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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

When I opened the papers this morning I saw:

Vasil Bilak, Czechoslovak Communist Who Encouraged 1968 Soviet Invasion, Dies at 96

By DAN BILEFSKY

Mr. Bilak was a former hard-line communist leader who paved the way for Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Just a timely reminder following the Syrian’s allegation that the lack of law in his country is not internal/local but external/by occupation – so what in the hell is the Russian meaning when he says  intervention from the outside is “Verboten.”

The Event at the UN, the news building about Showcase Sochi and the spotlight on suppression of democracy in Russia by a new Czar-bound Russian Megaloman who reaches out to the Ukraine and to Syria as steps in his dream of reconstituting the Soviet empire are just pathetic. We found the move to kill the Sochi dogs much worse then the keeping of street children away from Rio de Janeiro during Brazil’s days of glory when they hosted the Climate Change Convention meeting. Death is final even for dogs! In Syria it is for humans as well!

And let us not forget why I was at the UN. These are days the UN is trying to come up with a global regime for the post 2015 era – that will be based on Sustainable Development Goals and the meeting yesterday, with lots of participants trying their best to show that without Rule of Law – or more accurate Rule By Law – and Good Governance – there will be no Sustainability. These are things we advocated years ago and our website has on the right side of the Home-page the booklet – The PROMPTBOOK –  we wrote for the 2002 Johannesburg Summit – so our readers are familiar with our hopes. Encouraging yesterday was that all speakers except the Syrian and the Russian did indeed address the issues and their questions were not plain national propaganda like these two renegade States showed. The Hungarian Chair of the Open Working Group navigated this very well.

The Opinion Pages|Editorial of The New York Times.

 

A Spotlight on Mr. Putin’s Russia.

 

The Olympic Games that open in Sochi, Russia, on Friday are intended to be the fulfillment of President Vladimir Putin’s quest for prestige and power on the world stage. But the reality of Mr. Putin and the Russia he leads conflicts starkly with Olympic ideals and fundamental human rights. There is no way to ignore the dark side — the soul-crushing repression, the cruel new antigay and blasphemy laws and the corrupt legal system in which political dissidents are sentenced to lengthy terms on false charges.

Maria Alyokhina, 25, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, of Pussy Riot, the Russian punk band, are determined that the glossy celebration of the Olympics will not whitewash the reality of Mr. Putin’s Russia, which they know from experience. Charged with “hooliganism,” they were incarcerated for 21 months for performing an anti-Putin song on the altar of a Moscow cathedral that cast the Russian Orthodox Church as a tool of the state.

Such political protest is not tolerated in a nation that is a long way from a democracy. In December, the women were freed under a new amnesty law that was an attempt by Mr. Putin to soften his authoritarian image before the Olympics.

But if he thought releasing the two women from prison would silence them, he miscalculated badly. On Wednesday, they told The Times’s editorial board that their imprisonment, and the international support it rallied to their cause, had emboldened them. They plan to keep criticizing Mr. Putin — they were hilarious on Stephen Colbert’s show the night before — and working for prison and judicial reform. Their resolve and strength of character are inspiring.

There is a lot of work to do, beginning with the cases of eight people who are now on trial, charged with mass disorder at a protest at Bolotnaya Square in Moscow in 2012 on the eve of Mr. Putin’s third inauguration as president. Amnesty International, which sponsored the Pussy Riot visit to New York, where they appeared at a benefit concert on Wednesday, has called for dropping the charges of incitement to riot against the Bolotnaya demonstrators. The Pussy Riot activists dismissed the charges against those demonstrators as baseless and more evidence of “Putin’s way of getting revenge” on his critics.

A Russian prosecutor has demanded prison terms of five and six years for the eight protesters, with the verdict expected a few days before the Olympics end in late February. Ms. Alyokhina and Ms. Tolokonnikova have called for a boycott of the Olympics, or other protests, to pressure the government into freeing the defendants. The most important thing is that the world speak out now, while Mr. Putin is at the center of attention and presumably cares what it thinks.

More broadly, the Russian penal system is in desperate need of reform. The activists described conditions in which prisoners are cowed into “obedient slaves,” forced to work up to 20 hours a day, with food that is little better than refuse. Those who are considered troublemakers can be forced to stand outdoors for hours, regardless of the weather; prohibited from using the bathroom; or beaten.

 

Their observations are reinforced by the State Department’s 2012 human rights report, which said that limited access to health care, food shortages, abuse by guards and inmates, inadequate sanitation and overcrowding were common in Russian prisons, and that in some the conditions can be life threatening.

The Olympics cannot but put a spotlight on the host country, and despite all efforts to create a more pleasant image of his state, Mr. Putin is facing a growing protest. On Wednesday, more than 200 prominent international authors, including Günter Grass, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood and Jonathan Franzen, published a letter denouncing the “chokehold” they said the new antigay and blasphemy laws place on freedom of expression.

Mr. Putin has unconstrained power to put anyone associated with Pussy Riot and thousands of other political activists in prison. But these women and those who share their commitment to freedom and justice are unlikely to be silenced, and they offer Russia a much better future.

As Olympics Arrive, Russia Experiences a Downturn

 

MOSCOW — After President Vladimir V. Putin delivered Russia’s successful pitch to host the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi — in English and a smattering of French, no less — he declared it an international validation of the Russia that had emerged from the ruins of the Soviet Union.

“It is, beyond any doubt, a judgment on our country,” he said then, nearly seven years ago.

Now, as the first events begin, the Games have for Mr. Putin and his allies become a self-evident triumph of Russia’s will. The avalanche of criticism that has already fallen, from minor complaints about ill-prepared hotels and stray dogs to grave concerns about the costs, security and human rights, is being brushed away like snowflakes from a winter coat.

“Its realization is already a huge win for our country,” Dmitri N. Kozak, a deputy prime minister and one of Mr. Putin’s longest-standing aides, said in Sochi on Thursday. He went on to use a phrase attributed to Catherine the Great when she intervened to halt the court-martial of a general who had stormed an Ottoman fortress without orders in the 18th century: “Victors are not judged.”

Aleksei A. Navalny, a critic of Mr. Putin, said the money spent on the Sochi Games represented a missed opportunity. James Hill for The New York Times

The Games are a crowning moment for Mr. Putin, a chance to demonstrate anew his mastery of the global levers of power, but perhaps not for the country he governs. With Russia’s natural-resource dependent economy slowing as commodities prices fall, and with foreign investments drying up, the Kremlin has already signaled that it would have to cut spending. The $50 billion or so lavished on Sochi is becoming a political liability.

Lilia Shevtsova, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, argued that the International Olympic Committee awarded the games to Sochi — over Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeongchang, South Korea — when Mr. Putin was at the zenith of his powers in his second term but when the verdict on his legacy remained an open one. Many had been critical of his authoritarian instincts after he rose to power, including the tightening of news media and political freedoms and the war in Chechnya, but Russia had indisputably recovered from the chaos of the 1990s.

“At that time, Russia was ‘rising from its knees,’ ” Ms. Shevtsova wrote in an essay on the center’s website, “whereas now — in 2014 — Russia has started its downward slide.”

The stalling of the economy, despite the stimulus of Olympic spending, has raised worries about popular unrest directed at the Kremlin and a tightening of political freedoms in response once the Games are over.

Growth last year slowed to 1.3 percent, the lowest in a decade except for during the global recession in 2009, even as other major economies showed signs of recovery. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recently called for urgent changes in labor policies, productivity and a government and legal bureaucracy that now stifle development — all long promised but not enacted.

“Structural reforms to improve the business climate are key to raising potential growth and economic resilience,” the organization wrote in its survey of Russia’s economy last month. “As energy prices stagnate and labor and capital become fully utilized, growth is falling behind pre-crisis rates. Making the economy stronger, more balanced, and less dependent on rents from national resource extraction is therefore a key challenge.”

The sheer cost of the Games has suddenly become a liability even in a political system that allows little room for public debate about the wisdom of government spending.

“It is about a lost chance,” said Aleksei A. Navalny, whose Foundation for the Fight Against Corruption recently published an interactive website charting what critics have called excessive waste and corruption in the construction of the Olympic facilities. “It is about what Russia could have done with this money. We could have had a new industrialization along the same lines as the industrialization under Stalin.
Instead, he added, “it’s just one crazy little czar who chose to throw money right and left in some kind of madness.”

Russia is not about to collapse. Nor does Mr. Putin’s rule face any foreseeable challenge, something even a determined critic like Mr. Navalny acknowledged. Mr. Putin’s approval rating, bolstered by lavishly positive coverage on state television, remains as high as when he first came to office.

Hosting the Olympics, however, seems to have lost some of the luster officials expected for Russia’s prestige at home and abroad, much to the frustration of Mr. Putin’s supporters.

The Olympics have refocused international attention on the hard-line policies Mr. Putin’s government has pursued since he returned to the presidency in 2012 after four years as prime minister, and prompted calls for protests and even boycotts.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

Launch media viewer
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations on Wednesday as the peace conference on Syria opened in Montreux, Switzerland. Pool photo by Arnd Wiegmann

After Mr. Ban urged Mr. Walid al-Moallem, the Syrian foreign minister to be concise, Mr. Moallem said he would conclude soon, adding that “Syria always keeps its promises” but  continued with  denunciations of the opposition and Mr. Ban later lamented that his injunction that participants take a constructive approach to the crisis “had been broken.”

Ahmad Assi al-Jarba, the president of the Syrian opposition, opened with the story of Hajar al-Khatib, 11, who he said was shot by government forces as she rode a bus to school in Rastan near the city of Homs in May 2011. That was in the early days of the protest movement that set off the uprising. “Ten thousand children have died because of the Syrian Army,” he added, singling out not only Mr. Assad but the army, which many pro-government Syrians distinguish from the political leaders as an object of patriotism.

Mr. Jarba has said from the start that the Syrian opposition will never accept a role for Mr. Assad in a transitional government and he wondered aloud if the negotiators that the Syrian president had sent to Switzerland were prepared to contemplate that outcome. “We want to be sure we have a Syrian partner in this room,” Mr. Jarba said, adding, “Do we have such a partner?”

Asked whether the United States had any way of putting more leverage on the Assad government, Mr. Kerry suggested that the Obama administration would support “augmented” support for the opposition, among other options. But Mr. Kerry was vague about those options, and the White House has been extremely reluctant to use force in Syria or to even treat the Syria crisis as its principal foreign policy challenge.

On the sidelines, attempts at dialogue turned to scuffles. Outside, pro-government protesters waved the flags of the Syrian government and Hezbollah and chanted “God, Bashar and nothing else!” An opposition activist, Rami Jarrah, approached them with a television camera and interviewed them. But when he asked if Mr. Assad should be tried for war crimes, they began shouting and pushing.

==================================

We held the above back in a draft format and decided only February 1st to post it.

Now we know that the meetings on Syria in Geneva have produced no results, and we also know that the US expressed its opinion that Syria does not cooperate fast enough according to its commitment to give up its chemical weapons.
What now for the UN? Are we still going to the Sochi Winter Olympics?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 We just received the following release from UNEP, this after we listened to Fareed Zakaria interviewing in Davos the present Egyptian Prime Minister Hazen El Bablawi who seemed blasee to the fact that Egypt is deteriorating – just one more Arab State that seems compelled to love a dictatorship.

Iraq’s environment was destroyed by the oil industry and is now – like Syria – a global basket case. If these countries are not allowed to fall apart and reorganize along more friendly internal lines no amount of help to the environment will have any impact on their future.

Iraq’s dictator put on fire all his oil producing facilities in disregard of his people and the World at large. The best possible environmental recovery process will start with the complete closing of that oil pumping industry. Islamic extremist hot-heads will do little for life in this part of the World where some would rather worship death. Our good friend and well meaning head of UNEP – Achim Steiner – goes to Baghdad and presents the local Environment Minister with a volume in Arabic that tells him what his government could do for a purpose they do not have yet – the environment in which their people ought to be able to live while they are being bombed and shot at daily?

It would be nice indeed if we could center governments’ attention around a worship of Nature rather then the present worship of a religious zeal that sees the enemy in humans and has no value for Nature. Strange – but with every passing day we get closer to the point that we may eventually recommend Vodou (Voodoo)  as the true rational ethics.

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UNEP NEWS: Landmark Agreement Sets in Motion Action to Restore Iraq’s Environment as New Study Outlines Magnitude of Deterioration.

Landmark Agreement Sets in Motion Action to Restore Iraq’s Environment as New Study Outlines Magnitude of Deterioration. UN Top Environment Chief in First Visit to Iraq Says Implementation of Agreement will Bolster Environmental Recovery and Peace-building.      {Peace building did he say?}

Baghdad, 26 January 2014 – In an effort to set in motion robust action to restore Iraq’s fast deteriorating environment, the Government of Iraq signed, Sunday, a landmark agreement with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that aims to speed up recovery and support peace-building.

Iraq’s environment has suffered severe decline in recent years, exacerbated by decades of war and growing pressures on natural resources.

According to a new government study – backed by UN and World Bank data – 5 to 8 per cent of Iraq’s GDP is lost annually to environmental degradation.

At the same time, 39 per cent of Iraq’s agricultural land suffered a reduction in cropland between 2007 and 2009. Meanwhile food insecurity remains on the rise.

The report warns that the quality and quantity of the country’s water has been impacted by upstream damming, pollution, climate change and inefficient usage.

The amount of water available per person per year decreased from 5,900 cubic metres to 2,400 cubic metres between 1977 and 2009.  Decreasing water supplies were exacerbated by drought from 2005 and 2009.

The Tigris and the Euphrates, Iraq’s two major surface water sources, may dry up by 2040 if current conditions prevail.

“Achieving sustainable development is by no means a light undertaking, especially after decades of wars, sanctions and environmental degradation. Rebuilding Iraq’s environmental infrastructure underpins the country’s recovery and peace-building efforts”, said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, on his first-ever visit to Iraq.

“The commitment of the Government to achieve environmental sustainability is clearly articulated in the vision, goals and objectives of the National Development Plan, which places the Green Economy at the heart of development and economic policies,” he added.

The new five-year Strategic Cooperation Agreement with UNEP will strengthen efforts to overcome many of Iraq’s environmental challenges.

Iraqi Minister of Environment Eng. Sargon Lazar Slewa said: ” The Government of Iraq is committed to moving ahead with plans to restore the environment as part of our National Development Plan.  The visit by Mr. Steiner and the signing of the cooperation agreement will expedite and further strengthen this process. The well-being, security and livelihoods of Iraqi’s are dependent on our success.”

Areas of cooperation defined by the agreement will focus on: environmental legislation and regulations; biodiversity conservation; green economy; cleaner production; resource efficiency; combating dust storms; and climate change reporting, mitigation and adaptation.

The signing of the agreement took place at a special event hosted by the Minister of Environment to welcome Mr. Steiner to Baghdad.

It was attended by key figures including cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, members of the diplomatic community and international organizations.

Cooperation between the Government of Iraq and UNEP dates back to 2003, immediately after the establishment of the Ministry of Environment.

Since then, UNEP has worked with the Iraqi Government on multiple projects, including: rapid post-conflict environmental assessments; environmental clean-up of highly contaminated sites; and the restoration of the Mesopotamian Marshlands.

The report, entitled “Iraq State of Environment and Outlook” is available in Arabic only. It was prepared by the Government of Iraq with support from UNDP, UNEP and WHO.

===================================================

Facts and figures from the report:

·         Around 31 per cent of Iraq’s surface is desert. At the same time, 39 per cent of the country’s surface is estimated to have been affected by desertification, with an additional 54 per cent under threat.

·         As a result of declining soil moisture and lack of vegetative cover, recent years have witnessed an increase in the frequency of vast dust and sand storms, often originating in the western parts of Iraq.

·         Population growth is adding mounting pressure to existing food, water and energy resources.

·         By 2030, the population is expected to grow to almost 50 million people, exacerbating these pressures even further.

·         Sustainable access to safe water and sanitation remain a challenge: 83 per cent of Iraq’s wastewater is left untreated, contributing to the pollution of Iraq’s waterways and general environment.

·         Years of conflict and violence resulted in chemical pollution and unexploded ordnances, which is affecting the safety and lives of an estimated 1.6 million Iraqis.

For more information, please contact:

Shereen Zorba, Head of News and Media, UNEP, Nairobi, Tel.+254-788-526-000
or Email: shereen.zorba@unep.org/ unepnewsdesk@unep.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 The following is by now old hat but we decided to post it anyhow – this because it is still the base for understanding the surrealism of the Syria Geneva II meeting that just started with a Montreux, Switzerland,  introductory.

The best reporting we know is that from Matthew Russell Lee reporting from the UN Security Council door:

www.innercitypress.com/syria2montreux012214.html

We believe that Iran belongs to the meeting – so do the Kurds. But Geneva I deemed that the meeting is basically between the Assad government of Syria and a “UNIFIED” opposition delegation that in reality does not exist. The Syrian National Coalition (SNC), that is headed by Mr. Jarba is a Saudi/Qatari pupp.et – they are backed only by half of the Turkey based leadership, and do not include the Kurdish held territory at all. That is the Turks’ contribution to the Syrian/Iraqi mess.
Russia – the other P2 that with the US and the UN is in the driver’s seat of these meetings has its own Islamic problem in the Caucasus and in more central parts of Russia along the Volga river – they like to back the Assad regime for their own reasons but want no part of his other backers like Islamic Mullahs of Iran.

To start making sense Iran will have to come clean on its nuclear dealings with the West – so the US will allow them participation at the Syrian table and this is what we mean by making themselves Salon Clean. Without this there is no progress in their relations with the UN and the West on any issue. They may think that  time is in their favor and might try to play as outsiders against everyone at the Geneva table.

