Monday, April 30, 2012

US strikes a military pose for Iran....

US strikes a military pose for Iran....
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

For all the talk of the Zioconned United States' long-standing hegemony in the oil-rich Persian Gulf, its military superiority is not without shortfalls that, in turn, show significant flaws in its ability to maintain a "credible military threat" against Iran, the stand that nowadays complements its coercive diplomacy vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear program.

With the next round of talks between Iran and the "P5+1" (also known as the "Iran Six", the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia - plus Germany) nations scheduled in Iraq on May 23, Washington has skillfully combined the carrot of softening its "red line" by reportedly considering the option of tolerating Iran's low-enriched uranium program, with the "long stick" of adding new layers of military threats aimed at convincing
Tehran to be beware that, should the Baghdad talks fail, the wrath of Uncle Sam is likely to fall.

This is in light of the widely-disseminated news over the weekend that the US has deployed its latest generation of stealth bombers at "Iran's doorway", possibly in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is in dispute with Tehran over the three islands of Abu Musa, Little Tub and Big Tunb, strategically situated near the Strait of Hormuz.

The United States has deployed a number of stealth jets, its most modern, fifth-generation fighter bomber, to an air base in Southwest Asia, according to the US Air Force, the Washington Post reported. The service would not say where the F-22 Raptors would be based, but the US military has recently moved other assets into the Persian Gulf amid concerns about a confrontation with Iran, the paper added.

The tacit message sent to Tehran is that the US is now poised to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, especially the bunkered one known as Fordo, if Iran refuses the US's demands. Also, it indicates a new tilt in the UAE's favor, in light of pro-UAE statements by the US and a number of European officials with regards to the three islands, often referred to Iranian media as "Iran's aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf", in reference to Iran's occasional forays into the idea of militarizing those islands by placing missiles and other military hardware that would improve Iran's counter-strike capability.

"Those islands were legally ceded to Iran in 1971 by the British government before the independence of the UAE and it took the UAE 20 years to complain about them to United Nations, which refused to take action in 1992. This was part of a double deal between Tehran and London, the other one concerning Bahrain that was historically owned by Iran and yet Tehran agreed to forfeit its claim," said a Tehran political science professor who spoke to the author on the condition of anonymity.

Since President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's visit to Abu Musa three weeks ago, the UAE and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have embarked on a virulent international campaign to renew the UAE's sovereignty claim over the islands as well as calls on Iran to consent to arbitration by the International Court of Justice, rejected by Iran that insists its agreement with Great Britain is valid as a matter of international law and there is no need for the ICJ's intervention.

A UAE military official has threatened to rain military hell on those islands, a threat that Tehran cannot ignore in light of the US's growing proclivity to side with the UAE against Iran.

Hypothetically, if the Zioconned UAE somehow managed to wrest those islands from Iran's hands, then the US could conceivably overcome its present military deficit in the Strait of Hormuz by joining the UAE forces in protecting those islands and offsetting any Iranian move to scuttle oil flows in the event of a military flare-up.

This is reason enough for Iran to openly contemplate beefing up its military presence in the Persian Gulf and fortifying the three islands considered as "integral parts of Iran". The consensus in Iran is that as long as Iran has the choking capability in the Strait of Hormuz the US would not dare to attack Iran since the results for the world economy would be disastrous.

Inevitably, the three islands play a key role in the current geostrategic calculations that, no matter how the compliant US media pundits cut it, favors Iran in some respects.

Add to this the economic factor - ie, the several hundred billion dollars of Iranian capital in the UAE, the burgeoning trade and sizable presence of an Iranian merchant class there - that on the whole weighs heavily on the UAE's calculations vis-a-vis Iran and, bottom line, pose a significant bar to the military option.

In a word, the ties of economic interdependence may well suffer a long-term setback in a military scenario, to the detriment of a UAE that is still grappling with the recent economic meltdown.

Meanwhile, a number of Iran's parliamentary deputies have renewed Iran's discourse on collective security in Persian Gulf, thus complementing Iran's hard power strategy with the soft power approach that focuses on "shared security concerns" and the like.
The idea first emerged during the presidency of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in the early 1990s (
Iran unveils a Persian Gulf security plan Asia Times Online, April 14, 2007) and now has the added benefit of potentially counting on Iraq, which under Saddam Hussein zeroed in on the three islands to rally Arab support, as a junior partner.

The mere prospect of an Iran-Iraq concert in the Persian Gulf has rattled the GCC states to the point that they are now trying to influence Washington's Iraq policy to shift in favor of the rebellious Kurds, but only to the point of weakening the central government in Baghdad yet short of a break-up of an Arab state.

This is playing with fire since Iraqi Kurds have their own plan of action that reflects a growing concert with non-Arab Turkey, in light of the recent Ankara visit by Kurdish leader Masoud Barazani, coinciding with the Tehran visit by Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

All this involves a complex interaction between nuclear, security and economic issues and other considerations that has introduced policy headaches for Washington - that suffers from noticeable military deficits in its traditional turf - the Persian Gulf, informally coined an "American lake".

A huge influx of ground forces incurring major expenses for Pentagon's shrinking budget would be required to compensate for those deficits, simply because air and naval power alone does not suffice.

Fully cognizant of those limitations, Tehran remains unconvinced of the "credible" in the US's military postures cited above, seen simply as maneuvers bordering on bluff more than anything else.

In essence, this means that Iran remains the custodian and gatekeeper of the Strait of Hormuz for the indefinite future, thanks in part to its vital possession of the three islands.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD.

Return of medievalism in Middle East...

One major outcome of the Arab Spring is the return of medievalism. Medievalism in this context is the return of tribal, religious and sectarian political formations and other political forms to replace the nation-state order and its institutions. More, these religious and sectarian forms overlap, and are without clear boundaries. Iraq and Libya are shining examples of medievalism returned. It is no longer possible to analyze these countries with the instruments that pertain to the nation-state system. Instead, one must employ categories such as sect, ethnicity or tribe.

The Kurds in Iraq have their own agenda. Similarly, the al-Abidat tribe in eastern Libya behaves almost like an independent political entity. Also, in the Western Mountain region of Libya, the Amazigh tribes, like the al-Zintan, are almost independent. This case is not particular to Iraq and Libya. Countries like Iran, Turkey, Lebanon and Syria have very similar problems. Even Egyptian politics displays strong medievalist characteristics, particularly with its rising Salafi movement.

In fact, the nation-state project has never been successful in the region. What kept the different sectarian, tribal or religious groups of many Middle Eastern countries to the nation-state form was authoritarianism. However, the collapse or weakening of central governments in the Arab Spring has changed the balances in the region dramatically. As a result, Middle Eastern politics is now a politics of not only states, but of states and regions. Any political equation has to include the regions in its focus: the Kurds, the minorities, the Christians, the various ethnic groups, tribes, the Salafis, the Tuaregs…

Does the nation-state project stand a chance of revival in the Middle East? The possibility of that revival has at least two prerequisites: The first is consensus among the elites, which would be very difficult to achieve now. Political elites have no strong, efficient dialogue channels in countries like Turkey. Once there is no chance of compromise, the natural strategy is to deploy a hegemonic tactic that demands the purging of all competitors. Although there are many examples, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki deserves to be distinguished as the champion in the region of hegemonic strategy. Maliki either deports or arrests any opposition leader he encounters. Recently, he ordered the arrest of Faraj al-Haidari, head of the independent electoral commission. Al-Haidari represents Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party.

For the revival of the nation-state project, the second prerequisite is a careful strategy that establishes a prudent balance between central governments and regions. The strong, unitary state model is a dead alternative in the Middle East, including in Turkey. Thus, some sort of federalist or anti-centralist political model is the only model likely to rescue the state order in the region. If Middle Eastern states fail to satisfy the autonomous demands of regions, chaos will continue.

The rise of regions indeed creates suitable environments for certain transnational agendas. Iran seems to be happy with this, as it has been very successful at increasing its influence in countries like Syria and Iraq. The weakening of the nation-state order and the return of medievalism force regional powers like Iran and Turkey to employ transnational strategies through the various religious or ethnic groups.

The US seems to be happy with medievalism. Obama’s failure vis-à-vis the Syrian crisis should be understood as a display of American contentment with the new medievalism in the Middle East. Of course, the “tacit” (!) US support of Maliki, the leader of the Iraqi Shiites, is the other brilliant example. And, most ironically, Israel has almost been transformed from a modern state into a kind of “Jewish tribe” in its foreign policy by various radical war criminals and assassins like Avigdor Lieberman and many others....

Friday, April 27, 2012

How Obama and the Zioconned ZOG Recycled a Lie about Iran....

How Obama and the Zioconned ZOG Recycled a Lie about Iran....

