Thursday, August 2, 2012

Iran and Syria items - as far as Iran , sadly an attack being greenlighted by the US may be driven by how the fall turns for Europe and their financial crisis , as well as the state of affairs in the US leading up to the election. Syria still the same mess it was yesterday , the West angling to arm rebels taking part in the same types of war crimes as Assad....

Kofi Annan resigns as Syria envoy

Syrian peace mission impossible because of militarisation on the ground and lack of international unity, says former head of UN

Kofi Annan quits as international envoy to Syria. Link to this video
International disarray over the bloody crisis in Syria has been starkly underlined when the UN envoy Kofi Annan announced that he was resigning because of the failure of what he said had become a "mission impossible".
The former UN secretary general said it had been a "sacred duty" to take up the position five months ago to try to find a solution to the conflict. But growing militarisation and a lack of unity among world powers had changed the circumstances.
"At a time when we need – when the Syrian people desperately need action – there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the security council," Annan said on Thursday in a sometimes bitter and frustrated statement he made at the UN's Geneva headquarters.
Annan's six-point plan for peace in Syria was already moribund but his dramatic resignation will serve as its death certificate. It leaves the international community without an effective grip on the most violent chapter of the Arab spring, now morphing into a civil war that has already cost an estimated 20,000 lives.
Sluggish and ineffective diplomacy has been outpaced by a fast-moving and increasingly dangerous situation with the current focus on fighting for Aleppo, the country's second city.
Ban ki-Moon, the current UN chief, said he would appoint another envoy when Annan leaves at the end of August. The White House said his resignation showed the failure of Russia and China to act at the UN security council. "President Assad, despite his promise to abide by the Kofi Annan plan, continues to brutally murder his own people," spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One.
Britain said Annan's scheme remained valid. But it is unclear what any envoy can do without any readiness by Assad's regime or the rebels to negotiate a peaceful transition that would stop the killing.
David Cameron highlighted the difficulty after his talks with the Russian president Vladimir Putin in London, when he called for tougher UN resolutions to pressure Assad over the "appalling bloodshed" in Syria. Russia has already used its security council veto three times to block any UN action and Putin gave no sign he was ready to change position.
Assad, Annan said, would have to leave office "sooner or later" – a position that was not endorsed by the security council at a meeting in Geneva on 30 June.
Syria said it regretted his departure.
Critics had assailed Annan's plan from the start on the grounds that it allowed Assad to pay lip service to diplomacy and haggle over the terms while pursuing a violent crackdown on the opposition.
Apart from a few days in April, the Syrian government ignored calls for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of forces from cities. Few prisoners were released, access for humanitarian workers and the media was limited and political dialogue proved impossible as positions polarised.
UN monitors charged with observing the ceasefire moved agonisingly slowly, taking six weeks to deploy to full strength of 300 men who could report on the aftermath of increasingly frequent massacres but were powerless to stop them.
If the failure was of the mission rather than the man, it will still be a blow for the veteran Ghanaian diplomat who has often been criticised for his role as head of UN peacekeeping operations at the time of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and the massacre of Bosnian Muslims by Serbs at Srebrenica the following year.
"You have to understand: as an envoy, I can't want peace more than the protagonists, more than the security council or the international community for that matter," he said . "My central concern from the start has been the welfare of the Syrian people. Syria can still be saved from the worst calamity – if the international community can show the courage and leadership necessary to compromise on their partial interests for the sake of the Syrian people."
Ban, he said, might find a replacement. "Let me say that the world is full of crazy people like me, so don't be surprised if someone else decides to take it on."
Annan foreshadowed his resignation in an interview with the Guardian last month when he complained of "destructive competition" between world powers over Syria.


