Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Battle for Aleppo!

The Syrian Army's recapture of Aleppo is militarily not complicated. The Army knows it and the amalgam of militias fighting it know it to.
However, the Syrian government knows that the recapture (final battle) of Aleppo will be the severest blow to the US/Saudi/Turkish & Co. alliance.
IMO, the government will refrain from this move for the time being, even though it will continue it's recapture of the rest of Syria. Aleppo's final salvo is for another day and another stars realignment.
The government will paralyze the militias-amalgam, but will leave the coup de grace for another day, not too far in the future.
NOTICE, the Syrian Army's steady progress 
NOTICE, the atmospherics in the North with the Kurds & the 'amalgam-militias'. 
NOTICE, Bandar's emergency flight to Moscow.

Vladimir Putin telling Bandar 'what's what' in Syria

#BreakingNews: #Putin meets in Moscow with Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar Bin Sultan

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A new Qatari opposition grouping

'Moza & Tamim: "Let them eat Kentucky Fried Chicken!"
A new Qatari opposition grouping: The first statement from a new Qatafi opposition grouping .  (thanks Andrew)

Death in Egypt, Northern Syria, Iraq & Tunisia ... Hope in Syria!

Death & chaos, here, here, here & here ... Hope, here

Same issues, same faces, same ole', same ole' ...

"... “Unfortunately, we are all very familiar with this process,” the official said. “The optimists will tell you that having old hands back at the table gives us advantage to jump-start talks at where they last left off. The pessimists will tell you that all us old hands means no one will come with anything fresh to shake up a process that has been stalled nearly 20 years.”

When do you know that Palestine is 'free'? When an AIPAC official says so!

"... Kerry told reporters here that Indyk, who served as U.S. ambassador to Israel and as assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs during the Clinton administration, would work closely with the parties to “navigate the path to peace and to avoid its many pitfalls.” 

Erdogan goes ballistic over the Muslim Brotherhood ... again!

"Turkey’s ambassador to Cairo was again summoned by Egypt’s Foreign Ministry on July 30 due to remarks made Turkish officials on the military ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, which Egyptian diplomats describe as a “‘clear intervention’ in their internal affairs.”Ambassador Hüseyin Avni Botsalı was previously summoned in early July, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have repeatedly slammed the military overthrow of elected Egyptian President Morsi,.... Erdogan also slammed the international community ..."

"With pride, I announce my defection from al-Saudi family in Saudi Arabia,”

"... Saudi Prince Khalid Bin Farhan al-Saud has announced his defection from the royal family, referring to his “suffering” under reign of al-Saud and called on other princes to break their silence.“With pride, I announce my defection from al-Saudi family in Saudi Arabia,” he wrote in his statement. “This regime in Saudi Arabia does not stand by God’s rules or even [the country’s] established rules and its policies, decisions and actions are totally based on [the] personal will of its leaders,” he continued..."

Syrian Kurds call to arms against Syria's jihadists

"... QAMISHLI, Syrian Kurdistan,— Syria's main Kurdish militia on Tuesday issued a call to arms to all Kurds to fight jihadists after the assassination of a Kurdish leader, a watchdog said.
"The Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People (YPG) called on all those fit to carry weapons to join their ranks, to protect areas under their control from attacks by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) fighters, Al-Nusra Front and other battalions," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said"

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kurdish intelligence officials killed in Iraq attack

"... The bomber blew up a car in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, near the city of Kirkuk, on Sunday beside a three-vehicle convoy of intelligence forces, the Assayeesh, an interior ministry source said..."

US-Egypt: "Behind the scenes, military-to-military exchanges are intense & civilian aid continues to flow"

'Administration officials concede that events in Egypt are going to take more time than originally thought to restore order and stability. The earlier policy of accommodating the Egyptian military’s removal of the Morsi government is under strain, but the advice to give the generals more time is still dominant. As one official explained to us: “We are being forced to build some sticks into what was hitherto a policy of mostly carrots.” The delay in delivery of four F-16 aircraft is intended to signal to the military that, despite the Administration’s overall support of their actions, they do not have a free hand and must keep to a reasonable timetable to restore civilian rule. Behind the scenes, military-to-military exchanges are intense and civilian aid continues to flow, albeit in controversial legal circumstances. Pentagon officials explain that the aircraft delay should be seen as a “gesture” not as a change in policy.  Whether this will be convincing is a source of rising concern in Washington. “There is a real chance,” one State Department official conceded to us that “we will lose what leverage we have in Cairo.” On a more optimistic note, prospects for some form of meeting on the Middle East peace process will soon take place in Washington. Outside Secretary of State Kerry’s immediate team, it is not easy to find anyone who will do more than note Kerry’s doggedness. On Syria, Kerry’s focus on the downward humanitarian spiral continues to meet firm resistance from the top Pentagon leadership to any suggestion of US military response. Turning to Iran, the forthcoming installation of a new government in Tehran is prompting talk about direct meetings between US and Iranian officials on the lines of advice to the Administration from former senior diplomatic officials. These suggestions are meeting strong condemnation from Washington-based opponents of the regime, but our Administration contacts all suggest that the US will wait to see whether there is any hard evidence of a change of heart in Tehran about the nuclear program before adjusting course. The one area of good news for the Administration appears to be the Korean Peninsular where, as one official described it to us, the US policy of “refusing to be provoked” is stimulating a more conciliatory approach from Pyongyang.'

