Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 11, 2012

Syria: Is Washington Changing Its Direction Or Not?

The United States government is now officially agreeing with the Syrian government's assertion that  it is fighting terrorists:
The State Department said Monday that the Syrian rebel movement's Nusra Front is just another name for al Qaida in Iraq, an acknowledgment that the uprising to topple President Bashar Assad is led in part by foreign Islamist extremists who fought U.S. troops for years in the bloody Iraq war.
That step was taken to somehow draw a line between the "good" terrorists that the U.S. wants continue to support and the "bad" ones. But there are many "bad" ones and no really good ones and they themselves claim they are all the same:
A total of 29 opposition groups, including fighting "brigades" and civilian committees, have signed a petition calling for mass demonstrations in support of Jabhat al-Nusra, an Islamist group which the White House believes is an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The petition is promoting the slogan "No to American intervention, for we are all Jabhat al-Nusra" and urges supporters to "raise the Jabhat al-Nusra flag" as a "thank you".

The Obama administration is also walking back its false claims about preparation of chemical weapons by the Syrian government:

The Obama administration Tuesday appeared to temper its recent assertions that the Syrian government may be preparing to use chemical weapons, with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta telling reporters the relevant intelligence had "really kind of leveled off."
Now add this:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has canceled her trip to Morocco this week for a meeting on the future of Syria's opposition because of a stomach virus, the State Department said on Monday.
...
"Since she's still under the weather, we'll be staying put this week instead of heading to North Africa and the Middle East as originally planned," State Department spokesman Philippe Reines said in a statement.
Could it be that we are seeing a change in Obama's position towards Syria? Or is this all just a ruse to cover plans to further arm the well armed terrorists?
The United States is launching a covert operation to send weapons to Syrian rebels for the first time as it ramps up military efforts to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
The last link is to the Sunday Times which can not be trusted. The piece may be part of the campaign by the Brits and French to (again) get Obama to wage a war for them:
A plan to provide military training to the Syrian rebels fighting the Assad regime and support them with air and naval power is being drawn up by an international coalition including Britain, The Independent has learnt.
..
The head of Britain’s armed forces, General Sir David Richards, hosted a confidential meeting in London a few weeks ago attended by the military chiefs of France, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and the UAE, and a three-star American general, in which the strategy was discussed at length. Other UK government departments and their counterparts in allied states in the mission have also been holding extensive meetings on the issue.
But all this seems to depend on Washington which probably hasn't made up its mind:
However, they said the UK would act only if the US did so and made it clear that British chiefs of staffs are seriously worried about the consequences of intervening in the Syrian crisis.
...
Options have been sent by defence chiefs to No 10, sources told the Guardian on Monday night. However, one source added: "We are a long way from doing anything." An official said: "The US is leading the way. We are not there yet."
The British military as well as likely the Pentagon are against waging war on Syria. The White House may have learned a lesson from Libya where, after pressure from London and Paris, it waged a war to then only find that those people it helped later killed the U.S. ambassador.

These tealeaves are difficult to read. Is Washington changing its approach towards Syria or will it continue to support the terrorists' war against the Syrian people?

Posted by b on December 11, 2012 at 01:45 PM | Permalink

Comments

As I see more developments, it seems clear that the US simply wants the fighting to continue as long as possible. If the rebels terrorists are loosing, they will arm them. If they are winning, they will pull back for a while. But they will never stop until, someone bites a giant chunk of flesh out of their ass.

Meaning that until the fighting spills over and seriously threatens KSA's government, they will continue.

Posted by: Lysander | Dec 11, 2012 1:55:18 PM | 1

Josh Rogin, The Cable Guy at FP, who normally gets only a few comments on his blog, has already racked up over 400 comments from readers in response to his Clinton "stomach virus" info-blog, and they're still coming in.
Here's a short selection, to brighten your day.
-If I lied as much as she does I'd have stomach problems also.
-Gotta love those Secret Service guys! One of them gave her one of Bill's cigars and convinced her it was a Baby Ruth!
-She pushed the "reset" button instead of the flush button.
-That must be the Arab Spring flu....
-stress from her new fried chicken place .. they have white meat, no breasts, fat thighs and only left wings
-She is suffering from the Bengazi Bends
-I'd be sick to my stomach too if I worked for Obama.
-This fat woman, [one of Obamas' ugly fat white women] may be having nervous breakdown.
-Do not be fooled by this. She is having her stomach stapled in an effort to lose 50 pounds.
-lay off the fruit cake girl.
-Check her amylase and lipase, it is pancreatitis from excessive alcohol. IF she stops drinking long enough she can get better.
-Must have taken to many ugly pills.
-that "stomach" virus is a real mama. For t he first few days you think, " I'll Never Fart Again!" After a few more days though, it subsides.
-Ah yes, just too sick to testify at the Benghazi hearings as well no doubt.
-Stomach virus?!! Yeah sure, sounds like she has a bad case of potty pants because she is being called in to testify.
etc.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 11, 2012 2:00:45 PM | 2

Clinton's meeting with Lavrov was dterminant in this change and Russia won't go along this time. US must back if they do not want to face a Bay of Pig moment. And Obama is not really the guy to be decisive in such situations

Posted by: Sophie | Dec 11, 2012 2:58:00 PM | 3

Sorry, previous comment was by Sophia instead of Sophie

Posted by: Sophia | Dec 11, 2012 3:11:00 PM | 4

"The United States is launching a covert operation to send weapons to Syrian rebels for the first time"

Bullshit

A US has been already directly involved in the transport of tons of Weapons originally supplied to the US-trained and supplied Libyan Terrorist-groups, to Terrorist-groups now based in Syria [generally considered to be more or less the same bunch of terrorist-groups now re-labelled with different fake Jihadi-sounding names] very shortly after the fall of Ghaddaffi's Libyan gov't.

There were widespread reports of the existence of at least one major Weapons shipment using a "NATO marked" plane as transport.

What is that if not US sending weapons to Terrorists in Syria?

Posted by: ONS | Dec 11, 2012 3:25:48 PM | 5

Perhaps Israel & Jordan don't like instability on their northern border (i.e. with Syria) and have convinced the US to not go ahead with "Regime change" in Syria. there're a number of signs that US policy indeed could become much less agressive.

I guess John Kerry will become Secretary of State.
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-irrelevance-of-susan-rice/

No democray for the Middle East.
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/arab-spring-israeli-winter/

Posted by: William | Dec 11, 2012 3:26:52 PM | 6

Israel-America likes to wear their victims down to the point of defenselessness before attacking. Unless they are defenseless already, such as Grenada. They spent 10 years doing this to Iraq before they dared to attack. it's difficult to tell what is psychological warfare and what is a sign of imminent attack. The war is on again/war is off again tactics being practiced by Israel-America (and their European colonies) are meant to intimidate Syria, but they also include preparations for that war. The unpredictability such tactics create is also a method used to hide when such a war might begin.

My view is they will go on the attack when they think their terrorists have been weakened enough that they can no longer pose as a viable "rebel" force. The constant Israeli-American propaganda claiming imminent collapse of Syria and constant fictitious "rebel gains" serves also to obscure the real situation with those terrorists and so make determination of Israeli-American strategy more difficult if it is based in some manner of "rebel" success or failure.