Russia on the other hand does not have the luxury of time – this because of the Sochi winter games and surprise – their internal nemesis are training now in Syria and the US might just decide that if the Russians are not supportive of the West’s goals in the Middle East – why play their ski slopes at all? That would be a terrible set-back to ambitious Mr. Putin.

The drama is thus that nobody gives a damn about Syrian lives when pursuing  their own particular goals and our true cynicism is revealed in the greater interest we saw in the Davos World Economic Forum meeting then in any of the Middle East negotiations.

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U.N. Invites Iran to Syria Talks, Raising Objections From the U.S.

The announcement by Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, that he had invited Iran to a peace conference to end the war in Syria drew strong objections on Sunday from American officials, who suggested that Iran had not met all the conditions for attending and that the invitation might need to be withdrawn.

At the heart of the dispute is whether Iran has accepted the terms of the talks, which begin Wednesday in Montreux, Switzerland: to establish “by mutual consent” a transitional body to govern Syria. Mr. Ban said he had been privately assured that Iranian officials “welcome” those rules and that they had pledged to play “a positive and constructive role.”

American officials said they had been in regular communication with the United Nations over the requirements Iran would need to meet to be invited, but they appeared to have been caught off guard by Mr. Ban’s hastily organized news conference. They pointed out that Iran had not publicly accepted the formal mandate for the conference, which was agreed upon in Geneva in 2012 and is known as the Geneva communiqué.

“If Iran does not fully and publicly accept the Geneva communiqué, the invitation must be rescinded,” Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Officials in Washington emphasized that Iran had made no such public statement at the time of Mr. Ban’s news conference. It was expected to release one early Monday.

If Iran has accepted the Geneva terms, it would be a sharp turnaround, since it has long insisted that it will participate in talks only if there are no preconditions. Still, such a shift would not necessarily mean Tehran had accepted that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office.

Some 30 countries have been invited to Montreux for what may be a largely ceremonial opening day of the peace talks. Two days later, Syria’s government and opposition delegations will move to Geneva to continue the deliberations, mediated by a United Nations special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi.

Diplomats and Middle East analysts say that if there are any breakthroughs, they will take place in Geneva. The negotiations are not expected to yield major results, except perhaps to open up certain parts of Syria to the delivery of humanitarian aid, which has been long denied.

Iran’s participation has been a subject of intense diplomatic wrangling for several weeks. Mr. Ban and Mr. Brahimi have insisted that Iran, given its considerable influence over the Assad government, should be part of the negotiations. So has the Syrian government’s other major ally, Russia.

The United States has long been wary of Iran’s intentions. Tehran has been one of the Assad government’s staunchest political and military supporters, sending arms to Damascus and encouraging Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia, to join the fight on the side of Mr. Assad.

As recently as last Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry complained that Iran was, effectively, a belligerent in the conflict.

“Iran is currently a major actor with respect to adverse consequences in Syria,” Mr. Kerry said. “No other nation has its people on the ground fighting in the way that they are.”

On Sunday, Ms. Psaki added in her statement, “We also remain deeply concerned about Iran’s contributions to the Assad regime’s brutal campaign against its own people, which has contributed to the growth of extremism and instability in the region.”

Iran’s inclusion has the potential to turn the Syria peace talks into a platform for intensifying Middle East conflicts. Also represented will be Saudi Arabia, Iran’s chief rival.

Andrew J. Tabler, an expert on Syria at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Iran’s presence “seems to widen the circle of regional involvement.” But he also noted that Iran and the United States could be expected to hold diametrically opposed views as to whether Mr. Assad must give up power.

“Given that Iranian forces and their Shia militias are deployed on the ground backing up Assad, it means another Assad backer will be present at this meeting,” Mr. Tabler said.

Syria’s political opposition said in a Twitter message that it would not attend unless Mr. Ban withdrew Iran’s invitation.

“The Syrian coalition announces that they will withdraw their attendance in Geneva 2 unless Ban Ki-moon retracts Iran’s invitation,” the Twitter message said, quoting Louay Safi, a coalition spokesman.

The ultimatum came just a day after the coalition, facing a boycott by a third of its members, had voted to send a delegation to the peace talks. The opposition has been under intense international pressure, including from the United States government, to participate.

Mr. Ban said Sunday that he had spoken extensively with Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“He has assured me that, like all the other countries invited to the opening-day discussions in Montreux, Iran understands that the basis of the talks is the full implementation of the 30 June, 2012, Geneva communiqué,” Mr. Ban said.

“Foreign Minister Zarif and I agreed that the goal of the negotiations is to establish by mutual consent a transitional governing body with full executive powers,” he added. “It was on that basis that Foreign Minister Zarif pledged that Iran would play a positive and constructive role in Montreux.”

Somini Sengupta reported from New York, and Michael R. Gordon from Washington.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

Uri Avnery

January 18, 2013

           

 

                                                The Imperator

 

IN THE middle of the 70s, Ariel Sharon asked me to arrange something for him – a meeting with Yasser Arafat.

 

A few days before, the Israeli media had discovered that I was in regular contact with the leadership of the PLO, which was listed at the time as a terrorist organization.

 

I told Sharon that my PLO contacts would probably ask what he intended to propose to the Palestinians. He told me that his plan was to help the Palestinians to overthrow the Jordanian monarchy, and turn Jordan into a Palestinian state, with Arafat as its president.

 

What about the West Bank?” I asked.

 

Once Jordan becomes Palestine, there will no longer be a conflict between two peoples, but between two states. That will be much easier to resolve. We shall find some form of partition, territorial or functional, or we shall rule the territory together.” 

 

My friends submitted the request to Arafat, who laughed it off. But he did not miss the opportunity to tell King Hussein about it. Hussein disclosed the story to a Kuwaiti newspaper, Alrai, and that’s how it came back to me.

 

 

SHARON’S PLAN was revolutionary at the time. Almost the entire Israeli establishment – including Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres – believed in the so-called “Jordanian option”: the idea that we must make peace with King Hussein. The Palestinians were either ignored or considered arch-enemies, or both.

 

Five years earlier, when the Palestinians in Jordan were battling the Hashemite regime there, Israel came to the aid of the king at the request of Henry Kissinger. I proposed the opposite in my magazine: to aid the Palestinians. Sharon later told me that he, a general at the time, had asked the General Staff to do the same, though for a different end. My idea was to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank, his was to create it in the East Bank.

 

(The idea of turning Jordan into Palestine has a generally unknown linguistic background. In Hebrew usage, “Eretz Israel” is the land on both sides of the Jordan River, where the ancient Hebrew tribes settled according to the Biblical myth. In Palestinian usage, “Filastin” is only the land on the West side of the river. Therefore is quite natural for ignorant Israelis to ask the Palestinians to set up their state beyond the Jordan. For Palestinians, that means setting up their state abroad.)

 

 

AT THE time, Sharon was in political exile.

 

In 1973 he left the army, after realizing that he had no chance of becoming Chief of Staff. This may seem odd, since he was already recognized as an outstanding battlefield commander. The trouble was that he was also known as an insubordinate officer, who despised his superiors and his peers (as well as everybody else.) Also, his relationship with the truth was problematical. David Ben-Gurion wrote in his diary that Sharon could be an exemplary military officer, if only he could abstain from lying.

 

When he left the army, Sharon almost single-handedly created the Likud by unifying all the right-wing parties. That’s when I chose him the first time as Haolam Hazeh’s Man of the Year and wrote a large biographical article about him. A few days later, the Yom Kippur War broke out, and Sharon was drafted back into the army. His part in it is considered by many as pure genius, by others as a story of insubordination and luck. A photo of him with his head bandaged became his trademark, though it was only a slight wound caused by hitting his head on his command vehicle. (To be fair, he was really wounded in battle, like me, in 1948.)

 

After the Yom Kippur war, the argument about his part in that war became the center of “the battle of the generals”. He started to visit me at my home to explain his moves, and we became quite friendly.

 

He left the Likud when he realized that he could not become its leader as long as Menachem Begin was around. He started to chart his own course. That’s when he asked for the meeting with Arafat.

 

He was thinking about creating a new party, neither right nor left, but led by him and “outstanding personalities” from all over the political landscape. He invited me to join, and we had long conversations at his home.

 

I must explain here that for a long time I had been looking for a person with military credentials to lead a large united peace camp. A leader with such a background would make it much easier for us to gain public support for our aims. Sharon fitted the recipe. (As Yitzhak Rabin did later.) Yet during our conversations it became clear to me that he had basically remained a right-winger.

 

In the end Sharon set up a new party called Shlomtzion (“Peace of Zion”), which was a dismal failure on election day. The next day, he rejoined the Likud.

 

The Likud had won the elections and Begin became Prime Minister. If Sharon had hoped to be appointed Minister of Defense, he was soon disabused. Begin did not trust him. Sharon looked like a general who might organize a coup. The powerful new Finance Minister said that if Sharon became commander-in-chief, he would “send his tanks to surround the Knesset.”

 

(There was a joke making the rounds at the time:  Defense Minister Sharon would call for a meeting of the General Staff and announce: “Comrades, tomorrow morning at 06.00 we take over the government!” For a moment the audience was dumfounded, and then it broke out into riotous laughter.)

 

However, when Begin’s preferred Defense Minister, the former Air Force chief Ezer Weizman, resigned, Begin was compelled to appoint Sharon as his successor. For the second time I chose Sharon as Haolam Hazeh’s Man of the Year. He took this very seriously and sat with me for many hours, in several meetings at his home and office, in order to explain his ideas.

 

One of them, which he expounded at the same time to the US strategic planners, was to conquer Iran. When Ayatollah Khomeini dies, he said, there will begin a race between the Soviet Union and the US to determine who will arrive first on the scene and take over. The US is far away, but Israel can do the job. With the help of heavy arms that the US will store in Israel well before, our army will be in full possession before the Soviets move. He showed me the detailed maps of the advance, hour by hour and day by day.

 

This was typical Sharon, His vision was wide and all-embracing. His listener was left breathless, comparing him to the ordinary little politicians, devoid of vision and breadth. But his ideas were generally based on abysmal ignorance of the other side, and therefore came to naught.

 

 

AT THE same time, nine months before the Lebanon War, he disclosed to me his Grand Plan for a new Middle East of his making. He allowed me to publish it, provided I did not mention him as the source. He trusted me.

 

Basically it was the same as the one he wanted to propose to Arafat.

 

The army would invade Lebanon and drive the Palestinians from there to Syria, from whence the Syrians would drive them into Jordan. There the Palestinians would overthrow the king and establish the State of Palestine.

 

The army would also drive the Syrians out of Lebanon. In Lebanon Sharon would choose a Christian officer and install him as dictator. Lebanon would make official peace with Israel and in effect become a vassal state.

 

I duly published all this, and nine months later Sharon invaded Lebanon, after lying to Begin and the cabinet about his aims. But the war was a catastrophe, both militarily and politically.

 

Militarily it was a demonstration of “the Peter principle” – the brilliant battle commander was a miserable strategist. No unit of the Israeli army reached its objective on time, if at all. The Israeli-installed dictator, Bachir Gemayel, was assassinated. His brother and successor signed a peace treaty with Israel, which has been completely forgotten by now. The Syrians remained in Lebanon for many years to come. The Israeli army extricated itself after a guerrilla war that lasted 18 full years, during which the despised and downtrodden Shiites in Israeli-occupied South Lebanon became the dominant political force in the country.

 

And, worst of all, in order to induce the Palestinians to flee, Sharon let the barbarous Christian Phalangists into the Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila, where they committed a terrible massacre. Hundreds of thousands of outraged Israelis protested in Tel Aviv, and Sharon was dismissed from the defense ministry.

 

At the height of the Battle of Beirut I crossed the lines and met with Yasser Arafat, who had become Sharon’s Nemesis. Since then, Sharon and I did not exchange a single word, not even greeting each other.

 

 

IT LOOKED like the end of Sharon’s career. But for Sharon, every end was a new beginning.

 

One of his media vassals, Uri Dan (who had started his career in Haolam Hazeh) once coined a prophetic phrase: “Those who don’t want him as Chief of Staff, will get him as Minister of Defense. Those who don’t want him as Minister of Defense, will get him as Prime Minister.” Today one could add: “Those who did not want him as Prime Minister, are getting him as a national icon.”  

 

An ex-general, Yitzhak Ben-Israel, told me yesterday: “He was an Imperator!” I find this a very apt description.

 

Like a Roman imperator, Sharon was a supreme being, admired and feared,

generous and cruel, genial and treacherous, hedonistic and corrupt, a victorious general and a war criminal, quick to make decisions and unwavering once he had made them, overcoming all obstacles by sheer force of personality.

 

One could not meet him without being struck by the sense of power he emanated. Power was his element.

 

He believed that destiny had chosen him to lead Israel. He did not think so – he knew. For him, his personal career and the fate of Israel were one and the same. Therefore, anyone who tried to block him was a traitor to Israel. He despised everyone around him – from Begin down to the last politician and general.

 

His character was formed in his early childhood in Kfar Malal, a communal village which belonged to the Labor party. His mother, Vera, managed the family farm with an iron will, quarreling with all the neighbors, the village institutions and the party. When little Arik was injured in a fall on a pitchfork, she did not take him to the village clinic, which she hated, but put him on a donkey and led him for several kilometers to a doctor in Kfar Saba.

 

When rumor had it that the Arabs in neighboring villages were planning an attack, little Arik was hidden in a haystack.

 

Later in life, when his mother (who still managed the farm) visited his new ranch and saw a low wall with holes for irrigation, she exclaimed: “Ah, you have embrasures! Very good, you can shoot through them at the Arabs!”

 

How could a poor army officer acquire the largest ranch in the country? Simple: he got it as a gift from an Israeli-American billionaire, with the help of the finance minister. Several dubious large deals with other billionaires followed.

 

 

SHARON WAS the most typical Israeli one could imagine, embodying the saying (to which I modestly claim authorship): “If force does not work, try more force.”

 

I was therefore very surprised when he came out in favor of the law dispensing with the military service of tens of thousands of orthodox youngsters. “How can you?” I asked him. His answer: “I am first of all a Jew, and only after that an Israeli!” I told him that for me it was the other way round.

 

Ideologically, he was the pupil and successor of David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan, leaders who believed in military force and in expanding the territory of Israel without limit. His military career started for real in the 1950s when Moshe Dayan put him in charge of an unofficial outfit called Unit 101, which was sent across the border to kill and destroy, in retaliation for similar actions committed by Arabs. His most famous exploit was the massacre of Qibya village in 1953, when 49 innocent villagers were buried under the houses which he blew up.

 

Later, when requested to put an end to “terrorism” in Gaza, he killed every Arab who was caught with arms. When I later asked him about killing prisoners, he answered: “I did not kill prisoners. I did not take prisoners!”

 

At the beginning of his career as commander he was a bad general. But from war to war he improved. Unusual for a general, he learned from his mistakes. In the 1973 war he was already considered the equal of Erwin Rommel and George Patton. It also became known that between the battles he gorged himself on seafood, which is not kosher.

 

 

THE MAIN endeavor of his life was the settlement enterprise. As army officer, politician and successively chief of half a dozen different ministries, his central effort was always to plan and set up settlements in the occupied territories.

 

He did not care whether they were legal or illegal under Israeli law (all of them, of course, are illegal under international law, for which he did not give a damn).

 

He planned their location, with the aim of cutting the West Bank into ribbons which would make a Palestinian state impossible. Then he rammed it through the cabinet and the ministries. Not for nothing was he nicknamed “the Bulldozer”.

 

The “Israel Defense Army” (its official Hebrew name) turned into the “Settlers Defense Army”, sinking slowly in the morass of the occupation.

 

However, when settlements obstructed his plans, he had no compunction about destroying them. When he was in favor of peace with Egypt, in order to concentrate on the war with the Palestinians, he destroyed the entire town of Yamit in North Sinai and the adjacent settlements. Later he did the same to the settlements in the Gaza Strip, attracting the enduring hatred of the settlers, his erstwhile proteges. He acted like a general who is ready to sacrifice a brigade to improve his overall strategic position. 

 

 

WHEN HE died last week, after lying in a coma for eight years, he was eulogized by the very people he despised, and turned into a shallow folk hero. The Ministry of Education compared him to Moses.

 

In real life he was a very complex person, as complex as Israel. His personal history is interwoven with the history of Israel.

 

His main legacy was catastrophic: the scores of settlements which he implanted all over the West Bank – each of them a landmine which will have to be removed at great risk when the time comes.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

 

 

 Gibson Bible Atlas   —  Canaan before Abraham

Copyright 1927, 2003

The land of Canaan before Abraham

Annexation and the return of the one-state solution.

Monday, January 6, 2014 – published by the Palestine Center, The Jerusalem Fund, Washington DC – Written by Jack LeVine it was previously posted by Al Jezeera.www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/display/ContentDetails/i/43942/pid/895

 

From time to time, the Palestine Center distributes articles it believes will enhance understanding of the Palestinian political reality. The following article is by Mark LeVine was published by Al Jazeera on 2 January 2014.

Mark LeVine writes what he writes – and we like to extend it to its logical target – the establishment of an Abrahamic State that is neither Jewish nor Muslim, in parts of the pre-Abraham Land of Canaan,  and to allow our readers the right to think for themselves and decide if this albatross can fly:

“Annexation and the return of the one-state solution

It was yet another slap in the face of the United States, Israel’s main patron without whom its existence, never mind its ability to maintain an ever intensifying occupation without fear of mentionable consequence, would be very much in question.

