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Sun Dec 8th, 2013 at 08:27:07 AM EST
PM Netanyahu and FM Liberman must be frustrated not to find a Geert Wilders and Uri Rosenthal setting Dutch foreign policy vs Israel. Dutch PM Rutte, a right-wing liberal from VVD, has embarrassed himself by promising Shimon Peres he would block EU labeling provisions on Israeli goods coming from Palestinian territory. Rutte and FM Timmermans (PvdA) are on a three-day visit to Israel and the West-Bank. Major conflicts with Israel are spoiling the Dutch agenda for an even-handed approach to the occupied territories.
Dutch cabinet isn't united in its approach towards the I-P issue and Rutte stated as such. He doesn't want a proxy-war in his cabinet between pro-Israel (VVD) and pro-Palestinian (Labor-PvdA) ministers.
In the breach: Dutch foreign policy on Israel
(Times of Israel) June 18, 2013 - The [previous] VVD-CDA+PVV government has been labeled the most pro-Israeli Dutch government in history, not only due to the influence of the PVV, but also because of strong pro-Israeli currents in the VVD. Within the CDA, the situation was more complex, with a strong pro-Israeli current in the leadership battling an increasingly strong anti-Israeli current in its constituency.
Dutch-Israeli relations are a constant and very emotional factor in Dutch politics, in both the positive and the negative sense. Following the coalition crisis of April 2012, the Christian Democrats modified their platform, shifting more to the left and adopting a less friendly approach vis-à-vis the State of Israel. This clearly emerged last week, in a plenary debate on the Israeli security barrier. Parliament had been forced to debate the issue, following a public campaign of Christian Democratic `prominent' and former Prime Minister Dries van Agt, one of Holland's most notorious anti-Israeli activists.
Several years back, Van Agt established the so called 'Rights Forum', which is basically an instrument for anti-Israeli lawfare in which over a dozen prominent Israel bashers have been united.
There is a disturbing overlap between the board of Van Agt's `Rights Forum' and relevant people at the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV), an official advisor of the Dutch Parliament and Government and residing at the Dutch Foreign Office. Some names: John Dugard, a former special rapporteur of the notorious UN Commission on Human Rights, former FM Hans van den Broek and former Dutch ambassador in Beirut Nicolaos van Dam.
The results of this overlap emerged last April, when the AIV published a 47-page advisory opinion on the Middle East peace process, its English version bearing the title "Between words and deeds: prospects for a sustainable peace in the Middle East". Despite its lofty references to international law and justice, it is nothing but a vicious indictment of the Jewish State; ignoring the Islamic root of the conflict; omitting crucial historical data; denying or omitting the legal rights of the Jewish people in Palestine; and manipulating facts, figures and UN resolutions.
Dutch FM Rosenthal a Likud Spokesperson
Continued below the fold ... 3-Day visit to Israel, Dutch PM Rutte joined by business partners.
Fri Dec 6th, 2013 at 05:02:48 AM EST
Israel and the white-supremacist regime of South Africa, a stain on all leaders from Labor to Likud. Working together as two-apartheid regimes on the nuclear bomb and most horrific biological and chemical weapons. One apartheid state still exists, I hope it encourages Obama and other world leaders to push forward on a two-state option and an independent Palestinian state recognized for Arab citizens only. Just as Netanyahu wants recognition for a Jewish state of Israel.
Mandela and Israel
(JPost) - Asked why he had finally decided to visit Israel, he replied, "To the many people who have questioned why I came, I say: Israel worked very closely with the apartheid regime. I say: I've made peace with many men who slaughtered our people like animals. Israel cooperated with the apartheid regime, but it did not participate in any atrocities."
Mandela voiced his vehement opposition to continued Israeli control of the territories it had "occupied" in the Six Day War, and he urged Israel to concede land to the Palestinians and Syrians, just as it had done with the Egyptians, for the sake of peace.
"My view is that talk of peace remains hollow if Israel continues to occupy Arab lands," he said. "I understand completely well why Israel occupies these lands. There was a war. But if there is going to be peace, there must be complete withdrawal from all of these areas."
