Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 30, 2012

Syria: Destruction Is Their Aim

Some truth on who is destroying Syrian towns and cities:
School buildings lie flattened and the town’s mosque is crushed under the debris of its own demolished twin minarets.

When the rebel Free Syrian Army routed government troops in mid-July, they dynamited the defensive positions that had been used against them -- from the makeshift barracks in schoolyards to the sniper positions atop the towers once used for the Muslim call to prayer.

“Our strategy has been to completely destroy the buildings we had to force regime forces out to stop them ever coming back,” said an opposition leader, who identified himself only as Najmeddin.

It was also the foreign supported insurgents that burned down one of Aleppo's old souks.

Destruction of the infrastructure, economy and social fabric of Syria is their and their supporters aim.

Posted by b on September 30, 2012 at 10:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (92)

September 29, 2012

Three Weeks Old News - A New Low For The Washington Post

  1. Newly received or noteworthy information, esp. about recent or important events.
  2. A broadcast or published report of news.

Today the Washington Post publishes the following report by its reporters Kevin Sieff and Richard Leiby as news on its homepage and on the front page of its print edition: Afghan troops get a lesson in American cultural ignorance

The core of the piece is this:

[T]he Afghan army is trying something new: a guide to the strange ways of the American soldier. The goal is to convince Afghan troops that when their Western counterparts do something deeply insulting, it’s likely a product of cultural ignorance and not worthy of revenge.

The pamphlet is intended to “strengthen our understanding of our [NATO] counterpart,” according to an English translation of the pamphlet that was provided to The Washington Post. But in doing so, it also reveals seemingly minor — and rarely acknowledged — cultural faux pas that have created palpable tension between the two forces.

“Please do not get offended if you see a NATO member blowing his/her nose in front of you,” the guide instructs.

So the Afghan government is teaching its soldiers that they should ignore the acculturate behavior of the foreign barbarians. That is obviously necessary as, even after 11 years, the invading savages are still cultural ignorant and unable to learn how to behave themselves. It is interesting to know that. But how come I remember reading that story already and quite a while ago?

Searching the web for "Afghanistan culture pamphlet" shows that the Washington Post is not delivering news here but is more or less plagiarizing a report by Reuters that was put on the wire three weeks ago, on September 6: Afghans use culture guides to cut "insider" attacks

A pamphlet with guidance on handling cultural differences between Afghans and their foreign partners has been produced amid great concern among Afghan and NATO leaders about attacks by Afghan soldiers and policemen on the foreign troops training them. The attacks have killed 45 NATO-led troops this year.
Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi showed it to reporters on Thursday, saying it was intended for the 190,000-strong Afghan national army.
"Coalition troops may ask about the women in your family. Do not take offence, they just want friendly relations with you. In return, teach them that Afghans do not discuss their families' women with others," the pamphlet instructs, referring to Afghanistan's ultra-conservative society.
Putting one's boots on a desk, blowing one's nose, winking, taking photos, swearing and raising the middle finger are also given as examples of Western culture which might offend Afghans.
It is obvious that the Post report is about the same pamphlet Reuters was first to report on. That pamphlet was not "provided to The Washington Post", which makes the report look exclusive, but multiple copies were distributed at an official press conference of the Afghan defense ministry. Russia TV had its own version on the story on September 8. The French agency AFP also had a writeup published, for example, by The Australian on September 10.

The only thing new in today's Post version of this three week old story is a small quote from the officials that released the report. The meat of the story was copy-pasted from the old agency reports.

The quality of Washington Post has been going down for a while. But meshing up three weeks old wire reports and publishing them as own reporting on the front page is not news but for the once valuable Washington Post a new low.

Posted by b on September 29, 2012 at 10:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (28)

Obama Administration Finally Acknowledges Benghazi Attack

On September 12, a few hours after I happened, I determined that the killing of the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi was an AlQaeda related operation in revenge for the earlier killing of the Al Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi in a U.S. drone strike in Waziristan:
Yesterday's confirmation of Abu Yahya al-Libi's death seems to be a much better explanation for yesterday's raising of al-Qaeda's flag in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the deadly attack on the consulate in Bengahzi. The AQ people in the area certainly had an urge and a plan to avenge al-Libi (the Libyan). That this happened on the anniversary of 9/11 is, as the Zahwahiri tape demonstrates, NOT a coincidence! These people used the movie story only to raise additional rabble to cover for them.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, thought differently:
“Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous – not a premeditated – response to what had transpired in Cairo,” Rice told me this morning on “This Week.”
“We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to – or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo,” Rice said. “And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons… And it then evolved from there.”
Susan Rice was one of the three furies in the State Department that had urged for the destruction of the Libyan state. They misread of, or pretended to misread, the tribal insurgency against Gaddhafi as some kind of liberation movement.

Susan Rice wants to become Secretary of State when, in January, Hillary Clinton will leave the job. She therefore could not admit that her signature project in foreign policy, the war on Libya, turned out to be a disaster.

But after more than two weeks of dancing around the subject the Obama administration finally had to acknowledge what was obvious from the very beginning:

The top U.S. intelligence authority issued an unusual public statement on Friday declaring it now believed the September 11 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, was a "deliberate and organized terrorist attack."
Still missing is the recognition that the rising of the Al Qaeda flag at the U.S. embassy in Cairo by some Salafists was part of the plot.

The false pretension about the attack brings the Obama administration into well deserved political trouble:

The Obama administration’s shifting accounts of the fatal attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, have left President Obama suddenly exposed on national security and foreign policy, a field where he had enjoyed a seemingly unassailable advantage over Mitt Romney in the presidential race.
As Mitt Romney has no viable foreign policy program the issue is unlikely to endanger Obama's reelection but it may cost the democrats some points in the House and the Senate races. Acknowledging the true nature of attack from the very beginning would have done less political harm.

Susan Rice should be fired. True to the Peter principal she has reached a position where her incompetence is at full display. Senator Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has a more realist than interventionist agenda, should become the next Secretary of State.

But in Washington being wrong only reenforces ones standing and no bad deed is left unrewarded. It  is therefore likely that Obama will stick with Susan Rice as his next Secretary of State.

Posted by b on September 29, 2012 at 06:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (55)

September 28, 2012

FARS The Farce (Updated)

UPDATE Sep 30, 8:00am

FARS now apologizes: FNA Apologizes for Recent Mistake

TEHRAN (FNA)- We would like to apologize to all our dear viewers for the mistaken release of a fake opinion poll on our website on Friday.

"Unfortunately an incorrect item was released on our website on Friday which included a fake opinion poll on popularity rate of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and US President Barack Obama. The news item was extracted from the Satirical Magazine, The Onion, by mistake and it was taken down from our outlook in less two hours," Editor-in-chief of FNA's English Service said.

"We offer our formal apologies for that mistake," he added.

FARS points out that others have also fallen for Onion spoofs. That is right. But listing the errors of others does not excuse yours. It only reenforces the point made below. The Onion is well known because others have fallen for it. And that is why journalists and editors aware of the anglophile culture no longer fall for it. Also FARS simply copied the onion piece without giving a source. That was simply plagiarism and whoever is the person responsible for that should have no role in the news business.

My original post is below:

It seems that either the Iranian English language FARSnews site was hacked, one of their interns decided to sabotage the sites reputation or its staff is really incompetent enough to plagiarize from the satire magazine The Onion:

FARS (16:47 | 2012-09-28):
Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad to Obama

TEHRAN (FNA)- According to the results of a Gallup poll released Monday, the overwhelming majority of rural white Americans said they would rather vote for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than US President Barack Obama.

The Onion (September 24, 2012 | ISSUE 48•39):
Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad To Obama

CHARLESTON, WV—According to the results of a Gallup poll released Monday, the overwhelming majority of rural white Americans said they would rather vote for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than U.S. president Barack Obama.
(As that page on the FARS site will likely get removed I preserved two screenshot of the FARS piece.)

