Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 25, 2013

A Syria Expert - Six Month Ago

Six month ago an often quoted academic and so called expert on Syria tweeted the following:

Aleppo falling to FSA. Rebels take al-Syrian Jadide, heart of Christian area. #syria #aleppo
4:46 AM - 25 Oct 12

al-Syiraan Adime just fell to rebel militias as well. Center of Aleppo fallen. #syria #aleppo
4:52 AM - 25 Oct 12

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

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

@FareedZakaria #syria Aleppo has fallen to rebels. Government gives up control as eerie silence decends over city.
5:12 AM - 25 Oct 12

Those hilarious illusions though, ended a few hours later:
Gov tanks descend on Faisal street - main road near al-Syriaan jadide, Rebel troops retreat into Ashrafiya. #syria #aleppo
12:33 PM - 25 Oct 12

Depending on the insurgency's propaganda for information, working with a simplistic sectarian mental model of the complex Syrian society and having zero experience in the art of war is the base of such sorry expertise.

Experience based realistic interpretation of all available facts would certainly provide for better analysis. Unfortunately there are few real practitioners of such a process in U.S. foreign policy discussions.

Posted by b on April 25, 2013 at 06:04 AM | Permalink

Comments

"Realistic interpretation of all available facts would certainly provide better analysis. Unfortunately there are few real practitioners if such a process in U.S. foreign policy discussions."

Unfortunately there ain't a lot of em here @MOA either.

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 6:15:39 AM | 1

Josh Landis???

can you say spook?

Just another limb of the apparatchik- "An unquestioningly loyal subordinate, especially of a political leader or organization"


Posted by: Penny | Apr 25, 2013 7:18:14 AM | 2

@yah . . . But - Last warning.

Posted by: b | Apr 25, 2013 7:38:24 AM | 3

oh fer christ's sake, b, are your gonna ban anyone who doesn't stroke your ego?

Posted by: DM | Apr 25, 2013 7:51:57 AM | 4

actually I think b is quite good at the whole "realistic interpretation of all available facts" thingy.

It was not him I was referring to - ego-wise he's no worse than anyone else here - and far better than most :)

(I'll probably get banned for that :-D )

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 7:57:50 AM | 5

@DM - I ban people for attacking other denigrating other commentators, not for attacking me.

---

I have the feeling that the U.S. media is preparing fro a turn in U.S. policy towards a more positive picture of Assad and a negative one of the opposition.

This WaPo piece is about refugees in Lebanon and finds that most of them, independent of religion, support Assad. Some even after their houses were bombed. They all blame the opposition.
Assad still has backers among Syrian refugees

Now this was obvious to me. But the U.S. media has so far not touched on it. Winds of change ...

Posted by: b | Apr 25, 2013 8:11:01 AM | 6

b. 4 yah is at least part bot, see this exchange, if you don't believe me, experience a meaningful conversation with Eliza.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 25, 2013 8:11:26 AM | 7

so b - if what you say is true, then #7 should require some attention from you, no?

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 8:14:56 AM | 8

so b - if what you say is true, then #7 should require some attention from you, no?

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 8:14:56 AM | 9

"This WaPo piece is about refugees in Lebanon and finds that most of them, independent of religion, support Assad. Some even after their houses were bombed. They all blame the opposition.
Assad still has backers among Syrian refugees

Now this was obvious to me. But the U.S. media has so far not touched on it. Winds of change ..."

The Guardian has a piece on Christians in Syria, today

They headlined it Syria's uneasy Christians feel both sides closing in

Which gives the false impression that the Syrian Gov't is also causing problems for Syrian Christians - but when one reads the article the only problems for Christians are clearly coming from the US-financed Mercenaries

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 8:21:19 AM | 10

A switch to be more pro assad? or at least more even handed? we'll see what happens next week when Barry meets with the Emir of Quatar and the King of Jordan.

Posted by: heath | Apr 25, 2013 8:24:07 AM | 11

Another one changing his tone. David Frum: Are the Syrian Revolutionaries Even Worse than Assad?

Rule 1 of Middle East politics: things could always be worse. The Assad regime in Syria seems to be gaining a more attentive audience for its argument that the anti-regime militants represent even a worse option than the regime itself.
...

Posted by: b | Apr 25, 2013 8:27:39 AM | 12

so no comment on #7 there, b?

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 8:28:20 AM | 13

The Boston bombings might be influencing the winds of change that b mentioned concerning Syria,...yah...but what do I know? I'm not a real practioner of real facts anyway! Welllll, yah....but what the heck I'll still give it a shot to hell with all naysayers!

Posted by: Fernando | Apr 25, 2013 9:30:46 AM | 14

@14 yah....but it's good to keep practicing. One of us could be right one day. :)

Posted by: dh | Apr 25, 2013 9:51:27 AM | 15

@ b no. 6

Until shown otherwise, I suspect this "turn" in the media is more a tactical turn in messaging rather than a reflection of any substantive turn in US policy. The ultimate goal remains the removal of Assad of course, perhaps now with the realization that the rebels will not win a military victory and are too "tainted" by salafists to be sellable internationally.

I suspect events will increasingly shift to some form of diplomacy rather than outright military force--negotiations/reforms/trickery, again with the goal of Assad's removal: the velvet fist rather than the fist.

Posted by: sleepy | Apr 25, 2013 10:02:53 AM | 16

For Yah---but swings wildly between berating others stupidity, kissing the b's ass so as not to get banned. It's getting stale. We're all just putting ideas out in this forum, and none of us, as far as I know, are privy to any inside information or experts on the topic. So we come to participate and then have to deal with an obnoxious 14 year old troll? Awesome.
__________ANYWAY

POOR POOR Josh Landis, he has a tight tight line to walk. He is a shill like any American "expert" would have to be, but also has to be "objective" as an academic if he wants to retain any credibility as a source. His head must spin when, on the occasion he is forced to tell the truth of the Syria situation because it is so glaringly obvious, he most likely becomes the focus for intense FSA flak and has to walk back on everything.

What's a shill to do?! Must suck to be a propagandist for the aggressor, even worse the aggressor that is clearly losing.

Posted by: guest | Apr 25, 2013 10:26:43 AM | 17

@ 17: First paragraph resonates. These folks are PAID to do what they do. Dominate and disrupt.

Posted by: ben | Apr 25, 2013 10:41:10 AM | 18

A good description of the current strategy of the Syrian army

(Forget the sectarian issues mentioned and the "training in Russia and Iran - both are nonsense.)

Syria army shifts to 'war of highways'

"There is a change of strategy. The country-wide war, which exhausts the army and has no proven results, is over. Now, the main theatre of war is on the highways. The goal is to allow the army to move easily between cities under its control," a security source told AFP.

"Taking control of Qusayr (in the central province of Homs) will link Homs city to the coast, and seizing Rastan (nearby) will secure the road linking Homs to Hama (in central Syria)," said the source.

