Friday, August 31, 2007

Purging the Neocons from the American Soul


STRATFOR: Move and Countermove: Ahmadinejad and Bush Duel

From STRATFOR, here
"...But there also is a fundamental geopolitical problem. Saudi Arabia suffers from a usually fatal disease. It is extraordinarily rich and militarily weak...
The Saudis have Iran's offer. The problem is that the offer cannot be guaranteed by Saudi power, but depends on Iran's willingness to honor it...
The Iranian position is becoming more complex as Tehran tries to forge a post-war coalition to manage Iraq -- and to assure the coalition that Iran doesn't plan to swallow some of its members..."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

"The Iran Report" (IAEA)

Via The Washington Note, the "Restricted Distribution" report by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran", here
"The concluding clips from the Summary underscore that ElBaradei sees Iran moving in a positive direction and setting its nuclear program up for high level transparency that had not been previously the case"
"The last section, however, is what the United States and France are crying foul over and which remains a major obstacle to more political progress:
25. Contrary to the decisions of the Security Council, Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities, having continued with the operation of PFEP, and with the construction and operation of FEP. Iran is also continuing with its construction of the IR-40 reactor and operation of the Heavy Water Production Plant.

Here's why the US might not attack Iran

Andrew Exum (affectionately Abou Muqawama) in the Daily Star, here
"...It's not just in Washington, ... Israel, Lebanon and among the Gulf states, some officials are similarly pressing for the use of American military force against Iran because such action might serve their own purposes... None of those voices, however, consider how the US military, as an institution, might resist moves that could lead to such action..."
"... For example, Admiral William Fallon, the new commander of US Central Command, has rejected calls for a third carrier group to be sent to the Gulf as a message to the Iranians. War against Iran, he has said, "will not happen on my watch."
"... there exists a tremendous sense of guilt among the US senior officer corps for what is seen as a failure to stand up to the civilian leadership in the rush to go to war against Iraq... leak information to the press should the administration begin taking secret steps toward military action
" is not inconceivable that serving military officers would resign rather than sanction another poorly planned military adventure in the Middle East. High-profile resignations, along with leaks to the press, would only feed already strong domestic opposition to a war with Iran..."

Beware of classing Iran's Guards as terrorists

From CFR's Ray Takeyh in the FT, here
"... Despite their attempts to arm and train Iraqi Shia militias and advance Iran's nuclear programme, the Guards have not opposed negotiations with the US. Indeed, it would be inconceivable for talks on the nuclear issue or Iraq to have proceeded without the Guards' approbation. The administration's attempt to coerce and put pressure on this organisation is likely to trigger its antagonism towards further dealings with the US."

Cheney to "roll out" a military confrontation with Iran in September?

From B. Rubin at Informed Comment, here, and for those who missed the WeeklyStandard's case FOR war, in this Kimberly Kagan report: "Iran's Proxy War Against The Us and the Iraqi Government", here.
"...But this apparently is just test marketing, like Cheney's 2002 speech. After all "from a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." Today I received a message from a friend who has excellent connections in Washington and whose information has often been prescient. According to this report, as in 2002, the rollout will start after Labor Day, with a big kickoff on September 11. My friend had spoken to someone in one of the leading neo-conservative institutions. He summarized what he was told this way:
"They [the source's institution] have "instructions" (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don't think they'll ever get majority support for this--they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is "plenty.""

Hezbollah video game targets Israel

From Al Jazeera-English, here

"Strikingly Negative" Iraq Report Leaked To Preempt White House Doctoring

From the WaPo, via the Huffington Post, here and a story by McClatchy's on the disagreement at the Pentagon preventing Commanders from making "a single, unified recommendation to President Bush during next month's strategy assessment, but instead will allow top commanders to make individual presentations." Story here.
"Overall," the report concludes, "key legislation has not been passed, violence remains high, and it is unclear whether the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion in reconstruction funds," as promised. While it makes no policy recommendations, the draft suggests that future administration assessments "would be more useful" if they backed up their judgments with more details and "provided data on broader measures of violence from all relevant U.S. agencies."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

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The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University
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November 1 and 2, 2007

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Considering a War With Iran: A Discussion Paper on WMD in the Middle East

From SOAS, U of London, pdf. here, Pat Lang Commenting:
"One of our readers asked me to look at this paper. Having done so my opinion is that the authors need to develop a healthy sense of skepticism when confronted with bureaucratic statements of intent with regard to desired capability.
The premise of the paper is that the US possesses the ability to attack 10,000 Iranian targets from a great distance on a nearly simultaneous basis. The authors believe this because the US Strategic Command (old SAC) has as its goal to achieve such a capability and a clutch of think tanks are holding meetings about it.
Just after the first Gulf War a senior civilian colleague approached me to express outrage that the "smart" weapons in use had Pk (probability of kill) rates lower in fact than those promised by the manufacturers. She was surprised when I told her that highly complex equipment (gadgets) never performed as advertised and that they usually broke down just when needed.
The point is that these two academic authors actually believe the "air power" baloney. They think that a renewed attempt to apply the principle of "shock and awe" will result in complete devastation of Iran, Iranian inability to respond and a very short war.
Douhet, Trenchard and Mitchell would be pleased with their gullibility.
In fact such a strike would be merely the opening battle in yet another long war fought against a major piece of the Islamic World.
The current IO campaign against Iran makes it seem more and more plausible that such an onslaught will be attempted"

Hear Ye; Hear Ye: "U.S. Troops Release Detained Iranians"

From WaPo, via WarandPiece, here
"Eight Iranians, including two diplomats, were released by U.S. forces Wednesday after being detained because unauthorized weapons were found in their cars, the U.S. military said. An adviser to the top U.S. general in Iraq called the detentions "regrettable.""

"Anti-Israel violence from Hamas and Hezbollah wax and wane according to those groups' own imperatives, it has nothing to do with Iraq"

Matt Yglesias (here) commenting and more, on a WSJ piece by European neocon, Josef Joffee, here. Joffe argues that all the follwing calamities will happen if and when the US withdraws from Iraq: (did he forget anything, like would the separatists get the upper hand in French Caledonia?)
  • "Iran advances to No. 1, completing its nuclear-arms program undeterred and unhindered."
  • The Sunni Arab states "are drawn into the Khomeinist orbit."
  • "[E]mboldened jihadi forces shift to Afghanistan and turn it again into a bastion of Terror International"
  • "Syria reclaims Lebanon"
  • "Hezbollah and Hamas . . . resume their war against Israel"
  • "Russia . . . rebuilds its anti-Western alliances"

Reappraise US Lebanon Policy

From MEI' by Graeme Bannerman, here
"... Syria is clearly much weaker than the US, but it has greater interests in Lebanon. The US may view Lebanon as a concern but not as essential to its national security. Lebanese, like the voters in Metn, increasingly think US interests in Lebanon are unsustainable and will fade, but Syrian interest will not...
American leaders need to realize that the local election in Metn is a clear signal of a shift in Lebanese opinion against American policy. Lebanese leaders who have linked their fate to American power and influence against their domestic opponents will use every means they have to persuade Washington not to change course..."

