Tuesday, October 29, 2013

'Arabs (people) overwhelmingly view Israel & the United States as the greatest threats they face

"... At a time when some pundits see crises in Syria and elsewhere leading to the marginalization of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the region’s politics, Telhami forcefully pulls readers back to it, labeling it a “prism of pain” through which Arab publics view the region -- even if their leaders do not. Arabs overwhelmingly view Israel and the United States as the greatest threats they face. This produces inconsistent preferences: manifested, for example, in their pushing for the establishment of democratic institutions in their own countries while admiring antidemocratic leaders who defy the United States, such as former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Telhami argues that no U.S. president will make a dent in Arab anti-Americanism so long as Washington maintains its uncritical support for Israel and continues to deploy significant U.S. military forces in the region...."

Message received by Riyadh!

"... "... “My plan B in a crisis is to go afloat,” U.S. Navy operations chief Adm. Jonathan Greenert said.In an address to the Naval War College on Oct. 25, Greenert acknowledged the Shi’ite unrest in Bahrain. He said the Navy was monitoring the attacks on Bahraini security forces and foreign nationals to determine the safety of American personnel.
“Their internal security is something we watch,” Greenert said. “I don’t want to call it an insurgency. That’s too strong.”..."

Bahrain: "My plan B in a crisis is to go afloat"

"... “My plan B in a crisis is to go afloat,” U.S. Navy operations chief Adm. Jonathan Greenert said.In an address to the Naval War College on Oct. 25, Greenert acknowledged the Shi’ite unrest in Bahrain. He said the Navy was monitoring the attacks on Bahraini security forces and foreign nationals to determine the safety of American personnel.
“Their internal security is something we watch,” Greenert said. “I don’t want to call it an insurgency. That’s too strong.”..."

Monday, October 28, 2013

What a Surprise: U.S.-Based Iran “Experts” Promoting Israeli Policy

"...Anyone who has been following the Iranian nuclear issue with any measure of objectivity will note that Netanyahu mixes up U.S. secondary sanctions with sanctions authorized by the United Nations Security Council; likewise, he misrepresents what the relevant Security Council resolutions actually say about Iran’s nuclear activities, and misstates basic facts about fuel-cycle technology.  Never mind all that.   Notwithstanding his myriad factual errors,Netanyahu gives authoritative voice to the main rhetorical tropes of the “zero enrichment” camp ..."

Who Is Behind Latest Iran-Pakistan Border Incident? Who Benefits?

"... It seems quite interesting to me that Iran would point out the “radical Sunni Wahhabi” connection of the group they are blaming. Of course, the primary sponsor of “radical Sunni Wahhabi” teachings is Saudi Arabia through their madrassas. But Iran seems to be dancing around an outright referral to Saudi involvement in this attack, even though it would make sense since we know that Bandar is now very upset both with the US “failure” to launch a strike on the Assad regime in Syria and the US diplomatic push toward Iran. This same Fars News article doesn’t name names, but refers to “two countries” providing financial support and “three countries” providing intelligence and equipment to them..."

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"It will not be possible for Riyadh to discern a viable candidate to replace the full range of the US relationship"

'The end of the government shutdown afforded the Administration a brief week of respite. But it has now run into a raft of problems, some domestic involving wide-ranging deficiencies in the rollout of the new health care system. Others involve foreign policy: the deepening row with the Europeans over NSA surveillance, an unsatisfactory meeting of the London 11 ministers over Syria, tensions with Israel and Saudi Arabia over Iran, disagreements with Congress over Iranian sanctions and criticism from international human rights agenciesover the use of drones. The relatively problem-free visit of Pakistani President Nawaz Sharif provided scant relief. At the end of a difficult week it fell to Secretary of State Kerry to look into the future with a more optimistic depiction of American leadership. As one State Department official commented to us: “After the initial euphoria over the breakthrough on Syrian chemical weapons and a promising first session with Tehran over the nuclear program, we are now back on the treadmill.” With regard to the row over intelligence gathering, opinions in Washington are mixed. The first instinct of many members of the Intelligence Community is to dismiss the French and German complaints as naïve and hypocritical. However, a more conciliatory attitude is developing, motivated in part to prevent the Europeans from developing alternative Internet infrastructure that would be impermeable to US monitoring. With German intelligence officials due to visit Washington soon for talks on this issue, we expect a modus vivendi to be reached. The rift with Saudi Arabia will, we believe, have longer-lasting implications. US commentators close to the Saudis point out that it is extremely unusual for members of the Saudi Royal Family to indulge in detailed public criticism of the US. They are concerned that the Saudis have concluded that the US is no longer a reliable ally and will be looking elsewhere for partnerships. The one consolation for the Administration is that, for all the current disagreement, it will not be possible for Riyadh to discern a viable candidate to replace the full range of the US relationship. On Iran, the Administration continues to speak with measured optimism, but it will have to plot a perilous course with Congress where pressure for tighter sanctions is growing. The ferment over Europe and the Middle East leaves little space for the Administration’s “rebalancing” to the Asia-Pacific, but Pentagon officials have noted Japanese Prime Minister Abe's comments about “standing up to China.” This remains the underlying trend in US policy.'

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Personal pique"

"...Given the campaign and the training programs for its diplomats, the decision appears abrupt. Since Saudi Arabia is a kingdom, there is speculation that the move reflects the personal pique of King Abdullah, and his perceived need to make a strong statement regarding the conflict in Syria...
Riyadh also sees the conflict as a way for Iran to expand its influence in the region... 
Reportedly Saudi Arabia has not been well informed of U.S. intentions in its outreach to Tehran across a range of issues, a development that is infuriating Riyadh,...
The Saudi snub of the United Nations may feel good and send a message, but it effectively will undermine Riyadh’s ability to influence policy on the issues that it feels most strongly about. ..."

Bandar's last resort: Wanton killings!