Former Mossad Chief To Iranians: ‘Be Fearful Of The Next 12 Weeks’

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Israel sees window of opportunity for Iran strike closing
Paul Joseph Watson
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Speculation that Israel and the United States may decide to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities have heightened after former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy told the New York Times, “If I were an Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks.”
The NY Times report speculates that the window of opportunity to strike is closing, partly because of Israel’s aversion to winter battles and partly because Benjamin Netanyahu fears that whoever wins the US presidential election, impetus will be lost.
“Mr. Netanyahu feels that he will have less leverage if President Obama is re-elected, and that if Mr. Romney were to win, the new president would be unlikely to want to take on a big military action early in his term,” states the report.
As we reported yesterday, according to Israeli sources, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also recently told military chiefs to expect “war within weeks.”
Whether speculation that conflict could break out over the next two months is merely Israeli propaganda remains to be seen. Experts have noted that the rhetoric could merely be a bargaining tool to force the Iranians to submit to tighter controls over their nuclear energy program.
Alongside the narrative that President Barack Obama has given the green light for a strike against Iran before the election is a more substantive scenario that suggests any decision on attacking Iran will not be made until at least spring 2013.
This delay was based on a war simulation which discovered that any attack on Iran would immediately be met with an Iranian missile launch that would kill 200 Americans, a price deemed not worth paying by U.S. generals.
During the same meeting, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak also acknowledged that Israel would not act alone in striking Iran before the U.S. presidential elections in November, according to Haaretz’ Amir Oren, meaning that, “For all intents and purposes, it was an announcement that this war was being postponed until at least the spring of 2013.”
Congressman Ron Paul responded to a new sanctions bill passed yesterday that punishes banks, insurance companies and shippers that help Tehran sell its oil by pointing out that Iran is a third world nation with no significant air force or navy that poses no threat to the United States.
“We have not been provoked, they are not a threat to our national security, and we should not be doing this we’ve been doing it too long – for the last 10,15 years we’re just obsessed with this idea that we go to war and try to solve all the problems of the world – at the same time it is bankrupting us,” said Paul.

and on Syria, note the following......

US Okays Non-Profit for Arming Syrian Rebels

by Jason Ditz, August 01, 2012
The rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) has scored a major win, as more details emerged of a recent Obama Administration decision to license a non-profit organization explicitly to fundraise for the FSA . Turns out that it goes beyond logistics and allows them to buy them weaponry.
The “Syrian Support Group” has been one of the key solicitors for pro-rebel lobbies, seeking to push the Obama Administration into invading Syria and installing the rebels as the new government. The group says many prospective donors had been worried about their plan to start buying weapons directly for the rebels, but that the Treasury Department’s license to do so would convince them it was not illegal.
A top lobbyist for the group, former NATO official Brian Sayers, says that the group has “vetted” several portions of the FSA which would be recipients of the weapons, and the group is still looking into the legal question of what happens if the arms end up in the hands of the various al-Qaeda style militant groups that are fighting alongside the FSA.

Traditionally, foreign non-profits are designed for providing education or humanitarian aid in other countries. The decision to expand this to include weapons for administration-favored rebel factions is sure to be controversial, which is likely a big part of why the decision, along with several others aimed at “aiding” the rebels, have been done in a secretive manner.
and two wrongs still don't make one right.....

Regime loyalists 'executed' in Syria's Aleppo
Video of apparent execution emerges as fierce fighting continues over control of the country's largest city.
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2012 04:01
Video has emerged from Syria which appears to show rebels executing regime loyalists in the embattled city of Aleppo.
The men, allegedly members of the Shabiha, or armed groups who have assisted in the government's crackdown, are lined up and shot at point blank range.
The narrator in the video, uploaded to YouTube, says the men are from the Barri clan, whom the rebels accuse of murder.
The development comes as fierce fighting rages for control of Syria's largest city, with rebel fighters putting up determined resistance to an army counter-offensive launched on Saturday.
Nationwide, at least 135 people were killed in violence on Wednesday - 74 civilians, 43 soldiers and 18 rebels, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
On Tuesday, 124 people were killed nationwide, around half of them in Aleppo, it said.
Damascus violence
Troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad killed at least 35 people on Wednesday, mostly unarmed civilians, when they shelled and overran a suburb of the capital Damascus, residents and activist organisations said.
"The tanks and troops left around 4pm. When the streets were clear we found the bodies of at least 35 men," a resident, who gave his name as Fares, said by phone from Jdeidet Artouz, southwest of Damascus.
"Almost all of them were executed with bullets to their face, head and neck in homes, gardens and basements."
Fares, who did not give his last name for fear of retribution by Assad's forces, said soldiers from the Fourth Division, a praetorian guard unit under the command of Assad's brother Maher, came into his house.
"They examined my ID and let me go. They seem to have been looking for activists or young men with a certain profile to execute," he said.
He said the bodies were collected at the Omar bin al-Khattab mosque and buried in a mass grave dug by a bulldozer volunteered by the owner of nearby farmland.
"There are more bodies in al-Sahl area but we could not reach them because there is an army roadblock there," he said.
Another resident of the suburb said the total number of dead was at least 50.
Rami Abdelrahman, head of the SOHR, said 26 of 35 bodies his organisation tallied in Jdeidet Artouz have been identified and the victims were overwhelmingly civilians.