A general note to FARS: If you want to communicate in English get yourself some people who are not only well versed in the English language but who also have some cultural competence and know the U.S. and UK from their own experience.

Showing such incompetence makes everyone suspect of the other news you are distributing and only plays into the hands of your country's enemies.

Posted by b on September 28, 2012 at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (31)


This guy seems to be a bit crazy.

And look, he has a big ACME bomb.

He claims to be 90% ready to launch it.

On a more serious note. Netanyahoo says that Iran has to prevented from gaining nuclear capability, which it already has, because it would act irrational and bomb Israel. Then he comes up with some incomprehensible red line which, he says, Iran would respect, because it would act rationally.

The red line Netanyahoo drew is beyond the 90% enrichment. Does that say that Bibi will not mind when Iran enriches up to 90%?

The guy clearly lost it. It is time for him to go.

PS: Pictures in this post may be modified.

Posted by b on September 28, 2012 at 12:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (26)

September 26, 2012

War Scenes - R.I.P. Maya Nasser

Two screenshot from the Russian documentation Battle for Syria (with English subtitles) on the war on Syria that I linked yesterday.The appear at 0:45 and 0:46 into the film.

It shows the back of a journalist reporting from the government side. He had been lucky. A shot had hit the center of the backside of his body armor but did not penetrate it. It seems pretty obvious that this had been a targeted shot, likely by a sniper.

Today more journalists were shot in Syria:

A corespondent for Iran's Press TV was shot dead on Wednesday while reporting from the scene of devastating twin explosions in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Maya Nasser, a 33-year-old Syrian national, was killed after being hit by "insurgent" sniper fire, Press TV said.

The channel's Damascus bureau chief, Hussein Murtada, who also worked for the Arabic-language Al-Alam TV network, was injured after coming under attack, the channel said. [...] Murtada was reportedly shot in the back.

Shooting journalist in the back seems to be a modus operandi of these insurgents.

This video shows Maya Nasser this morning at the 0:19 time mark. He and other colleagues had rushed to the scene of the bombing. Maya Nasser went without body armor.

A while ago I had a few exchanges with him on Twitter. On his twitter page he has this motto:

its not our job to protect the religion from the grip of the state, its our job to protect the state from the grips of the religious radicalism
Back in July Maya Nasser wrote a Night in Damascus which ended with this:
Bottom line is; my people are dying and I am still in the line waiting my turn.
Your wait is over Maya.  Rest in peace.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad reports from the insurgent side. Yesterday a piece by him described how the insurgents torture people, with the obvious result:

Three days later, I met one of the men who had been torturing the young man. He had a sorry look on his face.

"All the names he gave us were fake. Those people don't exist. Now the Islamists have taken him. They are interrogating him and they are not letting anyone else see him."

It is unlikely that the boy will survive that ordeal.

Another piece by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad follows the way the insurgents get their ammunition. The CIA is supervising, the Turks are organizing and the Qataris are paying for it. He then reports from the fighting in Aleppo and includes a vignette of an allegedly defected major:

He turned to Abu Mohamed. "You know when you are in the middle of battle and mortars start slamming the earth around you, you forget all your fears and there is a strange joy and happiness. I am so happy when I am fighting," he said, his eyes sparkling.

The next day found Abu Hussein and Abu Mohamed hugging and weeping like children in the shadow of Aleppo's castle. The quirky and affectionate major lay dead next to them. A single sniper bullet had entered his neck. There was a splash of blood on his right cheek.

War kills people. If not physically then mentally, even generals:

Sorrow now takes centre stage in my mind. Irrational anger simmers, bursting out at the slightest provocation. I see the at the indifference of most Australians to the efforts of our troops overseas. Anxiety stalks me. At shopping centres, I feel threatened, surrounded by unseen dangers. I find myself moving towards the walls of crowded spaces to protect my back. I look for exits and places to take cover. The hyper-awareness that had me flinching at unexpected noises now becomes a disabling compulsion - I jump at any sudden noise. One day we are on a train to Melbourne and the conductor behind me calls out, "Tickets, please!" I jerk in terror, throwing up my arms defensively and emitting a cry of fear. Several people laugh. To my total humiliation, I start to weep.

Its the people who start wars that should be killed or at least should have to fight PTSD. How come they are the ones that most likely survive the wars they start without any damage?

Posted by b on September 26, 2012 at 01:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (54)

September 25, 2012

A Few Links

A few links to issues I would like to write about but currently lack the time to tackle seriously:
"In sum, Morsi's friendly remarks about Iran point toward a regional strategic realignment on an epic scale subsuming the contrived air of sectarian schisms, which practically no Western (or Turkish) experts could have foreseen. It is a matter of time now before Egypt-Iran relations are fully restored, putting an end to the three-decade-old rupture.

The biggest beneficiary of this paradigm shift in Middle Eastern politics is going to be Iran. Arguably, we are probably already past the point of an Israeli attack on Iran, no matter Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tilting at the windmill. In the prevailing surcharged atmosphere, the Muslim Middle East would explode into uncontrollable violence in the event of an Israeli (or US) attack on Iran."

Posted by b on September 25, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (34)

WaPo Adds "Pro-American" To The "Unarmed" Illusions

The neoconned editors of the Washington Post show their stupidity and illusions: In the Middle East, a pro-American turn
IN THE IMMEDIATE aftermath of the attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt, plenty of commentators lamented what they saw as intractible anti-Americanism in the Middle East — even in Libya, where the United States had helped to overthrow a hated dictator. As it turns out, the reactions were hasty. In the days since the riots, there has been a broad backlash against the violence in both countries — culminating Friday in Benghazi, where tens of thousands of people marched on the base of an Islamist militia suspected of involvement in the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate.

People carrying pro-American signs pushed their way into the encampment of Ansar al-Sharia, which in spite of its denials is suspected of complicity in the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The militants were forced out of the base, and the demonstrators burned part of it before turning it over to the Libyan army.

They write this as at the same time as the newspages of the Post report this:
The commander of a powerful Libyan militia said Monday that looters had stolen “a large number” of shoulder-fired, heat-seeking missiles from the militia’s base when protesters who called for dismantling the country’s militias overran the compound.

Ismail Salabi, the commander of Rafallah al-Sahati, a powerful Islamist militia in Benghazi, said in an interview that the missiles, used by fighters to “hit airplanes” and known to the U.S. intelligence community as MANPADS (man-portable air-defense systems), were stolen along with 2,000 semiautomatic rifles and ammunition, as the militia withdrew from its base amid a firefight early Saturday.

According to the report of "unarmed people" dissected here earlier those "pro-American" "demonstrators" were heavily armed and also attacked the military base the Rafallah al-Sahati, which was under government control, and some soldiers guarded.

The WaPo editorial does not mention that all. One wonders what those editors will write when those "pro-American" looters use their newly acquired weapons to take down American airplanes.

A Middle East that is ruled by somewhat elected governments more inclined to listen to their voters than the respective U.S. ambassadors will not be pro-American as long as the U.S. is supportive of the apartheid regime in Israel. That is, as the loss of Egypt as an U.S. ally shows, simply a fact.

How long will it take the neocons and their neo-Wilsonian brethren on the other side of the isle to understand that? Are they even capable of understanding?

Posted by b on September 25, 2012 at 12:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 23, 2012

How Do "Unarmed People" "Return fire"?

A few days after the recent attacks on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi someone whipped up a crowd and had it attack the bases of some militia group. The usual western media who had cheered for the overthrowing and killing of Gaddhafi are trying to tell us that this was some peaceful protest, pro-American and only to drive out some jihadist militia. But that does not seem to be the full story.

The Guardian headlines:

Unarmed people power drums Libya's jihadists out of Benghazi

The sub headline says:

These were the incredible scenes in Benghazi as tens of thousands of ordinary citizens marched on the Islamic extremists in their compounds and drove them out with shouts, placards and sheer courage
The piece is by one Chris Stephen who writes as if he was there. According to him those who attacked those Salafi/Jihadists groups were unarmed people with only shouts, placards and sheer courage.

