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  1. #201
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    Default Re: Syria

    ‘NATO wants a simmering civil war in Syria – as a prelude’

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    Published: 16 December, 2011, 21:45

    A young woman with her face painted with the Syrian flag shouts during a demonsration against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in front of Syrian Consulate, following the Friday prayer on December 16, 2011 in Istanbul (AFP Photo / BULENT KILIC)



    Washington is ready to discuss Russia’s UN Security Council draft resolution on Syria, describing some provisions as however “unacceptable” and still not acknowledging that the anti-regime protesters are well-armed.

    *What exactly the US and NATO countries consider to be “unacceptable” is the real question, believes Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar.

    “Is it that the Syrian government cannot fight an armed insurgency in its own territory?” he ponders. “The Free Syrian Army are getting weapons smuggled from the Middle East to the borders [with Syria] in Turkey and in Jordan as well.”

    Pepe Escobar says that the Free Syrian Army, which claims to have more than 25,000 members fighting to bring down President Assad, is in fact turning into a huge militia marshalling forces near Syria’s borders with Turkey and Jordan.

    “This militia now is already involved in a sort of a pre-civil war at both borders with the help of NATO,” Escobar said. “What they want and what NATO wants is a simmering civil war as a prelude for something much tougher ahead, probably after the American elections in one year.”

    Escobar believes that “the fog of pre-war” is already there, and says Russia is making an intelligent move in pushing forward a “pre-emptive resolution.”

    “It condemns both sides and asks for a UN peacekeeping mission to solve the problem,” he said. “If there is a resolution in the UN, the first thing will be to send a UN peacekeeping mission, a fact-finding mission, to Syria.”

    One of the reasons he believes that such a mission must be sent to Syria as soon as possible is because there are still no credible sources of information about what is really happening on the ground.

    “The thing is we still do not know the role of these snipers that we see everywhere,” he explains. “In fact most of the civilian killings are by these snipers. And they even shoot children, this is true. But we do not know for sure if they are working for the Syrian army or Syrian intelligence, there is absolutely no evidence about it.”

    “Look, we don’t know where these snipers come from,” Escobar cited people in Homs as saying. “They could be government, but they could be opportunists, and they could be mercenaries trying to incite civil war.”

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
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    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

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    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
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    until you’ll
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



  2. #202
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    Default Re: Syria

    US has pulled their Embassy folks out of Syria (Damascus specifically).

    Syrian embassies all over the world are under attack, being mobbed or massive protests are taking place.

    Russia, China have vetoed a vote to "do anything at all" about this.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Syria

    U.S. closes embassy as fighting rages in Syria

    By Holly Yan, CNN
    updated 10:08 AM EST, Mon February 6, 2012




    China, Russia veto UN resolution on Syria



    STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • NEW: The U.S. closed its embassy in Syria over security concerns Monday, State Department officials tell CNN
    • NEW: 46 deaths were reported Monday
    • An opposition member says the U.N. gave the regime "the green light" to kill more
    • A Syrian official says the crisis is manufactured and fueled by the media



    (CNN) -- Intense blasts echoed through the ravaged Syrian city of Homs on Monday after a weekend bloodbath ended in hundreds of deaths there, local activists said.
    "It is horrible. Especially today, it is horrible," said Abu Omar, a local activist who said the Syrian army was attacking without warning. "Usually they are using mortars. They are now using rockets in the sky. We can see them in the sky."
    At least 46 people were killed across Syria on Monday, including four children, the opposition Local Coordination Committees said. The deaths included 36 in Homs, four in Damascus suburbs, one in Damascus, two in Aleppo, and three in Idlib.
    Syrian state-run TV said "armed terrorist groups" were attacking citizens and members of law enforcement in several cities, including Homs, Idlib, and the Damascus suburbs.
    Syria stepped up its brutal crackdown after the U.N. Security Council failed Saturday to pass a resolution condemning the regime, activists said.
    "The U.N. gave them the green light to inflict more violence," another opposition activist, identified as "Danny," said from Homs. "If it wasn't for the U.N., they wouldn't have did this. It gave them the OK to kill more. If the U.N. had done something about this, this regime would be a little bit scared."
    The United States closed its embassy in Syria and pulled out remaining staff Monday after the Syrian government refused to address its security concerns, senior State Department officials told CNN.
    U.S. closes embassy, cites deteriorating security
    China and Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that would have demanded President Bashar al-Assad stop the killing and answer calls aimed at finding a Syrian-led solution to the 11-month crisis.
    Danny said the devastation Sunday included a girl who lost an eye to gunfire and a boy with his jaw shot away. Many of the injured were being treated in field hospitals in civilian homes, including some who died from wounds that would not have been fatal with proper care.
    U.S. closes embassy in Syria
    Failed Syrian vote may increase violence
    Homs resident: 'A massacre happening'
    Burns: Syria to descend into more chaos
    Map: Syria



    "We haven't got enough doctors. We haven't got enough medication," he said.
    Omar said one child killed in the violence "was almost in pieces."
    The Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists, reported that at least 29 of Sunday's 43 estimated deaths occurred in Homs. Opposition groups said more than 300 civilians have died in Homs since Thursday.
    Danny said last week that pro-Assad forces launched a renewed attack on Homs after a few dozen soldiers defected and fled into the city.
    Protesters and rebel fighters are demanding an end to al-Assad's rule and true democratic elections. Al-Assad has been in power since 2000; his father, Hafez, ruled Syria for three decades.
    United Nations officials have said an estimated 6,000 people have died since protests began nearly a year ago. The LCC said at least 7,339 people have been killed.
    But the Syrian government has consistently blamed the violence on "armed terrorist groups."
    Syria's U.N. ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, said the entire crisis has been manufactured and fueled by media campaign to make the Syrian government look bad.
    Referring to the reported deaths in Homs on Saturday, Jaafari asked, "Is there a sensible person who would believe a government commits massacres in a given city on a day when the Security Council is scheduled to hold a meeting to examine the situation in that country? Would any entity put itself in such a position?"
    The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said 15 people -- including two children, an army colonel and eight members of a single family -- were killed by "terrorists" around the country on Sunday.
    At least nine government troops died and 21 others were wounded in Idlib, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group.
    CNN cannot independently confirm opposition or government reports from Syria because the government has restricted journalists' access to the country.
    Several of the 13 Security Council members who voted in favor of the draft resolution said they were furious at Russia and China for their dual veto.
    China does not accept the accusation. We are not selfish in our decision.
    China's ministry of foreign affairs