In direct response to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempt to establish a set of “security arrangements” that would, some day (Kerry apparently is suggesting after another decade), allow some level of Palestinian control over the security of the West Bank (wasn’t that supposed to happen during Oslo?  And isn’t it in fact already the de jure arrangement in Areas A and B?),  the Ministerial Legislative Committee voted to annex the Jordan Valley permanently to Israel.

Modus operandi

This is, by no means, the first vote or decision taken by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu government to challenge the Obama Administration’s attempts to play at peace-making in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In fact, announcing settlement expansion plans whenever a senior US official is visiting Israel to “jumpstart” or “save” the “peace process” has long been standard operating procedure for the Israeli government, as the Obama Administration learned early in 2010 when Vice President Joe Biden was greeted upon arriving in Israel with the “highly inflammatory announcement” of plans for 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem. The Americans feigned anger at the “brutally contemptuous rebuff” to their good-faith efforts to resuscitate Oslo, but no one should have been surprised at the actions of  Netanyahu then, or now. Indeed, Netanyahu has been outmanoeuvering Obama since day one of the relationship.

This latest slap in the face comes after PA President Mahmoud Abbas once again “renounced claims” to Israel within its 1967 borders, this time singling out the one-time Palestinian-populated towns of Jaffa and Haifa, and accepted on-going settlement construction in return for freeing Palestinian prisoners. A few hundred Palestinian “detainees” are wonderful bargaining chips to play in lieu of actual policy changes whenever negotiations get serious.

Not surprisingly, the vote on annexation provoked the usual outcries by Palestinian officials, who decried the “indifference” to and “disrespect” for international law the vote represented.

Falling on deaf ears

This evaluation is certainly true, although the PA attacking Israel for disregarding international law is about as meaningful as the US criticising Saudi Arabia for refusing to let women drive. That is to say, it’s utterly devoid of meaning as long as they continue business as usual, which for the PA means doing whatever is necessary to keep the foreign aid, and salaries, flowing through its coffers.

But this latest attempt to annex the West Bank, as 2013 came to a close, offers both a tantalising glimpse of the future of Israel/Palestine and a good opportunity for Palestinians to start the New Year off in a way that throws the Israeli government back on its heels.  It could also turn the tide in the century-long conflict over the territory of Mandate-era Palestine.  It was not the PA, however, but the liberal Zionist Party Meretz that have taken the lead in doing so however.

Rather than denouncing the latest attempt to annex the West Bank as marking yet another nail in the coffin of a long rotted Oslo peace process, Meretz publicly declared it would no longer oppose votes to annex the Jordan Valley, which increases the likelihood such a vote could in fact pass the Knesset.

Meretz leaders have neither suddenly become territorial maximalists nor have they joined the one or bi-state camp that most self-described Zionists, regardless of how comparatively liberal their politics (from an Israeli perspective), still broadly refuse to support. But I don’t buy the refusal of Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon even to discuss a one-state future as reflecting the true nature of the shift inside Israeli liberal politics.  As the Israeli right becomes ever bolder in asserting territorially maximalist policies, and the religious establishment more blatantly bigoted, there is simply less space for liberal Zionists to operate as both liberal and Zionist.

The fact is that soon Israeli liberals, who are still a sizable minority of the population, are either going to vote with their heads or their feet – if the mainstream of Israeli political culture keeps moving to the right. A democratic state with rough demographic parity with Palestinians suddenly would offer a more positive alternative than an ultra-chauvinistic Jewish state that holds them in almost as much scorn as it does “Arabs” and “Africans”.

A new coalition?

The question is: When will the majority of Palestinians, who long ago lost faith in Oslo and in their hearts would prefer a one-state solution, give up the two-state illusion and come out in force demanding precisely what the Ministerial Legislative Committee voted to do – be annexed to Israel, and have the same voting rights as their fellow Palestinians across the quickly evaporating Green Line. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned of just this eventuality as the doomsday scenario facing Zionism, which is why a man who did more than almost anyone to create a Jewish-dominated Jerusalem became a firm supporter of two-states.

The PA will never go down this route because it would mean its dissolution and the loss of jobs, money and power for the entire political class, and perhaps the fatal weakening of Fatah along with it. Neither, strangely, would Hamas accept it as it would become moot in a one or bi-national solution.

Of course, while the Israeli right would actually welcome Palestinian acquiescence to the annexation of the West Bank, whose population can be absorbed into Israel without creating a Palestinian majority, their plan for a Greater Israel specifically excludes Gaza, whose incorporation would tip the demographic balance immediately, and permanently, in the Palestinian’s favour. A test of wills and political strategisation would emerge between the two sides as to whether Israel could convince West Bank Palestinians permanently to separate their fortunes from benighted Gaza, or Palestinians once “inside” Israel would constitute a large enough force with 1948 Palestinians and liberal/left Israeli to push, however fitfully, for a bi-national or even parallel states solution.

This leads to a final question:Will 2014 be the year Palestinian and Israeli exhaustion with Oslo and fear of a bleak and chauvinistic future creates the unstoppable force that finally buries Oslo and moves both peoples, and the land they inevitably share, towards a common future?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.

Click here for more Reports and Commentary of the site we tapped.

To view this article online, please go to:
www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/01/annexation-return-one-state-solution-2014125435732443.html.

==================================================

And an Israeli description of what it looks like now in the Israeli political arena – the Uri Avnery article of this week –
that in the “Gush Shalom” publication was titled more to the point as BIBI & LIBI & TIBI – referring to Dr. Ahmad Tibi, Currently a Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, who defines himself as  Arab-Palestinian in nationality, and Israeli in citizenship – thus trying to make sense in a situation that he sees himself as directing his party Arab Movement for Change (Ta’al), an Arab party in Israel, to full rights within Israel.
He is for the two State solution but wants to be an Israeli as well. Can he be the bridge to a One-State solution as well?

 

Uri Avnery

 

January 11, 2014

 

 

 

                                             Bibi & Libie

 

 

 

PERHAPS I am too stupid, but for the heck of me I cannot understand the sense of the Israeli demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

 

On the face of it, it seems like a clever trick by Binyamin Netanyahu to divert attention from the real issues. If so, the Palestinian leadership has fallen into a trap.

 

 

Instead of talking about the independence of the putative State of Palestine and its borders, its capital in Jerusalem, the removal of the settlements, the fate of the refugees and the solution of the many other problems, they quarrel endlessly about the definition of Israel.

 

 

One is tempted to call out to the Palestinians: what the hell, accord them this damn recognition and be done with it! Who cares!?

 

 

 

THE ANSWER of the Palestinian negotiators is twofold.

 

 

First, recognizing Israel as a Jewish State would be an act of betrayal towards the million and a half Palestinians who are citizens of Israel, If Israel is a Jewish State, where does that leave them?

 

 

Well, that problem could be solved by a provision in the peace treaty stating that irrespective of anything else in the agreement, the Palestinian citizens of Israel will enjoy full equality in every respect.

 

 

Second, that the recognition of Israel’s Jewishness would block the return of the refugees.

 

 

That argument is even less valid than the first. The solution of the refugee problem will be a central plank of the treaty. The Palestinian leadership, at the time of Yasser Arafat, already tacitly accepted that the solution will be an “agreed” one, so that any return will be at most symbolic. The recognition issue will not affect it.

 

 The debate on this Israeli demand is entirely ideological. Netanyahu demands that the Palestinian people accept the Zionist narrative. The Palestinian refusal is based on the Arab narrative, which contradicts the Zionist one on practically every single event that happened during the last 130 years, if not the last 5000.

 

 Mahmoud Abbas could just come forward and announce:  OK, if you accept our practical demands, we shall recognize Israel as whatever you want – a Buddhist State, a Vegetarian State, you name it.

 

 On September 10, 1993 – which happened to be my 70th birthday – Yasser Arafat, on behalf of the Palestinian people, recognized the State of Israel, in return for the no less momentous recognition of the Palestinian people by Israel. Implicitly, each side recognized the other as it is. Israel defined itself in its founding document as a Jewish State. Ergo, the Palestinians have already recognized a Jewish State. 

 

 By the way, the first step towards Oslo was made by Arafat when he told his representative in London, Said Hamami, to publish in the “Times” of London on December 17, 1973,  a proposal for a peaceful solution, which stated among other things that “the first step must be the mutual recognition of these two sides. The Jewish-Israelis and the Palestinian-Arabs must recognize each other as peoples with all the rights of peoples.”

 

 I saw the original draft of this statement with corrections in Arafat’s hand.

 

 

 

 THE PROBLEM of the Palestinian minority in Israel – about 20% of Israel’s eight million citizens – is very serious, but it has now acquired a humorous twist.

 

 Since his acquittal from corruption charges and return to the Foreign Office, Avigdor Lieberman is at it again. He has come out supporting John Kerry’s peace efforts, much to the chagrin of Netanyahu, who does not.

 

 Why, for heaven’s sake? Lieberman aspires to become prime minister some day, as soon as possible. For this he has to (1) unite his “Israel Our Home” party with the Likud, (2) become leader of the Likud, (3) win the general elections. But over all these there hovers (4): obtain the approval of the Americans. So Lieberman now supports the American effort and peace.

 

 Yes, but under one condition: that the US accept his master plan for the Jewish State. 

 

 This is a masterpiece of constructive statesmanship. Its main proposal is to move the borders of Israel – not eastward, as could be expected from an arch-nationalist, but westward, slimming Israel’s narrow hips even further, to a mere 9 (nine!) km.

 

 The Israeli territory that Lieberman wants to get rid of is the site of  a dozen Arab villages, which were given Israel as a gift by the then king of Jordan in the armistice agreement of 1949. Abdallah I, the great-great-grandfather of the current Abdallah II of Jordan, needed the armistice at any price. Lieberman now wants to give these villages back, thank you.

 

 Why? Because for this stalwart of Jewish Israel, the reduction of the Arab population is a sacred task. He does not advocate expulsion, God forbid. Not at all.  He proposes attaching this area, with its population, to the Palestinian state. In return, he wants the Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank to be joined to Israel. A transfer of areas with their populations, reminiscent of Stalin’s redrawing the borders of Poland, except that Lieberman’s borders look completely crazy.

 

 Lieberman presents this as a peaceful, liberal, humane plan. No one will be displaced, no property expropriated. Some 300 thousand Arabs, all of them ardent supporters of the Palestinian struggle for statehood, will become Palestinian citizens.

 

 

 

 SO WHY do the Palestinians in Israel cry out? Why do they condemn the plan as a racist assault on their rights?

 

 Because they are far more Israeli than they care to admit, even to themselves. After living in Israel for 65 years, they have become accustomed to its ways. They don’t love Israel, they don’t serve in its army, they are discriminated against in many ways, but they are deeply rooted in the Israeli economy and democracy, much more than is generally recognized.

 

 “Israeli Arabs”, a term they hate, play a significant role in Israeli hospitals and courts, including the Supreme Court, and in many other institutions.

 

 Becoming citizens of Palestine tomorrow would mean losing 80% or 90% of their standard of living. It would also mean losing the social security net enjoyed in Israel (though Lieberman promises to continue payments to those currently eligible(. After being used for decades to fair elections and the lively give-and-take of the Knesset, they would have to get used to a society in which, as of now, important parties are forbidden, elections are postponed and parliament plays a minor role. The place of women in this society is very different from their role in Israel.

 

 The situation of the Palestinians in Israel is unique in many respects. On the one side, as long as Israel is defined as a Jewish State, the Arabs will not be fully equal. On the other side, in the occupied Palestinian territories, these Israeli citizens are not accepted as fully belonging. They straddle both sides of the conflict. They would like to be mediators, the link between the two sides, bringing them closer to each other. But this has remained a dream.

 

 A complicated situation, indeed.

 

 

 

 IN THE meantime, Netanyahu and Lieberman are hatching another plan to make Jewish Israel even Jewisher.

 

 There are today three factions in the Knesset which derive their votes from the Arab population. They constitute almost 10% of the Knesset. Why not 20%, to reflect their part in the general population? First because they have many more children, who have not yet reached voting age (18 years). Second, their rate of abstention is significantly higher. Third, some Arabs are bribed to vote for Zionist parties.

 

 The part of the Arab MKs in enacting laws is negligible. Any bill they introduce is almost automatically voted down. No Jewish party ever considered including them in a government coalition. Yet they have a very noticeable presence, their voice is heard.

 

 Now, in the name of “governability” (a trendy new term that can be used to justify any attack on human rights), Bibi & Libie, as someone called them, want to change the minimum share of votes that any election list needs to enter the Knesset.

 

 I was elected three times to the Knesset when the threshold was 1%. Later it was raised to 2%. Now the plan is to raise the threshold to 3.25%, which in the elections a year ago would have equaled 123,262 votes. Only one of the three “Arab” parties crossed this line – and then only barely. There is no assurance that it could do so again.                                                             

 

 In order to survive, they would have to unite and form a large Arab bloc. Many would think that this was a good thing. But it is very difficult to accomplish. One party is communist, another Islamist, another secular-nationalist. Also, competing extended families play an important role in Arab electoral politics.

 

 The Arab lists may disappear altogether. Or two may unite, eliminating the third.

 

 Some Israeli leftists fantasize about a dream party – a united parliamentary bloc that would include all the Arab parties with the Labor party and Meretz, turning it into a formidable challenger of the right wing.

 

 But that would be too good to be true – no chance at all of this happening in the near future.

 

 

 

 IT SEEMS that Kerry and his Zionist advisors already identify with the Israeli demand for recognition as a Jewish State or, worse, the State of the Jewish People (who were not even consulted).

 

 The Palestinian side is unable to accept this.

 

 If the negotiations come to naught on this point, Netanyahu will have achieved his real aim: to abort the negotiations in a way that will enable him to blame the Palestinians.

 

 As long as we have a Jewish State – who needs peace?

 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Majallie Whbee (L) is handed his letter of appointment as roving ambassador of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein in Jerusalem, Dec. 31, 2013.  (photo by Knesset Spokesperson’s Office)

PAM (the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean) was founded in 2006. Apart from Israel, its member states include Morocco, Cyprus, Libya, Jordan, Egypt, France, Greece, Bosnia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority.

Read more: www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/01/majallie-whbee-pam-interview-syria-egypt-palestine-israel.html?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=8862#ixzz2pk5SBy1m

 

Longtime Sharon associate calls on parties to close peace deal

by Mazal Mualem – a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse and formerly the senior political correspondent for Maariv and Haaretz.
She also presents a weekly TV show covering social issues on the Knesset channel. 
Posted January 6, 2014

 

 “The reason that we miss [Ariel] Sharon so much is simply because he knew how to bang on the table and decide yes or no. With Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu], nothing is clear … and there is no worse feeling than that.” Former Knesset member and Deputy Foreign Minister Majallie Whbee followed former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon almost blindly when he bolted from the Likud Party and established Kadima in November 2005. It was two months before the then-prime minister suffered a stroke and dropped off the public stage, leaving behind him a party in its infancy, a country dealing with the implications of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, and an enormous leadership vacuum.

 

Summary? Print Former Knesset member Majallie Whbee, a close associate of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, deplores Israeli leaders for not seizing the moment: “We have a window of opportunity of just a few years to complete an agreement.”
 

 

In the last election, Whbee, who was close to Sharon politically, joined HaTenua Party, headed by Tzipi Livni, but was not elected to the Knesset. He watches from the sidelines now as the glorious party that Sharon hoped to establish, and which was supposed to serve as a political platform to advance a diplomatic solution with the Palestinians, goes through all its various incarnations.

 

Sharon has been in a coma since January 2006, and over the past few days his condition has deteriorated considerably, putting his life in danger. The party that he founded split in two because of a serious clash between Justice Minister Livni and former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on the eve of the last election. At its peak, Kadima won 29 seats in the Knesset. In the last election, the party, now headed by Mofaz, dropped to just two seats. Until it is proved otherwise, Livni’s party serves as the diplomatic fig leaf for the Netanyahu government. It is a pale shadow of former Prime Minister Sharon’s political vision.

 

Whbee doesn’t know exactly what diplomatic arrangement Sharon intended to reach, but it is obvious to him that the disengagement plan in Gaza was to be continued somehow. “Sharon said, ‘Why do we have to rule over another people?’ He realized that in the long term, the occupation would not lead us to a good place, and he wanted to bring about an arrangement.” Like many senior members of the Likud who followed Sharon on his Kadima escapade, he thinks back now on the diplomatic momentum during Sharon’s term in office and wonders what would have happened had he not collapsed.

 

The interview with Whbee took place one week after he was appointed roving ambassador of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), alongside professor Mohamed Abou El Enein, former speaker of the Egyptian parliament. At a modest ceremony held Dec. 31, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein handed him his letter of appointment. Whbee already has plenty of plans how to promote two main causes: tracking and reducing the scope of civilian casualties in Syria, and supporting an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

 

PAM was founded in 2006. Apart from Israel, its member states include Morocco, Cyprus, Libya, Jordan, Egypt, France, Greece, Bosnia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority. This is the first time that an Israeli has been appointed to a senior position in PAM. Considering all the international condemnations and boycotts that Israel is facing, as well as the ongoing diplomatic crisis it is immersed in, Whbee’s appointment is noteworthy.

 

Very soon, Whbee, a Druze, will leave his home in the northern locality of Beit Jann to engage in shuttle diplomacy between the states of the region. He will attempt to use his diplomatic, political and defense experience, as well as his moderate worldview, to promote the assembly’s objectives and to realize the common interests of the countries in the region.

 

Majallie Whbee, when the states of the region are contending with the revolutions and conflicts of the Arab Spring, can anyone even determine what their common interests are?