"Taking Maaret al-Numan (in the northwest) will link Hama to Aleppo (in the north). These are our main goals, while retaking Raqa in the eastern desert is not a priority," he added.

Raqa in March became the first provincial capital to fall out of army hands.

"Controlling the road linking Daraa (in southern Syria) to the north, or the highway leading from Damascus to the coast is very important for the regime," said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman.

"It wants to link those regions where it is present, in order to show Syria's citizens they can travel there securely," he added.

Posted by: b | Apr 25, 2013 10:54:32 AM | 19

Meanwhile, the human rights champions in -- Qatar! -- are pushing a new UN General Assembly resolution.

UN General Assembly draft resolution on Syria (excerpts)

Qatar proposed this draft resolution in the UN General Assembly, diplomats said. It might be voted on later this month.

INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW AND HUMAN RIGHTS

1. Strongly condemns the continued escalation in the use by the Syrian authorities of heavy weapons, . .

2. Strongly condemns all violations of international humanitarian law and the continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities and the Government affiliated shabbiha militias . .

3. Condemns also all violence, irrespective of where it comes from, and Calls upon all parties to put an end to all forms of violence, including terrorist acts and acts of violence or intimidation that may foment sectarian tensions, and to comply strictly with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law;

4. Demands the Syrian authorities immediately put an end to all violations of international humanitarian law, including attacks against civilians, end immediately all violations of international human rights law, and meet its responsibility to protect the population . .

5. Demands the Syrian authorities to release immediately all persons arbitrarily detained, including the members of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression . .

6. Demands that the Syrian authorities grant the commission of inquiry and individuals working on its behalf immediate, full and unfettered entry and access to all areas of the Syrian Arab Republic . .etc. etc.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 25, 2013 11:04:18 AM | 20

Russia doesn't like the proposed resolution:

Russia to vote against 'one-sided' UN Syria resolution

Moscow will vote against a “contradictory” draft resolution on Syria, as its authors are seeking approval for “unilateral” action through the guise of the UN General Assembly, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has stated.

The draft was proposed by several UN member-states and is expected to be put to a vote shortly, the ministry said on Saturday; Moscow has criticized the resolution for being “one-sided.”

The draft resolution blames only the Syrian government for the tragic and bloody crisis in the conflict-torn republic. This is despite the Syrian opposition’s “illegal, including terrorist, actions,” the Foreign Ministry said, adding that many such violations had been confirmed by international organizations.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 25, 2013 11:05:53 AM | 21

that's 3 personal attacks in this thread alone that b has ignored - yet apparently b has a problem with people making personal attacks - seems that not actually the case though, is it?

Some people get awfully peeved when someone shows them that what they are saying is wrong.S Poor old "guest" seems to have a chip on his shoulder too, about whatever.

The belief that people actually get paid to comment here is kinda silly though.

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 11:10:47 AM | 22

@19
from the Agence France-Presse link:

This guy is an anonymous "security source."

"There is a change of strategy. The country-wide war, which exhausts the army and has no proven results, is over. Now, the main theatre of war is on the highways. The goal is to allow the army to move easily between cities under its control. . .Taking control of Qusayr (in the central province of Homs) will link Homs city to the coast, and seizing Rastan (nearby) will secure the road linking Homs to Hama (in central Syria)" a security source told AFP.

This guy runs a clothing store in Coventry, England.
"The army was disoriented because of the rebels' mobility. It didn't have a strategy and relied on hitting out blindly. It was working reactively, whereas now, it acts according to a plan . .Now the operations are well planned and the objectives are precise. This is because Iranian officers are on the ground, leading operations, while new Iranian weapons conceived for this kind of battle are flowing in. . .The NDF is trained for urban war, while even the regular army has gained experience in guerrilla conflict," two years into Syria's conflict" said the Observatory's Abdel Rahman.

This guy has a BSc in chemistry from the American University of Beirut, and a PhD in War Studies from King’s College London. He has also conducted research at the Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University.
"The army is clearly having manpower problems, due both to combat losses and the failure of probably a large majority of conscripts or reservists to report for duty," said Yezid Sayigh of the Carnegie Middle East Centre in Beirut.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 25, 2013 11:23:44 AM | 23

7 posts on this thread by this "yah . . . But", none on the subject, all obviously trying to derail the conversation - hard to imagine he/it is anything other than a paid troll/astroturfer. Not surprising 'b' is attracting some after MoA has been quoted by some solid independent journalists.
---

Onto more interesting subjects, there is an interesting series done by Abkhazian TV on Syria that has been translated on Youtube that is well worth a look:

FPS Syria: Episode 6! Riding on a BMP-2 in Darraya! (English subtitles)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0Sb4OdRJ9w&list=UUx0U4oa1EOYhnujzL8Vvz8g&index=31
This shows the city of Darraya before & after the 'rebels' came. Looked like a pleasant, busy 2nd world city before - full of life - now it is a wasteland.
The Syrian soldiers however looked confident, & if you compare it to earlier videos in Syria it is obvious they feel the tide has turned decisively.

The channel is here : http://www.youtube.com/user/BitnikGr?feature=watch
- mostly Russian military stuff, but there is some interesting translated documentaries there as well

Posted by: KenM | Apr 25, 2013 11:30:48 AM | 24

@ 22: There's more, if you search:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/05/21/978170/-20-Habits-of-Paid-Trolls

Posted by: ben | Apr 25, 2013 11:33:55 AM | 25

@ 24:

"7 posts on this thread by this "yah . . . But", none on the subject, all obviously trying to derail the conversation - hard to imagine he/it is anything other than a paid troll/astroturfer. Not surprising 'b' is attracting some after MoA has been quoted by some solid independent journalists."

YEP!
---

Posted by: ben | Apr 25, 2013 11:37:59 AM | 26

Well let's see: 7 posts off topic?

One post, #9, was simply a double post - so that now makes 6 posts.

One post, #10, was definitely on topic - so that now leaves 5 posts.

With the exception of the first post, all the others were simply either replies to personal attacks, such as this one, which is a reply to YOUR personal attack on me, or replies to other commenters.

If b is serious about his claims of not tolerating personal attacks he will ask you lot to cease and desist with the personal attacks. Whether he will or not remains to be seen.

I'm certainly not trying to de-rail anything - in fact the people, such as yourself, making the personal attacks would best fit the description of "de-railers".

All I'm doing is pointing out that you lot are in fact clearly indulging in the very behaviour you are accusing me of.

That I'll probably be banned for merely pointing that out is what will make a mockery of b's earlier statement "I ban people for attacking other denigrating other commentators, not for attacking me." - since I have neither "denigrated" nor "attacked" anyone in the previous 6 comments

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 11:43:07 AM | 27

The past few weeks have seen a devastating defeat for the fsa/nusra terror group..Seems their main supply lines and strongholds in and around Damascus have been squashed..The border with Lebanon is also about to be sealed, cutting off a vital weapons supply line..