    U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said Russia and China "will have any future blood spill on their hands," while French Ambassador Gerard Araud said Beijing and Moscow have aligned themselves with a regime that is massacring its people.
    The Russian and Chinese ambassadors said they support an end to the violence, but did not agree with the text of the resolution, which they said would have complicated the issue and sent conflicting signals.
    The two countries -- which have trade relations with Syria -- have said they support a dialogue among factions in Syria.
    On Monday, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected criticism of the country's veto.
    "China does not accept the accusation. We are not selfish in our decision," the ministry said. "China does not shelter anyone. We uphold justice and take a responsible attitude. We want the Syrian people to be free from the scourge of conflict and warfare."
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is scheduled to visit Damascus on Tuesday to meet with al-Assad, U.N. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.
    Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby insisted Sunday that the Arab League and international community will continue to seek a resolution, according to an Arab League official who could not be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
    "The Arab League aims to avoid military intervention in Syria and continues to probe for an Arab solution to the Syrian crisis," Elaraby said, according to the official.
    But residents on the ground say so far, the international community has abandoned Syrians and left many to die at the hands of the regime.
    "We want to see actions. We don't want to see talk. We're really tired of talk, and talk, and talk," Danny said. "While everyone's talking, every second, someone's dying here."
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Syria

    West 'hysterical' and wrong over Syria – Lavrov

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    Published: 06 February, 2012, 16:25


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    Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Internal Affairs (RIA Novosti / Sergey Guneev)
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    The western reaction to Moscow and Beijing's veto on the UN Security Council resolution on Syria is “indecent” and “almost hysterical”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.
    “Those who get angry are hardly ever right,” Lavrov stated at a media conference in Moscow.

    According to the diplomat, the point of such “hysterical statements” is to conceal what has really been happening in Syria. Lavrov says that there is more than one source of violence in the Arab Republic, which is why Moscow supported the settlement initiative put forward by the League of Arab States (LAS) back last November. LAS urged an end to violence, “no matter where it comes from.”

    The minister noted that this demand was reflected in the Security Council resolution. But he stressed that the document should contain not just slogans, but also precise steps on how they should be fulfilled.

    “Such measures were described in great detail but only for one side – for the [Syrian] government side,” Lavrov said. “We submitted several amendments in order to eliminate this imbalance and describe concrete steps that we expect from the opposition and the international community concerning armed extremists in Syria.”

    Among the amendments was a demand that the Syrian government withdraw military and security forces from towns. Simultaneously, opposition armed groups would have to leave these towns and stop their attempts to capture entire blocks. In addition, Russia suggested calling on the political opposition to split from extremists, and on the international community to try and convince armed groups to stop the violence.

    The foreign minister says Moscow was surprised at the Security Council's decision to turn down “absolutely logical” amendments.

    Lavrov noted that it was “sad” that the co-authors of the resolution voted on the document in haste. Russia had asked its partners to put off the vote for a few days, until he and foreign intelligence chief Mikhail Fradkov would have a chance to visit Damascus on February 7. This refusal to wait is “evident disrespect," Lavrov says.

    Speaking on Monday, the minister stated that external players are trying to topple the regime in Syria. As a result, the number of victims is increasing.

    “We've repeatedly urged Damascus to speed up reforms and we are continuing to do so. But we also see that there are those who have other goals. [They] are trying to use this movement in order to change the regime,” he pointed out. According to the minister, the Syrian opposition is “insistently recommended from outside” not to accept any compromise with the government. Besides that, external players encourage armed groups – including extremists – and supply them with weapons, as well as providing support in other forms, Lavrov stated.
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    Default Re: Syria

    “Those who get angry are hardly ever right,” Lavrov stated at a media conference in Moscow.
    I have a feeling, for some reason, those words are going to bite him in the ass soon enough.
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    Default Re: Syria

    US shutters embassy in Syria, withdraws all personnel

    AP
    Syrian rebels gather in an alley as they try to protect a nearby demonstration in Idlib on Sunday. The graffiti on the wall above them reads: "behave, stranger."


    By msnbc.com staff and news services

    Updated at 9:35 a.m. ET: "All official U.S. embassy personnel and their family members have departed" Syria, the U.S. State Department says in a statement released on Monday.
    The U.S. has told the Syrian government that it "suspended all embassy operations" and had withdrawn Ambassador Robert Ford because of the ongoing violence and worsening security situation.
    The State Department warned late last month that it would close the embassy unless security concerns were addressed.
    "We, along with several other diplomatic missions, conveyed our security concerns to the Syrian government but the regime failed to respond adequately,'' State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.

    "We continue to be gravely concerned by the escalation of violence in Syria caused by the regime's blatant defiance of its commitments to the action plan it agreed to with the Arab League," the statement added. "The deteriorating security situation that led to the suspension of our diplomatic operations makes clear once more the dangerous path Assad has chosen and the regime's inability to fully control Syria."
    Hillary Clinton lambastes 'travesty' of UN veto on Syria
    Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET: The Associated Press is reporting that the United States is closing its embassy in Damascus and pulling American diplomats out of Syria as Bashar Assad's government escalates its 10-month crackdown on protesters.
    Activists have said they fear that the Saturday decision by Russia and China to block a U.N Security Council resolution on Syria will embolden Assad's regime. Some worry that Syria's turmoil will move into even a more dangerous new phase that could degenerate into outright civil war.
    Updated at 5:11 a.m. ET: Syrian troops shelled neighborhoods in the restive city of Homs on Monday, a day after President Bashar Assad's government vowed to continue its deadly crackdown on the country's uprising, activists said.
    The bombardment comes two days after another attack on the central Syrian city that activists say killed 200 people, the highest death toll reported for a single day in the 11-month uprising.
    More than 200 people have been killed in Syria's crackdown this weekend. NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin reports.

    The Local Coordination Committees activist group said Monday's bombardment hit a makeshift hospital in the tense neighborhood of Baba Amr, causing casualties.
    The Syrian National Council opposition group said a total of 50 people were killed Monday in the sustained assault on several districts of the city.
    "The regime is acting as if it were immune to international intervention and has a free hand to use violence against the people," the group's Catherine al-Talli told Reuters
    Activists say they fear that the Saturday decision by Russia and China to block a U.N Security Council resolution on Syria will embolden Assad's regime. Some fear that Syria's turmoil will move into even a more dangerous new phase that could degenerate into outright civil war.
    Philippe Bolopion, U.N. director at Human Rights Watch, described the veto as "a betrayal of the Syrian people."

    Tim Marshall, foreign affairs editor of Britain's Sky News, said that it was now "almost impossible to see" how the situation could be solved diplomatically.
    "This will be settled by violence," he said.
    On Sunday, the commander of rebel soldiers said force was now the only way to oust Assad, while the regime vowed to press its military crackdown to bring back stability to the country.

    "We did not sleep all night," Majd Amer, an activist in Homs, said by telephone. Explosions could be heard in the background. "The regime is committing organized crimes."
    Amer said shelling of his neighborhood of Khaldiyeh started at 3 a.m., and most residents living on high floors either fled to shelters or to lower floors. He said electricity was also cut.
    Homs has been an epicenter of Syria's uprising.
    'Controlled demolition' for Assad?
    Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Russia may be seeking a "controlled demolition" of Assad's rule to save its sole major foothold in the Arab world against Western rivals when its foreign minister and spy chief hold rare talks in Damascus this week.
    Moscow announced the high-stakes mission hours on Saturday hours before Russia and China, in a move that outraged much of the world and Syria's opposition, vetoed the U.N. Security Council resolution.
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he would travel to Syria on Tuesday along with Foreign Intelligence Service Director Mikhail Fradkov for talks with Assad.
    Lavrov revealed nothing about their purpose, but a Foreign Ministry statement on Sunday indicated he and Fradkov would at least press Assad, who has ruled out resigning and rejected his opponents as "terrorists," to make compromises.
    President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the mission, it said, because Russia "firmly intends to seek the swiftest stabilization of the situation in Syria on the basis of the swiftest implementation of democratic reforms whose time has come."
    President Barack Obama calls for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down following a crackdown in Syria that lead to the deaths of over 200 people. NBC's Mike Viqueira reports.

