Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Biden: How can Israel be democratic and Jewish at the same time

    Tuesday, April 19, 2016   No comments
BBC: How can Israel be democratic and Jewish at the same time
Joe Biden voiced his 'overwhelming frustration' with Israel's government which he said is leading the country in the wrong direction, in an unusually sharp rebuke of America's closest ally in the Middle East.

The Vice President, in a speech yesterday to the pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy group J Street, offered a grim outlook for peace efforts between Israel and Palestine, reflecting dim hopes for progress during the remainder of the Obama administration.

Although he said Israelis and Palestinians shared blame for undermining trust and shirking responsibility, he criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, suggesting his approach raised 'profound questions' about how Israel could remain both Jewish and democratic.

'I firmly believe that the actions that Israel's government has taken over the past several years - the steady and systematic expansion of settlements, the legalization of outposts, land seizures - they're moving us and more importantly they're moving Israel in the wrong direction,' Biden said.

He said those policies were moving Israel toward a 'one-state reality' - meaning a single state for Palestinians and Israelis in which eventually, Israeli Jews will no longer be the majority.

'That reality is dangerous,' Biden added.


'There is at the moment no political will that I observed from either Israelis or Palestinians to go forward with serious negotiations,' Biden said. source

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Saudi Arabia threatens U.S. over 9/11 legislation: will sell $750 billion worth of assets held inside U.S.

    Saturday, April 16, 2016   No comments
Saudi Arabia threatens to sell off US assets if Congress passes 9/11 bill
Officials in Saudi Arabia have reportedly told the Obama administration they will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars of American assets if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible for any role in the September 11 attacks.

On the eve of President Barack Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the New York Times said the White House had been lobbying Congress to block the bill’s passage and that the threat from Saudi Arabia had been the subject of intense talks.

It said that Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, delivered the kingdom’s message last month during a trip to Washington, telling legislators that Saudi Arabia would be forced to sell up to $750bn in treasury securities and other assets in the United States before they could be in danger of being frozen by American courts.
 source

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hiroshima survivors look to Obama visit for disarmament, not apology

    Thursday, April 14, 2016   No comments
Progress on ridding the world of nuclear weapons, not an apology, is what Hiroshima would want from a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to the Japanese city hit by an American nuclear attack 71 years ago, survivors and other residents said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said during a visit to the city on Monday that Obama wanted to travel there, though he did not know if the president's schedule would allow him to when he visits Japan for a Group of Seven summit in May.

No incumbent U.S. president has ever visited Hiroshima.

A presidential apology would be controversial in the United States, where a majority view the bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and of the city of Nagasaki three days later, as justified to end the war and save U.S lives.

The vast majority of Japanese think the bombings were unjustified.

"If the president is coming to see what really happened here and if that constitutes a step toward the abolition of nuclear arms in future, I don't think we should demand an apology," said Takeshi Masuda,
a 91-year-old former school teacher. source

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

One of the authors of U.S. Senate Report on 9/11: Saudi government supported the hijackers who carried out the September 11th attacks

    Wednesday, April 13, 2016   No comments
Current and former members of Congress, U.S. officials, 9/11 Commissioners and the families of the attack's victims want 28 top-secret pages of a congressional report released. Bob Graham, the former Florida governor, Democratic U.S. Senator and onetime chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, says the key section of a top secret report he helped author should be declassified to shed light on possible Saudi support for some of the 9/11 hijackers. Graham was co-chair of Congress' bipartisan "Joint Inquiry" into intelligence failures surrounding the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, that issued the report in 2003.

