Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 01, 2012

Syria: U.S. Installs New Political Proxy Opposition

The U.S. government seems to renew its attempt to overthrow the Syrian government by force. This will, as I wrote, likely intensify as soon as the election in the U.S. is over.

The U.S. has so far used two proxy forces to run the conflict. One is the military force in form of the so called Free Syrian Army provided via Turkey with money and weapons from Libya, Qatar and Saudi Arabia while the U.S. provides it with operational intelligence, the communication infrastructure and the media campaign. While the FSA had some success on the ground, especially in reducing Syria's air-defense, it is by now more famous for its Salafist radicalism and for mass killing its prisoners (video). It is not the force the U.S. would like to lead Syria.

The second proxy force the U.S. has been using is supposed to play the political role and to replace the Syrian government. The Syrian National Council, a hodgepodge of Syrian exiles, was thought to take this role and to develop into some exile government that could then be recognized by other states. But it turned that the SNC was neither inclusive nor united enough to put forward the political cover for the U.S. overtaking of Syria.

The U.S. has therefore now decided to throw the SNC out of the window and to create a new political proxy force that can be used instead of the SNC:

The Obama administration has spent the past several months in secret diplomatic negotiations aimed at building a new Syrian opposition leadership structure that it hopes can win the support of minority groups still backing President Bashar al-Assad.
As envisioned by the Obama administration, the new Syrian leadership will include representatives of revolutionary councils and other unarmed groups inside the country. Territory along Syria’s northern border with Turkey that is effectively under rebel military control is to be organized into an administrative zone with non­lethal assistance from the United States, France and other like-minded governments.
U.S. officials said they expected at least 50 opposition representatives, many from inside Syria, to attend the meeting and choose an executive council containing eight to 10 members. If all goes as planned, the Arab League will bless the process at an upcoming meeting in Cairo, officials said. They declined to name Syrian attendees, citing what they said were security concerns. U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford, who was withdrawn from Damascus for security reasons a year ago, plans to attend.
The anonymous members of this new, yet unnamed entity were selected by the U.S. government:
The U.S. government has recommended names and organizations it believes should be included in the new leadership structure, Clinton said, emphasizing the participation of representatives of Syrian opposition groups on the ground.
There is just a small problem with this idea. The Muslim Brotherhood SNC is still supported by Qatar and Turkey and is not going away. It just finished a three day conference in Instanbul and decided to reinvent itself as some murky parliament in exile:
More than 200 members of Syrian opposition groups issued a declaration yesterday in Istanbul promising “a general assembly” to rule liberated areas of Syria.
The idea of a parliament in exile is the same one the U.S. is proffering with its new entity:
"We call it a proto-parliament. One could also think of it as a continental congress," a senior administration official told The Cable.
One wonders who is copying whom in this.

There maybe a small chance that the SNC will be integrated into the new entity the U.S. is planing. But after Clinton remarks on the SNC one really has to doubt that possibility:

“We’ve made it clear that the S.N.C. can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition,” Mrs. Clinton said, referring to the Syrian National Council.
Instead of one disunited SNC supported by the U.S., Turkey, Qatar and the Saudis we will now probably see two disunited entities, one supported by the U.S. and the other by Qatar and Turkey while the Saudis will continue their support for the foreign Jihadists in Syria represented in none of the political proxy entities.

Does anyone expect that this will really work?

Turkey is meanwhile continue to slowly, slowly backtrack from its earlier positions. After lots of Turkish talk of and threats to install a security zone in Syria Erdogan now sounds much different:

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country was unable to unilaterally impose buffer zones on its border with Syria and relied on the United Nations to make such decisions.

Responding to questions in Berlin during a joint news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel today, the premier said Turkey “has no authority or right to declare” a buffer zone or a no-fly zone to protect civilians inside Syria. “It is an issue which the UN Security Council can decide on,” he said.

Well, the UNSC will not allow for such a zone.

From the same report comes this interesting detail:

A U.S. military delegation, meanwhile, visited an air base in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir to prepare possible operations related to Syria, Hurriyet newspaper reported today, without citing anyone.
It is the third time that a rumor of such a U.S. visit has been published in Turkey. The Turkish military denies that U.S. military have visited Diyarbakir but the persistence of this claim, published in different Turkish media, makes me wonder what is really happening there.

Posted by b on November 1, 2012 at 17:02 UTC | Permalink

next page »

two words - cluster fuck.

Posted by: heath | Nov 1 2012 17:14 utc | 1

I wish my government would just walk away. We've already made a fine mess of things. Just leave Bashar where he is. Enough is enough.

Posted by: Fernando | Nov 1 2012 17:52 utc | 2

I agree with b. I think things will intensify after the US election. Obomber will have free reign if he gets back in. Which I think he will.

It's all about the Shia Arc of Extremism. Break Syria, Break Hizbollah and attack Iran. It may well have a huge impact on the world economy but the people who have an interest in this project will be insulated from the effects in that they will remain rich. The masses will bear the brunt as usual.

I don't think they will nuke Iran but if they do, so what?, the US relies more on Pacific basin hydrocarbons anyway. If the Middle East is left a nuclear wasteland the oil will last longer wont it.

A dark view I admit, but anythings possible.

Posted by: Billyboy | Nov 1 2012 18:23 utc | 3

Efforts by the US to build a new Syrian leadership organization makes no sense. I am skeptical about this story. The facts could very well be true since our Syrian policy is in shambles mostly because the SNC seems totally powerless and incapable of leading any of the forces on the ground in Syria. So there probably have been some diplomatic efforts to try and fix that. However, I think at the highest levels of the US the decision has been made not to get more heavily involved and probably will work to wind down the whole war. This article is from the Wa Po. The pro-war forces inside government have used them for years to promote policies they wish to see enacted. I strongly suspect they are on the losing side of this argument.

But then I tend to be optimistic about many things. Here's a prediction: the US will reach some kind of agreement with Iran (assuming Obama wins) within six months where Iran continues to enrich U for its reactors and sanctions will be relaxed. Progress on that front would be impossible if the war in Syria escalates.

Posted by: ToivoS | Nov 1 2012 19:19 utc | 4


This is not only a dark view but a one which defies logic. Unless you claim that people runing the western countries are all crazy iin the literal sens of the word (then why would they need to control anything anyway), nuking Iran is not only the end of Iran but the end of the western political order.

Posted by: ATH | Nov 1 2012 19:25 utc | 5

Usually you would publish news like that only when you have the new leadership - they do not seem to have them. Maybe the only reason is to put publicly distance between the US and the Salafis. Maybe the main news is that the US dropped the SNC.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 1 2012 19:35 utc | 6

As i said, I don't think they would but they have dropped the bomb before - twice.

As for defying logic, it wouldn't be the first time. Sub-prime? Support for Salafists? A war on terror that they know increases terror? Environmental policies that have the potential to kill hundreds of millions? Fracking that causes earth tremors and pollutes ground water?

None of these actions seem logical to me. I don't think they are crazy, I think that within the limits of their value systems THEY will do what they think needs to be done.

Posted by: Billyboy | Nov 1 2012 19:36 utc | 7

It is amazing to have witnessed both presidential candidates talk about removing the head of a sovereign State (Assad) and replacing him with a government friendly to the US, so matter-of-factly, like it's no big deal. Can someone here explain to me how that is any different than when Japan marched into China? Or, Germany into Austria?

Posted by: Cynthia | Nov 1 2012 19:39 utc | 8

The difference is the concept of America Exeptionalism. The idea that Westerners are the good guys and our bastards (puppets) are ok. The myth that Western democracy is actually functioning (which I suppose it is as far as the Western elites are concerned).