Exclusive: President Obama has joined much of Official Washington in mistranslating a comment by Iran’s President Ahmadinejad into the provocative phrase, “wiping Israel off the map.” Obama’s falsehood recalls President George W. Bush’s bogus claim about Iraq seeking uranium in Africa, says ex-CIA analyst Elizabeth Murray.

By Elizabeth Murray

In June 2007, Middle East expert and University of Michigan professor Juan Cole remarked that bad translations can sometimes start wars. Professor Cole, in this case, was referring to the misleading, yet widely circulated mistranslated remark by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a speech in 2005 — in which he is purported to have said that Israel should be “wiped off the map.”

This old canard — long dismissed by Persian language experts as a gross distortion of Ahmadinejad’s actual words — is regularly trotted out by Israeli leaders and their supporters as proof that Iran’s regime intends genocide against Israel, thereby justifying a military attack on Iran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at work at his desk. (Credit: Official Web Site of the President of Iran)

However, a literal translation of Ahmadinejad’s 2005 statement would be something like “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,” a reference back to an earlier statement made by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic, as Guardian columnist Jonathan Steele explained in 2006.

Ahmadinejad essentially was predicting that Israel’s rule over Jerusalem would eventually come to an end, much like the once mighty Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s. He and other Iranian leaders have repeated similar predictions since then, but without any suggestion that Iran would attack Israel. [For more, see "Wiped Off the Map - the Rumour of the Century" by Arash Norouzi.]

Earlier this month, Dan Meridor, Israel’s minister of intelligence and atomic energy, conceded the point in an interview with Al Jazeera. He agreed that Iranian leaders “didn’t say, ‘We’ll wipe [Israel] out,’ you’re right, but [said instead] ‘it will not survive. It is a cancerous tumor, it should be removed.’ They repeatedly said ‘Israel is not legitimate, it should not exist.’”

Though the “wiped off the map” phrase is a myth, it has been transformed into accepted wisdom in Official Washington by its endless repetition and remains a frequent refrain of U.S. politicians and the corporate media.

For instance, in an appearance last month on MSNBC, Mark Landler, the New York Times’ White House correspondent, said, “The Israelis feel the window for that [denying Iran the capability to build nuclear weapons] is closing and it’s closing really fast, and if they allow it to close without taking military action, they would find themselves in a position where the Iranians suddenly are in possession of nuclear weapons, which they’ve threatened already to use against Israel.” [Emphasis added]

The last part of Landler’s comment was an apparent reference to the Ahmadinejad misquote, with the made-up addendum that Iran has threatened to use nuclear weapons to wipe Israel off the map. In fact, Iran has not threatened to use a nuclear bomb against Israel and has even disavowed any intent of developing a nuclear bomb. [See’s “Sloppy Comments on Iran’s ‘Nukes.’”]

Also, last month, President Barack Obama repeated the “wiped off the map” fiction in front of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (to considerable applause), all the while assuring his audience of his preference for diplomacy in dealing with Tehran. In his speech, Obama said: “Let’s begin with a basic truth that you all understand: no Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that … threatens to wipe Israel off the map.”

If President Obama were truly interested in the success of diplomatic engagement with Iran, then why would he continue to issue provocative and propagandistic lies about Iran, especially before the start of delicate negotiations between Iran and the UN P5 +1 (Security Council members plus Germany) regarding Iran’s nuclear facilities?

Loose talk and inflammatory propaganda can only cheapen the United States’ international image, inflicting preemptive harm on whatever prospects for diplomatic progress might be in the offing.

The President’s use of a discredited phrase also brings to mind the careless language depicting a “mushroom cloud” bandied about by then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice as part of President George W. Bush’s effort to whip the American public into a frenzy of pro-war hysteria against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

The late Walter Lippman referred to such tactics as “the manufacture of consent.” Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, called it “the Big Lie,” that is, a phrase which, if repeated often enough, would eventually pass for the truth.

Having an Iranian leader call into question the legitimacy of the Zionist system of government in Israel and predicting its eventual decline, of course, may be very insulting and offensive to the powers-that-be in Israel, but it is a far cry from a call to attack or wipe out the Israeli population.

This important nuance — acknowledged by no less than a member of the Israeli cabinet — seems to be missing from the discourse of U.S. corporate media and U.S. politicians. Instead, Ahmadinejad’s criticism of Israel has been deliberately distorted, mistranslated and spun out of context into a physical threat against Israel, ignoring the available factual information that indicates otherwise.

Come to think of it, how did such an inaccurate phrase manage to worm its way into the text of President Obama’s speech to AIPAC? As a rule, presidential speeches are carefully reviewed by experts at the White House, National Security Council and National Intelligence Council for integrity and accuracy. After all, especially in high-profile speeches, the President’s reputation is at stake.

The intelligence officers involved in vetting a speech would have ready access to the Open Source Center’s translation of Ahmadinejad’s 2005 speech from the Persian if they had wanted to ensure the accuracy of the President’s words. Whoever allowed this piece of propaganda to slip through either committed a grave error or had a separate agenda in mind.

This episode brings to mind the criticism of former President Bush for including in his 2003 State of the Union speech a falsehood about Iraq trying to procure yellowcake uranium from Africa – a fiction that helped lead the nation into a costly war and that subsequently brought an apology from CIA Director George Tenet.

In any case, President Obama’s gaffe before AIPAC has certainly done nothing to burnish his reputation (despite the applause it received at the time) because much of the world knows better.

Elizabeth Murray served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Thursday, April 26, 2012

There is a war against Christianity, but it is not being waged by Islam....

There is a war against Christianity, but it is not being waged by Islam....

April , 2012 -- Israeli ambassador lies; claims Israel doesn't spike unfavorable news stories....

In a CBS "60 Minutes" piece on Israel's repression of Arab Christians, Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told one whopper of a lie.... Oren, in his answer to a question posed by veteran CBS newsman Bob Simon about Oren having attempted to "spike" a report on the plight of Christians in occupied Israeli territory by interceding with CBS 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager pre-broadcast, he replied, "There is always a first time."....

The only real chance of acceptance of a Jewish Homeland in the Levant is for a single non-denominational state with equal rights for all. This could have "cantons" of various kinds and a legislature with proportional representation. Otherwise, in the long run....
" CIA, MI6, MOSSAD and the IDF are the greatest self promoters in the world. The US marines run a close third in that race...." Then its the NYTimes and all other MSM fallacies stream Media.

Oren knows full-well that it was not the first time that Israel's international network of hasbara propagandists and Zionist sayanim well-entrenched in media outlets has attempted to kill a story unfavorable to Israel... Oren, aka Michael Bornstein, gave up his American citizenship when he agreed to become Binyamin Netanyahu's ambassador in Washington. Oren, a life-long Zionist, laughably claims he emigrated to Israel from his native West Orange, New Jersey to escape what he described as "anti-Semitism" rampant from the town's largely Catholic residents. Oren is a veteran of the Israel Defense Force and served in Lebanon during that nation's Zio-contrived bloody civil war...

Now, Oren is trying to have his challah and eat it too by discounting Israeli pressure against Arab Christians and the stewards of Christian shrines, monasteries, and churches in the Holy Land so as to not damage Israel's lucrative tourism business from Christian pilgrims to the region.

In the 60 Minutes piece, the Christians of the Holy Land were referred to as the "invisible people," with many trying to flee the onslaught of steady and growing Jewish encroachment on traditionally Arab and Christian lands. The broadcast featured a Palestinian Christian family completely surrounded on four sides by Israel's separation wall on the West Bank.

Oren and his fellow Jewish Zionists, aided and abetted by so-called "Christian Zionists" like John Hagee and members of groups like Christians United for Israel, which are financed by Israeli interests, do not want Americans to see Christians being treated as second-class citizens in an apartheid state. Former President Jimmy Carter knows the hard way what happens when someone dares speak the truth about Israel's racist policies, which affect Palestinian Christians and Muslims, alike.

True to form, the anti-Gentile Oren called the 60 Minutes report "outrageous" and "incomprehensible." Simon said, "I never gotten a reaction before from a story that hasn't been broadcast yet."

In the 1980s, ABC News took tremendous heat from the Israel Lobby when it ran a series of reports on the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith co-opting various law enforcement agencies, including the San Francisco Police Department, to spy on American citizens. Peter Jennings was vilified as anti-Semitic because of his friendship with the Palestine Liberation Organization's Hanan Ashrawi dating from his days as the network's chief Middle East correspondent. ABC was called the "Arab Broadcasting Company" by Jewish detractors. ABC News's coverage of the Middle East changed completely after Disney bought ABC parent Capital Cities, and arch-Zionist and Disney chief Michael Eisner stamped his imprimatur on future ABC News reports, which took a markedly pro-Israel turn.