Friday, July 26, 2013

On Syria, Even the Intelligence Community has backed off from its initial enthusiasm for arming the opposition

MEPGS; Excerpts;
'Of all the Middle East issues with which the Administration is struggling, none is more important than Egypt.  By far, the most populous Arab country and the lynchpin of US policy in the region, it is now, according to a number of current and past US officials, slipping back into the control of the military.  As one Middle East diplomat put it this week, “Only the army can keep Egypt together.”  The Administration seems to realize this as it has shied away from cutting off military assistance despite calls for it to do so from a number of quarters, including, reportedly, the new National Security Advisor, Susan Rice.Rice’s personal view, if accurately reported by those close to her, tends to reinforce President Obama and his top level advisors’ view of US foreign policy in general.  One veteran State Department describes it this way:  “They view policy as tactical backed by a set of values.  They have no strategic view.”  What this amounts to, says this official is “…a tendency towards egalitarianism; a reluctance to embrace special relationships with other countries and above all avoidance of new entanglements.”  In the Middle East, this comes down to avoiding more involvement with the possible exception of Jordan, should that strategically important country come under unsustainable pressure resulting from the civil war in Syria.The best case in point, is, of course, Syria.  Administration officials say there is no better formula for a peaceful resolution than modest political and military engagement by the US.  The splintered opposition, with Islamic extremists proving to be the best fighters makes for low expectations in Washington [Although officials admit that had they acted even six months ago, it would have been much easier to forge a coherent opposition].  Even the Intelligence Community has backed off from its initial enthusiasm for arming the opposition [Although some sources say that only when David Petraeus headed the CIA was the Agency supportive of greater US involvement].  In briefings before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, the scenarios laid out for ultimate success were so expansive as to cause a number of Members of Congress to voice opposition to providing any kind of weapons.  State Department officials, who have been among the first and most vocal advocates of a more robust US role in helping the Syrian opposition, say their “marching orders” from the White House make it clear that there is little appetite for US involvement.  “The White House wants options,” says one well-placed State Department official.  “But they make it clear they want no `dangerous ideas’.”On the ground, while Government forces aided by Hezbollah have seized the initiative [Leading to the decision to move next year’s Presidential elections up from June to March], most analysts see no clear victor in the foreseeable future.  “Syria as a united country is a thing of the past,” says one US official.  Although the opposition, including the Islamists are now often fighting one another, and a rebels rout in Aleppo could possibly be a “game changer” [one Middle East diplomat’s view), the consensus is that neither side can win.  “Ultimately Syria will be controlled in part by the government, in part by the rebels and in part by the Kurds,” says one veteran US official.
Few doubt that in Egypt a central government controlled by the military will emerge triumphant.  Greatly enhancing the military’s position is the economic and political disaster the Moslem Brotherhood [“MB”] and President Morsi proved to be in just 12 months in power.  “We thought only the MB could bring millions into the streets, said one analyst.  But they managed to create genuine popular anger.  At the same time, say US officials [In retrospect], Morsi misjudged the value of the “deal” he made with the military.  “If you don’t have the police, army or money on your side, you have nothing,” is the way one State Department analyst put it last week.And once again the US was caught flatfooted.  “We were outbid by the Gulfis,” notes one US analyst.  Our $1.5 billion in military assistance couldn’t compete with the $12 billion in grants and loans they were willing to put up.  “We were outbid,” says one US official [Saudi Arabia promised nearly half that amount.  One veteran observer noted that their hostility to the MB was matched only by their fondness for the new Egyptian strongman, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, who once served as Egypt’s Defense attaché in Riyadh].  Although the Administration has decided not to label the military’s move a “coup” (which would have necessitated a cut off in aid), few dispute the fact that the military was ever comfortable with democracy and if elections occur next year, as promised, it will be a “tame” civilian government that emerges.A tame government is what could be described as emerging in Iran, as well, say State Department officials.  The new President Hassan Rowhani, despite his Ph.D. from Glasgow University is a charter member of the ruling class of the Islamic Republic.  It is pointed out that he was among the first to call Ayotollah Khomeini “Imam” and has served loyally in a number of posts, most notably, as far as the US is concerned, as chief negotiator on the nuclear issue.  And it is on this issue that US officials, not to mention their Israeli counterparts, see him as being the most effective.  “He is their `Get out of jail free card’.” quipped one State Department official.  Another, eschewing light hearted language said, “The worst case scenario is that Rowhani says the right things and our sanctions policy begins to fray.”  US officials now expect P-5+1 talks with Iran to take place in late August or early September, followed by Rowhani’s likely appearance at the autumn convening of the UN General Assembly.  “If he handles it right, next steps could be confidence building measures,” that for the Iranians could mean a modest easing of economic sanctions.”This would be a “nightmare” scenario for Israel, which, no doubt prompted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to once again call for more strident threats from other countries.  Within Israel, some now believe that Netanyahu, provided he gains the support of his Defense Minister and Army Chief of Staff, is prepared to undertake unilateral military action, perhaps by the end of the year.  The likely target: Natanz, where the most advanced centrifuges are located.  Some observers believe the Israelis are also prepared to send special teams into Fordo, the underground nuclear site, which is impervious to ordinance possessed by the Israeli military...'

