"... “You want to transfer an entire population,” MK Hanna Swaid (Hadash) said.Committee chairwoman MK Miri Regev (Likud) responded, “Yes, as the Americans did to the Indians.”
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Hof forgets that he mostly resembles a disposable wipe than an aspiring 'regent'!
"... Ryan Crocker is no friend of the Assad regime. He is an unsentimental foreign policy realist. He seems to have come to the conclusion that the regime has prevailed over the United States and the West, and it is now time to sue for terms. Gone, if not entirely forgotten, is the talk about Assad stepping aside and red lines not to be crossed. Replacing it is a hoped-for Geneva conference at which an otherwise victorious regime is being asked to memorize a script mandating its exit...If therefore, the United States were to open direct communication with the regime, the one thing it might usefully say that could save lives and perhaps even set the stage for a civil exchange at Geneva would be something like the following: "WE WANT the massed fire terror attacks and starvation sieges on populated areas to cease forthwith. WE WANT the United Nations to be granted absolutely unrestricted access for its humanitarian relief operations everywhere in Syria. WE DEMAND that these two steps be implemented right now. If they are not, WE RESERVE THE RIGHT, at a time of our choosing, TO DESTROY those military systems..." (that's HOW Hof talks to a regime that has prevailed against the most incredible odds!)
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:11 PM
"... Omani Foreign Minister Youssef bin Alawi surprised the audience when he bluntly declared that his country is against the union and will withdraw from the new body unless it sees the light. Oman had previously expressed its rejection of the Saudi proposal in 2011 but the minister’s recent statement came at Saudi Arabia’s worst moment, when both international and regional power shifts are increasingly eroding the Saudi position. Alawi’s statement shattered the illusion of cooperation and the chances of Gulf unity at a time when Saudi Arabia is desperate to regain its stature, at least among its Gulf neighbors.The direct language of the Omani minister is not something that Saudi Arabia is used to, especially coming from its close partners in the GCC. The statement added insult to injury after it transpired that Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman facilitated a secret dialogue between the United States and Iran that culminated in the recent Geneva agreement, which is resented by Saudi Arabia. For a long time, Oman resisted following the confrontational Saudi position with Iran or other Arab countries that Saudi Arabia deemed threatening, such as Syria. It is not known to have openly interfered in the internal affairs of other neighbors, supported dissident groups or exported ideology abroad. Oman remains a solid ally of Western powers that can be relied on at times of crisis. Its apparent neutrality is driven by its own internal history, culture and engagement with the outside world..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:48 AM
Monday, December 9, 2013
"... They may have a shared interest in confronting Syrian fundamentalist groups, who now dominate the anti-Assad rebellion."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:53 AM
Sunday, December 8, 2013
"... Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.... He cited a list of what appeared to be hard-won evidence of Assad’s culpability: ‘In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighbourhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.’ Obama’s certainty was echoed at the time by Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, who told the New York Times: ‘No one with whom I’ve spoken doubts the intelligence’ directly linking Assad and his regime to the sarin attacks.
But in recent interviews with intelligence and military officers and consultants past and present, I found intense concern, and on occasion anger, over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence. One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote. A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening. The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam. The same official said there was immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy: ‘The guys are throwing their hands in the air and saying, “How can we help this guy” – Obama – “when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along?”’The complaints focus on what Washington did not have: any advance warning from the assumed source of the attack. The military intelligence community has for years produced a highly classified early morning intelligence summary, known as the Morning Report, for the secretary of defence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; a copy also goes to the national security adviser and the director of national intelligence. The Morning Report includes no political or economic information, but provides a summary of important military events around the world, with all available intelligence about them. A senior intelligence consultant told me that some time after the attack he reviewed the reports for 20 August through 23 August. For two days – 20 and 21 August – there was no mention of Syria. On 22 August the lead item in the Morning Report dealt with Egypt; a subsequent item discussed an internal change in the command structure of one of the rebel groups in Syria. Nothing was noted about the use of nerve gas in Damascus that day. It was not until 23 August that the use of sarin became a dominant issue, although hundreds of photographs and videos of the massacre had gone viral within hours on YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites. At this point, the administration knew no more than the public..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:58 AM
Saturday, December 7, 2013
"... The man in charge of the safe house near Reyhanli told the BBC's Richard Galpin that "more than 150 people stayed at the house" in the past 90 days.
"Between 15 and 20 were British. It's all done through invitations from friends".
He added that jihadists usually "stay for a day or two before crossing into Syria and stay on the way back when they are waiting for flights back to their home countries".
One such fighter from France told our correspondent that "there are thousands of us, literally from every corner of the world".