 

“First of all, there is an interest in the Syrian issue. It is in everyone’s interest to defend the civilian population. Our objective is to flood the world with the problem and to put it on the tables of Europe’s leaders, now that the United States abandoned its plans to attack. What we have here is a Middle East population without anyone to care for it, and it is still at risk. There are Syrian representatives in PAM, too, and that is an advantage. While they are excluded from most places, they are still members of our assembly, and through them we can have an impact. We will demand that they use their influence over the Syrian regime.

 

“But it is not limited to Syria. The situation in Egypt is also difficult. The Egyptian representatives to PAM warn us of the risks posed by Hamas and the [former Mohammed] Morsi government. They are opposed to religious extremism, so they regard Morsi, who supported Hamas, as acting against Egyptian interests. In that sense they regard us, the Israelis, as their allies.”

 

Has your appointment already provided you with new insights into the region?

 

“Yes — that the Arab Spring was exploited by the religious extremists to seize control of the region in a kind of effort to establish a large Islamic force that will extend over several countries. We witnessed the cooperation between Morsi and Hamas, while those forces with a pro-Western orientation fell between the cracks. In that sense, I consider [US President Barack] Obama turning his back on Egypt to have been a resounding slap in the face. Unfortunately, the West did not anticipate fundamentalist factors attempting to hitch a ride on the Arab Spring.”

 

There is an argument that the chaos in the Arab states will actually improve Israel’s security situation.

 

“That is true in the short term. In the long term it is catastrophic, because it is possible that the fundamentalists will take over, and that would pose a threat to us. This leads me to the Palestinian issue. We have a window of opportunity of just a few years to reach an agreement, and Israel is not exploiting that window of opportunity. The situation is that right now the Palestinians do not have the backing of the Arab states. Egypt isn’t helping with anything, and Syria is torn apart. Under these circumstances, it is possible to pressure the Palestinians. [US Secretary of State John] Kerry should bang on the table and bring about an agreement. He should determine the facts and put both sides in a situation in which they have to decide. That is his role as a mediator, because if there won’t be an agreement we will be living by our swords here for many years to come.”

 

The situation of the Palestinians actually seems better than our own in the international arena.

 

“In my opinion, it is important to distinguish the leadership, which wants the conflict to continue. It’s good for those people to be the side that is discriminated against in the conflict. What’s so bad for them? They fight, and somebody else pays. But unlike the leadership, the people want to live a normal life. They want to make a living and improve their quality of life. They are tired of all the struggles and wars. They want normalcy. That is also why I don’t think there will be a third intifada. There is no one who wants to fight that battle, because even the Palestinian mothers are tired. After all, who do they send to blow themselves up with suicide belts? [Palestinian Chairman] Abu Mazen’s sons? [Former Palestinian Chairman Yasser] Arafat’s sons? It is the simple people who struggle to make a living, who end up paying the price.

 

“What’s so bad for the leadership? They continue driving around in their Mercedes and living in mansions, with tight security to protect them. It is convenient for them for the situation to remain as it is, because once a peace agreement is signed and they will be under supervision, it will be hard for them to keep up that kind of lifestyle.”

 

Was Sharon’s disengagement plan a mistake?

 

”In my opinion it was a stroke of diplomatic genius. After all, we had five brigades there, the security costs were astronomical, and soldiers were getting killed and wounded to defend 23 settlements. How was that to our advantage? As soon as Israel left Gaza, the international community granted us legitimacy to act in our defense from within our borders.”

 

 “The reason that we miss [Ariel] Sharon so much is simply because he knew how to bang on the table and decide yes or no. With Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu], nothing is clear … and there is no worse feeling than that.” Former Knesset member and Deputy Foreign Minister Majallie Whbee followed former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon almost blindly when he bolted from the Likud Party and established Kadima in November 2005. It was two months before the then-prime minister suffered a stroke and dropped off the public stage, leaving behind him a party in its infancy, a country dealing with the implications of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, and an enormous leadership vacuum.

 

Summary? Print Former Knesset member Majallie Whbee, a close associate of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, deplores Israeli leaders for not seizing the moment: “We have a window of opportunity of just a few years to complete an agreement.”
Author Mazal Mualem Posted January 6, 2014

Translator(s)Danny Wool

 

In the last election, Whbee, who was close to Sharon politically, joined HaTenua Party, headed by Tzipi Livni, but was not elected to the Knesset. He watches from the sidelines now as the glorious party that Sharon hoped to establish, and which was supposed to serve as a political platform to advance a diplomatic solution with the Palestinians, goes through all its various incarnations.

 

Sharon has been in a coma since January 2006, and over the past few days his condition has deteriorated considerably, putting his life in danger. The party that he founded split in two because of a serious clash between Justice Minister Livni and former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on the eve of the last election. At its peak, Kadima won 29 seats in the Knesset. In the last election, the party, now headed by Mofaz, dropped to just two seats. Until it is proved otherwise, Livni’s party serves as the diplomatic fig leaf for the Netanyahu government. It is a pale shadow of former Prime Minister Sharon’s political vision.

 

Whbee doesn’t know exactly what diplomatic arrangement Sharon intended to reach, but it is obvious to him that the disengagement plan in Gaza was to be continued somehow. “Sharon said, ‘Why do we have to rule over another people?’ He realized that in the long term, the occupation would not lead us to a good place, and he wanted to bring about an arrangement.” Like many senior members of the Likud who followed Sharon on his Kadima escapade, he thinks back now on the diplomatic momentum during Sharon’s term in office and wonders what would have happened had he not collapsed.

 

The interview with Whbee took place one week after he was appointed roving ambassador of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), alongside professor Mohamed Abou El Enein, former speaker of the Egyptian parliament. At a modest ceremony held Dec. 31, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein handed him his letter of appointment. Whbee already has plenty of plans how to promote two main causes: tracking and reducing the scope of civilian casualties in Syria, and supporting an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

 

PAM was founded in 2006. Apart from Israel, its member states include Morocco, Cyprus, Libya, Jordan, Egypt, France, Greece, Bosnia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority. This is the first time that an Israeli has been appointed to a senior position in PAM. Considering all the international condemnations and boycotts that Israel is facing, as well as the ongoing diplomatic crisis it is immersed in, Whbee’s appointment is noteworthy.

 

Very soon, Whbee, a Druze, will leave his home in the northern locality of Beit Jann to engage in shuttle diplomacy between the states of the region. He will attempt to use his diplomatic, political and defense experience, as well as his moderate worldview, to promote the assembly’s objectives and to realize the common interests of the countries in the region.

 

Majallie Whbee, when the states of the region are contending with the revolutions and conflicts of the Arab Spring, can anyone even determine what their common interests are?

 

“First of all, there is an interest in the Syrian issue. It is in everyone’s interest to defend the civilian population. Our objective is to flood the world with the problem and to put it on the tables of Europe’s leaders, now that the United States abandoned its plans to attack. What we have here is a Middle East population without anyone to care for it, and it is still at risk. There are Syrian representatives in PAM, too, and that is an advantage. While they are excluded from most places, they are still members of our assembly, and through them we can have an impact. We will demand that they use their influence over the Syrian regime.

 

“But it is not limited to Syria. The situation in Egypt is also difficult. The Egyptian representatives to PAM warn us of the risks posed by Hamas and the [former Mohammed] Morsi government. They are opposed to religious extremism, so they regard Morsi, who supported Hamas, as acting against Egyptian interests. In that sense they regard us, the Israelis, as their allies.”

 

Has your appointment already provided you with new insights into the region?

 

“Yes — that the Arab Spring was exploited by the religious extremists to seize control of the region in a kind of effort to establish a large Islamic force that will extend over several countries. We witnessed the cooperation between Morsi and Hamas, while those forces with a pro-Western orientation fell between the cracks. In that sense, I consider [US President Barack] Obama turning his back on Egypt to have been a resounding slap in the face. Unfortunately, the West did not anticipate fundamentalist factors attempting to hitch a ride on the Arab Spring.”

 

There is an argument that the chaos in the Arab states will actually improve Israel’s security situation.

 

“That is true in the short term. In the long term it is catastrophic, because it is possible that the fundamentalists will take over, and that would pose a threat to us. This leads me to the Palestinian issue. We have a window of opportunity of just a few years to reach an agreement, and Israel is not exploiting that window of opportunity. The situation is that right now the Palestinians do not have the backing of the Arab states. Egypt isn’t helping with anything, and Syria is torn apart. Under these circumstances, it is possible to pressure the Palestinians. [US Secretary of State John] Kerry should bang on the table and bring about an agreement. He should determine the facts and put both sides in a situation in which they have to decide. That is his role as a mediator, because if there won’t be an agreement we will be living by our swords here for many years to come.”

 

The situation of the Palestinians actually seems better than our own in the international arena.

 

“In my opinion, it is important to distinguish the leadership, which wants the conflict to continue. It’s good for those people to be the side that is discriminated against in the conflict. What’s so bad for them? They fight, and somebody else pays. But unlike the leadership, the people want to live a normal life. They want to make a living and improve their quality of life. They are tired of all the struggles and wars. They want normalcy. That is also why I don’t think there will be a third intifada. There is no one who wants to fight that battle, because even the Palestinian mothers are tired. After all, who do they send to blow themselves up with suicide belts? [Palestinian Chairman] Abu Mazen’s sons? [Former Palestinian Chairman Yasser] Arafat’s sons? It is the simple people who struggle to make a living, who end up paying the price.

 

“What’s so bad for the leadership? They continue driving around in their Mercedes and living in mansions, with tight security to protect them. It is convenient for them for the situation to remain as it is, because once a peace agreement is signed and they will be under supervision, it will be hard for them to keep up that kind of lifestyle.”

 

Was Sharon’s disengagement plan a mistake?

 

”In my opinion it was a stroke of diplomatic genius. After all, we had five brigades there, the security costs were astronomical, and soldiers were getting killed and wounded to defend 23 settlements. How was that to our advantage? As soon as Israel left Gaza, the international community granted us legitimacy to act in our defense from within our borders.”

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 22nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

Wives of Ambassadors, Women Ambassadors and High Ranking Staff, organized to try to make more understandable issues being debated at the UN. Under the leadership of Mrs. Irmeli Viinanen they tackled the thorny Iranian issue with the help of Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council.

 

The mission of the Women’s International Forum at the UN (WIF)  is to “provide a forum for briefings and discussions on international affairs, in order to promote understanding and mutual appreciation among members of the diplomatic community, the United Nations Secretariat, and the United Nations community at large and to network, promote knowledge, and raise awareness about current international issues – particularly those related to the United Nations, and to uphold the purpose and the principles of the United Nations Charter.”

At present time the Executive Board includes: Irmeli Viinanen, President (Finland), Nelly Gicho-Niyonzima, Vice-President (Burundi), Mounia Loulichki, Sahar Baassiri,  Pamela Jacovides, Malini Nambiar, Muna Rihani, Ingrid Ruzicková, Nareumon Sinhaseni, Peggy Sanford Carlin, Berit Stanton and  Cristina Tortorelli de Errazuriz.

Many of the women who serve as their countries’ permanent representatives, or as high-ranking officials of the UN Secretariat, serve on the WIF Honorary Board.

 

At present time the Honorary Board includes: H.E. Ms. Maria Cristina Perceval, Argentina; H.E. Mrs. Bénédicte Frankinet, Belgium; H.E. Ms. Mirsada Colakovic,Bosnia and Herzegovina H.E. Ms. Edita Hrdá, Czech Republic; H.E. Ms. Mary Flores, Honduras; H.E. Ms. Gréta Gunnarsdóttir, Iceland; H.E. Ms. Byrganym Aitimova, Kazakhstan; H.E. Ms. Marjon V. Kamara, Liberia; H.E. Ms. Raimonda Murmokait?, Lithuania; H.E. Ms. Sylvie Lucas, Luxembourg; H.E. Ms. Isabelle F. Picco, Monaco; H.E. Ms. Marlene Moses, Nauru; H.E. Ms. Maria Rubiales de Chamorro,  Nicaragua; H.E. Ms. U. Joy Ogwu,  Nigeria; H.E. Ms. Lyutha S. Al-Mughairy, Oman; H.E. Ms. Simona-Mirela Miculescu, Romania; H.E. Ms. Menissa Rambally, Saint Lucia; H.E. Mrs. Marie-Louise Potter Seychelles; H.E. Ms. Sofia Borges, Timor-Leste;  H.E. Ms. Aksoltan T. Atayeva, Turkmenistan; H.E. Dr. Mwaba P. Kasese-Bota, Zambia; H.E. Ms. Paulette A. Bethel,Chef de Cabinet for the President of the 68th General Assembly
 
  Mrs. Ban Soon-Taek, wife of the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, is the Patron of the WIF.

trita_parsi_150x200         On December 11, 2013 WIF held at the UN ECOSOC Chamber a Briefing with Dr. Trita Parsi, President of the                National Iranian American Council and a generally recognized Senior Iranian analyst.

           The topic was “The Iran nuclear deal – how we got here and what it means”

 

 

Born in Iran to a Zoroastrian family, Parsi moved with his family to Sweden at the age of four in order to escape the political repression in Iran. His father was an outspoken academic who was jailed under the reign of the Shah and later under Ayatollah Khomeini‘s Islamic Republic.

He came to the US first in a high-school exchange program to Ohio where he lived in the house of Robert Ney, then of Ohio State Congress and later a US Congressman. This link with Congressman Ney turned out later of major importance to both of them.

Parsi earned a Master’s Degree in International Relations at Uppsala University and a second Master’s Degree in Economics at Stockholm School of Economics.  Parsi moved to the United States and studied foreign policy at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies where he received his Ph.D. in International Relations. In a personal statement as part of his application to a Harvard doctoral program, Parsi mentioned his success at converting Ney into Congress’s most pro-Iranian member. “In 1997,” he wrote, “I worked as policy advisor on MidEastern issues to Congressman Robert Ney of Ohio. My job was to reformulate Ney’s position vis-à-vis Iran. At the time, Ney was a supporter of the Clinton Administration’s isolation policy of Iran. By identifying the long-term strategic necessity of befriending Iran and showing how such a policy should be pursued, I was successful in convincing Ney to alter his position. In 1997, he became one of the first Congressmen to propagate dialogue with Tehran.”

In effect, Trita Parsi emerged naturally as a bridge between Iran, the  US and Sweden and even Israel. Early in his career he worked with the Swedish Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, where he served in the Security Council, handling the affairs of Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan, and Western Sahara, and on the General Assembly’s Third Committee, addressing human rights in Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq.

In Washington he  served as an adjunct professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University SAIS, an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute and as a Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars emerging as immensely influential on formulation of US policy in the larger Middle East, and as a link with Iran.

In 2002, Parsi closed down in effect the IIC (Iranians for International Cooperation – Iranian International Council – a trade lobby in Washington trying to fight the sanctions on Iran)  and founded the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), whose stated purpose was “to enable Iranian Americans to condemn the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks” and, later, to provide a “grass-roots group aimed at strengthening their voice.” Through the organization, he supports engagement between the US and Iran in belief that it “would enhance our [U.S.] national security by helping to stabilize the Middle East and bolster the moderates in Iran.” On the group’s formation, he commented, “We realized that our primary thing that separates the Iranian-American community from the Jewish-American community, the Arab-American community, the Armenian-American community is that the Iranian-American community has shunned political participation.” NIAC has received financial support from the Open Society Institute, the Tides Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Kenbe Foundation, and the Kamyar and Goli Foundation. In effect what Trita Parsi was doing is to create instead a Washington based lobby that works in favor of the Iranian people without supporting the mullahs. This was a tall task in the back-stabbing world of business lobbies in Washington, and clearly put him at the center of controversy – specially as his first mentor – Congressman Robert Ney – got involved in the Jack Abramoff scandals and was fined for supporting the permission to export one airplane to Iran (Bob Ney, Trita Parsi and pro-Tehran activities in Washington).

In 2007, Yale University Press published “Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States.” Parsi’s work is an expansion of his 2006 Ph.D. dissertation written at Johns Hopkins University under the supervision of his Ph.D. adviser Francis Fukuyama.  The book “takes a closer look at the complicated triangular relations between Israel, Iran, and the United States that continue to shape the future of the Middle East.”  The book basically argues that the struggle between Israel and Iran is not ideological but strategic. The book received many positive reviews. In Foreign Affairs, L. Carl Brown called the book a “well-constructed history” and former U.S. ambassador Peter Galbraith praised the book as “a wonderfully informative account.” The book was also praised by political scientist John Mearsheimer and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski who was on his dissertation committee. In 2008, Treacherous Alliance was awarded the silver medal (runner-up) in the Council on Foreign RelationsArthur Ross Book Award. About that time I first encountered Dr. Trita Parsi at a book presentation sponsored in person by Arthur Ross at the Asia Society in New York and I was tremendously impressed by the fact that it seemed obvious – the man has direct relations with all four  protagonists in the Middle East – Iranians, Americans, Israel and the Saudis – and somehow manages to survive by not letting down any of them, while criticizing their governmental positions. In many ways he sounded like  Stephen Kinzer   who was talking of a RESET in policy that eventually ought to ring in US policies that will eventually be anchored on Turkey and Iran. To me – Trita Parsi was in effect an agent of the future.

In a 2011 interview with the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard University, he asserted that his thesis had “been vindicated” by recent events. “I believe it is increasingly clear that efforts to divide the region between moderates vs radicals, democracies vs non-democracies etc is of little utility and has no real explanatory value. Israel, for instance, who had sought to frame its rivalry with Iran as a struggle between the region’s sole Western democracy against a fanatical Islamic tyranny, favored the status quo in Egypt and opposed the efforts to oust Mubarak.”

He added that “With the decline of the US, Israel’s strategic paralysis and increased isolation in the region, the rise of Turkey, the ‘revolutions’ in Tunisia and Egypt, and Iran’s continued difficulties in translating its strength to regional acceptance, the region is experiencing momentous changes both in its political structure and in its balance of power. An ideology based approach towards understanding these shifts won’t get you far.”