Al Jazeera English

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lang: "The Saudis & their Likud phantom allies are unhappy that they recently have failed to move US policy with regard to Syria & Iran"

"I have said for several years that SA was likely to turn away from the US relationship in search of a situation in which it is not dependent on the US as its sole protector.  The forces of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GCC are inconsequential.  Except for Pakistani troops who have been "loaned" to them from time to time, the forces of the GCC are of negligible weight as instruments of combat power.  Some will argue that the point of US materiel sales to Saudi Arabia is not actual use of Saudi forces, but rather the wondrous effect of Saudi political support and Saudi money in the region.  There has also been the benefit of Saudi money to some illegal US covert projects when funds could not be obtained from the US Congress.  Lastly, the direct financial benefit that has been provided to US based foundations, think tanks, lobbyists, public relations firms and journalists has been impressive for decades.  It is not an accident that this story of Saudi unhappiness is being pushed hard in the press.
The Saudis and their Likud phantom allies are unhappy that they recently have failed to move US policy with regard to Syria and Iran.  So much money (Saudi), so much political and propaganda effort (Likud/AIPAC) has been expended that these two governments are understandably unhappy at any sign of resistance on the part of the US to foreign manipulation.Well, to hell with them both!  They need us.  We do not need them.  The US is well on its way to energy self-sufficiency and neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia is really important to the defense of US core interests.It will be a brave new world."

"US officials scoff at much of the Saudi concerns"

           ' ...  Regarding Syria, US officials point out that in stripping the Assad regime of its chemical weapons capability was “no small thing,” notes one veteran US official.  “Remember Saddam Hussein was willing to defy the international community in order to maintain the pretense of having a WMD capability.  It shows how important this kind of capability is to a regime like Assad’s, to its prestige. “  Another well-placed US official adds that this has occurred because the Russians have turned on their long time ally (haha).  Says a veteran observer, “Putin, of course, loves walking tall on the world stage, but he is also savvy enough to know that if Russia is to have any influence in Syria in the future, it cannot allow itself to be inextricably tied to Bashar al-Assad.”  This official goes so far as to say that there has been a “sea change” in Russian attitudes towards the Assad regime and adds that US experts now believe, given the pace of weapons’ inspectors efforts, it is, indeed, possible that the deadline of June 30, 2014 for the elimination of Syria’s Chemical weapons stockpile will be met..
            However, eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons capability, while something of a boon to Israeli planners, is of modest, if any interest to Saudi Arabia.  Their goal is nothing less than the quick elimination of the entire Assad regime.  And US officials were aware, long before the Saudis went public with their dismay over President Obama’s decision to embrace the Russian plan on chemical weapons, that Riyadh was extremely unhappy with US policy across the board.  Through private channels US officials heard of the Kingdom’s dismay, indeed, anger over the Administration’s handling of issues ranging from Egypt to Iraq to Bahrain and, of course, its never ending criticism of the Israeli-Palestinian question.  But veteran US officials scoff at much of the Saudi concerns.  They note that Iran [which has come to encapsulate much of the criticism inherent in Saudi displeasure in US policy] has been an overriding concern of US Administrations going back to 1979.  “The Saudis should remember we spent eight and half years fighting Iranian surrogates in Iraq,” notes one veteran US official.  “The problem with the Saudis as well as the rest of the Gulfis is that they think we are on the verge of `selling them out’ no matter how bad our relationship is with Iran.”
            US Gulf allies are also irritated with our handling of policy towards Egypt.  Even Administration supporters admit it is “No mean feat”, to cite just one veteran observer, “For the Administration to have managed to alienate every major segment of Egyptian society,” with its back and forth support for ancien regime players like General Sisi as well as the Moslem Brotherhood, best embodied by the one time elected President Morsi, who now sits in an army prison.  This has prompted the wealthy Gulf States, led by Saudi Arabia, to step into the breach and provide crucial economic assistance, some of which replaces cut backs by Washington.  But US officials say both the Gulfis and the Egyptian military are misreading the world in which they live today.  Says one veteran official, “These are different times and a different dynamic is at work throughout the region.  The Egyptian `deep state’ cannot cope with the trends at work now as in the past.”  This official adds, “Unfortunately, the Gulfis are putting too much credence in the overblown Egyptian media.  There are underlying trends that cannot be denied.”  One former US government expert on the gulf in general and Saudi Arabia in particular, put it this way, ”US-Saudi relations have always best been served when kept out sight.  These are two countries who need each other but are two societies that could not be further apart.”
            Israel, on the other hand, is in many ways, a reflection of the US.  A rambunctious democracy (haha) peopled by immigrants and manned by a military second to none, at least in its region.  But, Israel remains as deeply concerned about the course of US policy as does Saudi Arabia.... The Israelis also argue that now that Iran has been brought to the bargaining table because of the effects of economic sanctions, those sanctions should be increased [The US Senate is now working on such a measure].  The US counters, as one official puts it,  “We are looking at the best chance in a long time for a deal.”  And underlying all of Israel’s concerns is that especially after the Administration’s performance on Syria, as one well-placed Israeli put it, “[President] Obama may want to have Israel’s `back’, ultimately he will be unable to deliver.”  This, despite reports that after seeing that he could not get sufficient Congressional support for military action against Syria, the President told leading Members of the Senate that he would not seek such support should it become necessary to act militarily against Iran.'

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"It would not!"

