“On Thursday, Nasrallah claimed Israeli strikes in Syria to prevent Hizbollah from acquiring precise missiles were ineffective.”I tell (Israel) no matter what it did to cut the route, it is over. It has already been achieved,” he said, adding that Hizbollah “now possesses precision missiles and non-precision and weapons capabilities.” Nasrallah was speaking during a traditional televised speech at the end of Ashoura, a top religious holy day for Shia Muslims that lasts for 10 days. He told supporters to be confident and Israelis to be concerned of Hizbollah’s capabilities. Nasrallah said the balance of power in the region has changed…..”
Normally Nasrallah, whatever you think of him, is not known as a boaster, not much anyway (unlike you know who). Even the Israelis especially know that and now seem to plan and act/react accordingly.
But I am not sure about his claim that “the balance of power in the region had changed“. I am not completely sold on this one. Although it is probably true that in the war of July 2006 Hezbollah had a few thousand limited-range missiles, and now they are reported to have close to 150,000 longer-range precision missiles. In spite of occasional bombing (and other) attempts to stop the flow. Besides, they are very likely to have developed their own domestic know-how over the years.
Jerusalem Post headlined what it called Breaking News! “Trump to hold meeting with Netanyahu, other leaders at UN General Assembly“…
To which I tweeted: Breaking! Shocker Indeed: Amazing development! Trump and Netanyahu! Trump to meet his chief cheerleader at UN General Assembly!
Poland‘s slick President Duda suggested in Washington a permanent American base in his country be named Fort Trump. To be manned by a force called F Troop. I almost expected him to turn to his host and call him “The Duke”.
I commented that this President Duda sure knows how to kiss it!
Middle East/Arab social media are making fun of the Russian reaction to the Ilyushin shootdown near Latakia, in which Israeli warplanes hid behind the Russian Ilyushin to bomb a Syrian airbase. Many Russian military personnel died. They recall that Arab governments always threatened the same “severe reaction” to Israeli violations, which usually meant: they won’t do nada. Although a few claimed that Netanyahu’s freedom to bomb wherever he wants in Syria in support of the Islamist groups may be nearing an end after this.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
Libya, or some version of it, used to be a Roman province way back when. It was liberated by Arab Muslims in the seventh century AD, along with Egypt and the rest of North Africa. Ever since, Europeans have been trying to get back in, not just into Libya, but also the rest of North Africa (the Arab Maghreb). Come to think of it, Europeans have been trying to get into any vacuum to the south of their continent. The Americans were also forced to get involved during the early years of the Republic, under John Adams and Jefferson. During the wilder days of Barbary Coast (not the one in San Francisco, the one in North Africa). Hence the U.S. Marines on the “Shores of Tripoli“.
1911: Italy invaded Libya with with a view to expanding her African “empire”, like the French and British. Benito Mussolini later became dictator of Italy. He had read somewhere that Libya used to be a Roman province. He escalated the fight against the natives in order to secure the occupation, killing many thousands. During WWII, the Germans also entered the place in support of their Italian allies against the British who were entrenched in Egypt.
1943: The Western Allies liberated Libya from the Axis forces in 1943. But they stayed on for a while until invited by Colonel Gaddafi to leave after 1969.
2011: The Western allies, NATO, in conjunction with French pop-philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy and David Cameron and Gaddafi’s old pal Tony Blair and Joe Liberman, liberated Libya once again. They took it from Colonel Gaddafi and his family, handed it to the disparate militias and Jihadists who control so much of it now. Remember the Republican political battle cry of recent years “Benghazi, Benghazi“?
2015: NATO and Arab leaders are hankering to liberate Libya again. Especially now that it is being threatened by the ISIS Salafi cutthroats. Will Libya be liberated one more time by the West? Will that be the last time, absolutely the last liberation of Libya, cross my heart and hope to die?
(FYI: Arab leaders can’t liberate Libya or any other place, mainly because you’ve got to have something in order to give it to others).
