Thursday, September 6, 2012

Syria proxy war and Iran preemptive attack updates - September 6 , 2012

Syria “Regime Change”: The US-NATO-UN Sponsored Brahimi Plan

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Thierry Meyssan
Voltaire Network
September 6, 2012
In the aftermath of the second Russian-Chinese veto which formally prohibited foreign intervention in Syria on February 4, the West feigned seeking peace while actively organizing a vast secret war. On the diplomatic front, they appeared to accept the Lavrov-Annan Plan, even as these same countries were facilitating the movement into Syria of tens of thousands of mercenaries and while UN Observers were escorting the leaders of the Free Syrian Army to get them through the roadblocks.
The July 18th attack that decapitated the Syrian military command was intended to open the gates of Damascus for these Contras as part of the West’s pursuit of “regime change.” This did not happen. Given the failure of these forces on the ground, and in open contempt of the third Russian-Chinese veto, the Western allies took things to the next level. Not being able to accomplish “regime change“, the strategic choice is to sew chaos. They therefore sabotaged the Lavrov-Annan Plan and proclaimed their intention to assassinate President Bashar al-Assad. The speeches of Obama and Hollande, both of which delivered sharp ultimatums on Assad’s hypothetical first-use of chemical weapons (in ways flagrantly reminiscent of the Bush Administration’s lies about Iraq) confirm that all forms of war are in play.
The latest operation commenced with organized leaks by the press. Reuters [1], NBC [2], Le Parisien [3], Le Canard Enchaîné [4], The Sunday Times [5], and Bild am Sonntag [6] revealed that Barack Obama had authorized covert military intervention months before and that the U.S., Turkey, France, Britain and Germany were acting in concert. The press announced that the secret war had been coordinated from headquarters established at the NATO base in Incirlik, Turkey.
Then the U.S. presidential order was revealed, Kofi Annan resigned from his mission. By his account, it would be futile to demand a ceasefire at the Security Council when the leading Council members were openly identifying themselves as belligerants. The Special Envoy of the U.N. and the Arab League clearly stated that it would be impossible for anyone henceforth to proceed with a peace mission given that the mission itself was illusory because of what he euphemistically termed the “disunity” within the Security Council. [7]
Despite his statement, the Western nations turned again to the Secretary Generals of both the U.N. and the Arab League to provide a veneer of pacific intentions and legality to their imperial ambitions. They designated a new Special Joint Envoy in the person of Lakhdar Brahimi. In the communiqué announcing the nomination, Ban Ki-Moon did not define the new mission as intended to fulfill the Lavrov-Annan plan previously approved by the Security Council. Instead, he signalled that the nominee would employ “his talent and extraordinary experience” to lead Syria toward a “political transition in accordance with the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.” [8]
To comprehend what is currently underway requires a closer look at the “the talents and experience” of Mr. Brahimi. Son of a collaborator during the WWII occupation of France and not of a hero of the Algerian Independence with the same name as he would have people believe, Lahkdar Brahimi is one of the leading sycophant acolytes of the doctrine “humanitarian intervention“, the new scarcely-veiled substitute for neocolonialism. His name is still attached to the report of the Commission for U.N. Peacekeeping Operations, which he had chaired. He never questioned the legal aberration that allowed the U.N. to create so-called peacekeeping forces in order to impose political solutions against the will of the warring parties rather than overseeing the implementation of peace accords concluded equitably by them. Instead, he has been an active advocate for further consolidating the world governance role of the United Nations on the basis of a doctrine of intervention and the creation of a supranational intelligence service. [9] This was the origin of the “decision support service.” Not long after, and without informing the Security Council, Ban Ki-moon signed on September 23, 2008 a protocol with his NATO counterpart linking this newly-created service to the Atlantic Alliance. [10] So much for Brahimi’s “talents“.
As for Mr. Brahimi’s “experience“, in the late 1980’s he masterminded the Lebanese Confessional System (the Taif Accord ) and, following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the Bonn Agreement with put in place the present-day Afghan narco-regime. He also participated in the machinations to “remodel” after the Western invasion of 2003 which sought to partition the country into three districts, one of which a Sunni section where the Hashemite monarchy would be restored. Mixing business with pleasure, he married off his daughter Rym, a CNN journalist, to Prince Ali. Had Ali become king, she would have become the nominal queen of Iraq.

