Tuesday, April 29, 2014

War watch April 29 , 2014 - Debka reports on Secret US-Hizballah talks. Washington plans to include Lebanon, Syria deals in Iran nuclear pact ....... War-Torn Iraq Prepares for Bloody Wednesday Election Much of Anbar Won't Be Participating in Vote ...... Egypt Sentences Brotherhood Chief, 682 Other Protesters to Death ....... AIPAC Livid Over ‘Offensive’ Kerry Warning on Israeli Apartheid ADL: 'Unfair' to Suggest Israel Could Become Apartheid State ( and Kerry quickly apologized ... )


Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' initiation of a unity pact with the Hamas extremists last week did not come out of the blue. It was prompted by the direct contacts the Obama administration has secretly established with the Lebanese Hizballah. Abbas reasoned that if Washington can start a dialogue with a terrorist organization, so too can his own PLO and Fatah.
DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that the Obama administration appears to have carried over to Lebanon the doctrine set out by the late Richard Holbrooke for Afghanistan, whereby dialogue with Taliban should be made the centerpiece of Washington's strategy for US troop withdrawal. Holbrooke’s influence on Secretary of State John Kerry dated back to his run for the presidency in 2004.
In Lebanese terms, Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah has become the equivalent of Taliban’s Mullah Mohammad. Hizballah has scored high in the Syrian war. Its military intervention on the side of Bashar Assad in the last year is credited with turning the Syrian army’s fortunes around from near defeat in 2013 to partial triumph in key areas of Syria this year. Nasrallah is able to boast that his movement’s commitment to the Syrian conflict is its central mission and will remain so until rebel and al Qaeda forces are finally vanquished.
What the Hizballah leader is trying to put across, in terms of the Holbrooke doctrine, is that like Mullah Omar in Afghanistan, he, Nasrallah, holds the key to resolving the Syrian civil war.
The Obama administration bought this premise and decided to apply it to broadening the rapidly progressing dialogue with Tehran to related areas. The plan developed in Washington was to seize the momentum of the nuclear track and ride it to a broad US-Iranian understanding that embraces a comprehensive nuclear accord with Tehran as well as understandings for resolving the Syrian and Lebanese questions.
Administration officials figure that Nasrallah heeds no one but the ayatollahs in Tehran. He may talk big but he knows that his fate is in the hands of his Iranian masters. If Iran decides it is time for him to go, it will be curtains for him. His involvement in the Syrian war is considered to be contingent on the strategic decisions of Iran’s leaders. (He was a lot less confident in the winter of 2013 when Hizballah’s home bases were being smashed in lethal suicide bombings.)
Iran also determines which weapons are supplied to the Hizballah units fighting in Syria, in which sectors they fight and how to respond to his pleas for reinforcements.
In Washington’s view, Hizballah’s involvement in the Syrian war has increased its leader’s dependence on Tehran. He accordingly has little room for maneuver in contacts with US representatives and if he turns difficult, they are sure they can turn to Tehran to force him in line.
It is also believed in administration circles that the secret Saudi exchanges with Tehran (first revealed by DEBKA Weekly) will eventually produce Riyadh’s acceptance of Hizballah as a dominant factor in Syria and Lebanon.
However, many Middle East experts find the US take on Hizballah to be naïve and simplistic and strongly doubt that the path it has chosen will bring Nasrallah – or Tehran - around to serving America's will or purposes. They draw a parallel with the underlying US assumptions which ultimately led the Palestinians-Israeli talks off track.
But expectations of the Hizballah track are high and strongly guide the actions of President Obama, John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and CIA Director John Brennan. And so, in early March, the first secret rendezvous took place in Cyprus between CIA officers and Hizballah intelligence and security operatives.
According to a number of Mid East intelligence sources, two such meetings have since been conducted and initial US-Hizballah understandings reached relating to the volatile situations in Syria and Lebanon.
Our intelligence sources add that US Ambassador to Beirut David Hale has been in charge of preparing these meetings and implementing the understandings reached.  