Sat Nov 23rd, 2013 at 01:20:55 AM EST
[Update] Because of strong opposition from Israel, Knesset members, US Congress key members and Saudi Arabia, this was a do or die moment in Geneva.
Landmark nuclear deal at Geneva talks
(RT) - The P5+1 world powers and Iran have struck a historic deal on Tehran’s nuclear program at talks in Geneva. Ministers overcame the last remaining hurdles to reach an interim agreement, despite strong pressure from Israel and lobby groups. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told journalists:
“This deal means that we agree with the need to recognize Iran's right for peaceful nuclear energy, including the right for enrichment, with an understanding that those questions about the [Iranian nuclear program] that still remain, and the program itself, will be placed under a strictest IAEA control.”
Under the agreement, Iran will freeze its nuclear program for six months. It will not build new centrifuges or in some other way expand its nuclear facilities. The nation has also agreed to halt construction of a reactor in Arak for the next 6 months.
[Israel will wake up Sunday to a new reality. Only key senators in US Congress and the Saudi Kingdom will remain on Israel's viewpoint. - Oui]
Iran nuclear talks in Geneva have reached the 'final moment'
(PressTV) - "Minister Wang Yi left Beijing earlier this morning for Geneva to join the Iran nuclear talks," the Foreign Ministry said on its website on Saturday.
"The nuclear discussions are entering their final phase," it added.
Hopes are now rising that a final deal that many say could end the standoff over the Iranian nuclear energy program is just around the corner as US Secretary of State John Kerry and other foreign ministers of world powers gather in Geneva to join the talks.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle are set to join the talks, while British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Twitter that he would be in Geneva on Saturday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in the Swiss city on Friday afternoon and held a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and later with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Continued below the fold ...
Tue Nov 19th, 2013 at 12:40:01 PM EST
[Update] Richard Silverstein's take on the event in Lebanon - Hidden-Hand Behind Beirut Bombing.
Lebanon blasts hit Iran's embassy in Beirut
(BBC News) - At least 22 people have been killed and more than 140 injured in a double suicide bombing outside the Iranian embassy in the Lebanese capital Beirut. There are conflicting reports as to whether the Iranian cultural attache survived the attack.
Lebanese officials said the first suicide attacker was on a motorcycle, while the second was in a four-wheel drive vehicle.
A jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda said it carried out the attack. The head of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades described it as a "double martyrdom operation carried out by two heroes from the heroic Sunnis of Lebanon".
The Daily Star - Suicide bombers kill 25 near Iran embassy in Beirut
Qaeda-affiliated group claims Beirut blast
(Ynet News) - Sunni Sheikh Sirajeddine Zuraiqat, affiliated with radical global jihad organizations in Lebanon, tweets: 'Abdullah Azzam Brigades – the Hussein bin Ali cells – are behind the attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut.'
The report has not been confirmed by any other source. According to Zuraiqat, the suicide bombing was carried out by "two heroes from the Sunni faction in Lebanon."
Lebanese officials condemn Iran Embassy bombings
The leader of the al-Qaeda affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades is Saleh al-Qarawi. Al-Qarawi was reportedly seriously injured by a US drone attack in Waziristan in 2012 and flown to Saudi Arabia for treatment of his injuries. He was later arrested and imprisoned. Social media attacked the Saudi Kingdom for failing to keep a commitment. Jihadists claim that the Saudis struck a deal with al Qaeda that would lead to al-Qarawi's freedom.
Terrorist Designation of Saleh al-Qarawi- Dec. 15, 2011
Prior to his activity with the Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB), al-Qarawi fought against U.S. forces in Fallujah, Iraq. While there, he worked with now-deceased Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former head of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. Al-Qarawi is a Saudi citizen currently wanted for extradition by the Government of Saudi Arabia for participating in extremist activities abroad. He is also the subject of an Interpol Orange Notice issued on March 25, 2009, for activities related to terrorism.
Terrorist Designations of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades - May 24, 2012
The Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB), a militant organization based in both Lebanon and the Arabian Peninsula, was formed in 2009. AAB is led by Saleh al-Qar'awi, who was designated by the Department of State under E.O. 13224. The Department of State also designated AAB's bomb maker, Abu Jabal, under E.O. 13224 on November 22, 2011.
