system are all pinned, at least by some very vocal leaders and a dominant media, on the Syrians notwithstanding their withdrawal from Lebanon. 
Justification for most pronouncements or advocated actions against the Syrians is increasingly linked to declarations, verbal or written, emanating from the Investigation Commission established by the UN Security Council. 
One can easily observe that all political interests and objectives, internal and external, have been cloaked with an irresistible desire to see justice prevail and that the guilty party pay for his crime; hence the importance of the role of the international investigation Commission. 
It is objectionable that leaders achieve political objectives through deceitful means, though history is replete with such occurrences; but it is infinitely more offensive when justice, through deviant legal processes, is used as a vehicle to achieve such objectives. 
Seeking true justice is the only probable justification for the intervention of the UN Security Counsel in the investigation of a political murder totally within the internal jurisdiction of a member country. This is a precedent in the operations of the institution established for the sole purpose of maintaining international peace and security. 
The question I propose to focus on for the remainder of my talk is: To what extent has the international Commission tried to immunize its work against political contamination by adhering to professional legal processes and safeguards that would guarantee the integrity of the investigation?  
Let us consider the legal framework that should guide the Commission’s work. S C Res. 1595 established  “an international independent Commission based in Lebanon to help the Lebanese authorities in their investigation of all aspects of this terrorist act..”.  Section 6 of this Resolution “Directs the Commission to determine procedures for carrying out its investigation, taking into account the Lebanese law and judicial procedures”. 
A memorandum of understanding, in implementation of Res. 1595 was subsequently concluded on June 13, 2005 between the UN and the Lebanese Government. It provides for the full cooperation of the Government with the Commission “within the framework of the Lebanese sovereignty and its legal system”. 
And, that as part of this cooperation the criminal division of the Lebanese Supreme Court will, inter alia, “advise the Commission on the appropriate procedures for the collection of evidence in accordance with the Lebanese law.” 
Several points made in the memorandum deserve particular attention. In general the “Commission will make request for all witnesses and or persons of relevance to the investigation to be summoned …through the competent Lebanese authorities”. However the Commission has the discretion of interviewing witnesses without the intervention of the Lebanese authorities”. 
While the Commission may, during the investigation and “when it finds it suitable, provide the Lebanese investigating magistrate a copy of the “evidences that are collected” , it has the discretion of denying the Lebanese investigating magistrate access to judicial evidence that it has collected during the investigation until the end of its work. 
Let us keep in mind that only the Lebanese judicial authorities, particularly the investigating magistrate, have the right of incarcerating suspects. Under existing arrangements, however, they may have to order arrest and incarceration without being fully aware of the evidence justifying such incarceration. 
This seems to be the position taken by the Lebanese judiciary because SC Res. 1595 “calls upon the Lebanese Government to ensure that findings and conclusions of the commission’s investigation are taken into account fully”. 
This is at least part of the legal framework that should govern the Commission’s work. Let us review the work of the Commission thus far and see to what extent it reflects professionalism and adherence to applicable norms in criminal investigation. 
I will leave aside the leakage to foreign and Lebanese media attributed to members of the Commission and to the different versions of its first report that found their way to the public. 
Even if one could assume good faith on the part of the Commission in this regard, one can’t attribute to its members, especially Mr. Mehlis, a high degree of professional competence. 
Due to time limitation, I will focus only on the content of the first of its two reports presented to the UN Security Council. The report of the Commission is void from legal value except probably as evidence of an act of obstruction of justice on the part of the Commission.
First, the content of its report violates the fundamental principle of confidentiality that governs criminal investigations in all developed legal systems. It certainly violates Article 53 of the binding Lebanese code of criminal procedure which states:
“The investigation should remain confidential unless the case is referred to the trial court through an indictment verdict”.
Has anyone heard of a district attorney or a special prosecutor make public the testimony of witnesses he has heard, or evidence he has collected and other he is pursuing before the end of his investigation? This is the content of the Commission’s report. 
Some have said, in defense of the Commission, that its report fulfills a requirement of the resolution establishing it. SC Res. 1595 “requests the Commission to report to the Council on the conclusions of its investigation and requests the Secretary General to update orally the Security Council on the progress of the Commission every two months during the operations of the Commission or more frequently if needed.” 
In its report, however, the Commission stated that the investigation is far from being complete. It requested and was given additional time to complete its investigation. So one can hardly talk about the conclusions (and almost 6 years in counting!) of an investigation in progress. 
Nor can one reasonably conclude that the Security Council meant for the Commission to commit what is known as an obstruction of justice. For any participant in the crime under the ongoing investigation who is still at large would benefit from every detail revealed in the Commission’s report to take measures that would mislead the investigation and remain out of the Commission’s reach.
One wanders in what ways the details revealed in the Commission’s report could possibly be helpful to the investigation. How much less embarrassing it would have been to Mr. Mehlis and members of his Commission if the testimonies of two principal witnesses were not made public in his report and the leakage that preceded it, when later it became known that their testimony was false and could not be relied on. 
On substantive grounds, the Commission’s report has adopted serious conclusions not substantiated or justified by the findings revealed in the report. The report clearly states that the Commission’s findings do not enable it “to establish firm ground for a potential trial of any accused individual”.
In fact many of the witness testimonies it lays out in detail in the report would most likely be rejected in a trial as hearsay testimonies. And the two most important witnesses, according to the report, turned out to be unreliable as previously mentioned. 
Furthermore, any one who would look in the report for any evidence in the form of confessions, fingerprints, DNA, or any reliable evidence that could corroborate witness testimonies would find none. Nevertheless, the report reveals that the Commission has reached a conclusion implicating involvement of the Syrian and Lebanese security officials to a point of saying that “it would be difficult to envisage a scenario whereby such a complex assassination plot could have been carried out without their knowledge”.     
One would hope the Commission has in its possession evidence that would justify its conclusion. The content of its report, however, does not justify such assertion. Besides, what conclusion should we draw from this statement? Could we ignore the high likelihood that the investigator has already decided to exclude any scenario, proof or evidence that other parties may be behind such heinous crime and consequently stopped looking in any other direction? 
The Commission admits that its report does not amount to an indictment verdict that could be introduced before a trial court. Such court would not be able to determine guilt based on information and evidence revealed in the report. 
This does not mean, however, that the report could not be a very useful tool to achieve political objectives. Mr. Mehlis’ report, it seems, has brought to the attention of the controllers of the world legitimacy such a threat to world peace and security as to justify resolutions by the UN Security Council under chapter VII of the UN Charter. 
No wonder the International Investigation Commission’s reports have received such a lavish praise from certain politicians, Lebanese and non- Lebanese, but were so totally neglected by qualified jurists." 

