Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Iraq being drawn into Syria war , trouble building on the Golan border between Israel and Syria - Regional War looming ?

http://www.debka.com/article/22803/Washington-Hizballah-has-got-hold-of-chemical-weapons


Washington: Hizballah has got hold of chemical weapons

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 6, 2013, 6:55 AM (GMT+02:00)
Tags:  Syria   Golan   Israel   Russia   Chuck Hagel   Ehud Barak 
Ehud Barak greeted by Chuck Hagel at Pentagon
Ehud Barak greeted by Chuck Hagel at Pentagon

For the first time in many years, voices in the US administration were criticizing the Israeli defense forces for under-reacting and, in this case, also underestimating the chemical weapons threat emanating from Syria and neglecting to pursue counter-measures. This is what visiting Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak heard when he met US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon Tuesday, March 5, as the new defense secretary’s first foreign visitor.
DEBKAfile’s military and Washington sources disclose that Barak was berated for “inadequate and cursory” military preparations which failed to take into account that a chemical attack on Israel would make it necessary for the IDF to enter Syria – most likely for an offensive operation coordinated against the common threat with the Turkish and Jordanian armies.
Present at the meeting between Hagel and Barak were also Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Chiefs of Staff and Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. Our sources add that the conversation ranged over the Syrian crisis with no reference to a nuclear Iran.
From the defense secretary, Barak heard intelligence estimates confirmed for the first time by an American official that Hizballah has been able to procure a quantity of chemical weapons from Syria – a development which Israel’s leaders have vowed to prevent.
The proliferation of chemical weapons to HIzballah and other armed bands on Israel’s borders was apparently in the mind of Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin, UN Security Council president for March, when he cautioned Monday that trouble was building up between Israel and Syria.
Read DEBKAfile’s earlier report:
At UN Center in New York, Israeli and Russian delegates separately warned Monday, March 4, of a dangerous situation developing in the area of separation on the Golan captured by Israel in the 1967 war. Syrian troops were forbidden to enter this area under a ceasefire formalized in 1974 between Syria and Israel.
Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor complained to the Security Council about five shells fired from this very area which landed in Israel Saturday, March 2. "Israel cannot be expected to stand idle as the lives of its citizens are being put at risk by the Syrian government's reckless actions," Proser wrote in a Note to the council. "Israel has shown maximum restraint thus far."
Russia’s UN Ambasador Vitaly Churkin then spoke of “a very new and dangerous phenomenon” of armed groups operating in the Golan area of separation. “It’s something which potentially can undermine security between Syria and Israel,” said Churkin, who is acting Security Council president for March. He pointed out that the UN peacekeeping force is unarmed and unable to cope with this new situation. Israel and Syria are technically in a state of war.
DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources note that the exchange of warnings between Israel and Russia touched two sensitive nerves:
1. It occurred the day before definitive talks open in Moscow between the Syrian government and opposition. The Russians fear Israel might embark on military action in response to the round of shells fired from the Syrian Golan Saturday, and force a delay in the talks. The last time this happened, in late January, Israel reacted with a cross-border attack on Syrian military installations.
2. Saturday, too, DEBKAfile exposed the no-man’s lands unfolding along Syria’s borderlands with Israel and Jordan following the withdrawal of the bulk of Syrian forces from these areas. Moscow fears additionally that Israel’s armed forces will seize strategic points in the abandoned territory to clear out armed bands of the pro-al Qaeda Jabhat al Nusra, which are believed responsible for the latest round of shelling into the Israeli Golan.
Churkin’s warning referred to “armed groups” as the potential troublemakers, but he was also cautioning Israel to desist from fighting back so as not to upset Moscow’s diplomatic initiative for resolving the Syrian civil war.  