To counter that, the West and their lapdogs are getting nervous at the staggering defeat the rebels have been going through so they've now ramped up the chemical weapons meme..Hagel is the latest to add his name to the list of noise makers..

The FUKUSI terror gang have invested so much into the regime change project that they can't accept any other outcome despite all the odd against them.. I fear this may very well lead to a major war in the entire Middle East or even WW3.

In other news, Hezbollah spooked Israel with a drone flyover..The IDF are freaking out now..lol

Posted by: Zico | Apr 25, 2013 11:57:41 AM | 28

b?

http://pennyforyourthoughts2.blogspot.ca/2013/04/us-believes-syrian-government-used-some.html

Hagel is suggesting Syrian gov. used chemical weapons.

This is not looking like a change of heart?

Posted by: Penny | Apr 25, 2013 12:06:19 PM | 29

@yah-butt

So suddenly when you're attacked, you demand special treatment? And mind you you're being attacked for your actions, not just calling people "stupid" because you think you're some genius (MY bet is you've been to both sides of your mom's basement... and back).

Anyway, you come off as a little troll with personality issues. You're completely self-absorbed and demand special attention so now you're getting it.

Instead of complaining, stick to the topic and engage in the conversation without being a rude little fucker. We're all still waiting for something from you that isn't "I'm so smart!" "you're so stupid!" "Life is unfair!" and "treat me special!".

If you can't do that, shut off your computer and go upstairs and ask your mom for another cookie. She'll love you even if you are a cunt. But no one here will.

Posted by: guest | Apr 25, 2013 12:08:54 PM | 30

Now we have "confirmation" from Hagel about chemical weapons in Syria: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2013/04/25/hagel_syria_has_used_chemical_weapons_u_s_intelligence_confirms_with_some.html

And the drone fly over from Hezbollah.

Can intervention be far behind?

Posted by: guest | Apr 25, 2013 12:11:30 PM | 31

Assuming the goal is simply to keep Syria in crisis, what actions on the ground would it take to reverse the success of the Syrian army?

Israel is never hampered by any UN resolutions - would a bombing campaign by them against Hezbollah, and possibly an incursion into Syria be enough to give the Syrian rebels the upper hand?

The media already seems to be making a much bigger deal over this drone than the one that was shot down over the Negev(?) a few months ago. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

Posted by: guest | Apr 25, 2013 12:16:13 PM | 32

" demand special treatment"

I've demanded no special treatment at all - b said he has a problem with personal attacks - since then I have attacked no one. The only treatment I have requested is equal treatment.

If personal attacks are not allowed here then how could it possibly be ok for people such as yourself to litter your replies with words such as "little fucker" and "you are a cunt"? It's not the name calling that I have an issue with btw, since it's the internet after all and people do that all the time, merely the obvious hypocrisy inherent your behaviour.

Requesting that people such as yourself be held to the same rules is clearly not demanding any "special treatment" - in fact it is the very opposite of demanding "special" treatment.

Any rational person could clearly see that, if they were at all honest

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 12:38:00 PM | 33

And now we have the "Syrian Electronic Army" being reported as hacking the AP Twitter feed and "briefly crashing the stock market".

It seems like as though there's an anti-Syrian accusation to please every segment of the American population. How convenient!

Posted by: guest | Apr 25, 2013 12:39:02 PM | 34

Hagel is suggesting Syrian gov. used chemical weapons.

This is not looking like a change of heart?

add to that that Kerry is demanding the swift delivery of another 250 million Dollars in funding for the US mercenaries and the claims of an imminent Syrian policy U-Turn by the US seem rather flimsy

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 12:40:17 PM | 35

"Experience based realistic interpretation of all available facts would certainly provide for better analysis. Unfortunately there are few real practitioners of such a process in U.S. foreign policy discussions."

I can buy this. They not need or want a reality based interpretation. They believe is: We can create "reality". So-called intelligence report/assessment is propaganda's tool with academia deeply involved. Simply, they believe in sheer raw force and "allies" in region who are financing the mayhem in Syria. They thought it's gonna to be like in Libya or elsewhere. Finally, the West haven't invested anything
money-wise or weapon-wise. What they put is political capital and effort to legitimize its mercenaries.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Apr 25, 2013 12:47:04 PM | 36

sorry typo: I can not buy this.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Apr 25, 2013 12:47:50 PM | 37

Reuters says the US "believes", the BBC says that the US "suspects". What's it going to be?

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has said American intelligence believes "to some degree of varying confidence" that Syria has used chemical weapons.

What does this actually mean? To some degree of varying confidence? I really can't work it out.

The White House has warned chemical weapons use would be a "red line" for possible intervention, but said the intelligence does not represent proof.


They've got nothing then? So why comment?

Or perhaps, as guest@32 suggests, are we seeing attemtps to justify future Israeli attacks on Hezbollah in Syria under the guise of preventing the flow of CWs into the "wrong hands", when in actual fact it is to reverse the recent successes of pro-Assad forces along the Lebanese border.

But the CW argument is a worn one. It doesn't wash with anyone..

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Apr 25, 2013 12:51:37 PM | 38

In Washington, McCain quoted from the letter the White House sent to several senators who had pressed the administration about Syria's possible use of chemical weapons.

"We just received a letter from the president in response to our question about whether Assad had used chemical weapons," McCain told reporters following a closed briefing with Secretary of State John Kerry on Syria and North Korea


So that's why. Insane McCain is still at it

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Apr 25, 2013 1:01:34 PM | 39

"Finally, the West haven't invested anything money-wise or weapon-wise. What they put is political capital and effort to legitimize its mercenaries. "

This is misleading - the US certainly has invested capital and is planing on doubling that investment

Excerpt below from Asia Times would suggest that any claims that Obama is somehow intending to "dial down" the US financed War on the Syrian people are based more on wishful thinking than any objective analysis of facts.

US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that Washington will double its assistance to the Syrian opposition to US$250 million and will expedite delivery of new US military assistance to the Syrian opposition fighters. "I'm going to make sure this is a matter of weeks. It has to happen quickly; it has to have an impact," he said.

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 1:12:58 PM | 40


And this excerpt from an Antiwar.com article certainly appears to indicate that some escalation may be being contemplated - though I suspect it's more a case of the Israeli's doing some tough-guy posturing and trying to pretend that they are more invulnerable, military-wise, than they actually are:

Jordan Agrees: Israel Can Use Airspace to Attack Syria Deal Will Allow Israel to Avoid Lebanon Overflights by Jason Ditz, April 22, 2013

In a deal that will allow Israel to stop violating Lebanese airspace on a regular basis (if they do is another matter), Jordan has agreed two open two airspace corridors to Israeli planes and drones through their country.

