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PostPosted: 28 Mar 2012 12:00 
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^^^
main blinders are the islamophilism. once that "cooling glass" is removed, it should go a long way in reducing the susceptibility to "ummah sourced" deception.


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PostPosted: 28 Mar 2012 12:43 
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Patrick Cockburn: The attempt to topple President Assad has failed


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PostPosted: 29 Mar 2012 00:26 
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X-posting

This is a strange one, being used as psy-ops by UK media. A good example of how the Anglosphere is willing to stoke Islamist sentiments against its enemies.
Bashar al-Assad joked about religion of most of population, emails show
Quote:
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad swapped jokes and photographs that callously mock the religious beliefs held by a majority of his population, leaked emails purportedly show.

The ream of messages and derogatory cartoons allegedly sent among his 'inner circle' of female aides and family members poke fun at conservative Muslims.

Most of the messages ridicule the burka, the full body cloak worn by some Muslim women.

One e-mail from a female adviser depicts an image of a crying child in a shopping mall who has lost his mother. Trying to reunite them the shop assistant asks the boy for a description of his mother. The little boy replies 'I don't know sir I have never seen her!!' and the joke jumps to an image of a woman fully shrouded in black pushing a shopping cart.

On January 22 the President's father-in-law Fawaz Akhras allegedly forwarded a 'British wedding photograph' showing 24 newly wed Muslim couples, the women all wearing white burkas, their faces covered. "I just hope, for their sake, that each husband goes home with the right table cloth" the joke reads. Another email entitled 'Why God sends rain to Mexico and not to the Middle East' lists photographs of scantily clad weather women, and ends with an image of a covered Muslim woman standing by a weather map holding an umbrella.

The jokes, which might be viewed as humorous by a liberal Western audience, will be deeply insulting to many in Syria's largely conservative society.

The messages apparently convey little respect by the President and his aides for the population they lead. One message appears denigrate Arab men as being unclean or untrained; the email opens with a picture of a kitten peeing in a squat toilet, and leads on to an image of a man donning a red Kuffiyeh, the traditional Arab headers, urinating against a wall.


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PostPosted: 29 Mar 2012 11:28 
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Source says they aren't going to give up on Syria because it's in their security zone. They are in open conflict with Iran and they are going to win. He said weapons are flowing faster now along with humanitarian supplies.


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PostPosted: 29 Mar 2012 12:47 
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shyamd wrote:
Source says they aren't going to give up on Syria because it's in their security zone. They are in open conflict with Iran and they are going to win. He said weapons are flowing faster now along with humanitarian supplies.


Maybe so, but GCC mercenaries are unlikely to have the competence to dislodge Assad.


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PostPosted: 29 Mar 2012 12:52 
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The Syrian people will speak for themselves, te number of refugees are increasing everyday. Even PRC concludes that Assad has to go.

Now that the US has agreed to provide communication sets to the FSA, things will accelerate. The FSA has been empowered to deliver aid too. Humanitarian and weapons are flowing in faster. Libyans are arriving ready for action. So watch this space.

Source said clearly, we are at war with Iran and its allies.


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PostPosted: 29 Mar 2012 23:39 
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Feb 22nd
Quote:
Israel has deployed assets in Azerbaijan and another country. Everything is set for ops in Iran. Like I said - RED ALERT in the region.


Israel’s Secret Staging Ground
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U.S. officials believe that the Israelis have gained access to airbases in Azerbaijan. Does this bring them one step closer to a war with Iran?

BY MARK PERRY | MARCH 28, 2012

In 2009, the deputy chief of mission of the U.S. embassy in Baku, Donald Lu, sent a cable to the State Department's headquarters in Foggy Bottom titled "Azerbaijan's discreet symbiosis with Israel." The memo, later released by WikiLeaks, quotes Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev as describing his country's relationship with the Jewish state as an iceberg: "nine-tenths of it is below the surface."

Why does it matter? Because Azerbaijan is strategically located on Iran's northern border and, according to several high-level sources I've spoken with inside the U.S. government, Obama administration officials now believe that the "submerged" aspect of the Israeli-Azerbaijani alliance -- the security cooperation between the two countries -- is heightening the risks of an Israeli strike on Iran.

In particular, four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers say that the United States has concluded that Israel has recently been granted access to airbases on Iran's northern border. To do what, exactly, is not clear. "The Israelis have bought an airfield," a senior administration official told me in early February, "and the airfield is called Azerbaijan."

Senior U.S. intelligence officials are increasingly concerned that Israel's military expansion into Azerbaijan complicates U.S. efforts to dampen Israeli-Iranian tensions, according to the sources. Military planners, I was told, must now plan not only for a war scenario that includes the Persian Gulf -- but one that could include the Caucasus. The burgeoning Israel-Azerbaijan relationship has also become a flashpoint in both countries' relationship with Turkey, a regional heavyweight that fears the economic and political fallout of a war with Iran. Turkey's most senior government officials have raised their concerns with their U.S. counterparts, as well as with the Azeris, the sources said.

The Israeli embassy in Washington, the Israel Defense Forces, and the Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency, were all contacted for comment on this story but did not respond.

The Azeri embassy to the United States also did not respond to requests for information regarding Azerbaijan's security agreements with Israel. During a recent visit to Tehran, however, Azerbaijan's defense minister publicly ruled out the use of Azerbaijan for a strike on Iran. "The Republic of Azerbaijan, like always in the past, will never permit any country to take advantage of its land, or air, against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which we consider our brother and friend country," he said.

But even if his government makes good on that promise, it could still provide Israel with essential support. A U.S. military intelligence officer noted that Azeri defense minister did not explicitly bar Israeli bombers from landing in the country after a strike. Nor did he rule out the basing of Israeli search-and-rescue units in the country. Proffering such landing rights -- and mounting search and rescue operations closer to Iran -- would make an Israeli attack on Iran easier.

"We're watching what Iran does closely," one of the U.S. sources, an intelligence officer engaged in assessing the ramifications of a prospective Israeli attack confirmed. "But we're now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we're not happy about it."

Israel's deepening relationship with the Baku government was cemented in February by a $1.6 billion arms agreement that provides Azerbaijan with sophisticated drones and missile-defense systems. At the same time, Baku's ties with Tehran have frayed: Iran presented a note to Azerbaijan's ambassador last month claiming that Baku has supported Israeli-trained assassination squads targeting Iranian scientists, an accusation the Azeri government called "a slander." In February, a member of Yeni Azerbadzhan -- the ruling party -- called on the government to change the country's name to "North Azerbaijan," implicitly suggesting that the 16 million Azeris who live in northern Iran ("South Azerbaijan") are in need of liberation.

And this month, Baku announced that 22 people had been arrested for spying on behalf of Iran, charging they had been tasked by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to "commit terrorist acts against the U.S., Israeli, and other Western states' embassies." The allegations prompted multiple angry denials from the Iranian government.

It's clear why the Israelis prize their ties to Azerbaijan -- and why the Iranians are infuriated by them. The Azeri military has four abandoned, Soviet-era airfields that would potentially be available to the Israelis, as well as four airbases for their own aircraft, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies' Military Balance 2011.

The U.S. intelligence and diplomatic officials told me they believe that Israel has gained access to these airbases through a series of quiet political and military understandings. "I doubt that there's actually anything in writing," added a senior retired American diplomat who spent his career in the region. "But I don't think there's any doubt -- if Israeli jets want to land in Azerbaijan after an attack, they'd probably be allowed to do so. Israel is deeply embedded in Azerbaijan, and has been for the last two decades."

The prospect of Israel using Azerbaijan's airfields for an Iranian attack first became public in December 2006, when retired Israeli Brig. Gen. Oded Tira angrily denounced the George W. Bush administration's lack of action on the Iranian nuclear program. "For our part," he wrote in a widely cited commentary, "we should also coordinate with Azerbaijan the use of airbases in its territory and also enlist the support of the Azeri minority in Iran." The "coordination" that Tira spoke of is now a reality, the U.S. sources told me.

Access to such airfields is important for Israel, because it would mean that Israeli F-15I and F-16I fighter-bombers would not have to refuel midflight during a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, but could simply continue north and land in Azerbaijan. Defense analyst David Isenberg describes the ability to use Azeri airfields as "a significant asset" to any Israel strike, calculating that the 2,200-mile trip from Israel to Iran and back again would stretch Israel's warplanes to their limits. "Even if they added extra fuel tanks, they'd be running on fumes," Isenberg told me, "so being allowed access to Azeri airfields would be crucial."

Former CENTCOM commander Gen. Joe Hoar simplified Israel's calculations: "They save themselves 800 miles of fuel," he told me in a recent telephone interview. "That doesn't guarantee that Israel will attack Iran, but it certainly makes it more doable."

Using airbases in Azerbaijan would ensure that Israel would not have to rely on its modest fleet of air refuelers or on its refueling expertise, which a senior U.S. military intelligence officer described as "pretty minimal." Military planners have monitored Israeli refueling exercises, he added, and are not impressed. "They're just not very good at it."

Retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner, who conducted a study for a think tank affiliated with the Swedish Ministry of Defense of likely Israeli attack scenarios in March 2010, said that Israel is capable of using its fleet of F-15I and F-16I warplanes in a strike on Iran without refueling after the initial top-off over Israel. "It's not weight that's a problem," he said, "but the numbers of weapons that are mounted on each aircraft." Put simply, the more distance a fighter-bomber is required to travel, the more fuel it will need and the fewer weapons it can carry. Shortening the distance adds firepower, and enhances the chances for a successful strike.

"The problem is the F-15s," Gardiner said, "who would go in as fighters to protect the F-16 bombers and stay over the target." In the likely event that Iran scrambled its fighters to intercept the Israeli jets, he continued, the F-15s would be used to engage them. "Those F-15s would burn up fuel over the target, and would need to land."

Could they land in Azerbaijan? "Well, it would have to be low profile, because of political sensitivities, so that means it would have to be outside of Baku and it would have to be highly developed." Azerbaijan has such a place: the Sitalcay airstrip, which is located just over 40 miles northwest of Baku and 340 miles from the Iranian border. Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Sitalcay's two tarmacs and the adjacent facilities were used by a squadron of Soviet Sukhoi SU-25 jets -- perfect for Israeli fighters and bombers. "Well then," Gardiner said, after the site was described to him, "that would be the place."

Even if Israeli jets did not land in Azerbaijan, access to Azeri airfields holds a number of advantages for the Israel Defense Forces. The airfields not only have facilities to service fighter-bombers, but a senior U.S. military intelligence officer said that Israel would likely base helicopter rescue units there in the days just prior to a strike for possible search and rescue missions.