"And we are all al-Qaeda," he added..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:13 PM
"... In their heyday, neoconservatives boasted that while anyone could go to Baghdad, real men hankered to go to Tehran. But as a venue for displaying American power, Baghdad proved a bust. In Tehran lies the possibility of finding a way out of perpetual war. Although by no means guaranteed, the basis for a deal exists: We accept the Islamic republic, they accept the regional status quo. They get survival, we get a chance to repair self-inflicted wounds. It’s the same bargain that Nixon offered Mao: Keep your revolution at home, and we’ll make our peace with it. Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program provide the medium for achieving this larger end.Any such deal would surely annoy Saudi Arabia and Israel, each for its own reasons committed to casting Iran as an existential threat. Obama just might choose to let them fret..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:46 AM
'... To turn to Iran, White House officials are relieved that Obama’s calls to Saudi King Abdullah and Netanyahu together with Secretary of State Kerry's visit to Israel are showing sign of winning the Administration a limited amount of time and space to negotiate a robust final stage agreement with Tehran. US-Israeli relations have recovered some of their usual warmth. Renewed action in the Senate in favor of tougher sanctions, however, has White House officials worried. Finally, on Afghanistan a “dual debate” is in process, first with Afghan President Karzai regarding the bilateral security agreement from which the expectations are extremely modest, and second between the White House and the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the size and mission of any residual US military presence. The latter are arguing for something broader than desired by the former.'
"... An activist from Raqqa, who has moved to the north-western province of Idlib, blamed the Western-backed Free Syrian Army rebel fighters for allowing the jihadis to take over."All the FSA cared for was stealing and accumulating money. From the first day of Raqqa's liberation they left it to the Islamic State," he said...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:23 AM
The Syrian 'opposition': "war crimes, thuggery, kidnapping, torture, subservience to foreign intelligence services, deception, religious bigotry"
The Angry Arab News Service
"... Let me reiterate: I know of no opposition movement--not even the Ba`th--which has committed more war crimes, thuggery, kidnapping, torture, subservience to foreign intelligence services, deception, religious bigotry BEFORE reaching power than this Syrian exile opposition..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:59 AM
Friday, December 6, 2013
Foreign Policy"... According to his Aman file, Lakkis was active in the radical Shiite movement since age 19, enlisting shortly after it was established. He had a certain amount of technical education at a Lebanese university, but most of his skills were acquired from his experience in developing and manufacturing weaponry. Almost from the outset he was the top procurement officer and coordinator with Iran on these matters. Thanks to his efforts, Hezbollah became the most powerful terrorist organization ever with "firepower that 90 percent of the countries in the world do not have," according to Dagan.
As early as the mid-1990s, there were Aman officers who marked Lakkis as a potential target, believing that he should be eliminated. But Hezbollah was not a preferred target at the time and was considered more of a nuisance than a strategic threat. By the time that this changed in the 2000s, he was already taking extreme precautions to protect himself....
The formula was a success. In the summer of 2006, Israel lost its war with Hezbollah, thanks, in part, to fortifications equipped with advanced gear like communications, command-and-control systems, and night-vision optics -- all of which Lakkis played an important role in acquiring. In effect, it was Israel, the strongest military force in the Middle East, that was badly defeated, failing to achieve any of the goals it had set itself.
On July 20, 2006, the Israelis tried to take Lakkis out with a rocket fired from an F-16 fighter at his apartment in Beirut, but he wasn't home and his son was killed...., ..., ...,
Hezbollah was quick to point the finger at Israel; Israel was quick to deny the attack. If indeed the assassins belong to some elite intelligence organization, by now they are most likely to be out of Lebanon, away from Hezbollah's grasp. But this tactical success -- if you can call it that -- is not necessarily a strategic one in the Middle Eastern political arena.
To play assassin is to challenge history outright. Some hit jobs proved effective in changing reality, but not all changed it in the manner the perpetrators had hoped for. Take the 1992 assassination of Hezbollah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi. Retaliation attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets after his death cost dozens of lives, and the more radical and more effective Hassan Nasrallah took over as the organization's leader..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:05 PM
"A monumental battle is shaping up in the United States Senate over the issue of new draconian sanctions against Iran. The House of Representatives has already passed a sanctions bill that would effectively shut down all remaining Iranian oil exports. A paralllel bill in the Senate has been so-far held back from a vote, but a bipartisan group of Senators, all under heavy AIPAC influence, are now vowing to ram through the sanctions bill regardless of the impact on the interim deal signed last month between the P5+1 and Iran. The White House is arguing, with considerable merit, that any new sanctions--even if delayed for the six month period of the interim agreement--would be seen as an act of bad faith and would likely guarantee that no final deal between the world powers and Iran would be feasible.
The Obama Administration has launched a serious effort to make the case that the Senate should refrain from such a flagrant act of sabotage. The National Security Council this week issued a 25-page paper to journalists showing broad bipartisan support for the deal with Iran. Unfortunately, the document only cited 17 Members of Congress who publicly backed the Administration. A second 19-page document was subsequently issued, showing broad international support for the negotiations with Iran. On Dec. 5, Wendy Sherman, Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs gave a classified briefing to every available Member of Congress. Secretary of State John Kerry, traveling in the Middle East to drum up support for the Iran negotiations, issued a video statement to Congress.AIPAC has announced that passage of new Iran sanctions is their current number one legislative priority. Recently 76 Senators wrote to President Obama demanding a tougher stance with Iran. And a bipartisan group of senior Senators, including Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Bob Corker (R-Ten.) have vowed to push the sanctions through the Senate, either as a self-standing bill or an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).Corker was just in Saudi Arabia, where he was feted by Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, the head of Saudi Intelligence and the King's National Security Council. Bandar delayed his scheduled trip to Moscow to meet with President Putin to dedicate five hours to Corker, who also met with the Crown Prince, the Minister of Justice and the Head of the National Guard. He will no doubt return to Washington zealous to drive through the Iran sanctions.
