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"friday-lunch-club"



"'America is something that can be easily moved. Moved to the right direction.They won’t get in our way'" Benjamin Netanyahu



Updated: 2018-02-23T14:50:10.540-05:00

 



UN reveals Israeli links with al Qaeda in Syria

2014-12-07T12:20:02.786-05:00

 Haaretz

"... Reports by UN observers in the Golan Heights over the past 18 months reveal the type and extent of cooperation between Israel and Syrian opposition figures. The reports, submitted to the 15 members of the UN Security Council and available on the UN’s website, detail regular contacts held on the border between IDF officers and soldiers and Syrian rebels (al Qaeda's Jabhat al Nusra) ..."
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Jordan against ISIL at home

2014-12-07T12:12:01.983-05:00

 Al Jazeera English

"... "Just clicking 'like' or 'share' on social media in Jordan could get you in jail nowadays, which is alarming," al-Khateeb told Al Jazeera..."
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US: 'Recognizing Iran’s de facto 'positive' participation in the anti-ISIL coalition'

2014-12-07T12:07:10.323-05:00

"... The tragically failed hostage rescue attempt in Yemen will have done little to redress the public perception of the Administration’s foreign policy as, to quote a senior NSC official talking privately to us, as “almost drowning under the barrage of criticism”. It will undermine the more optimistic note being struck by Secretary of State Kerry on progress being made by the anti-ISIL coalition and on prospects for Afghanistan, together with the effectiveness of US sanctions against Russia. Behind the scenes, few officials share Kerry’s optimism. And the onslaught of public criticism continues, notably as much from Democratic voices as the more predictable Republican critics. In the White House, however, our assessment is that the atmosphere remains calm. President Obama’s nomination of Ashton Carter as the new Secretary of Defense has been well received, but our Administration contacts tell us that this does not foreshadow any loosening of control by the White House over national security policy. A seasoned Pentagon observer commented to us: “Carter has outstanding defense credentials as a master of topics like force structure, nuclear issues, acquisition and the budget. He has a conspicuous gap in war fighting. It appears that the White House wants him to lead internal Pentagon reform at a time of resource austerity, but to leave the fighting in the Middle East in their hands.”  With regard to ISIL, an emerging factor is the increasing US willingness to recognize Iran’s de facto participation in the coalition and to describe it, as Kerry did, as “positive. The State Department’s line is to keep cooperation with Iran over ISIL and, most likely in the future, against the Taliban in Afghanistan, in totally separate compartments from the nuclear negotiations. However, we understand that the even the sporadic exchanges that are now taking place at local level are having some impact on building trust. This may ease an agreement in 2015, although as we have noted Iran will then face a much more hostile political line-up on Capitol Hill. Another Middle East country with a complex relationship with Washington is Saudi Arabia, whose current production policy designed to keep oil prices low is seen by some as directed against US shale producers. Finally, on November 7th Kerry will deliver a major speech on US-Israeli relations. Given the pro-Israeli venue at the Saban Center, Kerry is not expected to hit hard. Nonetheless, the speech will be closely analyzed for the nuances it will throw on the current troubles state of US relations with Israel..."
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Hawkish?