"...The president’s enthusiasm for that approach soon cooled again. A week after the meeting with the two senators, Mr. Obama seized on a proposal by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, aimed at forcing the Syrian government to give up its chemical weapons stockpiles. That effort, adopted by the Security Council in late September, appears to have overshadowed the arming project.
While the training mission in Jordan continues, officials now say there is no immediate plan to drastically expand it under the Pentagon’s control. The White House appears to be concerned that a public effort might undermine the diplomatic initiative to remove Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles and convene a peace conference. Mr. Assad, meanwhile, told a Lebanese newspaper in mid-October that he was happy to trade his chemical arsenal, which he dismissed as “obsolete,” in order to “spare Syria” from aggression by the United States.
During his Senate confirmation hearing this month, the Obama administration’s nominee to run special operations policy at the Pentagon was asked whether the rebel training program — currently run by the C.I.A. — might significantly change the balance of power in Syria.
The nominee, Michael D. Lumpkin, a former member of the Navy SEALs, was candid in his answer.
It would not, he said. ..."

Kerry: "With respect to Assad himself & his continuance, it’s not our decision to make!"

"... And finally, with respect to Assad himself and his continuance, the question you asked, that’s for the parties to negotiate. That’s not for us to predetermine. The key is that you have full executive authority that is transferred. That means you’re not playing games and someone isn’t pulling the strings from behind the scenes and the people who are there are legitimately moving for all Syrians to protect all Syrians... We’re – it’s not our decision to make . You have two sides negotiating. Others will be there, but this will be negotiated by the opposition represented by one delegation, by the Syrian opposition, who will bring others in with them, but one delegation on each side, and they will make that decision...."

"'This Is Not How a Protection Racket Is Supposed to Work'"

Foreign Policy
"..."If the Saudis were to join the U.N. Security Council they would have to follow the U.S. and Russia's lead," Landis told Foreign Policy. "There would be heavy pressure on Saudi Arabia to stop subsidizing Salafist militias in Syria and they don't want to do it. Russia and America would say ‘Look, you are part of the United Nations and you have to sever your ties with the Syrian rebels and stop sending them arms and money.' But Saudi Arabia doesn't want to rein them in."Landis said that the Saudi reliance on jihadists to pursues its goal of unseating Assad risks further fracturing the Saudis' relations with the United States, which he added, may eventually view the Saudi-backed jihadists as a greater threat than even Assad. Some regional specialists say that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia relationship is too important for both sides not to find a way to overcome their current differences. Indeed, even as U.S. and Saudi officials differ over the approach to regional security, American arms deal continue apace, including this recent U.S. deal to sell $460 million in cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. ..."

"In the end the relation is a protection racket"

I should point out that the last time any Saudi official (King Faisal in that case), thumbed his nose at Washington, he was shortly assassinated by a nephew-prince & long resident of the US. Faisal was (effectively) replaced by Prince Fahd (King Khaled was a figure who also died mysteriously in his sleep) ... 
'b' writes in the MoA 
"...Prince Bandar and his media shills suggest that the Saudis could go rogue over Syria where Bandar's project to get rid of Assad has failed despite him spending hundreds of millions of dollars to the mercenary Jihadists. But what else but paying more can Bandar actually do? The Saudi's military logistics are run by unreliable foreigners. The Saudi army has good equipment but is has zero expeditionary capability.The are also no other partners that could prop up the Saudi family regime. While Bandar suggests that France may be a candidate that country does no longer have the serious military capability to support such a colonial scheme. The Chinese may well be willing to sell arms to the Saudis but, as I wrote:
"... China will deliver but will be smart enough to not interfere in Gulf politics like U.S. is doing day by day."
Bandar will also know that the open U.S. attack on Syria, which he demands, will not come as the U.S. public and the U.S. congress are overwhelmingly against it. Washington has no interest in a longterm broken Syria that is run by Saudi supported Al Qaeda types.Saudi Arabia does not have the mean to seriously pressure the United States. It also does not have a strategic alternative to staying in the U.S. realm. In the end the relation is a protection racket. The Saudis pay the U.S. military industrial complex for not getting attacked by U.S. military forces. Throwing hissy fits in such position is senseless nonsense.The only thing that this Saudi strategy may achieve is a faster reconciliation of U.S. with Tehran. Should the U.S. sympathies move to the eastern side of the Persian Gulf Saudi Arabia could soon become the target of new animosities. ..."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Private alarm"

"...On the foreign policy front, Secretary of State Kerry continues to enjoy unexpectedly favorable currents. In Syria the progress being made in the disposal of chemical weapons together with the deepening disarray among the Syrian opposition is enhancing prospects for a peace conference to be advanced by Kerry during his travel to Europe next week. These developments have certainly put on the defensive the advocates of armed intervention in the region. The spillover from Syria in favor of diplomacy may also be seen in the P5+1 talks with Iran. With more technical talks to take place in advance of a new round new round at the principals level on November 7th/8th, US negotiators are at pains to stress the constructive aspects of the Iranian proposals. Already some thought is being given to easing sanctions. This will not be easy as most sanctions require Congressional action – which will be difficult to mobilize as there is a solid majority, including among Democrats, that opposes any easing until Iran has effectively dismantled its nuclear program. These favorable trends have come at the cost of a plunge in relations with Saudi Arabia. Massive new ordnance sales will to some extent repair the breech, but US officials are reacting with private alarm to reports that Saudi Arabia has rejected a seat on the UN Security Council, where it would have reliably supported US policies. ..."

Bandar: 'America beware my anger!'

"... "...RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief told European diplomats this weekend that he plans to scale back cooperating with the U.S. to arm and train Syrian rebels in protest of Washington's policy in the region, participants in the meeting said.Prince Bandar Bin Sultan al-Saud's move increases tensions in a growing dispute between the U.S. and one of its closest Arab allies over Syria, Iran and Egypt policies....Diplomats here said Prince Bandar, who is leading the kingdom's efforts to fund, train and arm rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, invited a Western diplomat to the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah over the weekend to voice Riyadh's frustration with the Obama administration and its regional policies, including the decision not to bomb Syria ..."This was a message for the U.S., not the U.N.," Prince Bandar was quoted by diplomats. ..."