Davutoglu still chewing on shoes

"... Some radical groups are still tarnishing the reasonable revolutionary revolts in Syria by killing a religious man or by abduction. In my opinion, these attitudes are a betrayal to Syrian reform and cast a shadow over just demands. Therefore, it is quite wrong to say that Turkey is a supporter of the radical groups in Syria. However, our support for legitimate Syrian opponents still continues.” Davutoğlu said. .."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Congress ties Obama's hands in Syria & Egypt

"...With little argument, the House of Representatives approved measures Wednesday that would prevent the Obama administration from spending money on U.S. military operations in Syria without consulting Congress and would forbid funding U.S. military or paramilitary operations in Egypt.The Measures, part of the House’s $598 billion defense bill, were supposed to be contentious issues exposing bipartisan rifts between interventionists who want to give Obama a free hand in dealing with the civil war in Syria and unrest in Egypt and war-weary lawmakers concerned that U.S. troops will be dragged into more military actions..."

Jabhat al Nusra Emir in Homs, killed by Syrian Army

'The rebels' Der Etentanz, 
as they fire a missile towards the unknown!'

STRATFOR: "One function of the U.S. presence in Benghazi, Libya, was to help facilitate the flow of Libyan arms to Syrian rebels"

"...To date, the United States and EU countries have resisted directly arming the rebels, but covert efforts facilitate the flow of arms from other parties to the rebels have been going on for well over a year now.
One of the functions of the U.S. presence in Benghazi, Libya, was to help facilitate the flow of Libyan arms to Syrian rebels. From the American point of view, sending weapons to Syria not only helps the rebels there, but every SA-7b shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile sent to Syria to be fired at a regime helicopter or MiG fighter is one less missile that can find its way into the hands of militants in the region. Promoting the flow of weapons out of Libya to Syria also makes weapons in Libya much more expensive, and can therefore reduce the ability of local militia groups -- or regional militant groups such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or Boko Haram -- to procure weapons from Libya.
Even though the U.S. and Turkish governments are involved in the process of passing arms from Libya to Syria, it is nonetheless a black arms channel. The Austrian Steyr Aug rifles and Swiss-made hand grenades in rebel hands were purchased by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates through legal channels but then diverted to the Syrian rebels several years later via black market channels. I have not seen any of the documentation pertaining to the Croatian weapons sold to Saudi Arabia and then channeled to the Syrian rebels via Jordan, so it is difficult to judge if they were arms sold legally to the Saudis and then diverted via an illicit gray arms transaction or if the entire transfer was clandestine and hidden in black arms channels.
Obviously, the weapons supplied by the Islamic State of Iraq to Jabhat al-Nusra and other jihadist rebel groups is another case of black arms transfers. But some rebel groups have purchased weapons with cash on the black market in Lebanon and Turkey while other rebel groups have even purchased weapons from corrupt officials in the Syrian regime. Of course, the rebels have also captured some sizable arms depots from the government.... 
 It may be years before the symphony is over in Syria, but rest assured that shortly after its final crescendo, economic forces will work to ensure that the durable and fungible weapons from this theater of war begin to make their way to the next global hotspot."