The two corridors are meant to give Israel access to Syria for the purposes of drone surveillance, but Jordan has also agreed that Israel can use them to attack Syria in the future if they choose.

The deal reportedly came at the behest of US President Barack Obama, who pressed Jordan’s King to allow Israel the access. Jordan has also been hosting a growing US military presence along the Syrian border, currently focused on training rebels but also with an eye on a ground invasion to “secure” Syria’s chemical weapons.

Though it could be that the Israeli's really do want to attack Syria.

Since the defeat of 2006 against Hez'b'allah the Israelis have realised that all their fancy-pants military hardware doesn't actually protect them against asymmetric warfare tactics such as those practised by Hez'b'allah.

So it's possible they might be hoping for an opportunity to go against a more conventional military force than Hez'b'allah in order to show the world just how tough they are. But if the Syrians have learned to use the Russian-supplied Air-Defences that they are reported to have, then the Israelis might be in for a little surprise.

Maybe an Israeli attack, if it happens, is intended to be a test of the Russian-supplied Air-Defences?

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 1:15:48 PM | 41

@41
I followed him for quite bit, because of his CV, you know. I'll say very rarely, what he envisioned, had happened. He is knowledgeable, but he is also a bureaucrat. For example, he predicted Kofi Annan's (his friend) mission to be successful and it fail miserably, which was quite predictable.

Secondly, they say a lot of things, to take their words at face value is foolish. In the field very rarely it's materialize, and particularly not when things are not going according to their plan.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Apr 25, 2013 2:47:22 PM | 42

These accusations against the Syrian regime (be it gross violations of human rights, mass killings, use of chemical weapons etc), baseless as they may seem, commonly pop up in the western media whenever the rebels are losing and losing big.

Basically, this is a good way of measuring the war effort in Syria.

Posted by: never mind | Apr 25, 2013 2:52:08 PM | 43

What's all the fuss about yah? Most of his comments show reflection and a critical mind, usually focussed on the matter at hand.
At times his way of putting things seems somewhat outside the quoting-heavy pc-polite way that is considered mature in the anglosaxon world.

And yes, sometimes he is - or can be perceived as being - on the edge of being rude to others.
To keep this zoo here within acceptable bounds, however, is b's job and he does it and does it well. No need for others to take over or "help out".

So, could we, please re-focus on the issues rather than on "preferred personal enemies"?

And, yah, could you please stay as you are but cut off the emotional peaks?

---

Concerning the issue I find it increasingly boring.
I mean, everyone with eyes and ears and a brain by now *knows* that the us bought terrorists, among them AlQaeda guys, payed and stuffed them with weapons. Europe, of course followed suite, and of course cowardly, inconsistently and incoherenty.
Also everyone knows that saudi arabia and bahrein are was worse than Assad and that quite some major atrocities on Assads side werde jobs for the usa.

Can the terrorists win the (not their,but payed for) war they were ordered and payed to wage? No. No matter what.
Will the usa engage in a war against Syria? Quite probably no. They are stupid, those americans, and way off reality but they are not suicidal (forgive me if my voice doesn't sound really convinced on the last one).
Will israel engage in war against Syria? Quite probably not. The stakes are too high, their chances to win are way too low and their risk to experience major pain or lite up a major war is high.

I think, the wests problem isn't any more about winning or ousting Assad (although they continue to blubber about that but quite probably only to not lose face). It's rather about how to get somehow out of that grossly miscalculated and turned-ugly situation and how to not have their payed terrorist assets come to their own countries.

Oh and btw., Russia and Iran reestablished/intensified their high-level talks.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Apr 25, 2013 2:56:09 PM | 44

You're talking about Bhadrakumar I presume?

I agree that he's over-rated as an analyst, but it's Kerry's word's I was highlighting, not Bhadrakumar analysis. I'm linking to Bhadrakumar's article not for it's analysis in this case. I'm just using it to supply a source for the Kerry quote.

I could, in fact probably should, for example have been less lazy and used this article from the WaPo as a source for the Kerry quote
Kerry says U.S. will expedite new aid to Syrian opposition

ISTANBUL — Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Sunday that the United States would push to expedite delivery of new U.S. nonlethal military assistance to Syrian opposition fighters, including body armor and additional communications equipment.

“I’m going to press to make sure this is a matter of weeks. It has to happen quickly; it has to have an impact,” Kerry said at a news conference after marathon meetings over the weekend to unify the rebel movement and its international backers.

He said there would be additional consultations with Gen. Salim Idriss, head of the rebel Supreme Military Council, who attended the meetings in Istanbul, to determine what the opposition forces most need.

“Movement of those items [directly] to Gen. Idriss,” Kerry said, “is going to have an impact, particularly in the south,” where rebel fighters have begun to gain territory. Donor nations meeting here also pledged to funnel all future aid — weapons largely provided by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and nonlethal assistance from the United States, Britain, France and others — through the military council to prevent it from falling into the hands of Islamist extremist groups that have grown in power within the anti-Assad ranks.


because further down it does mention that
Kerry’s description of the body armor and other defensive material was the first public confirmation that President Obama has approved additional shipments of nonlethal equipment directly to the rebel military, on top of the food and medical supplies that Kerry announced in February.

Those initial supplies have been slow to arrive, and senior administration officials said deliveries have been delayed by the need for congressional approval of funds, by the need for White House authorization to draw down military stocks and by what Kerry agreed Sunday had been “logjams” on the ground.

Kerry said that during his talks here with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, progress was made to remove impediments to delivery.

One might infer from that that the US is using this promise of future supplies and funding as leverage to gain more control over the Military situation, both with the Mecenaries and also as some leverage to use in discussions with the Russians.

But they certain HAVE spent money on this.

The "Official" figures are

$385 million in humanitarian aid through international organizations and g . . . $117 million in funds and supplies [given] directly to the political and military opposition groups.

which is probably a lie and the real figure is probably multiples of that

And I do not think you can just so easily dismiss Kerry's announcement that Washington will double its assistance to the Syrian opposition to US$250 million by simply stating that "they say a lot of things, to take their words at face value is foolish" -

If the US is still dangling the funding carrot in 3, 4 or 5 weeks time the YES, that would confirm that they are just playing a game with the promise of that funding.

But if the funding goes ahead in the next few weeks, then any claims that they are dialling-down the pressure on Syria would imo be proven to be unfounded.

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 3:14:14 PM | 45

"And, yah, could you please stay as you are but cut off the emotional peaks?"

Let this then be an official apology to all those that have felt personally insulted by any comments I have directed at them over the last few days/week.