This officer pointed to a July 2010 joint Israeli-Romanian exercise that tested Israeli air capabilities in mountainous areas -- like those the Israeli Air Force would face during a bombing mission against Iranian nuclear facilities that the Iranians have buried deep into mountainsides. U.S. military officers watched the exercises closely, not least because they objected to the large number of Israeli fighters operating from airbases of a NATO-member country, but also because 100 Israeli fighters overflew Greece as a part of a simulation of an attack on Iran. The Israelis eventually curtailed their Romanian military activities when the United States expressed discomfort with practicing the bombing of Iran from a NATO country, according to this senior military intelligence officer.

This same senior U.S. military intelligence officer speculated that the search and rescue component of those operations will be transferred to Azerbaijan -- "if they haven't been already." He added that Israel could also use Azerbaijan as a base for Israeli drones, either as part of a follow-on attack against Iran, or to mount aerial assessment missions in an attack's aftermath.

Azerbaijan clearly profits from its deepening relationship with Israel. The Jewish state is the second largest customer for Azeri oil - shipped through the Baku-Tibilisi-Ceyhan pipeline -- and its military trade allows Azerbaijan to upgrade its military after the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE) slapped it with an arms embargo after its six-year undeclared war with Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Finally, modernizing the Azeri military sends a clear signal to Iran that interference in Azerbaijan could be costly.

"Azerbaijan has worries of its own," said Alexander Murinson, an Israeli-American scholar who wrote in an influential monograph on Israeli-Azeri ties for Tel Aviv's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. "The Baku government has expelled Iranians preaching in their mosques, broken up pro-Iranian terrorist groups, and countered Iranian propaganda efforts among its population."

The deepening Azeri-Israeli relationship has also escalated Israel's dispute with Turkey, which began when Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish ship destined for Gaza in May 2010, killing nine Turkish citizens. When Turkey demanded an apology, Israel not only refused, it abruptly canceled a $150 million contract to develop and manufacture drones with the Turkish military -- then entered negotiations with Azerbaijan to jointly manufacture 60 Israeli drones of varying types. The $1.6 billion arms agreement between Israel and Azerbaijan also left Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan "sputtering in rage," according to a retired U.S. diplomat.

The centerpiece of the recent arms deal is Azerbaijan's acquisition of Israeli drones, which has only heightened Turkish anxieties further. In November 2011, the Turkish government retrieved the wreckage of an Israeli "Heron" drone in the Mediterranean, south of the city of Adana -- well inside its maritime borders. Erdogan's government believed the drone's flight had originated in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq and demanded that Israel provide an explanation, but got none. "They lied; they told us the drone didn't belong to them," a former Turkish official told me last month. "But it had their markings."

Israel began cultivating strong relations with Baku in 1994, when Israeli telecommunications firm Bezeq bought a large share of the nationally controlled telephone operating system. By 1995, Azerbaijan's marketplace was awash with Israeli goods: "Strauss ice cream, cell phones produced by Motorola's Israeli division, Maccabee beer, and other Israeli imports are ubiquitous," an Israeli reporter wrote in the Jerusalem Post.

In March 1996, then-Health Minister Ephraim Sneh became the first senior Israeli official to visit Baku -- but not the last. Benjamin Netanyahu made the trip in 1997, a high-level Knesset delegation in 1998, Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in 2007, Israeli President Shimon Peres in 2009, and Lieberman again, as foreign minister, this last February. Accompanying Peres on his visit to Baku was Avi Leumi, the CEO of Israel's Aeronautics Defense Systems and a former Mossad official who paved the way for the drone agreement.

U.S. intelligence officials began to take Israel's courtship of Azerbaijan seriously in 2001, one of the senior U.S. military intelligence officers said. In 2001, Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems contracted with Georgia's Tbilisi Aerospace Manufacturing to upgrade the Soviet SU-25 Scorpion, a close air-support fighter, and one of its first customers was Azerbaijan. More recently, Israel's Elta Systems has cooperated with Azerbaijan in building the TecSar reconnaissance satellite system and, in 2009, the two countries began negotiations over Azeri production of the Namer infantry fighting vehicle.

Israeli firms "built and guard the fence around Baku's international airport, monitor and help protect Azerbaijan's energy infrastructure, and even provide security for Azerbaijan's president on foreign visits," according to a study published by Ilya Bourtman in the Middle East Journal. Bourtman noted that Azerbaijan shares intelligence data on Iran with Israel, while Murinson raised the possibility that Israelis have set up electronic listening stations along Azerbaijan's Iranian border.

Israeli officials downplay their military cooperation with Baku, pointing out that Azerbaijan is one of the few Muslim nations that makes Israelis feel welcome. "I think that in the Caucasian region, Azerbaijan is an icon of progress and modernity," Sneh told an Azeri magazine in July 2010.

Many would beg to differ with that description. Sneh's claim "is laughable," the retired American diplomat said. "Azerbaijan is a thuggish family-run kleptocracy and one of the most corrupt regimes in the world." The U.S. embassy in Baku has also been scathing: A 2009 State Department cable described Aliyev, the son of the country's longtime ruler and former KGB general Heydar Aliyev, as a "mafia-like" figure, comparable to "Godfather" characters Sonny and Michael Corleone. On domestic issues in particular, the cable warned that Aliyev's policies had become "increasingly authoritarian and hostile to diversity of political views."

But the U.S. military is less concerned with Israel's business interests in Baku, which are well-known, than it is with how and if Israel will employ its influence in Azerbaijan, should its leaders decide to strike Iran's nuclear facilities. The cable goes on to confirm that Israel is focused on Azerbaijan as a military ally -- "Israel's main goal is to preserve Azerbaijan as an ally against Iran, a platform for reconnaissance of that country and as a market for military hardware."

It is precisely what is not known about the relationship that keeps U.S. military planners up at night. One former CIA analyst doubted that Israel will launch an attack from Azerbaijan, describing it as "just too chancy, politically." However, he didn't rule out Israel's use of Azeri airfields to mount what he calls "follow-on or recovery operations." He then added: "Of course, if they do that, it widens the conflict, and complicates it. It's extremely dangerous."

One of the senior U.S. military officers familiar with U.S. war plans is not as circumspect. "We are studying every option, every variable, and every factor in a possible Israeli strike," he told me. Does that include Israel's use of Azerbaijan as a platform from which to launch a strike -- or to recover Israeli aircraft following one? There was only a moment's hesitation. "I think I've answered the question," he said.


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PostPosted: 29 Mar 2012 23:57 
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ShyamD, The Shah Of Iran Reza Shah Pahlavi's grandfather was Colonel/General in the Persian forces who fought with Azerbaijan and reconquered lost of territory from Tsarist Russia during the turmoil of the 1917 revolution.

If Azeris sold an airfield you can bet it has iranis working there.


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PostPosted: 30 Mar 2012 00:15 
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Iranians are very smart. They'll mitigate this in some way.

Visits by navy ships to boost Saudi-India maritime ties

Quote:
Indian Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao, 2nd left, addresses a press conference aboard INS TIR in Jeddah on Tuesday. Capt. Ajay Sirohi, commanding officer of the ship, left, Consul General Faiz Ahmad Kidwai, 2nd right, and India's Defense Attaché in Riyadh Col. Ajay Kumar, are also seen. (AN photo)

By JEDDAH: SYED FAISAL ALI, ARAB NEWS STAFF

Published: Mar 29, 2012 03:36 Updated: Mar 29, 2012 03:36

Three Indian Navy ships, in Jeddah port for the past three days, aim to further boost cooperation between the two navies of India and the Kingdom, said the commanding officer of the ships.

"The primary aim of the visit of these ships is to enhance friendly relations between the two navies," Capt. Ajay Sirohi said while addressing a press conference with Indian Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao aboard INS Tir on Tuesday.

The commanding officer and captain of the ships also interacted with their counterparts in the Western Naval Fleet of the Royal Saudi Navy.

The Indian Naval Cadet Training Ships INS Tir, INS Shardul and ICGS Veera docked at Jeddah port on a good will visit on Monday. The 1st Training Squadron of the Indian Navy is under the command of Capt. Sirohi.

The ships, carrying more than 600 navy personnel, including approximately 100 young sea cadets for training, started their journey on March 10 from Kochi and will leave Jeddah today for Safaga, Egypt.


Speaking to Arab News India’s Defense Attaché in Riyadh Col. Ajay Kumar said the visit is primarily aimed at giving a boost to the existing friendly relationship between the two navies of India and the Kingdom. It also inculcates the spirit of adventure in young officers and cadets.

The visit accords an opportunity to the Indian Navy to bolster the bonhomie and friendship that exists with the Royal Saudi Naval Forces. The visit also aims at developing the ability of both the navies to meet the ever-growing challenges of the maritime environment by drawing on the collective experience of the maritime forces, Col. Kumar said.

INS Tir’s Executive Officer Harsh Kumar Singh said the three ships form part of the 1st Training Squadron of the Indian Navy and is based at the Southern Naval Command at Kochi.

“The Southern Naval Command, which is the Training Command of the Indian Navy, trains officers, cadets and sailors of the Indian Navy as well as numerous friendly foreign navies in various spheres,” Harsh said.

The 1st Training Squadron has the onerous responsibilities of training young sea cadets, who join the squadron to earn their “sea legs.”

The cadets are put through an intensive sea phase of 24 weeks, so as to acquaint them with the life of a marine, Harsh said.

The primary aim of the squadron is to impart training to sea cadets and in keeping with this aim, the goal of the 1st Squadron is to ensure overall development of cadets to mold them into professionally competent seafarers and train them to achieve excellence in basic maritime operations, he said.

As part of the sea phase, officer trainees are provided an opportunity to learn socio-political and maritime facets of different countries, Harsh said.

Hundreds of proud Indians visited the Indian Navy’s ships to get a feel of the sailors’ life and their working condition and to reenergize their nationalistic fervor.

Young boys and girls, some of them carrying the national tricolor, toured the three ships, with their parents, and learned how the brave sailors of the Indian Navy keep a vigil on sea routes to keep their country safe.


Saudi press running a special about 40 saudi youth in India visiting colleges, ISRO, IT facilities etc.


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PostPosted: 30 Mar 2012 00:40 
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i have this feeling that the west wants to reserve iran/iraq oil for themselves. they have given up on SUNNI oil and india gets it. this is the long-tem vision me thinks.


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PostPosted: 30 Mar 2012 01:00 
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West wants to control every drop of Oil on earth, whichever way possible be it Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, Russia yada yada.. this is the only way they can rule the world for next 50-100 years of perhaps even further. They also want to have a technological edge in alternative resources and next generation of fuel research. They have managed to do it so far and I am pretty sure that they will be able to do so even in future.
West looks 50-100 years down the line. A simple matter of fact is West will continue to push defense equipments and technologically advanced overpriced products in leiu of buying Oil from middle-eastern countries while artifically scuttling China/India growth who do not have middle-east as their export market in a big way. India/China and east in general are net importers controlling the oil and market in general would give a big boost to western economies in long run.