'Explaning a temper tantrum'

"...Others proffer a very different explanation for the kingdom’s retreat into a snail shell: internal power struggles. Some believe the UN move may have been an attempt to embarrass the suave but gravely ill Prince Saud al-Faisal, who has served as foreign minister since 1975. Perhaps, it is said, this was meant as a last push before his replacement by a recently appointed deputy minister, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, who happens to be the king’s son. ..."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Turkish maze: Discrediting Erdogan through Fidan on Syria through Iran?

"...Speculation is nevertheless rife in Ankara about the articles' “content and timing,” as Davutoglu put it. Stories in The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post are taken seriously in Turkey. The assumption is that Washington and Israel are pressuring Turkey over Fidan through the media. A number of reasons have been cited, the most prominent one concerning Syria.The suggestion is that Washington, which is already annoyed by Ankara's alleged assistance to jihadist groups in Syria, is increasingly unhappy about the Erdogan government’s one-track policy of ousting Assad by military means. The Obama administration is currently working with Russia on a diplomatic settlement that would involve the Assad regime, if not Assad himself, sitting at the negotiating table. That prospect remains anathema to Erdogan. His supporters say the articles are an attempt to discredit Fidan by linking him to Iran, because he is considered one of the main architects of Erdogan’s Syria policy.
Ankara and Tehran are currently at odds over Syria, where they are backing opposing sides, which makes intelligence cooperation between the two countries unlikely. Erdogan supporters charge that Washington and Israel are, for their current needs, resurrecting past allegations that pertain to a radically different political environment.
Diplomatic sources indicate that Fidan is also seen in Washington as an obstacle to normalized ties between Turkey and Israel and is accused of undermining efforts by the Foreign Ministry in Ankara to improve relations following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s US-brokered apology to Turkey in March over the Mavi Marmara incident...
... if the aim is to get rid of Fidan — and many in Ankara believe this to be true — by pressuring the Erdogan government through the media, the effort will most likely fail. The goal could, however, be warning shots at Ankara not necessarily to remove Fidan, but to rein him in. Even if that is the case, success is still not guaranteed...."

'Conditioning Geneva II on Assad’s not running in 2014, will assure Assad stays longer!'

"...Saudi Arabia has not welcomed the progress on the diplomatic and disarmament tracks. Riyadh would have preferred a US military attack on Syria and a proactive regime change policy toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The kingdom’s frustration spilled out last week when it refused a long-sought seat on the UN Security Council, in part because of “the Security Council’s inability to carry out its duties and responsibility” in Syria. The kingdom may now be working with its opposition allies and others for a more explicit statement that Assad would not stand for reelection in Syria’s 2014 elections as a condition of participation in the conference... 
If Geneva II is delayed, or inconclusive, and fighting continues in Syria into next year, there is a chance Assad could extend his term beyond the 2014 elections, perhaps through constitutional amendment, if necessary, unless the current constitution allows an extension under exceptional circumstances.  Elections, even with international observers, which Syria might otherwise accept, could not be held in a war zone.
In other words, seeking to condition Geneva II on Assad’s not running in the 2014 elections, a likely deal killer for Damascus and Moscow, could have the consequence of assuring Assad stays longer, if elections are postponed.
The Saudi position stands in contrast to rumblings of change in Ankara’s Syria policy. On Oct. 15, Turkish forces responded with artillery fire to mortar shelling from Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS),...."
On al Mayadeen (just now) President Assad said that these conditions were/ are  a deal killer & that he is running in 2014'!

'No political will to topple Assad anymore'

"...Yet blunt assessments of the situation in Syria are still rare in Washington, where Obama administration officials cling to the dream that a moderate opposition can coalesce, beat back al Qaida extremists and shape Syria into a pluralistic democracy after Assad exits via a negotiated transition.In reality, none of the ground conditions for such an outcome are in place, according to analysts who monitor the country’s civil war, which is in its third year with a death toll of more than 115,000. And with al Qaida and other militant Islamists dominating the rebel side, it’s unclear whether there’s even the political will anymore to see the opposition carry out the stated U.S. policy goal of toppling Assad...."

"We were looking for somebody’s ass to kick ..."

"...“The only reason we went into Iraq, I tell people now, is we were looking for somebody’s ass to kick. Afghanistan was too easy.” ..."

"Turkey have ratted out Israeli spies to Iran in 2012, but that didn’t stop Netanyahu from mending fences with Erdogan"

"...The diplomacy in Geneva put in motion Netanyahu’s public apology to Erdogan at the end of President Obama’s visit to Israel in March 2013, according to Israeli diplomats. At the time, Netanyahu said on his Facebook page that he made the gesture in part because of the deteriorating situation in Syria. Turkey has provided support for the rebels in Syria, while the Assad regime is supported by Iran.Another factor for Netanyahu in his diplomacy with Turkey has been his desire to stay on good terms with Obama, according to some observers. Elliott Abrams, who served under President George W. Bush as a senior director at the National Security Council for the Near East and North Africa, said, “I cannot believe that Netanyahu thought this effort with Turkey would work. I think like the current negotiations with the Palestinians, his main motivation is to remain very close to President Obama and the U.S. government.” ..."

Saudi image in decline, most noteworthy among Lebanon's Sunnis!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Erdogan frees kidnapped Lebanese pilgrims (asks Qatar to mediate)

BEIRUT (AP) — "Nine Shiite pilgrims from Lebanon kidnapped in Syria were freed late Friday night as part of a negotiated hostage release that could see two Turkish pilots held in Lebanon released, officials said..."

Sensing that Assad's position is 'secure', Erdogan dithers!

"... But now, Turkey finds itself in the same position as many of the rebels’ early backers, including the United States — concerned that Islamist radicals have come to dominate the ranks of the Syrian opposition. It shelled rebel positions this week for the first time since the war started, in yet another positive turn for Mr. Assad, who has found his position increasingly stable, if not secure..."