Graham and his Joint Inquiry co-chair in the House, former Representative Porter Goss (R-FL) -- who went on to be director of the CIA -- say the 28 pages
were excised from their report by the Bush Administration in the interest of national security. Graham wouldn't discuss the classified contents, but says the 28 pages outline a network of people he believes supported hijackers in the U.S. He tells Kroft he believes the hijackers were "substantially" supported by Saudi Arabia. Asked if the support was from government, rich people or charities, the former senator replies, "all of the above."
source

Monday, April 11, 2016

For a self-declared mere "servant" of holy places, the Saudi king makes his state visit to Turkey in Style: 500 luxury cars, 450-square meter King Suite with bullet proof windows

    Monday, April 11, 2016   No comments
For a self-declared "servant" of holy places, the Saudi king makes his state visit to Turkey in Style: 500 luxury cars, 450-square meter King Suite, with bullet proof windows

A week of intense preparations in Ankara for Saudi King Salman has been completed, with extraordinary security measures marking the king’s two-day visit upon the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The windows of the 450-square meter King Suite in the JW Marriot in Ankara have been covered with bullet-proof glass while the walls of the suite have been covered with bomb-resistant cement.
...
The hotel has been booked for the king for three days, and a team of 300 Saudi officials arrived there a few days ago to coordinate private preparations. It is reported that the total cost of preparations at the hotel was around $10 million.

All personal belongings and other necessities were transferred to Ankara in cargo planes, while around 500 luxury cars have been rented for the king’s meetings in Ankara and Istanbul. To fulfil this demand, vehicles have been rented from provinces across Turkey including Antalya and Adana.
Source

If U.S. Intervention in Libya is Obama's "Worst Mistake", allowing U.S. allies, like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, to intervene in Syria ought to be his second "worst mistake

    Monday, April 11, 2016   No comments
Qatar's Hands in the Destruction of Syria
ISR comment: If U.S. Intervention in Libya is Obama's "Worst Mistake", allowing U.S. allies, like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, to intervene in Syria ought to be his second "worst mistake.
...
In his first interview on Fox News Sunday since becoming president, Barack Obama admitted that "failing to plan for, the day after" the U.S. intervention in Libya was the worst mistake of his presidency.

Obama mentioned the same failure two weeks ago in a BBC interview. "That's a lesson I now apply when we're asked to intervene militarily," Obama said. "Do we have a plan for the day after?"

That ought to be a shocking statement. After all, U.S. history is littered with interventions that failed in their aftermath.
The lootings in post-invasion Iraq, the bloody campaign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and the large-scale humanitarian disaster that remains North Korea are just a handful of examples of the consequences of U.S. interventions that any U.S. policy maker ought to be expected to know, let alone the U.S. president.

Obama, of course, is likely wrong. It was not just a lack of adequate post-intervention planning that turned Libya into a failing state and hotbed for radical Islamist terrorist groups—the U.S.-led intervention itself did that. It's hard to imagine what kind of planning, short of installing a dictatorial puppet regime, would've prevented the power vacuum in which subsequent instability has thrived.

The lesson of Iraq should have been sufficient. Although the U.S. failed to plan for the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, even when the U.S. started getting serious about "nation building" in Iraq that couldn't be a guarantee of success. The perceived intelligence, or lack thereof, of George W. Bush and members of his administration could not alone account for the failure in Iraq. After all, the Obama administration's military "surge" in Afghanistan, which was coupled with a "political" surge of State Department bureaucrats, did not have better results in that country. source...


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Military Historian Agrees with Bernie Sanders: Hillary Clinton is an Unreconstructed Hawk

    Sunday, April 10, 2016   No comments
Military Historian Agrees with Bernie Sanders: Hillary Clinton is an Unreconstructed Hawk
In the Democratic presidential race, Senator Bernie Sanders has often clashed with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about U.S. policy in the Middle East. At one debate, he accused Clinton of being "too much into regime change." We ask military historian Andrew Bacevich for his assessment.

TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Colonel Bacevich, we are in New York right now, though we’re headed out on a 100-city tour around the country. But right now New York is ground zero for the presidential race, both for the Republicans and for the Democrats. The Democrats—Sanders, Clinton—the big debate right now over these days is each of them are saying the other is not qualified. I want to go back to the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire last year, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders accusing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of being, quote, "too much into regime change."


    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: But I think—and I say this with due respect—that I worry too much that Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be. Yes, we could get rid of Saddam Hussein, but that destabilized the entire region. Yes, we could get rid of Gaddafi, a terrible dictator, but that created a vacuum for ISIS. Yes, we could get rid of Assad tomorrow, but that would create another political vacuum that would benefit ISIS. So I think, yeah, regime change is easy, getting rid of dictators is easy. But before you do that, you’ve got to think about what happens the day after.