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PostPosted: 31 Mar 2012 03:10 
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Saudi are planning to punish countries that are not fully backing their policy on Syria and other issues.
Although prince salman has stayed silent on the proposal. Prince salman is now in control of certain affairs as crown prince nayef is in Algeria resting after treatment in the US.


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PostPosted: 31 Mar 2012 05:24 
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Erdogan's visit to Iran yesterday was about the following:
- The fact that Syrian Kurds rejected joining the Syrian Demoratic Union because they werent guaranteed autonomy means that Turkish National Security are compelled to act in Syria
- Turkey said they are expecting the worst national security scenario due to Kurds reacting in Turkey if Syrian kurds try for freedom
- Erdogan conveyed that the western stance against Syria and Iran is hardening as was discussed in Seoul.
- Erdogan told Iranians that if they are compelled to act in Syria (with western backing), they do not want conflict with Iran

Not clear the iranian reply.

Another subject discussed was Hillary Clinton's visit to KSA. As is known, the Americans have declared they want to provide the opposition in Syria advanced comms equipment. This is a hint to KSA that US is ready to do something about Syria albeit limited and encourage KSA and the GCC to continue military support, logistical and also funding.

What does the US mean by advanced communication? Syrian rebels already use satcoms which is being intercepted by Iran and Russia. So the US is providing some NATO military comms sets for the rebels to escape this. Assad's army has been able to pick off some of the rebels as they were able to track down their location and neutralise them.

He said Russia and Iran are pushing the rebels hard because they want written guarantees for their interests to be protected.

Source reaffirmed that inspite of their rhetoric in the media - Turkey is going slow on buffer zone and the GCC feel cheated. The Turks told the GCC about their "great islamic" strategic interests and promises to do this and that but nothing concrete.

The GCC think that the west led by France will probably do something to protect christians. Sarko is losing the elections and he needs to pull something off to get him back in the running seat.
The syrian war is a proxy war between various parties and its show down time. Ultimately its the Syrian people that will decide where they want to be - not russia, not assad, not iran.

Qatar and KSA are continuing to run the show in Syria and you will see a renewed thrust. Things are just getting warmed up. They are in open confrontation with IRan and no one is going to drop this war in Syria.


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PostPosted: 31 Mar 2012 08:06 
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ShaymD, Please do me and yourself a favor. Put a tag that all your posts are source based and not your views.

This will avoid brickbats.


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PostPosted: 31 Mar 2012 13:27 
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^^ sure.

Hillary Clinton arrived in Riyadh Yesterday and will meet the council GCC foreign ministers today on top of meeting the Saudis to discuss Syria as my previous post says. She met King Abdullah yesterday.


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PostPosted: 31 Mar 2012 15:49 
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Exclusive - West wants Saudi not to neutralise oil release

Quote:
By Richard Mably

LONDON | Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:24pm BST

(Reuters) - Oil consuming nations may seek reassurance from Saudi Arabia that it will not cut oil production and neutralise the impact on oil prices if consumer countries release emergency reserves, diplomats and industry sources said.

The issue may be raised by a U.S. delegation, led by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which is in Riyadh this weekend to discuss Syria with Gulf states. Clinton will see Saudi King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.

"If they're going to release reserves they need an assurance from the Saudis that they won't offset it by cutting supply," said one industry source familiar with thinking in Washington.

"There's no doubt the measure needs the cooperation of Saudi Arabia," said a diplomat.

The United States, with Britain and France, is considering a release from emergency stockpiles to cut fuel costs. Other countries including South Korea and Japan may join the plan.

Riyadh would not want deliberately to undermine an effort to bring down oil prices. But it might reduce supplies in response to a release of oil drawn from reserves if that were to displace Saudi supplies, particularly in the United States where the national Strategic Petroleum Reserve would provide the bulk of any drawdown.

Oil prices have risen sharply since the start of the year, at one point breaking $128 a barrel, largely because of sanctions against oil producer Iran aimed at slowing Tehran's nuclear programme.

Diplomats have said the sanctions aim to meet Israeli demands for action against Tehran by hitting Iran's oil earnings and to prevent the alternative - a military strike by Israel.

"The view is that higher oil prices are a price worth paying to prevent or push back a war against Iran and higher oil prices can be alleviated by using emergency stocks," said the industry source.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi has said publicly that Riyadh wants to bring down oil prices.

But he has also said that Saudi can do no more than meet demand for its crude, which it is already doing, and that the previous drawdown of oil reserves last June during the Libyan civil war did not work.

"That's up to them," he said to reporters in Doha last week of a possible consumer country release. "What I can tell you is that they have done it before and it didn't do anything. You saw what happened in the last release? Nothing."

The concern among Western diplomats is that oil from strategic stocks could displace Saudi barrels, particularly to the United States where Saudi imports have risen recently, leaving net supplies globally little changed.

Last year after the International Energy Agency tapped reserves at the end of June to fill the gap left by Libya's civil war, Saudi output at first remained high, and then fell.

Reuters estimates put Saudi production at 9.85-9.9 million barrels per day from July to September before falling to just over 9.4 million bpd in October and November. It has since risen steadily back to about 9.9 million bpd now.


Note the above link with below

KSA, US plan unified Syria strategy

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah is being greeted on arrival in Rawdat
Quote:
Khuraim on Friday. A number of princes and high-ranking officials received the king who will stay for some days in Rawdat Khuraim, a favorite camping spot 100 km north east of Riyadh.

By GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN | ARAB NEWS

Published: Mar 30, 2012 23:28 Updated: Mar 30, 2012 23:28

RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah held wide-ranging talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here yesterday that mainly focused on possible unified strategy on the crisis in Syria, according to Saudi and US sources.

The talks, attended by several high-ranking Saudi and US officials, also covered “a range of bilateral subjects and key regional issues,” said Mofid H. Deak, a spokesman of the US Embassy here.

Deak pointed out that “there were only two official meetings of Clinton yesterday — one with King Abdullah and the other with Prince Saud Al-Faisal, foreign minister.”

An SPA report said that Clinton conveyed the greetings of US President Barack Obama to the king, which were fondly reciprocated by King Abdullah. The talks, according to the report, covered “overall situation and developments in the region as well as on global level.”

The talks are extremely important keeping in view the 60-nation gathering of the "Friends of the Syrian People" in Istanbul over the weekend that is aimed at finding ways to aid Syria's opposition and to stop the bloodshed in that country.

The US and the Kingdom are hoping to help unify the opposition's ranks while pushing for humanitarian aid and further isolation of President Bashar Assad's regime.

The talks were attended by Prince Salman, defense minister; Prince Saud Al-Faisal, minister of foreign affairs; Prince Muqrin; chief of Saudi Intelligence; Prince Sattam, Riyadh governor; Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, minister of state, Cabinet member and commander of the National Guard; and Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, deputy minister for foreign affairs. Saudi Ambassador to US Adel Al-Jubeir and American Ambassador James Smith were also present.

According to a Saudi official, the discussions with King Abdullah as well as Prince Saud mainly focused on “Syria and other developments in the Arab world.”

“But, Clinton will spell out her plans and policies possibly in the GCC-US ministerial meeting,” he added.

“The meeting of the foreign ministers of the GCC together with Clinton and other US officials will be held at the GCC General Secretariat today afternoon,” said Ahmed Al-Kaabi, said a GCC spokesman here yesterday.

The meeting at the GCC secretariat will focus on the Gulf’s position on Syria and the role of the US and other allies, said Al-Kaabi. In fact, Saudi Arabia, along with fellow Gulf nation Qatar, has called for a timely approach, including arming the rebels and carving out a safe haven inside Syria from where the opposition can operate.

Clinton, meanwhile, has cautiously welcomed the Syrian government's endorsement of the six-point plan that called for an immediate cease-fire with rebels and an eventual democratic transition in Syria.

She said it was an important step toward peace, but stressed that the Syrian regime now has to deliver. "Given Assad's history of overpromising and under-delivering, that commitment must now be matched by immediate action," Clinton told reporters in Washington before leaving for Saudi Arabia.

"We will judge Assad's sincerity and seriousness by what he does, not by what he says. If he is ready to bring this dark chapter in Syria's history to a close, he could prove it by immediately ordering regime forces to stop firing and begin withdrawing from populated areas,” she added.

Clinton said Assad must also implement the rest of UN envoy Kofi Annan's plan. Her hesitation reflected the Syrian leader's previous promises to meet the demands of protesters and later Arab League monitors on democratic reforms that were never enacted.

The GCC spokesman said that her meeting with GCC foreign ministers is “significant before engaging in broader meetings Sunday with Arab, Turkish and Western officials in Istanbul.” The meeting in Turkey follows the inaugural one Clinton attended in Tunis at the end of February — a response to Western and Arab failure to win Russian and Chinese backing at the UN Security Council.

Clinton will discuss how to make Assad comply with a new plan to end the crackdown, study further sanctions against his regime and consider ways to aid the opposition.

Meanwhile, at the weekend meeting with Clinton, Turkey plans to renew a call for international help to deal with the soaring numbers of Syrians fleeing violence to Turkey's southern provinces.


Obama Clears Sanctions Against Iran
Quote:


By NATHAN HODGE And TENNILLE TRACY

WASHINGTON—The White House cleared the way for tough new sanctions on Iran on Friday, saying a cutoff of Iranian oil wouldn't significantly harm world markets.

The move, which was expected, allows the U.S. to move forward with new penalties approved last year by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama to target financial institutions doing business with Iran's central bank, a key conduit for the country's oil sales.

The sanctions provisions, part of a defense spending law, required the president to determine whether the nation could withstand the possible oil disruption that resulted.

The president said in a finding there was "sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran" to cushion the impact of sanctions on oil markets.

The White House cleared the way for tough new sanctions on Iran Friday, saying a cutoff off Iranian oil would not significantly harm world markets. Nathan Hodge reports on the News Hub. Photo: Reuters.
Journal Community

The move comes amid rising gasoline prices across the country, a growing issue in political campaigns. Republicans are unlikely to criticize sanctions against Iran, but are certain to blame any resulting price increases on White House energy and economic policies.

The sanctions, which take effect June 28, are part of a broader effort to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. U.S. and European Union countries say Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, while Iran says its intentions are peaceful. Among other steps, the European Union is instituting an oil embargo beginning July 1.

The sanctions, intended to drive Iran toward compromise on it nuclear program, are having a "significant impact" on Iran's government and economy, a senior administration official said Friday. Iran has agreed to return to talks with world powers, with negotiations likely to begin in mid-April in Turkey.

Iran is the world's No. 3 exporter of crude oil, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration, raising the possibility that the sanctions might remove a significant amount of oil from the global market.