Posted by: Billyboy | Nov 1 2012 19:48 utc | 9

Only thing different is that US support for al Qaida is now obvious and the us wants to make it seem like they were taken by surprise and are trying to bring in a kinder gentler opposition. US is perfectly happy supporting terrorists so long as the whole world doesnt know about.

Except now it does. Hence the new narrative.

Posted by: Lysander | Nov 1 2012 19:53 utc | 10


The bomb was dropped twice before the current political order was setup.

If as a constraint you replace "value system" by legitimacy, since this is the ultimate goal of any political order, I might agree with what you are saying here. But again dropping the bomb, let's say overtly, on any non nuclear country, is destroying the basic tools of legitimacy for the Western world (Human Right, UN, NPT, International Justice Tribunal, even IMF or World Bank, etc...)

Posted by: ATH | Nov 1 2012 19:53 utc | 11

The bomb was dropped twice before the current political order was setup.

Agreed ATH.

But the political order set up after WWII was influenced greatly by the fact that the US demonstrated they were willing to drop the bomb.

I see that the political order is in danger and the legitimacy of the institutions you list is certainly questionable as far as the non western world is concerned. How far will they go to defend the politcal order and the Dollar remains to be seen.

Posted by: Billyboy | Nov 1 2012 20:06 utc | 12

interesting how Democracies and their elections keep putting in power sociopathic entities that then lie steal kill defrraud corrupt eliminate remove corrupt everthing and everyone around them

Posted by: brian | Nov 1 2012 20:29 utc | 13

'It is the third time that a rumor of such a U.S. visit has been published in Turkey. The Turkish military denies that U.S. military have visited Diyarbakir but the persistence of this claim, published in different Turkish media, makes me wonder what is really happening there. '

never believe something till its been officially denied

Posted by: brian | Nov 1 2012 20:30 utc | 14

But the political order set up after WWII was influenced greatly by the fact that the US demonstrated they were willing to drop the bomb.


This guy here was not impressed.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 1 2012 20:31 utc | 15

With regards to the current systematic attacks on the Syrian Air Force there is other evidence. The Dossier programme by Walter Martínez broadcast on Telesur (in Spanish) is very good. Last night videos showed Syrian fighter planes using decoys to neutralise the ground-based anti-aircraft missile barrages used by the anti-Assad forces.

They had to have gotten them from somewhere. It's very unlikely that they got so many from overrunning a few Syrian air bases. Yes, the largely covert regime-change programme is being hooped up in preparation for the post electoral direct attack.

Posted by: JohnE | Nov 1 2012 20:38 utc | 16

remember Maher Arar?

Was Maher Arar linked to the FBI?

so was Maher Arar ever tortured? was he in afghanistan? why did he never testify under oath about tortures in syria? who is he really?

what would americans say if Iran was to install a proxy US opposition?

Posted by: brian | Nov 1 2012 20:43 utc | 17

Sorry Somebody, I don't understand how or why that, interesting though it is, refutes my opinion.

Posted by: Billyboy | Nov 1 2012 20:47 utc | 18

Posted by: Billyboy | Nov 1, 2012 4:47:23 PM | 18
The fact that the US dropped the nuclear bomb on Japan at a time when the war had been decided and Japan was asking for peace changed nothing in the political order that was to be set up. It did not prevent the Communists in China winning the civil war. It did not force the Soviet Union to withdraw 1mm. It did not win the Vietnam war.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 1 2012 20:59 utc | 19


This is not only a dark view but a one which defies logic. Unless you claim that people runing the western countries are all crazy iin the literal sens of the word (then why would they need to control anything anyway), nuking Iran is not only the end of Iran but the end of the western political order.

Billy is right, West (including US) supplied chemical weapons to use against Iran and Kurds just few decades ago, while its not nukes, its WMD nonetheless. Died the most people from chemical WMD since nuking of the Japan. Did anyone see even a blip of reaction to it? Let alone "the end of the western political order"? US strangled Iraq with sanctions and almost two million people starved to death, thats 4x more than died from the nukes in Japan, now US is trying the same against Iran. Outside of few decent journalists, US is free to do whatever they want, and as Albright put it after starving millions to death: "it was well worth it."

Israel with US even talked about using nukes against Iran these couple of years, again - not even a slightest reaction. Granted, if they do use nukes, it would create some backlash, but thats about it. Israel even went as far as promising to use nukes against West (Samsons option) if their country is under serious threat, and threatened US with nukes in 1973 (Yom Kippur War), reaction around the World? None.

Its jungles rules, they can get away with anything, simply because they have the power.

Posted by: Harry | Nov 1 2012 21:03 utc | 20


Sorry interrupting your discussion but since I was involved initially,

The events you are mentioning are all REAL facts but the political order is the NORMAL(legal) framework that the WWII victors set up. In this sens Billyboy might be right that the bomb was somehow influencial in the political gamesmanship during the setting up of this legal framework (UNSC) and later on with the addition of NPT.

Posted by: ATH | Nov 1 2012 21:07 utc | 21

b and all, one should read all of Madame Shillary's statement in Zagreb, to get the full impact...

QUESTION: Secretary, if I could ask you about Syria. Mr. Brahimi’s attempt at a ceasefire has evidently failed, and the violence is increasing again. What are your views on what needs to be done now to bring the violence down?

And turning to next week’s opposition conference in Doha, what gives you confidence, if you have any at all, that this could produce the beginnings of a government in waiting where the SNC has failed to do that? And are you sure that your key allies, including Turkey, are ready to swing behind whatever is the outcome of Doha? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well Andy, those are all very important and timely questions. And I want to start by thanking Croatia for their assistance in dealing with the extremely difficult problems presented by both Syria and Iran.

Look, I sincerely regret, but I, unfortunately, was not surprised by the failure of the latest ceasefire attempt. Despite its reported commitment to the UN Special Envoy, Mr. Brahimi, the Assad regime did not suspend its use of advanced weaponry against the Syrian people for even one day. And the shelling in the suburbs of Damascus was as bad last weekend as at any time in the conflict.

So while we urge Special Envoy Brahimi to do whatever he can in Moscow and Beijing to convince them to change course and support stronger UN action, we cannot and will not wait for that. Instead, our efforts, and those of our partners in the EU and the Arab League, are focused on pressuring the regime through increasing and tightening sanctions, meeting the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people who are displaced, assisting those countries that they seek refuge in, and helping the opposition unite behind a shared, effective strategy that can resist the regime’s violence and begin to provide for a political transition that can demonstrate more clearly than has been possible up until now what the future holds for the Syrian people once the Assad regime is gone.

So we are working very hard with many different elements from the opposition – yes, inside Syria as well as outside Syria. Some of you might remember I hosted a meeting in New York during the UN General Assembly. We facilitated the smuggling-out of a few representatives of the Syrian internal opposition in order for them to explain to the countries gathered why they must be at the table. This cannot be an opposition represented by people who have many good attributes but have, in many instances, not been inside Syria for 20, 30, or 40 years. There has to be a representation of those who are on the frontlines, fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom.

And there needs to be an opposition leadership structure that is dedicated to representing and protecting all Syrians. It is not a secret that many inside Syria are worried about what comes next. They have no love lost for the Assad regime, but they worry, rightly so, about the future. And so there needs to be an opposition that can speak to every segment and every geographic part of Syria. And we also need an opposition that will be on record strongly resisting the efforts by extremists to hijack the Syrian revolution. There are disturbing reports of extremists going into Syria and attempting to take over what has been a legitimate revolution against a repressive regime for their own purposes.