2014-12-05T11:02:09.370-05:00

"The commentary following the resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been notably confused. Some observers have attributed his downfall to an overcautious approach to the events in Iraq and Syria; others have suggested that he was urging the White House to be more aggressive than it desired. In many ways, this ambivalence reflects the current state of thinking about foreign policy in Washington. While it is generally expected that the new Republican-led Senate will set a more hawkish tone, there is little evidence that public opinion is in the same place. With regard to the failure – whether temporary or permanent – to secure an agreement with Iran on nuclear matters in time for the 24th November deadline, a similar tension in analysis can be seen. State Department officials to whom we have spoken remain upbeat that a settlement is within reach. However, with a harder bipartisan line forming in Congress to constrain President Obama from lifting sanctions – one of the key preconditions of any deal – the way ahead has become more challenging for the Administration.  In the same way, Secretary of State Kerry will present mixed messages at next week’s NATO ministerial meetings. Policy toward Russia, Iraq and Afghanistan will all be on the agenda. On the former, a willingness to take a tougher line on sanctions is balanced against rising concern – albeit expressed only privately – that Ukraine’s post-election government formation is taking far too long and that economic reforms, especially on fighting corruption, still seem far ahead. With regard to Iraq, Administration officials feel that cohesion within the anti-ISIL coalition is strong, especially now that tensions with Turkey have eased. There is also a growing conviction inside the Pentagon that the intensive retraining program now underway with the Iraqi National Army coupled with the beginnings of a “reawakening” of some Sunni militias will yield sufficiently positive results to assuage the demands for the deployment of US ground forces. On Afghanistan, the US focus is shifting toward the economy in the realization that, with the near total drawdown of foreign forces, financial flows to the Afghan government will shrink drastically. Kerry will encourage his NATO partners to remain engaged in the country with civil projects.  Finally, the decision by OPEC to maintain production levels leading to a further drop in the price of crude oil had, we are told, a degree of political motivation behind it given the resultant negative consequences to the Russian and Iranian economies."
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"Something honest needs to be done about coordination with the Iranians & the Syrian Armed Forces!"

2014-12-05T10:56:55.311-05:00

"... - Kirby, the DoD press person, says that there is no "coordination" with Iranian forces in Iraq. When pressed by Blitzer he says that the Iraqi government is "deconflicting" air operations in their air space. That is a form of "coordination." One can only hope that the Americans in Iraq are helping Abadi's government "deconflict" operations in the air and on the ground. Something honest needs to be done about coordination with the Iranians. IMO Kirby should be sent to the Hill to work with McCain and his office wife.
- Ditto with regard to the Syrian armed forces.
- The FSA unicorn army is a fantasyland fiction. Kirby admitted yesterday that neither vetting nor training have begun. Someone will eventually have to confront the WH with that truth.
- Some sub-set of lunatics in NATO continues to drive the alliance towards war with Russia. This probably seems a great idea in bull sessions at State and the NSC staff. "We'll show'em!!" This is just crazy. There cannot be war between NATO and Russia. Such a war would be uncontainable and would inevitably escalate to a nuclear confrontation..."
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"Terrorists elected in Bahrain!"

2014-12-05T10:41:54.411-05:00

"... "Four seats also went to male candidates from Sunni Islamist blocs, including two from the Muslim Brotherhood's Islamic Menbar group." Shaikh Khalid said that Bahrain was facing the "Muslim Brotherhood" group and its "clear terrorist threat" to the stability of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE and considered its plans as a threat to the kingdom’s security as well. He added that Bahrain would "deal with any threat from the Muslim Brotherhood group in Bahrain in the same way it deals with any other potential threat to its security and stability."
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Lebanon detains wife and son of Al-Baghdadi

2014-12-02T09:18:12.086-05:00

Al Jazeera English

"The Lebanese army has detained a wife and a son of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, as they crossed from Syria in recent days, security officials have said..."
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Obama Falsely Claims Human Rights Law Does Not Apply To Syrian Mercenary Training

2014-12-01T12:20:36.236-05:00

MoA:
"Buried down in a report about Pentagon plans to train more mercenaries to fight against Syria we find this declaration of intend by the Obama administration to (again) break the law:
The military screening plan came together after the Obama administration determined that the training program for the Syrians would not be subject to what are known as the Leahy laws, which typically govern U.S. security assistance to foreign forces.Under those laws, a small office at the State Department works with U.S. embassies overseas to ensure that recipients of State or Defense Department security assistance aren’t linked to major human rights abuses.
...
Because the Syrian rebels will not be part of a state-sponsored force, the laws will not apply, U.S. officials said.
Wait a second. The U.S. congress has set aside $500 million to train, equip and pay these fighters. The U.S. military will do the training. And the Obama administration claims that these are not "state-sponsored forces"? Is the U.S. no longer a nation state? ..."(image)



Over $80 Billion Wasted in “Training” Iraqi, Afghan Forces: No Lessons Learned!