Saudi Arabia, the holder of the largest cushion of spare supply, has been seen as key to filling the gap left by Iranian cutbacks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a meeting with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on Friday, raised the issue of how to maintain stability in the oil markets, according to U.S. officials.

In recent weeks, oil markets have factored in the possibility that sanctions might take a significant amount of oil off the market. The price of crude in New York trading gained $4.19 per barrel in the first quarter, or 4.24%, closing at $103.02 Friday.

Obama administration officials have hinted in recent weeks that tapping the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve was a tool available to calm oil markets. "It's an option that is and will remain on the table," a senior administration official said Friday. "Nonetheless, there appears to be sufficient supply of non-Iranian oil," the official said.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said this year the world oil market is growing increasingly tight because of swelling demand, supply shortages and modest spare capacity.

U.S. officials have tried to persuade Iran's oil customers to halt or substantially cut back purchases and find alternative sources. The State Department has exempted nearly a dozen countries, including Japan, France, Germany, Italy and the U.K., from sanctions because of their efforts to cut back on Iranian oil.

The U.S. hasn't yet said how it will move forward with China and India, economic powerhouses that are large importers of Iran's crude oil.

A senior administration official said Friday that South Korea had indicated an interest in complying with the sanctions. And officials in Turkey, also an Iranian customer, said they would reduce purchases of Iranian oil by 10% and replace it with Libyan oil. Ankara's move came a day after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan returned from a visit to Iran.


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PostPosted: 01 Apr 2012 08:37 
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http://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/17716 ... table.html

Quote:


The hell that is Iraq, who's accountable?
Friday, 30 March 2012 01:04

Last week marked the ninth anniversary of the United States' invasion of Iraq and the first since the much-bandied-about withdrawal of US troops in December last year.

Neither the invasion nor the withdrawal warrants celebration, especially as the former was an international war crime and the latter a charade.

The invasion in March 2003 did not have the prior approval of the United Nations and according to international law experts and the then UN chief Kofi Annan, it was illegal. The George W. Bush administration misled the American public and the world at large by claiming that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and had links with the al-Qaeda terrorists who used civilian planes to attack the United States on September 11, 2001.

The invasion based on lies — which the Bush administration later attributed to intelligence failure — led to the deaths of some 1.4 million people in a country where another million people, half of whom were children, had died due to 12 years of US-backed sanctions. The stone-hearted sanction-era US Secretary of State Madeline Albright justified the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children as a price worth paying.

The war also brought destruction, especially to Iraq's infrastructure facilities, rendering some 24 million people without electricity for months and years. State-run factories were deliberately bombed to be privatized later or to be rebuilt by western construction companies.

Even educational facilities were not spared. A UNESCO report released in March 2003, coinciding with the invasion, said the education system in Iraq was one of the best in the region with high levels of literacy. The higher education facilities, especially the scientific and technological institutions, were of an international standard, staffed by high quality personnel.

But today, as a direct result of the US invasion, Iraq has lower literacy rate than it had 25 years ago, because the occupying power began its occupation by destroying every aspect of the country's education system, says a statement released this month by more than 15 non-governmental organisations.
Nine years after the invasion, the country's government which is ironically backed by the US and Iran — foes in the ongoing nuclear standoff — cannot boast of providing uninterrupted electricity services to the people. One third of the population has no access to clean drinking water. Unemployment is at an all time high with university graduates working in building construction sites as labourers. All this is happening in a country which is known to hold the world's second largest oil reserves.

However, the invaders spared the oil facilities. When people resorted to looting government facilities, including the world famous Baghdad museum after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in April 2003, the occupying US forces did little or nothing to stop them. But they gave protection to the oil ministry, underscoring the fact that their mission was not to find weapons of mass destruction or to liberate the Iraqi people from dictatorship, but to plunder Iraq's oil resources.
Multinational oil companies which were absent during the Saddam Hussein era are back and the Nouri al-Maliki government is under heavy pressure from the Americans to enact a controversial oil law that will allow virtual privatization of Iraq's oil reserves. Already the autonomous Kurdistan region in the north has done it by signing production sharing agreements with Exxon Mobil, in defiance of the central government.

On another front, the reconstruction of the destroyed infrastructure facilities is being carried out by US and other foreign firms. They are paid by Iraq's treasury. The state of affairs is analogous to a situation where a man hires the very thug who destroyed his house to reconstruct it.

Civil society activists claim that corruption runs deep in the government with foreign collaboration. The US$ 6.6 billion which went missing and was mysteriously found in Iraq's Central Bank last year following an audit uproar speaks volumes about the corruption and the collusion.

In the United States, meanwhile, the Obama camp made use of the anniversary to drive home a point that the President had honoured his campaign promise that he would bring the troops home.

But this is a big lie. The ground reality points to the presence of some 50,000 US troops backed by 45,000 private mercenaries and 15,000 officials, many of whom are military or intelligence personnel in civil dress. This adds up to a force of 110,000 — bigger than the US presence in Afghanistan.
The presence of the mercenary force is a new concept in the Western war strategy. It allows the Western governments to do the wrong thing in the right way or to commit war crimes and get away. When 17 Iraqi civilians were mown down by Blackwater mercenaries in 2007, the blame was put on the private firm rather than on the US government which hired it. The Iraqi government banned Blackwater, but it returned under a different name — Xe. The US government investigations into crimes committed by private mercenaries seldom end up in conviction. Often cases against the mercenary killers drag on for years and are then dropped.

In Iraq, the private security forces or the mercenaries enjoy some degree of immunity under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). In Libya, too, the private mercenaries hired by Western governments played a major role in the toppling of the Gaddafi regime while in Pakistan, a mercenary killed two youths and got away in January last year.

As Iraq marks the ninth anniversary of the invasion, violence and bomb blasts are still part of Iraq's daily life. So is sectarian violence which was unheard of during the Saddam Hussein era. In the simmering fire, the Iraqi people's cry for war crimes accountability is only a whimper.


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PostPosted: 01 Apr 2012 19:28 
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At Summit, Nations Move to Increase Aid for Syrian Rebels
Quote:
By STEVEN LEE MYERS
Published: April 1, 2012

ISTANBUL — The United States and more than 60 other countries moved closer on Sunday to direct intervention in the fighting in Syria, with Arab nations pledging $100 million to pay opposition fighters and the Obama administration agreeing to send communications equipment to help rebels organize and evade Syria’s military, according to participants gathered here.

The moves reflected a growing consensus, at least among those who met here this weekend under the rubric “Friends of Syria,” that mediation efforts by the United Nations peace envoy, Kofi Annan, were failing to halt the violence in Syria and that more forceful action was needed. With Russia and China blocking measures that could open the way for military action by the United Nations, the countries lined up against the government of President Bashar al-Assad have sought to bolster Syria’s beleaguered opposition through means that seemed to stretch the definition of humanitarian assistance.

The offer to provide salaries and communications equipment to rebel fighters known as the Free Syrian Army — with the hopes that the money might encourage government soldiers to defect, officials said — is bringing the loose Friends of Syria coalition to the edge of a proxy war against Mr. Assad’s government and its international supporters, principally Iran and Russia.

Direct assistance to the rebel fighters, even as Mr. Assad’s loyalists press on with a brutal crackdown, risked worsening a conflict that has already led to about 9,000 deaths and could plunge Syria into a protracted civil war.

“We would like to see a stronger Free Syrian Army,” Burhan Ghalioun, the leader of the Syrian National Council, a loose affiliation of exiled opposition leaders, told hundreds of world leaders and other officials gathered here. “All of these responsibilities should be borne by the international community.”

Mr. Ghalioun did not directly address the financial assistance from the Arab countries — including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — but he added, “This is high noon for action.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the conference that Mr. Assad had defied Mr. Annan’s efforts to broker an end to the fighting and begin a political transition. She said that new assaults began in Idlib and Aleppo provinces even after Mr. Assad publicly accepted the plan a week ago, which called for an immediate cease-fire followed by negotiations with the opposition.

“The world must judge Assad by what he does, not by what he says,” Mrs. Clinton said in a statement to officials who sat around an enormous rectangular table the size of a basketball arena. “And we cannot sit back and wait any longer.”

The question of arming the rebels — as countries like Saudi Arabia and some members of Congress have called for — remain divisive because of the uncertainty of who exactly would receive them. Paying salaries to fighters blurs the line between lethal and nonlethal support.

Molham Al Drobi, a member of the Syrian National Council, said that the opposition had pledges of $176 million in humanitarian assistance and $100 million in salaries over three months for the fighters inside Syria. He said some money was already flowing into the fighters, including $500,000 last week through “a mechanism that I cannot disclose now.”

He expressed dismay that the international community was not doing more to provide weapons that might even the odds against the Syrian government’s security forces. “Our people are killed in the streets,” he said on the sidelines of the conference. “If the international community prefers not to do it themselves, they should at least help us doing it by giving us the green light, by providing us the arms, or anything else that needs to be done.”

Even so, as the fighting in Syria drags into a second year, the international involvement on behalf of Syria’s rebels — inside and outside the country — appears to be deepening.

Mrs. Clinton announced an additional $12 million in humanitarian assistance for international organizations aiding the Syrians, bringing the American total so far to $25 million, according to the State Department. She also confirmed for the first time that the United States was providing satellite communications equipment to help those inside Syria “organize, evade attacks by the regime,” and stay in contact with the outside world.

“We are discussing with our international partners how best to expand this support,” she said.

According to the Syrian National Council, the American assistance will include night-vision goggles.

The countries providing most of the money for salaries — Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — have long been the fiercest opponents of Mr. Assad’s rule, reflecting the sectarian split in the Arab world between Sunnis and Shiites. Mr. Assad and his inner circle are Alawites, a Shiite minority offshoot in Syria that has nonetheless dominated political and economic life in a country with a majority Sunni population, as well as Christian and other smaller sectarian groups.

Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the host of Sunday’s meeting, called on the United Nations Security Council to act in the wake of the failure of Mr. Annan’s efforts, saying Syria’s government was using the initiative to buy time. “If the Security Council hesitates, there will be no option left except to support the legitimate right of the Syrian people to defend themselves.” Mr. Annan is scheduled to brief the council’s 15 members in New York on Monday.

Mr. Erdogan emphasized that Turkey had no intention of interfering in Syria, once a close ally, but that the world could not stand idly by as the opposition withered in a lopsided confrontation with the government’s modern weaponry. “They are not alone,” he thundered. “They will never be alone.”


A final statement from Sunday’s meeting called on Mr. Annan to “determine a timeline” for the next steps in Syria. What those steps might be remains as uncertain as it has been since Mr. Assad’s government began its crackdown on popular dissent more than a year ago.

The State Department’s stated goals for the meeting in Istanbul reflected the constraints facing the United States and other nations without broader international support for military intervention like that in Libya last year. Proposals to create buffer zones and humanitarian corridors have garnered little support, in part because of the lack of United Nations authorization and logistical difficulties.