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http://www.debka.com/article/22803/Russia-and-Israel-each-warn-trouble-building-up-on-Golan-border


Russia and Israel each warn trouble building up on Golan border

DEBKAfile Special Report March 5, 2013, 5:05 AM (GMT+02:00)
Tags:  Syria   Golan   Israel   Russia 
Russian UN Ambasador Vitaly Churkin
Russian UN Ambasador Vitaly Churkin


At UN Center in New York, Israeli and Russian delegates separately warned Monday, March 4, of a dangerous situation developing in the area of separation on the Golan captured by Israel in the 1967 war. Syrian troops were forbidden to enter this area under a ceasefire formalized in 1974 between Syria and Israel.
Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor complained to the Security Council about five shells fired from this very area which landed in Israel Saturday, March 2. "Israel cannot be expected to stand idle as the lives of its citizens are being put at risk by the Syrian government's reckless actions," Proser wrote in a Note to the council. "Israel has shown maximum restraint thus far."
Russia’s UN Ambasador Vitaly Churkin then spoke of “a very new and dangerous phenomenon” of armed groups operating in the Golan area of separation. “It’s something which potentially can undermine security between Syria and Israel,” said Churkin, who is acting Security Council president for March. He pointed out that the UN peacekeeping force is unarmed and unable to cope with this new situation. Israel and Syria are technically in a state of war.


DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources note that the exchange of warnings between Israel and Russia touched two sensitive nerves:
1. It occurred the day before definitive talks open in Moscow between the Syrian government and opposition. The Russians fear Israel might embark on military action in response to the round of shells fired from the Syrian Golan Saturday, and force a delay in the talks. The last time this happened, in late January, Israel reacted with a cross-border attack on Syrian military installations.
2. Saturday, too, DEBKAfile exposed the no-man’s lands unfolding along Syria’s borderlands with Israel and Jordan following the withdrawal of the bulk of Syrian forces from these areas. Moscow fears additionally that Israel’s armed forces will seize strategic points in the abandoned territory to clear out armed bands of the pro-al Qaeda Jabhat al Nusra, which are believed responsible for the latest round of shelling into the Israeli Golan.
Churkin’s warning referred to “armed groups” as the potential troublemakers, but he was also cautioning Israel to desist from fighting back so as not to upset Moscow’s diplomatic initiative for resolving the Syrian civil war.  







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http://www.juancole.com/2013/03/officially-spills-killed.html


The Syrian Civil War comes to Iraq, as 8 Iraqi and 48 Syrian Troops are Killed on Iraqi Soil