But down in Mr Stephen's article we find this:

Then the cry went up to march on Hwari, the sprawling base of another militia, Raffala al-Sahati, to which Ansar al-Sharia men were believed to have fled. El Farsi found his car, a BMW, and roared off south.

Protesters crammed into cars, hooting horns and waving Libyan tricolours as an impromptu convoy surged south. But this time the response was different. The first protesters who marched on the gates were met by machine gun fire, triggering pandemonium.
As protester numbers grew and fire was returned, the base garrison fled, abandoning vehicles, guns and huge quantities of ammunition which the crowd looted.

Mr Stephen's does not say with what those "unarmed people" returned fire. Did they fire shouts? Placards? Sheer courage?

Mr. Stephens also doesn't explain why the "unarmed" mob would attack the Raffala al-Sahati group at all. It was mentioned in no report about the attack on the U.S. embassy and had likely nothing to do with it.

From another news source we find that the group is aligned with and under command of the central government and that it was based in regular military barracks.

Protesters also attacked the headquarters of the Raf Allah al-Sahati brigade, an Islamist group which is under the authority of the defence ministry, on Benghazi's outskirts.

An AFP correspondent said the assailants walked away with weapons, ammunition and computers. After two hours of fierce fighting during which rockets were used, they managed to drive out members of the brigade.

So according to the AFP Stephen's "unarmed people" won a two hour battle in which machineguns and rockets (I assume this means Rocket Propelled Grenades) were used. All this with "shouts, placards and sheer courage"?

And what about those 6 dead soldiers which, after the mob had left, were found in those barracks with their hands tied and bullets in their heads? Did the "unarmed" protesters use "shouts, placards and sheer courage" to accomplish that?

Somehow Mr Stephen's story of peaceful protesters driving out jihadists does not add up. That might be because he doesn't bother to write about the real question.

Why did the Benghazi mob attack and executed forces of the newly elected central government? Could that be because 39% of them prefer a strong man rule while only 29% prefer democracy? And who were the real "extremists" here?

Posted by b on September 23, 2012 at 01:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (43)

September 22, 2012

The Retreat From Afghanistan

The green on blue attacks in Afghanistan led to the collapse of the exit strategy in Afghanistan. Joint operations with Afghan forces on the most important lower level are halted. This and the recent audacious Taliban attack on the joined British U.S. Camp Bastion have changed the mind of even the most hawkish U.S. politicians
“I think all options ought to be considered, including whether we have to just withdraw early, rather than have a continued bloodletting that won’t succeed,” [Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)] said Wednesday.
Mc Cain was joined by on of the leading warmongers in the House:
[Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., who chairs the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, ] is the longest-serving Republican member of Congress, and he has continuously voted against troop drawbacks from Afghanistan, or even for setting a timetable for troop withdrawal. But after Sitton’s death, Young noted a change of heart.

“I think we should remove ourselves from Afghanistan as quickly as we can,” Young told the Tampa Bay Times this week. “I just think we’re killing kids that don’t need to die.”

With even the hawks calling for an early withdrawal I expect the Obama administration to reveal its plan for an accelerated retreat from Afghanistan immediately after the November election. The implementation of such a plan will face some difficulties.

The administration has burned the bridges to a negotiated solution in Afghanistan by listing the Haqqani network, part of the Taliban, as a foreign terrorist organization. A ceasefire to facilitate the western retreat from Afghanistan is therefore unlikely to happen. While most the soldiers can be flown out of the country huge mountain the materials will have to go over land. Who will cover those routes while the western forces are reduced and the Afghan army, as is very likely to happen, breaks apart?

The last iconic pictures we will get from this war of Afghanistan will likely show huge columns of burning trucks.

Posted by b on September 22, 2012 at 02:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (24)

It's All For Sale

How much money was contributed to the Obama campaign to pay for removing the Marxist-Islamist terror cult MEK from the State Department’s list of designated terrorist organizations?

Posted by b on September 22, 2012 at 01:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

September 21, 2012

On "Western Experts"

The Russian president Putin is modifying some of the policies his predecessor Medvedev implemented. The NYT is lamenting about that and includes this funny bit:
In a way, the biggest surprise is that Mr. Putin has found it necessary to roll back Mr. Medvedev’s initiatives in the first place.

For the four years of the “tandem” arrangement, the consensus among Western experts was that Mr. Medvedev did not do much without specific approval from Mr. Putin. On the day the two men announced they would switch places, a top Obama administration official shrugged off a query about whether this would herald a change of course in foreign policy: “Everyone knows that Putin runs Russia,” the official said.

That seems less obvious now. Mr. Putin set about reviewing or reversing a long list of policies after his inauguration: [...]

All this suggests that many of Mr. Medvedev’s initiatives toward the end of his presidency, sporadic and incomplete as they were, were undertaken independently, and in some cases against Mr. Putin’s wishes.

I am no "western expert" on Russia. But compare the view of those "experts" after four years of Medvedev to my take at the beginning of Medvedev's presidency. In March 2008 I wrote:
Dmitry Medvedev ran Putin's election campaign in 1999 and was his chief of staff. He is the chair of Gazprom's board of directors since 2000 and First Deputy Prime Minister since 2005. He was "Person of the Year" of the Russian equivalent to Time in 2005. [...]

Medvedev is a small man, 5'4'' or 162 cm - not the supersized format of a "western" manager. But he is young and a very fit sportsman. People who underestimate him and suspect that he is only a Putin puppet are in for some serious surprises.

Why are those experts called experts when it took them until after Medvedev's presidency to see what I could see at its very beginning? An independent man that was a partner but not puppet of Vladimir Putin.

The most serious surprise for the "western experts" was Medvedev's fast decision in August 2008 to react with force against the Georgian attack on Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia. Something that did not surprise me at all. But even after that had happened those "experts" still thought of Medvedev as the Putin puppet he never was. Only now do they start to understand him.

Tell me, why are those experts still listened to?

Posted by b on September 21, 2012 at 05:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (27)

A "False Wall In A Tehran Clock Factory" - Huh?

This blog has followed the allegations about Iran's nuclear program for years and even debunked some of them. I though I had heard of all the western talking points.

But there is now, apparently, something I did not know.

A report in today's New York Times about some interview an Iranian official gave includes these allegations:

Iran hid the construction of its Natanz nuclear enrichment plant — until it was revealed by a dissident group — as well as its construction of centrifuges to enrich uranium, until inspectors acting on a tip found them behind a false wall in a Tehran clock factory.

Iran revealed a deep underground site in 2009 only when it became clear that the West had discovered it and was about to announce its existence.

Iran did not have to announce the building of the enrichment plant in Natanz to the IAEA until six month before introducing nuclear material into it. It did not break its NTP obligation by building the plant. The 2009 construction of the plant near Qom was revealed by Iran in a letter to the IAEA. Only days after that letter was send did the U.S. government claim that it had known about this secret site. Again, Iran did not break any rules on this.

But what about that "false wall in a Tehran clock factory"? I have never ever heard about that and a quick search on the Internet does not find anything about that.

Is this a new David Sanger phantasy or is there something real behind that?

Could someone please enlighten me on this issue?

Posted by b on September 21, 2012 at 02:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (18)

September 20, 2012

Is Iran Violating The NPT? CRS Doesn't Know

Has Iran violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? From all the usual brouhaha in western media about Iran's nuclear program one might think that this is clearly the case.

But not so fast says (pdf) a new study by the Congressional Research Service of the U.S. Congress:

Whether Iran has violated the NPT is unclear. The treaty does not contain a mechanism for determining that a state-party has violated its obligations. Moreover, there does not appear to be a formal procedure for determining such violations. [..]

The U.N. Security Council has never declared Iran to be in violation of the NPT; neither the council nor the U.N. General Assembly has a responsibility to adjudicate treaty violations.