After the suspicious activities of Israeli "art students" and other Israelis linked to Israeli intelligence prior to the barbaric inside job of the 9/11 attacks were reported by Fox News, the Associated Press, and others, Israel's public relations shill in Washington, Mark Regev, dismissed the stories as an "urban myth." Fox pulled down its four-part series from its website amid a flurry of Israeli and Jewish criticism. A veteran AP reporter described to this editor the threatening phone calls his editor received from a Boston-based Israeli-funded media "watch dog" group, CAMERA or the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America....LOL

Israel supporters also rallied against CBS, claiming that Christians in Israel are the only Christian community in the Middle East protected from "Islamist terrorists." That must come as news to Maronites and other Christians in Syria and Copts in Egypt who have been beset by Wahhabist Salafist terrorists supported by Israel's Lobby in North America and Europe. It is well-known that Syria's Christians have been protected by Assad's governments while Syrian Islamist rebels have received support from Israel and their neo-conservative supporters abroad who nest in such outfits as the American Enterprise Institute and the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. Attacks on Copts in Egypt, including the bombing of a church in Alexandria, have been determined by Egyptian authorities to have been signature Israeli-style "false flag" attempts to garner support for Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak during his final days in power.

A document prepared by an inter-faith group of Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox called Kairos Palestine and issued in 2009, calls Israel's occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem "clear apartheid," echoing President Carter's similar charge. Oren and his Zionist colleagues merely dismissed the document and its authors -- patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops of the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Coptic, Syrian Orthodox, Maronite, Ethiopian, Greek Catholic, Syrian Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, and Syrian Catholic churches -- as all "anti-Semites."

This past Good Friday, as with all Good Fridays since the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, saw Franciscan brothers the world over collect donations in Catholic churches around the world for the Holy Land's besieged Christians and their churches. It was not the actions of Muslims that prompted the appeal for help but the actions of the Jewish state of Israel.

The Israel Lobby has also attempted to infiltrate the Catholic Church by sponsoring or co-sponsoring Catholic prayer breakfasts and other meetings that elicit Catholic support for Israel. It is clear that Talmudic Judaism is uncomfortable with the Franciscan fund raising efforts and the Franciscan Good Friday liturgy that emphasizes that after being given the choice of whether to free Jesus or the Jewish nationalist bandit Barabbas on Passover, the Jewish Pharisees peppered the crowd outside Pontius Pilate's headquarters in Jerusalem shouting their demand that Barabbas be freed and Jesus be crucified. Not content with re-writing the history of the modern Middle East, Zionists are also trying to re-write the New Testament. It is the hallmark of fascism that occupiers are not merely content with seizing a people's land and property but also in erasing their customs, religion, and very birthright....

Monday, April 23, 2012

US, Turkey and Zioconned Iraqi Kurds join hands....

US, Turkey and Zioconned Iraqi Kurds join hands....
By M K Bhadrakumar

There was something very odd when Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Friday that Turkey was becoming a "hostile state" in the region. After all, Baghdad is supposed to be the "soul" of the Arab world and Turkey is supposed to be the role model for democratized Arab nations like Iraq.

"The latest statements of [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip] Erdogan are another return to the process of interfering in Iraqi internal affairs and it confirms that Erdogan is still living the illusion of regional hegemony," Maliki said, adding: "It is clear that his statements have a sectarian dimension, which he used to deny before, but have now become clear, and all Iraqis reject them ... His insistence on continuing with these domestic and regional policies will damage Turkey's interests and make it a hostile state for all."

Erdogan is unused to hearing such tongue-lashing, although the immediate provocation was a remark by Erdogan himself, accusing Maliki of being "egocentric". After a close-door meeting with the visiting Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani in Istanbul last week, Erdogan lashed out, "The current prime minister's treatment of his coalition partners, his egocentric approach in Iraqi politics ... seriously concerns Shi'ite groups, Mr Barzani and the [Sunni-backed] Iraqiya group."

On the face of it, Erdogan was merely being his usual self when he dictated to Maliki how he should rule Iraq. But The Turkish Foreign Ministry has since weighed in with a statement on Saturday confirming Erdogan spoke with deliberateness and that Ankara has definite opinions on how democracy should function in Iraq.

The statement said, "The basis of the political crisis in which Iraq finds itself is that Iraqi politicians seek to consolidate power and exclude others, rather than [follow] politics based on democratic and universal principles. It is a fact that behind the misperceptions that led to the accusations against Turkey by Prime Minister Maliki, who instigated the crisis in Iraq, this wrong understanding of politics can be found."

Axis at work
The tensions between Turkey and Iraq have been steadily building up, and of late they have sharply escalated. The "crisis in Iraq" referred to in the Turkish statement is Maliki's ongoing political battle with Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, which has taken a sectarian Shi'ite-Sunni dimension. In sum, Turkey has waded into Iraq's sectarian politics and is positioning itself on the side of the Sunnis and the Kurds.

Hashemi is currently in Istanbul and met Erdogan before the latter fired the verbal fusillade at Baghdad. But this is only one template of the plot. The fact that Hashemi arrived in Turkey on the final leg of a tour, which took him to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, gives a regional backdrop to what is unfolding. (By the way, Erdogan also just concluded a round of consultations in Riyadh and Doha.)

Indeed, Maliki has been in the Saudi and Qatari crosshairs as well. Riyadh and Doha see him as an Iranian surrogate and make no bones about their desire to have him replaced. They boycotted the recent Arab Summit in Baghdad where Maliki acted as the host.

Thus, the very same regional axis of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar that is working for "regime change" in Syria is also on a confrontation path with Maliki - and the leitmotif is once again isolating Iran in its region.

In immediate terms, Erdogan is also smarting under the perceived slight by Tehran, which frustrated his hopes of Turkey acting as the facilitator of the talks between Iran and the "Iran Six" (also known as the P5+1, the US, Great Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany.) Tehran administered the snub in the full glare of world publicity when it proposed Baghdad as the venue of the next round of talks with P5+1 on May 23. Erdogan's standing as the sultan of the Muslim Middle East took a lethal blow.

Interestingly, following the sharp exchange of words with Erdogan, Maliki left for Tehran on Sunday on a two-day visit. What annoys Maliki most that Erdogan has embarked upon a course of robustly strengthening ties with Kurdish leader Barzani. Ankara promotes an alliance between Barzani and Iraqi Sunni leadership with a view to challenging Maliki's leadership in Baghdad. (Turks ensured that Barzani met Hashemi in Istanbul last week.) Ankara is playing on Barzani's political ambitions as the supremo of Kurdistan, the autonomous Kurdish entity with Arbil as its capital in northern Iraq. At a press conference in Istanbul after meeting Hashemi, Barzani accused Maliki of harboring dictatorial ambitions.

The convergence of interests between Ankara and Arbil is nothing new. It dates back to the imposition of the "no-fly zone" over northern Iraq by the US, Britain and France in the early 1990s. Turkey played a key role in the emergence of Kurdistan as an autonomous region within Iraq.

Today's matrix has a strong economic dimension too: Barzani needs an outlet to the outside world for trade, especially Kurdistan's oil exports; Turkey provides it and, in turn, immensely profits out of it. The business links between the two sides are flourishing and today accounts for more than half of Turkey's US$12 billion trade with Iraq.

On another plane, Turkey is prepared to go the whole hog in promoting Barzani if only he gives a helping hand to muzzle the Kurdish insurgency in eastern Turkey, led by the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which operates out of sanctuaries in northern Iraq.

Barzani was given a red carpet welcome by the Turkish leadership, befitting a head of state. He met Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davitoglu, apart from intelligence chief Hakan Fidan. Barzani has kindled fresh hopes in the Turkish mind that he would do something tangible in preventing the PKK from bleeding Turkey anymore in guerilla war waged from the territory under his control in northern Iraq.

He told the Turkish media, "You won't get anywhere with weapons. The PKK should lay down its arms. I will not let the PKK prevail in northern Iraq ... If the PKK goes ahead with weapons, it will bear the consequences." These words will come as music to the Turkish ears.

Kurdish conundrum
Ankara's dilemma, however, is that Barzani has said such fine words in the past also about cracking down on the PKK, but changed tack once he returned home to Arbil. The hard reality is that the sympathy toward PKK's cause is widespread among the Kurdish peshmerga (fighters) in northern Iraq.

But then, there could be a qualitative difference this time. For one thing, Barzani, who has keen bazaari instincts, knows that Turkey could help him and his family make an incredible amount of money through oil exports via Turkish pipelines, and second, behind Turkey stand the Saudis and Qataris, who will also be prepared to bankroll him.

From the perspective of the Saudis and Qataris, the fact that Barzani can prove to be a thorn in the flesh of Maliki makes him an object of interest. They want Maliki to be weakened to a point that he can be of no meaningful help to the beleaguered Syrian regime. (Maliki has been helping Syria critically with oil supplies and to generally break out of the western sanctions.)