"I said 'not enough'!"

"...President Barack Obama has written a letter to Netanyahu offering "a string of assurances to Israel in return for a two-month moratorium extension," a prominent Washington Middle East expert has revealed.
"U.S. officials indicate that the document makes commitments on issues ranging from current peace and security matters to future weapons deliveries in the event that peace-related security arrangements are reached," the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's David Makovsky writes in a paper published on the think tank's website Wednesday evening that was shared in advance with POLITICO. ..... It could be presumed that Makovsky's revealing of the Obama written proposal to Netanyahu might have been authorized by the White House in order to encourage Netanyahu to accept the U.S. offer for a compromise that could allow recently relaunched Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to proceed. It also suggests that Ehud Barak, who Makovsky describes as closely consulting with the administration on the draft letter, thinks Netanyahu should accept the Obama proposal....
"According to senior U.S. officials, the administration's efforts culminated in a draft letter negotiated with Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak and chief Israeli peace negotiator Yitzhak Molcho, and ultimately sent from President Obama's desk to Netanyahu," Makovsky writes. 
The letter "guarantees that Washington will not ask for a moratorium extension beyond sixty days," Makovsky writes. "Rather, the future of settlements is to be settled at the table as part of territorial negotiations.
"Second, the letter promises that the United States will veto any UN Security Council initiative -- Arab or otherwise -- relating to Arab-Israeli peace during the agreed one-year negotiating period," he continues. "Third, Washington pledged to accept the legitimacy of existing Israeli security needs and not seek to redefine them." ..."