Posted by: вот так | Dec 11, 2012 3:54:04 PM | 7

Whatever direction the U.S. takes on Syria must accord with the AIPAC talking points which are a foundation of U.S. foreign policy.
1. Syria must stop committing human rights abuses.
The Assad regime has killed more than 2,000 people protesting his autocratic rule. It is time for Assad to heed President Obama's call and give up power.
2. Syria supports terrorism.
Syria is a U.S.-designated state sponsor of terror. It allows Iran to deliver advanced weaponry to Hizballah in Lebanon through Syria, while both Hizballah and Hamas have their headquarters in Damascus.
3. Syria must open up about its nuclear program.
Syria has repeatedly blocked International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from investigating its suspected illicit nuclear program.

In short, there must be a new Syria government allied with the U.S. and not with Iran, similar to what was tried (but not attained) in Iraq.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 11, 2012 3:57:22 PM | 8

The U.S. currently has no good alternatives to attain the AIPAC objectives, which is perhaps why Clinton has a weak stomach. The situation:
--There has been no luck forming a viable alternative government. The new "National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces," like the former "Syrian National Council," is a joke. It does not have any real connection with, much less control over, the sectarian militias, Islamic jihadists, foreign fighters and suicide bombers who are playing the principal role in waging a civil war for regime-change inside Syria. The president of the new coalition is Moaz al Khatib, a moderate, soft-spoken Muslim who until recently was the imam of the great Umayyad mosque in Damascus. He is to be assisted by two vice-presidents: Suhair al Atassi, a female activist from a once-prominent Syrian political family; and Riad Seif, the former head of a textile company. While Khatib used his post-election speech to call for equal rights for "all parts of the harmonious Syrian people," his previous rhetoric toward his country's minorities has been nothing short of virulent.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 11, 2012 4:03:59 PM | 9

--The primary opposition military force in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusrah,is responsible for most of the recent military successes, as well as most of the suicide attacks. As a result al-Nusrah is attracting fighters to its side. But al-Nusrah has now been designated by state as a terrorist group, which will limit its external support. The other opposition military forces are disorganized and low on weapons. The leaders of the Free Syria Army, which was formed eighteen months ago,, Colonel Riad al-Asaad and General Mustafa al-Seyh hardly ever left Turkey. The fighters on the ground didn’t care about their leadership. The FSA has no been sidelined and the Supreme Military Council has been formed.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 11, 2012 4:04:53 PM | 10

--The composition of both the Coalition and the Military Council includes two-thirds of leadership which had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood or were politically allied with the group. That makes sense on the surface because Syria's Muslim Brotherhood is the most prominent political force in Syria's opposition today.But the MB hasn't had any political power in Syria since 1982. Syria's Muslim Brotherhood is not like its analogues in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, or Morocco; it has not been part of the political process for decades.
--Russia and Iran have been promoting a diplomatic approach to solving the Syria crisis. But the U.S. default position is military action not diplomacy, hasn't done any crisis-solving diplomacy anywhere recently, and who does it have to do diplomacy? Plus those AIPAC objectives have to be satisfied.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 11, 2012 4:05:22 PM | 11

This whole crisis is a fraud. The rebels in Syria were last year the rebels in Libya. They are paid murderers who are indirect employees of NATO/USA/Israel. We will see Arab nation one by one being attacked under the guise of a civil war, but it really is an invasion by paid thugs.

Posted by: Cynthia | Dec 11, 2012 4:18:11 PM | 12

Keep in mind, Don, the USA is very competitive. It will do all it can to weaken or knock down all those who will stand in its way. This is not just about Syria. It is not just about the Arabs. It is also about Russia: What happens in Syria affects Iran's position in the region. The fate of these two countries will affect Russia's global position. Russia is being tested in this Syrian crisis.

Posted by: Cynthia | Dec 11, 2012 4:27:19 PM | 13

We keep waiting for the USA to change its mind. As if it would one day wake up and realize they are supporting the wrong side. These people will never do that. They are stubborn or "Laeem" as they say in Arabic. They will never admit they are wrong, even if they end of getting biten in the ass.

Posted by: Hilmi Hakim | Dec 11, 2012 4:28:04 PM | 14

@william #8:

Jordan may not like an unstable border not only because it has to take in thousands of refugees from yet another country, but also because some of those refugees may have connections to dissident groups within Jordan.

Israel (especially its rightwing), on the other hand, can gain on many fronts with an unstable neighbor. With an election season coming up, a nervous voting public is more likely to vote for the parties with the most belligerent rhetoric -- which will benefit the Israeli Right. With international attention diverted by instability next door, Israel can step up its ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem and Area C and rarely make American headlines. Unstable neighboring countries are easily used by Israel in its PR to justify its need for more American military aid.

Also, regarding last week's American Conservative article, even though John Kerry is strongly supported by Democratic colleagues for the position, the SOS spot is not yet certain.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Dec 11, 2012 4:41:11 PM | 15

Just as the Norwegian government publicly gives its support to the Syrian opposition coalition. Go figure.

Posted by: Alexander | Dec 11, 2012 4:41:54 PM | 16

@Don Bacon #8 (William was #6):

Even though SOHR routinely inflates its numbers, it is widely known that the death toll in Syria has been well over 2000 for at least a year. So, clearly, the AIPAC talking points are the same stale ones they've used all along. A good reminder that, no matter what is claimed otherwise, the Israel Lobby has been pushing for US intervention in Syria for a long time.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Dec 11, 2012 4:54:47 PM | 17

Israel, like the U.S., is caught in a dilemma of its own making, b/c the thought of an AQ-affiliated government on Israel's doorstep is a nightmare. But Assad seems secure for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 11, 2012 5:04:36 PM | 18

I tend to agree with b on this. These are signs that the US might be pulling back from getting more involved in this Saudi inspired invasion of Syria. Too many signs point in the opposite direction, so this really is a tea reading exercise.

Posted by: ToivoS | Dec 11, 2012 5:07:33 PM | 19

Creating instability has long been U.S. policy. The best hint of this is (counter-intuitively) that it often talks about creating stability, as in Afghanistan as evidenced by the recent Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan(pdf). hah That place has been unstable since the Fall of 2001.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 11, 2012 5:13:21 PM | 20

b, regarding Washington making up its mind:

But all this seems to depend on Washington which probably hasn't made up its mind: However, they said the UK would act only if the US did so and made it clear that British chiefs of staffs are seriously worried about the consequences of intervening in the Syrian crisis. ... Options have been sent by defence chiefs to No 10, sources told the Guardian on Monday night. However, one source added: "We are a long way from doing anything." An official said: "The US is leading the way. We are not there yet." The British military as well as likely the Pentagon are against waging war on Syria. The White House may have learned a lesson from Libya where, after pressure from London and Paris, it waged a war to then only find that those people it helped later killed the U.S. ambassador. These tealeaves are difficult to read. Is Washington changing its approach towards Syria or will it continue to support the terrorists' war against the Syrian people?

The Israel Lobby wants this intervention and Hillary and Democratic congresscritters do not want to upset Zionist donors. Once Hillary steps out of the SOS spotlight (and burnishing her resume for commander in chief), has Obama made up his mind about whether he wants to continue the trajectory started on Syria during his first term? He has already indicated a preference for diplomatic resolution with Iran. Can he chart a different path on Syria without explicitly contradicting Hillary?