I'll be the first to admit that I am occasionally fairly abrasive when becoming a little too involved in discussion. :-)

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 3:18:13 PM | 46

btw comment #46 above is directed at neretva'43

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 3:19:47 PM | 47

@PB #39
Reuters says the US "believes", the BBC says that the US "suspects". What's it going to be? . .
What does this actually mean? To some degree of varying confidence? I really can't work it out.

quotes (and a few --comments) from the letter:
* Our intelligence community does assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent Sarin.
--Varying degrees of confidence probably refers to the different judgments 16 intelligence agencies.
* the chain of custody is not clear
* so we cannot confirm how the exposure occurred and under what conditions
* We do believe that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would very likely have originated with the Assad regime
--but "belief"is not evidence
* Thus far we believe that the Assad regime maintains custody of these weapons
--"belief" again

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 25, 2013 4:07:57 PM | 48

Faith-based intelligence services

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 25, 2013 4:16:55 PM | 49

Interesting coverage of the Obama admin saying there is evidence of use of chem weapons, but not certain as to where, by whom, etc. Huh?? How could they test if not knowing "where" to test?? (Question of "where" was in NPR report earlier this afternoon.)

But the MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media, NPR branch) is sort of walking this thing back from having crossed that "red line." Not totally persuasive.

Sheesh, there goes Obama, going all Bush/Cheney with the lies and misinformation on our asses.... Well, why not, he's been the best third term Bush could have hoped for, and is now taking us into a fourth term for Bush/Cheney. Gah.

Posted by: jawbone | Apr 25, 2013 4:28:28 PM | 50

The US has its man near the UN Secretary-General.

Jeffrey Feltman is UN under-secretary for political affairs:

"The secretary-general [Ban Ki-moon]'s position is that, at this time, the mission should investigate the allegations pertaining to incidents in Aleppo and Homs. While awaiting access to the Syrian territory, the experts of the mission are studying the information on the alleged incidents of the use of chemical weapons provided to them by member states," Feltman told the security council.

"They remain ready to deploy to Syria within 24 to 48 hours following the Syrian government's acceptance of the modality and the scope of the mission." He deliberately did not name the member countries but they include Britain, France and Israel.

It is understood that as well as visiting refugee camps and potentially taking hair and other biological samples from survivors of alleged chemical attacks, UN investigators will also analyse soil samples in the possession of British and French intelligence agencies.


Feltman was the US State Department's MENA guy for the Libya takeover. In 2011: "What's clear is that the rebels are winning, that it's only a matter of time now before Gaddafi has to step down before Gaddafi loses the entire country," Feltman said on ABC's "Good Morning America" program. Sound familiar?

Earlier Feltman served in Tel Aviv. According to the Jerusalem Post, while posted at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, Feltman had built a reputation for personally testing “the freedom of movement of goods through army checkpoints in and out of Gaza by physically standing at one and counting the number of trucks that passed through on a given day.” --The Nation

The Syrian government, which has accused insurgents of using chemical weapons and has requested that a United Nations forensics team investigate, has so far refused to allow that team to enter because of a dispute over the scope of its inquiry. There's a memory of Iraq, and of the possibility of being set up, since the UN is often the handmaiden of the US.

Mr. Ban said he was aware of accusations about a second chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs, but gave no indication that they would be included in the investigation. He did not answer questions from reporters.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 25, 2013 5:15:53 PM | 51

Joshua Landis can be deservedly criticized for his errors. I can't criticize him too strongly for that since I too thought the rebels were in fact winning when they seized big chunks of Aleppo. I am happy to see that the situation has improved for the Syrian government. Otherwise Landis has written some sensible articles about Syria and has definitely opposed US involvement. Of course he is establishment. He has recently raised over a million dollars for a chair in Iranian studies at his university. That means he has close connections to the wealthy Iranian expatriot community here is the US. Such is the nature of academic life today.

Posted by: ToivoS | Apr 25, 2013 5:36:31 PM | 52

Speaking of the UN, Herve Ladsous, chief of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), is the fourth Frenchman in a row to hold that post.

Matthew Russell Lee at Inner City Press also has noted that over 70% of the UN's and DPKO's work is in Africa. "What does it say that both the head of DPKO, Ladsous, and his top Police Adviser, Feller [German], are European?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 25, 2013 5:41:19 PM | 53

I've noted before that Landis is good on history but stinks on current events. I'll stick with that.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 25, 2013 5:43:35 PM | 54

"...he has close connections to the wealthy Iranian expatriot community..."

An expatriate is someone who lives abroad, away from his homeland.
An expatriot is someone who has left his homeland and wants it to be bombed by NATO.

Posted by: bevin | Apr 25, 2013 7:58:41 PM | 55

Landis called for arming the rats with anti-aircraft weapons back in October 2012:

http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/the-us-must-supply-portable-heat-seeking-missiles-to-the-syrian-opposition/?cp=all

He also is one of the most sectarian of all.

Posted by: revenire | Apr 25, 2013 10:45:13 PM | 56

#57 Now that was something I missed. May I retract my previous comment?

Posted by: ToivoS | Apr 26, 2013 3:36:50 AM | 57

Don@52

In addition to the the UN team having representatives from Britain, France and Israel, the United Nations said the team would not include experts from Russia and China to ensure it wasn’t biased. Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin criticized “this kind of logic” saying in that case he “would recommend excluding all NATO countries too.”

Now we're in a position where preventing inspectors from Britain, France and Israel to investigate their own claims that chemical weapons have been used in Syria implies that the Syrian Government has something to hide.

Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Apr 26, 2013 6:55:57 AM | 58

Guardian, Apr 25

Hagel, speaking to reporters in Abu Dhabi, said the White House has informed two senators by letter that, within the past day, "our intelligence community does assess, with varying degrees of confidence, that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically, the chemical agent sarin."

"It violates every convention of warfare," Hagel said.


Chuck went overboard here. He should be more careful of the words he uses. He's not exactly the lord of the universe. It doesn't violate every convention, obviously.

Specifically, the Chemical Weapons Convention doesn't apply to Syria because it hasn't signed nor acceded to the treaty. So Syria, even if it used chemical weapons, hasn't violated a covention that applies to Syria. While most countries are covered by the convention, there are about six which aren't including Syria and Egypt. It's like the NPT doesn't apply to Israel because it hasn't signed the treaty against proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Incidentally, speaking of conventions, the US has been in violation of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which includes incendiaries, because it used white phosphorous against insurgents in Fallujah, Iraq. Terrible stuff.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 26, 2013 8:52:13 AM | 59

@54, met and sat with S.Feller in Kosovo 2004; he left, and was a utter failure, yet it was French intervention (With US backing) that led him; or for a better word 'dominated' him. He managed to get a post (Promoted) with Interpol; the way it works - takes the fall/flack and gets promoted; wont discuss the issue, but I am sure you see the point - Full circle with half the turn...

Posted by: kev | Apr 26, 2013 9:12:45 AM | 60

http://pennyforyourthoughts2.blogspot.ca/2013/04/israel-flippin-floppin-on-syria-alleged.html

Israel
flip floppin'?
second guessing?
bigger fish to catch?
something is up?