'Bibi understood and really appreciated how much we put together [in] this package ... but felt it just wasn't enough,'

"Dennis said, 'Bibi understood and really appreciated how much we put together [in] this package ... but felt it just wasn't enough,'" the lawmaker said, adding that the U.S. and Israel "are still talking."  
Ross told the lawmakers that the United States and the Palestinians understood the "political necessity" for Netanyahu to honor his pledge not to extend a 10 month partial West Bank settlement freeze that expired last weekend, the lawmaker said. "Just as the United States and Israel understand the political necessity for [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas of honoring his pledge to secure a meaningful or significant settlement construction halt," he continued.  By not taking quick action after the settlement freeze expired with no deal, Abbas "demonstrated Palestinian understanding" of Netanyahu's political position, the lawmaker said Ross conveyed....
The White House briefers "also talked about the conversations the U.S. is having with the Palestinians and the Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia to try to find a way to allow a compromise to be reached on the subject of settlement expansion in order to allow negotiations to continue," the lawmaker said....
Not specific to the message conveyed in the briefing, one Washington Middle East expert emphasized "that the main point is that the U.S. is waiting for an answer from Bibi, and it is not looking good right now."..."

Israeli Official: ""The photos show that his was another example of an unnecessary provocation that has nothing to do with helping the people of Gaza ..."

'Letter' from Iran's Jalili

"...POLITICO has learned that Ashton received a letter from Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in late July/early August. But only one paragraph in what was described as a very long letter from Jalili dealt with the nuclear issue, a senior diplomat said Tuesday. 
Ashton responded to the paragraph in that letter in a communication back to Jalili to reiterate the desire of the international P5+1 group to resume talks with Iran about its nuclear program, the diplomat said. But as yet, she has not received a phone call from Jalili to schedule such a meeting.
Also on Wednesday, Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will announce the designation of more entities that will be subject to Iran sanctions. Their joint announcement will take place at the State Department at 12:35 PM. ..."

".. We will not let Hariri go to waste .........."

Who the hell translates for AnNahar? It's not like a 2 days old chiken curry or a 6 days milk carton ...I guess some of Jeff Feltman's 'monies' did go to waste!
"...Hariri: We Won't Let Rafik Hariri's Blood Go Waste
Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday warned that Lebanon will "not let the blood of Premier Rafik Hariri go waste."
Hariri, during Mustaqbal Movement's politburo meeting, underlined the importance of "ensuring internal stability and rallying behind Constitutional institutions in order to spare the Lebanese the atmosphere of chaos and out of respect for Arab's keenness on Lebanon's stability," his office said in a statement.
Hariri also stressed that the relationship with Damascus is a "priority" because it serves the interests of both Lebanon and Syria...
"And most of all, we will not let the blood of martyr Premier Rafik Hariri go waste.
"This would be by patience and steadfastness. ..."

'Kidnap' Ahmadinejad at the Fatima Gate ...

"...Three weeks from now, Netanyahu will have a one-time opportunity to stop the new Hitler and thwart the incitement to genocide. Ahmadinejad will pay his first visit to Lebanon and devote an entire day to a tour of the southern part of that country. He will visit sites where Hezbollah waged battles against Israel and, according to one report, he will also pop over to Fatima Gate, just beyond the border fence at Metula. The route is known, the range is close and it is possible to send a detail across the border to seize the president of Iran and bring him to trial in Israel as an inciter to genocide and Holocaust denier. ..."