    After a veto that angered the West and deepened the resolve of Assad's foes, Russia faces a daunting task: how to leverage longstanding ties with an embattled Syrian leader into traction firm enough to keep Russia from losing its most solid arena of influence in the Middle East.
    Billions of dollars in arms contracts
    Moscow could be tempted to play for time by seeking to shore up Assad, whose government has billions of dollars worth of contracts for Russian arms and hosts a naval maintenance and supply facility on its Mediterranean coast that is Russia's only military base outside the former Soviet Union.

    But many analysts say Moscow's veto was driven less by love for Assad or hope of a return to Syria's pre-conflict status quo than by Prime Minister Putin's desire to show -- as he seeks a six-year term in a March presidential vote -- that he will defy Western efforts to impose political change on sovereign states in regions of big power competition.
    "Russia's overwhelming objective is to salvage something from the wreckage of the Assad regime and contain Western influence in its most important Arab ally," said Shashank Joshi, an associate fellow at Britain's Royal United Services Institute, a military think-tank.
    With Assad facing growing pressure from the West, Arab states and his opponents at home, Moscow's best hope of maintaining influence may be "a controlled demolition, of sorts - a managed transition to a new regime, shorn of Bashar but built around the loyalists of the Assad dynasty," Joshi said.
    There are problems with that approach, however.
    'Influence'
    By twice vetoing U.N. resolutions that would have condemned Assad, and resisting pleas from visiting Syrian opposition groups to join calls for his resignation, Moscow may have ruined any remaining chance it had of being accepted by the opposition. A superficial shakeup would do little to change that.
    But Ghassan Ibrahim, a Syrian dissident who heads the London-based Global Arab Network, a web-based news and information service, said that if Russia could secure the exit of Assad and of senior military and security officers associated with torture, Syrians would judge Russia's role as acceptable.
    "The Russians think Assad's days are over and they are thinking about how to safeguard their position in the region," said Ibrahim. "Syria is their only door into the region and it gives them influence. They need to protect it. But do they have enough power to manipulate Assad (to step down)?"
    The Associated Press, Reuters and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.
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    Default Re: Syria

    6 February 2012 Last updated at 09:22 ET

    Chinese, Iranian press alone back UN Syria veto

    Protests against the government have continued despite unrelenting attacks by security forces
    The Russian and Chinese veto of the UN draft resolution on Syria is condemned in the Arab, Turkish, Israeli and even Russian press, finding support only in the official Syrian and Chinese media and pro-government newspapers in Syria's ally, Iran.
    Some Arab newspapers criticise UN and Arab League efforts, and support a French proposal to aid the Syrian opposition through an informal international grouping. Syrian and Iranian papers denounce the resolution as a Western ploy and the Arab League as a US "pawn". Chinese papers back Beijing's actions as defence of non-interference in internal affairs.
    Many Arab papers see the superpower confrontation over Syria as the start of a new Cold War by proxy, although one commentator says the Russian and Chinese positions could change.
    Tariq al-Hamid in London's Saudi-owned Al-Sharq al-Awsat "With the killing of thousands of Syrians and the systematic terror carried out by Assad's forces and his lawyers Russia and China, who resorted to the Security Council to use their veto, the Arabs today have no choice but to shun the inaction of Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Arabi... The Arabs must support the French president's proposal to form a group of friends of the Syrian people, as it has become clear that fear is inherited in Syria".
    Jamil al-Dhayidi in London's Saudi-owned Al-Hayat "The Russian and Chinese stance is clothed in shame and disgrace. Moscow and Beijing insist on dancing on corpses and disregarding the massacres by Assad's regime. Vladimir Putin and his like will go to the rubbish heap of history haunted by the curses of angry Arabs... The Russian and Chinese people should speak out against the veto that gives a license to kill... But we doubt that this will happen."
    Abd-al-Bari Atwan in London's Arab nationalist Al-Quds Al-Arabi "The double Russian-Chinese veto at the UN Security Council... is an important turning point in international relations and the start of a new page in a Cold War of a different nature."
    Syria's state-run Tishrin "Both the Syrian leadership and the Syrian people are aware that the parties attacking Syria have been left confused after the second double veto by Russia and China at the Security Council. They are also aware that they will not find a way to continue their dirty tricks other than by escalating their media campaign through high-sounding rhetoric and false stories of fighting and defections in the Syrian army, which exist only in their sick minds."
    Qasem Ghafuri in Iran's Jaam-e Jam "This veto shows that that the West's attitude towards Syria is not to assist its people but to overthrow its government, which is completely contrary to the people's wish. The Arab League's cooperation with America in this field has further revealed the face of this US pawn... The veto also shows that Obama's policy of improving ties with Russia and China has failed."
    Jordan's Al-Dustur "Re-energising the Arab Initiative and the committee of Arab observers is the only way to stop the crisis from exploding and to resolve the crisis within the Arab arena... We have to affirm an important truth, which is the failure of the military and security solutions in Syria just as they failed in Yemen, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. There is no real solution except a political solution and we hope that the regime takes this seriously."
    Mazin Hamad in Qatar's Al-Watan "The Syrian crisis has entered a new phase of security and political escalation after Russia and China used their veto at the UN Security Council... With the expectation of more bloodshed and resistance, civil war has unfortunately taken a step closer to reality. The veto undermines the role of the UN and the international community at this stage, and it is becoming impossible to stop the killing machine in the Syrian city."
    Nayla Nayla Tuwayn in Lebanon's Arab nationalist Al-Nahar "The situation in Syria will not be corrected by killing people and imprisoning all the dissidents... We must also understand that the interests of states change, and today's veto may not last long."
    Andrei Yashlavsky in Moskovskiy Komsomolets Moscow daily "Bashar al-Assad has turned into the proverbial 'suitcase without a handle' - heavy to carry but a shame to give up. Hence all the wavering in Russia's position... After all, Syria is one of the few strategic partners Russia has left in the region, and a not insignificant buyer of our arms. In that respect Moscow's logic is clear. Yet it is equally clear that Assad's prospects of a long and happy presidency are virtually nil, and then it will be extremely difficult to build relations with the new authorities. It is not for nothing that the Americans have already openly stated that now the bloodshed in Syria will be on Russia's and China's hands."
    Qu Xing of Foreign Ministry think-tank in Renmin Ribao "The Syrian government should attach importance to the people's aspirations for social change, and the current situation is unsustainable. The Syrian opposition should understand that, if foreign countries intervene militarily, several generations in Syria will pay the price for it. The Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council should understand that avoiding foreign armed intervention will be conducive to the overall interests of the Arab world. The US and Europe should also understand that if an out-of-control situation in Syria causes the situation in the entire Middle East to go out of control, hits energy supplies and breeds extremist forces, this will benefit no one."
    Ex-ambassador to Iran Hua Liming in Huanqiu Shibao "The principle of reciprocal non-interference in internal affairs is still the last line of defence for disadvantaged developing countries to safeguard their right to exist. The veto by China and Russia safeguarded the interests of vulnerable groups in the world and also prevented the UN from falling into injustice once again."
    Nilgun Tekfidan Gumus in Turkey's Hurriyet "While the West is having difficulty in determining a policy to end the bloodshed in Syria, the Assad regime is very pleased with the support it has received from Russia and China.... I wish Assad would not let his country be the point of confrontation between Sunni and Shiite Islam and accept mediation efforts so that 7,000 people would not die. But it is certainly too late."
    Israeli liberal broadsheet Ha'aretz "The Russian and Chinese veto of the UN Security Council resolution against Syria is in fact a licence for Syria's president to continue slaughtering his citizens with impunity. The veto makes it eminently clear how weak the international community is when it comes to people who are trying to free themselves from the burden of a dictator and who dream of democracy and a fair life... Their move makes the two superpowers full partners in the acts of murder."
    BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.
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    Default Re: Syria

