Posted by Joshua on Saturday, May 16th, 2009
Syria Looking for Improved Relations with Obama Administration
Council on Foreign Relations
by Joshua Landis, May 15, 2009
بعد تجديد العقوبات الامريكية :اتهامات تطال كبار المسؤولين السوريين وتهويلات مغرضة حول طردهم ؟
طباعة أرسل لصديق
خاص (كلنا شركاء)
16/ 05/ 2009
” ……The Israeli intelligence community is now learning this lesson the hard way. It has penetrated enemies like Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Hezbollah and Hamas. Yet despite former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s willingness to authorize highly dangerous operations based on this intelligence, and despite the unquestionable success of the operations themselves, the overall security picture remains as grim as ever.
In 2002, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appointed his friend and former subordinate, Gen. Meir Dagan, director of the Mossad. Gen. Dagan found the organization lacking in imagination and shying away from operational risks. Mr. Sharon, who knew Gen. Dagan from his days as head of a secret assassinations unit that acted against Fatah in the Gaza Strip during the 1970s, told the general that he wanted “a Mossad with a knife between its teeth.” Gen. Dagan transformed the Mossad from top to bottom and made the organization’s sole focus Iran’s nuclear project and its ties to jihadist organizations. He put tremendous pressure on his subordinates to execute as many operations as possible. Moreover, he built up ties with espionage services in Europe and the Middle East on top of Israel’s long-standing relationship with the CIA.
In tandem with Gen. Dagan’s Mossad revolution, other Israeli military intelligence has also made outstanding breakthroughs. The Shin-Bet (Israel’s internal intelligence service), in cooperation with the military, has made huge strides in its understanding of Palestinian guerilla organizations.
The results have been tremendous. During the last four years, the uranium enrichment project in Iran was delayed by a series of apparent accidents: the disappearance of an Iranian nuclear scientist, the crash of two planes carrying cargo relating to the project, and two labs that burst into flames. In addition, an Iranian opposition group in exile published highly credible information about the details of the project, which caused Iran much embarrassment and led to International Atomic Energy Agency inspections.
On July 12, 2006, thanks to precise (?) intelligence, the Israeli Air Force destroyed almost the entire stock of Hezbollah’s long-range rockets (Huh?)stored in underground warehouses. Hezbollah was shocked.In July 2007, another mysterious accident occurred in a missile factory jointly operated by Iran and Syria at a Syrian site called Al-Safir…. In September 2007, Israel destroyed a nuclear reactor built by Syria and aided by North Korea in Dir A-Zur — In February 2008, Hezbollah’s military leader, Imad Mughniyah, was killed in Damascus. In August of that year, Gen. Mohammed Suliman, a liaison to Hamas and Hezbollah who participated in the Syrian nuclear project, was assassinated by a sniper…..
In December 2008, Israel initiated operation Cast Lead, which dealt Hamas a massive blow. Most of its weapons were destroyed within days by Israeli air strikes. (Israel also knew where the Hamas leadership was hiding, but since it was in a hospital Mr. Olmert refused to authorize the strike.(NOW THIS IS REALLY FUNNY!)) In January 2009, Israeli Hermes 450 drones attacked three convoys in Sudan that were smuggling weapons from Iran to the Gaza Strip.
These are all excellent achievements, but did they change reality? Mostly not.
Even worse, the heads of Israeli intelligence are now losing sleep over recent information showing that attempts to delay the Iranian nuclear project have failed. Despite some technical difficulties, the Iranians are storming ahead and may possess a nuclear bomb as early as 2010. Hezbollah, although weakened by the 2006 war and Mughniyah’s assassination, has become (JUST NOW?) the leading political force in Lebanon. ……the trafficking of weapons and ammunition into the Gaza Strip continues. Hamas’s standing among Palestinians has strengthened. ….”
“President Barack Obama’s special Middle East envoy is laying plans to visit Syria as a way to push forward talks between the Arab world and Israel, U.S. officials said Friday. Former Sen. George Mitchell and his team have applied for Syrian visas for an as-yet unannounced trip that could come within a month….
