Thursday, August 29, 2013

  • Thursday, August 29, 2013
From Ian:

TIME: Obama Can Strike Syria Unilaterally
Obama wrote congressional leaders two days after the war against Libya began in March 2011, saying U.S. military action was needed “to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and address the threat posed to international peace and security by the crisis in Libya.” The U.S. strikes, he said, would be “limited in their nature, duration and scope” before the U.S. handed off command of the operation to NATO.
Actually, the initial U.S. strike involved launching 110 cruise missiles from U.S. warships and 45 bombs dropped from B-2 stealth bombers. Limited was a relative term.
Obama cited a U.N. resolution to justify the action, adding that the “United States military efforts are discrete and focused on employing unique U.S. military capabilities to set the conditions for our European allies and Arab partners to carry out the measures authorized by the U.N. Security Council resolution.”
NYT Op Ed: Bomb Syria, Even if It Is Illegal
Of course ethics, not only laws, should guide policy decisions. Since the Rwandan genocide and the Balkan mass killings of the 1990s, a movement has emerged in support of adding humanitarian intervention as a third category of lawful war, under the concept of the “responsibility to protect.” It is widely accepted by the United Nations and most governments. It is not, however, in the charter, and it lacks the force of law.
This was evident in Kosovo in 1999, when NATO bombed Yugoslavia without United Nations authorization. Then, as now, Russia and China were unwilling to grant Security Council approval. America and its allies went ahead with what the Independent International Commission on Kosovo later called an “illegal but legitimate” use of force. In that case, NATO accepted implicitly that its act was illegal. It defended it in moral and political language rather than legal terms.
Why chemical weapons matter more than bullets
It is easy to see why the argument has traction. Tens of millions of people have died in war and internal repression since the end of WWII and all but a few tens of thousands (brutal as such language may sound) have been victims of chemical or biological weapons. None have died due to a nuclear attack.
Yet this misses issues of enormous significance, the first of which is the following: the reason why even the most heinous of regimes have tended not to use WMD has either been because they did not have the technology to acquire them (Rwanda, for example) or because even if they did have them they were so aware of the reputational and existential consequences (see below) of using them that they imposed red lines upon themselves.
What Obama Can Learn From Netanyahu on Syria
Israel’s own Syria policy should hearten the overwhelming majority of Americans who recoil at the idea of another foreign entanglement. Israel has proven that it’s possible to prevent game-changing sophisticated weapons, including long range missiles, from flowing from Syria to the Hezbollah without putting boots on the ground. Furthermore, Israel’s targeted military strikes have been conducted without the country being dragged into Syria’s civil war.
Beyond this lesson, President Obama needs to demonstrate the fortitude required to make a complete, sudden change in principle and attitude. Indeed, Obama’s realpolitik outlook treats unrest as more dangerous than injustice, and power as more important than human rights. Perhaps this explains the public’s hesitance to get involved in Syria.
Peres: Situation in Syria a ‘crime against humanity’
“The situation in Syria is not a local incident but a crime against humanity and a breach of international law,” he said. “As such the responsible world is coming together to respond. Syria has crossed a moral boundary. The whole world was witness to the horrific pictures of Syrian children who lay dead on the floor. President Obama spoke on behalf of the whole of humanity when he said this breach of international law, this mass murder, could not go without an appropriate response.”
He added: “We must understand that the response is global, not local. We are seeing a serious coalition coming together, both militarily and diplomatically.
Threatening Israel
The anti-Israel bluster from Damascus, Tehran and Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon appear to have disturbed none of the foreign statesmen or opinion-molders, whose alacrity to condemn Israel for any perceived transgression is nothing short of remarkable.
Moreover, the veiled hints from Moscow about dire repercussions for the entire region in the event of an American attack on the Assad regime might imply warnings of punishment for Israel.
All the while, Israeli commentators strive to outdo each other with educated guesses about whether we are vulnerable, whether it would serve Bashar Assad’s interests to fire at us, whether we should retaliate and how.
On Syrian TV, Threats to Annihilate Israel, US Forces with Chemical Weapons


Former Egyptian Presidential Candidate Hamdeen Sabahi: An Attack on Syria is an Attack on Egypt VIDEO