    I don't know Michael... how many?

    Oh, wait, that was rhetorical. Never mind. haha
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    Default Re: Syria

    February 08, 2012
    Syrian Troops Pound Homs as Russia Warns Against Intervention

    VOA News

    [IMG]http://media.voanews.com/images/480*357/reuters_syria_homs_08Feb12-resized.jpg[/IMG] Photo: Reuters


    Residents rest in a shelter in Baba Amro near Homs, February 8, 2012. Syrian forces thrusting into the rebellious city of Homs, killing dozens of civilians.




    Syrian troops are continuing their assault on the protest hub of Homs, reportedly killing dozens of civilians, as Russia said the world faces a growing "cult of violence" in international affairs and warned the West against outside intervention in Syria.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces used tanks, rockets and mortars Wednesday to subdue resistance in Homs, killing at least 50 people and heavily damaging more than 20 buildings in a number of the city's rebel-held districts. Homs is under the fifth day of a relentless offensive that activists say has killed hundreds of people.


    Undated citizen journalism image provided by Local Coordination Committees in Syria shows man weeping as he sits next to a man who was purportedly killed in shelling by Syrian government forces, Homs, February 8, 2012. (AP Photo)

    Casualty figures cannot be confirmed because Syria restricts independent reporting.

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin condemned all violence "regardless of its source," but said the world "cannot act like a bull in a china shop." He told Russian religious leaders Wednesday that outside forces should let Syrians settle their conflict "independently," saying Moscow must not let events like those in Libya and Syria be repeated at home.

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad delegated his deputy to hold a dialogue with the opposition after meeting Russia's top diplomat Tuesday in Damascus. Efforts by the Arab League and Russia to organize talks have been rejected by Syrian opposition groups angered by the Assad government's deadly crackdown on the 11-month-old uprising.


    Free Syrian Army (FSA) members in Saqba, a Damascus suburb, February 8, 2012. (Reuters photo)

    Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday he had "very little confidence" in the Russian-Syrian efforts, while French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Assad's promises were merely manipulation and should not be believed. The Syrian leader said Tuesday he will push ahead with promised reforms and soon set a date for a referendum on a new constitution aimed at broadening political participation.

    U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay called for urgent international action to protect civilians in Syria, saying she is "appalled" by the government's "willful assault on the city of Homs." Pillay also said is it time for the international community to "cut through the politics and take action" to protect the civilian population.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is due to arrive in Washington Wednesday to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has said the United States will work with other nations to tighten sanctions against Mr. Assad's government and deny it arms in the absence of a United Nations resolution.


    Undated citizen journalism image provided by Local Coordination Committees in Syria shows mourners gathered around bodies of people allegedly killed by Syrian government forces in Maarat al-Noman, Idlib province, February 8, 2012. (AP photo)

    The White House said Tuesday Washington is exploring the possibility of providing humanitarian aid to Syrians, in cooperation with U.S. allies. Western powers and Arab nations have repeatedly said they do not want to intervene militarily in the Syrian crisis. The Obama administration shut its embassy in Damascus Monday as part of a Western and Arab campaign to isolate Assad and pressure him into stopping the crackdown.

    France, Italy and Spain recalled their ambassadors to Syria on Tuesday, citing the Assad government's continued repression. The six Gulf Cooperation Council states, led by Saudi Arabia, also withdrew their ambassadors from Damascus and expelled Syrian envoys in response to the worsening violence.

    The moves came after Russia and China vetoed a Western and Arab-backed U.N. Security Council resolution that would have endorsed an Arab League plan for Assad to step aside, order his troops to stand down and enact democratic reforms. Moscow and Beijing said they blocked the measure because they perceived it as taking sides in a domestic conflict and providing a possible pretext for foreign military intervention.

    The Syrian government blames the mayhem on "armed terrorists" bent on dividing and sabotaging the country.
    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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    Companion Posts:



    Quote Originally Posted by vector7 View Post
    Companion Threads:



    Soros, Obama & ‘Responsibility to Protect’

    Posted by Dave Reaboi Mar 31st 2011 at 11:46 am in Featured Story, Islam, Islamic extremism, Middle East, sharia | Comments (23)

    Earlier this week, Frank Gaffney appeared on Fox Business News with Eric Bolling to discuss the civil war in Libya. First, Aaron Klein of WND reports on Obama national security adviser Samantha Power’s relationship with far-leftist George Soros and their common affinity for the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ provision in the UN’s Libya resolution. The left correctly sees this ‘Responsibility to Protect’ at least as a blow to American sovereignty; it’s time all Americans get to know the implications of this dangerous new precedent.
    Also featured in the clip is San Francisco attorney Yasser Tabbara, appearing as a representative for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an unindicted coconspirator in the largest terrorist finance trial in American history. Tabbara– just back from Egypt– accuses Frank of demonizing the Muslim Brotherhood.

    U.S. military beginning review of Syria options


    By Barbara Starr

    Although the U.S. focus remains on exerting diplomatic and economic pressure on Syria, the Pentagon and the U.S. Central Command have begun a preliminary internal review of U.S. military capabilities, CNN has learned.

    The options are being prepared in the event President Barack Obama were to call for them. Two senior administration officials who spoke about the review to CNN emphasized that U.S. policy for now remains the use of non-military options.

    The focus on diplomatic options was underscored by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.

    "Before we start talking about military options, we very much want to ensure that we have exhausted all the political, economic and diplomatic means at our disposal," Ambassador Susan Rice said on CNN's “Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

    The president has also said that the U.S. is working on non-military options first.

    "I think it is very important for us to try to resolve this without recourse to outside military intervention, and I think that's possible," Obama said in an interview with NBC News that aired during the Super Bowl on Sunday.

