Commentary on the economic , geopolitical and simply fascinating things going on. Served occasionally with a side of snark.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
War watch February 12 , 2014 - common thread is US toothless threats..... US threatening Syria with military action , Afghanistan and President Karzai for not signing the BSA and releasing Bagram detainees and the US threatening sanctions on France and french companies for contacting Iran around business opportunities / US threatening Iran with military action despite Iran's cooperation with the UN nuclear agency and participation in P 5 + ! Talks ....... and the common response is the US has been placed on ignore.....
Obama insisted that he “always reserves the right to exercise military action” on Syria whenever he thinks its wise and is looking at “every possible avenue” for intervention in the nation’s civil war.
Though Obama presented his goal as being to “solve this problem,” US officials have made it clear the policy so far, centering on aid for some rebel factions, has been to keep the war stalemated in hopes that the US can squeeze some benefit out of it in negotiations.
President Obama attempted to sell war on Syria to the American public last year but failed, and has since insisted that he doesn’t really need permission to launch a future war on Syria when the mood strikes him.
The second day of the resumed Geneva II peace talks on Syria has come and gone, and UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says that a disappointingly small amount of progress has been made so far.
Speaking in a news conferenceafter the talks, Brahimi said the talks were proving as “laborious” as before the 10-day pause, when they spent two solid days passing notes before they could even get the two sides to agree to meet in the same room.
Officials from both sides of the talks agreed with Brahimi on that count, with Syria’s Deputy FM Faisal Mekdad dubbing today a “lost day” and an opposition spokesman saying he saw “no progress” at all.
Brahimi had sought to make the day about ending the fighting inside Syria, difficult since the attending opposition controls virtually none of the rebel troops. He had wanted to talk about a “transitional government” on Wednesday, which will likely be a similar non-starter.
The reason: the Syrian government determined they were “fighting age men,” and has to vet them to make sure they aren’t rebels pretending to be civilians to get out of the neighborhood, which is entirely surrounded by the military.
The Homs Governor claimed around 100 have been released so far, though the UN said it could only confirm 41 releases around the same time. The “screening” of the detained refugees has the UN complaining, because they aren’t allowing the UN to watch the interviews.
Aid experts expressed surprise at how many young men fled as non-combatants during the evacuation, as it had been assumed they would’ve virtually all been pressed into service by the rebels by now.
Late last year, the Obama Administration made a big deal out of the Afghan government needing to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) by the end of December or else face an end to the occupation. Afghan President Hamid Karzai told them he wouldn’t until the April election, and US officials insisted that wasn’t good enough.
It’s now Mid-February and the BSA still isn’t signed, suddenly waiting until the end of Karzai’s term is the way to go. They’re still pushing the “zero option” of ending the occupation as a threat to coax Karzai into action, but it seems less credible than ever.
In the past that’s included talk of finding someone other than Karzai who might sign the pact, but that seems unrealistic, and at this point the plan seems to be condemning Karzai at regular intervals while waiting out his last two months.
There doesn’t appear to have been any actual movement toward releasing 65 Bagram detainees who were cleared by the Afghan government for release quite some time ago, but the US felt the need to issue a new round of condemnations of the planned eventual release.
The US military command in occupied Afghanistan claimed the releases would violate “agreements” made between the two nations, and said they believe the Afghans “never seriously considered” the evidence against the detainees because of how quickly they were ordered released.
Afghan officials have repeatedly addressed the issue, saying what the US gave them was mostly non-specific allegations of theoretical “danger” and not actual evidence of real crimes committed, and that the detainees to be released had nothing provided that warranted holding them under Afghan law.
That’s not sat well at all with US officials, for whom the idea of releasing detainees in the absence of evidence is a quaint, out-dated concept. The Pentagon has repeatedly insisted that the Afghan Review Board, the first group to order the release, was never meant to have the authority to release anybody, and was supposed to choose between either prosecuting people, if they thought they could get a conviction, or open-ended detention if they didn’t have enough evidence for a prosecution. Afghan judges and much of the government have since weighed in, similarly saying the detainees must be let go.
Though easing sanctions were part of the P5+1 interim deal with Iran, and even more could be expected with a final Iran deal, US officials have been keen to downplay any improvement in ties with Iran, and have been warning companies against trying to make deals with Iranian companies.
President Hollande insisted that the companies are free to make contacts and hadn’t actually violated any sanctions, but President Obama’s pointed threats made it clear he disputes that.
Obama said any companies or nations having contact with Iran did so “at their own peril” and vowed to “come down like a ton of bricks” on them for doing so.
Speaking today on the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, President Hassan Rouhani insisted that the military threats by the US and others are realistically off the table, and that “those delusional people who say the military option is on the tableshould change their glasses.”
Rouhani, who was elected on a promise of rapprochement and has already brokered a deal with the P5+1 on an interim nuclear deal. He reiterated during the speech that Iran’s civilian program is “forever,” but will never include a military dimension.
Rouhani was particularly critical of the constant threats to attack in his talk, however, saying it was “rude and offensive” of the US to continue doing so, and that Iran wasn’t going to be bullied by such behavior.
Being involved in such a high profile speech is a major coup for the recently elected president, and using it to push the nuclear deal, while promising to see an end to international sanctions, likely needles his domestic rivals, hardline factions who, much like many in the US Senate, believe the other side can’t be trusted and oppose a deal in general terms.