So the Arab League-sponsored meetings, starting in Doha next week, will be an important next step. I have been constantly involved with my counterparts, both in the EU and in the Arab League, in particular with the hosts of the meeting next week in Qatar. We have recommended names and organizations that we believe should be included in any leadership structure. We’ve made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition. They can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice that needs to be heard. So our efforts are very focused on that right now. Thank you.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) This completes the statements for the press. Thank you.

Posted by: CTuttle | Nov 1 2012 21:11 utc | 22

Agreed, but I'm talking about western political order. Which I still think is in danger and will be protected at all costs.

We will have to agree to disagree I think. I'm not here for an argument. ;0)

Posted by: Billyboy | Nov 1 2012 21:11 utc | 23

Its jungles rules, they can get away with anything, simply because they have the power.

Posted by: Harry | Nov 1, 2012 5:03:49 PM | 20

It does not help them achieve anything either. Or would you say the US is popular in Iraq nowadays?

Posted by: somebody | Nov 1 2012 21:12 utc | 24

@somebody "It does not help them achieve anything either. Or would you say the US is popular in Iraq nowadays?"

Thats not the point - the point in question is can certain countries use WMD and get away with it? They most certainly can, and history testifies it.

Predicting outcome of wars (or WMD's) is a different ballgame, Iraq (or Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc) didnt panned out the way they planned it, but Japan and Yugoslavia were "success" stories, Libya and Syria are work in the progress, Iran and probably Lebanon are next.

Posted by: Harry | Nov 1 2012 21:20 utc | 25

@15, Mao's had a lot of bad press. Whatever he was, he could sure write. Simple prose without unnecessary ornament or cheap sentiment.

Posted by: yes_but | Nov 1 2012 21:22 utc | 26


That "its jungle rules" in the international arena might be a good subject for discussion. But I do think that MOST OF THE TIME might can't (in a sens that it doesn't have the power to) make complete right. The whole issue now is how to display a semblance of legality. The use of depleted uranium, extra-territorial rendering, torture, drone assasination etc... and even the evident act of war of choice are explained to be legal by re-interpreting international laws and resolutions passed years before. Til this is the main obvious public concern we can say that the ruling class/elite/... is looking to nurture legitimacy. For this reason I believe that the overt use of nukes on a country the size of Iran is politically impossible right now.

Posted by: ATH | Nov 1 2012 21:28 utc | 27

23, 21 agree, I assumed the normative power of fact.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 1 2012 21:28 utc | 28

Well as I said "I don't think they would". But they have and that lends a fair old weight to their threats and brinkmanship.

The use of DU is a good example, at the end of the day there is "fall out" of a kind left after the use of DU. They knew there would be and both the US and the UK (I'm Scottish by the way) have used them in Iraq and Afghanistan, the results are horrific and, as Harry pointed out, not a squeak.

Tactical nukes go where ever US troops go. Is it so far fetched to imagine thier use?

Posted by: Billyboy | Nov 1 2012 21:42 utc | 29


I do agree US with alies likes to interpret law to give their crimes an appearance of legitimacy, even if their facts and reasoning are 100% manufactured.

Like reasons to attack Iraq were 100% fake, so was an attack on Libya, so is against Syria, Iran, etc etc.

I also think US most likely wont nuke Iran, but it doesnt mean they cant, here is how it could be presented in UNSC by US:

"rogue Iran didnt complied with our demands, and conventional bombs cant reach potential nuclear weapon-making underground facilities, therefore we had no choice but to use nuclear warheads to penetrate and destroy the threat to World peace and security."

...and guess what? Outside of few protests from Russia and China (and maybe few other countries), US would get away with such crime just as easy as it got away from their previous crimes, with no real repercussions. What have the World done when Iran was under chemical WMD attack? Or millions Iraqis deliberately starved to death? Or when the World found out how US faked the "intelligence" to attack Iraq and kill another million civilians or so, zero repercussions.

Posted by: Harry | Nov 1 2012 21:51 utc | 30

# 22 "And so there needs to be an opposition that can speak to every segment and every geographic part of Syria".

An allusion to the "Balkanisation" of Syria perhaps?

Jonathan Cook's Israel And The Clash Of Civilisations dicusses the concept with regards to Iraq, Syria, Iran and Lebanon. Libya is going through the process just now. The term "Libanization" was added to Larousse as part of the French language recently.

It's much cheaper to help a country fracture along sectarian and tribal fault lines than put a puppet government in place and then finacially and militarily support it. Then we can sit back and watch them exterminate each other eventually they will be too weak to threaten western imperial designs.

However, that's going to be a lot more difficult to do in Iran. But it will make an attack on Iran a bit easier. As I said earlier, break Syria, break Hizbollah, Attack Iran and although Iraq and Iran are tentative allies they are not really in a position to pose a serious military threat further than insurgency.

Posted by: Billyboy | Nov 1 2012 22:05 utc | 31

29 "They" are people. And whilst a large part of the leadership might as well be crazy sociopaths, the majority of US citizens are not. There is a huge propaganda effort needed to justify war. A nuclear bomb as a "preventive" agressive act would be too much for most people to feel good about.
Leadership is no one way street, people have to accept it. Once they lose trust, power has lost.
In the end, the Vietcong did not win by military means.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 1 2012 22:07 utc | 32


Up to now, the United States has always stood by Israel and has guaranteed its security and continued existence. But the United States is about to collapse as a world power, and soon Israel will be out on its own, which may explain why some in Israel are so eager for war with Iran and Israel's other enemies. They know that they need the United States to pull it off, and they also know that the United States is almost washed up as a world power.

Posted by: Cynthia | Nov 1 2012 22:15 utc | 33

Once again Somebody, I agree. But I don't think it would be sold as preventative.

Posted by: Billyboy | Nov 1 2012 22:30 utc | 34

Also, as Harry pointed out. Western sanctions on Iraq arguably killed hundreds of thousands, the public, in the UK at least, were not feeling good about it and it went ahead anyway.

The proposed invasion of Iraq prompted the biggest demonstrations in UK history and it still went ahead. The Bliar was given a golden handshake and went on to become the Middle East Peace Envoy.

Twighlight Zone shit!

Posted by: Billyboy | Nov 1 2012 22:35 utc | 35

First of all a side note: hope that all who were in Sandy's path are alive and well.

Another 'Transitional Us Recommend Democracy' [TURD to insiders] delivered to an unwilling nation.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Nov 1 2012 22:53 utc | 36

@ Cynthia,

Why have a history if we refuse to learn from it? Going after the Nazis for all their heinous crimes? Just be sure to leave out aerial bombardments during the Nuremberg trials. Double standards? Japanese officers were executed for water-boarding prisoners... Good for them. More about bombing @

IMHO, history is nothing but a [mostly] stage[d] play, in which the actors and fashion changes, the storyline is adapted where deemed necessary [whom- or whatever is in power decides what that actually and precisely is], but overall, it's groundhog day all over again and again and again...

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Nov 1 2012 23:12 utc | 37

The "Nicaraguan" contras get reinvented under yet a new name. Same strategy, just more sophisticated in how the these fascists run it and how their media monopolises the spin.

Posted by: вот так | Nov 1 2012 23:19 utc | 38

This will cause problems with Turkey, which is a good thing. Washington is fine with Kurdish autonomy, something the SNC and Turkey don't want.

The SNC, located in Istanbul, didn't agree with Washington on Kurdish autonomy. The PYD has not signed the national pact and road map that the SNC agreed upon in Cairo. The Kurds wanted to have the word autonomy in the pact. The SNC can't accept a Syria break-up, and such a move would create a similar desire in Turkey, which is unacceptable to Turkey.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 1 2012 23:31 utc | 39

22, CTuttle,
so Hillary did not answer the question:

And turning to next week’s opposition conference in Doha, what gives you confidence, if you have any at all, that this could produce the beginnings of a government in waiting where the SNC has failed to do that? And are you sure that your key allies, including Turkey, are ready to swing behind whatever is the outcome of Doha?