Interview: Nouri Al Maliki: Talk of a coup "is a sick mentality, a hangover, from the Baathist era... the era of coups has departed"

From McClatchy's, here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Khatami's "Macaca" moment in Italy?

For those looking to find one, this is Khatami's "Macaca" moment, YouTube it here.

"Contiguous" Jewish neighborhoods East of Jerusalem will in no way be forfeited from Israel under any agreement. Basta!

Martin Peretz in TNR, here.
"... Greater Jerusalem is still a vague concept and a vaguer reality. But its outlines are clear. There are some contiguous Jewish neighborhoods east of the city proper, big neighborhoods. There is no way these will be forfeited from Israeli under any agreement. Basta! Finito! Gemacht! Dayenu! Yes, this is another price the Palestinians will pay for having hijacked the peace process for so many years. These are now facts on the ground, and President Bush's roadmap letter recognizes this. Whatever Israeli government sits in Jerusalem will not act as if it is otherwise..."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hezbollah & The UNIFIL's Spaniards: "Precious Leads"

Contrary to Samir Geagea's "pontifications", LAF sources have told FLC that Hezbollah offered a lot of "valuable" information regarding the lethal attacks that targeted the Spanish UNIFIL contingent in South Lebanon. Same is said of the attacks that targeted the Tanzanian contingent. Army Intelligence is after 3 individuals thought to be in "enclosed areas" of South Lebanon.

Dans un Liban miné par les divisions, la France pratique une diplomatie plus réaliste

From Le Figaro, here
"... Dans la même veine, l'affaire de Nar el-Bared, ce camp de réfugiés palestiniens du Liban-Nord, affrontent l'armée depuis trois mois, est loin d'être aussi claire que la majorité pro-occidentale à Beyrouth le prétend... Aujourd'hui, les terroristes - anciens agents prosyriens, djihadistes salafistes et quelques brigands - n'obéissent pas qu'à Damas. Pour certains, les ramifications conduiraient plutôt à la direction sunnite libanaise, pas mécontente d'avoir des « gros bras » à sa disposition, si un jour la fracture sunnite-chiite virait à la guerre civile..."

Rallying Around the Renegade: How did Aoun "do it" without losing support?

Heiko Wimmen looks at the political sociology of Aoun's base, at MERIP, here
"... Another constant feature of Aoun’s volatile career is the persistence with which his popular support has bounced back every time his opponents have declared it spent..."

Future Lebanese Elections: 37 percent of respondents voted with the opposition and 34 percentwith March 14 coalition

De la Bekaa au Sud-Liban, voyage au cœur du Hezbollah

Le Monde via AbouMuqawama, here
"Le Hezbollah a appris le "spin". Malgré les destructions dans le sud du Liban, malgré la semi-clandestinité à laquelle est contrainte maintenant la milice chiite, la guerre est perçue ici, bien plus qu'en Europe, comme une défaite de Tsahal. Et chacun commente avec une mine gourmande l'énigmatique "grosse surprise" que sayyid Hassan a promise en cas de nouveau conflit : elle pourrait, s'est-il exclamé, "changer le cours de la guerre et le sort de la région, avec l'aide de Dieu".

Lebanon in the XXI Century: "Fall" of the Maronite Nation and Rise of the Sunnis and Shia'as

From Information International Consultants (Jawad & Zeina Adra) comes this great essay on Lebanon's Confessional System[ [Lebanon in the XXI Century: Fall of Maronite Nation & Rise of Sunni and Shia'a]. (Conclusions)
* In 2006, the percentage of Maronites in Lebanon shrank to 19%, while that of the Christians to 30%. The number of Christians in Lebanon will reach a low of 11% in 2081, while that of the Sunnis & Shia'as will reach 36.6% and 44.8% respectively.
* 60.8% of Lebanon's Population is below 40 years old, and Muslims represent 70% of that segment.
* The current political crisis heads towards an implosion of sorts: In case the stalemate produces 2 governments (and perhaps 2 Presidents) Cantonization could become a "reality".

Iraqi Insurgency gets cuts from US Aid

From McClatchy's, here.

Allawi: Saudi Arabia's man?

Via WarandPiece, here, David Ignatius' suggestion, here and a couple of weeks old, Eli Lake's piece in the NU Sun, here.
"... The cornerstone is a political-military alliance with the dominant Sunni Arab powers -- especially Saudi Arabia. The hardware will be new arms sales to Israel, Egypt and the Saudis. The software will be a refurbished Israeli-Palestinian peace process..."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Former IDF Chief to foreign envoys: "Leave Israel alone"

Moshe Ya'alon's piece in the LATimes, here and Matt Yglesias' comment below.

"There's an awful lot wrong with this Moshe Ya'alon op-ed in today's LA Times and I don't have the time to go through the whole thing right now, but just note the first sentence: "After a few years of benign neglect, Israel is back on the itineraries of well-meaning foreign emissaries."

Israel was hardly being neglected by the United States during the years before Condoleezza Rice semi-rediscovered the Arab-Israeli peace process -- it was, then as now, our country's largest recipient of taxpayer dollars. Less quantifiably, but also significantly, Israel continued to receive a very large quantity of American diplomatic support. One can sympathize to some extent with Israeli officials feeling like their country attracts a disproportionate quantity of busybodies pushing peace plans, but while it would be one thing for Ya'alon to genuinely argue that Israel should be left to its own devices, it's another thing entirely to say that the United States should just be totally indifferent to how our most generously subsidized client state relates to its neighbors and to the millions of stateless Arabs over which it rules."

Lieberman Will propose legislation to ban Damascus Airport

Via SyriaComment, here
"... On Thursday, the Bush administration released an unclassified version of a national intelligence estimate that supported Lieberman’s allegations against Syria. But the report said Damascus, despite its increase in support for militias in Iraq, has cracked down on Al Qaida in wake of a determination that the Islamic movement threatens Syrian national security..."

Next Generation of Al Qaeda will have greater skills than the first through Iraq

From NEWSWEEK, this long report, here
"... The danger now, says Arquilla, is that the longer the Iraq War goes on, the more skilled the new generations of jihadists will become. "They're getting re-educated," he says. "The first generation of Al Qaeda came through the [Afghan] camps. The second generation are those who've logged on [to Islamist Web sites]. The next generation will be those who have come through the crucible of Iraq. Eventually, their level of skill is going to be greater than the skill of the original generation."

Friday, August 24, 2007

What should Candidates say about Israel: Recalling Dean's "even-handed" Mid-East policy, staffers urge Candidates to refrain from "Verboten code"

From TPMCafe, here

A March14 "cannibalization" of quorum will either lead to a Gen. Aoun "Emergency Cabinet" or to a "Big Surprise"

Electing a "uniting" figure to Lebanon's Presidency has never looked more elusive. M14 acquiescing to a "Government of National Salvation" is impossible, hence any initiative that carries a semblance of a "compromise", will be still-born. The French have learned that the hard way. Michel Sleiman's prospects are desormais, nil! Contrary to popular wisdom, the LAF Commander knows damn well the amount of damage Jeff Feltman has inflicted on his portrayed role.
Around the middle of November, the "hawks" of M14 will try to convene a 50+1 quorum to elect a scarecrow President, a move that will surely draw fire from the Opposition, most notably the Christians in the Opposition: They will not allow Fuad Siniora to run the country.
Fasten your seat belts!