AAB carried out a July 2010 attack on the Japanese-owned oil tanker M/V M.Star in the Strait of Hormuz. According to a statement released online, AAB claimed that the attack was carried out by its Arabian Peninsula Branch, which calls itself the Yusuf al-'Uyayri Battalions of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades.
Saudi prisoner release for jihad in al-Sham, did Prince Bandar release AAB terrorist al-Qarawi?
More below the fold ...
Thu Nov 14th, 2013 at 03:49:40 PM EST
U.N. officials report slowdown at Iran's atomic facilities in lead-up to nuclear talks
(WaPo) - Iran appears to have dramatically slowed work on its atomic energy program since the summer, U.N. officials said Thursday in a report that could add momentum to diplomatic efforts to resolve a decade-old dispute over Iranian nuclear activities.
The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran all but halted the installation of new centrifuges at its uranium-enrichment plants beginning in August, the same month that moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani was sworn in as president. Work on a controversial nuclear reactor also slowed, the U.N. watchdog agency said. Iran continued producing low-enriched uranium, but at a slightly reduced rate, it said.
The findings provided a boost to the Obama administration, which has joined five other major powers in seeking to negotiate a deal on permanent limits to Iran's nuclear program. The report suggests that Iran has been unilaterally implementing key parts of a nuclear "freeze" that Western nations have been pursuing during nuclear talks.
The expansion appears to have halted around the time that Rouhani took office. At Natanz, where Iran had been adding centrifuges at a rate of 600 a month, only four new machines have been put in place since the summer, the IAEA report said. No new centrifuges were installed at Fordow, and work on new reactor components at the Arak plant appears frozen, the report said.
IAEA: Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions
of Security Council resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran - Nov. 14, 2013
Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 02:43:21 PM EST
I have grave concern, the sabotage of the nuclear agreement between P5+1 by France will have closed the small window of opportunity. The confidence build-up by President Rouhani has evaporated and accusations of who is to blame is doing the ultimate damage. Months of negotiations led to no deal when France FM Fabius flew into Geneva with orders from Hollande. With the threat of a French veto at the United Nations, all Kerry could do was to bow out and tell the lie of a united Western front to safe face. The Iranians are furous and Russian FM Lavrov tries to stay calm, hoping for another chance on November 20. IMO, no deal will be reached and the right-wingers will succeed to apply more sanctions on Iran.
Iran blames Western powers for nuclear talks failure
(BBC News) - During a visit to Abu Dhabi, Mr Kerry told reporters that the P5+1 had been "unified on Saturday when we presented our proposal to the Iranians".
"The French signed off on it, we signed off on it, and everybody agreed it was a fair proposal," he added. "Iran couldn't take it at that particular moment."
Later, Mr Zarif responded to the claim on Twitter.
"No amount of spinning can change what happened within 5+1 in Geneva from 6pm Thursday to 5:45pm Saturday. But it can further erode confidence."
Mr. Secretary, was it Iran that gutted over
half of US draft Thursday night? and publicly
commented against it Friday morning?
○ NYTimes Lede Blog Iran's Foreign Minister Subtweets Kerry
○ France L'Express La France accusée de "hold-up" sur le nucléaire iranien
○ RFE/RL Iran's Foreign Minister Criticizes Kerry Over Geneva Remarks
Iranian press reaction
Ali Bigdeli in reformist daily Sharq: "The additional pressure exerted by some Arab countries as well as Israel on the US and France is believed to be the main reason for the postponement of an agreement... Kerry and Fabius came to an arrangement based on which the French foreign minister took the role of the objector."
Abbas Hajinajjari in conservative daily Javan: "Given the hegemonic system's intention to prolong the talks in order to exhaust the Iranians and implement the scenario of making [Iran] surrender, it seems that the Iranian diplomatic apparatus should take the leading role in the next round of talks by changing the way the talks are conducted and presenting its conditions."
Continued below the fold: French derailing of Iran deal, scoring points with Israel, selling guns to Saudis.
