Wednesday, May 14, 2014

War Watch May 14 , 2014 -- BIG NEWS OF THE DAY --- Saudis actually seeks to negotiate with Iran - this is a major change in foreign policy by the Saudis and does not represent good news for US standing or the dollar if these talks succeed !!! Syria fighting drags on between alleged Rebels / Mercenaries and Government ( as Rebel in -fighting really has become the bigger story in recent months ) .... Bombing in Baghdad becoming every day news ......

Syria ......

Obama renews commitments to Syrian opposition

Opposition chief thanked the U.S. for the $287 million in nonlethal assistance to the Syrian opposition. (File photo: Reuters)
U.S. President Barack Obama praised Syrian Opposition Coalition President Ahmad Jarba and a coalition delegation, renewing his commitments to the group in a meeting at the White House on Tuesday.
Obama and national security adviser Susan Rice offered commitments for what the White House calls a political solution to the conflict that includes a transition to a new governing authority.
The president said that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has lost all legitimacy to rule his country and has no place in the future of the nation.
The meeting came near the end of Jarba's week-long visit to Washington, where the United States officially recognized the Syrian National Coalition as a diplomatic foreign mission and boosted assistance to the group.

The White House says in a statement that Obama has encouraged the coalition to further its vision for an inclusive government. In turn, Jarba thanked the United States for the $287 million in nonlethal assistance and its $1.7 billion commitment to humanitarian aid in Syria and neighboring countries, The Associated Press reported.

But there was no mention in the statement of Jarba's previous plea to the administration for anti-aircraft weapons to combat the barrel bombings unleashed by Assad's forces.

"President Obama welcomed the coalition's leadership and constructive approach to dialogue, and encouraged the coalition to further its vision for an inclusive government that represents all of the people of Syria," the White House said in a statement.
"The delegations also discussed the risks posed by growing extremism in Syria and agreed on the need to counter terrorist groups on all sides of the conflict," the statement added.

Syrian Rebel Attack Backfires

Syrian rebels cut off water to Aleppo in botched attack on regime areas and manage to create shortage in their own strongholds
In a botched attempt to stop drinking water reaching government-held districts of Aleppo, rebels managed to cut off water supplies to large parts of the city in northern Syria including their own strongholds. Women and children are being forced to queue up with cooking pots, kettles and plastic bottles to get water from the fountains of mosques and wells that may be contaminated.
The water shortage started 10 days ago when the rebels, who control the two main pumping stations, tried to keep water flowing to their areas in east Aleppo, but stop it reaching the government-held west of the city. Describing the action as “a crime”, Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that the al-Qa’ida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and other rebel groups were responsible for the water shortage.
People in both halves of the divided city have been forced to rely on ancient wells and fountains. In west Aleppo the Red Crescent and government agencies have provided some water but say it is not safe to drink over an extended period. Some trucks used for taking away waste water from houses are now selling drinking water likely to be contaminated. Fights have broken out in queues when members of local defence committees and officials have demanded they be given priority. Aleppo used to have a population of 2.5 million though at least one million have fled fighting.
A member of the Aleppo Water Department told the Beirut paper al-Akhbar that the Sharia Authority, which unites the rebel movements, controls a crucial pumping station in the Suleiman al-Halabi region. He said that there is a “danger of insurgents pumping water only to the neighbourhoods that they control as it might lead to the collapse of the integrated water system”.
Even before the recent cut-off of supplies, the water system of Aleppo depended on a degree of grudging co-operation between government and opposition mediated by the Red Crescent. The pumping station depends on deliveries of diesel to fuel a generator.
Water has become very expensive in a city where it used to be free. It is the latest disaster to befall Aleppo which, since 2012, has been divided in two. The government has been dropping barrel bombs packed with explosives on rebel districts causing heavy casualties and a further exodus of the population. The rebels have been firing mortars randomly into government areas.
Unlike in central and southern Syria, the rebels are holding their own in Aleppo where they recently launched an offensive which government forces had difficulty in repelling. Last week the Islamic Front detonated explosives at the end of a 400yd-long tunnel under the Carlton Citadel Hotel killing many government soldiers.
The forces of the opposition are dominated by Jabhat al-Nusra and other al-Qa’ida type groups. Their civil war with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) is mostly being fought further east along the Euphrates Valley with 100,00o people being forced to flee their homes in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor in recent days. The Syrian Observatory says that battles between Jabhat al-Nusra and Isis killed 230 fighters in the last 10 days.
The rebels are concentrating their efforts on Aleppo after the final loss of Homs Old City last week when 1,200 rebel fighters were evacuated on buses. Though the government has long been in control of most of Homs, the evacuation marks a serious symbolic defeat for the opposition since the city has been at the centre of media attention. Only the Waer district in the north-west of Homs now remains under partial rebel control, but is sealed off by government checkpoints.