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
“(French President Francois Hollande backed the idea following a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier in the day. “(The president) insisted on the need to avoid massacres in the north of Syria. He gave his support to the idea proposed by President Erdogan to create a buffer zone between Syria and Turkey to host and protect displaced people,” read a statement from Hollande’s office. It added that the two countries also agreed on the need to give more support to the moderate Syrian opposition to fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic State group (IS), also known as ISIS or ISIL………………”
Remember that old song that goes “A Fool Never Learns…….“?
NATO created such a bloody Jihadi mess in Libya, while abusing a loophole in the UN Security Council resolution about that country in 2011. Libya is out of the clutches of the Gaddafi police state, but it is now a divided excuse for a country with multiple little civil wars, complete with various Wahhabi Jihadi cutthroats vying for power. Courtesy of France and other NATO powers and the ruling brothers of the United Arab Emirates of Disneyland (UAE) and the Qumquats of Qatar. What can you expect when you invite absolute tribal ruling families to help “liberate” a country and bring it the freedom and democracy that they never allow within their domains?
Now the Arab potentates and their eager Western arms merchants want a repeat in Syria. Only a bloodier and messier one and in the heart of the more vital Eastern Mediterranean. A no-fly zone that will almost certainly be expanded and used to favor the “moderate Wahhabis” among the Syrian opposition. Which is why it will never pass a United Nations smell test, a vote: it will have to be unilateral NATO action with some trumped-up foreign Arabs for window-dressing.
FYI: effectively there are now only three classes of Syrian opposition: bad plain-vanilla Wahhabis, badder Wahhabis, and the baddest (truly murderous) Wahhabis. Remember the Hobson’s Choice analogy.
Brilliant, Francois, you deserve to be up there with Sarkozy and Hillary and Blair and McCain and the oil princes. I would have thought you were concerned about the new crop of Beaujolais Nouveau arriving next month more than about Gulf royal weapons contracts.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
Headline today in the Huffington Post: “Global” anger at Russia grows……..
Odd: I look around the globe, the media in several languages, and I don’t see worldwide intense anger. There is sympathy and a desire to uncover the culprit(s), but no anger. I see some regional real anger and some regional pretend anger, and I see mostly some politics mixed with anger, and it is focused on a particular part of the globe. In recent years, it seems that the world has gone back to the old Euro-centric order, just as it did during the eighteenth and nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Apparently when the angry “international community” or “the world” is mentioned the acronyms that matter are NATO and EU. Forget about UNO and BRICS and PIGS and TRICKS and SCO and WTF and the rest.
No wonder the angry “international community” is never angry when third world airlines are shot down, especially when shot down by NATO missiles (Iran Air 655, Libyan Air).
I guess “global” here means the West: “European Union” or “North American”. The Rest Of the World, almost 85% of it, are just that, ROW, and not part of the “global community”, since we don’t see much if any of the same “outrage” across Asia (outside Malaysia) or Africa or Latin America, or the Middle East. The same applies to “The International Community” that we often see in Western headlines. The Int’l Community is often angry at someone or the other (Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Freedonia, etc). The “Int’l Community” is never ever angry at the European Union or the USA or Canada. And why should they?
Now speaking of “global” outrage, and speaking of Gaza……….
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
“Even as the crisis in Ukraine continues to defy easy resolution, President Obama and his national security team are looking beyond the immediate conflict to forge a new long-term approach to Russia that applies an updated version of the Cold War strategy of containment. Just as the United States resolved in the aftermath of World War II to counter the Soviet Union and its global ambitions, Mr. Obama is focused on isolating President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world, limiting its expansionist ambitions in its own neighborhood and effectively making it a pariah state………………”
A pariah state: it sounds ominous. The list is already long and can get longer. Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, etc. Now the mother of all sanctions: a possible creeping economic blockade of the huge Eurasian mass of Russia, with spillover into other countries. Mr. Putin may be excused if someday he makes a famous Reagan-esque speech outside the IMF building, with a great sound bite: “Mr. Obama (or Mrs Clinton or Mr. Bush III) tear down this blockade………”
Provided he can get a visa to get to the IMF building. And it would be more effective if he could keep his shirt on during that speech.