Sat Nov 9th, 2013 at 04:24:59 AM EST
For unlimited snooping on Internet communication, the Dutch governement have ordered Israeli systems as reported today. With the intent to start in 2014, this would be illegal today, so lawmakers are urged to make minor changes to the law. An investigative journalist of De Volkskrant joined technical website Tweakers to file this report. I am taking the article at face value.
Data Hunger: Dutch Intelligence Wants to Know All
The project called Argo II is intended to 'process data communication to intelligence' in 2014 in a note written by Interior Minister Plasterk this summer to the House of Parliament . The new equipment will be used by both domestic and military security service AIVD and MIVD. A description of the Department of Defense that Argo II is primarily intended to cover 'the world of the Internet' - where the services can not reach in present day.
The system will probably be built by the Israeli Nice Systems, specializing in surveillance and interception software. This company, which according to U.S. intelligence expert James Bamford has its roots in the Mossad, was one of two companies who enrolled in a public tender. The other candidate, Accenture, has told weekly Vrij Nederland it did not get the contract. The Ministry of Defence does not provide information about the tender.
The technology website Tweakers describes some systems of Nice Systems, such as Nice Track Mass Detection Center and Nice Track Pattern Analyzer, which is able to intercept data on a national level, monitor, analyze and store it with an automatic alert you for suspicious patterns.
Continued below the fold ...
Fri Nov 8th, 2013 at 01:36:13 PM EST
[Update] See comment below - No Nuclear Deal As France Self Interest Prevails.
○ France24: No deal after France objected to a proposed agreement
○ RT: France stalls deal on Iran nuclear program, talks to resume shortly
○ YnetNews: Is France touting Netanyahu's tough stance of no enrichment?
Cracking the toughest of issues, the foreign ministers of the 5+1 nations are converging on Geneva for a possible break-through in the Iranian nuclear talks. Secretary Kerry abruptly broke-off his Mid-East tour and is on the plane towards Geneva. Same for France's Fabius, UK's Hague, Germany's Westerwelle, EU's Ashton and Russia's Lavrov. In Jerusalem, dark clouds and thunder from the Prime Minister's Office predicting doom and perdition if a nuclear deal is reached.
Mounting Temsions: Netanyahu rejects nuclear deal with Iran
(Ynet News) - Tensions reach boiling point: PM briefly meets Kerry before latter heads to Geneva; says Israel 'not obliged' to agreement between Tehran world powers, adds 'Iranians got everything and paid nothing.
Israel utterly rejects a mooted world powers deal with Iran aimed at ending a long-running row over its nuclear ambitions and will not be bound by such an accord, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday. Speaking as headed into a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Netanyahu told reporters that Iran had got "the deal of the century".
"Israel utterly rejects it and what I am saying is shared by many in the region, whether or not they express that publicly. Israel is not obliged by this agreement and Israel will do everything it needs to do to defend itself and the security of its people."
Netanyahu was meeting Kerry for the third time in barely 48 hours. The US secretary of state was due to fly immediately afterwards to Geneva where Iran and six world powers are holding negotiations.
Below the fold, a working relationship between Kerry and Lavrov.
Wed Oct 23rd, 2013 at 07:49:58 AM EST
In hindsight one of the best diaries that predicted the Neocon foreign policy, continued under Obama and Ms Clinton, to "democraticize" Syria and bring freedom to the Syrian people. A regional catastrophy in the making. Please let no one write the Obama administration isn't culpable for the human suffering inside Syria and the six million displaced persons and refugees. Neocon Stephen Hadley had a position within USIP and making US foreign policy under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Ms Clinton used her "knowledge" of Serbia and Kosovo and challenged the world community in Syria by-passing international law. What a quagmire in the new Middle-East. The year 2005 was marked by renewed upheaval in Lebanon, the assassination of Rafic Hariri while under occupation and rule by Syria. The European Union and the US were in talks with Bashar al-Assad for government reforms. New economic agreements and transformation were agreed upon and Israel held secret meetings to settle the Golan Heights issue.