"Many hope that these incidents will not escalate to a wide-ranging and open war between Riyadh-Syrian Opposition & Iran-Hezbollah

"... According to informed sources, the ruling family in Riyadh is suffering internal divides during this stage, linked to the ongoing conflict between the princes of the second generation, in full view of those of the first generation [sons of King Abdulaziz]. According to these sources, it seems that Prince Bandar bin Sultan is taking advantage of this reality to independently make the decision to implement a security agenda against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Furthermore, the climate of tension within ruling circles and among sheikhs in Saudi Arabia assisted him in this. These circles are experiencing high degrees of sectarian tensions with Hezbollah, and are demanding that the latter be punished for its public involvement in the Syrian regime's war against the opposition.Despite the repeated blows lately suffered by Hezbollah, the battle is still in its infancy, and many hope it will not escalate to a wide-ranging and open war between Riyadh and the Syrian opposition on one end and Hezbollah and Iran on the other...  But if it turns out that the war is an open one, then the situation will grow much more dangerous, not only in Lebanon, but also in the Arab Gulf states adjacent to Hezbollah’s strategic ally, Iran."

"At this time it would run counter to U.S. interests to seek to openly undermine Hezbollah in Lebanon"

"...Given all of the provocations and reprisals, it is in many respects surprising that Lebanon's sectarian infighting has not already boiled over into a civil war. It appears that radical Sunni groups and the FSA are specifically targeting Hezbollah interests and the Lebanese army in order to provoke counterattacks that would discredit the military and spark broader resentment of Hezbollah within the Sunni community. This strategy makes it increasingly difficult for the Lebanese army to intervene when it might be seen as benefiting Hezbollah without risking damage to its veneer of neutrality. It could also make it harder for Hezbollah to maintain political coalition partners. Aware of the costs, Hezbollah has avoided rising to the bait, but if it continues to stand by as its soldiers and supporters are assassinated it could quickly take a toll on the resistance group's morale and internal cohesion at a time when Hezbollah leaders are already asking members to make huge sacrifices by fighting in Syria.
While the United State has taken a clear stance in support of the FSA in Syria, in Lebanon the Obama administration has strongly advocated neutrality. Yet, if Hezbollah's participation in the Syrian civil war begins to clearly tip the balance in favor of the Assad regime, the administration could face pressure to adjust its position and support efforts to minimize Hezbollah's position in Lebanon. But the benefits of increasing anti-Hezbollah sentiment in Lebanon, or in diverting Hezbollah resources and attention away from Syria, would likely be quickly outweighed by the spread of radical jihadism and a descent into civil war. Radical Sunni elements would be strengthened in part because the prospect of fighting Hezbollah -- a Shiite organization aligned with the Islamic Republic of Iran and advocating the establishment of Shiite clerical rule -- is even more attractive to jihadists than fighting the quasi-Shiite, ostensibly secular, Assad regime. Open conflict would likely ensue because an embattled Hezbollah would be forced to use its primary advantage over all other Lebanese groups -- its sizable arsenal -- and doing so would force other Lebanese groups to mobilize for a showdown.
The Obama administration is already torn over how to supply arms to the FSA. If a broader civil conflict broke out in Lebanon, it is doubtful that the United States could commit the type of support required to tip the scales in favor of anti-Hezbollah groups, especially if Salafi jihadists are manning the frontlines. It is also unlikely that either Israel or Iran could sit on the sidelines if such a conflict occurred, and their involvement would both raise the stakes and further complicate matters for the United States. Hence, even though the United States has designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization, and finds itself supporting those battling Hezbollah in Syria, at this time it would run counter to U.S. interests to seek to openly undermine Hezbollah in Lebanon. "

RAND Corp: "Hezbollah is a stabilizing factor in Lebanon"

The Middle East Channel
"... Several stabilizing factors have kept the situation in Lebanon from escalating out of control, one of these being Hezbollah's resistance to being drawn into conflict with other Lebanese. However, recent attacks on Hezbollah interests, coupled with the EU's decision this week to blacklist the organization, are backing Hezbollah into a corner. Feeling its position in Lebanon to be under threat, the organization may change course, and decide to take up the fight against its domestic rivals...." 

Pandering 101

"... Though at the time she was assailed for "malign[ing] the American pro-Israel lobby," she since made her peace with the U.S. Jewish community in a lengthy courtship that included the influential rabbi-to-the-stars Schmuley Boteach, as expertly chronicled by colleague Colum Lynch. Her fortunes have also been unexpectedly buttressed by a range of neoconservatives including Max Boot, former Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sen. John McCain who share her view that the principle of sovereign national borders is not absolute..."

“A government without Hezbollah will never be formed,”

"...In what was essentially a dare to the European Union to sanction the government of Lebanon, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Wednesday that the militant Shiite Muslim organization would demand to be included in any new Lebanese government, despite the EU’s designation earlier this week of Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization.In a televised speech, Nasrallah also mocked the EU’s careful distinction between Hezbollah’s military and political wings, a distinction that Hezbollah itself doesn’t make. Nasrallah leads both components.
“A government without Hezbollah will never be formed,” Nasrallah said. “Just as a joke I propose that our ministers in the next government be from the military wing of Hezbollah.” ..."