Posted by: somebody | Nov 1 2012 23:35 utc | 40

somebody @ 40 Ya didn't expect her to do so, right...? ;-)

I just wrote a new post... Madame Shillary is Worried That ‘Extremists’ Are Hijacking The SNC, Sacks SNC...

Posted by: CTuttle | Nov 2 2012 0:25 utc | 41

billyboy @ 35 The Blair was given a golden handshake and went on to become the Middle East Peace Envoy.

Tis a shame you Scots are a day late in trying to punish your fellow Scotsman's foul actions, eh...? ;-)

Posted by: CTuttle | Nov 2 2012 0:31 utc | 42

@ Daniel Rich 37,

It's amazing how much Israel has become like its own bogieman, Nazi Germany. The Nazis were all about acquiring "Lebensraum" (see link below), and that's what the Israelis are all about. They don't want to build up, they want to build out, and do so at every opportunity they can get. Pretty soon they'll be tearing down their own walls so they can move them out more. As the Nazis were highly racist, so too are the Israelis. Just take a look at their entry and citizenship requirements. If you are a Jew, you are their best buddy. But if you're not, you are persona non grata. Also, an Arab married to an Israeli finds it nearly impossible to gain citizenship, and will most likely be kicked out of the country.

Posted by: Cynthia | Nov 2 2012 1:01 utc | 43

@ Cynthia,

The outcome of any discussion about Israel is either references to the nazis, the holocaust(TM) or [ho-hum] anti-semitism. When do you think the Stockholm syndrome is going to kick in [or has it already started]?

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Nov 2 2012 1:29 utc | 44

'b' asks the following question and I'm going to give it a curt reply:

A U.S. military delegation visited an air base in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir to prepare possible operations related to Syria, Hurriyet newspaper reported today, without citing anyone. It is the third time that a rumor of such a U.S. visit has been published in Turkey. The Turkish military denies that U.S. military have visited Diyarbakir but the persistence of this claim, published in different Turkish media, makes me wonder what is really happening there.

Such rumours sell newspapers. That's all that's really happening there.

Newspaper readers read such rumours, and that's why newspaper editors persistently publish such rumours when the editors think they've got a defensible pretext for publishing.

The following is a repeat of a comment on the same theme I had on this board 17 Jun 2012, which is about the publisher ( but is equally applicable to the Turkish newspapers and the British newspapers, and arguably applicable to what 'b' himself sometimes sees fit to publish at this blog:

The Lead Story on the homepage of today 17 Jun 2012 is headlined: "Not 'if' but 'when': US military intervention in Syria on countdown". The sole source for the story is (an utterly unreliable source). But no doubt this headline story gets lots of click-throughs. . A commenter in the comment section on the webpage of RT's story says "RT's been saying the same trash for the past 6 months." He's correct. Here's an example of the same sort of trash from about Syria, sourced from the same utterly unreliable, dated 9 Feb 2012 :

Posted by: Parviziyi | Nov 2 2012 1:38 utc | 45

Most of the Syrian people support the Assad government and will continue to do so. The opposition doesn't have any instruments by which to change the minds of the people. So the attitude and planning that Hilary Clinton is bloviating about at #22 above is all for nought. Souria bikhair.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Nov 2 2012 1:42 utc | 46

Don @39 To be sure... Syrian rebels fight unwanted battle with Kurds...

Don't ya just love the intricacy of the Web we've woven...?

Posted by: CTuttle | Nov 2 2012 1:42 utc | 47

@ Don Bacon #39: I don't disagree with your comment strictly speaking, but as I've been reading your comments over the past months I see that on Syria you give a lot more weight to the Kurdish factor than I do. The Syrian Kurds are small in number, dispersed geographically (there isn't a Kurdish geographical region in Syria like there is in Iraq), and very divided in politics. I regard them as small potatoes.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Nov 2 2012 1:51 utc | 48

Parviziyi @ 46 I totally agree with you, but, the 'Jihadists' will most certainly persist, fuelled on by Qatari and Saudi petrodollars...! 8-(

Posted by: CTuttle | Nov 2 2012 1:56 utc | 49

@ Parviziyi - on Syria you give a lot more weight to the Kurdish factor than I do. The Syrian Kurds are small in number, dispersed geographically (there isn't a Kurdish geographical region in Syria like there is in Iraq

* Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria, nine percent of population.
* There is a Kurdish area in Syria, now autonomous, "Syrian Kurdistan" (Kurdish: Kurdistana Sûriyê)
* Syrian Kurds have linked with Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan.
* The big gorilla in the room is Turkish Kurdistan - nearly one-third of the country, where autonomy is out of the question. PKK is a big deal in Turkey, thanks in part to Erdogan, whose “Kurdish opening” became a campaign of mass arrests and imprisonment. Which is why PKK is more active, and why Turkey is bombing Iraq's Kurdistan.

These factors reflect in the current SNC controversy, given the Kurdish desire for a linked autonomy in Iran/Iraq/Syria/Turkey.

The US? Who knows what US wants, beyond continuing instability. I doubt if State knows, other than to destroy an Iranian ally.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 2 2012 2:31 utc | 50

Don @ 50 * The big gorilla in the room is Turkish Kurdistan...

Most indubitably, Don...! ;-)

Posted by: CTuttle | Nov 2 2012 2:49 utc | 51

"U.S. Installs New Political Proxy Opposition" is simply Hillary Clinton's last stab at trying to be important.

Hillary Clinton is a lame duck without a track record of accomplishing anything in nearly four years, but since she had no qualifications for the job as the US's top diplomat, that's not surprising. It's why she was AWOL (in China) during the Dem National Convention. What's to talk about in foreign policy achievements? Nothing.

Obama did get a political opponent out of the way in 2009, that's all. US diplomacy is moribund. So anything Clinton says on Syria, or anything else, might be called pop diplomacy. Totally irrelevant. Say goodbye, Hillary. Back to Bill with you. If I were a State Department employee I would be totally embarrassed to work there. Have we talked about Benghazi?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 2 2012 2:56 utc | 52

The Kurds are the largest Ethnicity devoid of a Nation-State, the Brits totally screwed them over, just like they did with the Pashtuns and the Durand Line...! 8-(

Posted by: CTuttle | Nov 2 2012 2:57 utc | 53

Billy boy don't be a silly boy. There is no way that the US will use nuclear weapons against Iran at this stage of the game. It is possible that a US-Iran war would escalate into a nuclear confrontation but we are not there yet.

Here is one scenario. The US (or Israel) launches conventional aerial attacks against Iran. The Iranians respond by sinking US warships in the Persian Gulf with their well known anti-ship cruise missiles. Hundreds or thousands of US sailors die. The American public goes into shock and into some kind of patriot conniption fit and demands revenge. The president of the US responds and orders nuclear attacks against Iran. Now that couldn't happen, could it?

Posted by: ToivoS | Nov 2 2012 3:04 utc | 54


Turkey has expressed growing alarm at the assertiveness of Syria’s Kurds since Assad’s army withdrew from northeastern Syria in August, effectively giving Kurds control over the area.

Clinton said the Syrian opposition should be inclusive and reject extremism. “There needs to be an opposition that can speak to every segment and every geographic part of Syria. And we also need an opposition that will be on record strongly resisting the efforts by extremists to hijack the Syrian revolution,” she said.