The case for new sanctions was undercut by the fact that the French government already stepped in to strengthen the terms of the interim agreement by insisting that all construction had to be halted at the site of the heavy water reactor at Arak. The very same AIPAC and neo-conservative Senators and Congressmen who lauded the French (President Hollande was given a hero's welcome in Israel by Prime Minister Netanyahu after the French stalled the signing of the interim deal) for tightening the terms of the agreement are now the ones screaming the loudest that the deal--complete with the French revised language--is a sell-out to Tehran. Logic and truthfulness were never AIPAC's strong suits.
While President Obama is crashing in the polls, largely over the problems with Obamacare, the sequestration and the high unemployment, his foreign policy team, led by Secretary Kerry--not Susan Rice--is adament that Congress must stay out of the sensitive negotiating process. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, has the power to block the sanctions from coming to a vote. But Reid himself is not immune to AIPAC's powerful checkbook, if the past is any prologue. Hardliners in Tehran would love to see the deal go down the tubes as the result of American sabotage rather than their own intransigence.Between now and January 7, 2014, the Senate is scheduled to be in session for exactly six days. The battle over Iran sanctions, what some astute observers have described as "AIPAC's Waterloo," may spill over into the New Year. But sooner or later, as the final status talks progress and Iran demonstrates whether or not it will fully comply with the interim deal, the issue will come to a head."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:40 PM
Thursday, December 5, 2013
"... But there are indications that Israel may have miscalculated on this last point. The way Hezbollah announced the martyrdom of Laqqis, and the speed with which he was buried in unexceptional circumstances – without, for example, any positions declared by Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah – all suggest to those who know how the Resistance operates that in fact its response is not long in coming...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:08 PM
"The U.S. and its allies have held direct talks with key Islamist militias in Syria, Western officials say, aiming to undercut al Qaeda while acknowledging that religious fighters long shunned by Washington have gained on the battlefield.At the same time, Saudi Arabia is taking its own outreach further, moving to directly arm and fund one of the Islamist groups, the Army of Islam, despite U.S. qualms.... Some officials in Western capitals remain wary about courting these groups, whose ultimate goal is to establish a state ruled by Islamic law, or Shariah, in Syria.... The Saudis and the West are pivoting toward a newly created coalition of religious militias called the Islamic Front, which excludes the main al Qaeda-linked groups fighting in Syria—the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, known as ISIS..."Needless to repeat this for the ... time: The Islamic Front components SHARE LOGISTICAL & HUMINT WITH al NUSRA & ISIS!
"... “We need to start talking to the Assad regime again” about counterterrorism and other issues of shared concern, said Ryan C. Crocker, a veteran diplomat who has served in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. “It will have to be done very, very quietly. But bad as Assad is, he is not as bad as the jihadis who would take over in his absence.”
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:56 AM
"... Rebels of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant had previously set fires in the two churches and knocked the crosses off them, replacing them with the group’s black Islamic banner.Abdurrahman sent photographs of the Church of Armenian Martyrs, with a black ISIL flag flying from where the cross once stood. Below, a black banner read, “The proselytizing office, region of Raqqa.”
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:52 AM
The Angry Arab News Service
"... OK, you want to remind readers that Bashshar is `Alawite is fine, but why not refer to Sunnis thus: "are mostly of Usamah Bin Laden's sect"?
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:42 AM
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
"... Yesterday, Dick Cheney lackey John Hannah wrote a remarkable screed about Saudi complaints. It starts by warning that Obama’s Iran deal’s “greatest impact is not ensuring that Iran doesn’t get the bomb, but that the Saudis will.” In part to support this, he describes Mr. Tip of the Spear’s close consultations with the Pakistanis (who not only have the bomb but have thousands of our troops held hostage to supply lines through Pakistan).
"... Bandar is now clearly the tip of the spear in King Abdullah’s efforts to combat the Iranian threat around the region — not to mention the principal point of contact in the kingdom’s thick relationship with Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment..."
Then after laying out the Saudi complaints (basically, that the US is not serving as meat in its efforts to extend its hegemony over the region), and after condemning John Kerry with a mix of emasculation and Saudi distrust, Hannah issues the threat Bandar likely suggested he issue:
"... An atmosphere this poisonous is dangerous, to say the least. The incentive for the Saudis to engage in all kinds of self-help that Washington would find less than beneficial, even destructive, is significant and rising. Driven into a corner, feeling largely abandoned by their traditional superpower patron, no one should doubt that the Saudis will do what they believe is necessary to ensure their survival. It would be a mistake to underestimate their capacity to deliver some very unpleasant surprises: from the groups they feel compelled to support in their escalating proxy war with Iran, to the price of oil, to their sponsorship (and bankrolling) of a much expanded regional role for Russia and China at America’s expense...."(...)