White House feels "betrayed" by Senator Warner

From AP via TPM, here
" ... However, in the AP interview, Warner said he personally had not been asked to revise his comments and he took no issue with how his views were reported. When asked whether he had indeed split with Bush on Iraq, he declined to say and noted his remarks speak for themselves..."

Good News from Nahr al-Bared

From Andrew Exum, here.
" ...About the only silver lining in this whole sordid affair has been the fact that, throughout the fighting, the LAF has remained a genuine, national institution in which most Lebanese take a great deal of pride. (The Lebanese soldiers have also, to their credit, fought quite bravely if not well.)"

Brzezinski Embraces Obama Over Clinton for President

Janine Zacharia in Bloomberg, here.
"... Brzezinski, 79, dismissed the notion that Clinton, 59, a New York senator and the wife of former President Bill Clinton, is more seasoned than Obama, 46. ``Being a former first lady doesn't prepare you to be president,'' Brzezinski said..."

Allawi supported & Promoted by Blackwill & Iraqi National Intelligence Services

GOP's Senator Warner: "Start Pullout by Christmas" while Gen. Pace likely to "Collide" with Petraeus on troops reduction

From CNN, here and here

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Brookings Surge Index: "It's Bad!"

If one looks at the "Violence Metrics" & "Infrastructure Metrics" one concludes that things do not look very good, maybe it's me! (,pdf) here and here.

Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia & affiliate in Lebanon "disciplinary" attacks of villages

From IHT here,

NIE for Iraq

(.pdf) here

Cole: "Military Coup Planned for Iraq"

Juan Cole's contribution, here.

Ronald Reagan on GHB & GWB

From "My Lunch With Reagan", here.
"A moment I've been dreading. George brought his ne're-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work."

Iran and Syria: An Alliance Shaped by Mutual Foes

Via SyriaComment, here
"It's unlikely at one level," Malley says. "I mean, there's one very secular and one very religious regime. One is Arab, one is Persian. One has negotiated with Israel, the other one has had no dealings with Israel. And, yet, they have found common interests and enemies, and that's what's made this relationship both intriguing and extremely solid."

Jund Al Sham linked to attacks on UNIFIL contingent

From Reader SALEM, this bit from AnNahar: (Naharnet) What goes around comes around ... directly to Majdalyoun!!
"Lebanese authorities arrested two persons suspected of involvement in the July 16 bombing of a U.N. peacekeeping patrol in south Lebanon, the daily An Nahar reported Thursday.It said their detention came after security forces found and seized a "remote control" that had been used and left behind in the roadside bomb that targeted a UNIFIL patrol on Qassmiyeh Bridge near the southern port city of Tyre.There were no casualties from the attack on the vehicle belonging to the Tanzanian contingent, which was slightly damaged.
A preliminary investigation showed that the two detainees were Palestinians with links to Jund al-Sham, An Nahar said.
It said authorities were still hunting for a third suspect. Information obtained by An Nahar revealed that immediate investigation of a Fatah al-Islam member arrested on Wednesday as he tried to escape the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared by sea was labeled "very important."
The daily identified the captive as Abu Omar al-Attar, a Palestinian.It said Attar made "significant" confessions about Fatah al-Islam, saying they are "near collapse."Attar also uncovered that Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker Abssi was still alive, standing side by side with his comrades."
Beirut, 23 Aug 07, 07:48

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Al Maliki lashes out at Bush: "No one has the Right to place timetables on the Iraq government"

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer
Iraq‘s prime minister lashed out at American criticism, saying Wednesday that no one has a right to put timetables on his elected government."No one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government. It was elected by its people," he said at a news conference in Damascus at the end of a three-day visit to Syria.

"What Iraq Tells Us About Ourselves"

Web exclusive in Foreign Policy, by Col. Patrick Lang, here
"... Unfortunately for us and for them, that was not the real Iraq. In the real Iraq, cultural distinction from the West is still treasured, a manifestation of participation in the Islamic cultural “continent.” Tribe, sect, and community remain far more important than individual rights. One does not vote for candidates outside one’s community unless one is a Baathist, Nasserist, or Communist (or, perhaps, a believer in world “flatness” like Tom Friedman and the neocons). But Iraqis know what Americans want to hear about “identity,” and be they Shiite, Kurd, or Sunni Arab, they tell us that they are all Iraqis..."
"... Finding ourselves in the wrong Iraq, Americans have stubbornly insisted that the real Iraqis should behave as our dream Iraqis would surely do. The result has been frustration, disappointment, and finally rage against the “craziness” of the Iraqis. We are still acting out our dream, insisting that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shiite sectarian government “unify” the state, imagining that Maliki is a sort of Iraqi George Washington seeking the greater good for all. He is not that. His chief task is to consolidate Shiite Arab power while using the United States to accomplish the deed. To that end, he will tell us whatever we want to be told. He will sacrifice however many of his brethren are necessary to maintain the illusion, so long as the loss is not crippling to his effort. He will treat us as the naifs that we are..."

Back From Beirut, Rosen: "U.S. Invasion of Iraq Has Led to Ethnic Cleansing, a Worsening Refugee Crisis and the Destabilization of the Middle East"

With Amy Goodman, here.
"... Well, when we think of the Iraqi refugee crisis, we have to think of the crisis that people in the region think of in relation to that one, and that’s the Palestinian refugee crisis...
"... Fatah al-Islam... sort of piggybacked onto a pre-existing Palestinian group, a secular one called Fatah Intifada, taking advantage of, I think, benign neglect on the part of Syria and a very welcoming environment in northern Lebanon, where you have Salafis already work in close reliance with the Sunni-dominated FUTURE Movement...
"... People in Lebanon are viewing their conflict, especially Sunnis, within a context of the Iraq conflict. They believe in these conspiracy theories about the Shia “Crescent,” about a Shia program, and Iran is exporting its revolution in the region. These are baseless sort of fears...
"...What is clear, however, is that jihadist groups in Lebanon are being sponsored and assisted by various Salafis in Lebanon who are very close with the Lebanese government and who support the March 14 Movement. And money is coming in certainly from Saudi Arabia from rich patrons..."

We Keep "screwing up" in Places like Vietnam & Iraq because we DO NOT accept the relevance of History

From The Australian, here, and Pat Lang's comments, here.

"... I thought we had learned not to push our "friends" this way. Ngo Dinh Diem's (Viet N) placid face and white suits should haunt us. We connived at his removal and no subsequent government achieved real legitimacy in the eyes of the Vietnamese (or us).We keep "screwing up" in places like Vietnam and Iraq because we (as a people) do not accept the relevance of history and cultural difference. We insists on believing people are all pretty much the same and that they will behave as we think we would behave. Nonsense ... Swapping" Maliki for someone else would be pointless... The groups will not share power and wealth amicably. In their minds that is simply arming and equipping one's enemies..."