Posted by: Penny | Apr 26, 2013 9:52:59 AM | 61

@62 Maybe Hagel told them to cool it? Off camera of course.

Posted by: dh | Apr 26, 2013 10:00:46 AM | 62

What kills me about Landis is that he lived in Syria and was treated very well while over there. He is also married to an Alawite, so I think he secretly supports the Assad government while openly espousing the usual drivel on MCM.

Posted by: Fernando | Apr 26, 2013 10:22:22 AM | 63

@46 yah . . . But

"And I do not think you can just so easily dismiss Kerry..."

Yes, I dismiss his words and his statements, easily and entirely! That's me, and it can be quite easily something wrong with me.

There is iterative narrative that last for quite some time about that non-lethal weapons. It's coming from Anglo-American political circles. Namely from Hague and Kerry, the first talking about an armored vehicles and the second about body armors. What I see here is arrogance or manipulation with wide public and holding them in contempt - "because we can".

In the other hand on clips coming from Syria we have an opportunity to see mercenaries very poorly equipped: in snickers, t-shirts and sweaters, either with "addidas" or "nike" logos. Maybe it's "cool" to fight in that way, but their "concern" for their safety and well being, which presumably is the goal, is hilarious.

I, for one, am quite sure mercenaries will get sufficient supply of 7.62x45 mm ammo and RPGs rockets and some other calibers that necessities the War of Attrition. Whatever amount they appropriate none of it will benefit Syrian people either way; even if they see some tangible benefits, it is going to be just fraction of that amount. Pure Realpolitk

I am OK if you read WaPo or whatever…but by using them as source of “logic” or “wisdom” when comes to the imperial/colonial and security affairs you are making foul of yourself.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Apr 26, 2013 11:03:55 AM | 64

Well we'll just wait and see how it plays out over the next few weeks then.

""And I do not think you can just so easily dismiss Kerry..."

Yes, I dismiss his words and his statements, easily and entirely! That's me, and it can be quite easily something wrong with me."

good for you. Dismiss away then. Take THAT Mr Kerry!!!

I am OK if you read WaPo or whatever

Thanks! That's very generous of you, I must say.

"but by using them as source of “logic” or “wisdom” when comes to the imperial/colonial and security affairs you are making foul of yourself

well, yes. If I actually HAD used them as a source of logic then I probably would have made a fool of myself - that is something we can both agree on, it seems - luckily for me I didn't though, eh?

If you take the time to go back and read over what I posted you'll find that I confined myself to highlighting and commenting on Kerry's words, in the most part. I even took the time to point out that it was for the most part Kerry's comments I was referring to - rather surprising that you seem to have missed that completely, I must say.

"There is iterative narrative that last for quite some time about that non-lethal weapons. It's coming from Anglo-American political circles. Namely from Hague and Kerry, the first talking about an armored vehicles and the second about body armors"

Oh I agree with you entirely on the subject of the whole "non-lethal" business. Clearly that is just nonsense.

"What I see here is arrogance or manipulation with wide public and holding them in contempt - "because we can". "

indeed - have to agree with you there, too, on that one.(This is just excellent. I'm delighted we agree on so many things.) Very astute of you to notice. Unfortunately you seem to have completely missed the part where I said:

One might infer from that that the US is using this promise of future supplies and funding as leverage to gain more control over the Military situation, both with the Mecenaries and also as some leverage to use in discussions with the Russians.

Admittedly I did not mention the phrase "because they can" and to be honest I actually presumed that people here were clued-in enough to work that out for themselves. Obviously I miscalculated. That was of course a grievous error on my part, so thank YOU for bringing it to my attention.

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 26, 2013 11:36:42 AM | 65

A flash of sanity from the DoD.

Official: Action on Chem Weapons Requires Clearer Evidence

There is evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own people, but the world needs "clear evidentiary facts" before acting, a White House official said today.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/syria/2013/syria-130425-afps02.htm?_m=3n.002a.789.wf0ao04t6j.pwi

I'd love to see a list, from b and others, of the pro-Syria intervention forces vs. the anti-intervention forces (in the west and gcc of course, and purely as power on the ground stand now - ie. with the al Qaeda elements in the forefront of the fighting forces of the rebels, intervention meaning anything from sending arms to boots on the ground).

I present the following to be torn apart in argument, I haven't really thought it out. How much would it change if the al Qaeda could be sidelined?:

PRO
Senate GOP leaders
Conservatives in the UK
The French Government
The CIA
Qatar
Saudi Arabia
Turkey

ANTI
The White House
The Department of Defense
The German Government
Jordan (?)

Posted by: guest | Apr 26, 2013 11:59:02 AM | 66

@56

LOL. Right on the money.

Posted by: guest | Apr 26, 2013 12:02:13 PM | 67

#67 - add Israel to the "PRO" intervention list. Also add "US Military" to the ANTI column. Israel wants green light for intervention even though they seem to play a "game within a game". The Israeli situation is actually complicated and not unlike the American one, with some politicos pro intervention (in the form of a few bombing runs, likely against hezbollah as well) and the military echelons and some of the security orgs in opposition.

Complicating the picture further is Iran. Those in favor of attacking Iran - both in israel and the US - view a collapsed Syria as key to that gambit. Many in israel have a view that a weakened Syria - torn by sectarian strife, is basically good for israel and are therefore advocating continuing to stoke a simmering lower level conflict - while sealing the Golan heights border.

All in all, on the Israeli side, I would watch more "revelations" like the chemical weapons one, as indicators as to which side is winning. basically, whichever side gains the upper hand in israel is what the neocon crowd in America, including McCain and Graham - will push. that's not an accusation, it's reality. Israel pretty much dictates all congressional action on foreign policy, and not only the middle east.

I do agree we are seeing evidence of push-back from the white house and DoD. They obviously have other preferred fish to fry than another foreign adventure, especially one where the likelihood of success is murky at best.

Posted by: Merlin2 | Apr 26, 2013 1:35:21 PM | 68

well, sounds like it is too late to stop anything anyway, as Iraq seems to join Syria ...

Posted by: somebody | Apr 26, 2013 1:48:26 PM | 69

What effect would these events - if they happened today - have on the civil war in Syria:

Israeli air attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Israeli air attack on Syrian border with Lebanon.
Israeli air/ground attack on Syrian border with Lebanon and past the Golan.
Israeli air attack on Iran.
Israeli air attack on both Hezbollah and Iran at the same time.

Would Assad's position strengthen with people rallying to him as a protector from Israel, or would the situation become more dire as the "rebels" take advantage of the confusion and Syrian army and militia forces are transferred to combat the Israelis.

