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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

9/10 Links Part 1: Israel unconvinced by Russian plan for Syrian CW, HRW Assad Used CW.

From Ian:

ADL's Foxman: Obama Asked Us to Help on Syria
"In the same way that Secretary Kerry and senior Obama Administration officials asked for our help in advancing the peace process, so they asked for support about a strike on Syria – by means of a phone call and direct requests," Foxman said.
"Congressmen have been calling our people in the last few days and we have told them what our position is. In the course of Rosh Hashanna, and as Yom Kippur approaches, too, rabbis in several synagogues will urge the congregation to put pressure on members of Congress."
Leftist Roots Trump Obama for J Street
While AIPAC has reacted to the president’s puzzling decision to pass off responsibility to Congress for a strike on Syria by mobilizing its resources to back him up on the issue, J Street is standing on the sidelines of a vote that will have huge implications for the future of U.S. influence in the Middle East. In doing so, J Street is not only burning what’s left of its bridges to an administration that they’ve been out of step with for the past two years. It’s also showing that their leftist roots as the Jewish rump of the MoveOn.org movement trumps their loyalty to the president or to the cause of human rights.
That J Street should be aligning itself with the isolationists on both the left and the right against the administration shouldn’t be any surprise. Despite their boasts about representing the mainstream of Jewish opinion in this country, it has always been a creature of the isolationist left. Though opposition to Syria intervention is widely unpopular, J Street might have been expected to rally to President Obama’s side in what is probably the most crucial moment of his second term. If Congress fails to grant him authority to attack Syria his credibility is shot at home and abroad and we might as well hang a sign around his neck saying “lame duck.”
P. J. O’Rourke: I Came, I Saw, I Skedaddled
Sir Winston Barack Churchill Obama
We shall fight on the beaches—mostly on Martha’s Vineyard, where everybody was over Labor Day weekend—we shall fight at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, we shall fight at the U.N. Security Council, we shall fight in the House of Representatives and the Senate when Congress is finally back in session; we shall never surrender unless we don’t get enough votes or our poll ratings are low.