The United States and other nations agreed on Sunday to set up a “working group” within the nations gathered here to monitor countries that continue to arm or otherwise support Mr. Assad’s government — “to basically name and shame those entities, individuals, countries, who are evading the sanctions,” as a senior American official put it. They also agreed to support efforts to document acts of violence by Syrian forces that could later be used as evidence in prosecutions, presuming Mr. Assad’s government ultimately falls.

Sebnem Arsu contributed reporting
.

Nations to Decide Syria Timeline
Quote:
ISTANBUL—Representatives of more than 60 governments gathered in Turkey will call for a timeline for Syria's government to comply with a U.N.-backed cease-fire plan, officials said, as President Bashar al-Assad's international opponents sought to bridge their differences over the best way to stem the violence in Syria.

The second meeting on Sunday of the so-called Friends of the Syrian People will also firm up international recognition of Syria's main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, but is unlikely to directly address calls for greater support for the rebel Free Syrian Army, the officials added.

Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad protest outside the Istanbul Congress Center where the "Friends of Syria" conference was opening on Sunday.

Instead, Arab and Western governments sparring on whether to arm Syria's rebels will look for the lowest common diplomatic denominator by backing a six-point peace plan by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, while warning that the plan must strictly hold Syria's government to its commitment to stop military attacks.

Officials at the meeting also said they expect to announce a multimillion-dollar support fund for Syrian military defectors, funded by at least three Gulf Arab states. The Syrian National Council will administer the fund, which will pay salaries to the defectors. (trying to bring them together despite their rivalry and differences)

Opposition activists say military forces have continued a crackdown on opposition strongholds in the Syrian city of Homs and across the province of Idlib since accepting the peace plan last week.

"Nearly a week has gone by, and we have to conclude that the regime is adding to its long list of broken promises," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at the meeting. The U.S. has formally supported the Annan peace plan, which has also received support from Russia, China, and Iran, the Assad regime's strongest international supporters. But Mrs. Clinton joined Turkish and Arab leaders on Sunday in calling for a clear timeline for the diplomatic initiative to achieve its aims.

"Nobody wants to let Bashar al-Assad use any kind of diplomatic initiative to basically run the clock out and let him continue to butcher his own people," said a senior U.S. official traveling with Mrs. Clinton. "At some point, we're going to have to talk about the other steps if he doesn't do what he says he's going to do."

The meeting's host country Turkey also issued a stern warning to Damascus, saying it would support "the right of the Syrian people to defend themselves" if the latest diplomatic initiative failed. A one-time ally of Mr. Assad, Ankara is among a handful of countries in the Friends group including Gulf Arab countries calling for a harder line against the Assad regime.

"We cannot accept any initiative that places the villain and the victim on the same footing," Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an opening speech.

The Obama administration stepped up its support for the Syrian opposition on Sunday, for the first time publicly announcing that it will begin supplying communications equipment to the rebels as well as agreeing another $12 million in humanitarian aid. Mrs. Clinton also announced U.S. support for initiatives to more rigorously impose sanctions on the Assad regime and to document its alleged human-rights violations.

Officials said they will also discuss whether to urge a 'timeline' or a 'deadline' for the implementation of the U.N. plan, with a deadline seen as a harsher ultimatum for Mr. Assad, a Western official said. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he would "favor a timeline but not a deadline," adding that the Syrian regime could use a deadline as an excuse to continue its brutal crackdown in the intervening period.

The meeting convened against a backdrop of divisions among the western and Arab countries which have so far failed to broker an end to Syria's violent crackdown, and within Syria's opposition. A group that splintered from the Syrian National Council last month, calling itself the Syrian National Assembly, gathered some 70 dissidents on the eve of the meeting.

There was still disagreement ahead of the meeting's start on what degree of recognition to offer the Syrian National Council, a coalition that has served as the opposition's main interlocutor with foreign governments, but which has fractured in recent weeks.

The first Friends of the Syrian People meeting in Tunis in February recognized the Council as "a legitimate representative" of Syrians seeking a peaceful democratic transition. Council members said they expected to be recognized at Sunday's meeting as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people, taking them a step closer to recognition as an alternate government-in-exile

The Council has taken steps in recent days to address concerns by its critics. It has published a National Charter outlining a transition plan to ease fears of a chaotic post-Assad period, started an internal restructuring, and promised to guarantee constitutional rights for Syria's ethnic Kurds, a significant and restive minority group.


Confirms what I said yesterday. Basically they are preparing for a greater and deeper conflict. Everyone is just preparing - weapons are already flowing in. I already said that the Libyans were being paid $1000 per month to fight. This is just preparing for that and also paying the FSA.

Hillary mam basically said before they get deeply involved the opposition need to unite under one banner whch was a big barrier to engagement. GCC basically kicked some arse and got SNC to start uniting with the FSA and promised the kurds their autonomy (whether they do or dont will be decided later, kurds arent naive either). So GCC said we will only help you if you unite and pay both of you. So they said we'll give money to SNC, who will pay FSA, so basically SNC and FSA who were rivals are now being forced to be tied in the hip.

Source mentioned no one really understands the interests of Qatar and they are running their own show. KSA, Kuwait and UAE the GCC power houses are working together.

Meanwhile in Delhi....

BRICS position shaped on West Asia, Afghanistan

Quote:
IANS | April 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

Manish Chand

New Delhi: Amid differing perceptions, India played a crucial role in shaping the collective stance of the BRICS countries on the need for dialogue to resolve the festering crisis in West Asia and to push continued regional and international cooperation in stabilising Afghanistan.

The Delhi Declaration at the end of the fourth BRICS summit of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa on Thursday supported moderation and dialogue in resolving the Iranian nuclear standoff and the Syrian crisis amid threats and sharp rhetoric emanating from Western capitals.

Although there are sceptics who say the political content of BRICS remains thin, the New Delhi summit is by far the most ambitious one as it seeks to reinforce the economic heft of the emerging economies with calls for greater diplomatic clout in setting the international agenda.

Well-informed sources said while each country has its own interests to safeguard, India is broadly satisfied with attempts at injecting political content on issues of immediate concern to its security and economic wellbeing. For example, there was no mention of Afghanistan in the earlier BRICS declarations and limited reference to West Asia in the 2011 Sanya declaration.

On Iran, the BRICS countries collectively warned against allowing the situation to escalate into conflict — a veiled reference to the speculated plan by the US-Israel to target Iranian nuclear facilities.

In the restricted discussions between the leaders that preceded the plenary session, which was open to the media, there were intense discussions among the delegations of the five countries on these sensitive issues, informed sources said. There were differences of perception as well as convergence as none of the BRICS countries wanted to openly defy the West by taking a confrontational stance.

However, India took the lead in the discussions, with Russia and China agreeing that any escalation of the already tense situation in Iran will have corroding spillover effects on the global economy triggered by the rise in oil prices.

The position on Iran is significant as it also calls for roping in Tehran as a responsible member of the international community. This is bound to upset the US which has been trying to isolate the Iranian regime, Lalit Mansingh, a former foreign secretary and envoy to the US, told IANS.


The escalation of the Iranian situation is bound to impact India, Russia and China in different ways. India gets nearly 10-12 per cent of its oil imports from Iran. China imports around 20 per cent of its oil requirements from Iran. Both China and Russia have extensive business interests in Iran.

On Syria, India feels that the larger logic behind its vote on the UN resolution has been vindicated by the BRICS resolution which calls for “a Syria-backed democratic transition” in that country. {Basically they are saying Assad must go}

Any flare-up in the Middle East will have additional complications for India as the region is home to over six million Indians who account for a bulk of $58 billion in remittances sent by overseas Indians. These concerns were reflected in the BRICS position on not letting transformation in the Middle East and North Africa as “a pretext to delay resolution of lasting conflicts but rather as an incentive to settle them, in particular the Arab-Israeli conflict”.

India played a proactive role in getting other BRICS leaders to advocate continued international engagement in Afghanis­tan against the backdrop of the phased pull-down of coalition tro­ops in the violence-torn country.


Good move by delhi to get Russia to get involved in Afghanistan and mentioned in the declarations.

They also all agreed Assad cannot stay.


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PostPosted: 01 Apr 2012 21:42 
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The outcome and funding of rebels is not a surprise factor considering the Saudi top guy has been openly advocating it.

What this might do is create a direct Shia-Sunni divide by funding rebels along ethnic lines , secondly this might create a civil war like situation becuase Assad is just a symptom of the problem and his going or staying wont solve it.

Not to mention we might just see the rise of terror activity globally and specifically in ME


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PostPosted: 02 Apr 2012 00:02 
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ShyamD, Indian position is always that all nations should have representative govt that reflects the will of the people regardless of the process in expressing the will. Preferable that its elections.


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PostPosted: 02 Apr 2012 02:11 
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India's position was actually criticised a lot. Russia criticized India for joining Friends of Syria grouping and playing both sides. Then there was the statements of the Indian ambassador in Damascus who was basically supporting Asad's view before the vote. I think India siding with Arab League position is because we are sure Asad will fall or will be forced to leave power at the minimum.

Asad doesnt care about anyone and is not ready to listen to anyones advice as he has shown time and time again. He has gone past the point of no return and he will probably lose power if there is democracy, he had a chance to do it and go for democracy (and still retain influence by crook - voting fraud etc and installed a puppet prime minister) but its too late for that now.

China told us off for siding with Arab League position on Saturday. :D


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PostPosted: 02 Apr 2012 05:11 
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The west will fail if they up the ante and support the rebels in more vital fashion.This will result in Russia and China also supporting the regime further on the ground.If regime change is an absolute western fundamental,then Syria will result in being the point of no return in the M-East/W-Asia.If the regime goes,Russia will lose almost all maritime influence in the Meditt.,and with the fall of Syria ,Lebanon will also undergo much turmoil as the west/Israel will then expand the operation to dump the Hiz into the sea.Iran will then be totally isolated and surrounded and its N-fruit will be ready for the plucking.While we sit on the fence,the spearpoint will eventually shaft us.


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PostPosted: 04 Apr 2012 23:11 
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For those interested in my blog - I just made a post updating on the regional situation. This is after a long absence so some of the information you will already be aware. Some new information I have included in the post - particularly on Hezbollah preparation in expectation of Israel - Iran conflict.

Reiterating the Red alert in the region. Everyone is on standby for Israel to strike.

Hezbollah, Israel, Iran and the Lion - Regional Update - April 4th
Quote:
Firstly, We at the Middle East Analysis would like to apologise for our long delay in posting information. This update will obviously slightly longer than usual to explain the complete scenario.