2014-12-01T12:15:58.420-05:00

"... And yet, despite this clear history of failed efforts to train and equip forces, the US now plans to spend more than another $5 billion fighting ISIS. If it weren’t for the carbon dioxide that would be released, it would probably be better for all of us if that money were simply incinerated."
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What Obama Doesn't Understand About Syria

2014-12-01T12:13:06.654-05:00

"... Yet the regime's position around Aleppo is so strong, given its progress toward severing the final rebel supply line to the city, that it currently has little incentive to reach any deal that would leave the rebels' fighting ability intact. Damascus would much prefer to deliver a decisive blow to the mainstream opposition in Aleppo, which would cripple the West's potential partners and leave only the regime as a supposed bulwark against the jihadis. Rebels recognize this, and given their negative experience with cease-fires elsewhere, even those in favor of a freeze are unlikely to invest political capital in convincing the skeptics in their own ranks unless they see new reason to hope for a fair deal.The crux of the American dilemma in Syria is thus clear: Degrading jihadi groups requires empowering mainstream Sunni alternatives, but doing so may prove impossible unless Damascus (or its backers in Tehran) can be convinced or compelled to dramatically shift strategy. For now, the regime treats the Western-, Arab-, and Turkish-backed opposition as the main threat to its dominance in Syria and treats the Islamic State as a secondary concern that the United States is already helping to deal with. Iran has done nothing to suggest that it objects to the regime's strategy; instead, it is enabling it.Damascus and Tehran appear to believe that achieving regime victory is simply a matter of maintaining the conflict's current trajectory. This view, however, is shortsighted and would yield an unprecedented recruiting bonanza for jihadi groups. If Washington wishes to prevent this -- and the unending cycle of conflict that it would perpetuate -- it must better balance its Iraq and Syria strategies, refine its airstrike tactics, and find ways to change calculations in Damascus and Tehran."
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Lebanon’s Dangerous Downward Spiral

2014-11-28T13:29:31.899-05:00

"... While everyone seems loath to admit it, Lebanon now has—for the first time in its history—a Sunni majority. This has been obscured by the fact that about half of these Sunnis are Syrians who are theoretically supposed to return home at some unspecified date in the future (just like the Palestinians). But unless the war in Syria winds down in the near future, there’s nothing temporary about their presence in Lebanon. Rather, their reality is now one of complete disenfranchisement and economic misery in a place they must sooner or later begin to call home. And they’re going to want to change that...."
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Aaah those 'vetted moderate' rebels

2014-11-24T10:50:58.795-05:00

"... They have also launched homemade rockets, often inaccurate, at government forces stationed in landmark structures, frequently killing civilians. In the process, they are helping destroy Syria's history and infrastructure and, with the deaths of civilians, undermining popular support for their cause..."
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"... Instead & in the Interim, Iran ..."

2014-11-24T10:43:00.479-05:00

"... Instead, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said it "was not possible to meet the deadline"....He stressed that while July 1 was the new deadline for a comprehensive deal, the expectation was that broad agreement would be in place by March 1.In the interim, expert level talks will resume in December at an as yet undetermined venue and Iran will receive about $700 million per month in frozen assets, Hammond said..."
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Contrary to Turkish pronouncements, the US is not considering a no-fly zone over Syria

2014-11-19T11:43:16.839-05:00

"... When asked about the US position on the establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria, as Turkey is pushing for, White House sources said the US is in constant discussion on a full range of possible ways Turkey can contribute to the anti-ISIL coalition and reiterated that at the moment, the US is not considering a no-fly zone or the establishment of a buffer zone...."
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'The US recognizes Hezbollah for shared anti-ISIS enmity & the stabilization of Iraq & Lebanon'