Erdogan made it a point to highlight that he discussed the Syrian situation with Barzani last week. Indeed, there is a major Kurdish dimension to Turkey's Syria policy. For one thing, the specter of the revival of the old alliance between the Syrian regime and the PKK haunts Turkey. In retaliation to the heavy Turkish interference in Syrian affairs, Damascus has begun showing renewed interest in the PKK.

These are low-key moves at present but are ominous enough about what could happen if push came to a shove and Damascus finally made up its mind to pay Ankara back in the same coin. It is relatively easy for Damascus to hit back at Turkey if it takes a strategic decision to do so, because the PKK's leadership comprises Kurds of Syrian extraction and one one-third of the PKK cadres are of Syrian origin.

Conversely, in order for Turkey to step up its interference in Syria in the coming period, it needs to first minimize the scope of retaliation by Damascus. Turkey hopes that Barzani can lend a hand in reaching out to the Syrian Kurdish groups.

Another complicating factor is that Syria's Kurds, who constitute about 10% of the country's population, have been reluctant to align with the Muslim Brotherhood and other Syrian opposition groups unless their demand for an autonomous Kurdish region in eastern Syria (where Syria's oil fields lie) is conceded.

Most of Syria's Kurdish population lives in the arid region of Ayn al-Arab and in the Ifrin agricultural area bordering Turkey. Kurds also dominate large neighborhoods of Damascus and the commercial hub of Aleppo, which lies less than 50 kilometers from the Turkish border. Unsurprisingly, Kurdish autonomy within Syria will ever remain a sensitive issue for Ankara, as it could have a domino effect within Turkey itself.

But the Kurdish groups within Syria are a divided lot and it is here that Barzani comes in. The largest Kurdish umbrella group in Syria, known as the Kurdish National Congress (KNC), enjoys Barzani's backing. If KNC could be persuaded to link up with the Syrian opposition, Turkey would feel far more comfortable.

Indeed, Turkey is encouraging Barzani to convene a national Kurdish conference in Arbil in June with a view to pushing Turkey's interests both with regard to collaring the PKK, as well as encouraging Syria's Kurds to give up their present ambivalence toward "regime change" in Damascus and to decisively link up with the opposition to Assad, which is based in Turkey.

Ankara knows well enough that Barzani is a slippery customer. But what encourages the Turkish leadership is that the United States has also stepped in to ensure that Barzani delivers. The US extended an invitation to Barzani to visit Washington in early April, where President Barack Obama received him.

Taking the cue from Turkey, Washington is also catering to Barzani's bazaar instincts. A US-Kurdistan Business Council has been formed in Washington to promote US "investments" in the territories of northern Iraq under Barzani's control. ExxonMobil's chief executive officer Rex Tillerson met Barzani in Washington. (In November, Barzani awarded lucrative contracts to ExxonMobil to explore six oil fields in Kurdistan, ignoring the loud protests by Maliki's federal government that Baghdad reserves such powers to grant concessions to foreign oil companies.)

While in Washington, Barzani also met Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns (during which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stopped by to greet him) and interacted with influential think tankers. Vice President Joe Biden hosted a "working lunch" for Barzani.

Interestingly, Barzani's tirades against Maliki took a noticeably sharp turn after his visit to Washington. He told al-Hayat, "Iraq is moving toward a catastrophe, a return to dictatorship", and that on his return to Arbil he would call a meeting of Iraqi leaders to "save" the country from Maliki and to seek "radical solutions" (read Kurdistan's secession). Barzani also declared that he wouldn't hand over Hashemi to Baghdad. (Again, at the root of Maliki's discord with Hashemi is the issue of the distribution of Iraq's oil wealth.)

Maliki's spokesman in Baghdad Ali Mussawi called Barzani's heightened rhetoric after the Washington visit as "an incomprehensible escalation." Significantly, Maliki's government has since "blacklisted" ExxonMobil. The company doesn't figure on the finalized list of 47 pre-qualified bidders for the next round of Ira's energy exploration rights in 12 new blocks in western and central Iraq, which would add a whopping 29 trillion cubic feet of gas and 10 billion barrels of oil to Iraqi reserves. The bidding is due to be held on May 30-31.

A card to play
Be that as it may, Barzani felt encouraged after his Washington visit to take to a path of strategic defiance of the federal government in Baghdad. The US extended a warm greeting to him on a scale befitting a head of state and it was heavily tinged with references to Kurdistan's independence.

Conceivably, Washington and Ankara are acting in tandem and there is close coordination of the US and Turkish policies toward Syrian and Iraqi Kurds. For both, the ultimate objective is to weaken Iran's regional influence. The Obama administration hopes that Turkey's efforts against the PKK are successful and is providing intelligence support for the military operations.

Washington also expects that under concerted pressure from multiple quarters, Maliki would finally realize what is good for him and loosen his ties with Iran and Syria. Least of all, Washington would desire that the Syrian Kurds cross over to join the opposition groups based in Turkey so that the agenda of forcing a "regime change" in Damascus gets more cutting edge.

However, there are several imponderables in the emergent scenario. Pushed against the wall, Damascus may let the Kurdish genie out of the bottle and the result could well be a Syrian version of Iraq's Kurdistan - a second autonomous Kurdish area along Turkey's borders. That could in turn induce Turkish Kurds also to seek similar autonomy. The best course for Erdogan would have been to make progress toward a political solution to Turkey's Kurdish problem as he had been doing. But the pre-requisite for that would be a return of "normalcy" in Turkey's ties with Syria and a more stable Iraq.

Arguably, Erdogan is on a slippery path. His acrimonious exchange with Maliki underscores that Turkey's isolation is almost complete in its immediate neighborhood. The weakest link in the Turkish strategy is Barzani himself.

Ankara heavily depends on Barzani to broker deals with the PKK as well as to finesse the Syrian Kurds. True, Barzani has a vested interest in working with Ankara since Iraq's Kurdistan has developed extensive economic links with Turkey and these ties are deepening by the day. But Barzani has his limitations, too.

Everything hinges on his capacity to harness Kurdish nationalism scattered across not only Turkey, Iran and Syria but also Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Lebanon and to convince them that their only realistic hope is to seek increased autonomy within existing state structures on the lines he has secured with American support. That's a tall order. Whether the Kurdish militants will be persuaded to put down their guns and follow Barzani's footsteps remains in serious doubt.

Barzani is a controversial figure himself among the Kurds. Essentially, he is a tribal warlord who uses coercive methods, often very violent methods, to keep his family on top of the heap of Iraqi Kurdistan and his family exercises personal control over the region's land, property, resources and finances. Put plainly, he and his family run a business cartel called "Kurdistan". Kurds increasingly resent that they are being treated as his tenants and serfs.

Barzani's patronage system is predicated on his practice of treating the budget and revenues from Kurdistan's oil and gas as his family's private accounts with no real financial control or accountability. This patronage system is overwhelmingly based on clan rule and it may run only so long as there is no rule of law, but then, Iraq's democratization is spreading its virus into the Kurdistan as well and educated Kurds are beginning to resent the Barzani clan's autocratic lifestyle.

For instance, the 'oil contracts' signed by the Turkish, American, British and other foreign companies are going to be the principal instruments for Ankara and Washington to influence Barzani, while no one has a clue as to what these 'contracts' are about, how they were negotiated or where the money comes and goes. To be sure, Barzani has extensive business interests in Turkey, the US and several European countries.

All said, the bankruptcy of the US policy today is such that it made heavy sacrifices in human lives and resources to remold Iraq as a democratic country and, arguably, the one signal success it had would be the democratization of Iraq. Despite all the aberrations of the Iraqi system, the country enjoys a degree of representative rule, which is an exception rater than the rule in the Muslim Middle East. Now, in a curious twist, Washington is propping up Barzani in order to realign Iraqi political scene to suit its geopolitical interests, completely overlooking his veal track record.

Obama is literally taking a leaf out of Henry Kissinger's monumental cynicism and duplicity toward Iraq's Kurds - pampering their national aspirations as part of a ruthless, deceitful process to destabilize the regime in Baghdad but all the while not wanting their protegees to win their struggle because it could be too disruptive for the entire region, especially for the US's closest ally, Turkey. Barzani has always been, historically speaking, "a card to play" and even by the yardstick of covert operations Obama and Erdogan are locked in a cynical enterprise.

Kissinger, at least, was forthright. Looking back at the US's sellout of Kurds in Iraq in 1975, Kissinger commented, "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work." Obama would probably agree here, but his crucial difference is that Erdogan has showed him how dalliance with the Kurds can also be made self-financing and put on cost-accounting principles, an angle that always fascinates Obama in these hard times.