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:39 AM
"... Believing that this interruption will be brief, the US has called for the transport trucks to wait in holding areas in Afghanistan. Will these holding areas be the sites of the next “tactical success” for opponents of US policy?..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 8:33 AM
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
"... The ongoing battle between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and anti-Assad rebels for the rural mountainous region of Qalamoun, along the Syria-Lebanon border, has pushed scores, if not hundreds, of fighters from a variety of Syrian rebel groups into Lebanon, where security officials say their presence is destabilizing an already-volatile situation.“Some rebels seem to have decided that operating directly in Lebanon is safer than Syria,” one exasperated Lebanese security official said, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to reporters. “Some of these are normal rebels tired of war who have entered Lebanon with their families as refugees, but we’re seeing evidence some are with al Qaida or the Nusra Front,” an al Qaida-affiliated rebel group..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:14 PM
Israel in 10 Years
"... Right now, Israel does not need the United States, nor American aid, which means much less to them now than it did in 1973. They need it as a symbol of American commitment and will continue to need it. But the real Israeli fear is that the United States is moving away from direct intervention to a more subtle form of manipulation. That represents a threat to Israel if Israel ever needs direct intervention rather than manipulation. But more immediately, it threatens Israel because the more relationships the United States has in the region, the less significant Israel is to Washington's strategy..., ... Israel becomes not the anchor of U.S. policy but one of many considerations. This is Israel's real fear in these negotiations.In the end, Israel is a small and weak power. Its power has been magnified by the weakness of its neighbors. That weakness is not permanent, and the American relationship has changed in many ways since 1948. Another shift seems to be underway. The Israelis used to be able to depend on massive wellsprings of support in the U.S. public and Congress. In recent years, this support has become less passionate, though it has not dried up completely. What Israel has lost is twofold. First, it has lost control of America's regional strategy. Second, it has lost control of America's political process. Netanyahu hates the U.S.-Iran talks not because of nuclear weapons but because of the strategic shift of the United States. But his response must remain measured because Israel has less influence in the United States than it once did."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:57 AM
A new wave of 'Westernized-Weaponized-Vetted', Jihadi converts, convicts & mercenaries heads to Syria
"... A new wave of Europeans is heading to Syria, their ranks soaring in the past six months as tales of easy living and glorious martyrdom draw them to the rebellion against Bashar Assad.The western Europe-based rebels, mostly young men, are being recruited by new networks that arrange travel and comfortable lodging in the heart of rebel territory, and foster a militant form of Islam that Western security officials fear will add to the terror threat when the fighters return home..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:32 AM
Kidnapping becomes 'moving' when it involves the kind & properly vetted cannibals of ISIS & co.
Opposition fighters in Syria move 12 nuns from captured village
Opposition fighters in Syria move 12 nuns from captured village
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:26 AM
Monday, December 2, 2013
"... But is this good news? At one level, yes. I attended a Gulf security conference here in Abu Dhabi that included officials and experts from all over the Arab/Muslim world. In the opening session, Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, flanked by the white and blue Israeli flag, gave an address by satellite from his office in Jerusalem. Good for the United Arab Emirates, the conference sponsor, for making that happen. Seeing the Israeli president speak to an audience dotted with Arab headdresses reminded me of the Oslo days, when Israelis and Arabs held business conferences in Cairo and Amman... But this tacit Israeli-Sunni Arab cooperation is not based on any sort of reconciliation, but on the tribal tradition that my enemy’s enemy is my friend — and the enemy is Iran ... "
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:42 AM
White House: 'Pro-Israeli lobbying groups on Capitol Hill are gradually dialing back their initial vociferous opposition to the US-Iran deal'
'While President Obama’s domestic political standing remains embattled over healthcare, once again on foreign policy he is enjoying something of a charmed life. Some of this derives from apparent missteps by US competitors. Intelligence Community analysts who have assessed China’s delineation of a new Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea have concluded that China now appears to have overplayed its hand and is softening its initial position in the face of a firm US reaction... A more positive source of satisfaction for Obama arises from the first step agreement with Iran. While this has plenty of outright critics – most notably Prime Minister Netanyahu whom Obama has sought to placate – Administration spokesmen have to a large extent blunted this criticism by pointing out the real concerns made by Tehran and the limited scope of the sanctions relief granted. Senior officials realize that the hard bargaining that will be necessary to reach an end state agreement lies ahead and that there is absolutely no guarantee of success. However, they believe they have made a good start, including on some of the most contentious parts of Iran’s nuclear program like the Arak reactor. They are also encouraged that pro-Israeli lobbying groups on Capitol Hill are gradually dialing back their initial vociferous opposition to the deal. The feeling inside the White House and State Department is that they have a chance at an historic realignment with Iran if the second stage agreement can be achieved. By contrast, with regard to Afghanistan, US officials are voicing near 100% frustration with President Karzai over his refusal to sign the Bilateral Security Arrangement needed to underpin the proposed continued US military presence in the country post 2014 and an uninterrupted flow of international aid. The US will be very reluctant to walk away from Afghanistan, but that possibility is growing larger.'
