Carter Blasts Feltman

Josh Hersh, in the New Yorker (Thanks FLC)

“… Perhaps the only thing Carter hadn’t found time for, of late, was an epic e-mail from Jeffrey Feltman, the State Department’s envoy to Syria—“It’s this long,” Carter said, spreading his hands wide as if he were taking measure of a prize fish. Carter, who has been outspoken in his support for more American engagement with the Syrian regime, and groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, which are on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations, has a particular disdain for Feltman, who as Ambassador to Lebanon during the Bush Administration, consistently antagonized Syria. “For some ungodly reason, when Hillary decided to send some representative to Syria they picked out Feltman,” he said.

Carter praised Obama for his recent speech in Cairo but stopped short of agreeing with those who claimed it had helped March 14 win the election. Instead, he credited much of the progress to Obama’s “general attitude toward this region” and “the favorable attitudes that people now have toward the United States.

As for the future of Hezbollah, Carter said, “Oh, I don’t think Hezbollah’s going to create any problems for Obama, or for Lebanon. I think they’re satisfied to maintain the status quo.” This may be optimistic. Carter said, “We’ve met with Hariri, we’ve met with other leaders today, and I think that withdrawing weapons from Hezbollah is out of the question. I don’t think they’re going to even bring it up. And that’s the main thing that Hezbollah wants.”

Helena Cobban of Just World News writes:

With Mitchell now due to be in Syria either Friday or Saturday you can find the transcribed highlights of my June 4 interview with FM Walid Moualem here. You can find the news-analysis piece I did on this for IPS here:

Talking To: Blogger Elias Muhanna
Elias Muhanna talks about his blog, “Qifa Nabki,” and the election results

UPI: “Syria ‘ready to help,’ officials say”

I am very eager to see a real improvement in our relations with Washington,” said Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem in an interview with Foreign Affairs magazine. “But nothing has happened yet.” Moallem acknowledged the Washington sanction decision was based on Syrian support, along with Iran, for the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas. “But it’s very strange that you condemn me as a ‘terrorist’ at the same time as you call on me to help you combat terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere,” he said, referring to Washington. “It doesn’t make sense!” He noted, however, that Damascus was ready to step forward to act as a possible intermediary regarding Washington concerns over Iranian proxies and its controversial nuclear program. “We are ready to help,” he said.

Will Syria play key role in Obama’s Mideast peace efforts? US envoy Mitchell was in Egypt Thursday, and arrives in Damascus Friday. Syrians hope for a new rapprochement under an Obama administration.
By Julien Barnes-Dacey in CSM

Comments (72)


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51. Shai said:

Why Discuss,

Yossi Sarid had an article this weekend titled “And They’re Calling Him a Negro”. He was referring, of course, to those Settlers in the W

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June 14th, 2009, 3:26 pm

 

52. Shai said:

Why Discuss,

Yossi Sarid had an article this weekend titled “And They’re Calling Him a Negro”. He was referring, of course, to those Settlers in the West Bank who are calling Obama a Negro. Last time those posters were up in Israel was in Rabin’s time. And he was assassinated by someone who felt more than supported by the masses.

Maybe AP can tell us what he thinks of those posters, and whether the Settler friends he visited in Efrat, West Bank, last time he was in Israel are some of the ones calling Obama a Negro. Would they tear down such posters (“Obama is an antisemite”) if they ran across them?

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June 14th, 2009, 3:32 pm

 
 

54. Akbar Palace said:

Actually, President Carter endorses the Gush Etzion settlements…

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1244371093499&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Sorry Shai.

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June 14th, 2009, 6:03 pm

 

55. Shai said:

Akbar,

🙂 You’re funny.

Carter said about Gush Etzion that he thought it was one of those close settlement blocs to the 1967 lines that wouldn’t be dismantled or returned. Does that mean he endorses in any way shape or form Settlement activity in the West Bank, or in Gush Etzion specifically? Of course not! If he endorsed it, he’d endorse other settlements as well and, in fact, would be against a Palestinian state, just as your buddies in Efrat are.

Btw, it was a nice attempt to ya’ani answer my question above, without answering it. Let’s try again – “Maybe AP can tell us what he thinks of those posters, and whether the Settler friends he visited in Efrat, West Bank, last time he was in Israel are some of the ones calling Obama a Negro. Would they tear down such posters (”Obama is an antisemite”) if they ran across them?”