Hadley asked Italy/Turkey/France for Regime Change in Syria (2005)
NSC Chief Hadley asked Italy for a Bashar Replacement and @EuroTrib by susanhu on Oct. 23, 2005
National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley asked the Italians to help with regime change in Syria:
I have it on good authority that Steven Hadley, the director of the US National Security Council, called the President of the Italian senate to asked if he had a candidate to replace Bashar al-Asad as President of Syria. The Italians were horrified. Italy is one of Syria's biggest trading partners so it seemed a reasonable place to ask! This is what Washington has been up to.
Heading for Damascus and the military option (Reuters)
The new United Nations Mehlis report linking top Syrian officials, including Assad family members, [Is now known to be false - Oui] to the killing of Lebanon's leading reformer eight months ago has sparked a "transformation" in how the world is willing to deal with Damascus, which Washington wants to cultivate, said a senior U.S. policymaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity because diplomacy is ongoing - Joshua Landis.
"Out of tragedy comes an extraordinary strategic opportunity," the official said. "This murder changed everything." Former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri was killed Feb. 14, 2005.
The long-term U.S. goal is to break the 35-year hold of the Assad family and allow Syrians to freely pick a new government. But in the short term, the administration is somewhat reluctantly opting to let the U.N. investigation and the subsequent judicial process, combined with punitive U.N. sanctions, erode Assad's power -- and see if he then changes Syrian practices in the region, U.S. officials said. -- Joshua Landis
Let's take this in. Hadley is calling the Italians, asking for a name as a replacement figurehead? Stunning.
Continued below the fold ...
Fri Oct 18th, 2013 at 03:42:13 PM EST
Stakes at the table of international diplomacy are set higher as Saudi Arabia is extremely angered by US rebukes on a Syria intervention. Kerry and Lavrov have joined to find a diplomatic solution to the civil/sectarian war in Syria where the Assad regime will be still in place as talks begin. President Obama and Iranian president Rouhani are on a path to resolve the nuclear crisis in order to lift crushing UN sanctions. On domestic troubles, Obama has gained a few months breathing space as the government shutdown is ended and debt ceiling raised.
Saudi King Abdullah's warning on interference
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (Gulf News) - Leader stresses mutual respect as basis for international diplomacy - Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has warned that the Islamic nation would not allow anyone, regardless of their status, to interfere in its affairs or undermine its security.
"We want to tell the world that we are extending our hand in respect of all divine religions and in an initiative that shuns hatred and violence and indicates that Islam is a religion of purity and moderation. If this be our case with non-Muslims, then our duty towards Muslims is to reject differences and rivalries between them."
Dialogue between Islamic sects is the proper way to understand one another.
"We praise God for everything that we agree upon, but our disagreements should not be used as a way to destroy the unity of the Islamic nation."
King Abdullah said that the Islamic nation never compromised on its religion, morals or values.
"We do not allow anyone regardless of who he is to undermine the sovereignty of our countries or interfere in our domestic or foreign affairs," King Abdullah who assumed power in 2005 said.
"Let the whole world be aware that we respect them and appreciate their contributions to humanity throughout history. However, there is no option for anyone trying to fret, according to his narrow or interests. We are a nation keen on the safety and integrity of its religion and countries and on dealing with others on a peer-to-peer basis."
Saudi rejection stuns UN Security Council
Continued below the fold ...
Wed Oct 16th, 2013 at 06:04:03 AM EST
As the US pivots its military presence towards the Far East, China is quietly moving into prominence in the Middle-East and Gulf states.
Turkey missile deal shows China's growing Mideast clout
(YnetNews/Reuters) - Expected sale of Chinese FD-2000 missile defense system to Ankara 'a wake up call,' former US official says. Survey shows China viewed more positively than US in every Mideast state except Israel.
China's likely sale of sophisticated missiles to Turkey over the objections of its NATO allies might have angered Washington and other capitals, but it should not have been a surprise. Even as the US has spent billions of dollars and lost hundreds of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, Beijing has been quietly upping its presence in the Middle East.
Militarily, the US - which maintains a permanent aircraft carrier presence near the Gulf as well as dozens of other warships and major bases in Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates - is by far the dominant regional power.
Beijing's economic, political and diplomatic clout, however, is growing fast. China's Ministry of Commerce said last month China-Arab nation trade now reaches $222 billion a year, 12 times its 2002 level. That would outstrip US-Mideast trade, valued at $193 billion in 2011.