Posted on 03/05/2013 by Juan
So on Saturday, Syrian rebels in the east of the country attacked another government checkpoint along the Iraqi border, al-Ya`rabiya, and took it.Some of the besieged Syrian troops, many wounded, escaped to the Iraqi side and were being escorted by Iraqi troops south when they were ambushed early on Tuesday and 48 were killed, along with 8 Iraqi border guards. The attackers had rocket propelled grenades and left three vehicles burning. It is not clear if the attackers were Syrian rebels in hot pursuit across the border or if local Sunni Iraqi clans, who are related to the largely Sunni insurgents in Syria, struck for themselves.
Alarabiya was reporting Tuesday morning Iraqi time that Iraqi tanks had advanced on the Free Syrian Army checkpoint at al-Ya`rabiya, presumably seeking revenge for the ambush. That isn’t a good sign, to have an Iraqi-Syrian border clash.
The steps being taken by the US, as explained on Monday by Secretary of State John Kerry in Riyadh, to strengthen the Syrian opposition (by which he meant the moderates, not the Jabha) increasingly look too little, too late. Asthe Syrian rebellion grinds on, the most radical factions are coming to the fore in very worrying ways. It is not clear that Washington has the slightest idea what to do about this, though a new plan to arm moderates via Jordan in Syria’s southern district of Deraa may, behind the scenes, have American backing or at least the US isn’t vetoing it. (The Saudis are said to be buying the weapons and cooperating with Jordan in this effort because they are afraid of Jabhat al-Nusra and angry at Qatar winking at its growing prominence in the ranks of the northern rebels).
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had warned just last week in an AP interview that if radical Sunnis come out on top in the Syrian civil war, they would be a source of profound instability in the Middle East and that Jordan and other neighbors could be dismembered.
Shiite-ruled Iraq faces an on-going guerrilla war from radical Sunnis, some of them apparently now fighting in Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria. In addition, the Sunni Arab population of the west and the north of the country, about a fifth of the population, has been demonstrating peacefully against the al-Maliki government, with large rallies, for several months. Al-Maliki is afraid that if the Sunni radicals win Damascus, there will be severe effects on Mosul and Ramadi. Indeed, those effects may already have begun.
To be fair to Iraq’s Sunnis, most of them voted for a secular party in the 2010 parliamentary elections, and many joined the ‘Awakening Councils’ movement against ‘al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia.’ And virtually no one thinks al-Maliki, a fundamentalist Shiite, has been good about reaching out to the Iraqi Sunnis or seeking national reconciliation.
Then al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra took the provincial Syrian capital of Raqqah on Monday. Raqqah was a place to which large numbers of refugees had fled, and most of the Free Syrian Army had considered it off-limits as a result. The Jabhat al-Nusra fighters still faced pockets of resistance around the Baath Party HQ. The opposition controls much of the countryside in Raqqah province, and had only lacked the provincial capital. The city is the first provincial capital to fall largely into rebel hands. Syria has fourteen provinces, so the opposition has 13 to go (though to be fair, Syria is still 50% rural and the rebels control much of the countryside in the north).
Video circulated on the internet of rebels pulling down a statue of Hafez al-Assad (r. 1970-2000), the father of current dictator Bashar al-Assad, who ruled Syria with an iron hand for thirty years.
One fears that some of the excitement in the video is that of radical Sunnis happy to destroy a monument to a Shi’ite, Alawi secularist.
So, I think you can largely color in Raqqah in the below map black (the radical fundamentalists like black flags).
In the central depot town of Homs, the Syrian government on Monday waged a fierce battle to take back some districts lost to the rebels. Homs is key to the ability of Damascus to import supplies, ammunition and new weaponry from the port of Latakia and from the Russian naval base at Tartous. If the rebels ever take Homs, they’d be in a much better position to besieged, cut off, and take Damascus.
Ironically, al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia wanted to take over a whole Iraqi province (it especially wanted al-Anbar, where it launched thousands of attacks in 2006-2007) but never was able to, in part because Sunni Iraqis turned on it when it killed their own sons for ‘collaborating’ with al-Maliki. But now Jabhat al-Nusra, with some of the same fighters in its ranks, has taken the Syrian province of Raqqah. And the Syrian brand of radical Sunnism is somehow implicated in a major attack on Iraqi soil.
I think that al-Maliki is right, and that King Abdullah II of Jordan may not sleep very well tonight. Many Jordanian Salafis are said to be fighting in Syria, and no one knows what will happen when they come home. But with 6 dead Iraqi soldiers on his hands, it is al-Maliki who is most alarmed of all.


http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/04/obama-wades-deeper-into-syrias-morass/



Will the U.S. Intervene with Troops?