Summary of Regional Situation:

- GCC conveys message to Russia that either way the revolution will win either via a coup or a war of attrition
- Syrian intelligence has increased support to the PKK, in response to Turkish logistical support of the Free Syrian Army (FSA)
- Israel is on red alert based on intelligence inputs of Hezbollah preparing to launch a diversionary strike against Israel to get the Syrian people to divert their attention to Israel and also to any possible retaliation for an attack on Iran
- GCC on red alert in expectation of an Israeli strike which they believe can take place from any time now.
- Turkish government preparing for intervention in Syria - its a case of when, not if.
- Libyan veterans bought in by Qatar to join the ranks of the FSA

------------------------------



Contrary to news reports weapons have been reaching FSA and will do so in a faster way given that the US has decided to supply communication sets (that was previously being intercepted by Syrian intelligence).

Jordan and GCC intelligence mixed with western intelligence are running their intel/logistical/financial support from Iraqi sunni tribal areas.

PRC even though vetoed the UN resolution, they dont think Assad can survive. Damascus was the first major middle East Hub for the Chinese intel. The Syrian office of PRC state security Guanbu sent many messges to Beijing warning that Assad's fall is inevitable.



Apparently Guanbu has been on the ball on events in Libya and Egypt i.e. got it right. So the Top Brass at PRC party HQ is listening.


Guanbu has a thinktank called the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Relations- they have been tasked with preparing for the post assad world. The think tank told leadership to be neutral on Syria as whoever comes in next will guarantee all the contracts with PRC. PRC role mainly civilian but russian contracts maybe cancelled as mainly military in nature.



So, the GCC have signaled that the revolution will continue until the Syrians win, Russia has escalated with naval exercises etc, but the hope is that Russia will reach an accommodation with the GCC to guarantee each others interests. It is clear that there will be only one winner in this battle.




Reports coming from Syria suggest that Libyan mercenaries are being bought in by Qatar. Libyan embassy has been posting adverts for hotel rooms in several turkish cities. Officially these are war veterans who are coming to Turkey for medical treatment and will likely join the FSA camps or join the front line. Rumour has it Qatar is prepared to pay $1000 per month. This was given further credence as Gulf nations pledged $100million in salaries for FSA soldiers.

What is taking place in Syria is a clear proxy war.

Massoud Barzani from the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government has promised Syrian Kurds that they will receive intelligence support for their cause.

The ultimate plan for the region under the GCC eyes is for Syria to become an independent Sunni power which protects the minorities. Then the next plan of attack is to ensure Hezbollah disarms in accordance to the UN security resolution. This resolution was agreed by Hezbollah originally. Hezbollah will become purely a political entity as a result.

Israel is likely/or will be encouraged to give up the Golan to the new "Free" Syria to push peace in the region.






Meanwhile, the next step will be to bring back Iraq from Iranian control and become an independent power. There is a renewed thrust to bring down Maliki of late hence why Maliki has begun to help Assad ever so slightly but remain neutral. Maliki knows he is next.

This is all to remove Iranian influence completely from the region. It is an open secret that the Gulf is in open conflict with Iran and they are determined to win!

Turkish General inspects troops on the Syrian border last week

Turkey in the next few weeks will be compelled to act by creating a humanitarian corridor as it sees the mounting number of refugees headed for Turkish refugee camps. Now that Damascus is giving money to the PKK to cause problems, Turkey will also have to act to prevent any miscreants from entering.

We predict that Erdogan would have conveyed to the Iranian leadership last week that the Turkish government is compelled to act in Syria and does not wish for conflict against Iran. So All we can say Turkey is probably ready for intervention now and are ready to roll. It is communicating with Iran to prevent any escalation between them.

-----------------------------------

Israel continue to remain on red alert due to Hezbollah getting ready for a major offensive. Hezbollah hopes to deploy booby trapped drones and anti aircraft batteries. Also in expectation of a renewed confrontation with Iran, Hezbollah have been busy preparing. In order to mitigate their weakness on land and air, Hezbollah are currently busy doubling their underground tunnels and cave networks.




US and Israel continue to exercise regularly - a few months ago US troops had joined Israeli troops on the ground to deter any Hezbollah strike.

We could expect a pre-emptive attack any time by Israel against Hezbollah. The aim of the Hezbollah's action against Israel is not only for diversion but also to expend any Israeli hardware destined for Iran.

The GCC is also on red alert in expectation of an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear sites at any time from now. A lot is being done to prevent this war - particularly the latest US intelligence assessment. This has not deterred the Israeli resolve. Although, US is keen to impress on the Israeli government that they should wait for the sanctions to bite. It usually takes 6 months for this to take place - hence by June/July we can start to see the effects. No one knows what the Israeli's are planning but the regional situation is such that Israel can attack Iran at any point.

Israel has also leaked the news that Israeli recovery crews will be based in Azerbaijan to rescue any downed pilots in a mission in Iran. Some Azeri politicians have also begun to call Northern Iran as Southern Azerbaijan!

We can also possibly expect Hassan Nasrallah to retire as the leader of Hezbollah after the Syrian war and be replaced by his deputy. But this is a story for another day.

--------

Thanks for your interest - as always drop your comments at "eye.on.middleeast" "At" Gmail dot com


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PostPosted: 04 Apr 2012 23:24 
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Money doesn't make you

Posting in full

Quote:
ON March 21, a plane carrying the Saudi Youth Forum participants flew from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to Hyderabad, India, in accordance with the initiative launched by Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah enabling religious and cultural dialogue.

The Saudi-Indian Youth Forum was an attempt to unite the youth of both countries, and come up with two letters written by the youth of both countries, one to the secretary-general of the United Nations, and a second to the president of India and king of Saudi Arabia.

At first I thought it would be difficult clicking with the Indian Youth since we come from completely different backgrounds. But surprisingly, bonding with them came naturally. I found a lot of similarities. We both share the same love for our countries and long for its development.

Poor was the only word that described India for me, but the moment we landed at Hyderabad a whole new story started. I was inspired by all the colorful fabrics, the spices and the warm smiles painted on the Indian people's faces. Yellow “Tuk-Tuk” filled the streets of India; cows stroll down alleys like they own the land — elements that give India its extraordinary flavor.

The simplicity of the people touched my heart. I was amazed by the level of education and knowledge the Indian youth hold despite the scarce resources available in their country, that made me realize that money does not make you smart, money does not make you kind, money does not make you advance in any field. I met people that were doing all that they could to help their country advance using the limited resources available, it was immensely inspiring.

I truly believe my colleagues and I have grown, we have learned a lot from our fellow Indians. They have inspired us to learn more, dream with no restrictions, and most importantly, as Indian industrialist Tata once said citing an African proverb: “If you want to walk fast walk alone, if you want to walk far walk together.”

This quote touched my heart because it precisely reflects the team atmosphere we have been living during the forum. The Saudi delegation members started as strangers, we shared laughs, moments of stress, and hard work that made us become one big strongly connected family.

My last words are a thank you to the people of India who made us feel at home, who opened their arms and happily embraced us. This forum helped in building a bridge of understanding and prosperity between the two cultures, my wishes for this relationship between the Saudi and Indian youth is to grow stronger for the betterment of both countries.



— Kholoud Ben Bakr was one of the Saudi delegates visiting India on the 10-day trip.


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PostPosted: 05 Apr 2012 00:23 
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Rebels can never beat Syrian army: Russia

Quote:
The Syrian opposition will not be able to defeat the government forces no matter how many arms it gets from abroad, said Russia’s Foreign Minister.

"It's clear as daylight that even if they arm the opposition to the teeth, it won’t defeat the Syrian army," Sergei Lavrov said. "The carnage will go on for many years. The West’s only hope then will be to resort to bombardments, but this would be insidious tactic and its consequences would be disastrous."

Libya is reaping the consequences of such policies, Mr. Lavrov said during a visit to Azerbaijan on Wednesday.

"Those who abused the U.N. Security Council mandate routed Gaddafi’s army killing dozens of civilians, but what they have left behind cannot be called a state. We are now witnessing statehood being destroyed in Mali, and I don’t think this is yet the end of the Libya story."

The Russian Foreign Minister lashed out at Sunday's meeting of the "Friends of the Syrian People" in Istanbul for taking "decisions aimed at instigating the opposition to reject talks; decisions aimed at arming the opposition and adopting new sanctions."

"All that would undermine efforts to end violence," Mr. Lavrov said. "There’s a plan to draw in outside forces."

Russia has strongly backed a six-point peace plan for Syria proposed by Arab League and U.N. envoy Kofi Annan which calls for a halt in fighting and dialogue between the government and the opposition.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem will hold talks with Mr. Lavrov in Moscow next Tuesday, and representatives of two Syrian opposition groups will visit the Russian capital on April 17-18.


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PostPosted: 05 Apr 2012 21:22 
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X-posting from GDF Deracination dhaaga:

Pentagon briefing on an antidote virus "FunVax" (fundamentalist vaccine) to solve the problems of the Middle East. :rotfl:

http://vimeo.com/39732743

On a more serious note, it is interesting w.r.t. the varNa-jaati discussion.


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PostPosted: 05 Apr 2012 23:49 
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Libyan leaders about to call for a state of emergency - civil war about to erupt any time.

--------
Renewed efforts to bring down al Maliki.

--------
There is no interest to provide the rebels with anti tank missiles yet - the GCC want to contain the conflict on the ground. They could easily deploy air support - we should probably watch for this step at some point down the line.

-------
Hamas has created a unit in Sinai - this is where the new battle ground will be for the Palestinian terror groups backed by Iran.
------------
GCC plan is to starve Egypt under the MB - i.e cease assisstance and just provide enough for them to survive. Source says that the problem in Egypt is economic and not political, they think MB will fall eventually as people dont see changes on the ground after the revolution.


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PostPosted: 11 Apr 2012 01:35 
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Talk is that just when Kofi Annan arrived, Tehran was in talks with Syrian opposition - important indication


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PostPosted: 11 Apr 2012 01:42 
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X-posting from Islamism & Islamophobia thread... a familiar pattern of US-Saudi sponsored jihadism emerging in the Syrian theater...

Haresh wrote:
Syrian opposition army imposes jizya on Christians in Homs

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/04/syria ... -homs.html

"Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." -- Qur'an 9:29

Muslim spokesmen in the West routinely claim that this verse has no applicability in the modern world. Here are yet more Muslims who didn't get that memo. We have seen this recently in Tunisia as well.