Air attacks on Aleppo
Separately, the UN said its military observers in Syria had seen the military use a fighter jet to strike the rebels in Aleppo, who were now armed with tanks.
"The observers now have confirmed information that the opposition is in possession of heavy weapons including tanks in Aleppo," Martin Nesirky, UN spokesman, said at the UN headquarters on Wednesday.
The UN observer mission also reported seeing a fighter jet attacking the city in a field visit to the city on Tuesday.
In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria
AFP correspondents on the ground have reported that rebels have captured a number of tanks, and some armoured units have defected with their vehicles.
Nesirky stressed that Ban Ki-moon, the UN chief, wants united international pressure on both sides in the civil war.
He said pressure should be brought to bear on "not just the Syrian government forces - who of course bear the lion's share of the responsibility for what is happening - but also on the opposition forces, to ensure that they do heed the calls, that they do stop the fighting".
The FSA's military chief in Aleppo, Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Oqaidi, said the rebels had "thousands" of fighters in the city.
"The regime says it is fighting 'terrorist groups'. We tell the regime that we will chase them because they are the terrorists," Oqaidi told AFP.
"We will go after them in the whole of Aleppo, until the city is liberated."
'Victory possible'
Rebel commander Ferzat Abdel Nasser, an army general who defected a month ago, said: "The most important thing is to take over the intelligence branches. If these sites fall, victory is possible."
Kassem Saadeddine, FSA spokesman, said the rebels controlled half of Aleppo city and most of its province.
"We hope to create a safe zone in Aleppo and [the northwestern province of] Idlib," on the border with Turkey, Saadeddine said. Idlib and Aleppo are northern Syria's two main cities.

A safe zone would enable the rebels to bring in weapons more easily from nearby Turkey, and to set up a more organised military structure.
The World Food Programme said it had sent food assistance for distribution to 28,000 people in Aleppo over the next few days.
"The humanitarian situation is deteriorating in Aleppo and food needs are growing rapidly," the UN agency said.

The UN says that some 200,000 of the city's estimated 2.7 million population have fled their homes, many of them taking refuge in schools and other public buildings.
Government in exile
The FSA responded angrily to the announcement by a civilian dissident group in Cairo on Tuesday that it intended to set up a government in exile.
"This government in exile was stillborn because it was made by a single group that does not represent the whole of the opposition," the FSA spokesman told AFP.

Haytham al-Maleh, a veteran human rights activist, had said that he had been entrusted with forming a government-in exile, adding that he would consult "with the opposition inside and outside".
For his part, Assad said on Wednesday that the army was fighting for the nation's future.
He said the campaign to crush the uprising, which is now in its 17th month, was vital to Syria's future.
"The army is engaged in a crucial and heroic battle ... on which the destiny of the nation and its people rests," Assad said, in a speech carried by the official SANA news agency.
"The enemy is among us today, using agents to destabilise the country, the security of its citizens... and continues to exhaust our economic and scientific resources."
The US mocked Assad as "cowardly" for not delivering his speech to mark armed forces day in public.
"We think it's cowardly quite frankly to have a man who's hiding out of sight be exhorting his armed forces to continue to slaughter the civilians of his own country," Patrick Ventrell, a US state department spokesman, said.