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June 14th, 2009, 6:10 pm

 

56. offended said:

Great speech by Bibi. He took the short path to anti-climax by reciting the whole mandate of the Likud party. (i.e. all bunch of crap)

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June 14th, 2009, 7:33 pm

 

57. Shai said:

Offended,

I wasn’t excited by the speech either, nor did I expect much. To be honest, I was somewhat surprised that he made it so clear (to his coalition) that he is talking about two states. Reaction from the Right has not been good, and in the coming days we’ll see if that translates into anything. Apparently, the only two people who were privy to the entire speech in advance, and with whom Bibi consulted, were none other than Benny Begin (Menachem Begin’s son) and Bugy Yaalon (ex-COGS).

Lots of interpretations here in Israel, also of course covering the Palestinian reaction (“1000 years…”), but the real question we should be asking ourselves is: “If Netanyahu is going to lead Israel in any positive direction, could he have said anything differently, at THIS stage, and aimed at HIS people?” I’m not sure the answer is yes.

I’m actually not at all excited by his public removal of key elements the Palestinians demand for negotiations (Jerusalem, Right-of-Return, demilitarized state, etc.) He has to also show his voters that he is not accepting anything in advance, unlike all other PM’s on the Left and Center.

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June 14th, 2009, 8:18 pm

 

58. t_desco said:

‘Cultural Revolution’ in Iran?

“”Although the president is not the chief decision-maker, Ahmadinejad’s win is a sign that Iranian politics is in a state of flux,” said Alireza Nader of the RAND Corporation.

RIFT WITHIN THE RULING ELITE

“The power of the traditional ruling elite — men such as (Hashemi Akbar) Rafsanjani — has been effectively challenged by Ahmadinejad and his supporters, including top-ranking and fundamentalist members of the Revolutionary Guard.” (…)

“There is a clash at the heart of the system between Rafsanjani and the supreme leader,” said Ali Ansari, director of the Institute for Iranian Studies at St Andrews University.”
Reuters

“Khamenei’s backing of the disputed election results has surprised many in Iran, precisely because it is directed against a substantial segment of the revolution’s political establishment. Just as Mao Zedong, in China’s Cultural Revolution, unleashed a campaign of terror carried out by poorer young people against what he decried as the more liberal, “bourgeois” elements of the communist party, so does Ahmadinejad claim to be waging a class war, with the backing of the poor and the security forces, against a corrupt political elite brought to power by the revolution. And he clearly has Khamenei’s backing.”
TIME

Ready to take on economic oligarchs: Ahmadinejad
(…)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (…) has pledged to work for the common man, oppose the country’s economic oligarchs and ensure that Tehran maintained a high profile internationally.

“People (…) are seeking justice, ending discrimination, protection of public wealth and are against special privileges for special people,” he said at a late evening televised address on Saturday.

Ahead of the President’s speech, his press adviser, Ali-Akbar Javanfekr, announced that Mr. Ahmadinejad would unveil more “corruption cases” in his second presidential term. “The fight against economic corruption and illegal enrichment is a general demand and conforms to the principles of the Islamic Revolution,” he added.

Analysts say these observations from the President’s camp point to a possible head-on confrontation between Mr. Ahmadinejad and the former President, Hashemi Rafsanjani, who now heads the powerful Expediency Council.
The Hindu

As I said, Ahmadinejad’s speech today contained a direct attack on Rafsanjani and his circle (without mentioning any names, but the crowd did that for him). Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly) I couldn’t find any report or translation, yet.

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June 14th, 2009, 8:21 pm

 

59. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

T_Desco,

N’Jad is right regarding the corrupt nature of Rafsanjhani.
So I’m not surprised that N’Jad’s electorate supports him on that.
N’Jad threatened to expose “files”, to prove his corruption claims.
If he indeed has those proofs, I’m sure he’ll show them along the
way, when the power struggle becomes sleazier.
.