Saudi Arabia’s desire to negotiate with Iran

Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal made an important announcement yesterday when he said that he invited his Iranian counterpart and that he is ready to negotiate with him. This announcement signaled a change in Saudi Arabia’s policy toward Iran and came during a visit to Riyadh by U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel who is scheduled to meet six Gulf ministers in the Saudi capital.
The foreign ministry insists that al-Faisal’s announcement was “merely” an answer to a question and that his invitation to his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif is not something new.
Reuters asked the prince if he plans to invite Iran’s foreign affairs minister or any other Iranian official to visit the kingdom in order to discuss the regional situation.
Faisal said: “There have been talks about the desire to revive communication between the two countries, which was expressed by Iranian officials - the Iranian president and his foreign minister. We sent an invitation to the foreign minister to visit the kingdom, but the intention to visit has not become real yet as he hasn't visited the kingdom so far. Any time that (Zarif) sees fit to come, we are willing to receive him. Iran is a neighbor, we have relations with them and we will negotiate with them, we will talk with them."
Unless Iranian behavior or the balance of power on the ground changes, negotiating with Iran could make things worse
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
The text is clear. It is friendly language and an open invitation. We’ve known Prince Saud al-Faisal as a precise diplomat even when it comes to the tiniest of details. We don’t know whether the statement is truly a mere answer to a question or a new Saudi policy.
My colleague Tarad al-Omari once wrote an interesting column in the Al-Hayat newspaper calling for Saudi-Iranian consensus. So, do we really need this understanding with Iran now? It’s not easy to judge international relations based solely on publicized statements. However, we don’t need to prove that Saudi-Iranian relations are bad as they are now the worst they have been in 30 years with both countries indirectly struggling in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Bahrain and Lebanon. I think Iran is not yet ready for any reconciliation. It’s also certain that any pledges it makes cannot be trusted. Part of the problem lies in not settling the domestic struggle in Iran itself. This is reflected in the contradictory statements made by Iran’s leaders. Another part of the problem, and one that is more dangerous, is the Iranian military command’s belief that they are winning on the ground amidst the U.S. absence, its regression of economic sanctions and its reliance on negotiating over the Iranian nuclear program.
Saudi Arabia will be the weaker party at any potential negotiation table. Negotiating itself will bolster the status of the hawks inside Iran and will send the wrong message to a number of Arab countries fighting Iranian proxies. What’s worse is that any relations with Iranian hawks will strengthen some American officials’ conviction regarding the importance of cooperating with Iran!
I think it is very unlikely that Riyadh will alter its policy just because prominent Iranian politician Hashemi Rafsanjani called for it - even though he is respected by Saudis - or because the Iranian command gave positive signals that it is willing to meet Saudi Arabia halfway. Unless Iranian behavior or the balance of power on the ground changes, negotiating with Iran could make things worse.


Saudi ready to negotiate with Iran: FM

Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said the kingdom is ready to negotiate with Iran. (Reuters)
Saudi Arabia is ready to negotiate improved relations with its regional rival Iran, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters in Riyadh on Tuesday.
Prince al-Faisal added that the kingdom has invited Iran’s foreign minister to visit Riyadh, hinting at a possible thaw between the Gulf’s two biggest powers.