Posted by: guest | Apr 26, 2013 2:37:00 PM | 70

@ my 60 above

Over at Arms Control Law Dan Joyner, who is a lawyer, argues that prohibitions on chemical weapons have "passed into customary law." However, intervention by an outside party is still problematical.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 26, 2013 5:13:18 PM | 71

@ 70

The civil conflict in Iraq was primarily initiated by the Samarra Al-Askaria mosque destruction in February 2006. I and some others believe the US to have been complicit in this event, which with its ensuing attacks and counter-attacks fully served to promote the US goal of continued US military occupation in Iraq.

SEC. GATES: “Well, what I’m saying to you is, though, you had one strategy under way until attack on the Samarra mosque. After that and the development of the sectarian violence that was being stoked by extremists — this wasn’t spontaneous — there was a shift in strategy, and instead of sending troops home, the troops that were supposed to be sent home were kept — or the troop level was kept.”

The US military stayed longer in Iraq "to prevent a civil war" until the last of the US military was evicted in December 2011.

As Dahr Jamail has written (2008): "The policy is divide to rule. If the U.S. leaves Iraq, the violent sectarianism between the Sunni and Shia will worsen."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 26, 2013 5:34:56 PM | 72

@ 73
And of course to Iraq we can add a host of nations following a similar "divide to rule" course: Afghanistan (again), Somalia, Yemen, Mali, Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, Yugoslavia, -- and that's just recently.

Also Iran, they hope. The Chuckster is just creamin' his jeans over the damage he guesses that the US is inflicting on Persians.

“The economic sanctions against Iran are the most effective, most international, most penetrating economic sanctions that I think have ever been employed against a country,” he said. “And we do know by every metric applied that it is doing significant damage to Iran’s economy.”

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 26, 2013 6:16:28 PM | 73

interview tunisian jihadists: we were lied to by MSM:
were told important not2 fight alongside infidels'; what about fighting FOR them! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxgFR9vYSmY&feature=youtu.be
A Tunisian reporter conducts interviews with several Tunisians who came to Syria for Jihad after they were misled by propaganda lies about what is really happening in Syria. They also had to pay hefty sums of money to make their journey to Syria, some even giving away all that they possessed in order to fight what, in their view, was a "just cause", a cause that was based on a false narrative created by the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, and that was propagated by most mainstream media, all for the benefit of Israel, the US, and its Western lapdogs.

Posted by: brian | Apr 26, 2013 6:22:12 PM | 74

It might be an interesting sidenote that Shell (who'd have thought that?! An oil company once not acting berserk) which owes around 2 or 3 Billion dollars to Iran wanted to pay back that debt and was, of course, not allowed to do so. So far, so standard.

So, Shell tried to buy medicine for that amount to be sent to Iran. The uk government said "No".
So, Shell tried to buy food for that amount to be sent to Iran. The uk government said "No".

So much for the "medical and food supplies are excluded from the sanction" hypocracy ...

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Apr 26, 2013 6:23:32 PM | 75

Israeli air attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon. - no effect whatsoever

Israeli air attack on Syrian border with Lebanon. - It might depend on what they attacked but most likely little to no effect whatsoever

Israeli air/ground attack on Syrian border with Lebanon and past the Golan. - Unlikely to happen in the immediate future.

Israeli air attack on Iran. - Definitely not going to happen.

Israeli air attack on both Hezbollah and Iran at the same time. -- Definitely not going to happen

Would Assad's position strengthen with people rallying to him as a protector from Israel - since most of the Syrian population seem to already support him not much is likely to change in that dept.

But imo an Israeli ground attack on Syria is a longshot. They might try a few sorties, and the Syrians might actually let them get away with a few pot-shots, depending on the target. Anything more threatening Air-attack wise from the Israelis definitely would result in some retaliation.

Posted by: yah . . . But | Apr 26, 2013 7:29:03 PM | 76

reuters, Apr 26
"Evidence" of Syria chemical weapons use not up to U.N. standard

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Assertions of chemical weapon use in Syria by Western and Israeli officials citing photos, sporadic shelling and traces of toxins do not meet the standard of proof needed for a U.N. team of experts waiting to gather their own field evidence.

Weapons inspectors will only determine whether banned chemical agents were used in the two-year-old conflict if they are able to access sites and take soil, blood, urine or tissue samples and examine them in certified laboratories, according to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which works with the United Nations on inspections.

That type of evidence, needed to show definitively if banned chemicals were found, has not been presented by governments and intelligence agencies accusing Syria of using chemical weapons against insurgents.

"This is the only basis on which the OPCW would provide a formal assessment of whether chemical weapons have been used," said Michael Luhan, a spokesman for the Hague-based OPCW.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 26, 2013 8:12:57 PM | 77

According to Inner City Press, UN Secretary-General Ban is due to meet Monday "with his chemical weapons prober Ake Sellstrom, who Ban has summoned to fly to New York."

yahoo, Apr 12

A team of U.N.-led experts is on standby in Cyprus . . .The team of at least 15 investigators includes analytical chemists, able to collect and test suspected samples, and World Health Organisation experts on the medical effects of exposure to toxins, who could examine alleged victims.

But there's a problem about the UN coming to terms with Syria, the UN Secretariat being a US lap-dog, and all.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 26, 2013 8:22:44 PM | 78

"Also Iran, they hope. The Chuckster is just creamin' his jeans over the damage he guesses that the US is inflicting on Persians."

Don Bacon

The chuckster (good chuckle) is just as ignorant as his predecessors.....


"Yes, on September 14, 2003 Vice President Cheney said to Tim Russert on Meet the Press that, “I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators."

Posted by: Rd. | Apr 26, 2013 8:36:00 PM | 79

@74
When Chuck Hagel was crowing about the sanctions "doing significant damage to Iran’s economy" he was speaking to US troops "at an air base in Southwest Asia, April 25, 2013." We can now reveal thet Hagel was talking to airmen and women at the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates. (Shhh -- it's a secret) This was after Chuck did the Crown Prince schmoozing thing, finalizing military sales necessitated by the scary Iran threat.

During his first official trip to the Middle East, Secretary Chuck Hagel met with the United Arab Emirates' Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan today in Abu Dhabi and reaffirmed the strong U.S. commitment to defense and security cooperation between the two countries. They underscored the deep and enduring partnership between the United States and the UAE.

In particular, they discussed the UAE's purchase of 25 F-16 Block 60 aircraft and the decision for the United States to release standoff weapons for sale for the defense of the UAE. The additional F-16s will increase both nations' interoperability and enhance their ability to perform joint and coalition security operations.

The secretary also expressed appreciation for the UAE's contributions to NATO missions in Afghanistan and Libya.


NATO missions in Afghanistan and Libya haven't work out that well, so Hagel had to compensate. With the troops, talking about putting a hurt on Iranians, the Chuckster was practicing "Two Minutes Hate" from Orwell's "1984."
The purpose of the Hate is said to satisfy the citizens' subdued feelings of angst and hatred from leading such a wretched, controlled existence. By re-directing these subconscious feelings away from the Oceanian government and toward external enemies (which likely do not even exist), the Party minimizes subversive thought and behavior.