International law professor Dan Joyner, who has written THE book about the NNPT, even argues that "the IAEA applies incorrect standards, exceeds its legal mandate and is acting ultra vires (beyond its power) with regard to Iran."

The 120 member states of the Non-Alligned Movement, that is the real "international community", recently declared:

All states should be able to enjoy the basic and inalienable right to the development, research, production and use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, without any discrimination and in conformity with their respective international legal obligations. Therefore, nothing should be interpreted in a way to inhibit or restrict the right of states to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. States’ choices and decisions, in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear technology and their fuel cycle policies, including those of the Islamic Republic of Iran, must be respected.

The NAM also condemned any threats against peaceful nuclear facilities as they are regularly issued by Israel and by U.S. officials "a grave violation of international law, of the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and of regulations of the IAEA."

The CRS does not find Iran in violation of the NPT. The most informed legal expert on the NPT says the IAEA, under the U.S. puppet Amano, is exceeding its mandate with regards to Iran. The majority of sovereign states are supporting Iran's nuclear program.

Those are just three out of many more reasons why all the talk about a U.S. and/or Israeli attacks on Iran is nonsense.

Posted by b on September 20, 2012 at 01:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)

September 19, 2012

Reidar Visser Changes His Field

Many of you who have, like me, followed the U.S. occupation of Iraq will remember the invaluable insights of Reidar Visser. Reidar is the Norwegian political scientist and Middle East scholar who always had the most knowledgeable picture of Iraq's internal politics and policies.

Reidar Visser has now changed the subject of his research. Over the last year he was apparently stalked by the Norwegian police for some rather diffuse reason. This led him to his new research subject, the human rights violation by police, police criminality in general and police stalking in particular. The emphasis of his research will be on Northern Europe with special attention to the situation in Norway and the Netherlands.

You can follow Reidar Visser at his site and at his new blog Policestalking. His most recent post there is How the Norwegian Government Brought an End to My Iraq Research.

While Reidar Visser's invaluable insights into current Iraqi policy will probably no longer be updated, the archive of his six years of blogging about Iraq is still available at Iraq and Gulf Analysis.

The morass of European police corruption and brutally certainly deserves deeper scrutiny. Reidar Visser has shown that he is capable to drill down into the core of complex and seemingly nebulous issues, to unearth the facts and to communicate them in enlightening writings. I look forward to reading about and commenting on his new discoveries.

Posted by b on September 19, 2012 at 02:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (24)

The Future of U.S.-Egypt Relations - **Cancelled**

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs under chairwomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was set to hold a hearing on Eygpt.

But -apparently- The Future of U.S.-Egypt Relations was cancelled.


There are likely only very few Egyptians bothered by this.

Posted by b on September 19, 2012 at 09:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

September 18, 2012

Collapse Of The Exit-Strategy In Afghanistan

Yesterday U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta characterized insider attacks on US troops in Afghanistan as the 'last gasp' of a frustrated Taliban insurgency. But what we really see are the 'last gasps' of the western forces in Afghanistan. The exit plan was to train Afghan forces by embedding western troops with their units and to bit by bit transfer security operations to them. That plan met reality and it did not survive the impact:
KABUL: NATO-led forces are scaling back joint operations with Afghan forces after a spate of "insider attacks" in which Afghan recruits turned their weapons on Western allies, officers said on Tuesday.
Under the new order, most joint patrols and advisory work with Afghan troops will only be conducted at the battalion level and above.

Cooperation with smaller units will have to be "evaluated on a case-by-case basis and approved by RC (regional) commanders", the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.
NATO restricts joint operations with Afghans

This is an official acknowledgement that the plan to train Afghan forces and to transfer security operation to them has now failed. There is no longer a viable exit strategy but to cut and run.

Tellingly neither the Afghans nor U.S. allies were consulted in this decision:

The decision, which was announced in Washington, appeared to take the UK government by surprise, coming just a day after the defence secretary Philip Hammond defended Nato's continued work with Afghan troops in the Commons.

He said on Monday: " is essential that we complete the task of training the Afghan national security forces and increasing their capability so that they can take over the burden of combat as we withdraw. That is what we intend to do, and we will not be deterred from it by these attacks."

The original plan could continue if the western forces were willing to take more casualties. But the electorates in the west have long given up on Afghanistan and no politician is willing to argue for plans that are sure to end in many more dead soldiers.

Over the last few days six western forces died in green-on-blue incidents. The Taliban raided a huge and well protected (in theory) base in Helmand, destroyed or disabled 80% of the fighter jets of a Marian Aviation Squadron and killed its commander. A U.S. air attack went wrong and killed or wounded nearly twenty Afghan girls and women who were collection fire wood. The Afghan president spoke out against the one sided U.S. interpretation of a prisoner transfer deal. Several demonstrations about a U.S. anti-Islam film led to violent clashes with police forces. Today 10 foreign contractors, most of them South Africans, were killed in a suicide attack in Kabul.

The plan to exit by 2014 will have to be revised. It is likely that the retreat will now be accelerated and that most of the 150,000 western troops and contractors will be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2013. The plans to keep special forces and their support elements in Afghanistan until at least 2024 will also need a revision. That plan depends on a Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) with the Afghan government which still needs to be signed. The Maliki government in Iraq got rid of the U.S. occupation forces by not signing a SOFA. The Karzai government or its follow on will likely use the same tactic to send the foreign troops away.

The U.S. alone still has some 50,000 vehicles and 100,000 containers in Afghanistan. It should leave them for the Afghans. They can take what they can use and sell the rest as scrap to China. It would be a small compensation for what they had and have to endure.

Posted by b on September 18, 2012 at 05:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (49)

September 17, 2012

Jewish Rage

This week's edition of NEWSWEEK has a somewhat disagreeable cover story.

Posted by b on September 17, 2012 at 02:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (31)

September 16, 2012

Why Do They Hate "Us"?

Reason MCCLXXI: 8 women killed in NATO airstrike, Afghan officials say
Afghan officials say a NATO airstrike killed eight women and girls who were out gathering firewood before dawn Sunday in a remote region on the east of the country. The coalition says it believes only insurgents were hit.

Villagers from Laghman province's Alingar district brought the bodies to the governor's office in the provincial capital, said Sarhadi Zewak, a spokesman for the provincial government.

"They were shouting 'Death to America!' They were condemning the attack," Zewak said.

Posted by b on September 16, 2012 at 09:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (46)

September 14, 2012

Were These Protests Really About That Film?

Reuters: Anti-American fury sweeps Middle East over film
Fury about a film that insults the Prophet Mohammad tore across the Middle East on Friday with protesters attacking U.S. embassies and burning American flags as the Pentagon rushed to bolster security at its missions.
These protests were not about that film.

The action at the consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday/Wednesday was a deliberate, well planned attack by some AQ affiliated or Salafist group. It seems that the storming of the embassy in Egypt was launched as a coordinated diversion for that attack.

The attacks on the U.S., German and British embassies in Khartoum today were state sponsored for local political reasons. Omar Hassan al-Bashir needed to prove his Islamic credentials and even designated the targets:

State-backed Islamic scholars in Sudan have called for a mass protest after Friday prayers over a film denigrating the Prophet Mohammed that originated in the United States and an Islamist group threatened to attack the U.S. embassy.
Sudan's Foreign Ministry also criticized Germany for allowing a protest last month by right-wing activists carrying a caricatures of the Prophet and for Chancellor Angela Merkel giving an award in 2010 to a Danish cartoonist who depicted the Prophet in 2005 triggering demonstrations across the Islamic world.
There was also a storm on the embassy in Tunis today. I do not know enough about that countries inner policy to guess who was behind that but it wasn't the government. Troops defended the embassy and even shot some protesters.

There were also rallies in Gaza, Malaysia, Jordan, Kenya, Bahrain, Qatar, Bangladesh, Yemen, Pakistan, Iraq and even in India.

But all of these rallies were rather small and mostly peaceful. In all a few thousand out of 1.3 billion Muslims protested. Were this then really protests about religion?