“Iran is a neighbor, we have relations with them and we will negotiate with them,” the Saudi minister told reporters in Riyadh. 

“We will talk with them in the hope that if there are any differences, they will be settled to the satisfaction of both countries,” he said.

“Our hope is that Iran becomes part of the effort to make the region as safe and as prosperous as possible, and not part of the problem of the insecurity of the region.”

Faisal said that his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif had been invited to visit the kingdom.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has visited most of Saudi Arabia’s Gulf Arab allies including Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates since the nuclear pact, which eased some Gulf Arab worries, but has not been to Riyadh.

“This intention to visit has not become a fact..., but any time he sees fit to come, we are willing to receive (Zarif),” Prince Saud said in the Saudi capital Riyadh

Zarif said in December that he would like to visit Saudi Arabia and appealed to the kingdom to work with Tehran in the search for regional “stability.”
Saudi political analyst and writer Jassir al-Jassir described Prince al-Faisal’s announcment as a “bombshell” and a “major shift” in Riyadh’s position toward Iran.
“Iran must have offered something that led Saudi Arabia to open this window of talks,” He said.
Al-Jassir noted that the anticipated meeting between the Saudi foreign minister and his Iranian counterpart “will not be held in vein.”
He said the regional powers could seek agreement on regional issues in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have been deeply divided over a number of regional issues, particularly the three-year-old conflict in Syria.
The kingdom supports the Syrian opposition has thrown its weight behind efforts to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
On the opposite, Iran supports the Assad’s regime, backing him with armament, troops and funding.

Faisal’s remarks came as U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel was in Saudi Arabia on the first leg of a regional tour focusing on Iran’s nuclear program and the war in Syria. 

U.S. officials have struggled to reassure Gulf allies, particularly Saudi Arabia, over the interim nuclear deal that the major powers struck with Tehran late last year and which Riyadh fears will embolden its rival in its regional ambitions.

Washington’s caution about arming the Syrian rebels has also soured its relations with its longtime Saudi ally.

After his election last July on a platform of ending Iran’s international isolation, President Hassan Rowhani said he was particularly keen to reach out to Gulf Arab governments.

Iran Leader Says Won't Bow to Force in Nuke Talks

Saudi Arabia Extends Historic Invitation to Iran


Baghdad Car Bombs Leave 60 Dead, 119 Wounded
by , May 13, 2014
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ad-Dawla al-Islāmiyya fi al-'Irāq wa-sh-Shām) claimed responsibility for several bombings in Baghdad today. Today is the anniversary of the birth of Imam Ali, who is a central figure in the schism between Sunnis and Shi'ites. At least 60 people were killed and 119 more were wounded in the capital and elsewhere.
In Anbar:
Violent clashes took place in Garma.
Anbar Operations Command denied the use of barrel bombs and militia members in their battles against militants.
In Baghdad, at least 25 people were killed and 80 more were wounded in a series of car bombing. Among them was a bomb that killed three people and wounded 10 more in BaladiyatTwelve people were wounded in a blast in Karrada. In Shabb, a blast killed one person and wounded six more. A blast in Ur killed two people and wounded eight moreThree people were killed and 10 more were wounded in a bombing in JamilaFour people were killed and seven more in another blast.  A car bomb wounded one person in AmilThree bombs in Sadr City killed six people and wounded 13 more. A bomb was also safely detonated in Maamil. Gunmen wounded a lawyer in Rashid. In Doura, a civilian was gunned down. A body was foundhandcuffed, blindfolded and buried in Shoala.
Eleven people were killed and 16 were wounded in a blast at a hospital parking lot inBalad.
In Mosul, a shell fell near an elementary school and killed a student.
A roadside bomb killed an army major in Qayara.
civilian was shot dead in Latifiya.
government official was wounded in a bombing in Beiji.
Security forces killed three gunmen and wounded another in Shirqat.