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June 14th, 2009, 9:40 pm

 

60. Yossi said:

I felt somewhat pleased at Bibi’s speech. It was the most he could conceivably offer and to be honest if you buy into the two-state vision then his demands for a clear recognition that one of these states is “for the Jews” makes sense (in the logical settings premised by narrowing discussion to a single type of solution). This is why the two-states vision is such a double edged sword for the Palestinians and really a necessity for Israel. Obama has put the Palestinians in a real bind. They can either accept it and kiss goodbye to their keys for homes in Haifa and Jaffa or they can try to switch to a one-state vision. The trick for the Palestinians in switching to the one-state solution would be in making sure that they are not viewed as the ones that have squandered American goodwill invested towards a two-state solution. They will also need to really articulate such a vision in a framework of true pluralism and maturity, which is not something their society was ever ready for. Unable to boldly step in either of these directions, they will continue to do what they are doing now: a mixture of aimless “resistance” on one hand coupled with playing along on the diplomatic front, but without any sweeping vision speeches or anything like that.

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June 15th, 2009, 12:09 am

 

61. Akbar Palace said:

BB’s speech:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1092810.html

Obama’s response:

“The president welcomes the important step forward in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a written statement. “The president is committed to two states, a Jewish state of Israel and an independent Palestine, in the historic homeland of both peoples. He believes this solution can and must ensure both Israel’s security and the fulfillment of the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for a viable state, and he welcomes Prime Minister Netanyahu’s endorsement of that goal.”

Yes, a “real bind”.

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June 15th, 2009, 12:46 am

 

62. why-discuss said:

t_desco

One iranian expert on CNN said that Khamenei dreaded to have Moussavi as a president as when Khamenei was president and Moussavi his prime minister, Moussavi was bullying him and he did not want to face that again. For him the election was rigged.

Another expert Kaveh Kafriasabi said that Moussavi was an amateur, who has been more interested in painting during the last 21 years when the Islamic Revolution made of Iran a stronger power player in the international community, especially under Ahmadi Nejad.
He believes that Moussavi failed to present the proofs of the irregularities and acted foolishly denouncing bluntly the result of the election.

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June 15th, 2009, 3:18 am

 

63. Shai said:

Yossi,

“They can either accept it and kiss goodbye to their keys for homes in Haifa and Jaffa or they can try to switch to a one-state vision.”

If we agree that a so-called UME can be created, after a few decades of peace, then there certainly can be a de-facto right-of-return one day.

Truth is, during Bibi’s speech, I kept thinking that I wasn’t sure which Bibi actually preferred – a two-state solution, or a one-state one! He said things like “… and they’ll have their own anthem, and their own flag…” To me that sounded an awful lot like a single, binational state.

Well, why can’t the Palestinians now choose the most obvious path? Why can’t they simply say: “Thank you for the very honest speech – we understand that there are vast differences between us that apparently cannot be overcome. Let us not continue to try to force one another into our preferred solution. We want to formally express the end to our national aspirations (to a separate state) and, instead, to be fully accepted as citizens of Israel. We don’t want Jaffa or Haifa or Lod back. We want to stay where we are. We accept the results of 1967, we accept Jewish settlements in the ancient land of your peoples, and we are ready to live in peace WITH you (not side-by-side).”

What could Bibi say then? No, you MUST have your own state?

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June 15th, 2009, 3:56 am

 

64. Shai said:

Akbar,

Why do you continue to demonstrate a special ability to understand your buddies-in-Efrat’s dreams of living in the ancient land of their Judean tribes, yet you cannot fathom the dreams of very real Palestinians to use their very real keys, to reopen their very real modern-day homes, out of which they were kicked out just 60 years ago?

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June 15th, 2009, 4:30 am

 

65. t_desco said:

Why-discuss,

it is perhaps surprising that the extremely conservative Khamenei would back somebody as radical as Ahmadinejad, but then this is a ‘revolution’ with conservative characteristics.

There are still no reports about what was, in my view, the most important passage in Ahmadinejad’s victory rally speech, so I will have to do this from memory:

It truly amounted to a declaration of war against Rafsanjani and his circle. He said that, under the banner of the fight against corruption, the illicit wealth of former office holders would be investigated. He singled out “200 individuals” without naming anyone, but I think that at that moment the crowd began shouting the name of “Rafsanjani”, which seemed to please Ahmadinejad. In rather chilling rhetoric, he went on to compare these officials to a ‘drop’ of ‘contaminated water’ that could threaten all the ‘clean water’ of society.