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:30 AM
"... “Texas is the most drilled state in the world,” Maugeri said. “To give you an order of magnitude, the number of wells drilled in Texas compared to Saudi Arabia is 1,000 to one.”The ability of the United States to dominate the extraction of shale deposits at home raises another question, troubling to some: Will the United States become less interested in the global military role it plays now?
“One thing this may do is untangle the obsessiveness about Middle East oil, this whole idea that we have to somehow protect these sea routes at all costs,” said Mark Clinton Thurber, associate director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University...
Today, U.S. taxpayers foot the bill for Navy ships that largely protect supertankers headed to Asia. China overtook the United States as the largest importer of Persian Gulf oil two years ago.
That trend will surge, and “it’s going to raise all new questions,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, an expert on global energy production at the University of California, Davis.
“You have the Chinese and other Asians free riding on a U.S. security presence, and I’m not sure that’s sustainable,” said Manning of the Atlantic Council....
Some experts argue that the United States should not disengage from the Persian Gulf because U.S. interests there go far beyond energy supplies. The region is vital to efforts to contain nuclear proliferation and religious extremism, the protection of Israel remains a central U.S. interest, and while the importance of Middle East oil may be on the decline for the United States, any disruption there would send world prices skyrocketing – harming economies in Asia that are vital U.S. markets...
For the short and medium term, oil giants like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait may survive unscathed as they look to Asia, sending as much as 70 percent of their oil there. Smaller oil producers in North Africa and the Middle East, however, may encounter “power struggles or upheaval” as they face declining revenue, according to a report in February from Citigroup, the global financial concern.
Over the longer term, the outlook may be brighter. The Paris-based International Energy Agency forecast in a report this month that rising global demand would allow the Middle East to recapture its role as a key source of oil by the mid-2020s, primarily to meet surging demand in Asia while Europe and the United States reap benefits of improved energy efficiency.
Most U.S. experts concur that a big loser from the growth of the U.S. shale industry will be Russia, which has locked in Eastern and Western Europe as clients for its natural gas, leveraging the reliance on its supplies for political gain..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:24 AM
Al Jazeera English
"... But the US' nonchalance vis-a-vis the Saudis should hardly come as a surprise when it is extending similar treatment to its closest ally, Israel. As a Histrionic Personality disordered regime, Israel has been taking the P5+1 negotiations with Iran much harder than its Saudi counterpart. The histrionic's penchant for "hysteria", "self-dramatisation, theatricality, exaggerated expression of emotions", and discomfort when "not the centre of attention", has been showcased by Israel's "borderline hysterical response" to the interim agreement with Iran, as one Foreign Policy writer described it. These theatrics were most vividly illustrated by Netanyahu's meme-generating, Looney Tunes-inspired,Iranian bomb cartoon which he somberly displayed at the UN last year - a textbook case of the histrionic's "highly impressionistic" style of expression....
But being "excessively sensitive to criticism or disapproval" only sends the histrionic into a tail-spin of self-pity and inconsolable rage which was not in the least bit assuaged by Kerry's assurances that the deal "makes Israel safer". In typical histrionic fashion, Israel merely lashed out further against its partner, as Netanyahu unabashedly called for American Jews to oppose their government for dealing with Iran. As with the borderline personality's reactivity, the histrionic's self-sabotaging gestures are ultimately suicidal.The Economist observes, "Even if Mr Netanyahu were right, an increase in the risk of an Iranian nuclear bomb poses nowhere near as great a threat to Israel's security as losing the solidarity of American Jews."
In the final analysis, the US-Iranian nuclear agreement must be viewed not merely as a breakthrough in international relations, but as a psychological breakthrough in an otherwise pathological world order."
Al Jazeera English
"... As expected of borderline personalities, Saudi Arabia reacted to this neglect with fits of rage, impulsivity and a destabilisation of the relationship - a kind of "I hate you, don't leave me" phenomenon - which only serves to push the narcissist further away from the borderline personality. In the case of the Saudi borderline personality, existential fears are especially pronounced as they directly relate to regime survival, which, in no small measure, is dependent on US military and political support.And yet despite all this, Saudi threats of a "major shift" in relations with the US have been met with little more than John Kerry's glib reassurances of Saudi's "indispensability" punctuated by unremorseful, self-congratulatory pats on the back: "Nobody else in the world at this moment - and I don't say this with any arrogance; I say it with pride and I say it as a matter of reality - no one else comes close to what we are able to do to keep the peace or what we do to try to manage and tampen down old animosities and keep them at bay."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:55 AM
Friday, November 29, 2013
Thursday, November 28, 2013
"... Added to the mix is the fact that criminality and radical Islamism gradually are intermingling in the suburbs of major cities and in poor peripheral villages. Over time, the emergence of a so-called islamo-gangsterism could contribute to the rise of groups blending jihadism and organised crime within contraband networks operating at the borders – or, worse, to active cooperation between cartels and jihadis..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:20 AM
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
This man, just like Pollard and many others before and after him, spied on America!