"My, how les temps have changed!"

Laura Rosen in MoJo, here.
"... Kouchner's humanitarian background as co-founder of the medical relief group Medecins Sans Frontieres may begin to explain the willingness to overlook the anti French GOP posturing of the not so distant past and to let bygones be bygones."

Bush Signals Possible Withdrawal of Support from Maliki

From TPM, here
"... Stopping short of offering an endorsement, Bush said it was not up to the United States to give a verdict on al-Maliki's government... A day earlier, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, urged the Iraqi assembly to oust the U.S.-backed al-Maliki and replace his government with one that is less sectarian and more unifying..."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hizballah's 'Big Surprise' and the Litani Line

From Andrew Exum (aka. AbouMuqawama) at WINEP, here.
"... Accordingly, even as Hizballah continues to train village units south of the Litani in the hope that they could slow an Israeli ground invasion, the group has constructed its main defensive positions to the north, where the terrain favors the defender and where Hizballah could deny Israeli armor columns easy access to the Bekaa Valley ..."
"...There is speculation that Nasrallah's "surprise" would be the inclusion of antiaircraft capabilities in the next round of fighting, a move Hizballah hopes would break Israel's air superiority and enable it to fight on a more fluid battlefield. For U.S. observers, however, the source of continued fascination remains Hizballah's transformation from the world's finest guerrilla army into a force that, in 2006 and today, seems quite comfortable in conventional fighting as well."

What is Bush's Iran Plan?

"... What we do know now is that the military has not signed off on an attack -- though there are huge force levels deployed in the Gulf that could support a short-term military assault. But if the Pentagon had been ordered to position itself for a date-certain attack, we'd be hearing more than we are. Defense Secretary Bob Gates would be positioning himself differently than he is. We'd see generals who were disgusted with the way that Bush and Cheney have overextended the military begin to speak out, and even to resign. That has not happened..."
Read more from Steve Clemons here, and Dan Fromkin's Wapo essay here

Report on the "new" NIE on Iraq

From the NYTimes, here.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Aaah ... the good life in Iraq!

Via AbouMuqawama, watch this incredible video, here.

The Great Middle East Peace Process Scam

For those who missed this essay by Henry Siegman in the London Review of Books, here.

CSIS's Cordesman:"“Syria and Israel: Prospects for War"

Full Report, here

The attached report is a rough working draft of an analysis of the trends in the Israeli-Syrian balance, and in each country’s military forces. It examines the prospects for a future Syrian-Israeli war, and focuses on characteristics of a potential conflict in the Golan region.

Lebanese Mufti urges Saudi Arabia to "stop aiding undeserving Shia's"

From the Daily Star, here.
Al Juzu said: "We urge the kingdom to stop its assistance to people who don't have one atom of loyalty. These people don't deserve that we stand by them for their feelings of enmity toward us."

Lieberman: "Road to Victory runs through Syria"

WSJ's "Damascus International Airport is a hub for terrorists", here, and comment, here.

"Terrorism Index"

From the CAP and Foreign Policy, here.
"... a world that is growing more dangerous, a national security strategy in disrepair, and a war in Iraq that is alarmingly off course..."

Administration Official: "IRGC IED's are a casus belli for this Administration. There will be an attack on Iran"

From Time Magazine, by Bob Baer, here
"... Strengthening the Administration's case for a strike on Iran, there's a belief among neo-cons that the IRGC is the one obstacle to a democratic and friendly Iran. They believe that if we were to get rid of the IRGC, the clerics would fall, and our thirty-years war with Iran over. It's another neo-con delusion, but still it informs White House thinking ..."

Bush's "stalling" Democracy Vision: Tolerate the Tyrant in Saudi Arabia, Egypt ... and Pakistan

Laura Rosen commenting on WaPo's Pete Baker's essay, here and here.
"... The piece left out so many big examples of the contradictions -- Musharraf/Pakistan, Saudi Arabia whose corrupt royal family is so close to the White House and Cheney's office, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt -- of where Bush has decided he isn't quite sure he really wants democratic realities to be realized, and he just may prefer the tyrant, as Cheney openly does in Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia ..."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Liban : le général Aoun au centre du jeu

From Le Figaro, here.

U.S. says Iranians train Iraqi insurgents

From McClatchy's, here.
"...Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a top U.S. commander who is in charge of a large swath of Iraq south of Baghdad, believes there are about 50 members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps in his battlefield area, military spokeswoman Maj. Alayne Conway said. Conway said that U.S.-led forces have not caught any of the Iranians, but she said military intelligence and recently discovered caches of weapons with Iranian markings on them indicate that the Iranians are there"

Lebanese await the inevitable return of war

The Guardian spells what many believe is the path ahead. I am not too sure. Read more, here

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lebanon's reconstruction effort reveals a comatose government

From the LATimes, here
"...The reconstruction of Lebanon after last summer's war was meant to strengthen the U.S.-backed Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Hundreds of millions of dollars poured in from U.S.-friendly Persian Gulf countries ...
Instead, as government officials acknowledge, the rebuilding effort in badly damaged areas of southern Lebanon, south Beirut and the Bekaa Valley has mostly highlighted the government's weakness..."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Diplomat at US Embassy in Beirut on phone message:""The only good Lebanese is a dead Lebanese. The only good Arab is a dead Arab"

From TalkingPointsMemo, here
"... Later he followed up in an email (to Jim Zogby), noting that "You wicked evil Hezbollah-supporting Arabs should burn in the fires of hell for eternity and beyond. The United States would be safer without you." And while Zogby does not represent the Israelis, Syring made a point of praising them for "bombing Lebanon back to the Stone Age where it belongs... Also nice to know, back in 1994, Syring was working out of the US Embassy in Lebanon."

UNIFIL in Southern Lebanon: One Year After the War

From Andrew Exum (those who might know him as AbouMuqawama) an essay published by WINEP, here.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More resignations at the White House?

Tony Snow included, fromThinkProgress via WarandPiece, here

STATE Insider: "That the proposal for IRG sanctions appearing in both the NYTimes and WaPo tipped us that somebody doesn't like what we are doing"

From the Middle East Policy Survey, (excerpts)
"This approach is particularly pronounced in her efforts to forge a new policy in the number one issue, Iraq. State Department officials say that she, along with Defense Secretary Gates, recognize that it is inevitable that the US military profile will change over the coming months..."
"...Their (Rice & Gates) attempts to woo Sunni Arabs are not made any easier by the attitude of Iraqi Sunnis. Unwilling to accept the reality they are a minority in Iraq ["Living in a `dream palace'" is one official's felicitous phrase], the Sunnis only reinforce their Shia countrymen's sense of historical betrayal. Says one State Department expert, "On the one hand the Shia accept that the Sunnis will fight forever if they are marginalized. But, this realization is overwhelmed by the fear that if they compromise then once again they will wind up on the losing end..."
"...This leaves Secretaries Rice and Gates contemplating a policy that does not rely on the performance of Iraq's Shia dominated government..."
"...There are constraints and physical limitations on the number of people we can keep on the ground," says one senior State Department official. And this official confidently predicts that come the new year the US military will have less that 100,000 troops in Iraq. ... Many, however, are not convinced that the Vice President is "on board" for the entire new approach, especially if the current diplomatic and economic offensive against Iran continues to fall short..."
"... Even proponents of this approach admit that, in the words of one European diplomat, "The Iranians have been shaken but not deterred"

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rice weighs in to "pacify" Administration hawks by targeting IRG-Al Quds

From DemocracyArsenal, here.