Peace talks collapse? So what?

Elliott Abrams is content that despite being duped, the Palestinians of Abbas & Fayyad are 'good boys' ... Heel!
"... The sky is not falling. Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations were suspended on Sunday, perhaps briefly and perhaps for months, after Israel's 10-month moratorium on settlement construction expired. Palestinian officials said they would refuse to talk if construction restarted, and so they did. Yet war hasn't broken out, nor will it.
Terrorism exploded after the Camp David talks broke down in 2000 because the Palestinians' leader at the time, Yasser Arafat, supported it. Fortunately, those days are gone. As current Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told Jewish leaders in New York last week, violence "has to be dealt out of the equation ......"

"..Lieberman is showing that Netanyahu's Peace talk is 'all crap'..."

"... Israel showed the international community on Tuesday that the country is ruled by a circus, not a responsible government with a policy. There is no chance for a permanent settlement for a generation, Lieberman said, and it is necessary to "exchange" populated areas and adjust the state to its correct size. Or, in less diplomatic English, the Arab citizens of Israel must be expelled to the Palestinian side of the border.
During the past few weeks, Netanyahu invested a great deal of effort in trying to convince the leaders of the world that he is serious about peace with the Palestinians. He asked them to ignore the resumption of settlement construction, and convinced Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not to quit the negotiations.
Now comes Lieberman, Israel's most senior diplomat, and tells all those leaders that it's all crap, that Netanyahu is faking. Even worse: the foreign minister is implying that Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state is merely cover for the expulsion of Arab citizens. A speech by the foreign minister of a country that is given before the United Nations is supposed to reflect the official policy of the government, not just the private views of the chairman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party.
Netanyahu heard the speech and behaved like a weakling. He should have rid the Foreign Ministry of Lieberman a long time ago because of the damage he has caused to Israel's international standing. Netanyahu got the chance Tuesday; Lieberman challenged him and made him out to be a liar, in front of the whole world.
Lieberman was asking to be fired, and what did Netanyahu do? He issued a statement to the press saying he hadn't been shown the speech in advance but failing to criticize its content or style. As such, Netanyahu has suggested that ministers can say whatever they want, and that he does not oppose Lieberman's position...."

Settlers heavily overrepresented among IDF commanders

"...The company commanders living in settlements and serving in the infantry arm of the military also outnumber company commanders living in kibbutzim and moshavim. The record-holder among settlements for numbers of commanders is Eli, in Samaria, where the first pre-military religious academy was established.
Commanders from the settlements are heavily represented in the Golani brigades, where 20 percent of company commanders live over the Green Line; only 11 percent come from kibbutzim and moshavim...."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"What Abbas has essentially done is bought some time to find a way out of this cul-de-sac in which everyone now is stuck... "

"Dennis Ross, ... will brief Jewish members of the Senate Wednesday morning.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) invited members of the informal Jewish caucus to attend the briefing, at the administration's request..... Ross was said by Washington Middle East hands to have been heavily involved in negotiations with the Israelis late last week to try to get some sort of deal to avert the freeze expiration.....
Some Middle East observers and diplomats have suggested the Arab League is likely to endorse Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas staying in the talks if some compromise can be found. "What [Abbas] has essentially done is bought some time to find a way out of this cul-de-sac in which everyone now is stuck," former deputy Quartet envoy Robert Danin said in a useful explainer interview with the Council on Foreign Relations. "If they can't find a way out of it, then the talks will likely collapse."

Have the Syrians not heard it all before? Imad Mustafa ... Again ...