Ankara, a staunch critic of the Assad regime, is the main sponsor of the SNC, hosting its meetings and some of its leaders. But a Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity to Today's Zaman, stated that Turkey welcomed any initiative which aims to strengthen the Syrian opposition politically. The official described the move by the US as a sign of its willingness to actively shoulder responsibility in forming a more effective and united Syrian opposition.

Probably "a Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity" is a sign that Turkey knows it's being stiffed by the US.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 2 2012 3:17 utc | 55

Any US attack upon Iran (which I believe impossible) could not be a surprise. As with Iraq, the UN inspectors would be warned, and given sufficient time, to vacate their posts. Also if they're prudent US naval commanders would withdraw all ships from the Persian Gulf, and evacuate Saudi and Bahrain military posts.

This would give Iran time to implement their war plans. They've been assaulted before, they know what to do, and now they are significantly more powerful. The US has many vulnerabilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, right next door to Iran, and Israel would be toast.

This is why it won't happen.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 2 2012 3:25 utc | 56

ToivoS @ 54

The USS Enterprise ain't coming home to be 'retired', an Israeli torpedo or two will make sure of that...! 8-(

Posted by: CTuttle | Nov 2 2012 3:30 utc | 57

The USS Enterprise traversed the Strait of Gibraltar Oct 23, and on 24 Oct-26 Oct offloaded 3,348,000 pounds of ordnance and ammunition to other ships in the eastern Atlantic. Now's the time? On Dec 1 the Inactivation Ceremony will be held at Norfolk.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 2 2012 4:27 utc | 58

Al Jazeera

Speaking to Al Jazeera's Darren Jordon, Louay Safia, member of the Syrian National Council, called recent comments by Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, regarding the SNC "an astounding statement".

Safia then went on to criticse US policy in Syria saying Washington is currently working on a deal with Moscow and that the Obama administration "would like to have quiet in Syria", even if that means Bashar al-Assad, Syrian president, retains some level of power.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 2 2012 4:56 utc | 59

Don @ 58 *Oops* @59 Now that is an interesting turn of affairs, if it's true...! ;-)

Posted by: CTuttle | Nov 2 2012 6:46 utc | 60

56, Iranian strategy as far as I can tell is to respond in kind. And to escalate or deescalate from there. They have been very clear what they would do. An attack on them by Israel or the US would result in them attacking US bases. They can pick their base of choice - they are surrounded by them. I guess Afghanistan would hurt most.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 2 2012 7:02 utc | 61

@ Don Bacon #56

I think if push comes to shove governments [in general] won't have any problem doing the unthinkable.

2 examples:

1) [aka the 'French Pearl Harbor']


As I mentioned earlier, what use is history if we don't learn anything from it?

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Nov 2 2012 7:20 utc | 62

62, sure, and also sure that any US government or European government could start a war even without majority approval if there is no danger it will be fought on its own grounds or by conscripts, and if it does not require higher taxation

The US would have ticked off Syria and Iran from its list by now, if it were not for the craft of those adversaries. There is no doubt the US can start a war, they cannot be sure of the outcome.

Somehow Hillary's statement on the Syrian opposition and this news tell me the next bad guy will be the Salafi's

Posted by: somebody | Nov 2 2012 8:10 utc | 63

somebody @ 63 Hmmm... A mere coincidence...?

US spy chief David Petraeus in Cairo for two days amid authorities’ crackdown on terrorists

Posted by: CTuttle | Nov 2 2012 8:29 utc | 64

I suppose the Muslim Brotherhood has taken over from Mubarak to fight "terrorism" in exchange for US support :-))

Posted by: somebody | Nov 2 2012 8:37 utc | 65

Well, the US seem to have settled on a dissident Syrian establishment figure who was part of the SNC anyway.

However the plan appears to be dead on arrival:

Amr al Azm, a US-based dissident well-connected in opposition circles, also questioned whether the proposed council could be effective without official representation of the armed groups on the ground.

The council’s proponents “don’t want an overt military presence because it makes it harder for international community to deal with it,” he said. “[But] these guys are running the show.”

Lack of sway over the military factions on the ground would be particularly problematic for the body if it is intended to negotiate truces and ceasefires.

“[The Seif plan] would be good for foreign diplomats, but it wouldn’t be good for Syria,” said Dubai-based dissident Samir al Taqi. “It won’t be capable of implementation.”

Sure Clinton did not consult with Russia and China, sure she did not ask Saudi Arabia, Quatar and Turkey, sure she did not talk to Iran.

She will leave her job soon anyway. So this is done to ensure her image is not linked to those photographs from Libya.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 2 2012 9:53 utc | 66

So the US has finally managed to overthrow the "legitimate representative of the Syrian people".

Too bad for them it's the representatives that they appointed a year ago.

What a shambles. As China's Xinhua observes,
"The U.S. has found the proxy disappointing and withdrawn its support. It's like slapping its own face."

I agree with post 52, that this is Clinton's last ditch effort at being remembered as something other than a diplomatic laughing stock. But it's also a nod to the internal Syrian opposition that the US is preparing to drop the SNC middle men and ramp up direct engagement with the militants on the ground.

This can be seen two ways - as an attempt to draw together the various factions of the internal opposition, to unit them under a single umbrella, and thereby facilitate the distribution of arms and intelligence in order to bring down the Syrian Government; or
an attempt to draw together the internal opposition, to unit them under a single umbrella as a way of controlling them and to then use this control as a means of directing the internal opposition into political engagement with the Syrian Government..

I know which my money is on.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Nov 2 2012 10:16 utc | 67

Seems like the backers of the so called "opposition" are in disagreement with each other as to who should be the "opposition". And these people seriously think that Pres. Assad and the current governing system in Syria is going to collapse/cave in/surrender to these rabbles? LOL

And what legitimacy do either "opposition" have in the eyse of the Syrian people inside Syria - the first lot are a bunch of clowns backing and supporting murderous thugs and are un-representative of the various ethnic groups. The second bunch is just a re-play of Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi "opposition" - made in USofA whores, who no one knos nothing about and is not even supported by US allies in the region. I can imagine Pres. Assad chuclng to himself when he hears this.

Posted by: Irshad | Nov 2 2012 10:26 utc | 68

I think it is diplomatic face saving. There has not been a change in the US/Turkey/Quatari/Saudi policy of using Salafi extremist fighters on the ground. They seem to have pressured the FSA to unite with them.

Of course within Syria this means that the population is forced to unite against the opposition.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 2 2012 10:45 utc | 69

Looks like the alliance of Salafis and Syrian "rebels" will soon be unravelling:

"His restless hosts were not so sure. Bound by social customs that offer wayfarers shelter and hospitality, this rebel unit seemed to sense that trouble is brewing between them and the growing band of global jihadis. Many rebel groups the Guardian spoke to this week said a showdown was looming with the new arrivals.

"I give it six months," said one rebel officer at a checkpoint in the old market place in the central Aleppo suburb of Midan on Thursday. "Maybe a year," said another. "I was in Iraq fighting the Americans and I saw how they changed once they sensed they had power."

"It's so mixed up," said a third young rebel, a defector from Damascus. "And this is just how Bashar wants it.""

Posted by: Irshad | Nov 2 2012 10:47 utc | 70

b: "FSA: it is by now more famous for its Salafist radicalism and for mass killing its prisoners (video). It is not the force the U.S. would like to lead Syria.

b: these radicals are exactly the force/leadership the US wants and needs to lead Syria

Hillary Clinton says that explicitly:

"There has to be a representation of those who are on the front lines fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom”

I addressed this in my post from yesterday.
By saying there HAS TO BE representation of those who are fighting and dying..... she is making clear exactly the force the US wants to lead Syria

Which is why the US has gone to all this trouble to rebrand the SNC

The entity has a name and a figured head :Riad Seif

Quoting from my post yesterday, the conclusion I drew from this rebrand

"The only sensible conclusion that can be drawn from Hilary’s move to dismiss the SNC and include the mercs is that she is creating a terrorist government whose role it will be to guarantee misery for the Syrian people, continue fomenting sectarian strife and destroy the cohesive and inclusive society that Syria had until NATO stepped in."