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Dec 11, 2012 5:13:50 PM | 21

Have to agree with Sharmine Narwani that "recent US activity vs al-Nusra Front is to create plausible deniability about Washington's involvement w/Salafist terror in Syria."

The US is the biggest supporter of terror and the Muslim Brotherhood that there is, followed by the UK.

Posted by: revenire | Dec 11, 2012 5:23:33 PM | 22

Q: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has canceled her trip to Morocco this week for a meeting on the future of Syria's opposition because of a stomach virus...

R: Proving that Bill's sperm is indeed poisonous. That sucks, doesn't it?

Is this the US' Monty Python moment?

The People's Front of Judea

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Dec 11, 2012 5:33:47 PM | 23

@Don Baon #9

The president of the new coalition is Moaz al Khatib, a moderate, soft-spoken Muslim who until recently was the imam of the great Umayyad mosque in Damascus.

While Khatib used his post-election speech to call for equal rights for "all parts of the harmonious Syrian people," his previous rhetoric toward his country's minorities has been nothing short of virulent.

So you are saying that he is a soft spoken sectarian bigot?

Posted by: hans | Dec 11, 2012 5:53:23 PM | 24

‘Assad is facing assassination no matter what happens’ – Noam Chomsky

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_12_11/Assad-is-facing-assassination-no-matter-what-happens-Noam-Chomsky/

From what Chomsky says about Syria, IE:

"Syria is moving towards kind of suicide and there doesn’t seem to be any easy way out."

He is apparently blaming Syria for the Israeli-American attack on them. As he was on the side of the Israeli-Americans during their attack on Libya, it's probably the same with him about Syria. His analysis is very pessimistic, as to be expected (to get people opposed to Israel-American power grabbing used to "another loss o the inevitable", and therefore further demoralised, rendered powerless, defused and ineffective). He also doesn't appear to know very much about what is happening with regard to Syria and is adlibbing it.

Part of the problem in the west in opposing their countrys' fascist warmongering is much of the so-called internal opposition has been neutralised in this fashion. Be it in the fight against their wars, their fascist way of governing, their take backs of just about all the things people fought hard to achieve over the last 100+ years, the left of centre folk have been totally marginalised to the point of irrelevance. That is intentional by the power establishment. It keeps them in power, and the rest of us from seriously getting in the way of their dominance. Think of this engineered decay as their first successful "color revolution".

Posted by: вот так | Dec 11, 2012 5:59:55 PM | 25

The following article says what I was attempting to say about R2P enablers and their undermining of the left, above in #25, much better:

Beware the Anti-Anti-War Left: Why “Humanitarian Interventionism” is a Dead End

http://www.globalresearch.ca/beware-the-anti-anti-war-left-why-humanitarian-interventionism-is-a-dead-end/5314975

"This would not bring instant solutions to human rights abuses or political conflicts in countries such as Libya or Syria. But what does? The policy of interference increases tensions and militarization in the world. The countries that feel targeted by that policy, and they are numerous, defend themselves however they can. The demonization campaigns prevent peaceful relations between peoples, cultural exchanges between citizens and, indirectly, the flourishing of the very liberal ideas that the advocates of interference claim to be promoting. Once the anti-anti-war left abandoned any alternative program, it in fact gave up the possibility of having the slightest influence over world affairs. It does not in reality “help the victims” as it claims. Except for destroying all resistance here to imperialism and war, it does nothing. The only ones who are really doing anything are in fact the succeeding U.S. administrations. Counting on them to care for the well-being of the world’s peoples is an attitude of total hopelessness. This hopelessness is an aspect of the way most of the Left reacted to the “fall of communism”, by embracing the policies that were the exact opposite of those of the communists, particularly in international affairs, where opposition to imperialism and the defense of national sovereignty have increasingly been demonized as “leftovers from Stalinism”.

Posted by: вот так | Dec 11, 2012 6:16:51 PM | 26


Agree with those that recognize that this is more about Russia, than it is about Syria. Just as the atom bomb was about Russia, and NOT Japan.

Posted by: erichwwk | Dec 11, 2012 6:32:55 PM | 27

Chomksy makes no sense, sounds a bit nuts to me.

Posted by: revenire | Dec 11, 2012 7:05:38 PM | 28

Please take twenty-six minutes to watch this video which was live-streamed yesterday with Lara Setrakian interviewing Prof. Joshua Landis who runs the Syria Comment blog.

Landis discusses the Syria situation in reference to 'three models' -- Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon. He talks about how the radicalization of the opposition inspires the 2.5m Alawites to never give up. Assad probably can't last forever but he seems good to go on for awhile. The best end result would be a Sunni-led government that would sustain a Syria with its present minorities, Kurds, Alawites, etc. (PS: Don't be so transfixed by Setrakian's marvelous eyes that you miss Landis's words.)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 11, 2012 7:18:57 PM | 29

@hans 24 -- So you are saying that he is a soft spoken sectarian bigot?
I did say that, based on sources available to me. I know others like that, so it's not out of the question.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 11, 2012 7:25:28 PM | 30

These affairs wouldn't be complete without the US telling the locals how to perform and warning them that if it doesn't work out, it's their fault not the US's.

The State spokesperson Victoria Nuland, today:

. . .So just as we are speaking to those who are supporting and funding the Syrians, we’re also speaking to the Syrian people and saying be sure that those who are fighting in your name have your – have a democratic future in mind and are operating under the principles that we all want to see guide Syria in the future; don’t trade one group of thugs for another group of thugs.

Be sure that those terrorists we're arming are pure of heart, now, and have a democratic future in mind, and operate under the proper principles, or it's on you.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 11, 2012 7:52:19 PM | 31

Never can understand the leftists who take Chomsky out of context and make him a part of an effective gatekeeping conspiracy. Not that I don't have disagreements with him. He should advocate a one state solution for Israel-Palestine for example, whereas he's a two stater. But he also favors an Israel-in name-only in certain repects, if I'm not mistaken. After all, if you remove rabbinical law from the place, you've pretty much de-Zionized it.

Posted by: amspirnational | Dec 11, 2012 7:52:46 PM | 32

So, the US now recognises the opposition coalition it created as the sole representative of the Syrian people..
I guess they couldn't wait for Clinton to get off the toilet to announce that one.

But it doesn't necessarily mean that the Obama administration hasn't changed course. Perhaps this is a move that places emphasis on the need for a political resolution. I guess it all depends on how this new found recognition develops. Is it a licence to directly arm the opposition, or will it be used as the basis of negotiations? I fear the former.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Dec 11, 2012 7:59:22 PM | 33

Chompsky is a really great man and I am hesitant to criticize him. However, it should be recognized that he does not have the best political instincts and often gets himself involved in some screwy positions. For example, some of his writings on Israeli oppression against the Palestinians are downright inspirational but then he has no practical political advice on how that oppression can be opposed.