US Ambassador Crocker: "My fear is that at the end of the day, Assad might prevail!"

"....This will be a long war. There is little the United States can do to positively influence events in Syria. Our focus must be on preventing further spillover beyond its borders. There may come a point where exhaustion on both sides makes a political solution possible. We are nowhere near that point. And my fear is that at the end of the day, the Assad regime prevails. We must be ready for that too."

Ryan Crocker: "Mikati gloomily predicted a renewed civil war!"

"....Much has been said about a political settlement. The conditions are simply not present. ...So what are the options? First, to recognize that as bad as the situation is, it could be made much worse. A major western military intervention would do that. And lesser steps, such as a no-fly zone, could force the West to greater involvement if they proved unsuccessful in reducing violence. The hard truth is that the fires in Syria will blaze for some time to come. ...
I was in Lebanon recently, where the outgoing prime minister gloomily predicted a renewed civil war of which there are already signs with clashes between Sunnis and Alawites in the northern city of Tripoli, in the northeast and attacks on Hezbollah-controlled areas in Beirut. If the violence spreads, the Palestinians will join forces with the Lebanese Sunnis against the Shia, and that in turn will radicalize Palestinians in Jordan's already fragile monarchy. Both countries need our security and economic support, for the refugee influx and their security forces.
This will be a long war. There is little the United States can do to positively influence events in Syria. Our focus must be on preventing further spillover beyond its borders. There may come a point where exhaustion on both sides makes a political solution possible. We are nowhere near that point. And my fear is that at the end of the day, the Assad regime prevails. We must be ready for that too."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Israeli MI Chief: "Syria is becoming a 'center of global jihad"

"Syria is attracting thousands of global jihadists and Muslim extremists from the region and around the world, posing a threat to Israel, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, director of Military Intelligence, warned Tuesday. According to Kochavi, the extremists' goal is not only to topple Bashar Assad, the embattled Syrian president, but also to realize the vision of a state based on Islamic religious law. "A center of global jihad of vast proportions is developing on our very doorstep," Kochavi said. "It is liable to affect not only Syria or Israeli borders, but also the borders of Lebanon, Jordan and the Sinai Peninsula, and have implications for the region as a whole," he added..."

Hezbollah: The EU's new 'terrorists'

"...Yet inconsistencies plagued the investigation, according to critics, and this year has seen a chain of contradictory statements emerging from Bulgaria over whether or not Hezbollah was actually behind the bombing, with the new government at one point distancing itself from the comments made by its predecessor, before returning back to accusing Hezbollah.
Bulgaria has yet to complete its investigation into the attack, according to the interior minister.

Regardless, it was this, along with a conviction by a Cypriot court against a Lebanese who is said to have confessed to being a courier for Hezbollah, that were listed as the reasons behind the EU decision on Monday to place the group’s military wing on its terrorist list.
Cyprus, for its part, was reportedly one of the countries opposed to listing Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organisation.
“This is 100 percent related to Hezbollah’s role in Syria, the fall of Qusayr, and the defeat of the Syrian rebels,” Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a political analyst and expert on Hezbollah, told Al Jazeera, referring to the Syrian regime’s victory in June in the battle for the strategic town of Qusayr, in which Hezbollah confirmed it played an active role alongside the Syrian army.

“The West understands the Syrian regime is not going to fall, and so this has pushed the EU to come out with this decision,” she said. “This is a PR war where they’re trying to brand Hezbollah as terrorists, and equate them to groups like al-Qaeda.”..."

"To the surprise of many, Assad has now outlasted the rule of Qatar’s recently retired Emir"

"... That retreat may prove costly for the rebellion in Syria. President Bashar Assad’s forces have consolidated gains in recent months, as rebel groups fracture into deadly rivalries and as the U.S. and Britain stall on sending weapons to the rebels....To the surprise of many, though, the embattled Assad regime has now outlasted the rule of Qatar’s recently retired Emir. The planeloads of weapons and millions of dollars sent from this tiny state are a sign, perhaps, that Doha bit off more than it can chew."

"Hundreds of Syrian rebels defect back to government"

Well, well, well, .... well. Looky here!
"... Hundreds of men who took up arms against President Bashar al-Assad are defecting back to the government side.Disillusioned by the Islamist twist that the "revolution" in Syria has taken, exhausted after more than two years of conflict and feeling that they are losing, growing numbers of rebels are signing up to a negotiated amnesty offered by the Assad regime.
At the same time, the families of retreating fighters have begun quietly moving back to government-controlled territory, seen as a safer place to live as the regime continues its intense military push against rebel-held areas...."