    And this is not all. His official biographies neglect to mention that Lakhdar Brahimi, as a “paragon of democracy“, was one of the ten members of the High Security Council who perpetrated the coup d’etat in Algiers in January 11, 1992, nullifying the legislative election results, forcing President Chadli Bendjedid to resign and installing the putchist generals [11] in power. [12] What followed was a civil war—precisely along the model that Washington now hopes to engender in Syria—where both sides are simultaneously manipulated by the U.S. In Algeria, the Islamist leader, Abbassi Madani, now a refugee in Qatar, took as his political advisor the pseudo-secularist Burhan Ghalioun, none other than the future president of the Syrian National Council. The armed Islamist faction, the GSPC [13], renamed in 2007 Al Qaeda in the Islamic Mahghreb (AQIM), was engaged in arms training with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, rebranded in 1997 as Al Qaeda in Libya. The majority of the combatants in the two groups have now integrated into the Free Syrian Army.
    In these circumstances French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius travelled to inspect the rear-area support bases proliferating in the states bordering Syria. Passing through Jordan, he asserted, “I am conscious of the weight of what I am about to say; Bashar Al-Assad does not deserve to be on Earth.” [14] Without having to give a thumbs down, Emperor Fabius has clearly moved from “Bashar must go” to “Bashar must die!”
    The Western nation-states have just one message for Moscow and Bejing. They will not fall back; rather they are determined to press on by any and all means.


    Turkish officers take command of Syrian rebel brigades. N. Israel on alert

    DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 6, 2012, 10:59 AM (GMT+02:00)
    Tags:  Turkey   Syrian rebels   Hizballah   Israel   David Petraeus 
    Syrian rebels under Turkish command
    Syrian rebels under Turkish command

    Turkish army officers have assumed direct command of the first two Syrian rebel brigades fighting Bashar Assad’s government forces, according toDEBKAfile’s exclusive sources. This step has sent military tensions rocketing on Israel’s northern borders with Syria and Lebanon in case of a backlash.
    The rebel North Liberators Brigade in the Idlib region of northern Syria and the Tawhid Brigade fighting in the Al-Bab area northeast of Aleppo are now taking their operational orders from Turkish officers, who exercise their authority from headquarters outside Syria in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep. Nonetheless, Turkey is considered to have stepped directly into the Syrian conflict marking the onset of foreign intervention.
    Western and Arab military circles in the Middle East expect Turkey to extend its command to additional rebel units – not all of them part of the Free Syrian Army.
    This first step has already caused waves.
    1.  The consequences of Turkish military action in Syria were urgently aired with CIA Director David Petraeus when he arrived in Ankara Monday, Sept. 3, DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources reveal.  After hearing how and when Ankara proposed to expand its role in the Syrian conflict, Petraeus discussed with Turkish military and intelligence chiefs the likely Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah responses.
    He then flew to Israel to continue the discussion there.
    2.  By then, US, Turkish and Israeli intelligence watchers were reporting unusual military movements in Syria and on Hizballah turf in southern Lebanon – suspected of being preparations for a blowback from the Turkish intervention in Syria.
    3. The IDF countered by placing its units guarding the Syrian and Lebanese borders on a state of alert. Wednesday, Sept. 5, an Iron Dome battery was installed in Gush Dan to head off a potential Hizballah missile barrage on central Israel and its hub, Tel Aviv.
    4.  Later that day, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan commented: "The regime in Syria has now become a terrorist state."

    Only a few of Erdogan's listeners understood he was laying international legal grounding for expanding Turkish military intervention in Syria.
    DEBKAfile's military sources report that Thursday, Sept. 6, military temperatures remained high-to-feverish along Syria's borders with Turkey and Israel, and along Lebanon's borders with Syria and Israel.