Posted by: ToivoS | Dec 11, 2012 8:18:03 PM | 34

@ BOT TAK [#25],

Funny how so many intellectuals are [or have become] the opposite of what they're supposed to be, isn't it? The litmus test of time vs. truth never fails.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Dec 11, 2012 8:19:44 PM | 35

@ Cynthia [#13]

And the winner will be China. Watch for a shift of power toward the [near/far] East over the next 2 decades. What you see now [imho] are the death throws of empirical wannabees/hasbeens. I also think they hit a BRIC in the road toward stymieing bliss.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Dec 11, 2012 8:29:25 PM | 36

@ Pat Bateman 33 --US now recognises the opposition coalition

I don't think so, yet. Maybe tomorrow. Nuland said only "a strong statement of support" for the new Coalition.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 11, 2012 9:11:05 PM | 37

'US now recognises the opposition coalition'

"I don't think so, yet. Maybe tomorrow. Nuland said only "a strong statement of support" for the new Coalition."

US recognizes Syrian opposition body

http://rt.com/news/us-recognizes-syrian-opposition-860/

"We've made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime," Obama said in an interview with ABC."

Posted by: вот так | Dec 11, 2012 9:26:56 PM | 38

Two Israeli jets violate Lebanese airspace

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/12/11/277515/2-israeli-jets-violate-lebanese-airspace/

"The military aircraft crossed into Lebanon's airspace over the southern border village of Kfar Kila, located 96 kilometers (59 miles) south of Beirut, at 1 p.m. local time (1000 GMT) on Tuesday, according to a statement issued by the Lebanese military.

The warplanes flew over several areas in Lebanon before leaving Lebanese airspace at 3 p.m. local time (1200 GMT) while flying over the southern border town of Alma al-Shaab.

Israel violates Lebanon’s airspace on an almost daily basis, claiming the flights serve surveillance purposes.

Lebanon’s government, the Hezbollah resistance movement, and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, have repeatedly condemned the overflights, saying they are in clear violation of UN Resolution 1701 and the country’s sovereignty. "

Posted by: вот так | Dec 11, 2012 9:30:55 PM | 39

@ Pat Bateman 33
Oooops -- State didn't, but Obama did, apparently.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 11, 2012 9:42:50 PM | 40

This will be Lebanon of the 1980s on a very grand scale. Declaring the Nusra brigades terrorists is perhaps a sign that they have completed their task and are of no further use to the empire.

Then again, they may need them to destabilize Iraq, but by then they will have renamed themselves something else.

Recognizing the rebels is a sign that it is the empire, and ONLY the empire, which decides who represents the Syrian people and who does not.

I don't know the situation on the ground, but the US is acting as if the government forces are about to loose.

Posted by: Lysander | Dec 11, 2012 9:57:41 PM | 41

Here's a speech by the President of the newly-recognized Coalition Ahmad Moaz Al Khatib in October. Discounting some of the political rhetoric, there are some nationalistic aspects that are worth liking. That's for you to decide.

Also an interview with Al Khatib on CBS News today which didn't reveal much of anything. He's obviously been well-coached and well-prepared. We can only imagine the value of the contract to a US PR firm for for doing that.

But sleight-of-hand can only go so far.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 11, 2012 10:31:36 PM | 42

US sanctions on Iran and Syria haven't worked too well. Let's see how they work on al-Nusrah. Hey, as long as their name is spelled correctly they probably appreciate the publicity, and it may enhance their funding and build more alliances.

As Josh Landis indicated, it's the people on the ground in Syria that hold the power, not the wannabes in Istanbul, Berlin and Brussels. The military forces can't govern but they can overwhelm. The US and UK have experience in that field. Maybe al-Nusrah will set up Provincial Reconstruction Teams as the US/UK/FRG did in Afghanistan? The ones that worked out so well? Just kidding.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 11, 2012 10:41:22 PM | 43

@Lysander #41:

Re:

I don't know the situation on the ground, but the US is acting as if the government forces are about to loose.

Well, if the latest reports from Al-Akhbar are any indication, after supporting all sorts of methods from the insurgency including terrorism and disinformation, it looks as though the efforts in Aleppo and Damascus have resorted to trying to starve them out.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Dec 11, 2012 10:46:08 PM | 44

Rusty, if the government is only holding the two biggest cities and can't even bring supplies to them, I don't see how they could last much longer. That does not mean the Washington appointed puppets can take over. There will be a bloody and terrible civil war between radical Salfists and everyone else, with moderate Sunnis breaking down between extremists and the minorities. Alliances will shift and foreign powers will support one side or the other. This can go on for a decade and a lot of Syrians will die.

Let me place my curse upon all those who brought this. May all their clever plots blow up in their faces. May they die a horrible death. May they burn in hell for all eternity while demons devour their charred, burnt flesh.

I find myself recalling Black Sabbath

Now in darkness world stops turning
Ashes where the bodies burning
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgement, God is calling
On their knees the war pigs crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan laughing spreads his wings

Posted by: Lysander | Dec 11, 2012 11:01:12 PM | 45

Bush then Obama still seems to be following PNAC / Securing the realm blueprint. Scramble the neighborhood

Posted by: Kathleen | Dec 11, 2012 11:23:11 PM | 46

No site proliferates more bull on the Syrian issue than the Huffington Post.

Posted by: kalithea | Dec 12, 2012 12:25:51 AM | 47

I believe BHO is trying to change the approach but inertia of the neocon agenda is massive, but I do not trust both neither. They are confused, making bets difficult, I agree...I do not think HRC and their cronies understands, or accept, the new geo-balances but BHO is trying to do it and act according to the...¿US interests as he see them or according other optics? Psychology is allways interesting...tanks

Posted by: rcky | Dec 12, 2012 1:22:09 AM | 48

Yes, the US define who they consider to be on their side and acknowledge that their side cannot win. Plus disassociate themselves from the main fighting force.

President Obama recognizes Syrian opposition

We've made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime," Obama said.

This from Russia today

"Obviously, with that recognition comes responsibilities," Obama said in the interview on Tuesday. "To make sure that they organize themselves effectively, that they are representative of all the parties, that they commit themselves to a political transition that respects women's rights and minority rights."

and this

A US-created plan to resolve the Syrian conflict contains some conditions that Moscow says will be unacceptable to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Washington is calling on Moscow to persuade President Assad, who is in the midst of a fierce struggle to maintain his grip on power in the face of a protracted militant challenge, to step down voluntarily, Kommersant daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.

According to the American plan both the opposition and supporters of the President should agree to a ceasefire and form a transitional government. It was presented to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at their meetings in Phnom Penh and Dublin.

The transitional government would be representative of all faiths and groups, which would help prevent clashes along religious lines.

The US plan proclaims to “minimize the risk of pro-government forces using chemical weapons and the possibility of such weapons falling into the hands of uncontrolled forces,” Kommersant reported, quoting the document.

Earlier, President Assad excluded the possibility of his government resorting to the use of chemical weapons, calling such a move “suicidal.”

Meanwhile, not only Moscow, but also the Syrian government is practically guaranteed to give a tepid response to the reported US plan, which the American side says will be “feasible if Bashar al-Assad is not present in the transitional government,” according to Kommersant.

Although Russia supports the idea of forming a transitional government in Syria, it has no intention of trying to persuade Assad to resign his post.

Russia is certain that President Assad will never agree to step down voluntarily, and the Syrian leader reiterated this point on several occasions, Kommersant said.

Moreover, Moscow believes it would be more appropriate for countries posing a threat to Assad – for example the United States – should try to persuade him to resign, it said.