China plays vital role in promoting peace
Turkey's choice of a $3.4 billion deal to acquire the Chinese FD-2000 missile defense system rather than rival US or European systems may be a sign of things to come.
"It is a wake-up call," said Christina Lin, a former US official and now fellow at the School for Advanced International Studies who last year briefed the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs on the issue. "China is looking to get a lot more involved in the Middle East and is being increasingly accepted there."
The firm that makes the missile system, China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC) is under US sanctions for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
Mixing commerce and geopolitics, experts say, is at the heart of Beijing's approach. Chinese officials have become regular visitors to most Mideast states while a range of regional leaders including Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah have all visited China.
China's soaring energy needs are seen as a major motivator, coming just as the US gets closer to energy independence and budget constraints and public reluctance hit its military presence.
The International Energy Agency expects China's Mideast oil imports to grow from 2.9 million barrels per day in 2011 to 6.7 million in 2035, a projected 54% of total Chinese oil imports. Already, Chinese national oil companies are amongst the biggest players in Iraq and Iran and Beijing is both Saudi Arabia's largest trading partner and the biggest single purchaser of Iran's crude.
CSIS Report: Turkey Looks to China on Air and Missile Defense?
Sat Oct 12th, 2013 at 09:33:11 AM EST
Obama administration brings chilling effect on journalism
WASHINGTON DC (AP) - The U.S. government's aggressive prosecution of leaks and efforts to control information are having a chilling effect on journalists and government whistle-blowers, according to a report released Thursday on U.S. press freedoms under the Obama administration.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) conducted its first examination of U.S. press freedoms amid the Obama administration's unprecedented number of prosecutions of government sources and seizures of journalists' records. Usually the group focuses on advocating for press freedoms abroad.
Leonard Downie Jr., a former executive editor of The Washington Post, wrote the 30-page analysis entitled "The Obama Administration and the Press." The report notes President Barack Obama came into office pledging an open, transparent government after criticizing the Bush administration's secrecy, "but he has fallen short of his promise."
Continued below the fold ...
Mon Oct 7th, 2013 at 07:38:21 AM EST
Edward Snowden's E-Mail Provider Defied FBI Demands to Turn Over Crypto Keys, Documents Show
(Wired) - The U.S. government in July obtained a search warrant demanding that Edward Snowden's e-mail provider, Lavabit, turn over the private SSL keys that protected all web traffic to the site, according to to newly unsealed documents.
The July 16 order came after Texas-based Lavabit refused to circumvent its own security systems to comply with earlier orders intended to monitor a particular Lavabit user's metadata, defined as "information about each communication sent or received by the account, including the date and time of the communication, the method of communication, and the source and destination of the communication."
The name of the target is redacted from the unsealed records, but the offenses under investigation are listed as violations of the Espionage Act and theft of government property -- the exact charges that have been filed against NSA whistleblower Snowden in the same Virginia court.
The records in the case, which is now being argued at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, were unsealed today by a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia.
Continued below the fold ...
Fri Sep 27th, 2013 at 05:32:59 PM EST
A discussion about former New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins, triggered a deeper investigation in understanding about the earliest reporting from East-Ghouta on the day of the gas attack. The advocacy group Syrian Support Group of Brian Sayers has some explaining to do.
The Syrian Question by Dexter Filkins on Aug. 23, 2013 also published @Syrian Freedom
(The New Yorker) - But Wednesday's early-morning attack appears to be something very different in scale. According to reports from the scene, four large rockets landed in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta at just after 2 A.M. This time, the gas appeared to be more concentrated: on Thursday, the Syrian Support Group (S.S.G.), a rebel advocacy organization in Washington, put the death toll at 1,302, with nearly ten thousand others contaminated. Two-thirds of the dead were women and children, the group said. [Ghouta was evacuated as the suburb has been under heavy bombardment by the Assad regime - Oui]
... On Thursday, S.S.G. put me in touch with Mohammad Salaheddine, a Syrian reporter and activist who lives in the Damascus area and works for Al Aan TV, which is based in Dubai. Salaheddine told me that he arrived in East Ghouta minutes after the area was struck by four rockets containing poison gas.