"A move toward putting the Revolutionary Guard on the foreign terrorist list would serve at least two purposes for Ms. Rice: to pacify, for a while, administration hawks who are pushing for possible military action, and to further press America’s allies to ratchet up sanctions against Iran in the Security Council. "

Michel Sleiman laments lack of "real" support

Only when the LAF changes their doctrine that states that Israel is still "an enemy", will they be subjected to the real benevolence of Lebanon's "friends." From the LATimes, here
"We need weapons, conventional and advanced ammunition," he said Monday. "We didn't get anything but promises and best wishes and some ammunition, but no equipment. It's as though they are telling us, 'die first and assistance will follow,'" he added, without referring directly to the U.S..."

Barak "has all the answers" for next round with Hezbollah

Via the WashingtonTimes, here
"... In Lebanon last year, ground operations reportedly were halted when casualties were taken. In all of Israel's previous wars, it was a cardinal principle that an attack presses on regardless of casualties, who are retrieved afterward..."
And Colonel Lang's remarks here:
"All those who thought I was excessively harsh last year in criticizing IDF performance in Lebanon should consider this. Those who claimed as a part of the usual Israeli propaganda campaign that the IDF had won against Hizbullah should also take note.
The IDF and US forces have now had so much contact that they begin to resemble each other. The shared aversion on the part of commanders to accepting necessary losses in mission accomplishment is merely one example. In Iraq, commanders are reported to be so casualty shy that operations are often not pressed for that reason. Why? Dead soldiers can easily mean the end of a career.
In the case of the IDF, the "rot" in the forces extended far past the tactical level of operations and planning. The conception on the part of the general staff and the government which led to a bombing campaign intended to break the will of the Lebanese was deeply flawed. This application of classic strategic bombing theory was as bad an idea as it proved to be. Douhet's theories were embraced by such people as Hugh Trenchard, Curtis Lemay and "Bomber" Harris. They have never worked well as a predicate of national victory. People will point to the Balkans in the '90s as an example of vindication for these ideas, but it has been argued that this is not so. A discussion of that would be welcomed."

"long awaited" Petraeus Report will be written by White House

Via WarAndPiece LATimes, here
"Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it actually will be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government."

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps to be labeled "Terrorist"

From WaPo, here
"... For weeks, the Bush administration has been debating whether to target the Revolutionary Guard Corps in full, or only its Quds Force wing, which U.S. officials have linked to the growing flow of explosives, roadside bombs, rockets and other arms to Shiite militias in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Quds Force also lends support to Shiite allies such as Lebanon's Hezbollah and to Sunni movements such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad ..."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Michel Sleiman's confirmation that Fath el Islam is an Al Qaeda affiliate draws Hariri Inc's attacks

Marking the beginning of the unavoidable rift between the LAF & Hariri Inc., Tripoli's MP Allouch (To trivializes and describes Commander Sleiman as "power hungry..." here, Also from Al Mustaqbal, here

Having read the "profile" below, you need to conclude with part I & II of ...this

Via Arabist, Part 1, here and part II, here

Monday, August 13, 2007

Profile Saad Hariri:Close Adviser to Hariri:"Funding Al-Qaeda-inspired jihadists was a NECESSARY Evil"

From CondeNast Portfolio, via AngryArab, here.
"...Saad must succeed amid rumors that his stepmother, Nazek—who holds court in a gilded Paris mansion that once belonged to Gustave Eiffel and heads the family’s powerful charity foundation—is not happy with his handling of the crisis. “She herself has political ambitions,” says a Western official. Saad must succeed as his older brother, Bahaa, a 41-year-old financier, expresses his own political ambitions in the Lebanese press.
Saad has been willing to play that sectarian card in a way his allies consider risky. He has been accused of funding Al Qaeda-inspired Sunni jihadists in Lebanon. A close adviser told me that doing so was a necessary evil..."

Musharraf, the Pakistani military, and the public need to know this:"We may have no other choice but to destabilize Pakistan"

FromD. Ross in the New Republic (via WINEP's), here

Middle East already planning for Bush's departure

In case you missed this McClatchy's story, here.
President George W. Bush.

OBG: Lebanon's Banks: "Branching Out"

From OBG, here.

Italy's "Operation Parabellum" uncovers huge Arms black market in & out of Iraq

"operation Parabellum" from AP, here
"... Their discovery led anti-Mafia investigators down a monthslong trail of telephone and e-mail intercepts, into the midst of a huge black-market transaction, as Iraqi and Italian partners haggled over shipping more than 100,000 Russian-made automatic weapons into the bloodbath of Iraq... Iraqi government officials were involved in the deal, apparently without the knowledge of the U.S. Baghdad command the most spectacular example of how Iraq has become a magnet for arms traffickers and a place of vanishing weapons stockpiles and uncontrolled gun markets since the 2003 U.S. invasion and the onset of civil war..."

Fatigue cripples US army in Iraq

From the Observer, here

Karl Rove to quit White House!

Karl Rove, a political adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush and a lightning rod for anger among Democrats, will leave the White House at the end of this month, Rove told the Wall Street Journal.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

“The Syrian Opposition: Part 1,” by Landis & Pace (Arabic)

"The Syrian Opposition," by Joshua Landis and Joe Pace has been translated into Arabic by al-Qabas, a Kuwaiti paper, here.

Lang: Maliki's (almost) last chance

Pat Lang's comment, here
"This makes Maliki seem a bit like Custer at the Little Big Horn or Chelmsford at Isandhlwana.... Realistically, the most likely outcome of his coming failure to make political peace among ethnic enemies will be his replacement. Then we will go through this drill with the next man...Eventually we will decide that we have to make enough deals with enough players to enable us to leave."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hizb Al Tahrir, legalized by Fatfat calls for the "Caliphate's rebirth" on AUB's Bliss Street!

For those not too familiar with Beirut, PM Siniora's house is located and fortified just under 400 meters away on Bliss street and, according to reader Jamal, a block away from Quraytem.

At GOP debate in Iowa, George Stephanopoulos: ".. Bush's free elections in Gaza brought Hamas.. in Lebanon Hezbollah ..and in Iran, Ahmadinejad"

“Paper of record” misrepresents Lebanon's Metn by-election

Complaints ... complaints ... via (of course) the Instantpundit, from LebanonNow, here.
" ... In his article published on August 6, Fattah (New York Times: see below) painted the Metn by-elections as an unambiguous defeat for Amin Gemayel’s Kataeb party. He referred to the loss as “a referendum on the March 14 Movement, which has increasingly alienated many Christians.” In his follow up article from August 10, Fattah claimed that American support had “doomed” Gemayel’s by-election campaign..."