War-Torn Iraq Prepares for Bloody Wednesday Election

Much of Anbar Won't Be Participating in Vote

by Jason Ditz, April 28, 2014
As the month of April comes to an end, it has now been over a year since the latest round of violent escalation started, with death tolls soaring from the relatively low levels immediate post-war to levels more in line with what was seen during the worst of the US occupation.
It’s also time for a new national election, and after the 2010 vote there’s little reason to hope for better. In 2010 the Iraqiya Party won the largest number of seats, but a US-imposed “power-sharing” deal left Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in power, and the “sharing” part never really happened.
This time around, Iraq’s Sunni Arabs won’t even have the illusion of victory, with much of the Anbar Province, their political power base, unable to vote because it is occupied by al-Qaeda factions. Ayad Allawi, the leader of Iraqiya, says several of his candidates have been banned from competing elsewhere in the country.
In a country where scores of people are killed on a daily basis, it’s a given that even the exclusion of al-Qaeda-held territory won’t prevent many high-profile attacks on voting sites.
And even once the election happens, coalition building is going to be an impossible task, with no one willing to trust Maliki to keep his bargains in a coalition deal after reneging on literally every promise from the US-brokered plan. Maliki losing would also set the stage for a power struggle, as having spent years centralizing all troops and police under his direct control (as Prime Minister, Interior Minister, Defense Minister, etc) few believe he would willingly leave without a fight.


Bombers Launch Election Attacks Across Iraq: 84 Killed, 164 Hurt
by , April 28, 2014
Uniformed militants took advantage of advanced parliamentary voting today and attacked security forces waiting to cast votes. At least 84 people were killed and 164 more were wounded. The public votes on Wednesday, but expatriates beganvoting yesterday.
Iraq allows early voting for security personnel, so that they can focus on protecting the public during the main ballot casting. However, this practice leaves the police and soldiers vulnerable to suicide bombers, especially ones dressed in police or military garb. Several bombers were able to infiltrate voting queues this way. Also, another bomber was able to work his way into a crowd of civilians at a political rally in eastern Iraq.
In Anbar:
Two policemen were killed and five more were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near a polling station in Habaniya. Due to the security situation, voting in Anbar is limited. Residents are being allowed to vote in other provinces. Still, over 50 percent of eligible security personnel voted today in the province.
Shelling killed one civilian and wounded three more at a home in Falluja.
In Ramadithree suicide bombers were killed as they targeted a polling station.
suicide bomber killed over 30 people and wounded 50 more at a political rally at the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan offices in Khanaqin. He infiltrated a crowd that had gathered to watch Vice President Jalal Talabani casting a vote on television. Talabani, who is Kurdish, is recuperating in Germany after suffering a major stroke in 2012. The scene was quite chaotic afterwards, as hospitals became overwhelmed.
In Baghdad, a suicide bomber, dressed in a policeman’s uniform, struck a polling center in the Mansour district, where he killed six policemen and wounded 19 others.Seven soldiers were killed and 21 more were wounded when a suicide bomber in army attire struck an Adhamiya polling center.
Nine people were killed and at least 11 more were wounded when a uniformed suicide bomber attacked a polling station in Kirkuk. A bomb killed a civilian and wounded two more. A gunman was also killed.
In Mosultwo suicide bombers were killed during an attack on a polling center that also left five policemen with injuries. A bomb wounded six journalists on their way to cover the elections. Five policemen were wounded in a roadside bombing near a polling station. A bomber killed a colonel and wounded two other soldiers at a polling station. A uniformed suicide bomber was killed near another polling station.
suicide bomber in an army uniform killed four soldiers and wounded nine more at a polling center in Hawija. In a separate incident, a soldier was killed while struggling with a suicide bomber.
Three policemen were killed and nine more were wounded at a polling center in Tuz Khormato when a suicide bomber dressed in a police uniform blew up his explosives.
In Arbilthree people were killed and a fourth was wounded during a home invasion.
Sahwa member was shot dead in Albu Ajil.
A roadside bomb near a polling center in Saniya wounded three policemen.
Over a dozen people were wounded in Suleimaniya in celebratory gunfire that began after videos showed V.P. Talabani voting.

Egypt’s military junta continues to move forward with mass trials of those involved in public protests against last summer’s coup, and today sentenced another 683 protesters to death for “inciting violence.” Among those sentenced was the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, whose political wing was the elected government of Egypt until being ousted last year by the military.
The exact same judge was in charge of the first of the mass trials last month, which quickly concluded with asentence of death for all 529 detainees. The judge was handed the case of the 683 protesters sentenced today just a day after the first verdict.
715 more “suspected Islamists” are being held in a third mass trial related to the protests, and 204 more are facing the same “inciting violence” charge in a fourth mass trial.
Though the United States has been somewhat critical of the mass execution orders, but has followed on to that criticism by freeing up massive amounts of military aid for the junta, suggesting that whatever theoretical problems they have with executing protesters by the thousands, they don’t amount to much on a policy front.