Or has the film simply given an occasion for various local interest to push their local agendas?

Posted by b on September 14, 2012 at 02:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (96)

September 12, 2012

The Protests And Embassy Assaults Will Proliferate

This morning I suggested that yesterday's deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was an Al Qaeda operation in revenge of the killing of Abu Yahya al-Libi by a U.S. drone in Pakistan. The protests in Benghazi and Cairo against an anti-Islam film were used as cover for this operation. Al-Libi's death was confirmed in yesterday's video message by the current Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. That al-Zawahiri message, the attack in Benghazi and the rising of the AQ flag in front of the embassy in Cairo all came on the same 9/11 anniversary day is unlikely to be a coincidence. Recent news seem to confirm my take:
U.S. sources told CNN on Wednesday that the Benghazi attack was planned, and the attackers used the protest outside the consulate as a diversion. The sources could not say whether the attackers instigated the protest or merely took advantage of it, and they say they don't believe Stevens was specifically targeted.
The protests in Cairo and in Benghazi were primarily against an anti-Islam movie. But that was likely just a pretext and a helpful diversion for the attack. The spectrum of Salafists in Egypt and Libya is wide but the few violent ones do have little problem to get some otherwise peaceful ones up for some loud protest against this or that perceived injustice. The U.S. support to the Benghazi radicals against Gaddhafi also brought former militant radical Islamists into official positions in Libya. They may well have helped in the creation of the incident.

That anti-Islam movie, of which a trailer was launched a few days ago, came just in time. That "Sam Bacile", who told the Wall Street Journal that he is a Jew from Israel and that Jews financed his hate-speech movie, does not seem to exist at all. It is not yet known what islamophobic nut is behind this information operation. The movies dubious origin and that it came out just in time for the attack will be the base for many interesting conspiracy theories. I don't want to add one here but will look at the U.S. response to the attack.

The important people in Washington DC will feel the usual urge to "do something" about the death of ambassador Chris Stevens. The ongoing election campaigns will create the necessity for a revenge operation.

The Libyan government is in the hand of U.S. proxies. It has already apologized for the attack and will allow the U.S. to take any necessary action. The preferred tool of the Obama administration's foreign policy is the weaponized drone. I therefore expect that drones will soon start to fly of Cyreanica to look for signs of those who killed the ambassadors. They will find many a "militants", i.e. male person of the age ten and above, and will kill a rather random sample of them. The following outrage and radicalization will later lead to attacks on the Libyan government and the country will go down from there. Another Somalia in the making.

The situation in Egypt is different. President Mursi has yet to condemn the breach of the embassy perimeter and the rising of the al-Qaeda flag on its flagpole. For him and his Muslim Brotherhood the Salafists are the political competition. He has to protect his right flank and is therefore unlikely to punish any of the demonstrators nor will he act forcefully to prevent another attack on the embassy. The Brotherhood has already called for more protests against the film. Further serious trouble in Egypt can thereby be expected.

The U.S. on the other side has no good instrument to make Mursi compliant to its will. If it stops the money flow the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt will be in danger. The Egyptian control of the Suez canal is also an issue the U.S. can not ignore. Any threat to Egypt may end up in a blockade of the canal for U.S. warships. The relation between the U.S. and Egypt is therefore likely to deteriorate.

The protests against that stupid movie and the now established examples of storming U.S. embassies will likely proliferate. By Friday night Beirut, Amman, Kabul, Sanaa and other capitols will have followed the pattern.

The only place where we can expect no protest against that idiotic movie is Syria. No one there has time for such a nonsense. After yesterday's sobering experience in Libya the U.S. support for the radical insurgents in Syria there will likely become smaller or even stop. That would then be the only valuable thing those movie makers, whoever they are, would have achieved.

Posted by b on September 12, 2012 at 03:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (157)

U.S. Ambo in Benghazi Killed In AQ Operation

This news is still developing but we can already say that it will have consequences for the further U.S. involvement in Syria and elsewhere:
The US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, has died from smoke inhalation in an attack on the US consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, security sources have said.

An armed mob attacked and set fire to the building in a protest against an amateur film deemed offensive to Islam's Prophet Muhammad, after similar protests in Egypt's capital.

Three other members of Stevens' staff were killed together with Chris Stevens and the circumstances of their death are still a bit murky. There are unconfirmed pictures floating around that could be consistent with a public lynching.

Last year Chris Stevens was very active in helping the Salafist rabble from Benghazi to overthrow the Libyan government:

Chris Stevens, a former U.S. Embassy official in Tripoli and the highest-ranking U.S. representative to travel to Libya since the uprising began, will explore ways to open the funding spigots for an opposition movement that is desperately short of cash and supplies, a State Department spokesman said Tuesday.

“We’re well aware that there’s an urgency,” spokesman Mark Toner told reporters. “The Transitional National Council does need funding if it’s to survive, and we’re looking for ways to assist them.”

When the job to overthrow and kill Gaddhafi was done Stevens was named U.S. ambassador to Libya.

Last night he was killed by exactly those lunatics, who are a disgrace to Islam, Gaddhafi had warned of and had kept under tight control.

Such riots do not come out of nowhere. Allegedly these people were incited by the deeds of some other murky lunatic, now in hiding, who is working to create a "clash of civilizations" in the hope that his tribe will benefit from it:

In Benghazi, Libya, several dozen gunmen from an Islamist group, Ansar al Sharia, attacked the consulate with rocket-propelled grenades to protest the film, a deputy interior minister for the Benghazi region told the Al-Jazeera network.
The film's 52-year-old writer, director and producer, Sam Bacile, said that he wanted to showcase his view of Islam as a hateful religion. "Islam is a cancer," he said in a telephone interview from his home. "The movie is a political movie. It's not a religious movie."

Mr. Bacile said he raised $5 million from about 100 Jewish donors, whom he declined to identify.

But that stupid hate-speech movie was likely only the pretext for yesterday's riots and the attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates.

The real reason, though unmentioned yet in the media, was likely this:

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has released a video coinciding with the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, confirming for the first time the death of his deputy, US monitors said.

The 42-minute video is Zawahiri's first release in three months, and confirms that Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan's Waziristan tribal area on June 4, according to SITE and IntelCenter.

Yesterday's confirmation of Abu Yahya al-Libi's death seems to be a much better explanation for yesterday's raising of al-Qaeda's flag in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the deadly attack on the consulate in Bengahzi. The AQ people in the area certainly had an urge and a plan to avenge al-Libi (the Libyan). That this happened on the anniversary of 9/11 is, as the Zahwahiri tape demonstrates, NOT a coincidence! These people used the movie story only to raise additional rabble to cover for them:

Al-Libi was a citizen of Libya, who was captured by ISAF forces in the Invasion of Afghanistan a year after 9/11 (Pakistani authorities and turned over to American authorities, who eventually put him in the Bagram prison.) and was held in extrajudicial detention in the Bagram interim detention facility. [...] Al-Libi was one of several high-profile Bagram captives who escaped on the night of July 10, 2005.
Al-Libi had one interest in common with Chris Stevens:
On March 12, 2011 al-Libi urged his countrymen to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi's regime and establish Islamic rule, expanding the terror network's attempts to capitalize on the wave of unrest sweeping the region.
The U.S. went to Afghanistan to fight Al-Qaeda. There it also captured and tortured one Abu Yahya al-Libi before he fled from Bagram. The U.S. was also working with Gaddhafi in Libya to keep Jihadis like al-Libi down. But in 2011 the U.S. suddenly changed course and Chris Stevens and others worked in lockstep with al-Libi and Salafi forces in Libya to overthrow Gaddhafi. Now, as these forces are out of control, the powers the U.S. unleashed in Libya are coming back to haunt it. Those lovable rebels that heroically dragged Gaddhafis body through the streets of Libya's are now "thugs" for doing the same to the U.S. ambassador. This is obviously a self inflicted wound.