 

As we already said – Parsi’s career is not all roses. In effect he is also a focal point in the fight between various lobbies in Washington – so in 2007, Arizona-based Iranian-American journalist Hassan Daioleslam began publicly asserting that NIAC was lobbying on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In response, Parsi sued him for defamation. As a result of the lawsuit, many internal documents were released, including e-mail correspondence between Parsi and Mohammad Javad Zarif, then Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations under President Ahmedinejad, and now under President Rouhani the Foreign Minister of Iran. In a November 2009 article, Washington Times national security correspondent Eli Lake reported on some of the facts disclosed in those documents. After Barack Obama’s election to the presidency, for example, the NIAC, fearing that Obama would put Dennis Ross, an anti-Iran hardliner, in charge of Iran policy, and thus scuttle their efforts to persuade U.S. officials to lift sanctions, deliberately set out to create a “media controversy” about Ross and thereby prevent his appointment.

 

Although Ross got the job, Lake noted that Parsi, whose “history suggests a continuing commitment to changing U.S. policy on Iran,” had “clearly become more influential in Washington since the change of administrations.” Now, wrote Lake, “a lawsuit has brought to light numerous documents that raise questions about whether the organization is using that influence to lobby for policies favorable to Iran in violation of federal law.” Those documents, according to Lake, “offer evidence that the group has operated as an undeclared lobby and may be guilty of violating tax laws, the Foreign Agents Registration Act and lobbying disclosure laws.” Although Parsi denied that NIAC was a lobby, he was previously connected with IIC – a trade lobby, which had openly advocated for the removal of the U.S. sanctions regime against Iran.

 

A former federal law-enforcement official, who asked to review documents showing that Parsi had helped arrange meetings between members of Congress and Zarif, said that anyone engaging in such activity should be registered as a foreign agent; another such official said that “this may be lobbying.” Lake also quoted Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an Iranian filmmaker and unofficial spokesman for Iran’s opposition Green Movement, as saying, “I think Trita Parsi does not belong to the Green Movement. I feel his lobbying has secretly been more for the Islamic Republic.”

 

In September 2012, after a more than four-year legal battle, a U.S. federal judge threw out the libel suit against Daioleslam on the grounds that “NIAC and Parsi had failed to show evidence of actual malice, either that Daioeslam acted with knowledge the allegations he made were false or with reckless disregard about their accuracy.” Parsi and the NIAC were ordered to pay part of Daioleslam’s legal expenses, and Daioleslam stated that “I have always believed that NIAC and Trita Parsi lobby for the Iranian regime. I maintained and reiterated this belief during the lawsuit, my deposition and in our last motions including the motion for summary judgment.”In January 2013, Daioleslam published a series of e-mails between Parsi and Zarif which suggested that the former was passing information to the latter.

Something we clearly find quite in accordance with what we observed about Trita Parsi and tried to convey in this long introduction.

—————-

Further, quite excited when I found out about the invitation the Women’s International Forum at the UN (WIF) had extended to Trita Parsi to give a briefing at the UN, I did in effect congratulate Mrs. Irmeli Viinanen for the group’s choice,  I went to the event as a guest of my wife, expecting to get perhaps quotable new insights to the Iran nuclear issue in particular, and to the Obama Administration position on the larger Middle East in general.

So now to what was actually said in this very vivid event at the UN which extended for about one and a half hours – half of it the Parsi presentation, and half for a very active Q&A period. I was amazed that only one UN accredited journalist – a reporter from Lebanon linked to the Hezbollah – was present and active at this event, which was announced in the UN Journal, and open to all who have access to the UN.

What was said?

Trita Parsi started by describing the Washington of 2012 as a place where the US Department of Defense expected in early 2012 a military confrontation with Iran – and now – just one and a half years later the atmosphere is very different. What happened in between?

(a) The elections in Iran. We doubted there will be a high participation – yet they came and voted for the most laid back name that was put before them. With him came to Government people that were marginalized in the last 8 years during the Ahmdinejad Administration.

(b) Trita Parsi pointed out that even in the past the Iranians had participated in the taming of  Afghanistan  as per the Bonn agreement signed December 10, 2011. (The conference, which was attended by 85 states, 15 international organizations and the United Nations, focused on three main issues involving the conclusion of the Afghan War and the transition of security responsibility to the Afghan Government, scheduled to occur in 2014. These were: civil aspects of the transition process, the role of international community in Afghanistan after the handover, and long-term political stabilization of the country. The conference concluded by issuing a statement affirming continued international support for Afghanistan for the next decade. Progress was not hindered by Iran, but was hindered by Pakistan‘s boycott of the conference following the 2011 NATO attack in Pakistan.)

(c) The Syria event showed the overwhelming opposition by Americans for a new involvement in the Middle East. There are credible threats on Members of Congress one way or the other and there is a realization that if this is not solved by diplomacy there will be costs to the US in any case.

(d) Paradoxically Iran looks now like the lowest hanging fruit in the Middle East. It has promise when compared with what may happen in a few years from now. The US Presidential legacy goal becomes attainable if both sides compromise – this because the sanctions on Iran did what they were supposed to do and impacted trade, currency etc. but did little on the nuclear issue. Iran increased its number of centrifuges from 164 to 19,000 and has by now over 1,800 kg. of enriched Uranium – slightly bellow 200 kg of 20% enriched Uranium. Parsi says that both sides – the US and Iran – pursued pipe-dreams objectives. Iran will never agree to have a zero program, and the Iranian dream was that the International community will come to accept their position. Parsi thinks that both sides came now to the realization that there will be no escalation risk while politicians talk of compromise and will quietly agree to something. Something like the acknowledgement that there will be an enrichment program on Iranian soil, and a very intrusive IAEA supervision and inspection mechanism. Trita Parsi says that this could have happened already 8 years ago under more favorable conditions to the US.

(d) Nevertheless, Parsi says that if not for a series of surprises, the whole thing could have gone in a different direction with a terrible outcome.
The fact that these surprises include the collapse of Syria, the various upheavals in Arab lands, the situation of Israel having become the only real superpower now in the Middle East created a specific case and it can not be a blue print for other situations when there is an attempt to develop nuclear weapons.

(e) Still, he is not over-confident right now because of the dysfunctional state of Washington today  and the fact that there are opponents to the Iranian Administration that wait to see the Rouhani started process fail.

(f) In Iran it is much more then about enrichment. It is rather about the determination who will be the face of Iran for many years to come.
Parsi says that it is for Rouhani to show that moderation pays – and for Washington to distance itself as well from what went on 8 years ago.
If successful – this could be constructive for the region as a whole, concluded Trita Parsi.

With this Mrs. Viinanen took over and asked the first question: “What has surprised you most at the Geneva talks?”
A.  Last day it was 23 hours non-stop.  The Surprise – Obama was ready to take the cost of taking on Washington and Congress.
The President spends now resources engaging with Congress. This is the first time he does so.

Trita Parsi then continued by talking about Iran. That Iran has been excluded from most political aspects of the region by its stands. Moderating the policies that come out from Iran will result in stopping the spoiler policy. They will have then moderating positions even on the issue of Israel.

It is nevertheless that the posture is changing and there will be repercussions on the Arab States – on the understanding of what it means to them. Had it not been for 2004 – 2006 – what is the impact of these proxy fights with Israel? Obama steps could put an end to wars – but at the time of the Bush Administration it was different – and Parsi talked of Dr. Efraim Sneh from Israel (a physician, military man, and politician who was also a minister in the government) who told him in 2006 that the Lebanon war is a prelude to an Iran War. The Pentagon was wrapped in cynicism already in 2004.

.

Who could be the spoilers? Israel? the Saudis?
A.  I do not share the opinion that Israel and the Saudis are losers. I cannot agree that the long term interest is to continue confrontation.
The spoiler could rather be US Congress if they pass sanctions against Iran. This is the primary element that worries the White House.
In Iran it is just 20 out of 290 deputies of Parliament that ask for calling Rouhani for questioning. In US Congress it is a majority that is against Obama.

Trita also pointed out that in the US, it was under a bill sponsored in Congress by Mr. Dick Cheney that asked to supply the Shah with 93% enriched Uranium – so in effect the Iranians were only asking to continue that US policy.

The parting words of Mr. Parsi were that now there is a possibility to get to a position to stop this confrontation.

======================================================================================

The WIF women intend to have Ms. Amina J. Mohammed as their January speaker.
She will be dealing with RIO+20 and we expect to be there as well.

Upcoming Event

 

Ms. Amina J. Mohammed
“The Post-2015 development agenda – enabling a life of dignity for all”

 

By Ms. Amina J. Mohammed
Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning

Date: Monday, January 20th 2014
Time: 1.15 pm – 2.30 pm

 =================================================================================

 

THE BOOKS MENTIONED IN OUR REPORTING:

 

 

1413112
    • Oct 01, 2007
      384 p., 6 1/8 x 9 1/4ISBN: 9780300120578
      Cloth

 

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

This article was held back by us as since August – as a draft – we think time has come to post it as (a) Mexico is moving in the direction of opening the door to foreign investments that clearly will reduce its independence from its big neighbor,
and (b) the decreased dependence of the US on Middle East oil has shown that the US can free itself of Saudi slavery and
help from Mexican crude does indeed aid US foreign policy.

Also, I just read reports from the Syrian mess and it is clear that the US must feel safe in its oil supplies in order to avoid changing its position of non-interference as no-one is honest enough there to give out an interpretation of insurgency. Who are the Syrian insurgents and what do they want? Who pays the UN to investigate there and who expects anything less then subservience to the Arab UN staff.

———————————

In Move for Economy, Mexican President Seeks Foreign Investment in Energy.

By ELISABETH MALKIN
Published: August 12, 2013

 www.nytimes.com/2013/08/13/world/…

MEXICO CITY — President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico on Monday, pushing one of the most sweeping economic overhauls here in the past two decades, proposed opening his country’s historically closed energy industry to foreign investment.

The president’s plan, which would rewrite two constitutional amendments, challenges a bedrock assumption of Mexico’s national identity — its total sovereignty over its energy resources — by inviting private companies to explore and pump for oil and natural gas.

Mr. Pena Nieto’s goal, like those of presidents before him, is to recharge Mexico’s economy by tackling areas that analysts agree hinder its expansion, which has averaged just 2.2 percent a year since 2001, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Perhaps the worst of those is the creaky energy sector. Demand for energy in the country is growing so fast that Mexico could turn from an energy exporter to an energy importer by 2020, the government says.

Already, Mexico must import almost half its gasoline, mostly from the United States. Mexican companies pay 25 percent more for electricity than competitors in other countries, the government says. Although Mexico has some of the world’s largest reserves of shale gas, it imports one-third of its natural gas.

In advancing the plan, Mr. Peña Nieto is making a gamble that the support he has built with opposition parties to make deep changes in education and telecommunications policy will carry over into the debate over energy and a related tax proposal he will send to Congress next month.

“With the reform that we are presenting, we will make the energy sector one of the most powerful engines in the economy,” Mr. Peña Nieto said at a ceremony to present the plan on Monday.

So far, Mr. Peña Nieto has proved astute at negotiating changes based on a list of commitments that all three major political parties agreed on last December. He has been helped by the two main opposition parties’ weakness after the 2012 election, which gave Mr. Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, a majority in Congress.

But his two major victories in education and telecommunications were comparatively easy. There was already consensus on the need to rein in the power of the teachers’ union and the companies that control telecommunications and television broadcasting.

In energy, the divisions are much deeper. In particular, Mexico’s left-wing parties have been adamant that the Constitution’s 75-year-old prohibition on private investment should remain ironclad. From the right, the National Action Party, or PAN, proposed energy reform last month that would go even further than Mr. Peña Nieto to invite in private investment.

Public opinion is also suspicious about opening up the industry. A survey last year by CIDE, a Mexico City university, found that 65 percent of the public opposed private investment in Pemex, the state-owned oil monopoly.

“The entire energy reform is a potential source of conflict,” said Luis Miguel Labardini, a consultant with Marcos y Asociados, a Mexican energy consulting firm. “Sometimes in Mexico we are conflict-averse.”

The proposal would allow private companies to negotiate profit-sharing contracts with the government to drill for oil and gas. Under such a scheme, the reserves would continue to belong to the Mexican state, but investors would get a share of the profits. Private investment would be allowed in refining, oil pipelines, and petrochemical production.

Although most analysts believe that Mr. Peña Nieto has the votes in Congress to pass the reform if the PAN votes along with his party, the president appears to want to sway public opinion, as suggested by his decision to make a prime-time televised address on the subject Monday.

“It is fine to appeal to rationality, but when it is about these issues, it’s indispensable to touch the audience’s heart,” wrote an analyst, María Amparo Casar, in the Excelsior newspaper last week.

The left-wing leader, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who won more than 30 percent of the vote in last year’s general election, is planning street marches to protest the change. If he succeeds in filling the streets of the capital it may be harder for party leaders to stand behind the plan.

Since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement exempted energy from Mexico’s broad economic opening, presidents have attempted to loosen the prohibitions that give Pemex sole control over all oil and gas exploration and production. No joint ventures are allowed. Those past proposals have often withered in Congress.

But this time, the precipitous decline of Mexico’s energy industry may work in Mr. Peña Nieto’s favor.

Pemex, which was long an important source of crude imports into the United States, is spending more to pump less. As Mexico’s giant Cantarell oil field in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico has declined, production has dropped 25 percent from the peak in 2004, to just over 2.5 million barrels of oil a day.

At the same time, the amount the government budgets for Pemex to invest has steadily climbed to $26 billion this year. To increase production and reserves, Pemex needs to drill in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and in onshore deposits of shale oil and gas. But the company has neither the capital nor the expertise to increase production significantly, analysts say.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Al-Monitor <newsletter@email.al-monitor.com>
Week in Review
Sunday, December 1, 2013

Iran deal recasts regional politics .

The “joint plan of action” agreed on by six world powers and Iran on Nov. 24 is in a short time proving to be a catalyst for a regional trend toward diplomacy and realism.

The mood is already shifting in the Gulf, where there had been resistance if not downright opposition at times to the negotiations with Iran. UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Tehran this week for meetings with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, while the Kingdom of Bahrain invited Zarif to participate in the Manama Dialogue Regional Security Summit, organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, to be held Dec. 6-8, as reported by Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor.

In perhaps the most substantial shift, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia released a statement on Nov. 25 welcoming the joint plan of action, saying, “Saudi Arabia views the agreement as a primary step toward a comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear issue provided it leads to a Middle East and Gulf region free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.”

In Israel, despite a skeptical public and statements of alarm by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there is also awareness among national security leaders that the deal with Iran may have its advantages, and that Israel is poorly served by putting itself at odds with the international coalition that forced Iran to negotiations.

Akiva Eldar captured the broader context of the Iran deal for Israel, writing, “The agreement with Iran was signed a short time after the agreement between the United States and Russia that brought about the removal of chemical weapons from Syria. Thus a much more concrete and immediate threat than the Iranian one was removed from the borders of Israel. The decision of the powers to wave a stick instead of landing a blow on the Iranian protectorate in Damascus should have signaled to Netanyahu that this would also be the route they chose to take in the talks with Tehran. It stands to reason that Iran will now be invited to contribute to a renewed effort to end the cruel civil war in Syria. We are witness to the beginning of Iran’s emergence from the international solitary confinement it entered following the revolution in 1979.”

Ben Caspit reports from Jerusalem, “There’s no panic at all among Israel’s professional military echelons. Nobody talks about a catastrophe or an imminent second Holocaust. People discuss the merits of the agreement with levelheadedness and discretion. After all, doomsday prophecies are not their thing. For this, we have Netanyahu.”

Dan Meridor, a member of the Likud Party and former deputy prime minister and minister of intelligence and atomic energy under Netanyahu, told Al-Monitor’s Mazal Mualem this week, “It’s a mistake to pick a fight with partners when we’re in the midst of a campaign against Iran, in which the Americans have the main role. Embarking on an offensive of attacks, criticism and scorekeeping harms the common struggle of large parts of the world, the United States, Europe and the Arab countries. The disputes do not help the struggle, but just give the Iranians a reason to gloat. Nothing is achieved by public disputes. The alliance between Israel and the United States is an important component of our powerful image. … Israel needs to be part of the world, to be a partner in this campaign.”

In the United States, there is popular support for the agreement with Iran. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released this week revealed that 44% of Americans support the interim agreement with Iran and only 22% oppose.

In Congress, while there is still skepticism about the deal, there also seems to be a trend toward legislation that emphasizes a congressional role in Iran’s compliance with the terms of the deal, rather than the introduction of new sanctions, during the six-month negotiation period. The Iran Nuclear Compliance Act of 2013, introduced Nov. 21 by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is now pending before the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which has Senate jurisdiction on sanctions bills.

As reported here last week, the man to watch is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who told NPR’s Diane Rehm that the interim agreement is an “important first step” and that he will look to both Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, on whether the Senate should hold hearings and consider more sanctions.

The conversations that have begun about Iran’s nuclear program are already having consequences beyond the nuclear file, including the Gulf, Turkey and Syria. While Kadri Gursel writes that the Turkish “reset” from its failed sectarian policies may require even deeper political changes, Ankara’s shift, which is a work in progress, is already good news for a political solution in Syria, especially with the Geneva II conference to be held on Jan. 22. A real peace process in Syria would mean relief for Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, those countries most affected by the spillover of the war, the spike in terrorism and the flood of refugees.