AIPAC Livid Over ‘Offensive’ Kerry Warning on Israeli Apartheid

ADL: 'Unfair' to Suggest Israel Could Become Apartheid State

by Jason Ditz, April 28, 2014
An exclusive last night from the Daily Beast quoted Secretary of State John Kerry expressing concerns about Israel’s future in the absence of a peace deal, insisting a two-state solution is the “only real alternative.”
In the comments, Kerry warned a one-state solution including the occupied territories wouldn’t work, because it would force Israel to either become “an apartheid state with second-class citizens,” or give up on the idea of Israel being a “Jewish state.”
Kerry’s comments sparked a flurry of condemnations, even though by and large they are the exact same “demographics bomb” argument in favor of the two-state solution that have been made for years, with AIPAC declaring the term apartheid “offensive” and “deeply troubling.”
The ADL echoed the condemnation, insisting it was “unfair” to suggest Israel might ever become an apartheid state, despite its already extremely checkered history of rights for religious minorities.
J Street, notably, issued a statement urging people not to waste energy condemning Kerry and instead focus on changing the policies to prevent the future Kerry warned of.
Instead of standing by his comments on the rare occasion he was actually right about something, the State Department quickly backtracked on the statement, insisting Kerry believes Israel is a super great “vibrant democracy” that wouldn’t think of doing anything but supporting equal rights.



WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry issued an unusual statement Monday evening expressing his support for Israel after a controversy erupted over a politically charged phrase he used in a private appearance. 
 Speaking to a closed-door meeting of the Trilateral Commission last week, Mr. Kerry said that if a Middle East peace agreement was not achieved, Israel risked becoming an “apartheid state,” according to an article in The Daily Beast, an online publication. The comments were noted in the Israeli news media and were severely criticized by some American Jewish organizations.
 “Any suggestion that Israel is, or is at risk of becoming, an apartheid state is offensive and inappropriate,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said. “Israel is the lone stable democracy in the Middle East, protects the rights of minorities regardless of ethnicity or religion.”
Republican lawmakers were also critical. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and possible presidential contender, said Mr. Kerry’s comments were “outrageous and disappointing.”
During his push for a comprehensive peace agreement, Mr. Kerry has repeatedly warned that Israel could face economic pressure from European nations as well asPalestinian violence and a demographic time bomb at home — meaning Jews could become a minority in Israel and the territories they control — if Israel did not negotiate an agreement that led to an independent Palestinian state.

His recent comments came at a particularly sensitive moment with the peace talks put off, after Israel’s decision to suspend negotiations because of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s announcement of its reconciliation with Hamas, the Islamic militant group that governs Gaza.
 In the statement that Mr. Kerry issued Monday, which bore the title “On Support for Israel,” he said that he had been a staunch supporter of Israel during his years as a senator and had spent many hours since working with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials.
“For more than 30 years in the United States Senate, I didn’t just speak words in support of Israel,” Mr. Kerry said in his statement. “I walked the walk when it came time to vote and when it came time to fight.”
Mr. Kerry added that he did not believe that Israel was an “apartheid state” or intended to become one. Mr. Kerry did not dispute he had used the phrase but said it had led to a “misimpression” about his views.
“If I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two state solution,” he said.
“In the long term, a unitary, binational state cannot be the democratic Jewish state that Israel deserves or the prosperous state with full rights that the Palestinian people deserve,” he added.
J Street, a pro-peace Jewish organization,  defended Mr. Kerry. “Instead of putting energy into attacking Secretary Kerry, those who are upset with the secretary’s use of the term should put their energy into opposing and changing the policies that are leading Israel down this road,” it said in a statement.
But Aaron David Miller, a former American peace negotiator now at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said that Mr. Kerry’s comment had drawn him into an “unproductive fight with a close ally.”
“Baker and Kissinger used tough language when they thought they would not only be able to make a point, but would be able to make a difference,” Mr. Miller said of James A. Baker III and Henry A. Kissinger, both former secretaries of state.  “But Kerry’s closed-door comment was ill timed, ill advised and unwise.”