In short, while Kissinger was immersed in realpolitik, Obama also makes sure American companies do some profitable business in Kurdistan's fabulous oil fields so that the US is sure to be in a "win-win" situation no matter the trajectory of democracy in Iraq or the longevity of the criminal/assassin regime in Damascus...., always working on behalf of the odious and infamous White House Murder INC, in the Levant....despite all appearances....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Imperialism writes a new Zioconned political geography....

Imperialism writes a new Zioconned political geography....,
Western allies of MI6 ‘kept in dark’ over mosque sting plan.

by Jayatilleke de Silva,

[Here, in a nutshell, we have an offhand explanation of the "al-Qaeda" which is more and Al-CIAda phenomenon, as an idea that is hatched within the twisted minds of intelligence agencies and eventually matured into actual "Islamist" terrorists. We have previously tried to explain the term "al-Qaeda" at various times, as a "database," a terrorist cell of several thousand "Afghan Arabs," or even as a non-entity, used as cover for covert spy actions. The following admissions about previously disguised spy agency actions and interactions with known terrorists, reveal that the "Qaeda" has always been a work in progress. If you speak about Qaeda, you must first be speaking to individuals who have a minimum idea about what Qaeda is, or they will not understand the connections between "good guys" and "bad guys." There could be no terrorist bad guys without some good guys standing behind them, handing them the explosives and the guns.

Behind every facade you will find that Qaeda is a contract, a meeting of minds between terrorists and their state sponsors and the paying of some sort of commission to ensure the fulfillment of that contract to commit terror against the "other side." Before the meeting of minds can take place, there must first be some sort of recruitment process, to locate extremists of the proper mindset. That is exactly the process which is explained in the following article. In this case, MI6 set-up a mosque to attract N. African extremists, where they connected with Libyan intelligence and N. African extremists who were recruited into "al-Q in Iraq," from which they were later recruited to carry-out part of the "Qaeda" operation against Libya (who knows whether those called Qaeda in Libya were actually radical recruits or intelligence agents). This information comes from documents recovered from Libyan govt. files, which related the recruitment facts quoted in the London Telegraph report. The so-called "al-Qaeda" suspects described in the report never worked for bin Laden. The military training and equipment which they received came from state sponsors.

The US, Britain and all Zioconned and utterly criminal allied intelligence agencies create Qaeda in order to have someone to wage war against....]

Western allies of MI6 ‘kept in dark’ over mosque sting plan....

MI6 and Col Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan intelligence service set up a radical mosque in a Western European city in order to lure in al-Qaeda terrorists, it can be revealed.

MI6 and Col Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan intelligence service set up a radical mosque in a Western European city in order to lure in al-Qaeda terrorists, it can be revealed.
Britain was encouraging Col Gaddafi to give up plans for weapons of mass destruction ....

By , Investigations Editor...

The joint operation, which was undertaken as Britain attempted to secure a deal with Col Gaddafi to reopen diplomatic relations, shows how closely Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service was prepared to work with his regime’s spies despite widespread allegations of human rights abuses.

At the time, Britain was encouraging Col Gaddafi to give up plans for weapons of mass destruction. Four months later, the dictator and Tony Blair, then prime minister, struck the 2004 “deal in the desert” which ended Libya’s pariah status.

The cooperation extended to recruiting an agent to infiltrate an al-Qaeda terrorist cell in the Western European city, which cannot be named for security reasons.

The double agent, codenamed Joseph, was closely connected to a senior al-Qaeda commander in Iraq and had been identified as a possible spy by the ESO, Libya’s external intelligence service, on a visit to Tripoli.

MI6 began recruiting the agent without telling its allies in the European country where he lived.

The agency agreed a narrative with the agent and the ESO to fool their allies about when and how the agent had been recruited and the operation launched.

Documents seen by The Sunday Telegraph, which were sent from MI6 headquarters in London to Moussa Koussa, the Libyan intelligence chief, give a detailed outline of this subterfuge, the agent’s recruitment and plans for the operation. The papers were left behind in Tripoli as Col Gaddafi’s regime crumbled.

The plan raises questions about the SIS, MI6’s close links with the Libyan regime and whether it was acting on government orders.

Last week it was disclosed that Jack Straw, the then foreign secretary, is facing legal action over claims he signed off the rendition to Tripoli in March 2004 of an alleged Libyan terrorist leader accused of links to Osama bin Laden, claims that had been previously denied in Parliament.

But now it can be disclosed that secret anti-terrorist operations in Europe involving MI6 and Libyan intelligence began four months earlier with a series of meetings in the UK.

In December 2003, “Joseph” and a Libyan intelligence officer were flown to meetings at British hotels to discuss setting up a mosque to attract North African Islamic extremists.

They hoped to gain “information on terrorist planning”. MI6 paid for one Libyan intelligence officer, who had previously worked under diplomatic cover in the UK, to stay in a five-star central London hotel and smoothed his passage through immigration at Heathrow to “avoid the problems he experienced on his previous visit”.

A secret memo sent to Libyan intelligence in Tripoli details an early meeting with the apparently reluctant new agent in a city in the north of England.

“Our meeting in the UK on this occasion was to explore further with ‘Joseph’ just what he might be prepared to do,” it said.

Headed “Greetings from MI6 London” it says: “ ’Joseph’ was nervous. He had had a paranoid walk to the hotel across [UK city] with too much eye contact from passers-by that had unduly unnerved him.

“We reassured him by going over the cover story we had discussed when we met in Tripoli. We would not be seen together in public but, in the unlikely event that anyone saw us in the hotel, I would simply be his business contact. Furthermore, there was no link between the hotel booking and MI6.

“ ’Joseph’ agreed to work with SIS but still required reassurance. A second meeting took place a few days later when MI6 and Libyan officers met ‘Joseph’ at one five-star hotel and then travelled in separate taxis to” a second hotel to ensure they were not being watched.

The memo adds: “We told ‘Joseph’ that under no circumstances was he to tell the [European intelligence service of country where he lived and was planning to operate] of his involvement with us and the Libyans. We would do this when we were ready.”

The agent had, the note says, already been approached by this Western intelligence service but he was told to “stall his meeting” with them.

A strategy was agreed to keep the other Western intelligence service in the dark about the full extent of their contact with the agent.

It added that MI6’s allies would later be told the agent had been recruited “as a result of our ongoing counter terrorism relationship with ESO, [and we] sought to capitalise on the relationship struck up with ‘Joseph’.”

The operation was run behind the backs of Western allies in the chosen city. Critics are likely to question whether it could have backfired, with a terrorist cell launching an attack using the mosque as a base.

The disclosures come in the wake of the accusation that Mr Straw gave the green light to the plan to seize Abdelhakim Belhadj, one of the military commanders who helped to overthrow Gaddafi’s regime last year, and his pregnant wife and put them on a CIA flight.

Secret documents outlining the rendition plan, published by The Sunday Telegraph last February, showed how MI6 tipped off Libya that Mr Belhadj was being held by immigration officials in Malaysia and that the secret CIA flight was scheduled to refuel at an airbase on Diego Garcia, a British sovereign territory in the Indian Ocean.

Once Mr Belhadj was in custody in Libya, Sir Mark Allen, MI6’s then counter terrorism chief, sent a letter to Mr Koussa, saying: “This was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built.”

The evidence contradicted government statements denying British involvements in renditions. Last week Mr Belhadj’s lawyers said they had issued legal proceedings against Colin Roberts, the Foreign Office official responsible for Diego Garcia....

Imperialism, Lenin said, is moribund capitalism. Nevertheless it retains its ruthless character. Outlining the principal characteristics of imperialism he spoke of the political and economic re-division of the World among various imperialist powers.

The aftermath of the Second World War saw the birth of two new phenomena. One was the expansion of the socialist system into all continents. The second was the victory of national liberation revolutions in almost all the colonies.
A new political geography was born. Imperialism never agreed with it and worked day and night without a respite to change it. By the middle of the 1990’s, it had accomplished one objective. That was rolling Communism back. The system of socialist states collapsed with the demise of the Soviet Union and European socialist states. This was not through war but by other means. It is not our intention here to debate whether it was due to imperialist manipulations and subversion or an implosion caused by mistakes of the rulers or both.

The attainment of the second objective was also very important for imperialism. It was the change of regimes in newly independent countries to carry on their earlier exploitation by new means. In other words, imperialism wanted to guarantee unfettered neo-colonial exploitation of the former colonies. If this was not possible due to rulers’ anti-imperialist positions, then regime change was considered as a legitimate exercise disregarding international norms of conduct. No means were spared, including covert and overt war.