More concretely, he announced that he would reintroduce this bill in parliament:

GC Rejects Bill On Probing Officials’ Assets

TEHRAN, July 17–Spokesman of the Guardians Council Abbasali Kadkhodaei said on Tuesday the parliament’s approved draft for investigating the assets of officials has been rejected. (…)
(Iran Daily, Jul 18, 2007)

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June 15th, 2009, 9:31 am

 

66. t_desco said:

The background:

By backing Mousavi, “Ahmadinejad’s behind-the-scenes opponents” (i.e. Rafsanjani and his circle) were “protecting their own considerable financial and political interests, which include control of key segments of foreign trade, private education and agriculture“.
(Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2009)

“(…) In October 2006, the supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei in a letter to the President and Cabinet demanded a reduction in the class gap. He stated that:

“Because of the class gap that has remained from former regime, now our country needs economic justice more than anything.
(Abbas Bakhtiar, January 25, 2007)

Ahmadinejad: Corruption revelations will continue

Iran’s incumbent President Ahmadinejad says he will reveal more names to the public if “the racketeers” do not stop meddling in public properties.

In an address in Esfahan on Friday, Ahmadinejad said “Some asked me why I mentioned some names, and I say this is just the beginning of the way, if they do not stop plotting against people and the government…all of them will be introduced to the public.” (…)

Ahmadinejad accused the Rafsanjani family as well as some other prominent political figures in the Islamic Revolution of “political sabotage” and “money laundering”.

Ahmadinejad who is seeking a second term in office, added in the Friday speech that “They preferred their families and their groups’ benefits over the benefits of the public and little by little, rings of power and wealth started to shape, till they were detached from the workaday public.,” Fars news agency reported. ”
(Press TV, 06 Jun 2009)

More signs of a power struggle:

Iran: There Will Be Blood
Steve Clemons

Possible repercussions (although somewhat alarmist):

Any earthquakes in Iran have the potential to rattle Lebanon
The Daily Star

In other news:

Lebanon busts key Qaeda cell: army commander

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) — Lebanon has busted a key Al-Qaeda cell network that was plotting attacks in a number of Arab countries, its army commander said in comments published by Kuwaiti newspapers.

“We busted a huge network of Al-Qaeda,” Lebanese Brigadier General Jean Kahwaji was quoted as saying by Assiyasah newspaper.

The network was plotting to “destabilise Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Gulf countries including Kuwait,” Kahwaji said at a function held at the Lebanese embassy in Kuwait City.

He provided no details about the date of the arrest, nor the number of those arrested or their nationality. There was no immediate confirmation from Beirut. (…)
AFP

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June 15th, 2009, 10:18 am

 

67. t_desco said:

Finally, some good news (if true):

Why is Dennis Ross being ousted as Obama envoy to Iran?
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent

Dennis Ross, who most recently served as a special State Department envoy to Iran, will abruptly be relieved of his duties, sources in Washington told Haaretz. An official announcement is expected in the coming days.

The Obama administration will announce that Ross has been reassigned to another position in the White House. In his new post, the former Mideast peace envoy under President Bill Clinton will deal primarily with regional issues related to the peace process.

Washington insiders speculate that a number of reasons moved the administration to reassign Ross. One possibility is Iran’s persistent refusal to accept Ross as a U.S. emissary given the diplomat’s Jewish background as well as his purported pro-Israel leanings. Ross is known to maintain contacts with numerous senior officials in Israel’s defense establishment and the Israeli government.

Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem surmised that another possibility for Ross’ ouster is his just-released book, “Myths, Illusions, and Peace – Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East.”

Ross, who co-wrote the book with David Makovsky, a former journalist who is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argued against a linkage between the Palestinian issue and the West’s policy against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Ross and Mokovsky also raised the possibility of military action against Iran.

“Tougher policies – either militarily or meaningful containment – will be easier to sell internationally and domestically if we have diplomatically tried to resolve our differences with Iran in a serious and credible fashion,” they wrote.

Another possible reason for the reshuffle could be Ross’ dissatisfaction with his present standing in the State Department, particularly given the fact that Washington’s two other envoys to the region – George Mitchell, who is overseeing the Mideast peace process; and Richard Holbrooke, who is dealing with Pakistan and Afghanistan – wield great influence and are featured prominently.

A diplomatic source in Jerusalem speculated that perhaps Ross preferred to work for the National Security Agency, which answers directly to President Barack Obama, and would thus be considered a more enhanced role. (…)
Haaretz

This, however, could be a worrying development:

Report: Amendment to Rules of Tribunal: Decline in Transparency

The daily Al Akhbar on Monday said that amendments to 14 rules in the Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE) that were unanimously adopted by the judges of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon indicated a decline in transparency.