I do not see how any other conclusion can be drawn from Hillary's language

Posted by: Penny | Nov 2 2012 11:00 utc | 71

well NATO will have to enter Libya and Mali first ....

71, Penny, there is no reason to assume that US policy cannot be contradictory. They do no longer have the ability nor wish to enter countries in person.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 2 2012 11:51 utc | 72

somebody @ 72

NATO will have to enter Libya and Mali first??

NATO has already entered Libya and is in fact a protectorate of a segment of Libya

As for Mali... it's in the works

" there is no reason to assume that US policy cannot be contradictory. They do no longer have the ability nor wish to enter countries in person."

The US no longer has the ability nor the wish to enter countries "in person"

Hate to break it to you, the US is entering plenty of countries up close and in person

I have no idea what you mean by you statement?

Posted by: Penny | Nov 2 2012 12:05 utc | 73

ok. Penny if you think so. I do really wonder what killed the US ambassador.

Anyway, the US might have to go any future adventures alone. Even poodle UK

is not amused (I remember they resort to international law nowadays when there are suggestions they might help to attack Iran):

"Libya is indeed once again pumping out 1.5m barrels a day of very high-quality crude, a small amount of which is no doubt coming to UK refineries, but neither BP nor Shell is playing any role in that output.

In fact it is American, Italian and even German companies that have been brought in by the new government in Tripoli to help it get back to business in double-quick time."

Posted by: somebody | Nov 2 2012 12:12 utc | 74

correction - contradictory should be disfunctional

Hillary Clinton seems to have split the transitional council instead of reconfiguring

I do wonder - is the US funding these people or is Saudi Arabia and Quatar?

Posted by: somebody | Nov 2 2012 12:17 utc | 75

@ somebody "ok. Penny if you think so"

regarding what exactly?

Posted by: Penny | Nov 2 2012 12:24 utc | 76

Nato being in Libya, Penny.

The only source for this I could find are the flying 3000 instructors of allied military forces, counterinsurgency operations etc for the whole of Africa mentioned here

The likely plan for Libya is according to this source

"At a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers last December, “several NATO officials and spokespersons expressed interest in Libya joining the Mediterranean Dialogue,” according to a report in the Tripoli Post.

The statement issued by the ministerial included this initiative:

“Significant political developments have taken place this year in North Africa and the Middle East. Against this background and in accordance with our partnership policy, we have agreed to further deepen our political dialogue and practical cooperation with members of the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative…We stand ready to consider, on a case-by-case basis, new requests from countries in these regions, including Libya, for partnership and cooperation with Nato, taking into account that the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative are natural frameworks for such requests.”

U.S. Central Command and NATO are greedily eyeing Syria and Lebanon as their next military client states, as the next Mediterranean Dialogue cohorts after Libya, which will leave the entire Mediterranean region a NATO sea except for Cyprus and Gaza, which will become the final acquisitions.

The absorption of Libya with Syria to follow would be entirely in keeping with the pattern NATO has established of militarily integrating nations it has attacked and brought about “regime change” in over the past seventeen years."

As is NATO plans are completely fictitious as there is no Libyan national army and the defense minister had to confess he has no control of militias' actions. Same would apply to Syria should militias be successful. In Lebanon Nato would have to counter Hezbollah.

In Iraq all Nato got on the ground after they had "boots on the ground" is a partnership program which will grant some influence though presumably very slim. There are still militias in Iraq able to threaten US interests

Posted by: somebody | Nov 2 2012 13:06 utc | 77

Perhaps those guys in the SNC should have followed Lavrov's advice and negotiated with the Syrian Government without preconditions.

Having previously scoffed at the notion of talks with Assad - eye balling Government posts and absolute power, demanding everything on their own terms - they've now gone from a position of reasonable strength to one of total irrelevance.

It's certainly something for them to think about as they fly back home to Washington and Paris.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Nov 2 2012 13:26 utc | 78

Penny, this is what I found in the net from June 2012

Libya new African Nato beachhead in Africa

During his congressional testimony, AFRICOM chief Ham applauded new military-to-military relations with the barely functioning government of Libya, which was bombed into power by NATO warplanes and U.S. Tomahawk cruise and Hellfire missiles, specifying the activation of an Office of Security Cooperation at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli that, according to the Pentagon press service, “can help coordinate security assistance, international military education and training and other security cooperation.” ...

U.S. Central Command and NATO are greedily eyeing Syria and Lebanon as their next military client states, as the next Mediterranean Dialogue cohorts after Libya, which will leave the entire Mediterranean region a NATO sea except for Cyprus and Gaza, which will become the final acquisitions.

The absorption of Libya with Syria to follow would be entirely in keeping with the pattern NATO has established of militarily integrating nations it has attacked and brought about “regime change” in over the past seventeen years.

It is a plan for next year. It is completely fictitious. It says 3000 personel for the whole of Africa - a population of 1,032,532,974 and 11,668,599 sq m i.e. 1 per 3889.533 sq m

1) Libya does not have a national army to partner with - they have conflicting militias.

2) remember how that went in Iraq - and the US did have "boots on the ground" there. There is a Nato partnership agreement but there are still militias in Iraq that can threaten US interests, and though the partnership agreement presumably buys some influence, it cannot counter Iran's influence.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 2 2012 13:58 utc | 79

Syria's SNC accuses Washington of undermining revolution

Syrian main exiled opposition group on Friday accused Washington of undermining the country's revolution by seeking to overhaul how regime opponents are organised.

Two days ahead of key opposition talks due in Qatar, the Syrian National Council lashed out at US criticism of the group for not being fully representative of Syria's diverse dissident groups.

"Any discussions aimed at passing over the Syrian National Council or at creating new bodies to replace it are an attempt to undermine the Syrian revolution by sowing the seeds of division," the SNC said in a statement.

More: Syrian rebels hesitant over US overhaul of opposition
Members of Syria’s opposition-in-exile bristled Thursday at the Obama administration’s suggestion that Washington will handpick more representative leaders at a crucial conference in Qatar next week.
“This direct tutelage and these dictates are not acceptable to the Syrian people anymore,” said Zuhair Salem, the London-based spokesman for Syria’s banned Muslim Brotherhood opposition group. The Brotherhood is part of the main political opposition group, the Syrian National Council, which is dominated by exiles.

Here is the Riad Seif plan. Some opposition guy who the U.S. selected and who was willing to type down what he was told.

In light of the difficult conditions that our country, our great people, and their glorious revolution are going through, it is time for revolutionary and political opposition factions to unite under one leadership framework to end Syrians’ suffering and transition Syria to a democratic, civil, pluralistic, strong, and stable state.

This leadership framework will represent the revolution and its goals and will work to tip the balance of power in favor of the forces working to bring down the Assad regime.

Posted by: b | Nov 2 2012 14:05 utc | 80

and now this...

"Syrian rebels have been accused of possibly committing a war crime after a video allegedly showing the shooting of government soldiers appeared online.

The UN and Amnesty International condemned the alleged killings which reportedly took place after the rebels seized army checkpoints on Thursday."

Posted by: dh | Nov 2 2012 14:10 utc | 81

and this:

According to the survey, Israel maintained its traditional spot as the number one threat to the region with the exception of Iran and Iraq, while respondents considered the US as the biggest security threat.