    Iraq the Latest Dragged Into Syria Proxy War Intrigue

    Turkey, Egypt Ratchet Up Rhetoric

    by Jason Ditz, September 05, 2012
    Few wars in recent history have been such overt proxy wars as the Syrian Civil War. The Assad regime is clearly losing popularity domestically, and reliant on foreign backing to keep itself in power. And while the rebels try to claim some connection to the anti-Assad protests, it is clear that they are more interested in selling themselves to the international community than to the public of cities they capture.
    Influence is a buyer’s market in Syria, and while nations like Russia and Iran continue to back the existing regime, there are no shortage of other nations, from NATO to the GCC, looking to throw money and arms behind the rebels, in hopes of eventually installing their own bought and paid for allies in Damascus.
    Even nations that seem keen to stay out of the proxy war are getting dragged in, with Iraq suddenly finding itselfaccused of backing Assad, who they’ve never particularly cared for in the first place, on the grounds that are allowing their close ally Iran to use their airspace for shipments to Syria. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I – CT) blasted Iraq, warning that their ties with the US, which occupied them from 2003-2011, were at risk.
    As Iraq looks for a way out, Egypt is looking for a way in, with President Mohamed Mursi demanding Assad step down immediately, while trying to position himself as a spokesman for the Arab Spring movement regionwide. Turkey, already hosting the rebels and openly backing them, also blasted Assad again today, calling Syria a “terrorist” state because it is fighting its own people.
    Which is a tough thing for Turkey to get all proactive about with a straight face, as even today they launched air strikes against rebel targets inside their own nation as part of a civil war against ethnic Kurds that has been going on for nearly 30 years. Turkey, like Syria, argues their own rebels are “terrorists” and must be wiped out, and like Syria doesn’t seem particularly successful at doing so.
    But Iraq seems to be the major story in the proxy war today, and as the US ratchets up the rhetoric against what was itself supposed to be a US puppet state (installed in a bloody decade of war) the Maliki government is pushing for some actual evidence to back up the allegations. Evidence has never been the strong suit for hawkish US officials, who are instead pressing Iraq to start boarding planes to search for the evidence themselves.

    Netanyahu Angrily Breaks Up Key Cabinet Meeting on Iran, Citing Leaks

    The Israeli Prime Minister and his pro-war crowd seem to have failed at pushing for an immediate strike on Iran

    by John Glaser, September 05, 2012
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angrily broke up a key cabinet meeting on Iran on Wednesday, accusing one participant of leaking details of the secretive meetings to the press.
    Israel’s Security Cabinet meeting convened on Tuesday to discuss regional threats, primarily Iran. When the group reconvened on Wednesday, Netanyahu sent everyone home saying whoever spoke to the media violated “the most basic trust.”
    Netanyahu didn’t specify what information was leaked, but Israel’s top newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, did report that Israeli intelligence organizations disagreed over Israel’s ability to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities effectively on its own.
    The outburst is illustrative of Netanyahu’s frustration at seemingly failing in his pushto pressure Washington to back it’s preemptive strike on Iran, for a nuclear weapons program both countries admit doesn’t exist. Last week, America’s top military official Gen. Martin Dempsey reiterated that the US would not be “complicit” in an Israeli strike, which he explained would be counterproductive.
    Not only is the US military and intelligence community against such a military strike on Iran for now, but much of the Israeli leadership is as well, and the leak was another indication of that. Netanyahu and his pro-war supporter Defense Minister Ehud Barak seem to be slowly and reluctantly backing away from their trigger-happy postures.

    Netanyahu mulls a Six-Day War surprise
    By Victor Kotsev

    The fog of war has fallen so densely over Iran and the Middle East that it is hard to say for certain whether the latest developments are a sign that one is imminent (in the form of an Israeli strike in the next two months) or that the timetable for a confrontation has been pushed back until the spring and summer of 2013. In the latter case, it is still possible that negotiations would eventually prevail, but this is far from guaranteed or even likely.

    All of a sudden, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is dropping hints left and right that it is willing to postpone action against the Iranian nuclear program. On Tuesday, it announced a number of new high-level military appointments which had previously been delayed amid the war preparations. As a prominent Israeli analyst put it, "You don't appoint a brand newoperations chief when you're about to go to war." [1] 

    On Monday, moreover, Netanyahu said that "the clearer the red line drawn before Iran by the international community, the smaller the chance of a conflict". He made this statement in the context of a New York Times report that United States President Barack Obama was considering making public his proverbial red line on Iran and authorizing a whole new range of secret operations in an effort to assuage the Israelis, [2] and his words were widely interpreted as willingness to back down.

    Under massive pressure both at home and abroad - the daily Ha'aretz reported last week that even German Chancellor Angela Merkel phoned Netanyahu recently to discuss this - it is conceivable that the Israeli prime minister and his influential defense minister, Ehud Barak, have changed their minds about the urgency of a military operation. In another highly symbolic move, the man who headed the Israeli inquiry into the disastrous 2006 war in Lebanon - former Supreme Court Justice Eliyahu Winograd whose report cost the careers of several top politicians and army men - joined the chorus of critics of Netanyahu and Barak days ago.