Aleppo's kidnapped bishops: "Both killed & Turkisk authorities have killers in custody!'"

 The fate of Aleppo's two bishops: From Ali, chief Angry Arab correspondent in Turkey:
"...According to the news, the two bishops were killed and Turkish security forces arrested the three murderers in Turkish province of Konya.
It is said that the murderers have different nationalities. One of them is from Russia, the other one is from Chechenya while the third one is bearing the Syrian nationality. According to the same reports, Turkish authorities extradited three killers to their countries.
On the same day pro-opposition Syrian observatory claimed that the fates of bishops are still unclear.
Some Turkish sources claimed in May that the two bishops were kidnapped by a group close to Turkey, who are also responsible of kidnapping 11 Lebanese pilgirms. Some sources in Syriac community in Turkey told daily Sol that before the kidnapping of Yohanna İbrahim, Turkish Foreign Minister tried to convince them to move their center from Damascus to Turkey. And he was kidnapped just a week later they returned the offer of Davutoğlu. They claimed that there should be a relation between Davutoğlu's offer and the kidnapping. Turkish goverment has been trying to convince Syriacs, offer them citizenship and houses to defect from Syria to show that "even Christians flee from the dictatorship."  ."

UNIFIL's 'military wing', terrorists?

"... What if Hizbullah were to declare the "military wing" of UNIFIL as a "terrorist organization"?  What would happen then?..."(AA)

El-Sisi, who has just rebuffed Erdogan's envoy, asks Egyptians to reject 'terror & violence'

"..."I ask ... that next [upcoming] Friday all honest and trustworthy Egyptians must come out," Sisi said in remarks broadcast live by state media. "Why come out? They come out to give me the mandate and order that I confront violence and potential terrorism." ..."

When US think tanks want to hear what they like, they'll even call on a 'native' toilet brush to speak!

with Hanin Ghaddar
Managing Editor, NOW News (Lebanon)and former Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center

Hezbollah seems to be willing to lose its popularity in Lebanon to help Bashar al-Assad. Ghaddar explains why Hezbollah’s involvement seems as if they are helping secure some kind of federalism; however, their main interest is not to protect Assad, but instead, Iran.

Thursday, July 25, 201312:00 – 1:00 p.m.6th floor Moynihan Board Room
Woodrow Wilson Center

The trend in Egypt

"... A bomb blast outside the security headquarters in one of Egypt's Nile Delta cities wounded 19 people, security officials said early Wednesday, raising fears of deteriorating security after President Mohammed Morsi's ouster.Eleven people have been killed in clashes between supporters and opponents of the ousted president since Monday. Most were killed in pre-dawn street battles near a pro-Morsi protest camp as the country remained mired in turmoil three weeks after the military overthrew the Islamist leader...."

'Arming Syria's rebels: "Slow & temporary"

"... (Reuters) - U.S. plans to arm Syrian rebels passed one congressional hurdle but may face more when funding runs out in two months, further delaying the flow of weapons, U.S. officials and other sources said...But a U.S. official involved in the issue said funding for the classified program runs out on September 30, the end of the government's fiscal year. That means the White House will again have to seek Congress' blessing for arming the rebels, the official said, possibly setting up a renewed confrontation over Washington's policy in the Syrian civil war....
Sources close to the Syrian rebels said they fear the American arms delivery will be a drawn-out process in which they get a modest amount of arms in an initial tranche, and congressional committees will have to approve more later.
Despite their approval of the White House plan, several U.S. lawmakers expressed doubts on Tuesday that increased American support will be enough to help rebels turn the war's tide, which has shifted sharply to Assad's Iranian-backed forces.
There is also deep concern that the arms could end up in the hands of radical Islamist fighters who are among the rebels' strongest factions.
"Increasingly, I believe senators on both sides of the aisle want more information about what the end game is here," said Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat like President Barack Obama...."

'Are you, Yes or No, a Jihadist?'

"...Obama administration representatives have told Congress they are setting up a mechanism to vet rebels - including interviews - before handing over weapons, which could also lead to delays...."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

White House & Pentagon: 'Assad may not be forced out of power'

WASHINGTON — "The Pentagon has provided Congress with its first detailed list of military options to stem the bloody civil war in Syria, suggesting that a campaign to tilt the balance from President Bashar al-Assad to the opposition would be a vast undertaking, costing billions of dollars, and could backfire on the United States.
The list of options — laid out in a letter from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, to the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee,Carl Levin of Michigan — was the first time the military has explicitly described what it sees as the formidable challenge of intervening in the war.
It came as the White House, which has limited its military involvement to supplying the rebels with small arms and other weaponry, has begun implicitly acknowledging that Mr. Assad may not be forced out of power anytime soon..."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Obituary of a Jihadist in Le Figaro: 'He was not that much al Qaeda, an IT expert, and married with 4 children'