Turkey's positive perception in Syria was also in sharp decline as 65 percent of Syrians felt that Turkey's approach to their country was hostile as opposed to just 16 percent in 2011.

So 65% of Syrians are in favour of their government?

Posted by: somebody | Nov 2 2012 15:41 utc | 82

Back to Lybia, not too far OT?

(in two parts, because of the links.)

I listened to / watched part(s) of the Oba-Rom debates.

The Benghazi ‘attack’ came up regularly, in very strange ways. I judged both to be lying, holding back and being super careful.


Reuters on Tue Sept 11 at 7:51 EDT pm, the first report.

An American staff member of the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi has died following fierce clashes at the compound, Libyan security sources said on Wednesday.

Clinton on Sept. 11, -no time - states, US state dpt. website: ...we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken ...

- so very shortly after Reuters?

which corresponds to time line of the NYT:

Heh for sure e mails and ‘cables’ and the phones were buzzing loud and furious. I mean, if lady Gaga changes her underpants, the whole world knows 3 mins later, but if some attack is going down in Lybia, it is a complete mystery, there is no info, we don’t know, aren’t informed, can’t find out? Are waiting? I call BS.

All of them knew (incl, Romney, since at least the morning in Lybia.) This flies with the US public because they think Muslim countries are like medieval burgs inhabited by savages who can’t read and don’t have phones and the US struggles with terrorists and communications (never mind that Binny managed to bring down the twin towers - he had cell phones, he was real sophisticated..)

On 11 Sept. 11.52 pm, Romney (almost at same time as Hill)

I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi


(the contradictions between tue/wed are due to the time diff.)

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 2 2012 17:23 utc | 83

part 2:

The White House speech tribute. (Sept. 14) Video.


Global research:

Paying tribute to Ambassador Stevens the day after his death Hillary Clinton, it has to be said, probably explained the reason for his murder to the world: “In the early days of the Libyan revolution, I asked Chris to be our envoy to the rebel opposition. He arrived on a cargo ship in the port of Benghazi and began building our relationship with Libya’s revolutionaries.”

President Obama in tribute confirmed: “With characteristic skill …  and resolve, he built partnerships with Libyan revolutionaries … I think both Secretary Clinton and I relied deeply on his knowledge of the situation on the ground there.”

(‘the day after his death’ is incorrect.)


sideboard: Sean Smith was an old Irak hand, and known *world wide* as a keen gamer, internet communicator, adventurous chap, to say no more...To the point that Clinton had to mention it - gingerly - in the memorial speech. (Millions heard about Sean’s death and grieved - they had never heard of Stevens. The US loathes any influence from the intertubes at home.)

Jim Stone bashes the Global Res. article and focusses on the CIA:


Press TV has its own pov and interesting details:


One day before the Benghazi attack, the NATO puppets put two senior Gaddafi loyalists on trial, accusing them of wasting public money by paying $2.7 billion to families of people killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The two Gaddafi loyalists are Abdul Ati al-Obeidi (who had been Gaddafi’s prime minister, foreign minister, and head of state) and Mohammed Zwai (former secretary general of the General People’s Congress -- that is, head of the legislature under Gaddafi).

How’s them apples? (if true..)

(...) most people refer to “the US consulate,” when in reality the US site in Benghazi was not an embassy or a consulate, or even a “compound.” It was a collection of villas (that is, a gated community) privately owned by one Mohammad al-Bishari, who was leasing the villas to US State Department personnel.

Collectively the villas were what the US State Department calls an “interim facility.” It had a level of security known as “simple lock and key,” meaning it had no bulletproof glass, reinforced doors, US Marines, or other features common to embassies and consulates.

from, more, at:

Officially, the US has no emb./consulate/mission outside of the emb. in Tripoli. (as far as official websites detail.) Cables call the location in Benghazi “mission” - not a proper appellation, or “post”, which is OK as it has no official definition. These details are important, in law, etc. Stevens was killed sorta as a ‘tourist’ in a ‘private home’, or possibly a stroller on the street.. But he was there to advance US aims.


Summary: the death of Stevens has many high weirdness aspects.

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 2 2012 17:29 utc | 84

Russia condemns creation of “government in exile” in Syria

"Urging the creation of the “Syrian government in exile” the West encourages the uncompromising overthrowing of the regime in Damascus, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

He drew attention to the recent statement of the US representatives who said they were not going to wait until the position of Russia and China on Syrian changes.

That means that Washington sees the settlement of the Syrian conflict exclusively on its own terms, he said.

This position runs counter to the agreements which were worked out at the meeting of the Action Group on Syria in Geneva on June 30, he said."

Some of the Syrian contras had recently (in the last month or so) toned down their noise and indicated they were open to real negotiations. This apparently didn't please the Israeli and American fascists, who are now working to exclude these factions of the Syrian contras from the org. In other words, they are attempting to counter Russian and Chinese work at bringing some of the contras around to a reasonable working arrangement with the Syrian government. This is more Israeli-American support for the terrorists at the expense of those who wish to distance themselves from Israeli-American style of covert war making.

As for Turkey, and that regime's importance to this Israeli-American scheme of things, they have all the relevance of Iraq in the 1980's and are essentially playing the same role for the Israelis-Americans. Turkey will probably eventually meet a similar, fate, as well.

Posted by: вот так | Nov 2 2012 18:33 utc | 85

I forgot to post the link to the story I quoted from.

Posted by: вот так | Nov 2 2012 18:34 utc | 86

@tovios No need to call me a silly boy and then go on to agree that it's a possibilty. Hmmm

@donbacon #52 agree, for the reasons I stated @31

Posted by: Billyboy | Nov 2 2012 18:35 utc | 87

Just sitting reading this paper from Brookings Doha. Interesting.

Posted by: Billyboy | Nov 2 2012 19:09 utc | 88

to reinforce #85 - Russia remains opposed to the decided US overthrow of the Syrian government.

Zaman, Nov 2, 2012 (excerpt)
Russia, Syrians irked by US push to overhaul opposition

A senior Russian diplomat on Friday warned the West against trying to predetermine the future leadership of Syria while members of Syria's opposition-in-exile have also bristled at the Obama administration's suggestion that Washington will handpick more representative leaders at a crucial conference in Qatar next week.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Twitter that such attempts contradict the peace plan for Syria which was approved by world powers in Geneva in June. “Attempts by Western sponsors of the Syrian opposition to enforce a list of the nation's future leadership from the outside contradict the Geneva agreements,” Gatilov said. “The Geneva communiqué says that a transitional governing body should be formed on the basis of mutual accord of the government and the opposition.”

UN Final Communiqué, Jun 30, 2012 (excerpts)
The establishment of a transitional governing body which can establish a neutral environment in which the transition can take place. That means that the transitional governing body would exercise full executive powers. It could include members of the present government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent.

It is for the Syrian people to determine the future of the country. All groups and segments of society in Syria must be enabled to participate in a National Dialogue process. That process must not only be inclusive, it must also be meaningful—that is to say, its key outcomes must be

Action Group members will give full support to the Joint Special Envoy and his team as they immediately engage the Government and opposition, and consult widely with Syrian society, as well as other international actors, to further develop the way forward.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 2 2012 19:14 utc | 89

The Christian Science Monitor now tells it like it is

War crimes and the fantasy of 'controlling' Syria's rebels

An atrocity in the strategic Syrian town of Saraqeb is a reminder that the landscape of that country's civil war is a place where angels fear to tread.


Next week, Clinton heads to Qatar for a discussion on how regional powers will work to reshape the "leadership structure" (in her words) of the uprising. She'll be bearing a list of names of Syrians the US wants promoted to the senior ranks.