A stable Syrian government, resulting from a successful Geneva II political process, perhaps following elections, would offer a chance for an Israel-Lebanon-Syria peace process. This would mean the eventual demilitarization of Hezbollah, whose raison d’etre is resistance to Israel’s occupation. The reintegration of Hezbollah forces into the Lebanese army and the normalization of Hezbollah solely as a Lebanese political party, and not an armed resistance force, would be a giant step toward solving Lebanon’s perpetual national crisis.

Any deal on Hezbollah would run through Damascus and Tehran, via Moscow’s good offices, en route to Jerusalem, as this column reported last week. While the United States cannot broker this deal, the future of Hezbollah is directly connected to the nuclear negotiations with Iran. For Iran to get relief from US oil and financial sanctions under the Iran Sanctions Act, the president must certify to Congress that Iran no longer seeks weapons of mass destruction, is no longer a state sponsor of terrorism and no longer represents a significant threat to US national security interests and allies. Hezbollah is considered a terrorist group by the United States. So questions about Iran’s nuclear program and its role in the region, including support for Hezbollah, are the endgame in any discussion of a comprehensive agreement.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from:  Holocaust Remembrance <holocaustremembrance@un.org> via sustainabilitank.com 
reply-to:  holocaustremembrance@un.org
 

 

 Holocaust Remembrance <holocaustremembrance@un.org> via sustainabilitank.com 

 

 

The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, in partnership with
the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect
is organizing a high-level discussion titled

“From Prevention to Protection: the UN Genocide Convention 65 Years On”

Monday, 9 December 2013
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
ECOSOC Chamber, UN Headquarters in New York

The high-level event will mark the 65th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and bring together experts to examine the challenges of genocide prevention today.

Speakers will include:

United Nations Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon;

Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information;

Mr. Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide;

Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court;

Mr. Stuart E. Eizenstat, former Ambassador of the United States to the European Union (1993-1996);

Mrs. María Cristina Perceval, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations;

and Mr. Mustafa Haid, Founder and Executive Director of Dawlaty, a Beirut-based organization which encourages transitional justice in Syria.

The discussion will be moderated by journalist Tunku Varadarajan, Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a columnist with the Daily Beast.

ONLINE REGISTRATION

For more information on the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme,
please visit www.un.org/holocaustremembrance or email holocaustremembrance@un.org

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THIS EVENT IS A PRESENTATION AND REMINDER OF THE REAL REASON WHY THE UN WAS CREATED IN THE AFTERMATH OF WORLD WAR II AND THE FRESH MEMORY OF THE HOLOCAUST – THE EXTREME EXAMPLE OF WHAT THE HUMAN BEAST IS CAPABLE OF DOING.

SINCE THEN THE UN ALSO RECOGNIZED IN 1948 ALSO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL AND THE NEED TO FIGHT GENOCIDE. OTHER HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDED THE DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE PRINCIPLE OF THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT.

THE UN AS AN INSTITUTION DID NOT LIVE UP TO THE HIGH STANDARDS IT SET TO ITSELF AND GENOCIDE IS PART OF OUR DAILY NEWS – THOUGH NOTHING COMPARES TO WHAT MADMEN ADOLF HITLER AND ADOLF EICHMANN DID.

NEVERTHELESS, PEOPLE LIKE AHMEDI-NEJAD – THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF IRAN AND REGIMES LIKE THE ONGOING ONE  THESE DAYS IN SYRIA OF THE ASSADS,  WERE CELEBRATED BY THE UN OF TODAY – TO ITS IMMENSE SHAME – OR AT LEAST NOT INTERFERED WITH – SOMETHING WE DO NOT TAKE EASY AS WE ALSO CANNOT ACCEPT THE UN INACTION WHEN IT COMES TO THE EFFECTS OF GLOBAL WARMING/CLIMATE CHANGE. THE FACT THAT THE HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES OF THE UN ARE LOADED WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF COUNTRIES THAT DO NOT KNOW HUMAN RIGHTS MAKES THIS DECEMBER 9-TH ASSEMBLY AT THE UN THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT OF THE YEAR. PLEASE SEE THIS POSTING OF OURS AS AN EXPRESSION OF SUPPORT OF THE UN OF OLD.

ALSO PLEASE NOTE THAT UN SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON WILL BE VISITING THE ETERNAL MUSEUM AT THE AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU HOLOCAUST EXTERMINATION CAMP ON NOVEMBER 18-TH WHEN HE PARTICIPATES AT THE ONGOING CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE IN WARSAW, AND THE MEMORY OF THE KRYSTALLNACHT OF NOVEMBER 9, 1938  JUST A MERE 75 YEARS AGO. WE BET HE WILL HAVE CONTENT IN HIS PRESENTATION AT THE DECEMBER 9TH EVENT AT THE UN.

WILL THE NATIONS OF THE UN LISTEN – OR WILL THEY SWAT THIS AS INTERFERENCE WITH WHAT THEY SEE AS POTENTIAL NARROW GAINS – LIKE REACHING OUT FOR THE RICHES THAT BECOMES REACHABLE WHEN THE ICE OF THE POLAR ICE CAPS MELT AWAY?

 THE

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 15th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

Arab societies must build ‘citizen-states’

The primary danger facing the Arab world in the wake of successive revolutions is not a wave of political Islam, but rather the state of violent chaos that has resulted from the breakup of former regimes, which had imposed security through repression and violence. This danger comes as a result of the absence of alternative ruling systems to both maintain security and guarantee the participation of various segments of society.

Summary:   t The Arab state system needs to better apply to concepts of civil society.
Author Sami Nader Posted November 14, 2013

Translator(s)Tyler Huffman

What the Arab world is witnessing today is the emergence of Islamist movements that were formerly repressed. This is not a deep-rooted revolution — similar to the Iranian Revolution — that relies on a doctrine with clear features, such as that of Velayat-e Faqih. Political Islam movements in Egypt, and likewise in Tunisia, are divided among themselves. They competed for power within the framework of elections, and did not hesitate to forge alliances with civil forces and movements. Moreover, their experiences in power — and Egypt is the best example of this — have been marked by failure. This is no surprise, given that these movements did not have a program for governance that relied on political, economic and social choices that had been tested on the ground. It is ironic that the army, or some army leaders, have been the ones to save these countries, by transforming themselves into the victim.

In short, the Arab world today is facing a crisis when it comes to the project of building a state. Herein lies the danger and the opportunity at the same time. It is an opportunity for Christians and the other groups opposed to the former regimes and that fear Islamists coming to power to reclaim their role. This can be done through these groups presenting a project for governance to fill that vacuum that occurred as a result of the fall of former regimes, and the Brotherhood’s failure in Egypt and stumbling in Tunisia.

Christians in Lebanon adopted a nation-state project, and they — along with their Muslim compatriots — turned this project into a system of governance to implement the National Pact of 1943. Under this pact, Muslims rejected the idea of becoming part of Syria, while Christians also rejected the existing French protection provided by the mandate. In fact, the idea of a nation state was the prevailing idea in Europe, which maintained wide cultural influence in the Levant and Arab Maghreb. “Nation-state,” in and of itself, is a term that originated and evolved over a full century in the aftermath of the French Revolution. The term was adopted by the Age of Enlightenment, an era which adopted ideas and values that established conceptions of “modernity” and formed a cultural and political system in the face of “divine law.” This latter system resulted in various political and social institutions.

In other words, the nation-state was established to confront the “divine state” — i.e., a state that is based on divine law. The term “nation-state” was brought to the Levant during the Arab Renaissance (Al-Nahda), at the beginning of the 20th century. Levantine Christians were among the most prominent pioneers of this renaissance, and contributed in reviving Arabic language and culture, which had been obliterated by more than four centuries of Ottoman rule.

Notable figures from this period included authors and intellectuals such as Gibran Khalil Gibran, Mikhail Naima and Ilyas Abu Shabaki, among others. In fact, the Arab Renaissance was an extension of the European Age of Enlightenment, as it adopted ideas of modernity and entered them into the Arabic language. At the political level, these ideas were translated through nationalist projects that formed the basis of various political parties. The latter include the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party — founded by a Christian, Antoun Saada — and the Arab Baath Party, founded by Salah al-Din al-Bitar, a Sunni Muslim, and Michel Aflaq, a Christian. Even the right-wing Kataeb Party, which was founded by Christian leader Pierre Gemayel, was based on the idea of nationalism.

Thus, Christians adopted the project of a nation-state, and presented it as a model to be implemented in the numerous Levantine societies, which are ethnically and culturally diverse. It is worth mentioning that the idea of the nation-state came together with and blended with the theory of socialist governance and its promises of a fair distribution of wealth, as happened in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century in the wake of the First World War. No one denies that nationalist theory ignited Europe and led to two consecutive wars. Moreover, the theory of socialism — which supported nationalism — collapsed itself with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Even the theory of a sponsor state, which was inherited from socialism, is crumbling under the pressures of globalization and the European structure. It is no surprise that the Arab revolutions are confronting this system that has collapsed in developed countries, and that has fulfilled its function in a certain stage. It goes without saying that the Arab nationalist projects, and the countries that emerged from them, have failed on all levels. They have not been able to achieve widespread participation of all segments of society through moving toward democracy. Likewise, these systems have not fulfilled their promises in terms of economic development. Even at the military level, they have lost all the wars that were waged to recover usurped Arab rights.

The challenge today for Christians and non-Christians who believe in democracy and are eager for modernity, is to present a project that serves as a substitute for the nation-state. It should likewise serve as an alternate for projects that call for a return to religious origins, yet in actuality do not go beyond mere slogans and opposition. The most important thing to come from Christian literature and documents for decades, is the contents of the Synod for Lebanon Charter of 1996. This was issued during the visit of Pope John Paul II to Lebanon, and included subsequent work under the title of the Maronite Patriarchal Synod. These documents are devoted to the principle of a civil state as a model for administration in Arab societies, and presented the idea of “Lebanon the Message,” which is based on interfaith dialogue. These documents not only were met with consensus among all spectra of Lebanon, but also resonated throughout the Muslim World, particularly in the wake of the painful events of Sept. 11, 2001. These documents led to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz’s initiative for interfaith dialogue, which culminated in the Riyadh Declaration in 2008, aimed at founding a culture of peace. A civil state has become necessary to save Arab societies from the specter of a camouflaged return to the old regimes, or the risk of being dragged back to obsolete ideologies as a result of poverty, oppression and deprivation.

In short, it is time to present the idea of a “citizen state” as an alternative for the nation-state. The former should be based on individual freedoms, even if at the expense of nationalist fantasies. 

=======================================

Sami Nader
Al Monitor Columnist

Sami Nader is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Lebanon Pulse. He is an economist, Middle Eastern affairs analyst and communications expert with extensive expertise in corporate strategy and risk management. He currently directs the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs, focusing on economics and geopolitics of the Levant, and is a professor for USJ University in Beirut. On Twitter: @saminader

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 10th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

 

On Kristallnacht anniversary, Obama calls for speaking out against intolerance.

President warns of ‘the tragic consequences of silence in the face of unmitigated hatred’

November 8, 2013, 11:47 pm
President Barack Obama (photo credit:AP/Cliff Owen)

President Barack Obama (photo credit:AP/Cliff Owen)

WASHINGTON — The lesson of Kristallnacht is to speak out “against anti-Semitism and intolerance,” President Obama said in marking the 75th anniversary of the pogrom that presaged the Holocaust.

“Kristallnacht foreshadowed the systematic slaughter of six million Jews and millions of other innocent victims,” Obama said.

“Seventy-five years later, Kristallnacht now signifies the tragic consequences of silence in the face of unmitigated hatred,” he said in a statement. “As we mark this anniversary, let us act in keeping with the lessons of that dark night by speaking out against anti-Semitism and intolerance, standing up to indifference, and re-committing ourselves to combating prejudice and persecution wherever it exists.”

Riots on Nov. 9 and 10 1938 organized by German authorities killed 91 Jews, destroyed 267 synagogues and were followed by the deportation of 30,000 Jews to concentration camps.

The systematized attacks, which came to be known as the Night of Broken Glass, anticipated the mass slaughter of European Jewry launched three years later.

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On this same date in 2013 we received from our friend Keyvon Afshari, who managed  Professor Hooshang Amirahmadi’s campaign for the Presidency of Iran. It seems now as if the winner – the academic-cleric Hassan Rouhani – backed by the religious establishment in Iran that also backed his predecessor – the accomplished mini-monster Ahmadi-Nejad – has in effect taken over the rational policies that the American Iranian Council proposed.

But the problem is that the credibility of the whole establishment in Tehran is about at the level of the NAZI party of Munich, Germany of 1933.
We believe they should be taken by their word and trusted that they will push for the victory of their crazy doctrine and could lead to a new Holocaust.

Personally, having campaigned with former Iran Ambassador to the UN, the present Foreign Minister of Iran, the same Mr. Javad Zarif, who spends now 8 hours in face-to-face meetings with his US counterpart Mr. Johm Kerry, and I asked him why does not Iran shoulder on the development of renewable energy as I know they have the needed scientists and could become leaders in this area – this rather the pursuing an economically  failed nuclear power policy? He answered me that Iran has an inalienable right to nuclear power like any other Nation and he will not give this up. But we all know by now that this was a fake contention and it was not electricity they were after – it is the BOMB they want and why should we trust them with a bomb when they declare openly that they want to use it in effect. And by saying THEY I mean people that believe in the after-life in the bosom of their privately-owned man-become-God. Yes this is a form of religion based racism that is of the NAZI kind.

I am all for bringing Iran back into the family of Nations. I took very seriously the RESET idea that US policy should reach agreements with the great Iranian Nation and the Turkish State as well – the true two Middle East Islamic powers – but this can be done only if Iran opens up FIRST and becomes completely transparent in matters of nuclear know-how in exchange for a complete acceptance of all their rightful economic needs like the unfreezing of their bank accounts and free trade in everything else except nuclear related goods.

In this respect we welcome the following report from the AIC about the technicality of negotiations but we call for a total freeze in practical moves unless – with clear agreements from the West – Iran does not open-up first – and this under a very clear time limit that cannot exceed one or two months. The talk about numbers of centrifuges is thus a waste of costly time if the goal is indeed to defang a dangerous regime .  President Obama knows this – so does President Hollande.

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The Geneva Talks: No Breakthrough, Yet much Accomplished.

 

Kayvon Afshari

Director of Communications, American Iranian Council

 

Saturday November 9, 2013

After three days of serious, high-level talks in Geneva, the P5+1 announced that a deal has yet to be reached on Iran’s nuclear program. Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign policy chief, said that they would meet again on November 20th at the senior diplomat level, rather than the foreign minister level.

Secretary of State John Kerry tried to stay upbeat, telling journalists, “We came to Geneva to narrow the differences, and I can tell you without any reservations, we made significant progress. It takes time to build confidence between countries that have really been at odds with each other for a long time now,” he said.

 Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister in charge of the nuclear negotiations struck a similar tone, saying, It was natural when we started dealing with the details there could be differences of views. But we are working together and hopeful we will be able to reach agreement when we meet again

 

Meanwhile, some sources pointed fingers at the French negotiating team for spoiling a potential deal. Some diplomats told the Guardian Newspaper that they were furious with the role that French FM Laurent Fabius played, and accused him of revealing details of the talks upon his Saturday arrival in Geneva. The French team complained that the draft for a deal was prepared mostly by Iran and the US, and that they did not want to be stampeded into agreement.

 

 

Geneva Talks Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton Meeting

 

 

What does it mean?

 

While many observers who were hoping for a breakthrough view these developments as a failure, astute analysts should keep in mind that tremendous progress has been made in a short period of time and that a final resolution will be a long, arduous process.
For the first time in years, the two sides are sitting at the table and actively negotiating with one another on the highly-technical details regarding Iran’s nuclear program. In fact, Mr. Kerry had over eight hours of meetings with Mr. Zarif, something quite new in the post-Revolution history of US-Iran relations. It is now becoming normal for American and Iranian senior diplomats to directly engage with one another, something that was not yet the case just two months ago during the United Nations General Assembly. This is a meaningful accomplishment in the long process of normalizing US-Iran relations, and the American Iranian Council congratulates them for it.


The next ten days until the upcoming round of negotiations will give all sides the opportunity to think deeply about what lies ahead. Unfortunately, some detractors may see this as an opportunity to spoil a potential deal. Some US Congressmen may call for further sanctions on Iran in this interim period— an unwise move that would be against the national interest of both the United States and Iran. As Secretary Kerry remarked today when asked if he is worried about further sanctions, “This is an issue of such consequence that it really needs to rise or fall on the merits, not on politics… Each day that you don’t have an agreement, Iran will continue to enrich, Iran will continue to put centrifuges in, Iran will continue its program.” Echoing Secretary Kerry’s sentiment, AIC President Hooshang Amirahmadi said, “The diplomatic channel must remain open. If it were to close, the only option
left would be war and bombs, which would be damaging to both sides.”


The AIC has long maintained that the final resolution must be based on two principles: Iran’s inalienable right to domestically produce nuclear power and Iran’s obligation to verify to the International Atomic Energy Agency that there is no military aspect to the program.

In return for its transparency, Iran should have sanctions removed and should be encouraged to fully rejoin the world economy. Beyond this broad framework for a resolution, there is much room for negotiators to hammer out the technical details such as the number of centrifuges, level of uranium enrichment, extent of sanctions relief, and so forth.


While most of us were hoping for a breakthrough moment, we should bear in mind that conducting diplomacy in a relationship that has seen 34 years of hostility will produce many disappointments. As realistic supporters of normalizing US-Iran relations, we should manage our expectations, loudly reject the calls for war, and forcefully push for both sides to continue the diplomatic process.