Bush's "broad view of Executive Power" could collide with Congress on Iran

From McClatchy's, here
"... But the authorization would be no easy sell. Two knowledgeable U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because intelligence on Iran is highly classified, said that the administration so far doesn't have "smoking-gun" evidence that could be used publicly to justify an air attack... Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., the vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, appeared Friday to steer the administration toward requesting authorization...."I doubt the President could or would do so without coming to Congress," he said. "Nevertheless, there are a number of wide-ranging actions he could be taking, primarily focusing on expanding diplomatic efforts to increase pressure on Iran

"...Should Bush simply pursue a strike against Iran without seeking congressional authorization, it would cause "an uproar over here. It would be a serious breach of (the limits on) executive power," said a military affairs aide to a Democratic senator.... Nevertheless, Bush and Vice President Cheney take a broad view of executive power, and it's unclear what consequences Bush would face if he were to take action without authorization...."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Michel Aoun : "Les Etats-Unis travaillent à la déstabilisation du Liban"

From le Monde, via SyriaComment, here.
"...Les Américains refusent notre tentative de sortir le Hezbollah de son isolement. Et ils soutiennent sans faille le gouvernement de Fouad Siniora contre ce projet. George Bush a annoncé il y a une semaine le gel des avoirs de ceux qui agissent contre le "gouvernement légitime" du Liban, dont nous contestons la légitimité depuis un an. Trois jours avant l'élection de dimanche, cette menace a effrayé ceux qui nous soutiennent de leurs dons..."

Cheney urging strikes on Iran

From McClatchy's, Via WarAndPiece, here.
" ... The (behind the scene) debate has been accompanied by a growing drumbeat of allegations about Iranian meddling in Iraq from U.S. military officers, administration officials and administration allies outside government and in the news media. It isn't clear whether the media campaign is intended to build support for limited military action against Iran, to pressure the Iranians to curb their support for Shiite groups in Iraq or both..."The Bush administration has launched what appears to be a coordinated campaign to pin more of Iraq's security troubles on Iran..." Patrick Clawson, an Iran specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said a strike on the Quds camps in Iran could make the nuclear diplomacy more difficult... Before launching such a strike, "We better be prepared to go public with very detailed and very convincing intelligence," Clawson said..."

Memo From Dubai:U.S. Backs Free Lebanon Elections, Only to See Allies Lose

From the NYTimes, here
"...Mr. (Al Akhbar's Nicolas) Nassif added, “Since then, every time the Americans interfere, it ends in a war or in their expulsion...”
“... It’s the kiss of death,” said Turki al-Rasheed, a Saudi reformer who watched last Sunday’s elections closely. “The minute you are counted on or backed by the Americans, kiss it goodbye, you will never win...”

US moves to hobble Lebanon's president

From AP, here.
"... One U.S. official familiar with the situation said the slew of high-level meetings accorded Chedid is intended as both a signal of support for Saniora's government and a diplomatic slap in the face to Lahoud, whose term in office is due to end in November..."

INTERVIEW-Saudi media empire tries to counter opposition

From Reader Salem read here.
Dawood al-Shirian, Saudi Arabia manager of the Saudi-owned MBC television and radio network, defending Saudi influence, says:
"This (media influence) has played a role in opening up the Arab world and revealing the falseness of some ideologies such as Arab nationalism, the Left and political Islam," he added, listing populist political movements that the Saudi royals have long regarded as threats to their rule.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

McClatchy's: Suicide Bombers in Iraq: Largest number are Saudis

Read McClatchy's, here
"... Hafez, whose new book is "Suicide Bombers in Iraq," has identified the nationalities of 124 bombers who attacked in Iraq. Of those, the largest number — 53 — were Saudis..."
Suicide bomber nationality

TAX CUTS!....Here's the latest desperate plea for attention from the White House:

From Kevin Drum, here.

What "Carrots" Have Been Offered to Iran?

"... What carrots? Whenever Rice or Satterfield talk about diplomacy on Television we are treated to a vision of glowering bluster demanding Iranian compliance in Iraq. Period!!! The AEI types that Wright mentions are consistent in the fullness of their fantasy life just as they were before Iraq..." Lang
WaPo, here.

A “viable and contiguous” Palestinian state, pledged by the Bush administration, remains a pipe dream

From UPI's De Borchgrave, here

"... The consensus in Israel today, says Pappe (his book: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine), is for a state comprising 90 percent of Palestine “surrounded by electric fences and visible and invisible walls” with Palestinians given only worthless cantonized scrub lands of little value to the Jewish state. In 2006, Pappe sees that 1.4 million Palestinians live in Israel on 2 percent of the land allotted to them plus another 1 percent for agricultural use with 6 million Jews on most of the rest. “Another 3.9 million live concentrated in Israel’s unwanted portions of the West Bank and concentrated in Gaza that has three times the population density of Manhattan,” notes Pappe. Back from the Middle East last week, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said prospects are good for a two-state solution...!"

Anti-Saudi tide rises in Iraq

From the Christian Science Monitor, here.
"... The Saudi backlash is being fueled by Iraqi media reports and Shiite leaders' condemnations of apparent fatwas, religious rulings by Saudi muftis calling for the destruction of Shiite shrines in Iraq..."
"... One Saudi fatwa allegedly called for the destruction of the mausoleum of Imam Hussein in Karbala, south of Baghdad. The violent death of the third imam and his companions in battle against the caliph's army in AD 680 marked the schism between Sunnis and Shiites. The intensity of the standoff over the centuries tended to track regional political upheaval..."

Current number of 1001 Contractors killed in Iraq is a small fraction of real number

Ben Crair blogging in the New Republic, believes that private contractors' deaths in Iraq (and Afghanistan) surpass 1000. Here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Patriarch Sfeir: Almost ALL Presidential candidates are "deficient"

In an "audience" that resembled a "confession", Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir confided that almost all Presidential candidates are "deficient" due to "criminal histories, Bank Al Madina or family feuds", ... bar ONE!

The Friedman Units

On the Friedman Unit (FU: first coined by Atrios, " ...Well, it's almost here. Amazing how a Friedman Unit seems like a long period of time and then suddenly it's almost over. I've long documented how the Wise People of Washington were convinced that September was some sort of magic change date on Iraq. I think I even pegged it at 20% chance that they were actually right. But as we know, September will come and go and nothing will change because of cowardly old men with large egos..."


Getting it wrong on Lebanese Elections

But PajamasMedia gets it right with "Gen. Aoun becoming "pro-Syrian" here, ... and while Beirutis did not bother to leave their VILLAGES to vote..." As one Dear German friend of mine would say Wawaweewa!! read this.

Beyond Arms Sales: Whither the US-Saudi Relationship?

Sameer Lalwani writes in the WashingtonNote, here.