"We think it's despicable to be exhorting his armed forces to continue this slaughter, and this bloodshed."
Lebanese deportation
In another development on Wednesday, Lebanon deported 14 Syrians despite the violence over the border, drawing criticism from human rights activists.
The Lebanese authorities said the reasons for the expulsions were not political but a Human Rights Watch representative in Beirut said some of the deportees had expressed feared of persecution on their return.
"Fourteen men were deported to Syria today, despite the fact that four of them had asked not to be deported for fear of persecution if handed over to the Syrian authorities," the HRW representative told AFP.
One of them might be a political activist, the representative said, noting that the detainee had contacted HRW prior to being handed over to Syrian authorities at the border and expressed fear about what might happen to him.
But Lebanese General Security official told AFP that those deported were wanted for common law not political offences.
"These people were handed over to the Syrian authorities because they had problems with the judiciary and had committed crimes, and as far as we know they were not political activists," the official said.
"If they were, we would not have deported them."
and the US probably has CIA shoes and Special /forces boots on the ground in Turkey , Jordan and perhaps even Syria.....

Obama inks 'secret order' to aid Syria rebels
New order broadly permits CIA and other US agencies to support rebels seeking to depose Bashar al-Assad from power.
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2012 09:26

US and Western officials have noted improvements in the coherence of the Syrian armed opposition [AFP]
US President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorising US support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, Reuters news agency said quoting sources familiar with the matter.
Obama's order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence "finding", broadly permits the CIA and other US agencies to provide aid that could help the rebels dislodge Assad from power.
The shift towards supporting Assad's armed opponents intensified following last month's failure of the UN Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against the Damascus government.
The full extent of clandestine support that agencies like the CIA might be providing also is unclear. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined comment on the matter.
The White House has apparently stopped short of giving the rebels lethal weapons, even as some US allies have been doing just that.
US and European officials have said that there have been noticeable improvements in the coherence and effectiveness of Syrian rebel groups in the past few weeks. That represents a significant change in assessments of the rebels by Western officials, who previously characterised Assad's opponents as a disorganised.
Overt support
Separately from the president's secret order, the Obama administration has stated publicly that it is providing some backing for Assad's opponents.
The State Department said on Wednesday the US government had set aside a total of $25m for "non-lethal" assistance to the rebels.
A US official said that was mostly for communications equipment, including encrypted radios.

The State Department also says the US has set aside $64m in humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people, including contributions to the World Food Program, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other aid agencies.
'Nerve centre'
A US government source acknowledged that under provisions of the presidential finding, the US was collaborating with a secret command centre operated by Turkey and its allies.
Last week, Reuters reported that, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey had established a secret base near the Syrian border to help direct vital military and communications support to Assad's opponents.

This "nerve centre" is in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 100km from the Syrian border, which is also home to Incirlik, a US airbase where US military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence.
In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria
Turkish authorities are said to be increasingly involved in providing Syrian rebels with training and possibly equipment.
European government sources said wealthy families in Saudi Arabia and Qatar were providing significant financing to the rebels. Senior officials of the Saudi and Qatari governments have publicly called for Assad's departure.
On Tuesday, reports emerged that the Free Syrian Army had obtained nearly two dozen surface-to-air missiles, weapons that could be used against Assad's helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.
Syrian government armed forces have employed such air power more extensively in recent days.
NBC network said the shoulder-fired missiles, also known as MANPADs, had been delivered to the rebels via Turkey.
On Wednesday, however, Bassam al-Dada, a political adviser to the Free Syrian Army, denied the NBC report, telling the Arabic-language TV network Al-Arabiya that the group had "not obtained any such weapons at all".
US government sources said they could not confirm the MANPADs deliveries, but could not rule them out either.
Current and former US and European officials previously said that weapons supplies, which were being organised and financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, were largely limited to guns and a limited number of anti-tank weapons, such as bazookas.