"... A big-shot Hollywood producer who for decades was working as an Israeli spy and arms dealer has defended his actions and said it was 'exciting' being his country's 'James Bond.'Arnon Milchan, 68, who's famous for smash hit movies including 'Fight Club' and 'Pretty Woman,' spoke openly for the first time about his espionage work in an Israeli TV special that aired Monday night.The program reveals Milchan, at the special request of his friend Shimon Peres, who is now the country's president' set up and operated some 30 companies in 17 countries that helped Israel obtain parts and plans for its nuclear project in the 1980s. He brokered deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the show..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:14 AM
Monday, November 25, 2013
"... For all the focus on the nuclear program, the crux of the matter is not a technical, arms control issue so much as it is a geopolitical, strategic one, namely Iran’s role and status in the region. That is where the greatest challenges long-term lie, and it is where potential spoilers are most abundant, whether in Israel, the Gulf, ...Europe, the U.S. and, of course, Iran itself...."
"... All those engaged in the Syria process therefore are waiting to see if Saudi Arabia will continue on its current course, or if it will change direction. Some do see prospects of such a change (simply because Saudi current policies are so clearly damaging for Saudi Arabia itself), but equally, all are keenly aware of the leadership void in the kingdom, and of the deep fear amongst the al-Saud that their claimed leadership of the Islamic world is slipping from their grasp, leaving them with only a diminished and somewhat tarnished legitimacy of happening to be the rulers of the holy cities of Medina and Mecca. And it is not very probable that any new prospective Saudi direction will have occurred in time for a November Geneva II.”
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:08 AM
"... This new ethos is as well being reinforced by new dynamics. The government feels tangibly the slide of international politics in its direction (including by the US): European intelligence services (German, French and British) have resumed their relations with Damascus. Other European states are quietly discussing the re-opening of their embassies; some Gulf states are informally expressing to their Syrian opposite numbers their disenchantment with GCC (notably Saudi) policy towards Syria, and the majority of regional states now seem to favor a political solution. Egyptians too privately indicate that they sense a greater common interest with Syria, than with their patron, Saudi Arabia, but the politics of the Egyptian situation does not allow for a free expression of such sentiments. In Damascus, however, there can be little doubt but that the tide of their diplomatic isolation has turned..."
Some American officials are telling it like it is!
"... says R. Nicholas Burns, the former under secretary of state for policy who organized the first sanctions against Iran during the Bush administration. “No good negotiator is going to give that up, and Barack Obama and John Kerry are smart negotiators. But it’s in the American national interest to try to make this negotiation work. If it’s not in the Israeli interest or the Saudi interest, so be it.” ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:19 AM
Sunday, November 24, 2013
IMO, appeasement IS NOT when the US tries the 'Iran pivot' to dedicate treasure & effort to the East Asian theater ...
appeasement IS when the US appoints Zionist hawks (at STATE) to deal with the question of Palestine, resigning to the fact that not much can be done at this time, so might as well throw a bone to the rabid rulers in Tel Aviv ...
appeasement IS when the US appoints Zionist hawks (at STATE) to deal with the question of Palestine, resigning to the fact that not much can be done at this time, so might as well throw a bone to the rabid rulers in Tel Aviv ...
"... While it was welcomed in many world capitals, the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said: "What was concluded in Geneva last night is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake." He warned that Israel still had all options on the table.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, disagreed with Netanyahu's appraisal, saying that Isreal had been made safer by the deal. "I believe that from this day, for the next six months, Israel is in fact safer than it was yesterday.."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:15 PM
"... Unfortunately, Egyptian government, which was established after the military coup, decided to send our ambassador back to Turkey and we reciprocated in the same way. As I said yesterday in my press conference, this type of crisis is temporary, but Turkish-Egyptian friendship is permanent until the end of history. Turkey will be siding with the Egyptian people and whatever the Egyptian people decide Turkey will respect. Whoever is acting against the will of the Egyptian people, Turkey will be against them..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:07 PM
"... Iran, agreed to stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent, a level that would be sufficient for energy production but that would require further enrichment for bomb-making. To make good on that pledge, Iran will dismantle links between networks of centrifuges.Its stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, a short hop from weapons-grade fuel, would be diluted or converted into oxide so that it could not be readily used for military purposes. Iran agreed that it would not install any new centrifuges, start up any that are not already operating or build new enrichment facilities.
The agreement, however, does not require Iran to stop enriching uranium to a low level of 3.5 percent, or to dismantle any of its existing centrifuges.
The accord was a disappointment for Israel..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:50 AM
"... “We have pursued intensive diplomacy – bilaterally with the Iranians, and together with our P5+1 partners: the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, as well as the European Union,” Obama said from the White House Saturday. “Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure – a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.”