Go Chuck.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 26, 2013 9:42:22 PM | 80

Egads, I fail to pay attention for a few weeks, and MOA manages to grow an enormous 'rhoid in my absence! You sure he shouldn't be called "Yah Butt"???? Wow, what a pretentious ass.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Apr 26, 2013 10:51:15 PM | 81

I wondered why you hadn't chimed in. What was the more important distraction??? Yeah, I agree.

Posted by: juannie | Apr 26, 2013 11:06:15 PM | 82

The drums of war beat louder...again.

http://rt.com/usa/white-house-syria-force-463/

Posted by: ben | Apr 26, 2013 11:35:11 PM | 83

100% inspired by the last two posts here: Shaving cream war: will it turn the tide for the rebels. Horror and sick jokes are expected in imperial wars, I guess.

Posted by: fairleft | Apr 27, 2013 1:25:39 AM | 84

71) that is walking with wide eyes into the unknown.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 27, 2013 6:22:27 AM | 85

76) this is the full story you are talking about

The sources said the oil company wanted to repay its debt to NIOC to maintain cordial relations with Iran, one of the biggest producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"Politics come and go but it's in the interests of Shell and its shareholders to pay its debts and maintain a relationship with a leading oil producer like Iran," said one of the sources.

....

Iran's oil revenues have fallen by about 50 percent since sanctions were imposed last year, and regional economists believe it has been forced to draw on its foreign reserves to help buy essentials like grains.

But with an estimated $100 billion of foreign reserves at the start of 2012, thanks to high oil prices, the Iranian economy is far from collapse.

....

Food and medicine are among the humanitarian goods not barred by U.S. and European sanctions but, isolated from international banking, Iran has been forced to pay a premium for grain imports.

Washington has tried to restrict countries like China, India, South Korea and Japan that still buy Iranian oil to paying for shipments by the barter of approved goods - including food and medicine.

Just Britain shooting itself in the foot - I guess their relations with Iran are irreparable anyway.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 27, 2013 8:10:15 AM | 86

@86
I see that night job at the pound worked out very well for you, you lucky dog.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 27, 2013 9:18:48 AM | 87

The latest pro-terrorist "news" from the Coventry clothier, helpfully brought to us by USAToday.

Rebels attack sprawling air base in northern Syria

After two weeks of advances by Syrian troops, rebels attacked a sprawling military air base in the country's northwest on Saturday. . . .

The raids follow nearly two weeks of advances by Syrian troops, mostly in the suburbs of the capital, Damascus, and areas near the Lebanese border in the central province of Homs.. .


And then way down near the bottom, after a bunch of fluff about chemical weapons:
In Saturday's fighting at the Abu Zuhour air base in northwestern Idlib province, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were casualties on both sides. The base has been under rebel siege for months.

"Under siege for months" suddenly becomes "attack" -- just when some good news is required. The article has no author identified -- I guess the Coventry clothier even has to write the articles for the "news media" now and email them in to Associated Press.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 27, 2013 9:49:06 AM | 88

I DID NOT post number 87.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Apr 27, 2013 12:33:14 PM | 89

Hmmmmm.....the number 87 I referred to was removed.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Apr 27, 2013 3:17:10 PM | 90

@92 And somebody was banned for sock-puppetry. Curious coincidence.

Posted by: dh | Apr 27, 2013 3:25:55 PM | 91

@3 Someone I should say. Not somebody.

Posted by: dh | Apr 27, 2013 3:31:17 PM | 92

@85 So. fucking. dumb.

Posted by: guest | Apr 27, 2013 5:25:37 PM | 93

Ya know, while we are on the topic of moderation....

I hope b doesn't mind this post, but I am on wits end over at Mondo. The moderation there is so sucky, so inexplicable, that Phil and Adam embarrass themselves by allowing it, or if they are, engaging in it. I only post this here because I know Annie reads this blog, and attempting to post a complaint at Mondo is an exercise in futility, as they simply don't allow it to appear. And emailing Adam or Phil for an explanation is a fruitless endeavor as well, because they simply don't respond. Case in point, on this particular thread...

http://mondoweiss.net/2013/04/vulnerability-americans-consider.html

....I posted the following comment, which is basking in "moderation" mode. But note the comment that appears under mine. It was submitted at a later time, yet "passed" whatever chicken shit system of "moderation" they are engaging in over there. Truth be told, it pisses me off. Particularly in light of the past sniveling I witnessed over there about how another site was biased in its moderation when banning Phil or Adam (can't remember which one) for his comments.....

Anyway, you be the judge. Why is my post (Blank State) languishing in "moderation" when a subsequent post (Donald), saying basically the same thing, sailed right through...

Blank State says:

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

April 27, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Wrong.

Phil, you obviously are not hobnobbing with Joe Homeowner middle america. We are, collectively, some of the most ignorant, ill-informed, brainwashed, and opinionated creatures on God’s green earth. Just this morning, at the counter of one of the local eateries here, I listened to an extremely intelligent (seriously) townsperson wax elequent on middle eastern affairs, citing, verbatim, the worthless swill that is regurgitated daily on Fox News. We have a looooong ways to go before your optimism is even remotely founded in reality. As long as our media continues to be a spokesentity for Washington DC and its policies, rather than serving as our Fourth Estate, the idea that the general public will wake up to the very real phenomena of “blowback” is ludicrous to the extreme. Our general sources of info are corrupted beyond redemption, becoming more so with each passing day. Our ignorance is nurtured with misinformation designed to popularize policy and agenda.

Truthfully, often times I find the optimism expressed here naive to the extreme. Case in point, the recent swooning expectations many expressed about the impending confirmation of Hagel as Sec of Def. Does anyone here really believe he would have ascended to his position if he was willing to buck the status quo?

No, Phil, these events, such as the Boston bombing, are merely fodder to continue to nurture a public acceptance of middle eastern policy. Politically capitalized on, they have the exact OPPOSITE effect on the public psyche than the effect that you are so optimistic in advancing. Besides, if a localized and relatively minor “attack” such as the Boston event does not get us all back in line chanting the GWOT mantra, I have no doubt that a larger event will be concocted to do the trick. The two kids in Boston are a prime example of a neo-con’s wet dream. I imagine those such as Cheney thanked thier lucky stars when those two bombs exploded.


Donald says:

April 27, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Wishful thinking Phil. (You do that a lot–maybe it’s a necessary part of being a full-time activist, to keep your own morale up.) Mainstream America (at least what the mainstream press allows us to see) simply doesn’t do that sort of reflection. I wouldn’t choose the Boston example anyway if I wanted to make the case.


Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Apr 27, 2013 7:45:33 PM | 94

The post finally appeared this morning. One wonders what prompted the "moderator" over there to relent.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Apr 28, 2013 12:02:13 PM | 95

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