Obama Wades Deeper Into Syria’s Morass

by SHAMUS COOKE
The recent announcement that the United States would increase its “non-lethal” military aid to Syria’s rebels shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.  Some speculated that Obama — having been repeatedly proved wrong about the Syria government’s stability — would leave Syria in silent humiliation.
Not so. The destruction of Syrian society will continue, indeed, increase.  Although there are plenty of non-military options the Obama administration could pursue, he’s instead choosing the bloodiest course possible. Millions of Syrians have had their lives destroyed, and now millions more can look forward to a similar fate.
U.S. media outlets have reported that all of the hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. aid to Syria’s rebels has been “non-lethal,” but the New York Times admitted recently:
“American [government] officials declined to discuss an ongoing covert program to train rebel fighters or the extent to which it has made a difference on the battlefield.”
It’s no exaggeration to say that Obama is helping to orchestrate the largest state-sponsored terror campaign since the still-simmering genocides of the Congo and Yugoslav wars. This fact has been completely hidden from the view of the U.S. public, but it’s a fact nonetheless.
For example, the only effective fighting force of the Syrian rebels, the Al Nusra Front, has been labeled a terrorist organization, even by the United States. Its frequent terrorist bombings have helped shred the fabric of Syrian society; its most recent massive car bombings killed 100 mostly-innocent people in central Damascus, including dozens of children and wounding hundreds more.
U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi denounced the latest terrorist attack as a “war crime.” But such labels do not get attached to allies of the United States. Obama is ignoring the countless similar attacks by Syria’s terrorist rebels, ensuring that such attacks will increase.
In fact, U.S. officials blocked a Russian-sponsored resolution at the United Nations Security Council condemning the recent terror bombings. Actions like these both minimize and encourage indiscriminate terrorist bombings.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s most recent announcement of U.S. aid to Syrian rebels made sure to mention that the aid will not go to “terrorists” — an absurd statement considering that the terrorists in Syria are the ones in power on the ground for the opposition. Of course most of the crucial aid will be funneled to them, no matter who initially receives it.
The Obama administration has been on a relentless search for a non-terrorist dominated Syrian opposition, only to fail and then re-start his quest. Initially the ‘Syrian National Council’ play-acted as the non-terrorist “revolutionary” opposition.
But Hillary Clinton later confronted reality and dumped the group, correctly labeling them as ”… a bunch of out-of-touch exiles who should be replaced with a group more representative of the fighters on the ground.”
The same article referred to the Syrian National Council as “too accommodating to terrorists.”
Obama then sent Clinton on an international tour to discover and organize a brand new non-terrorist “legitimate” Syrian opposition. On her journey Clinton unearthed yet another group of handpicked rich Syrian exiles who hadn’t been in the country in decades, with no connections on the ground and, more importantly, zero military presence of any significance. Clinton re-named the group the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution, and unveiled her new offspring to glowing U.S. media acclaim. But Hillary’s latest baby was again born from smoke and mirrors. The New York Times reported:
“…the coalition has struggled to agree on a slate of governing leaders that would unite what is still a loosely allied organization, trying to weave together local councils, splinter organizations, disparate opposition groups and the loyalties of the armed units fighting the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.”
Obama now intends to buy the legitimacy of his new Syrian opposition, as part of the newly announced aid package. The New York Timesshamelessly reports:
“one aim of the $60 million in [new] assistance is to help the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces build up its credibility within the country…”
Obama’s new “friends of Syria” would like the United States to destroy Syria. Many within the rag tag grouping are demanding a direct U.S. military intervention to topple the existing government.
Anyone who has paid attention to the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libyan wars understands that U.S.-style regime change equals the destruction of a nation. The above three countries were all once independently functioning civilizations, but are now socially and economically destroyed and regionally fragmented, ruled by whomever in the region happens to have the most guns.
As millions of Syrians become internally and externally displaced refugees and the country obliterated, the Obama administration is purposely choosing not to settle the situation with diplomacy. Both Russia and Syria have made recent offers for negotiations. By rebuking these offers and aiding the rebels instead, Obama is choosing more mass slaughter.
“Syria is ready for talks with its armed opponents, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Monday, in the clearest offer yet to negotiate with rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.”
The Obama Administration responds to the peace negotiations:
“…[Syria's Foreign Minister's] offer of talks drew a dismissive response from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was starting a nine-nation tour of European and Arab capitals in London [to help organize the Syrian rebels yet again].”
Why does Obama choose war instead of peace? Because presently Obama cannot dictate his terms; the majority of Syria is still controlled by the Syrian government, which remains in a much more powerful bargaining position, a painfully stubborn fact.
Obama will thus continue to sponsor large-scale mass murder andethnic-religious cleansing until his handpicked rebels gain enough power on the ground to negotiate a peace favorable to U.S. interests.
The Obama administration’s hands are awash with the blood of countless innocent Syrians, blood that promises to spill into Lebanon and other neighboring states as the region becomes destabilized along ethnic-religious lines. The “popular revolution” in Syria has long ago been replaced by foreign mercenary terrorists financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Obama administration has overseen this entire process, while actively trying to organize a respectable “public face” for the rebels.
Obama’s recent strides in Syria end with a logical conclusion: U.S. direct military intervention. The stage is still being set, waiting until optimal conditions are met for a Libyan style U.S./NATO mass-bombing mission to finish off the Syrian government. In the eyes of Obama the resulting disaster will be worth the mess, since a non-compliant regime to the U.S. will have been toppled, thus clearing the path for the long term plan of crushing Iran.