Looking back a little over a decade, we see that the Middle East has been the area, which has earned the attention of imperialism to achieve this change. No wonder, since it contains the bulk of the world’s oil resources. Beginning with Iraq, regime change has been accomplished in several countries in the region by war. All these wars have been conducted either through the aegis of the United Nations or through coalitions of the willing comprising the United States and its NATO and other allies.
In this they have ignored the United Nations and International Law and resorted more and more to what is termed as R2P or Right to Protect, a policy, which authorizes external intervention in other countries under the pretext of safeguarding human rights. Thus Iraq was invaded to prevent it using ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ though no such weapons were found despite massive bombings and search operations. In Libya too it was the same pretext. The same methodology is being in operation in Syria and Iran.

War is not the only means used. Actually it is the finale in a series of operations beginning with disinformation, covert operations including the use of special forces deep inside the targeted countries and the use of fifth columns.
While President George W. Bush openly declared his intention of confronting by force some several dozen nations who were considered hostile, President Barack Obama promised a different approach of using American soft power to re-write international relations and earn the goodwill of the World to the United States. However, he has used both soft power and hard power to attain the same objectives.

It is also important to see that under President Obama, the United States have been using its NATO allies and friendly regimes in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members in its programme of regime change in selected countries.
For the same purposes it has also used all available means to contain the Arab Spring or the movement of mass uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere. The United States have carried out a differentiated approach in the countries affected by the Arab Spring. While it went to open war in Iraq and did the same in Libya in a slightly different manner, it used the GCC in Bahrain and Yemen.

It is also important to understand the role played by the media in these operations. Media was an effective weapon in building up support for utilizing the R2P policy. The media monopoly in the service of imperialism was used shamelessly to spread absolute falsehoods. For example it said that Government forces in Libya bombed civilians but could not substantiate the charge despite visuals shown in TV. The same disinformation campaign is carried out now in Syria. Often bombings by Opposition forces are unreported or blamed on the Governments. Once the media spreads the lie, it is easy to legitimize aggression or intervention.

The principle of State sovereignty is undermined, and international law trampled under the heavy boots of imperialism. The result is a new political geography, one written again by imperialism. So far it is only North Africa and the Middle East. Other regions will also be not spared in future....

Anxious to keep lid on Iraq, Obama woos Kurds...

By Alister Bull

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama, facing a damaging election-year problem if Iraq’s political crisis worsens, has launched an urgent behind-the-scenes push to ease tensions between the Baghdad central government and the Zioconned Kurds....., where MOSSAD has established dozens of bases to spy on and infiltrate Iran, Syria and Turkey....

Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurds’ semi-autonomous regional government, paid a quiet visit to the White House on April 4 and left with backing for two long-standing requests that could help build the worried Kurds’ confidence in U.S. support.

Barzani’s heated criticism last month of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has fanned concern the country could splinter, potentially setting off a fresh civil war.

Reuters has learned that to demonstrate U.S. support, the White House and Congress agreed to lift a designation that treats Kurdistan’s two main political parties as if they were terrorist groups, complicating members’ travel to the United States. In addition, the U.S. consulate in Arbil will begin issuing U.S. visas before the end of 2012.

Since withdrawing the last U.S. troops in December, Obama has, at least publicly, put little focus on Iraq, and critics view the latest gestures as not much more than damage control.

But Obama still has a lot at stake in Iraq. If violence explodes, it could tarnish Obama’s bragging rights with U.S. voters for concluding the unpopular war.

And worsening relations between the Shi’ite-led central government and semi-autonomous Kurdistan could thwart White House efforts to lower gasoline prices. The Kurds halted oil exports to Baghdad on April 1, citing a payment dispute.


Barzani last month delivered a sharp denunciation of Maliki’s government and suggested he could seek a referendum of some kind on the Kurdish region’s relations with Baghdad – although he stopped far short of breaking a taboo by making explicit reference to independence.

Analysts say the probability of the Kurds declaring independence is low, although not zero.

“If Kurds were to declare independence in the near term there is a very high likelihood that that would provoke a war with Baghdad,” said Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst.

The White House promises to the Kurdish president “constitute useful takeaways for Barzani but they are probably about the absolute minimum that he would have found acceptable,” said Pollack, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

The goal of the Washington meetings in early April, both the White House and the Kurds said, was to re-commit to a relationship that both value. Obama dropped in on one of the meetings Vice President Joe Biden hosted for Barzani that day.

Biden assured Barzani of U.S. backing for the Kurds, but he also cautioned that Washington could not pick sides between Kurdistan and Baghdad, a senior administration official said.

“Neither relationship can come at the expense of the other relationship,” the official said. “A red line for us is that all this must be done in a way that is consistent with the (Iraqi) constitution.”


Iraq boasts some of the world’s largest oil reserves and could provide essential extra production capacity to help stabilize world oil markets, at a moment when gasoline prices are one of the most pressing issues for U.S. voters.

And while foreign policy hasn’t yet been a major factor in the U.S. presidential campaign, both parties are likely to sharpen their focus on it ahead of the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s killing by U.S. commandos on May 2.

Qubad Talabani, son of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the representative for the Kurdistan Regional Government in Washington, said the Kurdish delegation was happy with Biden’s words of support to Barzani.

“The reaffirmation of the commitment to Kurdistan and the Kurdish people went down very well,” he said.

“For us, we’re naturally an insecure people, and given the history that we’ve had, we’re expecting at some point or another to be let down again,” he said.

The Kurds, severely persecuted under late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, have become increasingly nervous since U.S. troops left.

Indeed, the troop departure was followed almost immediately by a political crisis sparked by Maliki’s demand for the arrest of a Sunni Muslim vice president, who fled to Kurdistan, where Barzani defied the prime minister by granting him shelter.


Critics of Obama’s Iraq policy complain that the White House is primarily concerned on keeping a lid on events until after the November 6 U.S. election.

“I think the administration is of the mind-set of ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ and it wants Iraq to be invisible for the political debate in the United States,” said Ned Parker, a visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

To encourage the Kurds to remain within Iraq’s political process, the administration is bowing to their long-standing plea to amend the status of the main political parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, members of the groups are deemed to be engaged in terrorist activity.

This is not as severe as being designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. But it means that members of these organizations must get a government exemption to visit or stay in the United States.

An aide to Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said Lieberman was working on legislation to remove the designation.

In addition, the U.S. decision to begin issuing visas from its consulate in Arbil from the end of 2012 will save Kurds who want to visit the United States the expense and hazard of journeying to Baghdad to get a visa or traveling to a U.S. consulate outside of Iraq.

State Department spokesman Michael Lavallee confirmed this move, which had been long sought by the Kurds, but stressed in a statement that it was part of a broader effort to “work with the government of Iraq to continue to normalize our consular services throughout the country.”


U.S. officials also offered to help the Kurds in talks with Baghdad to resolve the oil payments dispute and get the exports flowing once again, the Kurds said.

The amounts involved are modest – around 50,000 barrels per day from Kurdistan compared with Iraq’s national output of some 2.6 million barrels, according to published 2011 estimates by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

But the dispute highlights the country’s ongoing failure to agree to a national oil law, potentially dampening the willingness of big foreign oil firms to make the investments necessary to exploit these resources.

The Kurds currently have no independent export route for their oil outside of the central government.

“They have a lot of potential,” said Ben Lando of the Iraq Oil Report. “There are substantial oil and gas reserves but there has not been a qualified number put on that and in many places exploration is still ongoing.”....

Saturday, April 21, 2012

How an Election in Greece Could Cause Europe to Crumble....

How an Election in Greece Could Cause Europe to Crumble....

Yannis Palaiologos,

Anyone anxiously waiting for the Zioconned European Union’s death knell could do worse than circle May 6 on his calendar. That’s when Greece, a nation brought to its knees by an unprecedented economic crisis, is scheduled to hold what promises to be a turbulent parliamentary election. It’s an open question whether Europe’s fragile political balance—and Greece’s tenuous hold on membership in the Eurozone—will survive the subsequent aftershocks. What’s already clear is that life in Greece will never quite be the same.

To gauge the extent of the tumult engulfing Greek politics, consider this: Since 1981, when the socialist party PASOK first won power, its combined share of the vote in national elections with the conservative Nea Demokratia, its main rival, has never fallen below 77 percent, and it often exceeded 85 percent. Recent polls for the coming contest give the two parties a joint percentage that lies between 33 and 40 percent. After the last general election, in October 2009, the two parties controlled between them 251 out of the 300 seats in parliament. Now, if the polls are to be believed, they may struggle to get to the 151 seats needed to form a viable coalition government.