    But the military is beginning to look at what can be done. One of the senior U.S. officials called the effort a “scoping exercise” to see what capabilities are available given other U.S. military commitments in the region.

    Both officials pointed out that this type of planning exercise is typical for the Pentagon, which would not want to be in the position of not having options for the president, if and when they are asked for.

    It would be Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, who would provide details on what U.S. military assets are available, what missions they could perform if asked, and what risks U.S. forces might face.

    “The Pentagon is closely monitoring developments in Syria. It wouldn’t be doing its job if it didn’t put some ideas on the table,” one of the senior U.S. officials told CNN. “But absolutely no decisions have been made on military support for Syria.”

    The two officials were not willing to be identified because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

    Typically those types of options are held by the Pentagon as very preliminary plans and not even forwarded to the White House unless asked for. If asked, plans are then fleshed out with specific units to support them.

    In this type of analysis being done, the military would typically look at all options ranging from humanitarian relief, to support for opposition groups, as well as outright military strikes, although that is an unlikely option, both officials said.

    “This remains a campaign to apply economic and diplomatic pressure,” the first official said.

    The military’s work to analyze potential military options for Syria has been quietly going on for several weeks, two administration officials confirm to CNN. The bulk of the analysis is being done by staff of General Mattis, who would be the senior commander if the President were to order any action.

    Mattis’ analysis is being shared with General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who would then present options to the White House, if it came to that.

    “We don’t want to be in the position of suddenly dusting off some five year old plan,” one official said. The official emphasized the work is extremely preliminary but said the military would look at a full range of contingencies.

    Arizona Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services
    committee, told reporters Tuesday that the U.S. should consider "all options including arming the opposition."

    But U.S. officials said that adding weapons into the volatile and violent situation is not a viable option.

    "We never take anything off the table. The president does (or) doesn't. However, as the president himself made absolutely clear and as the secretary has continued to say, we don't think more arms into Syria is the answer," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.



    Former Russian Gen.: Russia Is ‘Defending the Entire World From Fascism,’ Is Ready to Use Military Power to Defend Iran, Syria




    Former member of Russian Joint Chiefs of Staff Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov appeared on Russia Today TV to boldly announce that Russia is “defending the entire world from Fascism” — waged, of course, by the U.S. and Israel — and that his country is ready to use military force to defend Iran and Syria from its aggressors. He added that an attack on Syria or Iran would be an indirect attack on Russia. The retired colonel also compared U.S. presence in Libya to Hitler and his armies’ aggression against Poland and later, Russia.

    The Following are excerpts from an interview with Ivashov on RT February 1, 2012. Translations provided by the ever-vigilant staff at MEMRI:

    Interviewer: “Dr. Leonid, do you think that these preparations and very large maneuvers, which will soon be conducted by Russia, are meant as preparation for war, or rather, a military strike against Iran?” […]

    Leonid Ivashov: “These maneuvers and training will demonstrate Russia’s readiness to use military power to defend its national interests and to bolster its political position. The maneuvers show that Russia does not want any military operations to be waged against Iran or Syria. I assume that the people in the West and in Israel who design the schemes for a large geopolitical operation in the greater Middle East region draw a direct connection between the situation in Syria and in Iran. Indeed, these two countries are allies, and both are considered guaranteed partners of Russia.

    The only question, therefore, is who they will try to destroy first as a stable country: Syria or Iran. […]

    “A strike against Syria or Iran is an indirect strike against Russia and its interests. Russia would lose important positions and allies in the Arab world. Therefore, by defending Syria, Russia is defending its own interests.

    “In addition, Russia is thus defending the entire world from Fascism. Everybody should acknowledge that Fascism is making strides on our planet. What they did in Libya is nearly identical to what Hitler and his armies did against Poland and then Russia. Today, therefore, Russia is defending the entire world from Fascism.”

    Watch Ivashov’s gobsmacking revelation below:

    #3304 - Former Member of Russian Joint Chiefs of Staff Col.-Gen. Leonid Ivashov: Russia Is Ready to Use Military Power to Defend Iran and Syria; Attack on Syria or Iran Is Indirect Attack on Russia; US in Libya Like Hitler in Poland

    Russia Today TV (Russia) - February 1, 2012 - 02:28


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    International 'militarisation' in Syria growing closer, warns US official

    The international community may be forced to 'militarise' the crisis in Syria unless president Bashar al-Assad stops the onsalught on his people, a senior US official warned on Wednesday.

    Jordanian riot policemen prevent Syrian protesters from approaching the Syrian embassy during a demonstration in the capital Amman Photo: KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images









    By Alex Spillius

    9:00PM GMT 08 Feb 2012



    The official from the State Department told The Daily Telegraph that while the White House wants to exhaust all its diplomatic options, the debate in Washington has shifted away from diplomacy and towards more robust action since Russia and China blocked a United Nations resolution condemning Syria.

    The Pentagon’s Central Command has begun a preliminary internal review of US military capabilities in the region, which one senior official called a “scoping exercise” that would provide options for the president if and when they were requested.

    The White House said it was talking to allies about holding a “Friends of Syria” meeting in the near future and was considering delivering humanitarian aid to affected areas in the country.

    “We are, of course, looking at humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, and we have for some time. We’re consulting with our international partners, and we anticipate this being one of the focuses of the discussions that we’ll have,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.

    Influential figures in Washington have recommended setting up a “humanitarian corridor” or safe haven, while others, such as Senator John McCain, have said it was time to consider arming the rebels of the Free Syrian Army.



    Any plan to supply aid or set up a buffer zone would involve a military dimension to protect aid convoys or vulnerable civilians.
    “The decision-makers have not determined we are at a point of no return,” the senior official told The Daily Telegraph. “There is still a window, it is just that that window is closing.
    “I don’t know how much longer it is going to go on before people start looking at what else is on the table, because nothing is off the table.
    “We definitely don’t want to militarise the situation. If it’s avoidable we are going to avoid it. But increasingly it looks like it may not be avoidable,” he said.
    “There is always hope that this can be solved without it turning into a full-scale civil war and without the use of force, but it really involves Bashar al-Assad receiving the wake-up call.” Any outside military involvement in Syria has been regarded as more difficult and more risky than the mission in Libya.
    It has a complex geography and ethnic mix and is the linchpin of a volatile region. But since the Russian veto at the UN, there is no doubting an extra urgency in the attitude of concerned governments and agencies.
    Navi Pillay, the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for swift action to safeguard Syrians targeted by the security forces.
    She stressed the “extreme urgency for the international community to cut through the politics and take effective action to protect the Syrian population”.

    You need to have the Adobe Flash Player 9.0.115 to view this content. Please click here to continue.