Israel-firsters are 'missing' Ahmadinejad

"... None of this seems to have penetrated the intellectual bunker of Washington’s anti-Iran hawks, who insist on carrying on as if nothing at all had changed and Iran’s president was still Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (whom GOP Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtninen actually admitted “missing”).“No one should be impressed by what Iran appears to have brought to the table in Geneva,” said Senator Marco Rubio in a statement attached to a resolution calling for additional sanctions on Iran (the resolution erroneously states that Iran and the P5+1 “continue to discuss the Government of Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program”—Iran denies that it has such a program). “Now is not the time to suspend sanctions, but to increase them on the Iranian regime,” Rubio said in an earlier floor speech. .."

Saudi temper tantrums

... Citing these reasons, the Saudi Democrats' unique style of governance,
"... “The continuation of the Palestinian Cause without a just and lasting solution for 65 years, ...  “The failure of the Security Council to make the Middle East a region free of all weapons of destruction" ...  and “Allowing the ruling regime in Syria to kill and burn its people..." the Foreign Ministry statement said...."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

'An al Qaeda facilitator AND an Iranian asset': The masquarade continues in US MSM.

"... **Knowledgeable sources** (you gotta love these) describe the Turkish action as a “significant” loss of intelligence and “an effort to slap the Israelis.” The incident, disclosed here for the first time, illustrates the bitter, multi-dimensional spy wars that lie behind the current negotiations between Iran and Western nations over a deal to limit the Iranian nuclear program. A Turkish Embassy spokesman had no comment......The Turkish intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, is also suspect in Israel because of what are seen as friendly links with Tehran; several years ago, Israeli intelligence officers are said to have described him facetiously to CIA officials as “the MOIS station chief in Ankara,” a reference to Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The United States continued to deal with Fidan on sensitive matters, however...."

ICG: What can be done in Syria is MORE war!

International Crisis Group
"...What can be done? Creation of an alternative political grouping is always tempting but unlikely to yield markedly different results. The Coalition never had significant influence over militant groups, and there is little reason to believe any other opposition body could overcome the geopolitical obstacles it has faced. Rather, the focus should be on realistic changes that take account of present circumstances: Gulf states that will persist in helping the armed opposition; rebel factions that will continue to fight; and a U.S. administration that is increasingly invested in the “Geneva II” political process. In particular:
  • the opposition’s foreign state backers ought to drastically improve their coor-dination, especially on the military front;
  • this should be accompanied by efforts to limit alternative channels of material and logistical support; notably, Gulf states need to rein in private funding, and Turkey needs to do more to disrupt the influx of foreign fighters and fundraisers across its southern border;
  • to enhance its presence on the ground, the Coalition should seek a direct role in providing basic services in rebel-controlled areas ...
  • the Coalition and its backers need to develop an effective strategy to deal with the urgent threat posed by jihadi groups. Besides progress in the above three realms, this necessitates enhancing civil society initiatives and activist networks; and
  • its qualms regarding the Geneva II process notwithstanding, the Coalition ought to come up with a realistic strategy toward what remains the best hope for ending the war. This should entail, for example, reaching internal consensus on workable negotiation parameters..."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

More on the "GCC must not accept the US's diktats!"

That should show these scheming & untrustworthy Americans! 
"...DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates say they are seeking $10.8 billion in advanced U.S.-made missiles and other weapons as part of bids by Western-allied Gulf states to stay ahead of claimed military strides by rival Iran. ..."

Panic: "The GCC must cease following western diktats, support Iranian sedition, & should send the US packing!"

'Send all of them packing!'
"... I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again. GCC leaders must wake up to the looming danger. The countdown has started; the US/Iranian plan is about to be implemented. A serious plan of action is urgently required. Firstly, together, GCC states are strong enough to stand alone, both economically and militarily, and should not permit foreign powers to make decisions for them. (lool)Secondly, the GCC should diversify its weapons with purchases from different countries, rather than be vulnerable to the whims of one that is rapidly losing trust  (loool).Thirdly, Gulf states should take a leaf out of Iran’s strategic book by offering material support to the Iranian opposition, not just the Ahwazi Arabs, but also Iranians seeking freedom from oppression. (loooooool)Fourthly, the GCC must cease following western diktats. (looooooooooool)Lastly, GCC rulers should encourage their peoples to have a say in decisions that affect their future and feel they are being respected as patriots loyal to the country they love. When governments and citizens are one hand, no foreign plot can succeed in driving a wedge between them.In the meantime, accusations of US plots should be thoroughly investigated and guarded against. As an old Scottish saying goes, ‘False friends are worse than bitter enemies’."

Chasm between Saudi Arabia and the US may not be in foreign policy but in disagreements over Gulf states internal affairs

"...On the editorial pages of Saudi newspapers, columnists have sounded familiar themes with new levels of intensity: The Gulf is being shut out of regional negotiations. The United States was duped on Syria and Iran. The Gulf needs to adopt a more muscular, unilateral approach to safeguard its own interests, and it should cultivate new security patrons to compensate for U.S. capriciousness, perfidy, and retreat from the region. But what does this latest round of hand-wringing, protest, and introspection really mean in terms of new directions in Saudi foreign policy?If history is any guide, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf more generally, will continue to pursue policies that align with the broad contours of U.S. strategy—but with a creeping preference for hedging and unilateralism that will, in some cases, clash with U.S. interests. It is in the Gulf’s domestic landscape that the sharpest breaks between Saudi and U.S. views are emerging: regional tensions have enabled a harsh security campaign against a wide range of dissidents, the rise of sectarianism, and the troubling use of censorship.A key trigger for the recent round of misgivings in the Gulf was Washington’s tepid and confusing approach to the Egyptian military’s ejection of the Muslim Brotherhood government, which had been in power in Egypt since June 2012..... On top of the Egypt debacle, Obama’s decision not to take military action against Syria and the U.S. administration’s acceptance of a Russian-backed deal to dismantle the country’s chemical weapons stockpiles further shook Saudi policy.... In the initial wake of the Syrian chemical weapons attack in August 2013, pro-government Saudi commentators seemed relieved that Obama had “finally decided to enforce his redline” and launch a military strike that would decapitate the regime... "