When the present parliament got its start, it had five political parties. Under the pressures of the economic depression that descended upon the country, those five parties have now split into a total of ten. Polls predict that the new parliament will include at least eight. Shockingly, all recent surveys agree that one of these will be Golden Dawn (Chrysi Augi), a violently xenophobic and pro-Nazi organization which has exploited public anger over the uncontrolled influx of illegal immigrants into the country. The far left, meaning the unrepentantly Stalinist Communist Party and the fissiparous Marxists of SYRIZA, are also expecting their fiery anti-austerity rhetoric to pay electoral dividends—they are both vying for a third place finish. A more longshot but not entirely hopeless contender for third place are the newly minted Independent Greeks, a right-wing party that flirts with sectarian Greek-Orthodox rhetoric, which was founded just last February by Panos Kammenos, a disaffected demagogue who quit Nea Dimokratia because of its support for the tough measures accompanying Greece’s second bailout. Kammenos rails against the “foreign occupation” of Greece by its official lenders and calls for Greece’s debt to be erased.

Not too surprisingly, the slogans of the rabid right and the loony left have grown ever more convergent as the crisis has deepened. These “anti-memorandum” extremes—the “memorandum” refers in popular parlance to the terms of the EU-organized loan agreements—display streaks of anti-European and anti-austerity paranoia. They accuse the governments that agreed to the EU bailouts of treason, and suggest the harsh adjustment program imposed on Greece is a Trojan Horse aimed at demolishing Greek workers’ rights and handing over control of the country to foreign investors. More generally, these new parties, on both the left and the right, stubbornly resist any suggestion that the Greeks as a people share any measure of responsibility for the cataclysm that has befallen them. In their story, it is all the fault of foreign bankers and corrupt domestic politicians; the small businessman who never paid any taxes, the civil servant who demanded bribes to do his job, the professional who fought tooth and nail to prevent his sector from being opened to competition, the union man whose inordinate wage demands bankrupted the publicly-owned firm where he worked—these are all innocent bystanders.

In the midst of this populist hurricane, the two traditional parties of power are struggling to remain standing. Nea Demokratia, which opposed the first bailout in May 2010 and temporarily saw a surge in popularity because of it, has grudgingly given its support to the second bailout, and has suffered at the polls as a result. But the party is still expected to come out ahead of PASOK. The socialist party—which has dominated recent Greek politics by posing as the protector of the little guy in the factory, the public services, and the professions—was forced to pass draconian austerity legislation in the last couple of years to appease Greece’s official lenders, and as a result has lost all credibility among its traditional base.

It is likely that Nea Demokratia and PASOK will be the only parties in the new legislature supporting the adjustment program that is a precondition for the funds of the second bailout and for Greece’s continued membership of the euro. The two parties, then, can expect to be besieged by a growing, increasingly boisterous chorus against further austerity, both within parliament and in public opinion. They will somehow have to overcome this resistance (and their own unreformed instincts) to form a coalition that can pass, by June, further cuts worth 11.5 billion euros (more than 5 percent of GDP) for the 2013 and 2014 budgets. This in a society where unemployment has reached 21.8 percent (and a terrifying 50.8 percent for people aged 15-24); where even healthy businesses are starved of liquidity because the banks are broken; hundreds of thousands of employed men and women get their paychecks with a delay of several months. “This is not creative destruction,” notes Theodore Pelagidis, professor of Economic Analysis at the University of Piraeus. “It’s destruction, period. Reform requires a relatively efficient state apparatus, which does not exist in Greece.”

But it’s not just Greek stubbornness that’s responsible for this state of disrepair. Europe’s leaders have also been unduly obstinate, insisting on austerity as the universal solution for the very different problems of each country in the Eurozone. Their obsession with repeated rounds of wage cuts in Greece, where (especially in the private sector) salaries are now well below the EU average, has also contributed hugely to the country’s problems. Combined with the inability of the Greek political system to push through necessary structural reforms—like the liberalization of closed professions and the elimination of business-killing, corruption-breeding bureaucracy—it has created a deadly mix of economic stagnation, social devastation, and political wrath.

Greek voters will go to the polls to take revenge—on the governing parties, the foreign bankers, the Germans, whomever. The sad reality is that if they vote they way they seem inclined to, Greece will be pushed out of the euro. This will have wide financial and potentially geopolitical ramifications, including for the United States. But the biggest victims of the Greek voters’ choice will be themselves.

Yannis Palaiologos is a journalist in Athens, Greece.

In the Middle East, Turkey stands alone, distrusted and profoundly disliked....

In the Middle East, Turkey stands alone, distrusted and profoundly disliked....

A constant in the Zioconned MSM news, create differences, Divide & Rule... to produce more crimes, utter corruption and wars....

Turkish nationalism is matched in Zioconned Europe by broad, barely disguised racism and hostility....

Turkey is drifting into the role of Zioconned Western poodle....

Turkey: The odd man in....???? LOL
By Peter Lee

With a high-profile visit to China, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued his campaign to increase the geopolitical clout of his country.

Turkey has great hopes of emerging (or re-emerging, if one recalls the heyday of the Ottoman Empire) as more than the geographic and economic linchpin of Eurasia. Erdogan hopes to leverage that central position by establishing Turkey as a regional power, a country that can set the agenda for events across the continents.

Judging from Erdogan's trip to China, Turkey still has a way to go.
Hurriyet, Turkey's leading English-language daily, confused Premier Wen Jiabao's given name and surname and covered the visit as: Erdogan meets Jiabao on milestone China trip. [1]

Geopolitics also saw no uniformity on a key issue - Syria. Turkey has turned its back on President Bashar al-Assad; the People's Republic of China is actively engaged in the Syrian peace process.

Nevertheless, at Beijing Airport on April 10, Erdogan told reporters that "China is not in the same position as it was before", ie that it was shifting away from full support of Assad's regime in Syria.

One can speculate that he made his statement at the airport on his way out, so that he could shape the message without fear of any embarrassing contradiction from his hosts.

Optimistic spin was duly provided to Turkey's Sunday Zaman newspaper by a Turkish academic:
I think both [Russia and China] will re-evaluate their positions and take a stand very close to the Turkish one ... Russia and China will not confront Turkey and the West by continuing to support the Assad regime. [2]
Beijing did not respond to Erdogan's comments, at least not directly.

However, China's Syria peace initiative is arguably its most important geopolitical move in the last decade. If China and Russia have any doubts about Assad's staying power, they are unlikely to share them with Erdogan.

On April 12, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlighted a special statement on the Syrian ceasefire:
In order to ease tensions and push forward the political settlement process, China has been engaging the Syrian Government and other parties in Syria in its own way ... China has also stayed in contact with relevant parties such as regional countries, the Arab League and Russia on the political resolution of the Syrian issue. What China has done is effective.

At the next stage, China will work with other parties concerned to continue to actively support Annan's mediation for the political settlement of the Syrian issue, maintain communication and coordination with relevant parties in a bid to play a constructive role for the fair, peaceful and proper settlement of the Syrian issue at an early date. [3]
More to the point, shortly after Erdogan's departure, China gave a high-profile welcome to Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, and provided a full-throated endorsement of the Kofi Annan mission to broker peace.

If there was a message for Turkey in all this, it was that China is directly engaged in the issue, and is not looking to Turkey for leadership.

The fact is, Turkey is very far out on a limb on Syria and, at this point, can only be grateful that the international community has not sawn it off.

Toward the end of 2011, Erdogan apparently saw Syria as another Libya. Turkey had dumped Muammar Gaddafi in Libya when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Arab League, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) lined up against him and Erdogan could claim the credit, such that it was, that the bombing was conducted under NATO instead of French and British auspices.

As demonstrations against Assad and his regime persisted into the summer and autumn of 2011, it looked like Turkey might begin thinking about a new regime-democratic, perhaps with a strong Sunni component, and eager for Turkish tutelage and assistance across its southern border.

Erdogan abandoned his policy of engagement with Assad and joined the chorus calling for his ouster.

In Syria, however, no foreign intervention has materialized out of the expressions of Western and GCC outrage, Assad is still in Damascus, and Turkey, instead of basking in another deft "right side of history" Arab Spring maneuver, is now locked into an agenda of confrontation with a desperate and rather resourceful neighbor.

Turkey has not cut its losses by exploring rapprochement with the Syrian government; instead it has emerged as the patron of the feckless (the Syrian National Council - SNC), the reckless (Free Syria Army - FSA), and the opportunistic (Friends of Syria).

Erdogan seems to be intent upon digging a deeper hole for Turkey with his mouth, talking up the horrors of the Assad regime so that reconciliation will be politically impossible for him.

Upon leaving China, he declared that he would invoke NATO's obligations under Article 5 (to protect a member state) in response to a minor border skirmish that might actually have been provoked by some FSA fighters seeking a haven in a refugee camp in Turkey following an attack that they had mounted.

Erdogan's Syria stance has had other diplomatic repercussions.

Iran, which had traditionally viewed Turkey as a supporter in its wrangling with the West over its nuclear program, called for a shift in venue for the "Iran Six" (also known as the P5+1 - the United States, China, the United Kingdom, France and Russia plus Germany) talks from Istanbul in response to Turkey's pro-Western tilt over Syria, and Erdogan's decision to go all-in supporting NATO missile defense.