====================================

The proposal under consideration in Geneva was to have been the first stage of a multipart agreement. It called for Iran to freeze its nuclear program for up to six months to allow negotiations on a long-term agreement without the worry that Iran was racing ahead to build a bomb. In exchange, the West was to have provided some easing of the international sanctions that have battered Iran’s economy.

After years of off-again, on-again talks, the deal would have been the first to brake Iran’s nuclear program.Despite the diplomats’ insistence on progress, the failure to clinch an agreement raised questions about the future of the nuclear talks, given the fierce criticism that the mere prospect of a deal whipped up in Israel and among Republicans and some Democrats in Congress.

The announcement on Sunday November 10, 2013, was a deflating end to a long week-end of diplomatic twists and turns, after Mr. Kerry huddled for hours with Mr. Zarif and Mr. Fabius to try to close gaps on issues like curbing Iran’s enrichment program and what to do about the heavy-water reactor Iran is building near the city of Arak, which will produce plutonium.

Iranian officials had promoted the possibility of a deal for days, generating an expectant atmosphere that swelled when Secretary of State John Kerry cut short a tour of the Middle East on Friday to join the talks. He was joined by the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany and Russia and a vice foreign minister from China.

Now the participating States pledged to return to the table in 10 days to try again, albeit at a lower level – just on a Political advisers level.
France objected strenuously that the proposed deal that was suggested by Iran would do too little to curb Iran’s uranium enrichment or to stop the development of a nuclear reactor capable of producing plutonium.

Neither Ms. Ashton nor Mr. Zarif criticized France, saying that it had played a constructive role. But the disappointment was palpable, and the decision to hold the next meeting at the level of political director, not foreign minister, suggested that the two sides were less confident of their ability to bridge the gaps in the next round.

For all that, Mr. Zarif tried to put a brave face on the three days of talks, saying that the atmosphere had been good, even if the parties disagreed on the details of a potential agreement.

“What I was looking for was the political determination, willingness and good faith in order to end this,” he said. “I think we’re all on the same wavelength, and that’s important.”

But France was not ready to turn Geneva into another Munich and accept Tehran’s “politiking.” France allows for Iran credibility and is frightened for the World at large. This reminds us of Dionne’s article  at  www.npr.org/templates/story/story… that was titled:

The New Republic: Obama’s Disdain For “Politiking” – and we expect now a clear and uncompromising Washington position.

Mr. Kerry said during his recent visit to Israel that the United States was asking Iran, as part of an interim accord, to agree to a “complete freeze over where they are today,” implying that Iran’s plutonium production program would be affected in some way as well. And in a news conference at the end of the talks, Mr. Kerry made clear that limits on the Arak reactor should be part of an initial agreement.

Once the reactor at Arak is operational, as early as next year, it might be very hard to disable it through a military strike without risking the dispersal of nuclear material. That risk might eliminate one of the West’s options for responding to Iran and reduce its leverage in the talks.

The Arak reactor has been a contentious negotiating point because it would give Iran another pathway to a bomb, using plutonium rather than enriched uranium. Moreover, the Iranian explanations for why it is building Arak have left most Western nations and nuclear experts skeptical. The country has no need for the fuel for civilian uses now, and the reactor’s design renders it highly efficient for producing the makings of a nuclear weapon.

Israel has been vocal about not letting the new reactor get to the point where the fuel is inserted, after which military action against the reactor could create an environmental disaster. Israel has destroyed two reactors from the air in the past three decades, in Iraq in 1981 and in Syria in 2007. Both attacks took place before fuel had been put in the reactors.

French officials also noted a difference between the United States and Europe on the issue of sanctions relief. The most sweeping American sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking industries were passed by Congress, giving President Obama little flexibility to lift them.

That has led the Obama administration to focus on a narrower set of proposals involving Iranian cash that is frozen in overseas banks. Freeing that cash in installments, in return for specific steps by Iran, would not require the repeal of any congressional sanctions.

France and other European Union countries, however, face fewer political restrictions on ending their core sanctions, which means any decision to lift them could be more far-reaching. In addition, officials said, the measures would be harder to reinstate should the talks unravel or Iran renege on its pledges.

Those considerations left the Europeans more hesitant to consider easing sanctions than the United States was.

Still, European officials appeared to be balancing their wariness of Iran with a hopeful sense that these negotiations were fundamentally different from the fruitless sessions during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who left office in August. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not conceeding that Iran has changed and has demanded that Iran close the Arak nuclear reactor and give up all enrichment of uranium, not just the 20 percent enrichment that is at issue in the negotiations.

Mr. Netanyahu earlier said the proposed agreement would be a “deal of the century” for Iran. On Friday, Mr. Obama called Mr. Netanyahu to brief him on the talks and to assure him that the United States was still committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

“There are very strong feelings about the consequences of our choices for our allies,” Mr. Kerry said. “We have enormous respect for those concerns.”

Mr. Netanyahu sees the need to treat Iran the same way as Israel treated the nuclear ambitions of Iraq and Syria. Israel is wondering if it has not allowed too much time to pass already and is sorry for not having acted while Ahmadi-Nejad was still in power.
There just cannot be an Arak  plant. That drink has too high potency and no sweeteners.

To show that we researched all positions before posting this, we also have to note that I jwaited with posting this until I ust watched the November 10, 2013 live Fareed Zakaria CNN/GPS show that obviously already touched on this weekends activities in Geneva thanks to the time difference and was able to bring in also Joseph Cirincione of Ploughshares and Kenneth Pollack of Brookings – both former US government officials that were supposed to have opposing points of view – but did not really.  Fareed himself, who normally is our only TV “Guru” seems to be too remote and too young for Holocaust history, seem to think that in order to become a real danger the Arak plant is still 4 years away. But they did not realize that even the potential of having a bomb, this before the actual building of the bomb, is just unacceptable when it is in the hands of madmen.

Too big to fail is an issue not just for banks but also for outsized madmen, and despite the history of American intervention in Iran in the Shah’s days – the throttling of democracy in Mosaddegh’s days, that we accuse and find as cause of what happened, the present Iran State is too front-loaded with madmen not to be dealt with due respect for what they say.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 23rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

  • Diplomats: Iran Nuke Overture More of a Promise than an Offer – George Jahn
    Diplomats familiar with the Iran nuclear talks say significant gaps remain between what the Iranians offered and what the six negotiating powers seek. Two diplomats said the chief advance achieved at Geneva was not detailed Iranian concessions, but Tehran’s apparent willingness to engage – a departure from previous Iranian refusal to even discuss most of the other side’s demands.
    The demands on Iran from the six powers include a halt on enriching uranium to 20%, disabling enrichment operations at the underground Fordo facility, a cap on how much enriched material Iran can produce and stockpile, the removal of Tehran’s supply of 20%-enriche d uranium and stricter UN supervision of its lower-grade enriched uranium stockpile, and a halt in construction of a reactor that will produce plutonium.
    Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, predicted Monday the nuclear talks could take as long as a year. On Tuesday, Gen. Masoud Jazayri, the deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, warned, “Iranian diplomats will never give in to the oppressive West.”  (AP-Denver Post)
  • Saudi Arabia Set for Diplomatic Shift Away from U.S.
    Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief has said the kingdom will make a “major shift” in dealings with the U.S., a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday. Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that Washington had failed to act effectively on the Syria crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said. (Reuters-Guardian-UK)
  • Israel Distances Itself from Diplomatic Confrontation with Turkey – Sevil Erkus
    Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor said Tuesday that a Washington Post story by David Ignatius claiming that there were intense “spy wars” between Turkey and Israel “does not serve any Israeli purpose.” He said the information that Turkish intelligence had disclosed to Iranian intelligence the identities of up to 10 Iranians who had been meeting in Turkey with their Mossad case officers was not leaked from Israel.
    “Israel wishes to stay away from public polemics with Turkey….Was it leaked by Israel? I can confidently say: Of course not.”&n bsp; (Hurriyet-Turkey)
  • Thirty Years Later, a Bombing in Lebanon Still Echoes (BBC)
    On October 23, 1983, bombs exploded in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. service members and 58 French paratroopers.
    Soon afterwards, the multinational force of American, French, British and Italian soldiers pulled out of Lebanon. And the survivors of the attacks tried to get on with their lives.
  • Iran’s Defense Minister Behind the 1983 Attack on the U.S. Marin e Barracks in Beirut – Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan was commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard force in Lebanon at the time of the 1983 bombings.
    Instructions for the attack on the multinational forces were issued from Tehran to the Iranian ambassador to Damascus, who passed them on to the Revolutionary Guards forces in Lebanon and their Lebanese Shiite allies in Hizbullah.
    The attacks were carried out by a special operational arm that acted under the joint direction of Tehran and Hizbullah, headed by Imad Mughniyeh.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 20th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Saudis have not been happy recently and they express this at every opportunity. Last month, the Saudi foreign minister chose not to address the U.N. General Assembly. On Friday, the Saudis took their protest to the next level by saying, “Thanks, but no thanks,” when they were picked to fill a spot on the Security Council.

So far it seems the Saudi King wants to achieve his goal by keeping an empty seat at the UN Security Council round table.

The Saudi told the World that they will not occupy that seat – but they did not inform the UN General Assembly President of such a decision. In the meantime they collect expressions of support and of sorrow.

IS THIS BECAUSE OF THE COUNCIL’S INACTION REGARDING SYRIA?

According to ALJAZEERA, the Gulf Co-operation Council has backed Saudi Arabia’s rejection of its seat on the UN Security Council, praising the Gulf nation’s call for reform  and added that it was crucial for Saudi Arabia to represent the Arab and Muslim world on the council “at this important and historical stage, specifically for the Middle East region. So what does this mean?

Many diplomats and analysts have said the Saudi protest was a message to the United States that it wanted a tougher stance on Syria and was angry that Washington had opened contacts with Iran.

The kingdom has been angered by the increasing rapport between Washington and Iran, Saudi Arabia’s old regional foe, which has taken root since President Barack Obama spoke by telephone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. 

Historically, the conservative Muslim kingdom has traditionally avoided big political statements, preferring to wield its influence as world’s top oil exporter, birthplace of Islam and chief Arab ally of the US behind closed doors. In statements at the UN, the Saudi Kingdom was known as preaching against short skirts that women wear.

The main reason for Saudi Arabia’s refusal to join the Security Council is, of course, Syria. The Saudis view the ongoing civil war in Syria as a complete failure by the Security Council. Saudi Arabia wants to see Syrian President Bashar Assad fall.

Another reason is Egypt. The Saudi government, which is very conservative, did not understand why Obama abandoned U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak. The Saudis are alarmed by the chemistry between Washington and the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that also threatens Saudi stability. Saudi Arabia has been providing economic assistance to those who ousted Mohammed Morsi from power this summer.

The third reason is, of course, Iran. The Saudis explained their refusal to sit on the Security Council by citing the body’s failure to clear the Middle East of unconventional weapons. By definition, this includes Israel, but the Saudis are mostly thinking about the Iranian nuclear issue. Iran poses a direct threat to Saudi Arabia and its Gulf state allies.

An Israeli commentator thinks: ‘Despite its candid anger, Saudi Arabia cannot forgo its military partnership with the U.S. After seeing how the U.S. recently froze military aid to Egypt, the Saudis realized that, with Obama in power, anything is possible. It is preferable for Saudi Arabia to not publicly confront the U.S. on the U.N. stage. Rather, it should do so indirectly. There is much more Saudi Arabia can do to thwart the Iranian nuclear project. It may be that Saudi Arabia’s open refusal of a Security Council seat is masking other behind-the-scenes moves, such as building a discrete and unnatural coalition. It is best that such things are done as far away from the spotlight as possible.”

============================================

and from Matthew Russell Lee – reporter from the UN – The Inner City Press:

Exclusive: On Saudi Seat, Arab Group Statement Was Never Agreed To, ICP Is Told

 

  A Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

 

UNITED NATIONS, October 19 — The Arab Group “press statement” urging Saudi Arabia to “maintain their Membership in the Security Council,” e-mailed out Saturday afternoon, was never formally agreed to by the Group, Inner City Press is exclusively told from the Gulf.

 

  The statement was reported without qualification by Reuters and Agence France Presse, for example, with a Gulf satellite television channel even saying that since no Arab Group member broke the silence procedure, the statement was issued.

 

  But Inner City Press has learned, at least one member — surprisingly, from the Gulf — said it need to consult with its capital. Some other members never formally got the draft statement to comment on or break silence, including one member who absolutely had to see it in advance before it was sent out, but did not.

 

  “It’s unbelievable,” an involved source told Inner City Press, needing anonymity on pain of, well, decapitation. “They all got fooled, Reuters and then. They didn’t even check with us. To call it a ‘silence procedure’ when something is faxed at 11 pm on a holiday, and then sent to the media the middle of the next day is a joke.”

 

  But the hunger not only of Western powers but also of their affiliated media to get Saudi Arabia on the Security Council to take a hard line on Syria and Iran is so great, the source continued, that they cut corners.

 

  Instead of the most basic fact checking, they launched into paragraphs about the Saudis’ supposed motives, to get the attention of the United States, drive the US away from Iran’s Hassan Rouhani or toward renewed military threats on Syria.

 

 This way, even in reversing course Saudi Arabia could save face, saying they only took the seat because their fellow Arab countries — minus at least one of course — begged them to. “We’re doing this for you,” the Saudis could say.

 

But what would the “this” be?

 

Urging the same rebels it arms and tells not to negotiate with Assad to go to Geneva Two?

 

Removing or loosening sanctions on Iran? (For more on this, click here for this reporter’s longer piece on Beacon Reader, a new feature.)

 

  Now could the Saudis rely on an Arab Group statement not formally even agreed to, as a basis for playing Hamlet and reversing themselves? Watch this site.

 

———

 

Here is the “Arab Group press release” e-mailed out on October 19, 2013:

 

“The Arab Group, at level of Ambassadors, Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York, discussed in an extraordinary fashion, the situation regarding the position of the Brothers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regarding their Membership in the Security Council. With our understanding and respect for the position of the Brothers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we hope that they, which are amongst the blessed who represent the Arab and Islamic world at this important and historical stage, specifically for the Middle East region, to maintain their Membership in the Security Council and continue their brave role in defending our issues specifically at the rostrum of the Security Council.”

 

===============

Saudi Withdrawal Explained to ICP by Syria as  Inability to Support Geneva II

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, October 18 — After Syria’s Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari gave a speech Friday in the UN Security Council saying “the French regime” should give up its permanent seat on the Council, and slamming Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Inner City Press asked him what he thought the reason was for Saudi Arabia renouncing the Security Council seat it won Thursday without competition.

  Ja’afari made some expected points — that Saudi Arabia does not allow women to drive and so is not qualified for the Council, for example, and that its mission does not have the capacity to serve on the Council. But this is true of others too, Inner City Press noted. What changed?

  Then Ja’afari offered this explanation, as an exclusive to Inner City Press: now that the Security Council has passed a resolution, and the push is on for the so-called Geneva Two talks, Saudi Arabia “cannot” (or does not want to be) part of that consensus. Even France cannot vote against Geneva Two. But could Saudi Arabia stand to be seen voting against it, isolated 14 to 1?

  This is something that changed, and recently – the coming together of the Council to vote for the chemical weapons mission, and singing from the same choir book about Geneva Two.

  It is not implausible, that as the date of starting on the Council grew closer, and the sides on the Security Council grew closer together and not farther apart, Saudi Arabia or someone in its royal family saw serving on the Council in a different light.

Kuwait, Ja’afari told Inner City Press, is no different.

  But Kuwait is not as aligned publicly – voting for a Geneva Two would not be seen as contradicting its positions or, as for Saudi Arabia, those it funds. We’ll see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saudi Withdrawal Explained to ICP by Syria as  Inability to Support Geneva II.

 

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

 

UNITED NATIONS, October 18 — After Syria’s Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari gave a speech Friday in the UN Security Council saying “the French regime” should give up its permanent seat on the Council, and slamming Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Inner City Press asked him what he thought the reason was for Saudi Arabia renouncing the Security Council seat it won Thursday without competition.

 

  Ja’afari made some expected points — that Saudi Arabia does not allow women to drive and so is not qualified for the Council, for example, and that its mission does not have the capacity to serve on the Council. But this is true of others too, Inner City Press noted. What changed?

 

  Then Ja’afari offered this explanation, as an exclusive to Inner City Press: now that the Security Council has passed a resolution, and the push is on for the so-called Geneva Two talks, Saudi Arabia “cannot” (or does not want to be) part of that consensus. Even France cannot vote against Geneva Two. But could Saudi Arabia stand to be seen voting against it, isolated 14 to 1?

 

  This is something that changed, and recently – the coming together of the Council to vote for the chemical weapons mission, and singing from the same choir book about Geneva Two.

 

  It is not implausible, that as the date of starting on the Council grew closer, and the sides on the Security Council grew closer together and not farther apart, Saudi Arabia or someone in its royal family saw serving on the Council in a different light.

 

Kuwait, Ja’afari told Inner City Press, is no different.

 

  But Kuwait is not as aligned publicly – voting for a Geneva Two would not be seen as contradicting its positions or, as for Saudi Arabia, those it funds. We’ll see.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 19th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 ON THE SAUDI UN EVENT – FROM INSIDE THE UN – by MATTHEW RUSSELL LEE of INNER CITY PRESS:

On October 17th:

For Security Council – Saudi Where Women Can’t Drive Loses 10 Votes –
got only 176 votes out of the 191 states present.

Afterward Inner City Press asked Syrian Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari about Saudi Arabia’s election to the Security Council, which now has chemical weapons in Syria on its agenda. Ja’afari shook his head and hearkened back to when Qatar was elected to the Security Council, and then got the President of the General Assembly position. Money.