" ... And contrary to the popular belief of oil windfalls recklessly squandered, there is good evidence to suggest Saudi's constructive investments in the rest of the region affords it considerably political leverage. Dr. Steffen Hertog has analyzed the most current regional economic that reveals a marked increase in cross-border investment by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states in the Middle East. As a result, he concludes the GCC, with Saudi as the most pivotal heavyweight, are poised to play a key stabilizing role in the region (particularly Syria and Lebanon) that would certainly be in America's interest:

With its emerging role as the dominant economic hub of the region, the GCC arguably is a potential anchor of stability in the Arab world. Relatively weak in military terms, it has a vested interest in political calm, as it can then flex its economic muscle. At a time in which American hegemony has become of questionable value even to its "moderate" allies, the GCC might be willing to play a more assertive role based on its economic resources.

Needless to say, no amount of Gulf capital can buy stability amid a mess of epic proportions, as in Iraq (although Gulf money has been helping significantly to shore up the economy of the war-wrecked country). Still, the "soft power" of Gulf capital is not an academic point. As more and more GCC money is channeled into Syria, for example, Gulf political influence there is bound to increase. Its regime in rather dire economic straits, Syria will be increasingly reluctant to alienate Gulf governments--which are not capable of micromanaging the investment decisions of their business classes but can certainly use their moral suasion to indicate which investment destination is not palatable. Similarly, Gulf FDI imparts considerable soft power in Lebanon, where it will play an important role in reconstruction..."

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

USAID pressures the Daily Star after publication of "Solidere: 'Vigilantism under color of law"

Lysandra Ohrstrom's article in the Daily Star here, and USAID "prompt and stern reaction" via AngryArab: "
"the USAID funders have requested that the coming pages (of Daily Star examiner section) all have their writers submit synopses of their pieces for vetting." the pretext was that "the political agenda of the donors is not to undermine the fouad Siniora government".

Mapping Israel's Separation Barrier

Mapping Israel's Separation Barrier

Matt Yglesias says " ...the wall involves various kinds of land-grabs along the border, and also more than a few penumbras and emanations aimed at securing the more far-flung settlements. This, combined with the gray "Jews only" roads that criss-cross the West Bank, constitutes a major inconvenience for tens of thousands of Palestinians and seems to lay the groundwork for a situation where the Palestinians on the other side of the wall enjoy some kind of autonomy or even formal independence while remaining essentially under Israeli control. .."

In Beirut's Dahiyeh, a motley of war-inspired Sandwiches: "Winograd, Ra'ad, Zelzal ..."

From Al Akhbar, here.

Monday, August 6, 2007

"La tragédie des chrétiens du Liban"

Read Le Figaro, here
"Il faut se garder de diaboliser Michel Aoun dont les arguments sont respectables. Sa volonté de transcender les clivages sociaux et communautaires traditionnels, pour favoriser la cohabitation entre chrétiens et musulmans, est louable. Mais son alliance, nouée début 2006, avec le Hezbollah parrainé par l'Iran et la Syrie est contradictoire avec l'idée souverainiste qui devrait animer la communauté chrétienne et qu'il a lui-même incarnée naguère..."

Washington in Lebanon and Palestine: fatal manipulation

Read Amal Saad-Ghorayeb's full essay, here.
" ... Lebanon and Palestine combine democratic traditions with the experience of having seen resistance groups, inimical to US and Israeli interests, sweep to or close to power. The Bush administration, accordingly, has abandoned all pretence at democracy-promotion there and engaged in stark de-democratisation of Palestine and Lebanon. The measures the US has used (to be elaborated below) to shake the foundations of democracy and the internal stability of these nations include undermining their national unity, infringing on their sovereignty, refusing to recognise the popular will, and attempting to mask their government's loss of popular and constitutional legitimacy: in short, promoting failed states rather than encouraging state-building..."

A look inside the CIA's "Black Sites"

from the NYorker here and TPM's comment here.

TNR blasts Canadians

Atrios says "Yeah, those stupid Canadians with their cheaper universal health-care and thinking invading Iraq was a bad idea beforehand. Damn their insolence!"

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Lebanon's Armenians face a new "verbal genocide"

They were called "intruders upon Lebanon's realities", "ghetto dwellers" and "ingrates", Lebanon's Armenians face an onslaught of M14 incitements.

Aoun's candidate, Kameel El Khoury wins Metn seat by 480 votes

But ruling clique is ahead of all, as it tries to put all on hold by "canceling" the results of a whole district. affaire a suivre de tres pres!

Caution from unexpected quarters: AEI's Pletka, "divestments of companies involved in Iran is counterproductive:

Via the WashingtonNote, read the FT piece here, and Jim Lobe's comment here.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

WaPo: In Iraq, a Perilous Alliance With Former Enemies

read the full WaPo story, here.

As Gemayel "promises to study Murr's inclusion" on his list in the next Parliamentary elections, Elias supports his Father's "decision"

Amine Gemayel promised to "seriously study the possibility of including Elias Murr on his ticket" come next parliamentary elections. In the world of pompous peacocks, these things do not sit well! So, ... at a meeting of Metn "chieftains", heads of municipalities & mayors, "Abou Elias" calls up his boy-minister son and puts him on the speaker and says "Elias, ... I have here so and so ... and so ... and I have filled them on all the latest developments ... let me hear what what you think I should instruct them to do on Sunday ..." . Sur Ce, Elias blasts over the speaker phone and says "F--k Gemayel ... Do as per Abou Elias' instructions"!

Metn Polls: Aoun's candidate over Amine Gemayel by 6000 votes

Kataeb nomenklatura instructed their voter-supporters to "vote very early in the AM and go home". The plan is to create "disturbances" at the ballot locals, prompting early closures.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Withdrawal options

What will happen in an American withdrawal of forces from Iraq?

- The first question to be asked is whether or not the withdrawal will be under hostile pressure. The two kinds of withdrawal would be radically different.

* A withdrawal conducted under non-hostile conditions would very much resemble the manner in which US forces left the Canal Zone after the return of the territory to Panamanian sovereignty or the withdrawal of coalition forces from Saudi Arabia after the First Gulf War. For this kind of withdrawal to occur a general political settlement would have to have been reached or a complete pacification of the country would have to have been achieved. Under either of those conditions, it could be assumed for planning purposes that there would be no serious indigenous interference with the departure of American forces. This kind of withdrawal would be an exercise in logistical planning in which the force would be taken out in an “administrative” (non-combat) mode. Departure would be arranged on the basis of the most efficient use of transportation as well as its availability. Most units would be returned to their permanent posts across the world without their heavy equipment, (tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery, etc.) because it is more efficient to send the troops home in passenger aircraft and the equipment in separate transportation (sea usually) in the care of drivers. A withdrawal of this kind would take a long time. Large sized logistical capabilities would have to be kept in Iraq until the end of the departure to conduct the shipments. The removal of larger US Forces from Saudi Arabia after the First Gulf War took around a year and a half.