    The Israeli military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai offers a number of reasons why "now is not the time to strike Iran":

  • The fighting in Syria is weakening the army and the regime in Damascus, thus reducing the likelihood that Syria would want or be able to take part in any Iranian response to an Israeli strike....
  • Moreover, the IDF has also been improving its long range capabilities. Therefore, it is safe to assume that if we wait, Iran's "immunity zone" will shrink as a result of Israel's enhanced military capabilities. Only economic sanctions can achieve these objectives. This is why we mustn't give the international community an excuse to soften the sanctions.
  • The best way to stop Iran's nuclear program is to overthrow the regime in Tehran or force it to change its policy due to pressure from the masses. …
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is no consensus within the Israeli public in support of a military strike. [3]

  • Some sort of a deal on the issue may be about to emerge from the "poker game" (to borrow a metaphor from another Ha'aretz article) between the US and Israel. Netanyahu is rumored to be preparing a major speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this month, and perhaps also a meeting with Obama which many analysts speculate may provide him with an opportunity to start de-escalating his rhetoric. Whether and what kind of a guarantee the US president might offer the Israelis that he will stop the Iranian nuclear program by force if necessary, as they have requested, remains uncertain.

    The tough talk this week, with the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, saying that he did not want to be "complicit" in an Israeli strike on Iran and Time Magazine publishing a report that the US was scaling down a military exercise with Israel next month in an apparent effort to undermine the Israeli war preparations [4] - can be interpreted in the same vein. In the run-up to a deal, both Obama and Netanyahu could be expected to bluff very hard in order to pressure the other into concessions.

    However, it is hard to trust either man's intentions. According to a report in the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, which the Americans subsequently denied, Obama recently passed a message to Tehran through European mediators renouncing any Israeli attack and requesting that Iran not retaliate against American military bases in the Middle East. (The Iranian response came from their close Lebanese ally Hezbollah, whose leader said on Monday that "If Israel targets Iran, America bears responsibility.")

    Despite all the signs to the contrary, an Israeli operation is hardly off the table - and as Ben-Yishai hinted, it may not be off the table next year, either. The Israeli military doctrine emphasizes the element of surprise, and in the past the Jewish State has been able to achieve it even in situations where war has been long in the making. In this way, at least, the situation prior to the Six-Day War in 1967 paralleled the one today, while the Israelis could perhaps afford to make a new appointment or two if this would soften the watchfulness of their enemies. It seems unlikely, moreover, that Tehran will give its nuclear program up at this stage, despite the fact that the sanctions have taken a heavy toll on the Iranian economy. The Iranian regime is reportedly very suspicious of the West - with good reason given that Western proponents of regime change there have become increasingly vocal in the last years - and a nuclear weapon or capability is among the few things that could give it a measure of reassurance. Also, the militant rhetoric of the ayatollahs has backed them into a corner of their own; amid much social discontent at home it would not be easy for them to save face and de-escalate.

    Not to mention that the Iranian nuclear program is quite advanced and advancing rapidly, as documented by the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency which came out last week. "Despite the intensified dialogue between the Agency and Iran since January 2012," the report states, "efforts to resolve all outstanding substantive issues have achieved no concrete results…. [5]"

    Among other things, Iran stands accused of installing 1,000 new uranium enrichment centrifuges at the underground facility at Fordo, continuing to enrich uranium elsewhere, failure to cooperate with weapons inspections, and a cover-up at the military site at Parchin where alleged experiments related to the development of a nuclear warhead took place in the past. It also continued to build a heavy-water reactor at Arak, which could be used for the production of the most commonly used alternative to enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, plutonium-239.

    According to a separate report published by the Wall Street Journal, a top Iranian scientist and Islamic Revolutionary Guard officer, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (dubbed the father of the Iranian nuclear weapons program), resumed work recently [6]. Fakhrizadeh had been sidelined several years ago, when the Iranian nuclear weapons program was reportedly halted, and his reappearance would suggest that the Iran is again steaming ahead towards a bomb. In the absence of a breakthrough in the negotiations - which some analysts speculate could come after the US presidential elections - a military conflict over the Iranian nuclear program seems all but inevitable. War could start even without either side truly wanting it, given the military buildup in the Persian Gulf and the possibility of an accidental provocation.

    At the same time, it seems that Israel is on the verge of agreeing not to attack Iran this fall. Still, even this is far from certain - and even less so is the price it would extract from the US in return. There are roughly two months to go before the US elections and unfavorable weather conditions more or less rule out a war this year, and two months can be a very long time in Middle Eastern politics.

    1. Israeli army names new operations chief, in move seen as signaling reduced likelihood of Iran attack, , Times of Israel, September 4, 2012
    2. To Calm Israel, US Offers Ways to Restrain Ira, New York Times, September 2, 2012 (registration required) 3. Now is not the time to strike Iran, Ynet, September 1, 2012 4. Exclusive: US Scales Back Military Exercise with Israel, Affecting Potential Iran Strike, Time, August 31, 2012
    5. Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran, IAEA, 30 August 2012
    6. Iran's Nuclear-Arms Guru Resurfaces, , Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2012