It is meaningless on the ground, except that it makes it illegal for US citizens (I wonder what it means for French and British presumably the same) to be seen in any way with Al Nusra.

My gut feeling is all this is connected to what happened in Benghazi.


Posted by: somebody | Dec 12, 2012 2:23:05 AM | 49

America’s recognition of the National Coalition as Syria’s legitimate authority violates the Geneva Conventions, it is an “unexpected turn,” - Lavrov

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_12_12/America-s-recognition-of-the-National-Coalition-as-Syria-s-legitimate-authority-violates-the-Geneva-Conventions-it-is-an-unexpected-turn-Lavrov/

"The Voice of Russia’s Olga Denisova cites the country’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying that Washington’s move to recognize Syria’s opposition National Coalition as the sole legitimate power proved the US had made a stake on its armed victory.

"America’s recognition of the National Coalition as Syria’s legitimate authority violates the Geneva Conventions, it is an 'unexpected turn',” he said at a meeting with his Slovak counterpart, Miroslav Lajcák.

Mr. Lavrov stressed Russia was going to inquire into US’s aims and their vision of the region’s future."

In other words, Israel-America is only interested in expanding their world dominance at everyone's expense. No compromise with these people will work. Like the Israelis in Palestine, negotiation with them is a waste of time. They just use it dishonestly to further their control.

These people are like ants after a drop of honey spilled. They keep going at it.

Posted by: вот так | Dec 12, 2012 3:03:37 AM | 50

don't know.

the wording
"the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime" seems to acknowledge that there are also Syrian people "not in opposition to the Assad regime"

Lavrov's reaction seems to suggest he expected something else than a recognition, and the wording seems to suggest a slow distancing.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 12, 2012 3:09:49 AM | 51

49

From the RT article:

"The US plan proclaims to “minimize the risk of pro-government forces using chemical weapons and the possibility of such weapons falling into the hands of uncontrolled forces,” Kommersant reported, quoting the document."

I think the operative phrase in that Israeli-American scree is "hands of uncontrolled forces", now that we know they are training their terrorist cut-outs to use WMDs:

US Defense Contractors Training Syrian Rebels to Handle Chemical Weapons

http://news.antiwar.com/2012/12/10/us-defense-contractors-training-syrian-rebels-to-handle-chemical-weapons/

"The US-funded training is going on inside Syria, as well as in neighboring Turkey and Jordan and “involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials,” according to CNN."

Posted by: вот так | Dec 12, 2012 3:29:35 AM | 52

@51

You make a sound distinction. Seems to me that it was an exercise in demonising and de-legitimising al-Nusra. He said that terrorist groups were part of the opposition immediately after identifying the SNC as representatives - as if to say these guys are the only people we think are worth supporting amongst the opposition. But, as you say, that the regime also remains as the representative of those not in opposition.

Some news reports are misleading as to what Obama actually said. The same news reporters cheering on the rebels.

I like to see it as a step towards a political solution and undermining elements of the armed opposition.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Dec 12, 2012 5:00:58 AM | 53

@45: Yes, curse them, curse them a thousand times. I have to say Im more and more depressed concerning the situation in Syria! Everytime there seems to be drop in international pressure, "they" come back up with other stuff! Be it the stingers they delivered to those snackbaring monsters, or allegations over WMD, recognizing this grotesque Opposition-vomittee... Its really an on-and-off-war! But I might ask all of u the following question: Ok, Russias interests do not have to be mistaken for a genuine effort to bring peace to Syria! Also, Russia and Iran are already heavily involved in the crisis, cuz Assads secret-services have failed big time to big money. If it werent for the Russians and Iranians guiding the whole, Assad couldnt survive a month! Russians have their harbor down there, and they know that eventually, theyll be at the end of the loop, if they fail to at least to contain that unique Americano-European-Salafist Agenda! Then again: Russia wants to exploit the gasfields off the Syrian coast(think harbor in Tartous) and wouldnt want it to be endangered by an ongoing crisis. I just cant imagine Russia giving up their stronghold, or standing by, while US-corporations drill around in the MedSea! So, back to my question: Why isnt Russia just going official and saying: We do feel responsible for our ally, and want to intervene in order to protect syrian civilians from lets say, Jahbat al Nusrah??? Cuz now its official, its out there, US branded those Alnusrah monsters al-kaida linked terrorists!! I might be naive, but isnt that a good opportunity to turn things around?? Russia protecting Syrian civilians against al Qaida??

Posted by: Kalimbour | Dec 12, 2012 5:09:54 AM | 54

b. I do think the US has somewhat lost control, at least they do not seem to be able to communicate to their puppets that they have to tow the line ....

Martin Chulov ‏@martinchulov

Re Jabhat al-Nusra, Khatib says 'nothing wrong with fighting in the name of Islam' #Syria #Marrakesh

14m Martin Chulov Martin Chulov ‏@martinchulov

Choking on coffees in Marrakesh: #Syrian oppn leader Khatib asks US to reverse decisn to brand Jabhat al-lNusra terrorists #news

Posted by: somebody | Dec 12, 2012 6:59:24 AM | 55

@Kalimbour #54

The only reason that Putin and some in the Russian establishment support Assad and the current government is because the Orthodox church support for Putin during the election was on condition that Syria would be be protected. This battle for the control of Syria is also a control for the desert religions. Iran knows that if Syria was to collapse then many holy Shia shrines and pilgrimage places would be destroyed. So for Iran it is not only regime change but the destruction and defeat of Shiaism by militant Sunni Islam.

Posted by: hans | Dec 12, 2012 7:39:05 AM | 56

@Don Bacon - Please take twenty-six minutes to watch this video which was live-streamed yesterday with Lara Setrakian interviewing Prof. Joshua Landis who runs the Syria Comment blog.

Landis is so wrong as one can be. "This wasn't sectarian in the beginning," he says. Well his own blog archive proves him wrong. A cousin of his wife was killed along with a bunch of other Allawite officers three weeks after it started. That was clearly sectarian.

Also Landis on Aleppo:

https://twitter.com/joshua_landis/status/261433454984577024
Aleppo falling to FSA. Rebels take al-Syrian Jadide, heart of Christian area. #syria #aleppo
4:46 AM - 25 Oct 12

https://twitter.com/joshua_landis/status/261435132085407746
al-Syiraan Adime just fell to rebel militias as well. Center of Aleppo fallen. #syria #aleppo
4:52 AM - 25 Oct 12

https://twitter.com/joshua_landis/status/261435575515619329
Syria Regime Gives up Aleppo. FSA sharpshooters on top of all buildings in a-Syrian jadide and Qadime, Christian heartland #Syria #Aleppo
4:54 AM - 25 Oct 12

https://twitter.com/joshua_landis/status/261439369406185472
Shooting has stopped totally in Aleppo. Eerie silence overtakes city as government relinquishes control and Rebels take over. #Syria #Aleppo
5:09 AM - 25 Oct 12 ·

https://twitter.com/joshua_landis/status/261440110321610752
@FareedZakaria #syria Aleppo has fallen to rebels. Government gives up control as eerie silence decends over city.
5:12 AM - 25 Oct 12

The guy is a joke.