Today, the EU celebrated placing one of its inventions, 'Hezbollah's military wing', on a black list. Today still, the EU's MSM laments the death of throat  slitters & cannibals, who are 'married and IT savvy'
"... Abou Hajar, dont nous avions fait le portrait l’été dernier dans Le Figaro (au centre sur la photo), est mort le 19 juin dernier dans la région de Senjar près d'Idleb à un barrage de l’armée syrienne qu’il affrontait avec sa brigade des Faucons de Damas. Cet islamiste français d’origine syrienne, mais qui ne partageait pas les vues des djihadistes proches d’Al Qaida,... Informaticien de formation, Abou Hajar s’était notamment occupé du site Internet de son groupe "Les Faucons de Damas". Il avait été rejoint dans son combat par d’autres « compagnons européens comme Raphaël Gendron, de son nom de guerre Abou Marwa, qui est mort lui il y a plusieurs mois », selon les informations du site internet des Faucons de Damas. Abou Hajar avait fini par diriger sa brigade la katiba Jund al-Rahman, forte d’une centaine d’hommes, toujours selon le site du groupe, affilié au Front islamiste qui ne reconnait pas l’Armée syrienne libre, soutenue par les Européens et les Américains. ... Abou Hajar était marié et père de quatre enfants."

'Bomb, burn & destroy Syria to smithereens!'

"... “The Syrian people have been calling for air strikes, a no-fly zone, a safety zone and arming the Free Syria Army with advanced weapons. And the Syrian people have been getting none of that. " (Radwan 'Rommell' Ziadeh)

'Criminal-State' rallying the troops!

BRUSSELS — European Union foreign ministers on Monday added the military wing of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group, to a list of terrorist organizations. But questions immediately arose about the effectiveness of the accompanying sanctions, which are expected to include asset freezes.
European diplomats said government experts would need a day or more to agree on how to phrase language to punish only the armed wing of Hezbollah, which is also Lebanon’s most powerful political party and runs schools, clinics and hospitals....
But asked about the effectiveness of the measures, one European Union official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity ahead of a formal declaration, said the move was first and foremost “a political signal” to Hezbollah.
The move could pave the way for travel bans on individuals, which could help stop terrorist attacks on European Union territory. But imposing such bans would require the union to take additional steps that would be far from straightforward.
Also complicating the application of the decision is the intense secrecy surrounding Hezbollah’s military activities. While the group’s political leaders are well known, its fighters hide their affiliation, sometimes even from their own families....
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel welcomed the move,... President Shimon Peres of Israel said, “Your decision sends a clear message to terror organizations and the countries which harbor them that their murderous actions will not be tolerated.”...
Following the decision, Mr. Hague, the British foreign secretary, sought to reassure other member states that support for Lebanon, including significant aid payments, would remain intact....
Kamel Wazne, a Lebanese analyst and director of the Beirut-based Center for American Strategic Studies, said that by designating only the military wing of Hezbollah, the Europeans appeared to want to maintain dialogue with others in the group, including its Parliament and cabinet members. He doubted that such a strategy would work.
“This probably closed some of that dialogue because in my estimate Hezbollah will say, ‘We don’t have a military wing or a political wing; we have one party,'   " he said. “This will complicate the situation.”

In the Middle East: 'Most view the US 'unfavorably or as an enemy'

Lebanese attitudes toward the U.S

"... Lebanese attitudes toward the U.S. differ sharply among the country’s religious communities, with Lebanese Sunni Muslims (66% favorable) and Christians (56%) expressing much more positive views than Shia Muslims (9%)..."

Answering Assad's call!

"... Nowhere does that debate carry higher stakes than in the Old City, where for centuries Sunnis, Shiites, Christians and, until recent decades, a sizable community of Jews lived and worked together in a vibrant symbol of Syrian coexistence. Residents of a wide range of sects and political beliefs share a desire to preserve its landmarks and diversity, even if they disagree on the methods.They fear the example of Aleppo’s Old City in the north, where centuries-old mosques and markets have been destroyed in the fighting.
They fear the bombings that have targeted parts of downtown Damascus, just blocks away, and the shells that have occasionally hit the Old City.
And they fear a growing wave of kidnappings that have ensnared residents on trips outside the enclave; Christians and Shiites believe they are particular targets...."

'Pious' what's his name ....