    An estimated 6,000 people have died since the start of the upheaval that began with protests in March 2011 amid the Arab Spring.
    Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, proposed holding a conference “as soon as possible” to “promote international understanding with all countries concerned”. He is due to hold further talks in Washington soon with Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State.
    Ünal Cevikoz, the Turkish ambassador to Britain, said delivering humanitarian aid could be discussed at the proposed conference, but like the Western powers, he said his country remained against military options, including arming the Free Syrian Army.
    He denied reports that discussions on military options between the US and Turkey were already under way.
    “Humanitarian aid may become necessary. There is growing scarcity of food that may lead to famine. It is a serious crime not only to kill but to create the conditions of exterminating a city and its people,” he added, referring to the city of Homs, which Mr Assad’s forces have bombarded for five days.
    The Turkish initiative would run parallel, he said, to the “Friends of Syria”, but it would aim to bring together a broader range of nations.
    “Today we are at a very critical juncture and the international community has to take the initiative and has to move forward with strong messages to the Syrian regime,” said Mr Cevikoz.
    Turkey, which has a 560-mile border with Syria, has been at the forefront of international criticism against Damascus and has become a haven for opposition activists. After 11 rounds of sanctions against Syria, the European Union is also discussing further sanctions, including freezing the assets of Syria’s central bank, banning the importation of Syrian phosphates and suspending trade in gold and other gems.
    “We’re trying to make things change,” said a senior EU official. “We’re facing a wall, and we have to find a way of climbing over that wall and moving ahead.”
    The opposition to Mr Assad has been calling for a humanitarian corridor or buffer zone or a Friends of Syria group for months. The Syrian National Council, the principal opposition body, endorsed military intervention in December.
    The Arab League has shown unprecedented initiative in drawing up a plan for democratic transition in Syria. Qatar, the current president of the 22-nation group, is rumoured to be secretly supplying rebels as it did in Libya.
    Radwan Ziadeh, a member of the SNC executive, said the US had to take a more prominent role. “Everyone is waiting for signals from Washington,” he said.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Russia is squaring up for a fight with America over Syria

    By Con Coughlin World Last updated: February 9th, 2012
    147 Comments Comment on this article


    Syrian government supporters welcome Sergei Lavrov in Damascus (Photo: AFP)


    Confirmation that the U.S. and its allies are studying their military options for helping the anti-Assad rebels in Syria is a worrying development on a number of levels, not least of which is the prospect of the West becoming embroiled in a direct confrontation with the Russians.

    As I have argued before, I think the West – and that includes Britain – needs to proceed with great caution before it gets too closely involved in the Syrian crisis. As with the Libya situation last year, we still have no clear idea who the rebels are in Syria, or what their ultimate objective might be.

    Homs, the centre of the anti-Assad rebellion, is a known centre for Islamist extremists, and if all Western intervention achieves is the replacement of the Assad regime with an Iranian-style Islamist dictatorship, then we will have scored a monumental own goal.

    Of deeper concern, though, is the possibility that the U.S. could find itself involved in a direct military confrontation with Russia over the future of Syria's destiny. We have been here before, of course, during the 1980s when, at the height of the Cold War, Moscow and Washington fought a proxy war over the fate of neighbouring Lebanon.

    Even though U.S. President Ronald Reagan deployed thousands of U.S. Marines to Beirut, the Americans were eventually sent packing. During that conflict Russia backed the Syrians, who in turn used the Iranian-backed Hizbollah militia to carry out a series of devastating terrorist attacks against the Americans, ultimately forcing them to withdraw their forces from Lebanon.

    The Cold War might be consigned to the history books, but a similar confrontation could easily arise if Washington decides to become engaged militarily in Syria to protect anti-government rebels.

    This week's visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Damascus has highlighted Syria's importance to Moscow. The Syrian port of Tartus is Russia's only military base outside the old Soviet Union and, at a time when the West is strengthening its ties throughout the Arab world, the Russians regard Syria as a vital strategic asset. Consequently any attempt by the Western powers to meddle in Syria's internal affairs is likely to prompt a robust response from Moscow.

    One of the reasons the Lebanese civil war dragged on for fifteen years was that the conflict ended up being caught in a turf war between Washington and Moscow. I fear a similar fate could soon befall Syria.

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    Zawahiri Urges Lebanon’s Muslims to Help Syrian Rebels

    إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية by Naharnet Newsdesk 12 hours ago
    Comment 31



    Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri voiced his support for Syria's uprising and urged Muslims in several countries, including Lebanon, to come to the aid of Syrian rebels confronting President Bashar Assad's forces.

    "I appeal to every Muslim and every free, honorable one in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon, to rise to help his brothers in Syria with all that he can," Zawahiri said in a new video message released on jihadist Internet forums, U.S. monitors SITE Intelligence said on Sunday.

    A Muslim should help the rebels “with his life, money, opinion, as well as information," he added.

    In the video titled "Onwards, Lions of Syria,” he criticized the Syrian regime for crimes against its citizens, and praised those rising up against the government.

    Zawahiri, shown in front of a green curtain in the video released Saturday which runs for over eight minutes, urged Syrians not to rely on the West or Arab governments, whom he said would impose a new regime subservient to the West.

    "Wounded Syria still bleeds day after day, while the butcher, son of the butcher Bashar bin Hafez, is not deterred to stop,” he said.

    Since March last year, Assad's government has carried out a bloody crackdown on an uprising in which more than 6,000 people have been killed.

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    Arab League urges UN to send troops into Syria


    The Arab League foreign ministers attend a meeting on Syria in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on February 12, 2012.

    Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:20PM
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    The Arab League has drafted a resolution on Syria that calls on the United Nations Security Council to send a joint UN-Arab League force into the country.

    Arab League officials said on Sunday the draft also calls for a halt to “all forms of diplomatic cooperation” with Syria and “tighter economic sanctions” against Damascus.

    The foreign ministers of the Arab organization met in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Sunday to discuss the situation in Syria.

    According to the draft resolution, the Arab League will “open communication channels with the Syrian opposition.”

    Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said during the Sunday meeting the Arab League should “give all forms of support” to the opposition.

    Meanwhile, France and the United States have proposed a plan to hold a meeting of the so-called “Friends of Syria” group in Tunisia on February 24.

    Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Ben Abdessalam announced on Sunday Tunis would host the meeting. The new Arab League draft resolution has welcomed the move.

    The Arab League also discussed the future of its observer mission in Syria on Sunday.

    On January 28, Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi said in a statement the organization has decided to “immediately stop the work of the Arab League's mission to Syria” due to “the critical deterioration of the situation” in the country.

    The observer mission, headed by Sudanese General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, had been in Syria since December 26, 2011.

    Arab League officials said on Sunday Dabi has resigned and that Nabil al-Arabi has proposed former Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul Illah al-Khatib as the new head of the mission.

    Dabi said he had performed his job “with full integrity and transparency” but he would not “work here again.”

    The Arab League meeting in Cairo comes two days after Syrian officials said 28 people were killed and dozens of others injured in two car bombings at security compounds in the northwestern city of Aleppo on Friday.

    On Saturday, Syrian state media said an armed “terrorist group” assassinated Brigadier General Issa al-Khawli, who was also the director of Hamish hospital, outside his home in the Ruknaddin district of the capital Damascus.

    The West and the Syrian opposition accuse the government of being behind the months-long unrest, but Damascus says “outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups” are responsible for the turmoil, which it says is being orchestrated from abroad.