Posted by: b | Dec 12, 2012 8:34:27 AM | 57

Alex Thomson of Channel 4:

So yesterday reports of another mass killing. This time scores of civilians from the minority Alawite community in the village of Aqrab killed after rebels reportedly visited from the al-Houla area a few days ago. According to Aqrab villagers they kidnapped the son of the local Alawite religious leader.

The Aqrabi villagers say they mounted a counter-attack to try and free the hostage. There were armed clashes and injuries.

The villagers say the rebels then came back from al-Houla and took over the place. Most people fled but around 260 were corralled into one section of the village and it is there that they were hit by missiles fired by rebels.

Posted by: b | Dec 12, 2012 8:48:46 AM | 58

actually, b. Alex Thomson's report is "activists said"

Precisely how this came to be is as yet unclear and this report is only from people Channel 4 News has spoken to both in and near to Aqrab itself.

Until it’s possible to get closer into the area the details of quite what happened and how will remain unclear.

Official Syrian Sana has a dementi

I would put it down to psychological warfare Trying to spread panic amonst Alawites.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 12, 2012 9:13:53 AM | 59

Landis, the self proclaimed "expert on Syria" is probably CIA.

As far as Chomsky, his job is clearly to deflect guilt from Israel and unto the USA.

Posted by: Hilmi Hakim | Dec 12, 2012 9:15:00 AM | 60

Actually, I doubt that the Syrian conflict is sectarian at its core. It is a proxy war of Saudi Arabia against Iran, of US/Israel against Iran/Hezbollah, of US against Russia.

And Israel does not want to return the Golan Heights.

"Rebels" right from the start had an interest to make the conflict sectarian, as that would have enabled them to shrink Assad's support base to its Alawite/Christian minority core. However they did not succeed as obviously the - to a large part - Sunni army did not defect in a meaningful way and Aleppo and Damascus business people did not join but had their businesses torched.

So, yes, actors try to use sectarian and ethnic fault lines but in the final analysis the conflict is not determined by religion or ethnicity.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 12, 2012 9:36:28 AM | 61

@somebody - Thomson says the insurgents massacred Allawites. He is on the ground and has been quite fair in his evaluations.


You are right with the sectarianism. It never came from the government side. Only from the U.S. and rebel propaganda. Landis is emphasizing it too but that doesn't fit with the fact that large parts of the army, which is in the majority Sunni, have held their ground well and didn't defect.

Posted by: b | Dec 12, 2012 10:01:33 AM | 62

b. I guess the fundamental miscalculation of the US/Turkey/Israel/Saudi Arabia/Qatar Sunni strategy is not to realize that the average Sunni Muslim feels as threatened by Saudi / Quatari Wahhabism as everybody else.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 12, 2012 10:35:24 AM | 63

Only one day after he was blessed, the new U.S. puppet is kicking over the traces. That's a record. Usually it takes them longer.

Hurriyet, Dec 12, 2012
Syria opposition urges US to reconsider Al-Nusra move

The opposition National Coalition, newly recognised by Washington as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, on Wednesday urged the US to review its blacklisting of the jihadist Al-Nusra Front.

"The decision to blacklist one of the groups fighting the regime as a terrorist organisation must be re-examined," the bloc's leader, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, said at a meeting in Morocco of the Friends of Syria group that includes the United States.

Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib is telling President Obama that his decision made yesterday must be "re-examined!" That's precious. Now to see what State's answer will be at today's presser. It's scheduled for 12:30pm EST and you can see the transcription here after they post it.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 12, 2012 10:41:33 AM | 64

@b 57 -- Landis is so wrong as one can be. "This wasn't sectarian in the beginning," he says.
The revolt has been going on for twenty months and you're quoting reports from 25 Oct 12.
--The guy is a joke.
I have found Landis rather light on analysis in the past, but I was impressed in this interview by his exposition of the historical narrative of events in the Levant. (But mainly I was taken by Setrakian's marvelous eyes so who knows.)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 12, 2012 10:49:12 AM | 65

Josh Landis pushes the hysterical line that Assad and his "Alawite militia" will retreat to the coastal mountains. I watched a video yesterday at a propaganda site called "Syria Deeply" run by one Lara Setrakian and in it Landis seemed rather apoplectic that Assad was still in power. In October Landis called for the US to arm the opposition with anti-aircraft missiles knowing full-well that the al-Nusra Front was all over the FSA.

Posted by: revenire | Dec 12, 2012 10:57:55 AM | 66

OT: Today is 12-12-12, the last time such a triple digit day will occur in this century. So unless you plan on being around next century, celebrate it.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 12, 2012 11:04:20 AM | 67

The BBC has buried the story about their local action heroes allegedly slaughtering dozens of Alawites in Aqrab. This leads me to believe the reports are true.

They're giving weight to activist accusations that Government supporters were using other Government supporters as shields against rebel fighters, and that the human shields were disposed of when the rebels tried to free them.

The BBC then reminds readers that the Government has previously been accused of killing Government supporters to demonise the rebels - like some vindictive attempt by the BBC to give credibility to the activist's most recent bullshit.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Dec 12, 2012 11:25:46 AM | 68

Surprise -- the New York Times makes a good case for the US staying out of Syria. . .

The widespread dissatisfaction among rebel groups — and the broader population — raises the possibility that now, just as the United States is stepping up efforts to steer the outcome in Syria, it may already be too late.

More than 100 antigovernment organizations and fighting battalions have called online for demonstrations on Friday under the slogan, “No to American intervention — we are all Jabhet al-Nusra,” a reference to the Nusra Front’s Arabic name.

“Anti-American sentiment is growing, because the Americans are messing up in bigger ways lately,” said Nabil al-Amir, an official spokesman for the rebel military council for Damascus and its suburbs, one of the committees that the United States and its allies are trying to coax into a unified rebel command. With every step to correct earlier mistakes, he said, “they make a bigger mess.”


and points out a limitation of the Coalition designation.
Mr. Obama’s move does not go so far as to confer on the opposition the legal authority of a state. It does not, for example, recognize the opposition’s right to have access to Syrian government funds, take over the Syrian Embassy in Washington or enter into binding diplomatic commitments.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 12, 2012 11:29:56 AM | 69

68) I am sceptical as the "rebels" seem to have a huge interest in making it a "revenge attack against Alawites" and the headlines quote "200" dead or injured counting them down in the content section to 10.

(Reuters) - Up to 200 members of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite minority were injured or killed in an attack on their central Syrian village on Tuesday, activists said, while to the south rebels and state forces battled for the outskirts of Damascus.

.....

Casualty counts varied for the attack on the village of Aqrab in Hama province, but several activists said they could confirm 10 dead.

It seems to have huge importance for some people as it already has a Wikipedia page - listing different variations of the story put out - amongst them - this here

An Alawite resident, from the nearby town of Masyaf, blamed the attack on rebels stating that they did not believe there was a massacre, but that they thought the rebels were holding a number of hostages. According to him, the clashes started when the rebels shelled a Shabiha militia checkpoint in the town. In contrast, a rebel claimed that the Syrian army shelled a house where at least 200 Alawites were hiding in.