Col. William Barack Prescott Obama at the Battle of Bunker Capitol Hill
Don’t fire until you see the whites .  .  . But we should not understand this as a racial issue. We should not understand this as a partisan political issue. We should not understand this as a national issue. This is an international issue. Don’t fire at General Howe’s troops until you see international support. And it doesn’t count if it’s just France. (h/t Yenta Press)
Syria strike test vote put on hold as Obama backs off 'red line'
President Obama will address the nation Tuesday night to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria, with the debate in Congress over a possible military strike effectively on hold as the president backs away from the "red line" and opens the door to a "diplomatic track."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has postponed a test vote originally teed up for Wednesday. That decision came as the president said in an interview with Fox News that he's open to negotiations on an alternative plan that could avert a military strike.
Israel unconvinced by Russian plan for Syrian chemical arms
Details of a deal to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control are highly murky, Knesset foreign affairs chief Avigdor Liberman said Tuesday, warning that the plan could potentially serve the interests of the Assad regime.
Speaking to Israel Radio, the head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee said Syrian President Bashar “Assad is winning time and lots of it,” as a result of the Russian plan. Comparing the situation to that of Iran’s nuclear program, he noted that the Syrian leader could use the initiative to “buy time” and stall any real international involvement, military or other.
Jerusalem: Too Early for Champagne on Syria
Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said Tuesday that the Russian offer to supervise chemical weapons in Syria must be examined with suspicion and caution, and that the West needs to make sure that the offer is not a manipulation designed to prevent a strike on Syria or postpone it as much as possible.
"Israel is out of the game," the diplomatic sources told IDF Radio, "but the United States had better examine this compromise offer well, since the interests of the Russians and Syrians are diametrically opposed to the direction in which the West wanted to lead matters – therefore, this should be examined carefully. It is still not time to break out the champagne bottles."
Winning without chemical weapons
You’ve got to tip your hat to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The man whose life mission over the past few months was to head-butt the US and weaken its position around the world, and especially in the Middle East, has managed to do it again.
On the very day the US Congress finally gathered to discuss a possible strike against Syria; just as it finally appeared Barack Obama might manage to muster the majority he needs for a military operation; as the US president was scheduled for six national TV appearances about Syria — Putin pulled the carpet from under Obama’s feet and removed the impetus behind an American attack.
France to bring Syrian chemical arms deal to Security Council
France announced Tuesday it will put forward a resolution in the UN Security Council aimed at forcing Syria to ultimately dismantle its chemical weapons program, seizing on a diplomatic opening from Syrian ally Russia amid Western threats of force against President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Shortly afterward, Syria indicated it would sign on to a Russian proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control.
UN Watch: Ramsey Clark to defend Syria at U.N. with Assad front groups
Former U.S. Attorney-General Ramsey Clark, who morphed into a dictator-loving nutjob decades ago, will be one of the keynote speakers at a propaganda event this afternoon at the UN Human Rights Council, organized by front groups for Syria’s Assad regime such as the “Union of Arab Jurists.”
Yesterday the UNHRC was the venue for another pro-Assad side event headlined by Alfred de Zayas, a UNHRC official who is a hero to Holocaust deniers, and featuring Curtis Doebbler, a former lawyer for Saddam Hussein who heads the Qaddafi-created “North South XXI” group that has NGO observer credentials at the UN.
The saddest part of the story is that many of these people are befriended and legitimized by elements of the human rights community.
The UN Rights Council on Syria: Apathy, Banality and Triteness
And even after the current massacres began, why was Syria elected in 2011 to UNESCO’s human rights committee? Why is Assad still there, despite our repeated appeals?
Finally, why is it, that of the 10 Agenda Items for this session, only one specific country is listed, and it’s Israel — whose hospitals, as we speak, are quietly treating dozens of Syria’s injured victims?
Let us state the truth: if the UN allocated just one-hundredth of the moral outrage it uses against the only democracy in the Middle East, murderous dictators like Assad might have been shamed, isolated and weakened, instead of elevated, celebrated and strengthened as champions of human rights.
Arab Press Criticizes Arab League's Powerlessness In Handling Arab Crises
The impasse in the Syrian situation, as manifested by the failure to reach a political solution and the West's delay in arriving at a decision regarding a military strike, has sparked a debate in the Arab countries about the legitimacy of foreign intervention in Syria and the role the Arabs themselves must play in resolving the crisis.
Rights group: Pro-Assad forces likely used chemical weapons
"The evidence concerning the type of rockets and launchers used in these attacks strongly suggests that these are weapon systems known and documented to be only in the possession of, and used by, Syrian government armed forces," Human Rights Watch said.
"Human Rights Watch and arms experts monitoring the use of weaponry in Syria have not documented Syrian opposition forces to be in possession of the 140mm and 330mm rockets used in the attack, or their associated launchers."
Report Says Syria Has 1,000 Tons of Chemical Weapons
A report presented Monday at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism's (ICT) World Summit on Counter-Terrorism said that Syria had a large stockpile of chemical weapons, and was likely to use them if attacked by the U.S. or Western countries. According to the report, Syria has one of the largest stores of VX, a deadly nerve gas, as well as of Sarin, the chemical said to have been used in the attack that killed some 1,400 people in a Damascus suburb last month.
Syria has been stockpiling chemical weapons since the 1980s, the report said, and the army now possesses more than 1,000 tons of chemical weapons, stored in over 50 cities throughout the country. Syria has many methods to deploy those weapons, according to the report, including rockets, artillery shells, aerial bombs, and ballistic missiles.
Radical Cleric: Muslims Cannot Do It, Let U.S. Attack in Syria
“If only we could be the ones to retaliate against those people [the Syrian regime]. I wish there were an Islamic power capable of punishing these people. If only there was an Islamic power capable of drawing the line for the oppressors, and imposing upon them the punishment they deserve,” Qaradawi said during the sermon.
Daniel Pipes: Forget Syria, target Iran
Such prospects make the methods by which Syrians kill each other a decidedly less vital matter for Congress than Iranian plans to bring the United States to its knees. In this light, note that Obama has followed his fellow Democrat Bill Clinton in a readiness to use force where American interests precisely are not vitally involved -- Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Libya, and now Syria. Need one really argue that American troops be deployed only to protect their own country?
While the Saudi foreign minister and the Arab League haughtily demand that "the international community" do its duty and stop the bloodshed in Syria, this American suggests that Sunni Muslims who wish to protect their kin in Syria do so with their own plentiful petrodollars and large armies.
In this light, I recommend that Congress reject the sideshow proffered by the administration and instead pass a resolution endorsing and encouraging force against the Iranian nuclear infrastructure.
Israel: Proposed Syrian WMD compromise could serve as template for Iran
Officials in Jerusalem told Israel Radio on Tuesday that while they were skeptical of Syria’s willingness to hand over its chemical weapons stockpile in hopes of warding off a US military assault, the very proposal is proof that a real, credible military threat “gets the job done.”
“When the Americans deploy their warships in the Mediterranean, the Syrians get scared and say they are ready to consider placing their arsenal of unconventional weapons under international inspection, and perhaps even giving up those weapons altogether,” a source told Israel Radio.
“Iran, too, will change its approach on the issue of its nuclear program if there will be a real, credible threat against it,” the source said.
Washington, however, appears to be holding out hope that it can solve the Iranian impasse through diplomacy. US President Barack Obama is eager to “turn a new page” in his government’s relations with Iran and its newly installed president, Hassan Rouhani, it was revealed on Tuesday.
Iran won’t cede ‘one iota’ on nuclear program, Rouhani says
Rouhani told clerics that his government wouldn’t cede “its absolute right” on what he called “the nuclear issue,” AFP reported, quoting the semi-state run Mehr news agency in Iran.
Also Tuesday, Rouhani said he could reach out to world leaders about resuming nuclear talks during the UN General Assembly later this month in New York.
The report, by the official IRNA news agency, quoted the president as saying that he could seek dialogue to try to get the negotiations back on track. The report gave no further details.
Talks between Iran and world powers were last held in April amid deadlock over Western efforts to rein in Tehran’s controversial nuclear program.
US General: Islamic Extremism Getting Stronger
Abizaid is former Commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees American military operations in a 27-country region including most of the Middle East, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and South and Central Asia. CENTCOM oversees 250,000 US troops.
“There are new threats, and sometimes Americans have a hard time understanding the new lexicon of the battlefield,” Abizaid said, relating to the strong opposition among Americans for a campaign to unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Islamic radicalism is getting stronger,” Abizaid said. “Foreign fighters, including citizens of Western countries who have a connection to the countries where fighting is taking place, are showing up on the battlefield. The religious radicals have an opportunity to advance themselves, but there is no one to represent secularism in these places.”
London Police Official: Learn From Israel's War on Terror
The world could learn a lesson from the way Israel fights terrorism, said Cressida Dick, the Assistant Commissioner of Specialist Operations at the London Police.
She spoke on Monday at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism's (ICT) World Summit on Counter-Terrorism, taking place at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center (IDC).
“We are seeing some of our [terrorism fighting] techniques degraded by the day, particularly in the sphere of communications data,” she admitted.
“Despite all our efforts, there is much we don’t understand, and we cannot and should not pretend we can reduce the risk of terror attacks to zero. But we can and we must continue to learn to avoid complacency, to fight terrorism with all our skills and power, and do so with the same virtues which have over the years been shown in Israel.”