Obama and the Middle East
By Hussein Agha and Robert Malley, New York Review of Books, May 14, 2009
The time will come for the US to unfurl a grand diplomatic initiative. Not now. The most urgent task is to prepare the way for that day by countering the skepticism that has greeted and torpedoed every recent American idea, good or bad—from Secretary of State William Roger’s 1969 plan to the road map. The time is for a clean break, in words, style, and approach.
For many in the US, the notion of such radical change often is reduced to the question of whether or not to talk to Hamas. That is a diversion. The challenge is whether Obama can speak to those for whom Hamas speaks. They are the people who have lost faith in America, its motivations, and every proposal it promotes.
The broader point is this: a window exists, short and subject to abrupt closure, during which President Obama can radically upset Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim preconceptions and make it possible for his future plan, whatever and whenever it might be, to get a fair hearing—for American professions of seriousness to be taken seriously. It won’t be done by repackaging the peace process of years past. It won’t be done by seeking to strengthen those leaders viewed by their own people as at best weak, incompetent, and feckless, at worst irresponsible, careless, and reckless. It won’t be done by perpetuating the bogus and unhelpful distinction between extremists and moderates, by isolating the former, reaching out to the latter, and ending up disconnected from the region’s most relevant actors.
It won’t be done by trying to perform better what was performed before. President Bush’s legacy was, in this sense, doubly harmful: he did the wrong things poorly, which now risks creating the false expectation that, somehow, they can be done well….
…For the new president, the starting point should be recognition of some uncomfortable, brutal realities. These include the depth of inherited anti-American animus; of cynicism toward old plans and tired formulas; of popular estrangement from the regional leaders on whom Washington has come to depend; and of popular attraction to militant activists, militant behavior, and a radical worldview….
Senior al Qaeda leader in Syria sanctioned by US Treasury
By Bill RoggioMay 14, 2009 11:00 AM
A senior al Qaeda leader based in Syria who recruits and facilitates the entry of foreign fighters into Iraq has been sanctioned by the US Treasury Department.
Sa’ad Uwayyid ‘Ubayd Mu’jil al Shammari, an Iraqi member of al Qaeda who operates from inside Syria, has been designated as a terrorist under Executive Order 13224. The designation allows the US to freeze his assets, prevent him from using financial institutions, and prosecute him for terrorist activities.
“We will continue to aggressively implement the international obligation to target al Qaeda-linked terrorists, like Abu Khalaf, who threaten the safety of Coalition Forces and the stability of Iraq,” said Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence said in a Treasury press release issued today.
Shammari, who is better known as Abu Khalaf, is known to recruit suicide bombers from North Africa and aids in setting up their travel arrangements into Syria and ultimately Iraq. “The facilitator recruited a few suicide bombers, who attempted to travel to Iraq,” the Treasury press release stated.
Khalaf also helped al Qaeda suicide bombers based in the Persian Gulf region travel to the Levant to conduct suicide attacks. The Levant consists of the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea and includes Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt. He is believed to operate in Tal Hamis in Syria and Tal Wardan and the ‘Awinat village in t Rabiah district in Iraq.
US targets Syrian al Qaeda network
Syria has long supported or looked the other way as al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents used the country as a transit point and safe haven for fighters entering western Iraq. More than 90 percent of the suicide bombers who have entered Iraq since the insurgency began in 2003 have entered Iraq via Syria…….
Will the Parties Honor Their Planks?
What Palestinian Refugees Need From Lebanon’s Elections
By FRANKLIN LAMB in CounterPunch, May 12, 2009
Wavel Palestinian Refugee Camp, Bekaa Valley.
“My work here is very difficult. To be honest with you there isn’t a single day when I don’t leave work completely depressed, sometimes in tears. The amount of abuse of Palestinians in Lebanon is at a level that you cannot even imagine unless you live here. At the end of the day I go home and sit. And think. How is this possible? I think of these Palestinians and feel they are so pale and patient and ‘moderate’ compared to what I feel. I tend to keep quiet but what I feel inside is shocking and I am not comfortable describing it. This place is close to exploding.”
