Friday, August 30, 2013

From Ian:

Isi Leibler: Responding to the Syrian nightmare
Overall, the current U.S. response has been appalling. It has formally assured Assad that it will restrict its punitive military response to "limited strikes" over a number of days, and stressed that it is not seeking to bring about regime change.
This mere rap over the knuckles is hardly likely to act as a deterrent and the killing business will proceed as in the past. In fact, Assad is likely to boast that he defeated the U.S. and the Western alliance. It will not reassure those concerned about the failure of the U.S. to stand by its commitments and allies. It will certainly not allay Israel's concerns about the U.S. standing by its undertakings concerning the Iranian nuclear threat.
David Horovitz: Perfidious Albion hands murderous Assad a spectacular victory
In Iran, for a regime which has always had a withering estimation of western moral purpose, the anti-Cameron opposition’s dramatic victory would have come as less of a surprise, and it can only reinforce Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s confidence that he, like North Korea before him, can safely lie and dissemble his way to a nuclear weapons capability, ignoring the empty rhetoric of the craven West.
And in Israel? In an Israel beset by threats and challenges in almost every direction, an Israel whose northern border is just an hour’s drive from Assad’s toxic Damascus, an Israel being urged by the international community to take territorial risks for peace in a vicious, WMD-using, phenomenally unstable Middle East — in that Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be feeling a further bitter vindication of his long-held and oft-stated conviction that, ultimately, against all dangers, Israel needs to be able to take care of itself, by itself. At the very least, he might be reflecting, perfidious Albion could not be relied upon to rally to the rescue.
Barry Rubin: U.S. Attack on Syria Won't Change Anything
What would be the best outcome for America? That the war will go on long enough until one side wins and that side will not be the regime. But basically, the civil war is going to be fought out.
It might well be said that strategically, it would be better if Iran didn't win the victory by saving the regime, but frankly, a victory by radical Islamist rebels and al-Qaida is hardly a bargain. Don’t forget that in practice, an American intervention would not be on the side of easing the lot of Syrian civilians but on the side of an extremely oppressive and unstable future government winning.
In other words, it is not that there are no easy answers but there are no good answers.
Antiwar Left Stays Quiet On Syria
On the eve of American military intervention in Syria, the once-robust antiwar movement has stayed curiously silent.
Activists who turned out thousands of protesters during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq say they’ve been unable to effectively organize or raise money since the end of the Bush years, and that newer causes like drones have seized the space on the left once occupied by opposition to conventional warfare. And some acknowledge that the energy has leaked out of the movement because a Democrat is now in office. Though some groups have organized online petitions and some real-life protests, the antiwar crowd that was on fire before the war in Iraq has made hardly a dent in the conversation surrounding Syria.
Galloway Caught Lying to Parliament Over Syria Comments
A week after accusing Israel of giving Al-Qaeda chemical weapons to use against civilians in Syria, British MP George Galloway was caught lying about his remarks during a debate in Parliament.
Galloway, who is known for his vehemently anti-Israel views and for his support for the Hamas terror group, claimed last week during his program on the Iranian state-run Press TV, “If there’s been any use of nerve gas, it’s the rebels that used it...If there has been use of chemical weapons, it was Al Qaeda who used the chemical weapons. “Who gave Al Qaeda the chemical weapons? Here’s my theory: Israel gave them the chemical weapons.”