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"The wind has changed direction"

"... The discord arising from the chemical weapons issue is now being felt in the political process as well. The United States has decided to work on the Syrian file with Russia, which means Qatar and Turkey's time is up. According to the Lebanese daily As-Safir, the new Qatari emir, Tamim [bin Hamad al-Thani], has sent a message to Assad via Fatah official Abbas Zaki, relating his desire to improve relations. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who had relocated to Doha from Damascus, now says all popular movements must secure their rights through peaceful means. The wind has changed direction.The United States, which could not get what it wanted from the Turkey-Qatar axis, has now turned to the Saudis. The latest move on the chessboard is to expedite the activities of Jordan-based operational centers and the move by Liwa al-Islam — which is controlled by the Saudi intelligence services — to set up an Islamic army in Syria with 50 groups that were attached to the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Although the Saudis might wish to push for the removal of Assad, the United States hopes to put pressure on al-Qaeda with moderate Salafists and empower the opposition before going to Geneva. The road to Geneva has too many potholes. It looks increasingly difficult for the Saudi protege, Ahmad Jarba, to take the SNC as a unified body to Geneva. The head of the SNC, George Sarba, who is close to Ankara, announced they are not going to Geneva, while with the defection of 13 religious groups from the military wing, the National Coalition has lost relevance. The FSA is in turmoil. FSA spokesman Fahd al-Masri called the chief of staff of his army a “tool of the intelligence services.”..."

... and YES, Palestine is still the ONLY issue!

Until quite recently, these were the West's 'rebels' fighting in Syria

'Fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq & Sham (Syria)'

Ankara's 'Jihad-one-way-ticket' into Syria coming back to bite ...

"... Turkey could be a target for them [ISIS ]… Not in the immediate future, but maybe in the far future,” said Yossi Melman, a top Israeli security expert and co-author of "Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars."

'Most brittle'

'Most brittle'
"...In the end, however, the monarchies may all suffer from such meddling, for these regimes are only as strong as the weakest links in their chain. An especially brittle monarchy succumbing to pressure over Western involvement, Iran, or Israel could easily be the first domino to fall, undoing the illusion of invincibility that the Gulf monarchies have so painstakingly built to distinguish themselves from the floundering Arab republics next door ."

'The pretenses of the Irrelevants'

'Intense, close-hold, 
urgent & confidential consultation (black, no sugar please!)
"...Sabra said the proposed Geneva conference was a device to hide the international community’s failure to end the war in Syria, and threatened that if the Coalition decided to attend his group would pull out of it.
Also speaking out over the weekend was Ahmad Tohme, who has been tabbed to head a provisional government by the Coalition.
Tohme has yet to form the government, but said in a newspaper interview that he was confident about the opportunity to win back “three-quarters” of those who have joined the ranks of hard-line Islamist groups fighting in Syria....  Tohme noted that he and his team have been holding intensive consultations (Oooh look at you!) with several different civilian and military actors in Syria, as part of efforts to form a government.
The remarks by Sabra are justifiable, but only on moral and humanitarian grounds. The National Coalition eclipsed Sabra and his National Council because they were unable to offer a viable political alternative to the regime in Damascus..... 
As for Tohme, his upbeat tone about conducting consultations with leading elements of the Syrian opposition inside the country would be praiseworthy, if it were the summer or fall of 2011, and not a few months shy of 2014.
The Syrian people have heard enough about opposition figures consulting with each other.... (his) wager inspires confidence in very few people..."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"So successful do they figure the Libyan escapade was, GOP leaders are backing a reprise in Syria"

From the NRO, nonetheless
"..."... The Republican establishment — These self-appointed sages are, of course, the same guys who told us the way to “stabilize” and “democratize” Libya was to help jihadists topple and kill the resident dictator — who, at the time, was a U.S. ally, providing intelligence about the jihadists using his eastern badlands as a springboard for the anti-American terror insurgency in Iraq....So successful do they figure the Libyan escapade was, GOP leaders are backing a reprise in Syria. It is there, we learn from a Human Rights Watch report issued this week, that our new “allies,” the al-Qaeda-rife “rebels,” executed a savage atrocity just two months ago..........So that’s going well.And, you’ll be pleased to know, supporting the Syrian “rebels” is a high enough priority that it’s not part of the 17 percent of the federal government affected by the “shutdown.” America’s enemies are still receiving taxpayer-funded weapons, so that they can fight America’s other enemies, the Assad regime, to what Washington hopes will be a resounding victory. Er . . . check that — to what the administration hopes will be . . . a tie..........So support for the Syrian jihad remains unaffected by the shutdown..." ..."

One-Two Punch - By Brian Katulis and Charles A. Kupchan | Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy
"... The only way to end Syria's civil war is a political settlement. Absent a diplomatic breakthrough, the conflict is poised to burn for years -- and continue to spread to Syria's neighbors. Moreover, Syria's opposition is fragmented, and its most effective armed forces are also the most militant, meaning that a rebel victory would likely produce a failed state or one under the control of Islamist militants. To avoid that outcome, Obama needs the help of Syria's two lifelines: Moscow and Tehran. Convincing them to bring Assad to heel offers the best -- if not the only -- hope for a political end to the bloodshed..."

NATO- "In Libya, we lacked strategic depth: We won a battle but lost the War!"