"There were so many people I could not count them,'' Salaheddine said of the hospital. Many of the people, he said, were weak and couldn't breathe; the doctors were trying to give injections of atropine, an antidote, to as many of the victims as they could, and administer oxygen to others."
"People were panicking," he went on. "They were saying, Am I dead or am I alive?"
Continued below the fold ...
Wed Sep 25th, 2013 at 07:50:18 AM EST
A dry analysis of the political positioning at the UN General Assembly yesterday. Preaching to the global community or placating the warmongers at home. A new spirit of optimism may be justified, the work will be done behind closed doors and through back-channels. Plenty of work do be done by Secretary Kerry in the coming months.
The Handshake That Never Happened by Justin Raimondo
Former U.S. officials blast diplomacy with Rouhani at MEK rally outside UN
(Anti-War) - The world waited with bated breath as the day approached: would President Obama's speech to the UN General Assembly reflect positively on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's "charm offensive" (as the Israelis derisively dub it)? Would the two meet up at a luncheon arranged by Ban Ki-Moon and - gasp! - actually shake hands?
We now know the answers to these two questions: no, and certainly not.
It's funny how subjective impressions can be. People often hear their hopes rather than what is actually being said: here's Phil Weiss, over at the activist MondoWeiss web site, who sees in Obama's speech evidence of a "bold opening to Iran," all but proclaiming the beginning of a new era in US-Iranian relations. On the other hand, here's Max Fisher over at the Washington Post with a much more sober - and, I would say, more accurate - assessment.
Rouhani never showed up at the luncheon, and therefore the handshake that was supposed to have shaken the world never happened.
Continued below the fold ...
Thu Sep 19th, 2013 at 08:26:24 AM EST
Links added to article as a rebuttal are mine - Oui
Senator John McCain: Russians deserve better than Putin Pravda.ru
When Pravda.ru editor, Dmitry Sudakov, offered to publish my commentary, he referred to me as "an active anti-Russian politician for many years." I'm sure that isn't the first time Russians have heard me characterized as their antagonist. Since my purpose here is to dispel falsehoods used by Russia's rulers to perpetuate their power and excuse their corruption, let me begin with that untruth. I am not anti-Russian. I am pro-Russian, more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules you today.
I make that claim because I respect your dignity and your right to self-determination. I believe you should live according to the dictates of your conscience, not your government. I believe you deserve the opportunity to improve your lives in an economy that is built to last and benefits the many, not just the powerful few. You should be governed by a rule of law that is clear, consistently and impartially enforced and just. I make that claim because I believe the Russian people, no less than Americans, are endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. [McCain did not mention equality - Oui]
Continued below the fold ...
Sat Sep 14th, 2013 at 05:07:11 AM EST
About a rogue nation which hasn't ratified the CWC Treaty nor abides by the global NPT Treaty, getting another free pass as the Syrian chemical dump is hopefully disposed of.
Chemical Weapons and Moral Hypocrisy by Richard Silverstein
(Tikun Olam) - While the Syrian regime's alleged use of chemical weapons is a criminal act if true, and deserving of prosecution before the International Criminal Court-let's not all become moral hypocrites on the subject. Most major military powers have chemical weapons. Some have even used them. Among the more commonly known are Saddam's use against his Iranian enemies during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. He also used them against the Kurds in Halabja.
The U.S. and Russia both have chemical weapons programs. In fact, a rogue U.S. chemical weapons researcher may've caused the anthrax scare that killed a number of innocent Americans and tossed the country into a panic just after 9/11.
In the ancient era, Rome and her Germanic tribal enemies each poisoned wells with chemical agents. The first modern mass use of such weapons in war occurred during World War I when Germany used chlorine gas on the battlefield.
Israel too has a long history of research into, and use of both chemical and biological weapons. This goes all the way back to the State's founding in 1948. In the tense lead-up to the War, Israeli forces introduced typhus and dysentery into the water systems of Acre and Gaza, resulting in numerous illnesses and deaths. Egypt arrested two Israeli agents it found in Gaza and tried and convicted them. After they escaped and were recaptured the two were hung. Earlier, Palmach officer Arie Aharoni had been asked to undertake the Gaza poisoning operation and he refused to do so as confirmed in Tikva Honig Parnass' The False Prophets.