    HILLARY CLINTON: Now, with all due respect, Senator, you voted for regime change with respect to Libya. You joined the Senate in voting to get rid of Gaddafi, and you asked that there be a Security Council validation of that with a resolution. All of these are very difficult issues.

AMY GOODMAN: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders says Hillary Clinton, among other things, is not qualified simply because she voted for the Iraq War. Colonel Bacevich?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I don’t know that I would judge somebody’s qualifications simply on one particular vote, but I have to agree with the basic argument that Senator Sanders is making, that Secretary Clinton is an unreconstructed hawk. Now, in terms of the rhetoric, she comes across as more reasoned than the Republican opposition, but the fact of the matter is, if we elect her to be our next commander-in-chief, we are voting for the continuation of the status quo with regard to U.S. national security policy, and specifically U.S. national security policy in the Greater Middle East. So, for people for whom that is an important issue, who want to see change in U.S. policy, she’s not going to be the vehicle for change.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you—you’re a veteran of Vietnam. After Vietnam, the United States got rid of its citizen or volunteer—its drafting of soldiers into the military, and created a volunteer army. You’ve been a critic of that. Why?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think that one of the unintended consequences of ending the draft, creating a professional military, was to create a gap between the military and society. Now, we don’t acknowledge that gap. Matter of fact, we deny the existence of that gap by all of the rhetorical tributes that are paid to the troops and the obligation that we all have to, quote-unquote, "support the troops." The reality, I think, is that when it really comes down to it, the American people don’t pay much attention to how the troops are being used. And because they’re not paying attention, the troops have been subjected to abuse. That is to say, they’ve been sent to fight wars that are unnecessary. The wars have been mismanaged. The wars go on far longer than they ought to. And we respond by letting people in uniform be the first to board airplanes. And I think, frankly, that that is disgraceful and that it actually ought to be one of the things that gets discussed in a presidential campaign, but tends not to, sadly.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, what do you want these presidential candidates to say to—well, we’ve introduced you as a retired colonel, as a Vietnam War veteran, as a professor emeritus, but you’re also a dad, and you lost your son in Iraq in 2007, like so many parents in this country, also like so many Iraqis who lost family members. What do you want these presidential candidates—what do you want to hear from them? What do you want them to say to you?

ANDREW BACEVICH: What they ought to say to us, not simply to me because of my personal circumstances—what they ought to say is: "I understand that we, as a nation, have been engaged in this war for going on four decades now, and I have learned something from that experience. I have taken on board what the United States tried to do militarily and what it actually ended up doing and what the consequence is that resulted. And here’s what I’ve learned, and here’s how I’m going to ensure, if you elect me commander-in-chief, that we will behave in ways that are wiser and more prudent and more enlightened in the future." In other words, they have to look beyond simply the question of how many more bombs are we going to drop on ISIS. That is a secondary consideration. They have to have some appreciation of the history, that I try to lay out in this book.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you so much for being with us, Andrew Bacevich, retired colonel, Vietnam War veteran. His latest book, America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History. He’s professor emeritus of international relations and history at Boston University and is traveling around the country, will be in Providence, is going to Washington, D.C., is going to be speaking at the naval—a naval conference and many other places. You can go online. We’ll link to his website at democracynow.org. This is Democracy Now! Stay with us.
Source

Saturday, April 09, 2016

#IslamicSocietiesReview: Saudi Arabia's war on Yemen has made al-Qaeda stronger – provided it with a mini-state in south-East Yemen

    Saturday, April 09, 2016   No comments
ISR Comment: If one considers the Saudi role in the rise of al-Qaeda and its function in Algeria, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, one can conclude that al-Qaeda is essentially Saudi Special Forces. and that is not by accident.

Once driven to near irrelevance by the rise of Islamic State abroad and security crackdowns at home, al Qaeda in Yemen now openly rules a mini-state with a war chest swollen by an estimated $100 million in looted bank deposits and revenue from running the country’s third largest port.