–European NGO social worker who assists children of NON-ID Palestinians in Ein el Helwe Refugee Camp
Beirut’s Casino de Liban north of Beirut at Maameltein, perched above the Mediterranean north of Jounieh, was offering as late as 3 a.m. Saturday morning May 9, 2009, 2 to 1 odds that US President Barak Obama will drop out of the sky a la C. Rice and H. Clinton in an 11th hour ‘hail Mary’ to score a last minute goal for Israel. Another US ‘quick drop-in’ to shape the ‘US Ruling Team’ into a ‘US Wining Team’ during President Obama’s upcoming visit to the region.
Will he and will it work?
Hard to say, but the likes of David Hale, Michele Sison, Jeff Feltman, Madeleine Albright, Susan Rice, Alenjandro Wolf (from the sidelines) David Welch, John Burns and David Shapiro—various USAID and other officials do not appear to have built up their squad sufficiently and the election is in less than one month away. Signs of desperation are wafting down from Mount Lebanon and Awkar, site of the US Embassy.
Soon George Mitchell and his expanding entourage will give it a go and maybe, according to this morning’s rumors, President Obama himself, dues ex machina, since the State Department knows he is way more popular among Arabs and Muslims than is current US policy.
As Lebanon wonders if the much admired ‘gifted one’ will appear, the US coaching staff insists that it has been trying not to interfere in the internal affairs of this independent, democratic and sovereign country and explains during carefully culled media interviews, that before the election, none of them will engage or even dialogue with Lebanon’s Hezbollah led Resistance or with Hamas. Some here believe that after the election they may be obliged to seek meetings with both.
The job of recent visiting American officials has been to convince Lebanese voters that PM Fuad Sinioria’s Campaign slogan: “Our policy is to negotiate; theirs is to deter,” (emphasis mine) as he runs for Parliament from the voter and cash rich Hariri home base in Sidon, will deliver votes. The problem is that many Lebanese feel Lebanon is far better off with deterrence against Israeli aggression than what Human Rights Ambassador Ali Khalil calls “fake negotiations carefully designed in Washington and Tel Aviv to achieve nothing”.
Arriving Americans campaign advisors are also expressing alarm over the number of alleged Israeli spies that are being caught—on average of one a week since last January. The US concern appears not to be that there are an awfully lot of Israeli spies in Lebanon, but rather the fact that since the July 2006 War Hezbollah and the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) seem to be working well together and have revamped the ISF unit into Lebanon’s first effective spy snatching outfit.
The implications of this Opposition-Majority cooperation are sobering for the White House. If Hezbollah can so …..
Binyamin Netanyahu’s delicate balancing act with Barack Obama
James Hider, The Times of London, May 16, 2009
…Mr Netanyahu has talked about granting autonomy to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, accompanied by massive economic investment to raise standards of living, which would bring down violence.
Mr Obama cannot be seen to endorse such a vision publicly. Washington has reiterated its commitment to a two-state solution and insisted that peace talks should be resumed. Mr Netanyahu, bowing to such pressure, said in a meeting this week with Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian President, that he expected negotiations to resume in the coming weeks. He cannot, however, yield too much to America without losing the support of his religious-nationalist coalition.
The United States and Britain are also keen on capitalising on an Arab League peace initiative, presented seven years ago, which would see the entire Arab world make peace with Israel if it returned lands seized in the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel argues that key clauses would allow millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in what became Israel in the 1948 war, destroying its identity as a Jewish state.
There have been leaks that the Arab plan has been watered down to make it more palatable to Israel, although, with so much bargaining ahead, all sides are keeping silent about what concessions they might be ready to make.
Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu will agree on one thing — the need to confront Iran’s nuclear ambitions….
…the two leaders may instead focus on further isolating Iran from its key ally Syria, which has expressed an interest in resuming peace talks with Israel under US auspices. …
In response to Bashar Assad’s statement according to which Syria was keen to resume Middle East peace talks just as soon as it had someone it could deal with on the Israeli side, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Yisrael Beiteinu) said the Syrian president was “lying”. “He does not want peace. For peace he would have to offer normalization and openness, and this may result in the collapse of his regime,” Ayalon, a former ambassador to Washington, told a cultural forum in Beersheba Saturday. “Assad does not want to open Syria to the rest of the world because he is a tyrant. He wants to pursue a process that will end his isolation and ease the international community’s pressure.” According to Ayalon,…”You can’t wish for peace and at the same time support and arm Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” he added.