2014-11-19T11:17:56.899-05:00

"... Despite Hezbollah’s role in anti- American rhetoric, the organization shares many interests with the United States—though both sides would be loath to admit it. Both actors are at war with the Islamic State and other Sunni extremists, and both want to prop up Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Abadi’s government in Baghdad.Even within Lebanon, while Washington supports Hezbollah’s political rivals in the anti-Syrian March 14 coalition, it recognizes that Hezbollah is helping hold the country together, and that either an Islamic State expansion or a descent into chaos would be worse than the status quo.
Open cooperation, however, is politically out of the question for both parties. Indeed, a slight shift could turn suspicion into conflict. The US campaign in Syria is focused on Sunni extremists, and thus is indirectly helping the Assad regime, Hezbollah’s ally. Yet, if Washington decides to live up to its anti-Assad rhetoric and take on the Syrian regime as well as Sunni jihadists, it will also be taking on Hezbollah. Hezbollah’s hostility to Israel remains strong, another point of friction. In addition, Hezbollah is more in bed with Iran now than ever before, and any military action against Tehran over its nuclear program or other issues must seriously factor in Hezbollah’s response.
Hezbollah remains a key regional player. It is also a stalking horse for Iran and a prop to the Syrian regime. Nevertheless, the organization is also overtaxed militarily and on the defensive politically. The United States must recognize this mix of strength and weakness if its regional policies are to meet with success." 
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Iran and the Syrian and Iraqi Crises

2014-11-19T09:43:03.082-05:00

Wilson Center

"... With regard to recent events, the Obama Administration seems to be pursuing a contradictory
policy. On one hand, the Obama Administration is assisting the Iraqi Kurds and the newly-
formed government of Haider al-Abadi to fend off and roll back the advances of ISIS, and at the
same time, it is committing itself to helping the moderate opposition in the Syrian conflict and
striking ISIS strongholds. There is no military solution to the conflict in both countries,
especially in Syria. In Iraq, al-Abadi’s administration must take substantive steps to include the
Sunni Arab population. Otherwise any military gains on the ground against ISIS will prove to
be short-lived. In Syria, funneling more arms, resources, and money to the Syrian opposition
will only aggravate the situation. It may lead to further empowerment of radicals, the
emergence of new extremist groups,
and the spillover of the war into other neighboring states,
such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Israel. The only sound solution is some form of political
settlement through negotiations...."
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Remarks by President Obama at G20 Press Conference | November 16, 2014 | The White House

2014-11-18T18:02:09.880-05:00

Q But just to put a fine point on it -- are you actively discussing ways to remove him as a part of that political transition?
PRESIDENT OBAMA:No.
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The FSA toy army: 'Ceasing activity & fleeing to Turkey'

2014-11-18T10:37:40.499-05:00

While Saudi prince Miteb bin Abdullah is in Washington primarely to prode the WH to go after Assad, ...
"... The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the recognized armed opposition group against the Bashar al-Assad in Syria, has ceased its resistance in Aleppo, Syria’s second biggest city, withdrawing its 14,000 militia from the city, a ranking Turkish security source told the Hürriyet Daily News on Nov. 17.“Its leader Jamal Marouf has fled to Turkey,” confirmed the source, who asked not to be named. “He is currently being hosted and protected by the Turkish state.” 
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'Executive Orders'

2014-11-17T11:32:26.957-05:00

'The most closely watched foreign policy deadline in Washington is the November 24thtimeline for concluding a nuclear agreement with Iran. While Secretary of State Kerry has described these negotiations as “difficult but serious,” there is a rising sense among officials close to the issue that an agreement is within reach. Our expectation is that this will be a highly technical document that will be carefully constructed to avoid any obvious identification of “winners and losers.”  An agreement – if one emerges – will face fierce opposition on Capitol Hill, not only from Republican opponents like Senator McCain, the incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, but also from prominent Democrats. Whether they have the power to block an agreement seems doubtful, as the Administration can take most of the actions it needs through Executive Orders. Nonetheless, President Obama will need to deploy some political capital to gain support for an agreement. US officials are also aware that any agreement may face opposition from hardliners in Tehran. They are also concerned that Israel might contemplate unilateral action aimed at upending a deal...  On a more optimistic note for the Administration, the Pentagon now sees signs that its bombing campaign against ISIL is starting to take a toll on their logistics. Some observers are quietly confident that the tide of war has turned against ISIL.'
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'Official Stresses Iran's Key Role in Iraqi Army's Ground Operations against ISIS'