If Islamic State’s capital is the Syrian city of Raqqa, then al Qaeda’s is Mukalla, a southeastern Yemeni port city of 500,000 people. Al Qaeda fighters there have abolished taxes for local residents, operate speedboats manned by RPG-wielding fighters who impose fees on ship traffic, and make propaganda videos in which they boast about paving local roads and stocking hospitals.


The economic empire was described by more than a dozen diplomats, Yemeni security officials, tribal leaders and residents of Mukalla. Its emergence is the most striking unintended consequence of the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. The campaign, backed by the United States, has helped Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to become stronger than at any time since it first emerged almost 20 years ago.

Yemeni government officials and local traders estimated the group, as well as seizing the bank deposits, has extorted $1.4 million from the national oil company and earns up to $2 million every day in taxes on goods and fuel coming into the port.
source

Friday, April 08, 2016

If true, report of "U.S., Russia Said to Team Up to Draft New Syria Constitution" proves once more that Syria's war was a proxy war

    Friday, April 08, 2016   No comments
Russia and the U.S are working on drafting a new constitution for Syria, according to three Western and Russian diplomats, in the clearest sign yet of the two powers’ determination to broker a solution to a five-year civil war that has sent a wave of refugees toward Europe.
The joint efforts are at an early stage, and Russia’s current proposals are closer to the Syrian government’s position, said one Western diplomat. The two countries are continuing to exchange ideas, a Russian diplomat said. All three envoys spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions are confidential.


The U.S agreed with Russia on a target of August to create a framework for a political transition and a draft constitution for Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry said after talks in the Kremlin on March 24. The United Nations is leading peace talks in Geneva where the government and opposition are negotiating a settlement.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

#IslamicsocietiesReview: #Erdogan Says Obama Lied and claims that the press is free in Turkey

    Sunday, April 03, 2016   No comments
 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said he took offence at US President Barack Obama slamming eroding press freedoms in Turkey, expressing sadness that the comments were made behind his back.

"I am saddened that these kinds of comments have been made in my absence," Erdogan told Turkish reporters in Washington as he rounded off a trip to the United States. "These issues did not come onto the agenda in our talks with Mr Obama."

"He did not talk to me about this kind of thing. In our previous telephone conversations we talked about other more useful things than press freedom," the Hurriyet daily and other newspapers quoted him as saying. source

Saturday, April 02, 2016

While Obama calls Erdogan's treatment of journalists 'very troubling', his body guards attacked journalists calling one "PKK whore"

    Saturday, April 02, 2016   No comments
  Obama: Erdogan treatment of journalists 'very troubling'
President Obama on Friday called out Turkish President Recep Erdogan, saying his policies toward journalists have been "troubling."

During a press conference following the Nuclear Security Summit, Obama was asked if he believed Erdogan is an authoritarian.

“I have expressed this to him directly so it’s no secret, that there are some trends within Turkey that I have been troubled with,” Obama said.

“I am a strong believer in freedom of the press. I’m a strong believer in freedom of religion. I’m a strong believer in rule of law and democracy," he continued. "There is no doubt that President Erdogan has been repeatedly elected through a democratic process, but I think the approach that they’ve been taking towards the press is one that could lead Turkey down a path that would be very troubling.”

On Thursday, a policy discussion featuring the Turkish president at the Brookings Institute was overshadowed by clashes between his security detail and protesters. His bodyguards also reportedly kicked out a Turkish journalist who has been critical of him.  source


The absence of a presidential meeting on Erdogan's trip to the US capital had been glaring. Although there was a statement that the two leaders met, still the lack of media coverage of such meeting and Obama's refusal to schedule a meeting ahead of time spoke loudly about how troubled Obama is with Erdogan's behavior. 

Erdogan's violence against journalists and and regression of the media was on display in DC as well. Erdogan's body guard "aimed a chest-high kick at an American reporter attempting to film the harassment of a Turkish opposition reporter, and another called a female foreign policy scholar a "PKK whore."  Source

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