The next day, the casualty counts still varied but several activists said that they could confirm the deaths of 10 people. SOHR director Rami Abdel Rahma stated that "We cannot know whether the rebels were behind this attack, but if they were, this would be the largest-scale revenge attack against Alawites".[3] The activists also reported to Reuters wounded Alawite children came to an opposition-run field hospital in the Sunni rebel town of Houla.

I still think psychological warfare.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 12, 2012 11:45:48 AM | 70

Syria rebels backers ‘accomplices in atrocities’ – Moscow

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_12_12/Syria-rebels-backers-accomplices-in-atrocities-Moscow/

"In a statement read put by diplomatic spokesman Alexander Lukashevich Wednesday, Moscow said the responsibility for the latest atrocities committed by the Syrian rebels must be shared by the foreign powers that arm, fund and train the anti-government insurgents.

On Wednesday morning, reports emerged that rebel gunmen had massacred at least several dozen people in the mostly Alawite Syrian community of Akrab. A week ago, rebel shells killed 8 students and a teacher in a village school north of Damascus.

In a related development, the rebels have declared Damascus Airport a ‘war zone’."

Posted by: вот так | Dec 12, 2012 12:26:06 PM | 71

French carrier off Syria

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_12_12/French-carrier-off-Syria/

"According to the French Defence Ministry, the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is on standby off Syria to take action in the event the Assad regime resorts to chemical warfare.

France appears not to have taken into account Damascus pledges not to deploy chemical weapons on home territory.

In 2011, The Charles en Gaulle was part of the NATO operation to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya."

From the looks of it, USN and NATO are rotating ships off Syria to maintain an offensive force there at all times so they can begin military operations against Syria with little notice.

Posted by: вот так | Dec 12, 2012 12:33:44 PM | 72

Explosion targets Syria’s Interior Ministry in Damascus

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/12/12/277667/explosion-hits-syria-interior-ministry/

"An explosion has targeted the main entrance of Syria’s Interior Ministry in the capital city, Damascus, Syria's state TV says."

Posted by: вот так | Dec 12, 2012 12:39:53 PM | 73

@70

would be called a massacre if the victims were not alawites.

Posted by: nikon | Dec 12, 2012 12:42:36 PM | 74

Beware of false prophets.
DEBKAfile, Dec 7

Our military sources add that the French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle carrying a complement of marines is deployed in the Mediterranean, having joined the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group and at least five British warships which are also carrying a large marine force.

More BS. The Ike never was off Syria and entered the Atlantic Ocean two days ago.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 12, 2012 1:40:01 PM | 75

75

"More BS. The Ike never was off Syria and entered the Atlantic Ocean two days ago."

You just cant manage to get it right, can you.

Paris confirms presence of aircraft carrier in waters outside Syria

http://presstv.com/detail/2012/12/11/277476/paris-proves-carrier-presence-near-syria/

"Paris has confirmed that the French aircraft carrier, Charles De Gaulle, has now stationed in the Mediterranean Sea, just outside Syria.


French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFMTV on Tuesday that although French Marines are onboard the vessel, it does not mean that France is preparing for a military intervention in Syria.

He, however, justified the presence of the French aircraft carrier in waters just outside Syria as part of Paris’ policy to maintain military readiness in the face of any threat."

The thing I find curious, Don Bacon, is why you are so obsessed with trying to discredit info about USN/NATO deployments near Syria, given you are supposedly anti-war? It's almost like you are trying to cover for them.

Posted by: вот так | Dec 12, 2012 2:05:27 PM | 76

Getting back to Joshua Landis. In his video interview (recommended) he discusses the Syria situation in reference to 'three models' -- Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon. My recollection may not be perfect, but let's look at it.

Regarding Iraq, there was a situation where the status, of the ruling minority Sunni and the ruled majority Shia, was reversed. Landis's point was that this may have happened over time anyhow, but the presence of an outside US military hastened the process so it was completed in eight years. The Christians were completely removed, the Sunni were exiled or subjugated, and now the Shia rule.

On Syria, Landis painted a similar picture, with the Sunni eventually replacing the minority Shia (Alawite), with what would become of the Shia an open question. Perhaps they might be able to survive in the mountains, but ther problem there is Sunni cities on the adjacent coast. He left it open.

As I indicated above, I like Landis's grasp pf history but I feel he's sometimes weak on current analysis. Landis didn't mention al-Nusrah, or at least in any important way.

So I suggest that in Syria, considering al-Nusrah's growing strength, and their strong salafist motivation, they should be considered similary to the role that the US forces served in Iraq -- expediting the transformation. I know there are differences, and that any comparison between countries is dangerous, but just looking at the mega-picture al-Nusrah could be serving as the external force that could hasten the Syria transformation, as Landis described in Iraq.

Specifically, if al-Nusrah continues to gain strength, it could be a force in expediting the tranformation of Syria and the elimination of Alawites, one way or another.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 12, 2012 3:06:53 PM | 77

@ вот так 76 -- why you are so obsessed with trying to discredit info about USN/NATO deployments near Syria

I've tried to explain to you the importance of truth, and the truth is that there is no proof of the US Navy being deployed in any significant way off Syria, and claiming the (false) opposite is nothing but a mindless distraction. There is nothing commendable about lying.

There have been no significant USN/NATO naval deployments near Syria recently, and I include the possible stationing of the Charles De Gaulle.

Why are you obsessed in promoting a US military involvement in Syria that doesn't exist? Why are you promoting war?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 12, 2012 3:15:28 PM | 78

78

"I've tried to explain to you the importance of truth"

You really expect to believed about that? Especially now having been caught out pushing some Israeli-American propagandist (Landis) as a legit source?

"There have been no significant USN/NATO naval deployments near Syria recently, and I include the possible stationing of the Charles De Gaulle."

Possible? Can you read English?

76

"French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFMTV on Tuesday that although French Marines are onboard the vessel, it does not mean that France is preparing for a military intervention in Syria.

He, however, justified the presence of the French aircraft carrier in waters just outside Syria as part of Paris’ policy to maintain military readiness in the face of any threat."

The De Gaulle took part in the Libyan war crimes. Keeping at least one carrier stationed off a foreign land's coast is a significant offensive deployment. Again I ask: why are you trying to first discredit info noting these deployments and when that fails, attempting to make such important offensive developments appear innocuous?

Posted by: вот так | Dec 12, 2012 3:27:41 PM | 79

Hilmi Hakim says it's clearly Chomsky's job to deflect blame from Israel to the United States.
Ummm, let's see,...Chomsky does not blanch in outlining details of Israel's persecution of Palestinians
and generally portrays the US government as chief enabler of such. Israel has a powerful fifth column operating in the US political class, decisive e.g. in pushing US troops into Iraq.
A distinction then without a difference, practically.

Posted by: amspirnational | Dec 12, 2012 4:16:41 PM | 80

Washington is absolutely not changing its position. You don't ratchet things up this way only to say "Oops, my bad, let's back down now and do a 180."

What the hell does "the relevant intelligence is leveling off" even MEAN? It's a nonsense statement with zero content. Are we to believe that Panetta just suddenly realized that all the "chemical weapons" "intelligence" was coming from ISRAEL? Is he that stupid?

That's not "walking back" anything. It's called "CYA" and "disinformation". You leak a bunk of crap, knowing it will stick in the minds, then you mumble about it some more to CYA in case you get caught lying. Meanwhile, the crap later serves as "justification" for your next criminal move.