Erdogan peremptorily burned his bridges with Tehran by responding, "Because of the lack of honesty, Iran is continually losing its international prestige." [4]

This round did take place in Istanbul, but the next round will be in Baghdad.

Erdogan has successfully placed Turkey on the outs with Syria, Russia and Iran. Since Turkey sources the majority of its energy needs from Russia and Iran, this is no small feat.

If Turkey is seen to be advancing the Western freedom agenda, it can count on coolness from China as well.

And that's not good news for Erdogan, whose political strength relies on delivering economic growth, not diplomatic hassles.

Erdogan's highest priority on his April 2012 trip was business: to strengthen the economic ties between the People's Republic of China and Turkey. Trade is booming, but with China enjoying a major surplus. Therefore, Erdogan brought 300 businesspeople in tow, issued calls for increased Chinese investment in Turkey, and talked expansively of a "New Silk Road", a railway bridging 28 countries and connecting China and Turkey.

At the same time, Erdogan was anxious to demonstrate Turkey's stature (and his enhanced global profile) by visiting Xinjiang, home to 10 million Uighurs who share cultural and linguistic ties with Turkic peoples across Asia.

The imperatives of Turkish politics and geopolitical self-regard have turned the issue of the Uighurs, and the ongoing political and cultural repression they suffer at the hands of the Chinese government, into another crisis point for Erdogan....

In 2009, on the occasion of the Han-Uighur riots in Xinjiang, Erdogan had infuriated Beijing by characterizing the government crackdown as "a kind of genocide". [5]

He also stated that he would issue a visa to Rebiya Kadeer - head of the World Uighur Congress and perpetual thorn in Beijing's side. (Kadeer apparently did not apply for the visa, perhaps much to the relief of the Turkish government).

On his visit to China - the first by a Turkish prime minister in 27 years - Erdogan was keen not to upset the apple cart.

He scored the political coup of visiting Urumqi - actually, his first stop on entering China, before he continued onward to Beijing - but did not antagonize his hosts by posturing as the protector of Xinjiang's Uighurs.

As Emre Kizilkaya, foreign affairs editor of Turkey's Hurriyet Daily, observed dyspeptically on his blog, Erdogan promised Beijing he was "not going [to Xinjiang] to itch the problem".

The most remarkable thing Erdogan did in Urumuqi was apparently allowing himself to be photographed in gaudy Uighur costume carving up a roasted lamb under the solicitous gaze of some local functionaries.

Kizilkaya took Erdogan to task for using the China visit to harp on Syria, instead of succoring Turkey's Uighur brethren:
OK, China was a world power, but why did you go to Xinjiang if you would remain silent about the inhumane repression against Uyghurs? [6]
It is worth noting how powerfully Turkish nationalism - the legacy that Kamal Attaturk bequeathed to his country through intensive indoctrination in schools and media - shapes Turkish attitudes, and limits Turkey's efforts to bestride the world stage.

Kizilkaya fulminates about the oppression of Turkic people thousands of kilometers away in China, while his country struggles with an intractable Kurdish problem at home, exacerbated by the fact that the non-Turkic Kurds are viewed as fundamentally alien to the body politic.

Add to that the fact that in 2009 Erdogan felt comfortable employing the incendiary term "genocide" to characterize the Chinese security operation in Xinjiang, even as his government fights a pitched public relations battle to deny its application to the Turkish nation in the deaths of over one million Christian Armenians through execution, massacre, and death marches in 1915.

Overall, it paints the picture of a country whose international role, at least in non-Turkic sectors, is limited by a profound and institutionalized ethnic chauvinism.

Turkey's natural allies reside in the Turkic stans of Central Asia. In the Middle East, it stands alone.

When Turkey becomes assertive, many of the other nations of the region respond with dislike and mistrust.

Turkey is on the outs with almost every one of its neighbors, with the exceptions of Georgia and Bulgaria: Greece, Syria, Iran and Armenia all have long-standing or recent grudges with Ankara. Add the Shi'ite power Iraq to the list - Turkey recently decided to host the fugitive Sunni Vice President of Iraq, Tariq al-Hashemi.

Kurdish distaste for the extensive, ongoing, and, in the Western press, virtually unreported, Turkish government crackdown against Kurd separatists, activists, and journalists go a long way in explaining why Syria's put-upon Kurds have not joined the anti-Assad rebellion.

Although Erdogan made an unscheduled trip to Saudi Arabia directly from Beijing - presumably to confirm the GCC's continued resolve to push Assad to the wall - he is unlikely to find sincere friends among the Gulf autocracies.

The sclerotic, oil-exporting, Arab, and theocratic/conservative Gulf states are unlikely to welcome upstart Turkey's claim to regional leadership on the basis of democracy, free-market economics, a balance between secular and religious authority, and a professed faith in the validity of popular Arab Spring uprisings against out-of-touch autocrats.

Turkish nationalism is matched in Europe by broad, barely disguised racism and hostility. One of the many reasons that Turkey's application to the European Union has stalled has been a feeling, from Pope Benedict on down to the right-wing chauvinist parties that have sprung up like weeds across Europe, that Turkey is too "non-European" to integrate into the union. [7]

As for the United States, Turkey has emerged as a key asset.

It is the yearned-for moderate Islamic state (now that Egypt is teetering into populism and/or radicalism) that will serve as Israel's regional interlocutor, and the obliging host that will undercut Russia's monopoly in the supply of natural gas to Europe by allowing the Nabucco pipeline or some variant thereof to be built across its territory.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to forget the contemptuous words of an unnamed US administration official in 2003, when Erdogan unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate a $25 billion payment in return for allowing 40,000 US troops to deploy into Iraq from Turkey:
The Turks seem to think that we'll keep the bazaar open all night. [8]
The United States seems to be gleefully egging on Turkey in its Assad-bashing, since the sound and fury of Turkish indignation helps obscure the reality of a do-nothing Western policy on Syria.

Erdogan, for his part, seems to be trapped in a frontline confrontation with Syria without genuine geopolitical backup, and doesn't know how to extract Turkey from the situation without losing face-or starting a war that will leave the region in tatters.

Instead of relieving tensions, Ankara is exacerbating them; and instead of acting as the even-handed middle-man in regional negotiations, Turkey is drifting into the role of Western poodle.

The Economist, which detects imperial rumblings in Erdogan's foreign policy, reported:
"It was this ability to talk to all sides that made Turkey an effective player," says Nikolaos van Dam, a former Dutch ambassador to Turkey. But "now it has chosen sides." [9]
It is a remarkable and melancholy comment on Middle Eastern politics that Turkey has, over the past 12 months, forfeited its primary regional diplomatic asset - its status as the "honest broker" - and China, of all countries, because of its close economic ties to both Saudi Arabia and Iran, is stepping in to try to assume the role.

Erdogan meets Jiabao on milestone China trip, Hurriyet, Apr 10, 2012.
Change of heart in Moscow and Beijing will unlock Syrian crisis, Today's Zaman, Apr 15, 2012.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Liu Weimin's Remarks, Chinese foreign Ministry, Apr 12, 2012.
Turkey's Role in Iran Nuclear Talks Could Diminish, VOA, Apr 16, 2012.
Turkey attacks China 'genocide', BBC, Jul 10, 2009.
Erdogan's China Trip Raise New Questions About Turkey's Foreign Policy, The Istanbulian, Apr 9, 2012.
Pope Benedict and the Buddhism/Masturbation Controversy, China Matters, Sep 20, 2006.
Statement of Gene Rossides, American Hellenic Institute general counsel, AHI, Apr 23, 2003.
Growing less mild, The Economist, Apr 14, 2012.

Peter Lee writes on East and South Asian affairs and their intersection with US foreign policy.
Now we see the real Turkey... US ABM in Turkish lands, the unprincipled moral position in Syria. The dislocation of Iranian ties!

One would guess "once a street walker during the cold war,...always a streetwalker forever and a day?"

Its a shame!
Really before the Arab Spring , Turkey was doing rather well. Now after fumbling upon Syria and Iran , Turkey has lost the position of a serious trustable ally in the region.

On the one hand Turkey opposes Assad in Syria and on the other hand it is just keeping mum about the tyrant in Bahrain for the fear of angering the House of Saud.

Turkey has made issues with countries in the region against whom it could very well have got away of not doing so. There was no need to burn all the bridges in Syria which were built so painstakingly by Turkey.

Turkey again needs to go back to its original position of "Zero problems with neighbors"....
Sorry Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, no country that is the puppet of the west and part of NATO (aka North Atlantic Terrorist Organization) can hope to become a regional power when the masses in the region clearly see that Turkey, like his Saudi and Qatari friends, has become a tool of the west. To become a regional power you must be able to stand on your own feet, and not gets orders from Ms. ZIO Clinton....