The choice of Qatar is an interesting one, given that monarchy's steadfast support for Islamist militias first in Libya and now in Syria. These are not the type of groups the US wants to see strengthened in either place. Qatar, by its actions, clearly disagrees, and has been far more aggressive and responsive in funneling support to them. Qatar does not share the US alarm at the jihadi factions fighting against Assad.


The Syrian war, its factions and regional implications, grow more entangled and complicated by the day. Can the intervention of outside powers tip the outcome in favor of the rebels, in a general sense? Certainly. Will the weapons provided end up being used in further atrocities? Quite likely.

Atrocities happen in war, and far more frequently when there aren't accountable officers to stop it. Perhaps that's a price worth paying to be rid of Assad.

But trying to shape what comes next is another matter. Recent history indicates that usually eludes the grasp of America and its allies.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 2 2012 20:33 utc | 90

Atrocities happen in war, and far more frequently when there aren't accountable officers to stop it. Perhaps that's a price worth paying to be rid of Assad.

To all you USAins, your time is coming soon, much sooner then envisage. You think you can dictate what price is right.

Posted by: hans | Nov 2 2012 20:54 utc | 91

It is official now - the US does not want to go to war in Syria

In Syria, for example, a columnist in the state-controlled newspaper Al Thawra suggested on Wednesday that room exists for further efforts, while reiterating the government position that outside plots led to the cease-fire’s failure. It praised the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, for saying at a recent news conference that he would speak to all political parties involved.

“That is the first necessary step for anyone really and earnestly seeking a political solution,” the columnist, Assad Abboud, wrote. “Sanctions, boycotts, and laying siege to one party in an attempt to strengthen another leave no objective chance for political action that seeks a solution.”

There is also public opinion to take into account. Activists note that the Syrian public is exhausted by the conflict, and increasingly annoyed by fighters on both sides.

“People inside want any solution; they want security,” said Rami, a young activist in Beirut who would be identified only by one name out of concern for his safety. “No one can stand the pressure anymore.”

“If we want to be honest, we’re waiting for a truce, we want to negotiate for him to leave,” he added, referring to President Assad.

China has long stood behind Moscow in supporting Damascus, also vetoing three Security Council resolutions meant to address the conflict.

But Mr. Brahimi, the envoy, has insisted that for negotiations on a political solution to move forward, he needs the backing of a unified Security Council. The Chinese proposal seemed intended to address that condition.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry proposal began with an expression of support for Mr. Brahimi. It called for humanitarian aid for refugees from the conflict without regard for political or military demands.

A cease-fire should be carried out “by district and in stages,” the proposal said without elaborating, with the final goal an end to all fighting. Government institutions, it said, should continue to function, while the parties to the conflict identify members of negotiating bodies to participate in the transition process.

“For China to bring up this proposal now is to bring the global community together, cooperate with Brahimi’s mediation efforts and push on the political resolution process and realize the cease-fire as soon as possible,” Hong Lei, the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, told reporters.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 2 2012 23:28 utc | 92

how many other US embassies are CIA missions:

Libyan mission 'was mainly CIA operation'
November 02, 2012 6:00PM
THE US mission in Benghazi that came under attack by militants on September 11 was mainly a secret CIA operation, The Wall Street Journal has reported, shedding new light on the deadly assault.
President Barack Obama's administration has faced a storm of pre-election questions about why there was not more security at the US consulate where four Americans, including ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed.
The Wall Street Journal said the mission was mainly a CIA operation, adding that of the 30 American officials evacuated from Benghazi following the assault, just seven worked for the US State Department.
It also identified the two security contractors killed in the attack - former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty - as working for the CIA and not the State Department.
In a break from tradition, it said CIA Director David Petraeus did not attend the ceremony when the coffins arrived back on American soil in order to conceal the CIA operation in eastern Libya.

It said the almost two dozen CIA operatives secretly worked out of a separate building known as the "annex", where officials at the consulate had retreated following the initial attack before coming under fire again.
The operation, which hit the ground shortly after the start of the February 2011 revolt that overthrew Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi - was aimed at counter-terrorism and securing heavy weapons held by the embattled regime.
The Journal suggested that the security lapse might have been due to miscommunication between the CIA and the State Department, with the latter assuming the annex security team was a sufficient backup for its own guards.
"They were the cavalry," it quoted a senior US official as saying.
The Journal said that the day after the attack, the CIA sent Libyan security officials to the annex to destroy classified documents and sensitive equipment while leaving the charred and ransacked consulate - which by design had contained no classified materials - unattended.

Posted by: brian | Nov 2 2012 23:28 utc | 93

Why it's important to read the foreign press--

DailyStar, Lebanon, Nov 3, 2012

. . .any Syrian or Arab groups that the U.S. now publicly supports will be tainted as hand-picked agents of Washington, a status that is usually the kiss of death for most individuals or organizations in the Arab world, where public opinion still sees the U.S. and Israel as the two most serious threats to the Arab security.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 2 2012 23:53 utc | 94

can't make sense of Clinton's move (nor of Erdogan's strategy since day one of the aggression on Syria, for that matter)

above all, it seems like a public humiliation for Erdogan and Qatar, supporters of the SNC, openly dismissed as irrelevant; so maybe that's precisely the real and only reason of Clinton's move (which simply doesn't make sense as a "new Syrian strategy")

maybe it's the Us answer to Benghazi: Stevens met the Turkish ambassador before the assault, and probably there was a weapon deal gone wrong, with some militia members deciding to take matters in their own hands and going after the weapons (MANPADs, probably) which the Us was withholding, and with Stevens getting killed by accident in the circumstance

so now we have the Us asserting its role and "teaching a lesson" to Turkey and Qatar, to whom most of the action was delegated till now, but showed themselves unable to control jihadists "unrespectful" of the real masters (and add to that the self-incriminating videos those militias disseminate on the net);

@Noirette - maybe in this scenario, some of the mysteries (and the embarrassment) surrounding Benghazi's assault ("friendly fire", can we say?) might be explained

Posted by: claudio | Nov 3 2012 2:07 utc | 95

an alternative explanation, which does without Benghazi, is that the Us are preparing a de-escalation of the aggression, against Turkey and Qatar's wishes - in that case, it might end up like b said, with an even more splintered opposition to Assad, but I can't believe the Us could make such a clumsy move

something tells me Turkey and Qatar will back down, and that from that point on only the FSA units that accept the Us leadership will receive support

Posted by: claudio | Nov 3 2012 2:33 utc | 96

The sort of propaganda in the articles posted in #90 & 92 typifies why the western media is essentially useless as a source of news (one wonders why the poster bothered posting the rubbish, since it's a given it is false information and everybody knows it is).

While there are minor differences between the various companies, the overall message they all subscribe to is the same. The "serious" sources, such as nyt, csm or wp promote the same lies as Fox or the Wash. Times do, only they do it with a bit more sophistication. This also applies to American so-called public media, who parrot the same message as the corporate media does.

Posted by: вот так | Nov 3 2012 16:21 utc | 97

вот так, the spin is interesting, have you ever noticed media going jingoistic when their governments plan a war, above articles sound uncharacteristically defeatist ...

Posted by: somebody | Nov 3 2012 16:50 utc | 98

Just watched French/German arte - word for word same spin - people are tired, cannot go on ...

Posted by: somebody | Nov 3 2012 18:26 utc | 99

forgot - they also said Al Qeida - like attack on airfield was not successful, village nearby was bombed by Syrian army, rebels said in revenge, the village is supposed to be training ground for Al Qeida ...

Posted by: somebody | Nov 3 2012 18:29 utc | 100

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