Yet a blockade against Russia invites blockades against many others, if the Iranian example is to be imitated. Russia is huge; it is still that ‘other’ world (bigger than an Arizona gas station). Many countries, from Asia through Latin America and Africa, and even Europe, will not go along with sanctions against (Mother) Russia. But even if they do, we will have two new definitions of nations. Now we have: First World and Third World, Developed World and Underdeveloped World, Industrial and non-Industrial World (the last one is not as sharp anymore). SCO (Shanghai) countries are highly unlikely to comply. Countries like India and China and Brazil may straddle the two as they are partially blockaded by the “international community”, meaning by the Western powers of North America and Europe. Of course, India and China represent many more people than all of the “international community” of North America and Europe.
Soon we may have new blocs of nations: Sanctioned or Blockaded Nations and Non-blockaded Nations; Blockading nations and Blockaded Nations, etc. Sounds almost like a new Cold war of “beggar they neighbors across the vast oceans”.
Idriss the Grim
“The new weaponry will be channelled through the Supreme Military Command, a Western-backed rebel body headed by Selim Idriss, a general who defected from Mr Assad’s forces, and whose connections to moderate groups America has been testing with supplies of food and medicine. America’s programme, likely to be based in Jordan, on Syria’s southern border, may in effect amount to a beefing up of a Saudi operation there, which already involves the CIA in training vetted rebels…………. Some reckon it is even too late to achieve the more modest goals of bringing the fissiparous rebel groups under a single command structure and marginalising more extreme elements, in particular the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra. Once a group has seen its fortunes fall, it is hard to resuscitate it. Take, for example, Shuhada Suria (Martyrs of Syria). Just a year ago this group, which operates in the north-west province of Idleb and whose leader sits on the Supreme Military Command, was a leading fighting force. But it has faltered in part because funding has shrivelled, prompting defections to stronger groups, usually more Islamist ones………….”
General Salim Idriss is the man the West (US administration) and presumably Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Yamama is looking at to lead Syria if and when it is liberated by NATO and Bernard-Henri Levy. They may consider him the equivalent of a Yemeni outcome for Syria. In Yemen, the GCC absolute tribal rulers engineered a final resignation of the dictator Ali Saleh and replaced him with his vice president, Generalissimo Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi Bin Zombie (the last name was given him by a Saudi journalist-tweeter). Hadi is famous for breaking post-Saddam Arab records for popular votes (about 99.8%, something not even Kim Jong-Un can get). Yemen is still engulfed in a multi-pronged civil war.
General Idriss looks like a highly unlikely leader for Syria, or of any other place for that matter. But then in fairness, some twelve years ago Bashar Al Assad did not look very ‘leader-ly‘ either. He looks like he should not even be expected to run his supporters in Saudi Arabia or Bahrain. More like a catfish in a pond full of Jihadi and other sharks, and we all know there is something wrong with that besides mixing salt and sweet waters.
Yesterday General Abduljabbar Al-Akeedi, apparently chief of the Revolutionary Military Leadership in Aleppo (wtf that be), was reported in Al-Quds Al-Arabi to have resigned from the FSA command in protest. He claimed that the Free Syrian Salafi Army has failed. Could be merely discontent with Idriss as well, could be a premonition of outcome of the battle for Aleppo. Could be both.
“France and Saudi Arabia agreed during a meeting in Paris that the Hezbollah-backed Syrian troops, which defeated the rebels in the strategic town of Qusayr, should not be allowed to repeat the same scenario in province of Aleppo, Al Arabiya correspondent reported Tuesday. The two countries expressed their stance after Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, and the kingdom’s intelligence head, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, met with French officials. While both countries established the need for international measures to help stave off a repeat of the Qusayr battle, France said an international consensus is required before any military operation can take place……………..” Alarabiya (Saudi semi-official network)
France and Saudi Arabia promise there will be no more repeats of Qusayr (or perhaps Qusair as the British seem to prefer it). That means France and Saudi Arabia will guarantee no more military victories for the Syrian regime.