"...La Libye paye aujourd'hui cette impasse. En l'absence de troupes internationales pour sécuriser les arsenaux de Kadhafi, ceux-ci ont été pillés par les groupes islamistes.... «La bataille a été gagnée, mais la guerre a été perdue. Le bilan de la Libye, c'est une victoire tactique mais un échec stratégique», commente le général Vincent Desportes...
«Nous manquons d'épaisseur stratégique», poursuit Vincent Desportes... Malgré le franc succès de l'opération «Serval», l'histoire, dans le Sahel, tourne en rond. L'intervention occidentale en Libye a fait tomber Kadhafi mais a permis aux groupes djihadistes de prospérer. L'opération française au nord du Mali a cassé les reins des groupes terroristes qui avaient pillé les arsenaux de Kadhafi. Mais une partie des djihadistes qui ont survécu à l'offensive se sont réfugiés dans le Sud libyen, ils prolifèrent à nouveau.  ..."

The decomposition of the 'Aggress-Syria' project!

... and Iin Syria, we also lacked strategic depth, but thankfully we're losing the battle & the war!
Al Jazeera English
"... Clashes between rival rebel factions left at least 44 fighters dead in battles to control neighbourhoods in the city of Aleppo, according to an activist group..."
"...The Syrian government is working constructively with the international team overseeing the destruction of the nation's chemical weapons, the chief of the world's chemical weapons watchdog said Wednesday."The cooperation has been quite constructive, and I will say that the Syrian authorities have been cooperative," Uzumcu told reporters at The Hague on Wednesday. ..." 

Israel: "“The West & the Iranians are smiling!"

"...Netanyahu’s demands will not be met, even though these were precisely the same demands of the UN Security Council. This is a small detail that the world has forgotten. Everyone toes the line of compromise and the need to meet the Iranians halfway and reach an arrangement at almost any cost. Israeli experts maintain that the West can and will reach a compromise with Iran on “its right to enrich uranium,” subject to its agreement to a “deep and invasive oversight,” including the implementation of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) “additional protocol.” ..."

Rep. Gohmert (R) : "McCain ‘supported al Qaeda’ in Syria"

 The Hill's Global Affairs
"...“When it comes to the shutdown that’s going on, I heard just before I came on, some senator from Arizona — a guy that liked [former Libyan dictator Moammar] Gadhafi before he wanted to bomb him, a guy that liked [former Egyptian strongman Hosni] Mubarak before he wanted him out, a guy that’s been to Syria and supported al Qaeda and the rebels..."

'Success with Iran & Syria's CWs means raised concerns in Riyadh'

'As fragile signs of a solution to the political turmoil that has preoccupied all the top decision makers begin to emerge, it is easy to overlook some of the changes that are taking place in US foreign and security policy. In his meeting with the Russian foreign minister at the ASEAN summit Secretary of State Kerry consolidated the earlier agreements on Syria and Iran. Whether by design or luck, the Administration’s new approach to the Middle East is taking shape. We discern genuine optimism in Washington that the removal of chemical weapons stands a good chance of success. This in turn will set the stage for new efforts to convene a peace conference at which the Syrian opposition will have to moderate its ambitions. At the next week’s P5+1 talks with Iran a sense of opportunity – albeit moderated by realism – also predominates. Discreet exchanges with Tehran in advance of the meeting have raised expectations that the Iranian side is not simply playing for time. State Department officials have little trouble dismissing the protests of the Israeli defense minister. By contrast, one area which is raising concern behind the scenes is relations with Saudi Arabia. The partial suspension of military aid for Egypt coming on top of the nascent rapprochement with Iran has stimulated a questioning of US reliability in Riyadh. Administration officials are working hard to reassure the Saudis – as yet with limited success.  Similarly in the concern column are developments in negotiations with Afghanistan over the number and mission of US troops to remain in country post the 2014 withdrawal. Counter-terrorism officials are deeply worried that a vacuum could arise should an agreement on this front fail during Kerry’s current visit....'

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"No battlefield partner in the fight to topple Bashar Assad"

"... The moderate rebel command at the center of U.S. policy in Syria is becoming increasingly marginalized as dozens of militias peel away to form rival, Islamist alliances in a move that could leave the Obama administration with no battlefield partner in the fight to topple President Bashar Assad.The Supreme Military Command and its forces, known collectively as the Free Syrian Army, are reeling as 40 or more affiliates this month have signed onto two new umbrella groups, both with agendas that are at odds with the U.S.-backed opposition’s long-stated vision of a democratic, pluralistic Syria.If the project to build rival Islamist commands succeeds, opposition activists and Middle East analysts warn, the Supreme Military Command is likely to fizzle quickly, essentially ending talk of a “moderate” rebel force to counter the influence of Islamist insurgents, including at least two factions aligned with al Qaida..."

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/10/11/205172/more-syria-rebel-groups-leave.html#storylink=cpy

Poll: "Only 36% think Assad used CWs & lower even support for war"

"... The Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that just 36 percent of people surveyed believed Assad’s government was to blame for the chemical attacks..."

Unprecedented attack on the Saudis: Jeffrey Feltman: "The Saudis are arrogant & vindictive: Look at their policies towards Iraq, Lebanon & US-Iran ouvertures"

Most notably, Feltman said that he "doubted if the Saudis can retain power for much longer
"... نقل بعض المسؤولين اللبنانيين والعرب الذين التقوا وكيل الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة للشؤون السياسية (السفير الأميركي السابق في بيروت) جيفري فيلتمان على هامش الجمعية العامة للامم المتحدة في نيويورك، انتقاداً حاداَ للسعودية، مؤكداً أنها لا تريد حكومة مطلقاً في لبنان.
وقال فيلتمان أمام زواره: «لم أر أوقح وأسوأ من الحكومة السعودية»، مضيفاً: «لا أعرف كيف ستواصل هذه الإدارة الحكم».
واستعرض المسؤول الأممي والدبلوماسي الأميركي السابق بعض المواقف للسعودية، لافتاً إلى «انه بعد خلاف السعوديين مع العراق، قطعوا كل العلاقات معه، ولم يعد مسؤولوها يتحملون رؤية أي شيء جيد في هذا البلد. وعندما رأوا علامات تقارب أميركي ـــ إيراني جن جنونهم، لدرجة أن وزير الخارجية سعود الفيصل لم يكتف بعدم إلقاء كلمة بلاده في اجتماعات الجمعية العمومية للأمم المتحدة، بل إنه لم يوزعها على الحضور». وتساءل فيلتمان: «هل يُعقل هذا الحقد؟».
ولفت فيلتمان إلى أن الرياض تتعامل بنفس هذه الطريقة مع لبنان، فهي «لا تريد أن تسمع كلمة عن لبنان، ولا حتى اسم رئيس الجمهورية ميشال سليمان. وكل ذلك بسبب سوء إدارتها». وأكد أن «السعودية لا تريد حكومة في لبنان مطلقاً، وهي تعطل كل شيء فيه»...."