BBC defence correspondent: Al Kibar was a ‘suspected’ nuclear facility
The International Atomic Energy Agency says it was. US intelligence says it was. The BBC, however, is apparently not convinced.
If you happened to be watching BBC television news coverage on the subject of a potential Western attack in Syria on August 28th you could hardly have failed to miss the repeated broadcast of an item by BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale which also appears on the Middle East page of the BBC News website under the title “How would Syria respond to military action?“.
Officials: Obama Prepared to Go at Syria Alone
United States President Barack Obama is prepared to move ahead with a limited military strike on Syria, administration officials told the New York Times on Thursday, even with a rejection of such action by Britain’s Parliament, an increasingly restive Congress, and lacking an endorsement from the United Nations Security Council.
Although the officials cautioned that Obama had not made a final decision, all indications suggest that the strike could occur as soon as United Nations inspectors, who are investigating the August 21 attack that killed hundreds of Syrians, leave the country. They are scheduled to depart Damascus on Saturday.
Senate Foreign Relations chairman backs Syria strike
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said late Thursday that “the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime requires a decisive response.
“Our national security interests, those of our allies, and regional stability are at risk as Syria is disintegrating into a failed state,” he wrote in a statement.
“This is not a moment to look the other way, to blind ourselves to the horrifying images in Syria, and to send the dangerous message to the global community that we would allow the use of a chemical weapons attack to take place with impunity. Vulnerable populations throughout the world, as well as some of our allies, and potentially even our Armed Forces could be future targets if we don’t respond. Tonight’s briefing reaffirmed for me that a decisive and consequential US response is justified and warranted to protect Syrians, as well as to send a global message that chemical weapons attacks in violation of international law will not stand,” he said.
French president endorses Syria action, despite UK no vote
French President Francois Hollande expressed readiness Friday to push ahead with plans to strike Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons, despite the British parliament’s rejection of military action, and Germany’s declaration that it would not participate. Washington was understood to be preparing for the possibility of a strike against the Damascus regime within days.
“The chemical massacre of Damascus cannot and must not remain unpunished,” Hollande said in an interview with the newspaper Le Monde, published Friday, as UN experts in Damascus began what is expected to be the last day of their probe into the alleged attack.
The real winners and losers from Britain's Syria vote
The sight of the blundering, opportunistic buffoon that is Britain's Leader of the Opposition celebrating the Prime Minister's "humiliation" in the vote on Syria on Thursday evening will make Syria's Bashar Al-Assad as delighted as it made us sick.
And the fake indignation of Labour officials aside, the unshakeable fact is that Ed Miliband has indeed given Assad succour and he has helped send a message to oppressive regimes and terror groups alike that the use of chemical and other weapons of mass destruction is something that Britain just doesn't much care about.
‘If Assad Falls, Al-Qaeda Rises’
If the United States and other Western nations intervene in Syria, Israel will pay a heavy price – not because of immediate retaliation, but because of the nature of Middle East politics, an expert on Mideast affairs has warned.
“Bashar Assad made a huge mistake when he used chemical weapons… But on the other hand, if the West strikes him, G-d protect us,” Dr. David Bukay of Haifa University told Arutz Sheva.
“If the Sunni opposition defeats him, that means that next to us, on the Syrian border, will be Al-Qaeda loyalists,” he warned.
Report: Russia increasing weapons shipments to Assad
More than two years into Syria's civil war, President Bashar Assad is settling his bills for Russian arms orders through the Russian banking system to try to shore up ties with his most powerful ally, according to a Russian arms industry source.
The payments, which have increased in recent months, show how Assad has sustained his ties with his main diplomatic defender, a relationship that has come under the spotlight this week as Western countries plan military action to punish him for suspected chemical weapons attacks on civilians.
Iron Dome deployed near Tel Aviv
The IDF deployed several additional Iron Dome missile defense batteries in the Dan region around Tel Aviv and in the north Friday, as part of the army’s continued preparations for the possibility of conflict with Syria.
The deployment was accompanied by the stationing of longer-range Patriot anti-missile batteries in the north and center of the country. The air force has also raised the readiness level of its Arrow 2 batteries, which are tasked with intercepting long-range missiles from deep inside Syria or Iran.
Netanyahu: ‘Low probability’ Israel will be drawn into Syria fighting
Responding to reports of heightened IDF mobilization, including the deployment of additional missile-defense batteries to the north, Netanyahu suggested the steps were taken as a precaution.
“Despite the low probability that Israel will become involved in what is happening in Syria, we decided to deploy the Iron Dome batteries and other interception systems,” he said.
Report: Syrian Army Seals Damascus, Prepares ‘Martyrs’
Thirteen pilots, and a total of more than 8,000 Syrian soldiers, have expressed willingness to die in suicide missions if necessary, he claimed, adding, “I myself am ready to blow myself up against US aircraft carriers to stop them attacking Syria and its people."
Syria: BBC Team Witnesses Incendiary Bomb Dropped on School
A BBC team inside Syria filming for the Panorama program witnessed the aftermath of a fresh horrific incident, an incendiary bomb dropped onto a school playground in the north of the country.
The attack left scores of children with napalm-like burns over their bodies, the network reported on Thursday.
Built to counter Israel, Assad’s chemical arsenal now wielded against the rebels
Syria, defeated by Israel in three wars and afraid its arch enemy had gained a nuclear arsenal, began in earnest to build a covert chemical weapons programme three decades ago, aided by its neighbours, allies and European chemical wholesalers.
Damascus lacked the technology and scientific capacity to set up a programme on its own, but with backing from foreign allies it amassed what is believed to be one of the deadliest stockpiles of nerve agent in the world, Western military experts said.
Meet the Monster Behind Syria’s Chemical Weapons
His family loves art and refined European tastes. This highly cultured man is responsible for producing poison gas. It reads like something out of Nazi Germany but it is not. Meet Syria's Amr Najib Armanazi.


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