As for the French and British trying to get Obama to "fight their wars for them", it's the other way around. The US is again trying to pressure NATO into doing its dirty work.

People need to stop drinking the Obama Kool-Aid and realize that everything he says is a lie and he is fully on board with starting a war with Syria in preparation for a war with Iran. He just doesn't want to be BLAMED for it, so he's trying to come up with an excuse that allows him to evade blame for initiating the wars.

The proof is that the US and NATO tried to put UN Charter Chapter 7 language in every resolution they proposed over the past year. If it wasn't for Russia and China vetoing those resolutions, Syria might already be under attack. Except Obama didn't want to do it during the elections. But now the elections are over and look how fast the US is escalating the rhetoric and preparations for war: 17 ships off the coast of Syria and a deluge of fake chemical weapons claims.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Dec 12, 2012 7:26:25 PM | 81

USS Eisenhower remains close to Syria
http://www.wavy.com/dpp/news/local_news/uss-eisenhower-remains-close-to-syria

In other words, while it is SUPPOSED to be in home port by end of the month, it's not going anywhere right now.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Dec 12, 2012 7:32:37 PM | 82

Today at State, in response to a question about Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib not liking Obama's blacklisting al-Nusrah, which is doing the heavy lifting in Syria, a response.

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, Deputy Secretary Burns is in Marrakesh representing the Secretary at the Friends of the Syrian People meeting that is concluding now. He had a chance to sit down with President al-Khatib and about nine or 10 members of the Syrian Opposition Council. This issue, as you can imagine, came up along with a number of others. And it was an opportunity for Deputy Secretary Burns to make the points that we’ve been making publicly and to talk it through with President al-Khatib, and particularly to make the point that it is vitally important that Syria’s future leaders work hard to differentiate between those members of the opposition who truly seek a democratic and inclusive Syria and those who have an extremist agenda and want to take Syria backwards, want to hijack this revolution for their own purposes.

So a little chat with the master should clear up this issue "along with a number of others." (translation -- it's worse than we know)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 12, 2012 7:38:22 PM | 83

@RSH 82 -- USS Eisenhower remains close to Syria

You are wrong -- see my #75 and my #1 here.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 12, 2012 7:58:06 PM | 84

82

"In other words, while it is SUPPOSED to be in home port by end of the month, it's not going anywhere right now."

Whether it is still off Syria, it certainly spent some time there. From Don Bacon's link about the ship's movements:

"20Nov-27Nov2012, North Arabian Sea
28Nov-30Nov2012, Red Sea
01Dec2012,
transited the Suez Canal,
and returned to the Mediterranean Sea
01Dec-07Dec2012, Med
10Dec-11Dec2012, Lant"

Looking at that log, it is clear there is something very odd about it. The Med is about 2100 nautical miles across, the Red Sea about 1200 nm. It took the ship all of 2 days to transit the Red Sea, but 7 days to cross the Med. Then there are the 2 days missing, 8-9 Dec, where the ship apparently slipped into a space-time rift in the fabric of the universe and disappeared from record. Perhaps, that dimensionless, imaginary line that separates the Atlantic from the Med is really a gateway to an alternate universe in another dimension? The Gibraltar Triangle.

It's likely the Eisenhower group was in the med till the 10th, which means a 10 day crossing of 2100 nm. For the Eisenhower group to traverse the Med that slowly means they would be cruising at an average of about 10 knots. That is absurd. A USN carrier task force never cruises that slowly in open waters. The ships are designed to cruise at 30+kts. The fleet crossed the Red Sea in 2 days, 1200 nm, an average cruise speed of 25kts. It could be they moved faster there, than in the Med., because there are "scary Arab peoples" on both shores of the Red Sea, but I doubt it. 25kts is still a relatively slow cruise speed for that force and probably some of that time of those 2 days was probably spent off the Suez preparing transit of the canal, or waiting their turn. At even a slow cruise, the Eisenhower tf should have crossed the Med. in 4 days, not the 9-10 that log records.

What this means is that the Eisenhower group probably spent around 5-6 days loitering off the east coast of the Med., then made a normal 3-4 day transit of the sea afterwards. That is if the log is factual, and not fabricated to hide the ship's movements. For all we know, Eisenhower may still be off Syria. If attack on Syria is imminent, the USN probably would hide the fact it moved ships within range, so as not to give the Syrians advance warning. Bringing the French carrier De Gaulle in now to take a turn escorting the invasion fleet of amphib carriers and support ships stationed off Syria makes sense if she was replacing the Eisenhower and Israel-America is not intent on immediate attack, but is rotating an escort for the ships that do maintain station in the region.

Posted by: вот так | Dec 12, 2012 8:43:54 PM | 85

The US is waiting for the Syrian Government to collapse. It'll then roll in along that red carpet laid out for them and essentially pillage the country of anything that may jeopardise Israel's immunity should a war with Iran ever materialise.

Until then, they're content to sit back and let their proxy army do the dirty work.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Dec 13, 2012 9:57:01 AM | 86

@amspirational #80, re:

Chomsky does not blanch in outlining details of Israel's persecution of Palestinians
and generally portrays the US government as chief enabler of such.

Chomsky does not portray the US as Israel's enbler, but rather portrays Israel as a US vassal in its imperial schemes for the Middle East and the world. No matter what our presidents have said to the contrary, Israel is suppressing Palestinians and attacking its neighbors because we want it to. And congresscritters claim undying love for Israel because they support such imperialistic schemes, not because they are pleasing major donors or voting blocks -- there is no such thing as an Israel Lobby.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Dec 13, 2012 2:49:33 PM | 87

@bot tok #85, re:

For all we know, Eisenhower may still be off Syria. If attack on Syria is imminent, the USN probably would hide the fact it moved ships within range, so as not to give the Syrians advance warning. Bringing the French carrier De Gaulle in now to take a turn escorting the invasion fleet of amphib carriers and support ships stationed off Syria makes sense if she was replacing the Eisenhower and Israel-America is not intent on immediate attack, but is rotating an escort for the ships that do maintain station in the region.

Might that rotation of ships off of Syria's coast also serve the purpose of intimidating, if not blockading, Russian ships that are delivering weapons and parts to Syria?

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Dec 13, 2012 2:58:41 PM | 88

"Might that rotation of ships off of Syria's coast also serve the purpose of intimidating, if not blockading, Russian ships that are delivering weapons and parts to Syria?"

Intimidating? They probably think they do. Blockading? No. Israel-America knows any attempt to board or physically interfere with the progress of a Russian ship would be seen as an act of war by Russia and acted upon accordingly.

Posted by: вот так | Dec 13, 2012 7:48:51 PM | 89

Interestingly, of the eleven nations listed in the Wikipedia table linked to (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite#Launch-capable_countries), there are eight (Russia, US, France, China, U.K., India, Israel and North Korea), which possess nuclear weapons; two (Japan and Iran) which are nuclear-latent; and one (Ukraine), which is a former holder of nuclear weapons.

So what is the link between producing the kind of rockets and other technology needed to achieve satellite launch, and having the kind of technology and infrastructure needed to develop nuclear weapons?

Posted by: pontefract | Dec 16, 2012 1:24:12 PM | 90

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