Friday, October 11, 2013

"The main fight now is against Al Qaeda, it's not against the Assad regime.”

... The problem with Blanford are his 'sources', those who speak in 'confidence' to him, those he says 'speak to him' and those he invents!  However, I have no problem believing that he treally spoke to AIPAC/ WINEP's Tabler! Ultimately, Blanford is still peddling the same story: 'Go after Assad by talking to (sigh) 'the nice guys'.
"...“The [regime] hardliners’ strategy is to let Al Qaeda take over the insurgency," the European ambassador says. “The hardliners around Assad believe that the plan is working beautifully and that they just need to stay the course. ‘Soon the rebels will all be Al-Qaeda and the West will come back to us again.’ ”A confidential Western diplomatic report seen by the Monitor said that the hardline rebel groups are growing increasingly wary of the West’s unease at their presence in Syria. Jabhat al-Nusra even evacuated some of their bases last month, fearing that they could come under attack alongside regime targets had the US launched its air campaign.
“Salafist groups have long expected that they will be exposed to Western-led attacks from the FSA and with drones,” the report says, referring to unmanned aircraft that have been used by the US military to target Al Qaeda militants in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen..., ...
“Right now, from a public standpoint, it might seem that it benefits their overall international cause,” says Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “But these things can get out of hand particularly because some of these salafist or extremist groups are some of the most effective on the field fighting the Assad regime.”
If the West wishes to check the rebel drift toward jihadis, it must seek ways of winning back factions such as Liwa al-Tawhid that have drawn closer to Jabhat al-Nusra primarily because of disenchantment with the mainstream FSA and Syrian National Coalition and a shortage of funds, analysts say. That will take funding, arms, and training – commodities that the West has shown little inclination to provide.
“I am beginning to think that the regime’s hardliners could win,” says the ambassador, who maintains close contacts with sources inside the Assad regime and opposition forces. “They are turning the opposition into Al Qaeda and we are all playing into it. I hear this from my colleagues. The main fight now is against Al Qaeda, it's not against the regime.” ..."

'Iran Sets the Scene'

"...It is easier to describe these truly historic events than it is to gauge their full impact and implications. Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, arriving in New York a few days later, did everything he could to cast doubt on Rouhani’s credibility.Most of the Arab states of the Middle East, though less outspoken, were at least equally skeptical. The idea of Iran striking a deal with the United States to limit and monitor its nuclear program was viewed not so much as a potential triumph of diplomacy as a boost to Iran’s prestige and influence in the region, to the Arabs’ detriment. The idea of Iran sitting down at the table with international negotiators in Geneva to begin to work out a future settlement of the Syrian issue was viewed with nothing less than alarm, since much of the effort by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to arm and empower the Sunni opposition has perhaps been directed more against Iran than at the Assad regime.The Israeli and Arab front against a US opening to Iran will be heard, and registered, in Washington. ...."

PLO's Zaki carried a message from Qatar's Emir to Assad: "Let's turn the page!"

As-Safir Newspaper

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Turkey continues its support of al Qaeda in Syria: "The threat posed by Jabhat al Nusra could be dealt with later"

"...Syrian opposition leaders, American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats who worked with Mr. Fidan say the MIT acted like a "traffic cop" that arranged weapons drops and let convoys through checkpoints along Turkey's 565-mile border with Syria.Some moderate Syrian opposition leaders say they immediately saw that arms shipments bypassed them and went to groups linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Mr. Erdogan's Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party has supported Muslim Brotherhood movements across the region.
Syrian Kurdish leaders, meanwhile, charge that Ankara allowed arms and support to reach radical groups that could check the expanding power of Kurdish militia aligned with Turkey's militant Kurdistan Workers' Party.
Turkish border guards repeatedly let groups of radical fighters cross into Syria to fight Kurdish brigades, says Salih Muslim, co-chairman of the Democratic Union of Syria, Turkey's most powerful Kurdish party. He says Turkish ambulances near the border picked up wounded fighters from Jabhat al Nusra, an anti-Assad group linked to al Qaeda. Turkish officials deny those claims.
Opposition lawmakers from the border province of Hatay say Turkish authorities transported Islamist fighters to frontier villages and let fighter-filled planes land at Hatay airport. Turkish officials deny both allegations.
Mehmet Ali Ediboglu, a lawmaker for Hatay's largest city, Antakya, and a member of the parliament's foreign-relations committee, says he followed a convoy of more than 50 buses carrying radical fighters and accompanied by 10 police vehicles to the border village of Guvecci. "This was just one incident of many," he says. Voters in his district strongly oppose Turkish support for the Syrian opposition. Turkish officials deny Mr. Ediboglu's account.
In meetings with American officials and Syrian opposition leaders, Turkish officials said the threat posed by Jabhat al Nusra, the anti-Assad group, could be dealt with later, say U.S. officials and Syrian opposition leaders...
This year, Turkey has dialed back on its arming efforts as it begins to worry that the influence of extremist rebel groups in Syria might bleed back into Turkey. At Hatay airport, the alleged way station for foreign fighters headed to Syria, the flow has markedly decreased, says a representative of a service company working at the airport.... ."