This means one thing: if the US and Europe refuse to join John McCain in invading Syria, then there is an alternative. The French and Saudis will storm Syria, led by Bernard-Henri Levy and the Mufti Shaikh Al. The Saudis, a couple of years after their defeat at the hands of the ragtag Houthi tribal fighters in Yemen, will transfer their occupation forces holding up the regime from Bahrain to Syria. I can’t wait to get a bucket of popcorn, sit back, and watch the show. Forget the Super Bowl: it is Hezbollah and the Syrian regime against the Saudi vice squad and the French Africa-bashers. Maybe the Saudi and Qatari and French forces can be parachuted down behind enemy lines, to join the Free Syrian Salafi Army militias. Before the storming of the beaches.
More seriously: there is a strong push in Western capitals for some kind of NATO intervention. The Arab potentates and, er, petroleum intellectuals (of the tribal monarchy type and the Islamist type and the Salafist type) have been pushing for NATO to help liberate Syria, just as it liberated Libya (2011) and Iraq (2003). In the US this push is from the jingoist right (Republicans) and the jingoist left (Democratic warriors are back, twenty years after the fall of Communism). Mr. Obama is in the middle of this: whatever happens, he’ll get the blame when things go wrong, as they surely will.
The problem in Syria is that the rebels do not control any major urban centers that they can call their own. They control parts of Homs and Aleppo, so both sides are close enough for decisive battles to start (of course, these battles may not be so decisive).
Neck of the woods
“Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain!” American refrain, circa 1898
“It’s entirely possible that the main mission of the CIA, in this case, is to sort out who’s who among the rebels, since undoubtedly the more level-headed people in Washington are saying to themselves, “Who are these guys?” (I’m wondering that myself.) but it’s equally possible, and more likely, that the CIA is involving itself more deeply in coordinating the weapons flow into Syria. That’s been reported for a while now, and if so it means that the Obama administration is edging closer to an open, armed regime-change strategy aimed at a major Russian and Iranian ally. Meanwhile, even Turkey’s NATO allies seem to be privately ridiculing Turkey’s assertion that its plane was on a training mission. That seems patent nonsense, and much more likely is that Turkey was testing Syria’s air defense and perhaps trying to provoke the creation of a NATO-imposed, Iraq-style no-fly zone in Syria. Had Syrian jets scrambled to protect its air space, by now hawks and quite a few Obama administration officials would be clamoring for a no-fly edict backed by US armed forces. This is dangerous, Tonkin Gulf–style gamesmanship
No doubt the Turkish story about the warplane smells fishy: too many details are left out and no clear explanation given of its mission. Sounds like a classic set-up, an entrapment of the kind Western powers have used in the past for invasion and interference, from Mexico and the Caribbean (USA) to Algeria (France) and Egypt (Britain). Hitler (do I see Netanyahu perk up?) used the tactic against Czechoslovakia (Sudetenland) and Poland (Danzig/Gdansk).
I believe the US Senate has passed several equivalents of the Tonkin Gulf resolution by now against both Syria and Iran. The USA and the European Union have done so. It is now highly unlikely that the US Congress, both houses, will oppose military action against either Syria or Iran. That in itself is quite a reversal of American thinking, even of what prevailed under George W Bush.
This goes beyond Bush’s war of deterrence, or “if you are not with us you are against us”. This is a policy of “if you remain opposed to us we will eventually attack you”. And it is bi-partisan, just like Tonkin. The aftermath of Tonkin Gulf was quite a waste of so much blood and treasure of both Americans and Asians. Unless they think this one will turn out like Havana and the aftermath of “Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain!“