A comprehensive bull deal, ... A village here, ... An umbrella there, and the Syrians are supposed to bite again? Return the Golan? No! Then this is boring recycled ballooney...
"On September 27, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conferred with her Syrian counterpart Walid Mouallem on the sidelines of a UN meeting in New York. And two weeks earlier, U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell met with President Bashar al-Asad in Damascus. This latest flurry of diplomatic activity seems aimed at convincing Syria to abstain from playing a spoiler's role ..... Washington is floating the prospect of a U.S.-led "comprehensive peace" that would include Syria and Lebanon, contingent on Asad constraining Syrian-based Palestinian rejectionist groups.......  the looming prospect of an International Atomic Energy Agency investigation and fallout from the ongoing Hariri assassination tribunal may spur Asad to welcome the notion of becoming a "peace partner."...
Despite -- or perhaps because of -- the heightened tensions, Israel and Syria have many reasons to resume talks (yaaawn..) whether indirect or direct, public or secret. Tactically, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may view such talks as a complementary track to the Palestinian process, circumventing traditional spoilers such as Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Alternatively, he could follow Israel's model from the 1990s, using Syria as a competing track in order to pressure the Palestinians into continuing good-faith negotiations.
For its part, Syria is facing a showdown with the International Atomic Energy Agency ....
Both countries have strategic reasons to return to the table as well. Amid the slow erosion of the March 14 coalition's influence in Lebanon, members of Israel's defense establishment increasingly see a peace treaty with Syria as a way to contain Hizballah's expanding influence in Lebanon. Although the details of this strategy are unknown, the conventional Israeli wisdom is that a treaty would force Syria to end its arms transfers to the group. As for Damascus, the regime is keen to enhance and legitimize its influence in Lebanon, and a peace treaty could facilitate that goal, especially if it stipulated a Syrian role vis-a-vis Hizballah.
Meanwhile, the mediator's role remains in flux. With the decline in Israel-Turkey relations, Washington -- led by Mitchell's coordinator for regional affairs, Frederic Hof -- has stepped into the breach. France is eyeing a potential leadership role as well, recently appointing former ambassador to Syria Jean-Claude Cousseran as its Middle East peace envoy.
Decision Time for Asad?
On September 16, on the heels of Mitchell's latest trip to Damascus, a senior U.S. official told the Christian Science Monitor, "If Hamas succeeds [in scuttling the Palestinian talks], the prospects for eventual Syria-Israel talks are zero." Accordingly, Washington is currently focusing on how Damascus balances its ties with Hamas and Hizballah in order to gauge Asad's intentions.
While Hamas marked the renewed peace process with attacks on Israeli civilians and rocket fire, the official Syrian reaction to the talks has thus far been muted. This weekend, however, Damascus hosted Fatah-Hamas reconciliation talks, after which Hamas leader Khaled Mashal urged President Mahmoud Abbas to walk away from the table following Sunday's expiration of Israel's settlement moratorium. This approach suggests that Damascus has returned to its old strategy of straddling the diplomatic fence on questions of war and peace.
If Abbas continues the negotiations, however, then Damascus may yet be tempted to make different choices. One key test in the coming months will be whether Syria continues to provide sophisticated weaponry and training to Hizballah. Another test concerns the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). Tensions in Lebanon have spiked over an apparent Hizballah effort to topple the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri if he does not end Lebanese participation in the STL, which is widely expected to indict Hizballah members for Rafiq Hariri's assassination. Will Damascus allow the tribunal to proceed or side with Hizballah?(yaaaaaaawn)
Asad's choices on Hamas and Hizballah will take place against the backdrop of the Iranian nuclear issue. The United States hopes that progress between Israel and Syria would further isolate Iran. Asad's calculus has yet to be revealed.(on that note, i go to bed, leaving Tabler & Winep guessing the obvious!)
In an interview appearing in today's Wall Street Journal, Foreign Minister Mouallem downplayed the prospects of renewed talks with Israel and voiced opposition to many of Washington's regional initiatives. Previously, Syria had showed signs of changing tack after a year of making little headway with the Obama administration. For example, during Mitchell's talks in Damascus, the regime excluded Ambassador Imad Mustafa, who had been blamed for past diplomatic miscues and is prone to unhelpful triumphalist comments. Yet Mouallem's comments seem a setback to progress."