As ambassador Chas W. Freeman explained in a speech last week:

The so-called “global war on terror” or “militant Islam,” as so many now openly describe it, has become an endless run in a military squirrel cage that is generating no light but a lot of future anti-American terrorism. It turns out that all that is required to be hated is to do hateful things. Ironically, as we “search abroad for monsters to destroy,” we are creating them – transforming our foreign detractors into terrorists, multiplying their numbers, intensifying their militancy, and fortifying their hatred of us. The sons and brothers of those we have slain know where we are. They do not forget. No quarter is given in wars of religion. We are generating the very menace that entered our imaginations on 9/11.
The killing of the U.S. ambassador in Libya will make further U.S. support for the insurgency in Syria, which is also supported by Al Qaeda and by Libyan Salafist fighters, more unlikely. One might even hope that this incident will lead to a complete turn around of current U.S. policies towards Syria. Hillary Clinton's and the other state department furies who had urged the U.S. to attack Libya and who are also behind the drive against Syria are now confronted with the ruins of their policies. They carry at least some blame for yesterday's deaths.

Posted by b on September 12, 2012 at 06:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (78)

September 11, 2012

9/11 Remembrance At The U.S. Embassy In Cairo

There was some sort of 9/11 remembrance at the U.S. embassy in Cairo today.

As the U.S. in its war against Libya and Syria is again allied with those folks who rally under this flag, rising it in front of the embassy can even be seen as appropriate.

Reuters: Egyptians angry at film scale U.S. embassy walls
Egyptian protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo on Tuesday and some pulled down the American flag during a protest over what they said was a film being produced in the United States that was insulting to the Prophet Mohammad, witnesses said.

In place of the U.S. flag, the protesters tried to raise a black flag with the words "There is no god but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger", a Reuters reporter said.

About 20 people stood on top of the outer wall of the embassy in central Cairo, where about 2,000 protesters had gathered.

I have no idea what that alleged film is to supposed to be about but it likely does not show what those demonstrators were told it shows. Someone planned this stunt to coincide with 9/11.

There is also a video of the ripping up of the stars and stripes that used to fly from that flagpole.

Many U.S. folks will likely be upset by this. What are they going to do?

Posted by b on September 11, 2012 at 01:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (46)

The Channel 4 Report On The Farouq Brigade

The French journalist Mani embedded with the insurgents of the insurgent Farouq brigade near Talbiseh in Syria. The British Channel 4 has his video report which is quite interesting. It reveals that the brigade has large support from the outside.

Some of the fighters obviously had sniper training (1:15) and are teaching their comrades in that trade. They use M-16 automatic rifles with scopes.

Two different anti-aircraft guns are shown. A ZU-23-2 twin 23 mm gun mounted on a blue truck. As the truck lacks the weight to give the gun some stability its only possible use is in a "spray and pray" mode. A white truck is mounted with a ZPU-1 14.5mm machine gun. This is stability wise a more effective arrangement. As the continuous shooting for the camera shows there seems to be no lack of ammunition for these guns (3:00).

The fighters themselves explain that they see the conflict as a sectarian one. For them it is not about the Syrian army or about Assad but, as they say, about fighting Shia and Alawite (3:50).

For planing the insurgents use fresh high-resolution satellite imagery color printed on large glossy paper sheets. (5:00). But for lack of coordination with other brigades a planed attack on a Syrian army checkpoint was called off.

Two pickups are shown with mounted SPG-9 73mm recoilless guns (6:10). These are seemingly new and again there is no lack of ammunition for these.

Next comes an interesting weapons. At 6:40 the insurgents are loading a brand new Chinese QLZ-89 35mm automatic grenade launcher in the "light" bipod version but with the large "heavy" 15 rounds magazine. This launcher is a rarther rare item and a relative new Chinese development. It is a serious weapon for light infantry with a good range and lots of fire power.  It is very unlikely to be available from your friendly Lebanese next-door AK-47 and RPG dealer.

The insurgents are show as they are handling bricks of money, allegedly $110,000, for ammunition and other supplies (7:05).

The members of the Farouq brigade seem to be mostly Salafists. At 7:50 one of them laments that this is the reason they allegedly get no support from the "free world". He is asking why the "freedom" construct does not include his freedom to be Salafist.

Well, it does. But "freedom" is not about your freedom. It is about the freedom of everyone else to be what s/he wants to be. Is that the understanding Salafists have? This is just as "democracy" is not about the rule of the majority but about the protection of the minorities. Islamists seem to have a problem with such this inherent inclusiveness of these concepts. Sectarianism and freedom ain't compatible.

At 8:40 a fighter who was caught by a tank round while sniping at the Syrian army and has lost a leg and several other wounds is getting patched up. He is conscious, has a drip-bag and as he shows no pain must be under effective medication.

The insurgents have been at least partially trained. They do have quite modern and new weapons and no lack of ammunition. Their weapons are very unlikely to have been bought from the black market as the report claims. The recoilless guns and grenade launchers and their ammunitions are definitely not usual black market items. There must be some serious state sponsor behind the delivery of these. Likewise with the current satellite photos, the large amounts of money and the medical and communication equipment.

The fighters declare themselves to be Salafists and see themselves in a sectarian war against people of other believes.

The CIA is supposed to be in south Turkey to control the flow of weapons and to make sure that what gets through only goes to agreeable groups. Does the CIA think that the sectarian Salafist Farouk brigade is agreeable to western values or does it lack the control it is supposed to have?

Posted by b on September 11, 2012 at 08:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (24)

September 10, 2012

Open Thread 2012-23

News & views ...

(I'm busy ...)

Posted by b on September 10, 2012 at 02:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (52)

September 08, 2012

MSF Doctor: At Least Half Of Insurgents Are Foreigners And Jihadis

Those who still downplay the role of the foreign Salafist/Jihadist insurgents in Syria should notice the reliable western witness who has experience on the ground is talking to a well known news agency:
Jacques Beres, co-founder of medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, returned from Syria on Friday evening after spending two weeks working clandestinely in a hospital in the besieged northern Syrian city.

In an interview with Reuters in his central Paris apartment on Saturday, the 71-year-old said that contrary to his previous visits to Homs and Idlib earlier this year about 60 percent of those he had treated this time had been rebel fighters and that at least half of them had been non-Syrian.

"It's really something strange to see. They are directly saying that they aren't interested in Bashar al-Assad's fall, but are thinking about how to take power afterwards and set up an Islamic state with sharia law to become part of the world Emirate," the doctor said.

While many of these foreigners are paid with Saudi money they have also developed criminal ways to get money:
An epidemic of kidnappings has broken out in Syria, with rebels using ransoms to fund their military operations and common criminals taking the opportunity to cash in.
A student at Aleppo University who gave his name as Mohammed said that the same FSA group that was hunting down the gangs of kidnappers was also running its own operations to raise "funds for the revolution."

This unit, known as the Abu Bakr al-Siddiq brigade, kidnapped the "son of my uncle's business partner," said Mohammed, who claimed the group demanded almost $74,000 for his release.

A former Catholic clergyman said that he fled Aleppo when fighting reached his home and a number of acquaintances were kidnapped.

The Day After will be too late
It appears that after 18 months of conflict and bloodshed that led to over 20,000 casualties, the United States and its allies in the international community were only able to learn how to better pretend they are a constructive force. In reality, they still are working exclusively on different tactics that would allow them to defeat a number major segments of the population of Syria in favor of anyone who will help the United States and its allies install a more compliant leadership in Damascus.
People are dying in Syria because there is very little learning taking place.
A lucky shot ... for the photographer.

Posted by b on September 8, 2012 at 01:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (40)

September 07, 2012

Did Erdogan Declare War On All Shia?

This remark by the Turkish prime minister Erdogan is either dangerously stupid or a declaration of war against all Shia:
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a strong critic of Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, drew a parallel between the bloody campaign against civilians by the Syrian government and the Battle of Karbala during a speech on Friday.