Jordan: No attacks on Syria from our soil
A U.S.-led strike on Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by President Bashar Assad's regime likely would involve cruise missile attacks from the sea, which would not need to cross or make use of Jordanian territory.
But the remarks underline the U.S. ally's efforts to avoid further friction with its larger neighbor for fear that Assad or his Iranian backers could retaliate.
Russia, France deploy warships to eastern Mediterranean
The Kremlin is to deploy a missile cruiser and an anti-submarine ship to the eastern Mediterranean in the coming days, amid rising tension over a possible US-led military response to Syria’s alleged chemical weapons use.
“The well-known situation shaping up in the eastern Mediterranean called for certain corrections to the make-up of the naval forces,” a Moscow military source told Russia’s Interfax news agency.
Syria and Israel Lobby Conspiracy Theories
If anything, events of the last few years in which Arab Spring protests and rebellions have debunked the long-cherished view of Israel’s critics that holds that the conflict with the Palestinians is the central issue around which all conflicts revolve in the Middle East. That’s a concept that those heavily influenced by the Walt-Mearsheimer canard have a tough time wrapping their brains around. But those willing to subscribe to conspiracy theories in which Israel provides the explanation for every mystery and misery on the planet now find themselves searching for an Israel angle about Syria. But other than the fact that Israel will be blamed for the outcome no matter what happens, there is none. Conspiracy theorists and their journalistic enablers need to move on.
Orthodox Jewish Youth Pray for Syria
A group of youth involved in the religious-Zionist Bnei Akiva program have started organized prayers on behalf of Syrian civilians who are at risk due to the ongoing civil war in their country. The prayer initiative, which began in Petach Tikva, has now spread to Jewish communities around the world.
Bnei Akiva volunteers who are doing a year of national civilian service in Petach Tikva came up with the idea of coordinating prayers on behalf of innocent Syrians.
Guardian clashes with much of the Islamic world over U.S. military action in Syria
Anyone familiar with Guardian editorials on the Middle East would surely recognize the narrative – a template for opposing military action in the Middle East which is employed seemingly regardless of the particular circumstances.
Interestingly, however, especially in the context of the paper’s political sympathies towards the Arab and Muslim world, if you were to visit the homepage of The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – which defines their group as representing “the collective voice of the Muslim world” – you’d see the following:
The OIC General Secretariat calls for decisive action against the chemical attack in Syria
BBC presentation of Israeli view on Syria intervention replete with inaccuracies
The statement that “Iraq attacked Tel Aviv with Scud missiles” is of course inaccurate. As was reported by the BBC itself at the time, Scud missiles were also fired by Iraqi forces at Haifa and other locations in Israel, including the Dimona region in the Negev.
The statement “sales of gas masks in Israel have gone up..” is also inaccurate. Gas Masks are not sold to the Israeli public, but distributed by the Home Front Command, in part via the Postal Services.
Interestingly, in the section titled “Lebanon”, this BBC article does not make any reference to Lebanon being “involved” in the conflict in Syria, despite the fact that Hizballah – which holds seats in the Lebanese parliament and government – is actively fighting there.
AP Returns Golan Heights to Syria
AP's online "interactive" item entitled "Syria's civil war" contains a map (below) placing the Golan Heights, in their entirety, within Syria.
In Egypt’s Sinai, rising militancy threatens peacekeeping force
A dramatic rise in militancy and violence in the vast Sinai desert is increasingly threatening a peacekeeping force there that includes nearly 700 U.S. troops acting as guarantors of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, according to Western military officials.
Heavily armed locals have blockaded bases and convoys, and, in a few instances, launched attacks against the peacekeepers, raising concerns about not only their safety but also the long-term stability of their mission. That mission had become more challenging even before the most recent phase of Egypt’s post-
revolution crisis, with regional volatility forcing members of the Multinational Force and Observers, many of whom operate out of remote bases, to bolster security and limit their movements.
Isi Leibler: The implications of Obama’s failure
That Obama is considering abrogating economic aid to Egypt suggests that the US has not absorbed the lessons arising from Jimmy Carter’s naïve and disastrous approach to Iran, which paved the way for the ayatollah’s takeover. Without urgent, remedial aid to Egypt, which depends on imports for the bulk of its food and is rapidly running out of hard currency, total economic meltdown, hunger, riots and even civil war are likely.
In addition, ongoing US pressure to “democratize” Egypt could enable Russian President Vladimir Putin to restore the Russian-Egyptian nexus which prevailed prior to Sadat’s break with the Soviet Union.
Instead of seeking to impose democracy from without, the US should support Egypt’s military government as a mechanism for forestalling the transformation of Egypt into a breeding ground for jihadists and al-Qaida.
Reports of the killing of an Iranian Baha’i received
Reports have been received that a well-known member of the Iranian Baha’i community, Mr. Ataollah Rezvani, has been killed in or around the port city of Bandar Abbas in Southern Iran. The event is believed to have taken place on Saturday 24 August 2013. Available information indicates that Mr. Rezvani’s life had been threatened by fanatical elements within the city’s authorities.
US asks Tehran to free Jewish ex-FBI agent, two others
The State Department said in a statement that the US is “respectfully” requesting the assistance from Iran’s new president, Hasan Rouhani. Previous requests made to former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used slightly harsher rhetoric.
Levinson, a husband and father of seven who is Jewish, went missing from Kish Island in Iran in March 2007. The former FBI agent was working as a private investigator at the time.
Nigeria: 2 Charged with Assisting Iranian Terror Cell
Berende is accused of travelling to Iran to help with "material assistance and terrorist training ... in the use of fire arms, explosives and other related weapons."
He is also accused of knowing about spying on two Israeli targets in Lagos - the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish centre and the Lagos branch of AA Consulting - but failing to alert police.
Iran's Cyber War: Hackers In Service Of The Regime
IRGC Claims Iran Can Hack Enemy's Advanced Weapons Systems; Iranian Army Official: 'The Cyber Arena Is Actually The Arena Of The Hidden Imam'


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