2014-11-17T11:23:11.554-05:00

"... "The Iranian advisors were present in the battle ground during the Jarf Asakhr operations and provided excellent counselling to the fighters of popular front," Governor-General of Karbala province Aqil al-Tarihi told FNA on Sunday.Stressing that the cleanup and liberation operations in Jarf Asakhr were all carried out by the Iraqi forces, he said, "Iran helped the success of the operations with its useful consultations."
Late September, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Gholam Ali Rashid announced that Iran's military advisors were present in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine to provide those nations with necessary military recommendations.
"Some of our commanders are in the field to give military advice to the Iraqi army, Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance movement," Major General Rashid said, addressing a conference attended by a group of senior military commanders in Tehran..."
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'Israeli infested sections!'

2014-11-12T11:25:23.109-05:00

'Some may see President Obama's decision to deploy an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq in support of the anti-ISIL campaign as an early outcome of the heavier than expected  setbacks for the Democrats in the November 4th mid term elections. It is certainly true that, with Senator John McCain's assumption of the leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Republicans will set a much more hawkish tone in Washington. However, our understanding of the decision is that, as we have foreshadowed, it emerged from rapidly increasing unease in the Pentagon, notably from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dempsey, that Obama's resistance to ground troops and reliance on air power risked a serious deterioration in the situation on the ground. For the time being, the role of the new troops will be to intensify the training of the Iraqi National Army and the Kurdish Pesh Merga. They will complement the already significant deployment of US Special Forces and Intelligence Officers. Pentagon strategists have told us privately that they highly doubt that this training role will be sufficient to achieve Obama's announced goal of "degrading and ultimately defeating ISIL". The debate about the eventual deployment of US forces in a combat role is thus underway. The new tone of hawkishness also extends to Russia where concerns about President Putin's intentions following the elections in Eastern Ukraine continue to rise. Controversy over assurances allegedly given by Obama in his letter to the Iranian Supreme Leader is rising among both parties in key sections of the Senate and House (See Israeli infested sections!). This will additionally constrain his freedom of maneuver to reach an agreement on the nuclear issue in time for the November 24th deadline...'
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'Injecting the ISIS into Egypt

2014-11-12T11:06:19.073-05:00

"On Monday, Egypt’s most dangerous militant group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, also pledged obedience to the organization that calls itself the Islamic State, becoming its first significant international affiliate in the bet that the link will provide new money, weapons and recruits to battle the government in Cairo..."
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“I Sent ISIS Fighters To Europe”

2014-11-12T11:03:22.768-05:00

“The Western world thinks there is no ISIS in their countries — that all the jihadis have gone to fight and die in Syria.” BuzzFeed News’ Mike Giglio speaks with the men who claim to have helped ISIS slip into Europe...."
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RAND: "Syrian Regime collapse, not a likely outcome, is the worst possible outcome for U.S. strategic interests."

2014-11-12T11:00:02.644-05:00

Thanks to MoA:
"... While still seeing the Assad regime as an adversary based on its patron-client relationship with Iran and its implacable hostility toward Israel, U.S. decisionmakers are also dealing with the threats caused by the dramatic recent gains made in Iraq by ISIS and the influence it wields within the Syrian rebel movement. To examine these challenges, this perspective draws on a December 2013 RAND workshop to assess four possible future scenarios for the conflict in Syria: prolonged conflict, regime victory, regime collapse, and negotiated settlement. The authors update and reassess these scenarios based on developments in Syria and Iraq through August 2014 and explore the implications that each has for Syria, the region, and the United States.
  • Negotiated settlement was deemed the least likely of the possible scenarios.
  • Regime collapse, while not considered a likely outcome, was perceived to be the worst possible outcome for U.S. strategic interests..."
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0 Comments

2014-11-12T10:48:30.324-05:00

"So you rub it a little on this side and Genie will solve all your middle eastern problems & make you charismatic!"
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