Al-Monitor learned that Burns was in Geneva during the second round of nuclear talks between the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the US, UK, France, Russia, China) plus Germany (P5+1) and Iran held here November 7-9, and subsequently learned additional details about the bilateral channel, but agreed to hold the story at the administration’s request until the conclusion of the third round of nuclear talks that ended here in a breakthrough tonight....At the third round, of P5+1 Iran nuclear negotiations. Both times, he did not stay at the main diplomatic hotel, the Intercontinental, where many of the negotiations have taken place, but at another site, the US official said..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:22 AM
Saturday, November 23, 2013
'Army-of-Islam's' Zahran Alloush: "I have operationally met with Sheikh Usama Bin Laden, Prince Bandar & US Ambassador Robert Ford"
Zahran Alloush (Leader of the Islam Army - Islam Brigade) and as per The Guardian:"... Alloush recently held talks with Bandar along with Saudi businessmen who are financing individual rebel brigades under the JAI's banner. Other discreet coordinating meetings in Turkey have involved the Qatari foreign minister, Khaled al-Attiyeh, AND the US envoy to Syria, Robert Ford..."Zahran Alloush as per the video above:"I was honored to have met Usama Bin Laden, may he RIP, and the Islam Brigade & Al Nusra are one & only ..."
'The hemorrhage to President Obama's political standing as a result of the troubled healthcare reform launch is showing few signs of being staunched. Added to this, the already rancorous relationship between the two political parties on Capitol Hill took a further turn for the worse following the adoption of new majority voting rules in the Senate that will ease this and future Administration's ability to obtain the judicial and executive appointments it wants. As a result, what minimal residue of good will that existed between the parties has evaporated. The spillover on domestic policy will, in the words of a White House political adviser to whom we spoke, be “ugly.” Foreign policy will not be spared. On any issue on which cooperation with the Senate is required – relief on Iran sanctions, the draft post-2014 security pact with Afghanistan, major trade agreements like the Transpacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment, and others – Republicans will be intent on making life difficult for the Administration. Without a Congressional grant of trade promotion authority, commercial deals become very difficult to finalize. Traditionally, when the going gets tough on the home front, US presidents have turned to opportunities overseas where they are less constrained politically. We do not sense that Obama will follow this path. White House contacts tell us that, while Obama would respond to any international crises with the necessary engagement, his main focus will be to fix health care – where his legacy is invested – and to reform immigration where he believes he can wrong foot the Republicans. Consequently, Secretary of State Kerry will have to carry the major burden of foreign policy, albeit on a tight leash from White House officials unwilling to allow him to take any steps that might endanger Obama's domestic agenda. Further, Obama's engagement will be episodic and crisis-driven. This means that the scope for bold foreign policy breakthroughs is very limited. Foreign observers of US foreign policy should expect no more than incremental changes. We have mentioned above some of the short-term challenges faced by the Administration that will now become more difficult, but for the longer-term the most important implication may be on relations with China. If a strong counterbalance from the Administration is absent – a not unlikely scenario – the the existing dynamics – for example, those represented by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission – in military, cyber, and trade circles calling for a less accommodating approach may turn into a self-fulfilling prophesy.'
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 2:14 PM
".. With a positive track record on Syria and Iran, our two countries will be in a much better position to reconcile their differences on issues such as missile defense, new steps in nuclear arms reductions, and other regional crises..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:09 AM
Friday, November 22, 2013
Thursday, November 21, 2013
MEPGS: Excerpts from November 21 'brief':
"Events are moving quickly as representatives of the P5+ 1 (US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) engage at the end of this week in crucial talks with Iran. At stake is not only what not only top Administration officials, but also Iranian representatives, call the best chance in years for an initial agreement on the course of Iran’s nuclear development program. The focus is directly on an interim deal that would, in the view of the P-5+ 1, freeze or at least slow down Iran’s dash towards nuclear weapons capability – in exchange for short term easing of international economic sanctions on Teheran. However, the stakes are much greater than whether this round of talks is a success.When they met last month, by all accounts, Secretary of State Kerry was close to inking a deal with his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Zarif. However, at the last minute the deal fell through, with most observers blaming the French for scuttling the accord. According to well-informed sources, the French, were indeed, miffed at being sidelined and ... after a lengthy phone conversation between President Obama and French President Hollande, both sides say, to quote one well-informed observer, “ We are now on the same page.”