“What happened in Karbala 1,332 years ago is what is happening in Syria today,” Erdoğan said at an international conference titled “Arab Spring and Peace in the Middle East: Muslim and Christian Perspectives.”

Battle of Karbala:
On one side of the highly uneven battle were a small group of supporters and relatives of Muhammad's grandson Husain ibn Ali, and on the other was a large military detachment from the forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph, whom Husain had refused to recognise as caliph. Husain and all his supporters were killed, including Husain's six months old infant son, and the women and children were taken as prisoners.
"Shia" is the short form of the historic phrase Shīʻatu ʻAlī (شيعة علي), meaning "followers", "faction", or "party" of Muhammad's son-in-law Ali, whom the Shia believe to be Muhammad's successor.
On first sight Erdogan's remark will be taken as a threat of another Karbala in the sense that the followers of Ali, the Shia and by extension the Alawites in Syria, will get killed by the caliph and his followers.

This is a very sectarian and terribly dangerous thing do say.

In March 2011 Erdogan also mentioned the Battle of Karbala in a different context but, after that led to a controversy, he suggested that he only used it do warn against all Muslim strive:

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his recent call to prevent a repetition of a “Karbala” tragedy was meant to underline his concerns about bloodshed in Libya, underlining that the remarks had nothing to do with Sunni-Shiite divide as some interpreted his words to mean.

“I drew similar lines during my previous parliamentary group speech between Karbala and the recent violence in Libya.

But the issue in Erdogan's controversial Karbala remark back then was not Libya. When he then made the public remark it was on the topic of Bahrain where a Sunni dictatorship was, with little protest from Turkey, suppressing a Shia majority. He only later set that remark into the context of Libya and general strife between Muslims.

Erdogan is not stupid and he clearly knows that the use of Karbala as a warning against general strife under Muslim can be easily misunderstood. He certainly knows that it has a controversial and sectarian undertone. Despite that he keeps using it.

It thereby seems that Erdogan is using Karbala as a dog whistle politics item, as a codeword to suggest to his partisan and sectarian Sunni followers something very specific, killing the followers of Ali, while keeping a plausible deniability in more general terms.

To do so on a Friday, the Muslim day of a congregational prayer, is reinforcing the sectarian impact and makes it thereby more dangerous. This is certainly something someone who is presumably wishing for peace should and would NOT do.

On Wednesday evening an explosion occurred at the site of a Turkish military depot and killed 21 soldiers. In the official version a group of soldiers was counting a stock of handgrenades which somehow blew off. The story is fishy. Handgrenades in storage do not have their fuse inserted. When the fuse is inserted there is still a security ring to pull. When that ring is pulled there are still several seconds to throw the grenade away. The explosion happened in darkness at 9pm. Was this a squad of soldiers really just counting a stock of handgrenades at 9pm? Were they preparing them for transfer to the insurgents in Syria? What did really happen here?

Posted by b on September 7, 2012 at 09:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (58)

September 06, 2012

Ignatius: Let's Create Another AlQaeda

David Ignatius acknowledges that the situation in Syria today is looking quite similar to the one in Afghanistan in the 1980s:
The parallels are spooky. In Syria, as in Afghanistan, CIA officers are operating at the borders (in this case, mostly in Jordan and Turkey), helping Sunni insurgents improve their command and control and engaging in other activities. Weapons are coming from third parties (in Afghanistan, they came mostly from China and Egypt; in Syria, they’re mainly bought on the black market). And finally, a major financier for both insurgencies has been Saudi Arabia.

There’s even a colorful figure who links the two campaigns: Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who as Saudi ambassador to Washington in the 1980s worked to finance and support the CIA in Afghanistan and who now, as chief of Saudi intelligence, is encouraging operations in Syria.

In Afghanistan, Ignatius says, the Russian left but there were also bad results of the U.S. policy:
On the negative, this CIA-backed victory opened the way for decades of chaos and jihadist extremism that are still menacing Afghanistan, its neighbors and even the United States.

The same is rightly now feared for Syria.

The only plausible way to avoid that danger is to stop all support for the insurgency and instead support the Syrian government in its fight. But instead of that Ignatius only wants the U.S. to be "careful" in supporting those religious extremists. It should look for "sensible elements" within those fighters.

People from Ansar al Sharia in Yemen, which is affiliated with AlQeada, are now moving to Syria:

“The sudden withdrawal of al-Qaeda militants from the two cities of Zinjubar and Ja’ar in Abyan province is connected to a conclusive deal recently made to have groups of armed men relocated to Syria to partake in the war against the Syrian regime, al-Fadhli told the Adenalghd local news site."
We can be sure that Prince Bandar has helped with the plane ticket to Turkey and other expenses.

How will U.S. "carefulness" in supporting those fighters make a difference? Will they slaughter the Syrian people in a more careful way? Will they be "sensible" when they export their trade from a new Syrian emirate? Nonsense.

What Ignatius really says is lets create a new AlQaeda, but lets be "careful" and "sensible" in doing it. Those Ansar al Sharia terrorists, hunted by U.S. drones when in Yemen, will now be the new caressing U.S. heroes in its war on the axis of resistance.

The papers can than again headline about the Anti-Shia warrior who [puts] his army on the road to peace.

Who but war profiteers or Zionist stooges can come up with such an idiotic policy.

Posted by b on September 6, 2012 at 11:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (38)

Michael Gordon - Still Lying About Iraq

Michael Gordon was one of the New York Times journalists who peddled the Iraq WMD disinformation that prepared the U.S. public for the war on Iraq.

Gordon is still writing for the NYT and he he is still in the information distortion business.

In a piece about the laughable U.S. attempts to press Iraq to stop Iranian flights to Syria he is trying to cover up for some other warmongers:

Three senators who have been strong advocates of American support for Iraq — Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut; John McCain, Republican of Arizona; and Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina — also sought to reinforce the administration’s case in a closed-door meeting with Mr. Maliki in Baghdad on Tuesday.
Those three senators were in 2002 and 2003 the most belligerent of those stooges that called for bombing and invading Iraq. They are, like Gordon, directly responsible for the million people killed and maimed by the war. To say they are "strong advocates of American support for Iraq" is ridiculous.

They are still miffed that their great plan for an Iraq under U.S. control did not pass the reality test.

One wonders why Maliki even allow them to enter his country or why he did not at least invited them for a few years of recreation in Abu Graibh. That is what these people, and Michael Gordon, obviously deserve.

Posted by b on September 6, 2012 at 06:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

September 05, 2012

General Allen - Lost In Afghanistan

As the U.S. and its allies slowly retreat from Afghanistan their newest hope for the white men's cause are some local gangs that they believe are fighting the Taliban.

From an interview with Gen. John Allen, ISAF commander in Afghanistan:

Foreign Policy: I am particularly interested in these uprisings in the east and how you view them. They are in their nascency, but I am told they may be a significant trend down the line. Are we talking "Andar Awakening"?

Gen. John Allen: They're actually calling it the Andar Awakening ... to plagiarize our Anbar Awakening.
FP: You just returned from the east. Tell me about these uprisings against the Taliban and how you see them.

Allen: They're really an important moment, actually. And I had the conversation with [President Hamid Karzai] this morning. Each, each one is an organic movement. And they're popping up in a lot of different places. We're going to start to plot them on a map -- we've actually done it already -- but we're going to do some analysis as to, is it tribal? Is it ethnic? What was the particular cause? What is the potential solution?

[Andar district in Ghazni province] is the most conspicuous right now, but there's another really substantial one that's growing in Kamdesh in southern Nuristan. There's one growing in Wardak. There's one growing in Ghor. We've heard of one in Faryab.

And so what we have to do is, as I said to [Karzai] this morning, it's not just about supporting Andar in Ghazni. This is a really important moment for this campaign because the brutality of the Taliban and the desire for local communities to have security has become so, so prominent -- as it was in Anbar -- that they're willing to take the situation into their own hands to do this.