It said the most prominent amendment related to exposing the court to skepticism (rule 96) suggests that the STL could “hide information” related to measures that paved the way for the issuance of the indictment until after the final verdict and after the appeal or even to a non-specific date “if need be to protect any person.”

Rule 96:
A) Subject to sub-paragraph , pre-trial filings, proceedings and orders shall be public, unless otherwise provided by the Rules or decided by the Pre-Trial Judge at the request of a Party.
B) Any filing or order relating to coercive investigative measures, including requests for search warrants, arrest warrants or subpoenas; (ii) a request for confirmation of an indictment; or (iii) an application or notification under Rules 115-119 that is filed under seal by the Prosecutor shall remain under seal for as long as is necessary for the effective conduct of the investigation and/or the protection of any person.
C) This Rule shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to the Defense.

The STL President proposed these amendments which are designed to further enhance and facilitate proceedings before the Tribunal. The amendments relate to the investigation stage of the proceedings (rules 16, 18, 77 and 96).
(Naharnet, 15 Jun 09)

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June 15th, 2009, 2:02 pm

 

68. Akbar Palace said:

Why do you continue to demonstrate a special ability to understand your buddies-in-Efrat’s dreams of living in the ancient land of their Judean tribes, yet you cannot fathom the dreams of very real Palestinians to use their very real keys, to reopen their very real modern-day homes, out of which they were kicked out just 60 years ago?

Shai,

Unlike you, I recognize not only the dreams of the Palestinians, but also the dreams of the Jewish people.

I think Bush, Carter and Obama recognize these dreams as well.

What’s your excuse?

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June 15th, 2009, 2:07 pm

 

69. Shai said:

Akbar,

By sarcastically saying “Yes, a real bind” (in reference to the dream-breaker a 2-state solution has for the Palestinian people), you are certainly not demonstrating recognition or understanding of the Palestinians’ justified dream.

My grandparents had to flee their home in Eastern Poland in 1939, and escaped to Russia which was the only nation that received them. They lived there for 8 years as refugees. Imagine they had lived there for 60 years, not 8. Imagine Israel was not an option for them and, instead, a new Polish-Jewish state was offered, Bantustan-like, adjacent to their old homeland. Their dream of going back home was not to be met, ever. And, if they didn’t like that option, another option would be given, namely to live under an Apartheid in the same territory.

They too would be in “a bind”, wouldn’t they?

Btw, you still haven’t answered my questions in comment #52 above. Are they too difficult?

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June 15th, 2009, 4:04 pm

 

70. Akbar Palace said:

By sarcastically saying “Yes, a real bind” (in reference to the dream-breaker a 2-state solution has for the Palestinian people), you are certainly not demonstrating recognition or understanding of the Palestinians’ justified dream.

Shai,

By recognizing a Palestinian state, how am I not demonstrating “recognition or understanding of the Palestinians ‘justified dream'”?

And are you ALSO saying Carter and Obama are “not demonstrating recognition or understanding of the Palestinians ‘justified dream'”?

My sarcastic remark was my (believe it or not) agreement with Obama’s reaction to BB’s speech and Obama’s understanding of the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Bevakasha, ten li hokhakha she ata lo manyak kaze majnoon smali.

Sorry, I had to get that out.

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June 15th, 2009, 5:30 pm

 

71. Shai said:

Akbar,

I have a feeling you have a lot more to get out than just that. After Obama is able to rally the entire world and reinvigorate a sense of optimism in just a few months, in a way neither you nor the President you supported for over 8 years were able to do, I imagine there’s a lot of internal frustration that needs to “get out”.

Don’t think that by writing in semi-Hebrew, you’re impressing either me or our readers. Maybe to you, the words “Smali” (Leftist) are synonymous with “Majnoon” or “Manyak”, but that’s also not surprising, is it?

When you’ve calmed yourself down, and gotten all your needs out, use the scroll bar on the right, go up to comment #52, and see if you can answer those difficult questions I posed to you earlier.

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June 15th, 2009, 6:29 pm

 

72. Shai said:

Bibi’s Speech: When a few reporters were asked this morning on Israeli radio how they would describe Bibi’s speech last night, one of them (Ben Caspit of Ma’ariv) said: “One giant step for Netanyahu, One small step for Peace.”

I thought that was the most appropriate description I’ve heard so far, and pretty much covers it all.

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June 15th, 2009, 6:42 pm

 

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