* A withdrawal under combat conditions would be very different and in the light of present political circumstances in Iraq seems more likely. During such a withdrawal there would be continuing combat operations designed to defend the force from enemies that are increasingly emboldened by American withdrawal and the prospect of “settling scores” with sectarian, political and ethnic adversaries. In that kind of departure, the force would have to be withdrawn in “slices” (tranches in French). The withdrawal from VN conducted by the Nixon Administration was of this kind. The phased departures of these “slices” would be designed to gradually “uncover” the regions of the country in a logical order as American forces move away from areas that are more easily abandoned. At the same time, the remaining forces in Iraq would have to retain a balanced combat capability that could continue to carry out force protection defensive actions as well as “spoiling” attacks against detected preparations for assaults against the ever weakening US military presence in the country. Infantry, armor, artillery and particularly aerial forces (both Army and Air Force) would be needed to protect the course of the withdrawal. The routes of withdrawal would have to be outposted and protected to keep them open while the withdrawal takes place. At the same time, the remaining force in Iraq would continue to be re-supplied over the same routes. There would likely be a lot of fighting in the course of the withdrawal. In VN, 20,000 US soldiers were killed during the several years of the withdrawal. This would be a “last chance” for the enemy forces to exact a price for the US presence in Iraq. They would be likely to take that opportunity. The logic of the present logistical situation would point to a withdrawal in phases (tranches) down the existing Main supply Route (MSR) to Kuwait where the forces could be received in prepared camps prior to departure by sea and air. The improved situation in Anbar Governorate might also make possible a smaller withdrawal to the west and into Jordan. A small percentage of the withdrawal would be conducted using air force heavy lift assets. The units withdrawn by air are likely to be air force.

- A “residual” military presence in Iraq is another major issue.

In a withdrawal conducted under administrative conditions, it will be possible to position a “force” of trainers, suppliers, SOF jihadi hunters and force protection people wherever they are needed. The force protection element of this force might be a reinforced heavy brigade. Altogether the benign atmosphere presence might be 20,000.

In a “contested” withdrawal, the existence of these forces will be problematic from the beginning. A “residual” force with less than a reinforced heavy division and appropriate air support as the basis of its security would be a very risky venture over the long run. This force would number something in the area of 35,000 to 40,000 people. The logistical problems involved in supplying this force or any sized force overland would be enormous.

Bush Policy Pushes Lebanon to the Brink of Civil War

From CounterPunch, read the Full story here.
" ... Intent on diminishing the Shiite militants' powerful role in Lebanese politics, the Whitehouse has authorised a covert CIA fund to support anti-Hizbullah groups through the depleted Lebanese government while seeking to reconfigure the army and security services to more effectively serve American interests: Shiites now constitute less than 10 per cent of new recruits to the Interior Ministry-run police force ..."
" ... Growing Takfiri militancy among the country's Sunni Islamists, some of whom have received support from the government forces, has raised the danger of an operational Al Qaeda faction emerging in Lebanon. This grim prospect is matched by indications that government forces have been training militias under the guise of 'security companies,' ostensibly to counter Hizbullah's arms, suggesting Lebanon's security situation is now worse than at any point since the country's long civil war..."

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Jim Lobe: "Why Do They Hate Us? Start With John Bolton"

Read Lobe's full essay, here
"Bolton’s coda displays the kind of diplomacy for which he became widely despised throughout the UN during his ruinous tenure there. “I will wait for answers to these and other questions before I draw conclusions about ‘the special relationship’ under Mr. Brown,” he harrumphs. “But not forever.” At least, he didn’t use the royal “We.”

U.S., Saudi Arabia have drifted apart


This good story from McClatchy's, here, most notably Al Faisal's remarks about the unhealthy atmosphere at the UN. The Lebanese can tell you a few things about this "unhealthy atmosphere." Just ask!

" ... Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal expressed astonishment at recent Bush administration charges that Saudi Arabia is providing funding, equipment and manpower to Iraq's Sunni-led insurgency, and he rejected an appeal by Rice and Gates to give public backing to the Shiite-led government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki..."
"I think what is needed is action on the other side. The trafficking of terrorists, I can assure you, is more of a concern for us from Iraq, and this is one of the worries our government has," al Faisal said, flanked by Rice and Gates..."

"I was astounded by what he (Khalilzad) said, especially since we have never heard from him these criticisms when he was here," the foreign minister retorted. "He may have been influenced by the atmosphere at the U.N."

Mossad's Halevy: "Talk to Hamas"

From the Belgravia Dispatch, here
" ... In response (To Hamas' takeover), the White House has rolled out what it calls a "West-Bank-first" strategy. It envisions financial, political and diplomatic support for Mr. Abbas in an effort to improve West Bank life so dramatically that Palestinians will be wooed away from Hamas in both enclaves. At the same time, Washington plans to work with Israel to further isolate Hamas in Gaza, a policy that prohibits contact with the group...
Ms. Rice is expected to emphasize that strategy today and tomorrow in meetings with Israeli leaders and with Mr. Abbas.
But Mr. Halevy believes this strategy amounts to political fantasy, especially given the weakness of Fatah and signs it is fracturing inside the West Bank..."

Prominent GOP Senator":After Petraeus-Crocker report WH to announce "Drawdown of Troops"

From the Plank (TNR) here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Smart Saudi Diplomacy Produces an "Onus Shift"

From the Washington Note, here.
"If news that Saudi Arabia will attend the US-sponsored peace conference this September is correct, it is in fact a very big deal ..." Clayton Swisher.

(Vice President Richard Cheney, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and TWN guest blogger Clayton Swisher)

“Hamas to Show an Improved Hand”

From the WSJ via Syria Comment, read the full piece here.
" ... According to current and former Israeli intelligence officials, former U.S. intelligence personnel and Palestinian officials, Hamas has increased its inventory of arms since the takeover of Gaza and picked up technical expertise — such as espionage techniques — that could assist the group in its fight against Israel or Washington's Palestinian allies, the Fatah movement founded by Yasser Arafat ..."

Colorado Congressman Tancredo: "Bomb Mecca & Medina to deter terrorism"

Read more lunacy, here
"If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina," the GOP presidential candidate said..."

Breaking News: Rumsfeld, Myers, Abizaid & al. to appear before the Oversight Committee today

In a late breaking development, Secretary Rumsfeld will appear before the Oversight Committee tomorrow, Wednesday, August 1, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.
The Committee is holding a hearing entitled "The Tillman Fratricide: What the Leadership of the Defense Department Knew." The hearing will examine what senior Defense Department officials knew about U.S. Army Corporal Patrick Tillman's death by fratricide.
The following witnesses will testify:
The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld Former Secretary of Defense
Gen. Richard B. Myers (Retired) Former Chair, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Gen. John P. Abizaid (Retired) Former Commander, U.S. Central Command
Gen. Bryan Douglas Brown (Retired) Former Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command
Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger, Jr. (Retired)* (supboena issued/not confirmed)Former Commander, U.S. Army Special Operations Command

Dangerous Partners: Targeting the Iran-Hizballah Alliance

From WINEP, here.
" ... Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department designated a parastatal Iranian organization as a key link between Tehran and Hizballah. The latest in a series of ongoing measures intended to prevent Hizballah from raising funds either abroad or in the United States, the designation targeted the Iran-based Martyrs Foundation (Bonyad-e shahid) ..."
" ... Targeting Hizballah's finances is difficult for two key reasons: the organization receives significant support from Iran, and it raises considerable funds autonomously..."