Yet, even as this tortuous diplomacy played out, there were other actors clamoring to be heard. Most outspoken was Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu..., ..., ..., Another party also demanding to be heard is the US Congress.... the intense lobbying by Administration officials from the President on down, has – for a time – succeeded in gaining a respite (on sanctions) – at least until the beginning of December. Perhaps those with the most at stake, the Gulf countries, while not as outspoken in public, have made it clear privately to US officials, their unhappiness with the prospect of a deal with Iran. However, unlike Congress, which has a mainly political stake in the outcome or Israel, which possesses a military that can theoretically act on its own, the Gulf states have nowhere else to turn, other than to the US for protection from an aggressive Iran, particularly one that is a proverbial “screw driver away” from assembling a nuclear weapon. Moreover, the Gulf States, led by Saudi Arabia, have complaints about US Middle East policy that go beyond Iran’s nuclear intentions. These days it focuses on Syria -- where the last minute deal brokered by Russia that prevented an American military strike on Syria – left the top leadership in Riyadh incensed. So much so, that quite uncharacteristically, the Saudis have “gone public” with their disenchantment. Led by Prince Bandar, the Kingdom’s key player on Syria, the Saudis have let it be known that they believe the strategic nature of the longstanding US-Saudi relationship is under review. While American officials scoff at the notion that the Saudis have any alternative, it has not prevented them, Bandar in particular, from trying to chart an independent course, where possible. It has also led, at least in one instance to a very un-Saudi like snub. On his last trip to Riyadh, according to informed sources, Kerry’s scheduled meeting with Bandar was abruptly cancelled at the very last moment. [Although this action, like many of Bandar’s recent actions and those of his generation of Princes, is being seen by US analysts as indicative of the infighting now going on as the last of the sons of Abdul Aziz – the Kingdom’s Founder – fade from the scene].
As those aggrieved with US policy have maneuvered for leverage, recently all have turned to Russia. Over the past few months, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and even Israel [Netanyahu is now in Moscow lobbying Vladimir Putin on the Iranian threat] have struck up talks with the one time Super Power. Referring to this unlikely trio working the Russians, one US State Department official sighed, “What an extreme example of the enemy of my enemy is, well, not exactly but close to being my friend’.” This official went on to say that there is a real shared interest among this threesome which goes beyond Iran and directly to the heart of US policymaking. The Israelis as well as the Saudis believe that the Obama Administration has badly mishandled the consequences of the “Arab Spring”, particularly in its handling of the rise of the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt. The Israelis fear their profound hostility to the Jewish state. The Saudis see them as fascists. And the Egyptian military see them as direct threat to their primacy at home. For those reasons, US analysts expect Saudi money to keep pouring into Egypt; Israeli spare parts finding their way to the Egyptian military, should the US cut them off and the Egyptian military itself willing to go to any lengths necessary to prevent its reemergence or even large demonstrations on its behalf."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:13 PM
... but of course, the 'source' is a Gulfie!
"... Alors que les discussions sur le nucléaire sont entrés ce jeudi à Genève dans le vif du sujet entre Iraniens et représentants des grandes puissances, d’autres négociations se sont tenues ces dernières semaines, mais secrètement cette fois entre diplomates américains et iraniens.
Elles portent sur quatre sujets, révèle au Figaro une source dans le Golfe : l’Afghanistan, l’Irak, la Syrie et comment relancer les affaires entre Téhéran et Washington, après la signature d'un accord sur le nucléaire ?
Selon cette source, les Iraniens ont des discussions directes avec des diplomates américains aux Etats-Unis depuis l’Assemblée générale des Nations unies fin septembre, au cours de laquelle Barack Obama avait téléphoné à Hassan Rohani, le nouveau président modéré de l’Iran.
Le chef de la diplomatie iranienne « Javad Zarif est resté dix jours au Etats-Unis après l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU », souligne cette source. « Et 75 personnes accompagnaient Rohani à New York, dont de très nombreux industriels de la filière Pétrole et Gaz qui ont rencontré alors des représentants de Chevron ou Exxon ».
Sur l’Afghanistan, les Américains demandent aux Iraniens de faciliter le retrait de leurs troupes à partir de 2014, « en sécurisant les zones frontalières où Téhéran dispose de relais". « Les positions ne seraient plus trop éloignées », selon cette source.
A propos de l’Irak, Américains et Iraniens souhaitent « consolider le pouvoir en place et éviter l’éclatement » du pays. Les Américains se félicitent qu’après avoir exercé de fortes pressions sur le premier ministre irakien Nouri el-Maliki, ce dernier a durci la surveillance des vols en provenance de l’Iran qui acheminent des armes à Bachar el-Assad en Syrie.
Les pourparlers sont en revanche plus difficiles sur le conflit syrien. « C’est la carte de négociation, le joker que les Iraniens lâcheront au dernier moment », souligne la source. Mais leur allié, Assad, ayant repris du poil de la bête, Téhéran ne devrait pas le sacrifier de sitôt, alors qu’aucune alternative crédible n’a surgi jusqu'à présent. Et ce d’autant plus qu’à Téhéran, le dossier syrien est géré par les gardiens de la révolution, et non par Hassan Rohani, des pasdarans beaucoup moins enclins aux concessions en Syrie.
Quant aux discussions sur une reprise des affaires entre le « Grand satan » et la République islamique d’Iran, les choses pourraient aller vite, avec à court terme l’ouverture d’une chambre de commerce américano iranienne à Téhéran par un Iranien longtemps exilé aux Etats-Unis. « Les Iraniens auraient promis une centaine de milliards de dollars d’affaires aux sociétés américaines », affirme notre source. Boeing notamment lorgne le très lucratif marché des dizaines d’avions d’Iran Air à remplacer. General Motors est également à l’affut depuis plusieurs mois...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:54 AM