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    Nuechterlein: Are we headed to another Gulf war?








    By: DONALD NUECHTERLEIN | Richmond Times Dispatch
    Published: February 13, 2012
    » Comments | Post a Comment
    Twenty-one years ago, in January 1991, President George H.W. Bush sent several hundred thousand troops to the Persian Gulf to force Iraq's dictator, Saddam Hussein, to abandon his brutal invasion and occupation of neighboring Kuwait.
    Nine years ago, in March 2003, George W. Bush launched an invasion of Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime and prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.
    Now, Barack Obama faces a new, but different Persian Gulf crisis: Should he acquiesce in, or try to prevent, Israel from launching a pre-emptive attack on Iran in order to stop its nuclear arms program?
    If Iran refuses to negotiate an arrangement that resolves the nuclear weapons issue, should Obama launch a preventive war? Such action would resemble the course pursued by George W. Bush in Iraq in 2003, which Obama strongly criticized.
    Two weeks ago, Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, told a group of top military and intelligence officials that air strikes against Iran's nuclear sites were likely, because time was running out for stopping its nuclear progress. "Whoever says 'later' may find that later is too late," he warned, according to The Washington Post. Leon Panetta, U.S. defense secretary, commented that Israel may attack Iran in the next few months.
    Why is the Middle East again churning toward military confrontation?


    • Iran's nuclear ambitions. All Arab countries, especially in the Persian Gulf region, live in fear of Iran's hegemonic ambitions. This was reinforced on Feb. 3 when Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned the United States and Israel against challenging Iran, declaring that it would never curtail its nuclear program. In defiant terms he asserted, "Iran will not withdraw," adding that Western hegemony will be discredited and "the hegemony of Iran will be promoted," the Associated Press reported.


    • Economic sanctions. Recently imposed, tough economic sanctions on Iran are having a serious impact on the Islamic regime. The question is whether Ayatollah Khamenei will be persuaded to negotiate, or to precipitate a confrontation. The Obama administration believes that, given enough time, sanctions will give so-called moderates in Tehran the leverage to alter its nuclear policy. Israel thinks sanctions are a waste of time and that force will be needed to persuade Iran to give up its quest for nuclear arms.



    • Syria's incipient revolution. Syria's Shiite-dominated regime, led by Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Iran, is in danger of being ousted by a Sunni majority population demanding freedom. The Syrian protesters have the support of Arab countries and neighboring Turkey. Russia, however, supports Assad and recently vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for him to step down. If the Assad government is ousted, as is widely expected, Tehran would lose an ally. Turkey would then become a larger player in the Middle East and expand its influence in Iraq, as well as Syria and Lebanon.



    • U.S. presidential election. The last thing Barack Obama wants in this election year is another Middle East war. Americans are tired of war and want their president, whoever that is next year, to concentrate on fixing the economy and providing jobs. Were Obama provoked into a new Persian Gulf war, it probably would cost him the election.

    From Israel's point of view, the U.S. election opens an opportunity to inject the Iran nuclear threat into the campaign and persuade Obama to make a decision on using force. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was loudly cheered in a joint session of Congress last May, may think he can generate enough political pressure to get an OK from Obama to support Israel's bombing of Iran's nuclear plants. He plans to visit the United States next month.

    Newt Gingrich, the most pro-Israel of the Republican presidential candidates, is a case in point. His political action committee received $10 million in campaign contributions from one Las Vegas casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson, who is a strong supporter of Israel. Gingrich has long urged military action against Iran, as he did against Iraq during the Bush administration.
    Here is one of several scenarios now facing Obama's national security team:
    Israel bombs Iran's nuclear facilities without Obama's blessing, and Iran retaliates by using its navy to mine the Strait of Hormuz, effectively closing the key waterway to international shipping. The U.S. Navy uses minesweepers and other means to clear a pathway through the mines, and one of them is hit by an Iranian missile and sunk. Tehran then claims it violated Iran's territorial waters.
    Question: Should Obama call for urgent negotiations to avoid war, or authorize the Navy to bomb not only Iran's ships but also its share installations? That choice has echoes of the 1964 Tonkin Gulf crisis in Vietnam, which started a war in Southeast Asia.
    Although the U.S. government cannot instruct Israel on how to protect its vital national interests, it does have a responsibility to the American people to consider U.S. vital interests and avoid being led into another Gulf War if there is a possibility of avoiding it through non-military means. Obama and leading Republicans should choose that course.

    Donald Nuechterlein is a political scientist and lecturer who lives near Charlottesville and is the author of "National Interests and Presidential Leadership: Setting of Priorities." Contact him at nuechtd@cstone.net.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Plea to U.N.: Send peacekeepers to Syria


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    Published: Feb. 13, 2012 at 3:00 AM

    CAIRO, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- The Arab League pleaded for a U.N. Syrian peacekeeping mission as the Assad regime was reported giving gas masks to its soldiers and readying chemical weapons.
    The league's appeal to the United Nations' Security Council -- immediately opposed by Damascus -- asked the council to authorize a joint Arab-U.N. force to "supervise the execution of a cease-fire."
    During a meeting in Cairo Sunday, the league also called on Arab nations to sever diplomatic relations with Syria to pressure the regime of President Bashar Assad to end his bloody crackdown the opposition said has killed more than 500 people since Feb. 4 alone.
    Damascus "completely rejected" the proposal, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported Sunday night.
    Syrian Ambassador to the Arab League Yousef Ahmad said his regime was "not interested" in any league resolution decided in its absence. The league suspended Syria's membership in November.
    The league ministers discussed a U.N.-Arab force of 3,000 observers, pan-Arab TV network al-Jazeera reported -- far larger than 200 or so observers in the league mission that was suspended last month.
    The United Nations has historically deployed armed peacekeepers only with the host country's consent and when it believes there is peace to keep, al-Jazeera and The New York Times said.
    Mohammed Ahmed al-Dabi, the controversial Sudanese general who led the earlier league mission, resigned from that post Sunday, contending he performed his role "with full integrity and transparency" but alleging the situation was skewed.
    He was accused by opposition activists of bias toward the regime.
    League Secretary-General Nabil al-Araby recommended appointing former Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul Ilah Khatib, who was named U.N. special envoy to Libya last year, as Dabi's replacement.
    U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had no immediate comment on the league's actions Sunday, but urged the world body last week to contribute to an expanded form of the Arab observer mission, which was set up to monitor Syria's compliance with a November cease-fire agreement that was never implemented.
    He called the violence carried out on Syrian civilians "unacceptable."
    The U.N. General Assembly planned a public debate Monday on Syria, including a draft Saudi proposal calling for support of the Arab League plan, an assembly statement said.
    U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay was to report on Syria's human-rights conduct.
    Arab governments planned to put forward a General Assembly resolution condemning Syria and calling on U.N. members to endorse the league's call for a national unity government in Syria.
    General Assembly resolutions are non-binding.
    Tunisia Sunday offered to host a meeting of a "Friends of Syria" contact group, similar to the international alliance that brought pressure on Libya, organized by Arab and Western nations. The meeting would take place Feb. 24.
    Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, a key player in the league's efforts to bring peace to Syria, said he backed the proposal.
    Syria broke a half-day lull in the regime's assault on the western city of Homs, near Lebanon, Sunday afternoon, killing at least 14 people, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights opposition group said. Twenty-six people were killed altogether in Syria Sunday, including eight government soldiers in Hama, it said.
    The death toll is difficult to confirm because Syria has barred most foreign reporters from entering the country.
    The Syrian army began distributing gas masks to its soldiers Sunday, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported, while opposition activists said Assad forces transferred grenades and mortars containing chemical agents to a Homs school building, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
    Both newspapers said opposition figures were concerned the moves could signal the regime's intention to use chemical weapons against its citizens.
    Damascus had no immediate comment on the reports.