"Syrian opposition army imposes Islamic tax on Christians in Homs," from BBC MidEast, April 10 (thanks to David):

Al-Haqiqah in Arabic, a web site published by the opposition France-based Syrian National Council for Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation, on 9 April publishes a 1,300-word "exclusive" report saying that Al-Faruq Battalion, which is affiliated with the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA), is imposing Jizyah (an extra tax imposed on non-Muslims living under Muslim rule) on Christians in Homs Governorate. The report also says that "hundreds of Pakistani armed men" arrived in Homs to fight against the regular Syrian Army.
The report cites "Syrian citizens in a number of [Christian] villages in Wadi al-Nasara, which is part of Tal Kalakh district in Homs Governorate," saying that "armed men from the Wahhabi Al-Faruq Battalion, which is active in Homs and its districts, have started
asking the residents of those villages to pay Jizyah and Kharaj." Kharaj is the Islamic term for property tax. The report says: "This is the first action of its kind since the Syrian uprising started, or at least since it turned into an 'armed Islamic revolution' and the Islamists dominated the street a few months ago."

The report cites citizens from those Christian villages saying that armed men from the said battalion force citizens to pay the Islamic taxes and threaten to kidnap or kill them or members of their families if they refuse to comply. One citizen is cited saying that "the countryside of the city of Tal Kalakh is now under the mercy of the armed Al-Faruq Battalion members, who are freely roaming the region as if they were the state's security and administrative agency." He says some of those who refused to pay Jizyah had their sons kidnapped or killed. The report, citing this unidentified man, says: "He estimated the number of people who were kidnapped in the region because they refused or were unable to pay Jizyah at more than 20. He said that while there is absolutely no news about some of them, others are certainly kept in detention centres the armed men created in Ammar al-Husn village, which turned into an operation headquarters for the armed men and their authority in the region."...

The report also cites "very reliable local sources" saying that Dayr B'albah district in Homs and the nearby town of Tir M'allah "are now full of Pakistani fighters." The report adds: "This is the first time fundamentalist Pakistani fighters are reported in any of the Arab or Islamic countries that witnessed an influx of foreign Jihadists. The sources explained the presence of these fighters in Syria by saying that almost all of them came from Turkey and Europe, particularly the UK, which has a large Pakistani community numbering millions. This community was and still is the biggest reservoir for fundamentalist fighters outside the Islamic world." The report adds: "The sources said local and Arab armed men, in addition to the residents of the two towns, complain of the difficulty to communicate with these Pakistani mujahidin, as none of them knows Arabic. The two towns are among the most conservative and fanatic regions in Syria. They were an important source for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Combatant Vanguard during the crisis of the eighties."


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PostPosted: 11 Apr 2012 02:12 
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India and Qatar ink oil and gas pact amid Iran pressure

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17661345

[quote]India and Qatar have signed a pact to increase cooperation in the field of oil and gas exploration.
The deal comes as India looks for more sources of oil and gas to meet its growing energy demands. India has also been facing pressure to reduce its imports of Iranian oil amid nuclear sanctions against Tehran.
Qatar has sixth-largest oil reserves in the Middle East and the world's third-largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran.India is heavily dependent on Iranian oil imports, but the US and its western partners have been targeting Tehran's oil exports to try to force it to abandon its nuclear programme.The US plans to implement a round of sanctions, starting on 28 June, on banks based in countries that do not cut their oil imports from Iran.Along with the oil and gas pact, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed five other agreements with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, to boost trade and investment ties[/quote


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PostPosted: 11 Apr 2012 02:19 
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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... d_newsreel
Turkey's Shiites Fear Contagion

Quote:
Later that month, more than 20 homes in Turkey's southeast were mysteriously marked by red paint. They all belonged to Alevis, a Turkish and Kurdish-speaking Shiite offshoot who vastly outnumber Arabic-speaking Alawis. Together the two groups constitute an estimated 15 million, or one fifth of a national population of 75 million.The events have raised concern that Syria's sectarian conflict could drive a wedge between Turkey's Sunni majority and the country's Shiite sects. As record numbers of Syrian refugees have poured into Turkey in recent days, fleeing attacks from pro-government forces ahead of Tuesday's United Nations-backed cease-fire deadline, the spectre of sectarian tensions also has stoked fears that this border city could see a replay of the violence that left hundreds dead in the region in the aftermath of a 1980 military coup.
There are marked cultural and religious differences between Turkey's Alawis and the more numerous Alevis—including language and religious rituals, where Alevis place more prominence on the role of music and dance. Turkish and Kurdish-speaking Alevis also share less affiliation and family ties with the Syrian regime than do the Arabic-speaking Alawis—but people from both groups have become unsettled by Ankara's increasingly hawkish Syria policy.


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PostPosted: 11 Apr 2012 10:29 
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We should call this the West Asia, North Africa(WANA) thread:

LeMonde reports
Sahel falls apart

The Mali coup and its aftermath are unravelling colonial North Africa

Quote:
The Sahel falls apart
The military coup which ousted Mali’s president Amadou Toumani Touré in late March has only added to the confusion across the Sahara-Sahel region, caught between Tuareg rebellions and acts of terrorism by North Africa’s al-Qaida franchise
by Philippe Leymarie

The young officers who seized power in Bamako on 22 March don’t have words strong enough to condemn their former army chief and president, Amadou Toumani Touré, so long known as a “soldier for democracy”: “Incompetent,” they railed. “Incapable of fighting the rebellion and the terrorist groups in the north.” Back in March 1991 Touré had taken part in a military coup against General Moussa Traoré and headed the Transitional Committee for the Welfare of the People. After a national conference and elections, he restored the civilians to power. He had been president since 2002, and was due to end his second term this 20 April with the election of his successor.

The National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State (CNRDRE) has dissolved institutions and suspended the electoral process, saying that it did not wish to end democracy but just “restore national unity and territorial integrity”. But this new military regime, which has been unanimously condemned, may not be able to turn the situation in the north, close to Algeria and Niger, to its advantage.

Tourism was the only economic activity in the most deserted areas of the Sahara-Sahel region. Now it has stopped. There are no visitors to the Taoudeni basin on the Algerian-Malian border, the Aïr of Niger and Mauritania’s Adrar mountains (see map). The recent return of thousands of mostly Tuareg fighters from Libya, the proliferation of weapons and a huge rise in cocaine and cigarette smuggling have all helped to spread the war from southern Algeria, where it started, to northern Mali, northern Niger and parts of Mauritania.

“I would never have thought that a handful of madmen, inspired by the Algerian civil war in the 1990s, could turn the Sahara-Sahel into the Wild West, terrify local people and reduce them to misery,” said Maurice Freund, who runs the travel company Point-Afrique. In Gao, northern Mali, he was dismayed to see “15-year-old kids carrying Kalashnikovs, laying down the law”. Point-Afrique withdrew from the region after four French tourists were killed in Mauritania in 2007, and seven employees of the French nuclear company Areva were taken hostage in northern Niger in 2010.

The recent Tuareg revolt began on 17 January with a bloody attack on Menaka in northern Mali, followed by several successful raids on Malian army garrisons, including the base at Tessalit, which they took over on 11 March. The Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA), formed in 2011, has about 1,000 fighters, including 400 ex-Libyan army soldiers. Since 2012 it has been fighting in “partnership” with Ancar Dine (Defenders of Islam) linked to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which today claims to control most of northeastern Mali.

The MNLA is reviving earlier Tuareg rebellions, of 1963, 1990 and 2006, and demanding independence for Mali’s three northern regions of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal, an area of 800,000 sq km — one and a half times the size of France. It represents 65% of Mali’s territory, but only 10% of its population of 14 million.
No to integration

“The Tuaregs told the French [the colonial power] back in 1957 that they did not want to be integrated into the republic of Mali,” said Mahmoud Ag Aghaly, head of the MNLA’s political wing. “We have been talking to the government and signing agreements for 30 years, but to no effect” (1). The separatists say northern Mali has been abandoned by the government, something President Touré himself acknowledged: “[In northern Mali] there are no roads, health centres, schools, wells or basic infrastructure. There is nothing. A young man from this region has no chance to get married and succeed in life, unless they steal a car and join the smugglers” (2).

A thousand Malian soldiers, backed up by 500 Tuareg and Arab fighters who had joined the army’s ranks, had been sent as reinforcements to Gao, Kidal and Menaka. But a lack of motivation (there has been a high level of desertion, even among senior officers), and poor equipment meant the rebels suffered a series of military setbacks. Even in peacetime, Bamako’s small army is unable to control the 900km border with Mauritania or the 1,200km border with Algeria.

Even though this war threatened to spoil the end of his final term and jeopardise the presidential election due on 20 April, Touré was philosophical: “The problem of the north has been with us for 50 years. Our elders have dealt with it, we are dealing with it, and our young will have to deal with it. This problem is not going to disappear tomorrow” (3). He said the Sahara-Sahel region is difficult to control because fighters, smugglers and traders travel freely across an area the size of Europe, ignoring borders.

The Joint Operational Military Committee set up in Tamanrasset, Algeria, in 2010 suffers from a lack of consensus between the countries bordering on the Sahara. Mauritania, in close contact with the French Special Operations Command, advocates a purely security-based approach, while Mali argues for long-term development, which it believes is the only thing that will stop people being recruited into Tuareg rebel movements or the katiba (fighting units) of AQIM.
Unrest’s cause and cure

From Mali’s point of view, Algeria is both the cause and the cure for terrorist-linked unrest. The Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC), as it was known until it was renamed AQIM in 2007, grew out of Algeria’s GIA (Armed Islamic Group), and only Algeria’s security and intelligence services could control it. Algeria’s $8bn defence budget (30 times greater than Mali’s) would also help. Touré saw northern Mali, where AQIM hostage-takers are believed to be hiding, as an extension of Algeria: “When I talk about northern Mali, it’s as if I’m talking about Algeria,” he said. “I see Gao, Thesalit and Kidal as the border districts of your country. The history of [Algeria] is linked to this region. Mali supported the Algerian revolution. Members of the National Liberation Army were given shelter in Gao and Timbuktu” (4).

Though the fighting in northern Mali threatens the whole region, the tendency to confuse separatism with terrorism or criminality clouds the issue. The killing last October of Muammar Gaddafi, who saw himself as a king of the Sahara-Sahel (5), removed one of AQIM’s enemies, and allowed it to rebuild its stock of weapons. Niger’s president, Mahamadou Issoufou, sees the Tuareg uprising as “collateral damage from the Libyan crisis” (6). The MNLA is careful to distance itself from the group: “AQIM’s actions pollute our territory, and the Bamako authorities have allowed them to continue. We say to the international community, give us independence, and that will be the end of AQIM in Mali” (7).

The proposal has some support in France, traditional political godfather to the region. It remains a target of AQIM for the same reasons now as two years ago, when French tourists were killed in Mauritania: its military presence in Afghanistan, pro-Israeli policies, its stranglehold over Nigerian uranium, the raids by its commandos to free hostages in Niger and Mali, the ban on wearing the niqab in public in France.