Moshe Dayan, a leading Palmach commander during the War, even brought home vials of such poison, one of which was broken by his son, Assi, who contracted typhus and nearly died. As his mother nursed him back to health, his father was far away fighting, and possibly poisoning, Arabs.
For further historical research and documentation, read Avner Cohen's seminal essay, Israel and Chemical-Biological Weapons [pdf]. Cohen is the world's leading academic historian of Israel's WMD programs.
Read on ...
I added a number of posts on this topic on various blogs and will combine them in this diary and below.
Wed Sep 11th, 2013 at 03:00:32 PM EST
[Update]: Putin's Op-Ed in the New York Times has been added below.
Universally it is seen the US has failed in policy towards Syria, the revolution and the analysis of Assad's overthrow. There is a reason only France is capable and willing to join Obama's military strike on Syria. As I have written the last two years and is repeated today in the US, Europe and the Arab states: US policy is confused and not credible. It's wonderful for Obama, the perception is otherwise within Washington DC and the 50 states. The decision to hold off a strike on the Assad regime has really pissed-off King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the Emir of Qatar, Emirates, Erdogan in Turkey and Netanyahu of Israel. Obama has just set a break with 35 years of tradition in the Middle-East. The step Obama has taken is very courageous, we'll have to wait if it is rewarded with a positive result: a political solution to the civil/sectarian war in Syria. Obama is putting US National Interest first as recent Chiefs of Staff have asked.
Continued below the fold ...
Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 02:58:03 AM EST
"... contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this."
Who's Lying? Clapper, Brennan, Rice, Obama, or ALL?
(Consortium News) - Despite the Obama administration's supposedly "high confidence" regarding Syrian government guilt over the Aug. 21 chemical attack near Damascus, a dozen former U.S. military and intelligence officials are telling President Obama that they are picking up information that undercuts the Official Story.
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Is Syria a Trap?
Our sources confirm that a chemical incident of some sort did cause fatalities and injuries on August 21 in a suburb of Damascus. They insist, however, that the incident was not the result of an attack by the Syrian Army using military-grade chemical weapons from its arsenal. That is the most salient fact, according to CIA officers working on the Syria issue. They tell us that CIA Director John Brennan is perpetrating a pre-Iraq-War-type fraud on members of Congress, the media, the public - and perhaps even you.
[Read more on Consortium News...]
John Kerry, sir, you are a fraud!
Continued below the fold ...
Tue Sep 3rd, 2013 at 06:57:57 AM EST
Obama Goes It Alone; Defies key advisors on how to deal with Syria
August 2012 | March 2013 | August 2013
Statement by the President on Syria
In first major test, Obama overrules new team
(JS Online) - On Friday night, after a week spent speeding toward military action, the president made a stunning turnabout and decided he wanted approval from lawmakers before carrying out an attack.
"While I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective," Obama said as he announced the decision Saturday. "We should have this debate."
The way the president arrived at his decision highlights what has been a source of criticism among Washington's foreign policy thinkers: a president who has centralized decision-making within the White House and at times marginalized the State Department and Pentagon.
As Obama grappled with putting military action to a vote in Congress, he didn't consult his foreign policy team. Instead, he sought out Denis McDonough, a longtime adviser who now serves as his chief of staff. And most of the administration's foreign policy leadership was absent from the Oval Office meeting Friday night when the president informed several advisers about his decision to seek congressional approval.
Rice, a member of the White House staff, was in the room. But Kerry and Hagel were only informed about the decision later that night during phone calls from the president.
See my earlier diaries -
○ Press Briefing in Jordan - Obama Incoherent on Syrian Issue March 22, 2013
○ Breaking News: Syria Crossed Obama's Red Line. June 13, 2013
○ Bilad al-Sham: Jihad's Newest Hot Spot. June 15, 2013
○ Rice and Kerry: War Inside the White House. August 8, 2013
○ Obama: Lesson In Statesmanship to Build a Relationship August 8, 2013
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