    Topics: Ban Ki, Sheik Hamad, Khalifa Al-Thani

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    UN: Crimes against humanity continue in Syria






    UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. human rights chief said Monday that the Syrian government's violent crackdown on civilian protesters indicates crimes against humanity have taken place since last March and are continuing.
    Navi Pillay expressed serious concern that the deliberate stirring of sectarian tensions may plunge Syria into civil war. She again appealed for President Bashar Assad's government to be referred to the International Criminal Court.
    Standing before the 193-member General Assembly, Pillay said the Security Council's failure to agree on action against Syria appears to have emboldened the government "to launch an all-out assault in an effort to crush dissent with overwhelming force."
    She echoed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's warning that council inaction must not be used as a a license to step up deadly attacks on civilians, and she decried the ongoing assault on the central city of Homs, which reportedly has killed 300 people in the last 10 days.
    "The nature and scale of abuses by the Syrian government indicate that crimes against humanity are likely to have been committed since March 2011," Pillay said.
    "Independent, credible and corroborating accounts indicate that these abuses have taken place as part of a widespread and systematic attack on civilians," she said. "Furthermore, the breadth and patterns of attacks by military and security forces on civilians, and the widespread destruction of homes, hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure indicate approval or complicity by authorities at the highest level."
    Pillay stepped to the podium after a lengthy failed attempt by Syria to prevent her appearance.
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    Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari argued Monday's meeting was illegal because the General Assembly resolution establishing the Geneva-based Human Rights Council only allows the human rights chief to report once during its session. Ja'afari called for an independent legal opinion, saying there was a suspicion of partiality by Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser. Ja'afari, however, refused to call for a vote, and Al-Nasser gaveled the meeting to order.
    The General Assembly is expected to consider a nonbinding resolution similar to the Security Council resolution that Russia and China vetoed, backing an Arab League plan that calls for Assad to hand power to his vice president and allow creation of a unity government to clear the way for elections. There are no vetoes in the assembly, and diplomats said a vote could take place late this week.
    Pillay said credible reports indicate more than 5,400 people were killed last year, including military personnel who refused to shoot civilians.
    Due to the extreme difficulty in verifying events on the ground, "it has become almost impossible for my office to update the death toll in the past two months," she said. "However, we are certain that the number of dead and injured continue to rise every day."
    She said tens of thousands of people, including children, have been arrested, more than 18,000 reportedly are still arbitrarily detained, and thousands more are reported missing. In addition, she said, 25,000 people are estimated to have sought refuge in neighboring countries, and more than 70,000 are estimated to be internally displaced.
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    World News


    Iran helping Syria bypass sanctions


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    Published: Feb. 12, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    TEHRAN, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Leaked documents suggest Iran has agreed to help Syria get around international sanctions imposed against the country for killing civilians.
    The documents, obtained through a cyberattack by the hacker group Anonymous, detail interaction between the two countries, including the transfer of more than $1 billion from Iran to Syria, Haaertz reported Sunday.
    "Iran has promised to relay to Syria its know-how on ways for transferring funds from the country abroad and back, based on the experience Iran has accumulated in this field," one memo dated Dec. 8 said.
    This document lists ways Iran would help Syria, which is undergoing an economic crisis due to sanctions imposed by the Arab League, the United States, Turkey and the European Union. The European Union has imposed an oil embargo on Syria. Roughly 20 percent of Syria's gross domestic product comes from oil and 90 percent of Syrian oil is exported to European countries.
    Iran paid Syria $1 billion for staples like olive oil, meat and fruit, though it is unclear if Iran actually needs the products or if the country is trying to boost Syria's economy, Haaertz said.
    A second document from Dec. 14, says "the central banks of Syria and Iran agreed to use banks in Russia and China to ease the transfer of funds between the two countries, in view of the current conditions in Syria and Iran."



    Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-Ne...#ixzz1mIbgmKAo
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    Default Re: Syria

    Companion Post:




    Tuesday, 14 February 2012 05:41
    RUSSIA FLOPS SUDDENLY ON SYRIAN REGIME CHANGE -- MULTI-NATIONAL INVASION IMMINENT




    It all started early on this morning when Zero Hedge reported that oil trading had been halted at the CME. Later in the afternoon they posted this explanation.

    Today's Black Gold Swan - Presenting The Reason Why The CME's Crude Market Was Halted For Over One Hour

    Zero Hedge handled this masterfully and with great professionalism.

    NOW, here's the back story.

    Also today we learn that three Israeli embassies were attacked with explosives over the weekend. There are also credible stories saying that Saudi armor is positioning on the Jordanian border for a run to Damascus (only 140 miles) after promising military intervention within 72 hours (starting yesterday)...

    Then suddenly today, Russia reverses position on regime change in Syria. That remains a huge mystery at this writing but it is reason to be very alert. What could Russia do/offer to keep Iran from joining the war? Iran is on the offense on many levels, and winning. I seriously doubt if Russia has abandoned Iran.

    I know that I was not the only one who reacted from the gut, because a suspension of oil trades -- just prior to a multi-national invasion of Syria -- would be one of the clearest "duck and cover" moments I could think of. They will halt oil trades immediately if regime change is implemented or attempted. Count on it.

    What happened today (Monday) may have been a dry run... for Tuesday or Wednesday

    Saudi Arabia now has incentive to push for Assad's downfall. An emboldened Iran has unleashed an uprising in Saudi Arabia which today -- for the first time in history -- saw (Shia)Saudi citizens shooting at (Sunni) Saudi troops/police. It was a relief to see that France today issued a strong warning against military intervention in Syria but that may have been a cover.

    We will have all the related and supporting stories on the World News Desk Tuesday morning.

    So this halt in trading (a real computer glitch) the timing of which no doubt took a couple of years off of many people's lives, was coincidence. Isn't it wonderful to live in such an overly complex world? But if trading halts again in the next 48 hours, I'm starting a fallout shelter. I feel every one of my 61 years today.

    I'd say "Pass the popcorn", but suddenly I'm not hungry. -- MCR

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
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    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

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    We’ll so weaken your
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



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    Pawns are being moved quickly, and illegally it appears to me.

    The global chess match has been going on for a long, long time, but it seems like we're coming to end game to me.
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