French foreign minister Alain Juppé’s paternalistic advice to Mali is to negotiate with all parties including the MNLA, apply old agreements and try to develop the north. This advice is unwelcome, coming from a country that helped Libya to mount its own revolution and now urges regional states to “organise themselves better”. France’s prompt condemnation of the military regime that took over on 22 March and suspension of cooperation may also be misunderstood.

The US, which sees the Sahel as a front in its war on terror, is deploying its spies and special forces. It would like to get rid of AQIM’s leaders, but Algeria has banned US and CIA drones from its airspace, and the Sahara countries are suspicious, fearing that an obvious US presence would worsen unrest, as it did in Afghanistan.

The region has become a powder keg. Everyone fears the contagion will spread, bringing a Balkanisation of the Sahel. Hundreds of members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram have taken refuge in Niger and Chad (see Nigeria’s homegrown monster).

Meanwhile 200,000 refugees have fled the fighting in the north of Mali for Algeria, Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. The World Food Programme estimates that 5-6 million people in the Sahel are in need of food aid because of the current drought and famine.



Also note the Touregs are nomads and their seizing power unravels the nation state concept after decolonization.


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PostPosted: 11 Apr 2012 12:23 
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Mali coup was the problem, then the second issue is that the Touregs had access to all of Gaddafi weapons, vehicles etc, so they already felt quite powerful. Touregs care little for economics and the word on the ground is that they haven't come near oil explorers there. The oil isn't sufficient to cover the government expenses in the north. Touregs are tough people and are used to the nomadic life, let's see if the economics will bring them down eventually.

Mali coup was successful but the simple sanctions from neighbouring nations and the threat of action was enough to void the coup. Now the French special forces who are already deployed there to take on the AQIM, who are part of the toureg tribes who just took over the north. The AQIM backed tribes are trying to take over towns but now the Azawad movement are in conflict with the AQIM in some towns last I heard.


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PostPosted: 11 Apr 2012 12:57 
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Russia 'Keeping Assad in Power' - Clinton

Quote:
MOSCOW, April 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's inaction over the crisis in Syria is keeping President Bashar al-Assad in power, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.

Russia's "refusal to join us in some kind of constructive action is keeping Assad in power, well-armed, able to ignore the demands of his own people, the region and the world," Clinton said at the U.S. Naval Academy on Tuesday.

She said the U.S. would again try to persuade Russia to support UN action that would at least allow humanitarian aid when G8 foreign ministers meet in Washington on Wednesday.

Clinton also said the "likelihood of regional conflict and civil war is increasing" in Syria.

Clinton's comments came as Syrian security forces continued military operations despite an agreement to withdraw troops by Tuesday.

However, Annan said earlier on Tuesday his efforts to end the unrest were still "very much alive."

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said on Tuesday in Moscow that army units had begun withdrawing from some towns and cities, a claim denounced by a French foreign ministry spokesman as an "unacceptable lie."

"Every effort must be made to achieve a cessation of violence in all its forms on 12 April at 06:00 [03:00 GMT]," Annan said in a letter to the UN Security Council.

"There is no more time to lose," Annan said. "We must all push for an end to the bloodshed before Syria plunges into the abyss."


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PostPosted: 11 Apr 2012 13:00 
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The special message from KSA to TSPA is clear. Turkish and gulf intervention in Syria is on its way. They need TSPA to prevent the refugees from Iran coming to the Gulf.

But I find Gilani's reply quite interesting and more of an insult to KSA. KSA said we'll give you the loans and the cheap oil you asked for, don't buy Iranian gas.


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PostPosted: 11 Apr 2012 23:22 
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Fresh off the press

What's next for Syria?
Quote:
By Elise Labott

With the Syria deal in jeopardy and questions as to whether Syria will truly cease its military operations, particularly after Syrian troops fired across the border into Turkey, discussions within the Obama administration about creating a Syria-Turkey border "buffer zone" have intensified, State Department officials tell CNN.

"It would be correct to say this idea is getting another look in the last week or so," one official said about the buffer zone.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about a possible buffer zone with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday during a phone conversation about the crisis, officials said.

"Turkey always said there were two triggers for them on further involvement," one senior official said. "One was an overwhelming number of refugees - and they have told us the number is continuing to spike - and second is if the conflict bleeds across the border. Whether what happens in recent days constitutes this, we don't know yet."

The officials say they are taking the recent statements from United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and his spokesman with a grain of salt. The officials say the administration realizes that Annan doesn't want to pronounce the potential cease-fire as dead before the Thursday deadline.

Second, he is in Tehran and could be playing to that audience. And third, it isn't as much about Syria it is about getting Russia and China on board for future action at the U.N. Security Council. The plan is to wait to be briefed by Annan, probably sometime Thursday, to hear his assessment first-hand.

After the Annan briefing, talks will continue in New York at the U.N. and among capitals about further action at the Security Council, the success of which will depend on what Russia and China are willing to go along with.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "is either going to do something, or he is not. That is not going to change the fact we are going to continue to put pressure on him," one senior official said. "But where we are now is focused on what our pals Russia and China are going to do about Assad if tomorrow comes and goes and he is still killing people."

Clinton meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday, but officials say Lavrov's comments about Syria to date have not been encouraging.


Couldnt have summarised things better myself. Reading between the lines - intervention is on the verge, they are on standby. We could see the first troops next week. Source is out of the country too, wouldnt be surprised if he is in TK.

Look out for pictures of NATO (French or Unkil) aircraft carriers and live press conferences from AEGIS class ships in the region over the next few weeks on your CNN Sky News BBC etc.. I think the internal deadline in TK is end of this month to be cautious.


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PostPosted: 12 Apr 2012 00:14 
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No amount of intervention will solve this problem and there wont be any , unless one wants to see a civil war and spill over effect every where.

The fact is there are people who would want to see Asad in power inside the country and there are other who might hate him to hell , they can only resolve this process by internal dialog with UN supervision.

All this Sunni , Ango-Saxon game will just mean more bodies and things will just worsen, No one is a fool and every one know who is supporting whom in this game and what is the geopolitics about , so better to settle the matter through dialog and with little bloodshed as possible.


Last edited by Austin on 12 Apr 2012 00:15, edited 1 time in total.

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Carl wrote:
X-posting from Islamism & Islamophobia thread... a familiar pattern of US-Saudi sponsored jihadism emerging in the Syrian theater...

Haresh wrote:
Syrian opposition army imposes jizya on Christians in Homs

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/04/syria ... -homs.html

"Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." -- Qur'an 9:29

Muslim spokesmen in the West routinely claim that this verse has no applicability in the modern world. Here are yet more Muslims who didn't get that memo. We have seen this recently in Tunisia as well.

"Syrian opposition army imposes Islamic tax on Christians in Homs," from BBC MidEast, April 10 (thanks to David):

Al-Haqiqah in Arabic, a web site published by the opposition France-based Syrian National Council for Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation, on 9 April publishes a 1,300-word "exclusive" report saying that Al-Faruq Battalion, which is affiliated with the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA), is imposing Jizyah (an extra tax imposed on non-Muslims living under Muslim rule) on Christians in Homs Governorate. The report also says that "hundreds of Pakistani armed men" arrived in Homs to fight against the regular Syrian Army.

..
The report cites citizens from those Christian villages saying that armed men from the said battalion force citizens to pay the Islamic taxes and threaten to kidnap or kill them or members of their families if they refuse to comply. One citizen is cited saying that "the countryside of the city of Tal Kalakh is now under the mercy of the armed Al-Faruq Battalion members, who are freely roaming the region as if they were the state's security and administrative agency." He says some of those who refused to pay Jizyah had their sons kidnapped or killed. The report, citing this unidentified man, says: "He estimated the number of people who were kidnapped in the region because they refused or were unable to pay Jizyah at more than 20. He said that while there is absolutely no news about some of them, others are certainly kept in detention centres the armed men created in Ammar al-Husn village, which turned into an operation headquarters for the armed men and their authority in the region."...

The report also cites "very reliable local sources" saying that Dayr B'albah district in Homs and the nearby town of Tir M'allah "are now full of Pakistani fighters." The report adds: "This is the first time fundamentalist Pakistani fighters are reported in any of the Arab or Islamic countries that witnessed an influx of foreign Jihadists. The sources explained the presence of these fighters in Syria by saying that almost all of them came from Turkey and Europe, particularly the UK, which has a large Pakistani community numbering millions. This community was and still is the biggest reservoir for fundamentalist fighters outside the Islamic world." The report adds: "The sources said local and Arab armed men, in addition to the residents of the two towns, complain of the difficulty to communicate with these Pakistani mujahidin, as none of them knows Arabic. The two towns are among the most conservative and fanatic regions in Syria. They were an important source for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Combatant Vanguard during the crisis of the eighties."



I think the KSA is using these rogue Pakis as Ikhawn to implement the Arab spring selectivley.

If theses guys are from UK then UK is alos involved.


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PostPosted: 12 Apr 2012 00:21 
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Syrian govt agrees to cease fire at 6 am April 12

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MOSCOW, April 11 (Itar-Tass) — Syria’s government has said it will cease fire at 7 a.m. Moscow time on April 12, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Wednesday.

“The Syrian government said it would cease fire at 7 a.m. Moscow time on April 12,” Gatilov wrote in his Twitter blog.

“Now the matter depends on the armed opposition – these are the conditions of Kofi Annan’s plan,” the Russian diplomat stressed.

U.N./LAS Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan said he is hopeful that the situation would improve in the country by Thursday morning, April 12, at 7 a.m. Moscow time. The U.N. Security Council determined this timeframe to cease armed clashes in Syria.

According to Annan, Damascus assured him to comply with the agreement on ceasefire. If all parties (the government and the opposition) respect the agreement, the situation in Syria will really improve, the U.N./LAS special envoy said.

All Syrians want the warring sides to stop clashes by this term, Annan said.


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PostPosted: 12 Apr 2012 04:46 
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Are they Poaqs


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DUBAI - The United Arab Emirates on Tuesday detained six extremists whose citizenship had been revoked for alleged links to groups that fund terrorists, their lawyer said. The six men “were summoned by the interior ministry and told that they have two weeks to get new nationality and legalise” their presence in the country, Mohammed al-Roken told AFP. “They refused because this would be an impossible task and because they will always consider themselves UAE nationals,” Roken added. The lawyer said the men were currently being held in Shahama prison, near the capital Abu Dhabi.Colonel Ahmed al-Khader told the daily they had violated UAE law by failing to sign a document pledging to acquire new citizenship within a government-set time frame of two weeks.The UAE revoked the Islamists’ citizenship in December last year for allegedly threatening the Gulf state’s security and safety, a rare move for the emirate.At the time, the UAE said the six naturalised citizens were being stripped of their nationality because they “had perpetrated... acts threatening the national security of the UAE through their connection with suspicious regional and international organisations and personalities.”
They said some of the organisations were linked to entities mentioned in UN lists to combat terrorist financing.


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