Isn't that great? Locals standing up to the "brutality" of the Taliban?

But here is the real story from people who are not several command layers away from the ground:

Since the end of Ramadan, it has been Taleban who have dramatically stepped up their campaign and not only in Andar, but also against government and US military targets across Ghazni province. Two notables were targeted in the outskirts of Ghazni city in different attacks within a week in late August. The first, on 24 August, on the Andar uprising’s self-proclaimed leader and a former Ghazni provincial governor, Faizanullah Faizan, failed. He suffered a wound in his leg as a suicide bomber tried to detonate his explosive-laden belt in Pashtunabad in the outskirts of Ghazni city. In the second attack, the chairman of the elected provincial council of Ghazni, Qazi Sahib Shah, an ethnic Hazara from Hezb-e Wahdat, was killed, along with his bodyguard, on the evening of 29 August, also in the outskirts of Ghazni. On the night of 30 August, using insiders in the arbakai, the Taleban raided Saheb Khan village, one of the best known Hezb strongholds during the mujahedin era and one of the first villages which had accommodated the arbakai.
It is a longer story which you can read here and here, but the short version is simply that some groups splintered away from the Taliban, made friend with the government and, after a short while, were either beaten or again changed the sides. In conclusion:
The Taleban’s thwarting of the Gero, Deh Yak and Muqur ‘revolts’ before they had even properly started (as well as the failed attempts to spread the ‘uprising’ inside Andar) suggest that the prospects for spreading Andar-style rebellions, at least in Ghazni province look difficult. The Taleban now understand the plan and are striking back quickly and decisively against any such move.
That General Allen is peddling this "model" as successful when it has already failed tells about all one needs to know about the real state of the Afghanistan campaign.

Like at the height of the war on Iraq the U.S. commanders in Afghanistan have lost it. They do not know what they are up to. They do not understand the country and its people. They do not even know how many bases they have in Afghanistan (500 or 1000 or 1500?) and are despite the pledge that "combat troops" are leaving in 2014 still building more.

It seems that the war on Afghanistan will end like the one on Iraq. Karzai, or whoever is next to bribe himself to the top, will tell the foreigners to leave in the same way the Iraqis have done so. There will be no status of force agreement and without that and without public support for the war within the U.S. electorate the U.S. will leave.

What will follow that ugly part of their history will be up to the Afghans.

Posted by b on September 5, 2012 at 01:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

September 03, 2012

Syria: Three Month To Win

Two weeks ago Obama announced that his red line on Syria would be the use of chemical weapons against the insurgency. I suggested that this was a wink to the Syrian government that it is free to do whatever is needed to get rid of the insurgents.

That view was confirmed by a report in today's Washington Post:

Even a limited expansion of the minimal U.S. role is unlikely for the next several months and perhaps beyond, according to American and foreign officials.

“We could get dragged into this, no question, but we’re just not there yet,” said one of several senior U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the complicated internal and diplomatic debates over Syria.

The U.S. public is against an open war on Syria. That is the likely reason why the Obama administration is holding back. But that reasoning may well change when the U.S. presidential election is over. The Syrian government has thereby three more month to do what must be done.

The reports of the fighting on the ground are extremely vague. The media operations of the insurgency is filled with lies and exaggerations and the Syrian government reports are rather vague. As far as I can tell the borders to Jordan and Lebanon are mostly closed off. There seems to be a lot of fighting in Idlib near the Turkish border and that is also the way weapons and men are coming into Syria.

The Turkish government is in serious domestic policy trouble. Over the weekend another ten Turkish soldiers, those are draftees, got killed in fights with the Kurdish PKK which has renewed its fight for Kurdish independence since the insurgency in Syria started. Many Turkish people and opinion writers relate the PKK incidents to Turkey's support for the Syrian insurgents and want that to end. There have also been pro-Assad rallies in Turkey and the economic loss of Turkish middle east traders is piling up. With the pressure on Erdogan growing Murat Yetkin of Hurriyet detects some change in the government's stand:

Damascus was shaken by a new wave of attacks on Sunday, as the Turkish government began to show some indications that it would fine tune of its Syria policy. That would not amount to a revision regarding the refugees in the humanitarian context, but could be a revision of the support given to rebel groups.
It is a fact that not only the international political atmosphere, but also the Turkish media and the opposition, is forcing the government to be more cautious on its Syria policy.
This Al Jazeerah insurgency propaganda piece includes an interesting detail (@1:55). The insurgents say they have trouble to get their wounded into Turkish hospitals. "Before Turkey used to help us. They no longer help us," says on fighter.It is not clear how true that statement is.

For the Syrian government to win within the next few months the border with Turkey has to be closed as much as possible. This is difficult as long as Turkey actively supports the insurgents. The pressure on Turkey to stop that support must continue to grow. Iranian military maneuvers near the Turkish border are helpful diversions but not enough. Turkey depends on natural gas from Iran and Russia for heating and electricity. With the winter reaching the Anatolian plateau any supply problems could quickly become a really important issue.

Posted by b on September 3, 2012 at 02:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (124)

September 01, 2012

Dempsey: War On Iran Would Be Illegal

The U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, has always cautioned against a go-it-alone approach, but he appeared to up the ante this week by saying Washington did not want to be blamed for any Israeli initiative.

"I don't want to be complicit if they (Israel) choose to do it," Dempsey was quoted as saying by Britain's Guardian newspaper on Friday, suggesting that he would view an Israeli attack as reprehensible or illegal.

Thanks to General Dempsey for making this point.

An attack on Iran, by Israel alone or by some U.S. led gang, would indeed be highly illegal. It would a war of aggression and thereby a supreme crime.

Most countries of this world would certainly point this out. The 120 members of the Non-Aligned Movement, which are currently holding a huge conference in Tehran, have given their unanimous backing to Iran's nuclear program:

[T]he final result of the Nonaligned Movement’s meeting, the biggest international gathering in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, amounted to the strongest expression of support for Iran’s nuclear energy rights in its showdown with the West. The unanimous backing of the final document undercut the American argument that Iran was an isolated outlier nation.

The Tehran Declaration document not only emphasizes Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy but acknowledges the right to ownership of a full nuclear fuel cycle, which means uranium enrichment — a matter of deep dispute.

There is no "deep dispute" about Iran's right to a full nuclear fuel cycle. The wide majority of the countries in this world stand fully behind that. Only the U.S. and a handful of its allies see this different.

As we said the isolation of Iran is a myth.

With the backing of all these countries Iran will also keep enough economic connections to evade any of the unilateral sanctions the U.S. and its stooges try to strong-arm against it. Indeed these sanctions are now incentives for the majority of states to permanently circumvent the global institutions the west has under control and is using against Iran.

When the global financial SWIFT system is used to prevent money transfers to Iran the countries who will keep working with Iran will create new systems. Once those are established SWIFT will never again have the standing it had before. Instead of buying Iranian oil in US dollars more and more countries will use other currencies. Once they have worked out how to do this they will never return to the dollar.

With the sanctions on Iran the U.S. and the west are hurting themselves. Therein lies a danger. In 2000 the sanctions on Iraq were on the verge of breaking down. The damage they did on the Iraqi population had become too visible. But instead of lowering the sanction regime or negotiate a peaceful outcome the U.S. attacked Iraq. A somewhat similar mechanism might come into play should the sanction regime on Iran, as can be expected, turn out to be ineffective while creating damage to the global role of the United States.

It is unlikely that the U.S. would then climb down. But an open attack on Iran, which even under attack can control the oil flow from the Gulf, carries, besides being completely illegal, too much economic risk. I find it therefore likely that U.S. will rather try something different to bring down the Iranian state. One not yet tried option would be to incite and support some violent ethnic insurgencies within Iran. The Azeris in the north, supported by an Israel friendly Azerbaijan, and the Balochs in the south east of Iran are prime candidates for such a scheme.

When that will turn out to not have the wished for effects all options may again be on the table.

Posted by b on September 1, 2012 at 01:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (37)

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