'Mini-Hariri, looking particularly smart while praying'

Iraqi Ambassador: 'Give Us Bigger Guns, And Then We'll Help on Syria'

The Delirium of Iraqi ambassadors in Washington continues!
"... In an interview on Wednesday, Ambassador Lukman Faily said he's busy trying to convince U.S. officials that if they agree to bolster Iraqi air defenses, it will improve Iraq's ability to halt weapons coming from Iran. "We don't have full control of our airspace because we don't have an Integrated Air Defense System in place and this is why I'm talking with Capitol Hill, I'm talking with the State Department and the [Pentagon] because we already have a request for an Integrated Air Defense System plus Apache helicopters which total $10 billion," he told The Cable. "It's beneficial for the United States."..."

Qatar & Saudia: 'Delivering weapons to al Qaeda & problems with deliveries!'

"... The Saudis have promised the aid, to be sent via Gen. Salim Idriss, the commander of the rebels’ Supreme Military Council, with the intention that no weapons or ammunition go to the al Qaida-affiliated rebel groups that have proved to be the most effective anti-Assad force. “But they have a problem with delivering,” said Shaikh, the director of the Brookings Doha Center, an initiative of the Washington-based nonpartisan think tank.And it’s still a question whether Qatar will defer to the Saudis or go its own way, as it has in the past, including allowing military supplies to flow to al Qaida-affiliated groups that the United States has designated as international terrorist organizations...."

"“The Gulf states & Turks thought they would own the Syrian problem"

"...“The Gulf states and the Turks thought they would own the Syrian problem in the early period of the uprising,” said Emile Hokayem, a Bahrain-based analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies who’s just written a book about the Syrian war. “Then they realized the limits of their power and begged for U.S. leadership, figuring the U.S. could harmonize the various approaches toward Syria and de-conflict them.” But the United States wants only to manage the Middle East crises “at the margins,” he said...."

Syrian Army & Kurds kill dozens of 'al Qaeda-rebels'

"... BEIRUT, Lebanon — Violence raged across Syria on Sunday as government forces killed dozens of rebels in an ambush east of Damascus, fighters linked to Al Qaeda battled Kurdish militias and Syria’s military peppered an outdoor market with mortar rounds...."

Cameron: "Assad is stronger today!"

"LONDONBritish Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday acknowledged that the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has strengthened his position in recent months. "I think he may be stronger than he was a few months ago, but I'd still describe the situation as a stalemate. And yes, you do have problems with part of the opposition that is extreme, that we should have nothing to do with," Cameron said. .."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Egypt to re-evaluate relations with Syria

"... "There is no intention of jihad in Syria," Fahmy said, in reference to calls for a holy war in Syria under Morsi's presidency.The new foreign minister said Morsi's decision to cut diplomatic ties with war-torn Syria would be "re-examined," while stressing that did not mean they would "resume or not resume".
Fahmy's comments signalled a shift from Morsi's approach..."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"You have the Islamic State of Iraq, that's launching most of the attacks, now operating on both sides of the border"

"... "You have (Al Qaeda )the Islamic State of Iraq, that's launching most of the attacks, now operating on both sides of the border and getting stronger and stronger in Syria," Cockburn, a veteran Iraq reporter for Britain's The Independent, told DW.
"It has bases in eastern Syria right over to the Mediterranean (into Lebanon),  so that has made the organization much stronger - given it strength and depth," Cockburn said. "It has access to arms depots that it's captured in Syria."

Did you say 'vetted rebels'?

"... UNTIL last month the leader of Ahrar al-Sham (the Free Men of Syria), a large Salafist rebel group, went by a nom de guerre. Then on June 8th Hassan Aboud revealed his real name in an interview with Al Jazeera, the Qatari satellite television channel. Days later he attended a Salafist shindig in Cairo. Slowly but surely his group, which may number 10,000-20,000 fighters and leads the Syrian Islamic Front, a coalition of like-minded rebel groups, has become the most powerful outfit battling against President Bashar Assad...Some see the hand of Qatar behind its burgeoning success. “Ahrar al-Sham and its front is clearly positioning itself as an Islamist alternative to the disorganised moderate rebel fighters,” says Charles Lister of Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre in London. Its political arm is expanding too. ...
Hitherto the most prominent of the extreme Islamist groups has been Jabhat al-Nusra, which may have 7,000 or so fighters. But recently it has been bogged down in a power struggle with al-Qaeda in Iraq, .... As Jabhat al-Nusra’s clout has weakened, Ahrar al-Sham’s has grown stronger.

'With the status quo the initiative will continue to remain with Assad.”

"... One of two things will inevitably happen. Either we get engaged and we turn this around, or Assad is able to reassert control to the point where [the administration will] make up the excuse that we can’t salvage this situation anyway,” he said. “I don’t know which result it’s going to be, but I do know with the status quo that the initiative will continue to remain with Assad.”.."