Next posting – on October 18th:

After Saudi Arabia announced it would not take the UN Security Council seat to which it was elected yesterday without competition, in front of the Security Council Friday morning most Ambassadors entering for day’s meeting declined comment or said, we are trying to figure it out. (This was from UK Deputy Permanent Representative Peter Wilson.)

  But France’s Permanent Representative Gerard Araud used the announcement in the way it appears the Saudis wanted. He said France understands the Saudis frustration. He said 120,000 people have been killed in Syria, most by the “Assad regime.”

  When a reporter asked about the recent Council “unity” around the Syria resolution, Araud said dismissively that is only about chemical weapons.

  France last month sponsored a meeting in the UN’s ECOSOC Chamber declaring Saudi-supported Syria rebel Ahmad al Jarba the sole legitimate representative of the Syria people. One wag mused, will Saudi try to give the seat to Jarba?

  Ban Ki-moon met with Jarba in his (UN provided) residence. Here is video of Ban speaking of Saudi Arabia Friday morning:

Inner City Press checked with a well-placed UN Secretariat source, who told it exclusively that Qatar’s foreign ministry reached out “in the middle of the night” (New York time), right after the Saudi announcement, to ask what the next step will be.

  So does Qatar want the seat? They recently had it. And since they compete with Saudi Arabia in which Syrian rebels to arm, and in Egypt, if Saudi has any role in picking a replacement, look for United Arab Emirates, for example.

The source told Inner City Press that “nothing starts until Saudi Arabia sends a note verbale to the Secretary General.” Ban Ki-moon, going into the Council to speak on Women, Peace and Security (while his UN Peacekeeping continues supporting the Congolese Army units implicated in 135 rapes in Minova last November) had no comment.

  Neither did US Ambassador Samantha Power, last seen tweeting about the Red Sox and Detroit.

  Some are predicting that the US will try to talk Saudi Arabia out of it, trying to make nice after the Saudis were miffed by President Barack Obama’s telephone call to Iran’s Hassan Rouhani.

   But either way, the Saudi’s look “bad,” as one Ambassador put it to Inner City Press. “Their Perm Rep thanked us for our vote,” the Ambassador continued. “So did he not know?” See tweeted photos here, and of   Saudi gift box here. Watch this site.

Update of 1:20 pm — A Deputy Permanent Representative told Inner City Press that Saudi Arabia would meet the President of the General Assembly today. But then, from closer sourcing, Inner City Press is informed that the meeting is canceled.

 At Friday’s noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesperson for any rules on gifts (he referred the question to the PGA’s office) and when Ban last spoke with the Saudi government or ruling family.

then –

UNITED NATIONS, October 18 — The UN is abuzz with the question, why did Saudi Arabia run for a Security Council seat only to this morning decline it? And, this being the UN, the question of which country would replace them.

  From well-placed Arab Group sources comes the name: Kuwait. These sources, when Inner City Press asked of the possibility that Saudi Arabia will find a way to reverse its reversal said no.

“This is what happens when a country is run by one family,” one observer put it, likening it to a decision made in Pyongyang.

Given the way Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative spoke at the UNTV stakeout after his country’s election yesterday, either he didn’t know or he deserves an Academy Award for acting.

The Saudi mission has been getting training for this seat for some time. And now, not.

One of his staffers is re-tweeting the stories of Saudi Arabia’s rejection of the seat, and expressing pride.

What will happen with Saudi Arabia’s candidacy for the Human Rights Council? In the future, how can their candidacies be taken seriously? At least, debate should be required, at which the question can be asked: are you serious?

  Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky if there are any rules on the gifts given in the General Assembly for votes, as Saudi Arabia did. He said to ask the office of the President of the General Assembly, which now tells Inner City Press there is no cap, no procedure, this is not under the scope of any GA rule so gifts of any size can be given.  Ah, the UN.

After Syria’s Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari gave a speech Friday in the UN Security Council saying “the French regime” should give up its permanent seat on the Council, and slamming Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Inner City Press asked him what he thought the reason was for Saudi Arabia renouncing the Security Council seat it won Thursday without competition.

  Ja’afari made some expected points — that Saudi Arabia does not allow women to drive and so is not qualified for the Council, for example, and that its mission does not have the capacity to serve on the Council. But this is true of others too, Inner City Press noted. What changed?

  Then Ja’afari offered this explanation, as an exclusive to Inner City Press: now that the Security Council has passed a resolution, and the push is on for the so-called Geneva Two talks, Saudi Arabia “cannot” (or does not want to be) part of that consensus. Even France cannot vote against Geneva Two. But could Saudi Arabia stand to be seen voting against it, isolated 14 to 1?

  This is something that changed, and recently – the coming together of the Council to vote for the chemical weapons mission, and singing from the same choir book about Geneva Two.

  It is not implausible, that as the date of starting on the Council grew closer, and the sides on the Security Council grew closer together and not farther apart, Saudi Arabia or someone in its royal family saw serving on the Council in a different light.

Kuwait, Ja’afari told Inner City Press, is no different.

  But Kuwait is not as aligned publicly – voting for a Geneva Two would not be seen as contradicting its positions or, as for Saudi Arabia, those it funds. We’ll see.

And on the Saudi event from inside the UN by Matthew Russell Lee pf Inner City Press.On October 17th:


For Security Council – Saudi Where Women Can’t Drive Loses 10 Votes –
got only 176 votes out of the 191 states present. Afterward Inner City Press asked Syrian Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari about Saudi Arabia’s election to the Security Council, which now has chemical weapons in Syria on its agenda. Ja’afari shook his head and hearkened back to when Qatar was elected to the Security Council, and then got the President of the General Assembly position. Money.

Next posting – October 18th:

After Saudi Arabia announced it would not take the UN Security Council seat to which it was elected yesterday without competition, in front of the Security Council Friday morning most Ambassadors entering for day’s meeting declined comment or said, we are trying to figure it out. (This was from UK Deputy Permanent Representative Peter Wilson.)

 

  But France’s Permanent Representative Gerard Araud used the announcement in the way it appears the Saudis wanted. He said France understands the Saudis frustration. He said 120,000 people have been killed in Syria, most by the “Assad regime.”

 

  When a reporter asked about the recent Council “unity” around the Syria resolution, Araud said dismissively that is only about chemical weapons.

 

  France last month sponsored a meeting in the UN’s ECOSOC Chamber declaring Saudi-supported Syria rebel Ahmad al Jarba the sole legitimate representative of the Syria people. One wag mused, will Saudi try to give the seat to Jarba?

 

  Ban Ki-moon met with Jarba in his (UN provided) residence. Here is video of Ban speaking of Saudi Arabia Friday morning:

 

Inner City Press checked with a well-placed UN Secretariat source, who told it exclusively that Qatar’s foreign ministry reached out “in the middle of the night” (New York time), right after the Saudi announcement, to ask what the next step will be.

 

  So does Qatar want the seat? They recently had it. And since they compete with Saudi Arabia in which Syrian rebels to arm, and in Egypt, if Saudi has any role in picking a replacement, look for United Arab Emirates, for example.

 

The source told Inner City Press that “nothing starts until Saudi Arabia sends a note verbale to the Secretary General.” Ban Ki-moon, going into the Council to speak on Women, Peace and Security (while his UN Peacekeeping continues supporting the Congolese Army units implicated in 135 rapes in Minova last November) had no comment.

 

  Neither did US Ambassador Samantha Power, last seen tweeting about the Red Sox and Detroit.

 

  Some are predicting that the US will try to talk Saudi Arabia out of it, trying to make nice after the Saudis were miffed by President Barack Obama’s telephone call to Iran’s Hassan Rouhani.

 

   But either way, the Saudi’s look “bad,” as one Ambassador put it to Inner City Press. “Their Perm Rep thanked us for our vote,” the Ambassador continued. “So did he not know?” See tweeted photos here, and of Saudi gift box here. Watch this site.

 

Update of 1:20 pm — A Deputy Permanent Representative told Inner City Press that Saudi Arabia would meet the President of the General Assembly today. But then, from closer sourcing, Inner City Press is informed that the meeting is canceled.

 

 At Friday’s noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesperson for any rules on gifts (he referred the question to the PGA’s office) and when Ban last spoke with the Saudi government or ruling family.

 

then –

 

UNITED NATIONS, October 18 — The UN is abuzz with the question, why did Saudi Arabia run for a Security Council seat only to this morning decline it? And, this being the UN, the question of which country would replace them.

 

  From well-placed Arab Group sources comes the name: Kuwait. These sources, when Inner City Press asked of the possibility that Saudi Arabia will find a way to reverse its reversal said no.

 

“This is what happens when a country is run by one family,” one observer put it, likening it to a decision made in Pyongyang.

 

Given the way Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative spoke at the UNTV stakeout after his country’s election yesterday, either he didn’t know or he deserves an Academy Award for acting.

 

The Saudi mission has been getting training for this seat for some time. And now, not.

 

One of his staffers is re-tweeting the stories of Saudi Arabia’s rejection of the seat, and expressing pride.

 

What will happen with Saudi Arabia’s candidacy for the Human Rights Council? In the future, how can their candidacies be taken seriously? At least, debate should be required, at which the question can be asked: are you serious?

 

  Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky if there are any rules on the gifts given in the General Assembly for votes, as Saudi Arabia did. He said to ask the office of the President of the General Assembly, which now tells Inner City Press there is no cap, no procedure, this is not under the scope of any GA rule so gifts of any size can be given.  Ah, the UN.

 

After Syria’s Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari gave a speech Friday in the UN Security Council saying “the French regime” should give up its permanent seat on the Council, and slamming Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Inner City Press asked him what he thought the reason was for Saudi Arabia renouncing the Security Council seat it won Thursday without competition.

 

  Ja’afari made some expected points — that Saudi Arabia does not allow women to drive and so is not qualified for the Council, for example, and that its mission does not have the capacity to serve on the Council. But this is true of others too, Inner City Press noted. What changed?

 

  Then Ja’afari offered this explanation, as an exclusive to Inner City Press: now that the Security Council has passed a resolution, and the push is on for the so-called Geneva Two talks, Saudi Arabia “cannot” (or does not want to be) part of that consensus. Even France cannot vote against Geneva Two. But could Saudi Arabia stand to be seen voting against it, isolated 14 to 1?

 

  This is something that changed, and recently – the coming together of the Council to vote for the chemical weapons mission, and singing from the same choir book about Geneva Two.

 

  It is not implausible, that as the date of starting on the Council grew closer, and the sides on the Security Council grew closer together and not farther apart, Saudi Arabia or someone in its royal family saw serving on the Council in a different light.

 

Kuwait, Ja’afari told Inner City Press, is no different.

 

  But Kuwait is not as aligned publicly – voting for a Geneva Two would not be seen as contradicting its positions or, as for Saudi Arabia, those it funds. We’ll see.

– See more at: 


For Security Council – Saudi Where Women Can’t Drive Loses 10 Votes –
got only 176 votes out of the 191 states present. Afterward Inner City Press asked Syrian Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari about Saudi Arabia’s election to the Security Council, which now has chemical weapons in Syria on its agenda. Ja’afari shook his head and hearkened back to when Qatar was elected to the Security Council, and then got the President of the General Assembly position. Money.

Next posting – October 18th:

After Saudi Arabia announced it would not take the UN Security Council seat to which it was elected yesterday without competition, in front of the Security Council Friday morning most Ambassadors entering for day’s meeting declined comment or said, we are trying to figure it out. (This was from UK Deputy Permanent Representative Peter Wilson.)

 

  But France’s Permanent Representative Gerard Araud used the announcement in the way it appears the Saudis wanted. He said France understands the Saudis frustration. He said 120,000 people have been killed in Syria, most by the “Assad regime.”

 

  When a reporter asked about the recent Council “unity” around the Syria resolution, Araud said dismissively that is only about chemical weapons.

 

  France last month sponsored a meeting in the UN’s ECOSOC Chamber declaring Saudi-supported Syria rebel Ahmad al Jarba the sole legitimate representative of the Syria people. One wag mused, will Saudi try to give the seat to Jarba?

 

  Ban Ki-moon met with Jarba in his (UN provided) residence. Here is video of Ban speaking of Saudi Arabia Friday morning:

 

Inner City Press checked with a well-placed UN Secretariat source, who told it exclusively that Qatar’s foreign ministry reached out “in the middle of the night” (New York time), right after the Saudi announcement, to ask what the next step will be.

 

  So does Qatar want the seat? They recently had it. And since they compete with Saudi Arabia in which Syrian rebels to arm, and in Egypt, if Saudi has any role in picking a replacement, look for United Arab Emirates, for example.

 

The source told Inner City Press that “nothing starts until Saudi Arabia sends a note verbale to the Secretary General.” Ban Ki-moon, going into the Council to speak on Women, Peace and Security (while his UN Peacekeeping continues supporting the Congolese Army units implicated in 135 rapes in Minova last November) had no comment.

 

  Neither did US Ambassador Samantha Power, last seen tweeting about the Red Sox and Detroit.

 

  Some are predicting that the US will try to talk Saudi Arabia out of it, trying to make nice after the Saudis were miffed by President Barack Obama’s telephone call to Iran’s Hassan Rouhani.

 

   But either way, the Saudi’s look “bad,” as one Ambassador put it to Inner City Press. “Their Perm Rep thanked us for our vote,” the Ambassador continued. “So did he not know?” See tweeted photos here, and of Saudi gift box here. Watch this site.

 

Update of 1:20 pm — A Deputy Permanent Representative told Inner City Press that Saudi Arabia would meet the President of the General Assembly today. But then, from closer sourcing, Inner City Press is informed that the meeting is canceled.

 

 At Friday’s noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesperson for any rules on gifts (he referred the question to the PGA’s office) and when Ban last spoke with the Saudi government or ruling family.

 

then –

 

UNITED NATIONS, October 18 — The UN is abuzz with the question, why did Saudi Arabia run for a Security Council seat only to this morning decline it? And, this being the UN, the question of which country would replace them.

 

  From well-placed Arab Group sources comes the name: Kuwait. These sources, when Inner City Press asked of the possibility that Saudi Arabia will find a way to reverse its reversal said no.

 

“This is what happens when a country is run by one family,” one observer put it, likening it to a decision made in Pyongyang.

 

Given the way Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative spoke at the UNTV stakeout after his country’s election yesterday, either he didn’t know or he deserves an Academy Award for acting.

 

The Saudi mission has been getting training for this seat for some time. And now, not.

 

One of his staffers is re-tweeting the stories of Saudi Arabia’s rejection of the seat, and expressing pride.

 

What will happen with Saudi Arabia’s candidacy for the Human Rights Council? In the future, how can their candidacies be taken seriously? At least, debate should be required, at which the question can be asked: are you serious?

 

  Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky if there are any rules on the gifts given in the General Assembly for votes, as Saudi Arabia did. He said to ask the office of the President of the General Assembly, which now tells Inner City Press there is no cap, no procedure, this is not under the scope of any GA rule so gifts of any size can be given.  Ah, the UN.

 

After Syria’s Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari gave a speech Friday in the UN Security Council saying “the French regime” should give up its permanent seat on the Council, and slamming Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Inner City Press asked him what he thought the reason was for Saudi Arabia renouncing the Security Council seat it won Thursday without competition.

 

  Ja’afari made some expected points — that Saudi Arabia does not allow women to drive and so is not qualified for the Council, for example, and that its mission does not have the capacity to serve on the Council. But this is true of others too, Inner City Press noted. What changed?

 

  Then Ja’afari offered this explanation, as an exclusive to Inner City Press: now that the Security Council has passed a resolution, and the push is on for the so-called Geneva Two talks, Saudi Arabia “cannot” (or does not want to be) part of that consensus. Even France cannot vote against Geneva Two. But could Saudi Arabia stand to be seen voting against it, isolated 14 to 1?

 

  This is something that changed, and recently – the coming together of the Council to vote for the chemical weapons mission, and singing from the same choir book about Geneva Two.

 

  It is not implausible, that as the date of starting on the Council grew closer, and the sides on the Security Council grew closer together and not farther apart, Saudi Arabia or someone in its royal family saw serving on the Council in a different light.

 

Kuwait, Ja’afari told Inner City Press, is no different.

 

  But Kuwait is not as aligned publicly – voting for a Geneva Two would not be seen as contradicting its positions or, as for Saudi Arabia, those it funds. We’ll see.

– See more at: Saudi Arabia Rejects U.N. Security Council Seat in Protest Move.

{THOUGH SAUDI ARABIA DID NOT OFFICIALLY NOTIFY THE UN OF ITS DECISION – IN EFFECT IT COULD HOLD ON TO THAT SEAT BUT NOT PARTICIPATE AT THE SECURITY COUNCIL MEETINGS. WE THINK THIS WOULD BE A MUCH STRONGER POSITION THEN JUST LEAVING IT. This is our website’s comment.}

 

Fayez Nureldine/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia stunned the United Nations and even some of its own diplomats on Friday by rejecting a highly coveted seat on the Security Council, a decision that underscored the depth of Saudi anger over what the monarchy sees as weak and conciliatory Western stances toward Syria and Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.

The Saudi decision, which could have been made only with King Abdullah’s approval, came a day after it had won a Security Council seat for the first time, and it appeared to be unprecedented.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry released a statement rejecting the seat just hours after the kingdom’s own diplomats — both at the United Nations and in Riyadh, the Saudi capital — were celebrating their new seat, the product of two years of work to assemble a crack diplomatic team in New York. Some analysts said the sudden turnabout gave the impression of a self-destructive temper tantrum.

But one Saudi diplomat said the decision came after weeks of high-level debate about the usefulness of a seat on the Security Council, where Russia and China have repeatedly drawn Saudi anger by blocking all attempts to pressure Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. Abdullah has voiced rising frustration with the continuing violence in Syria, a fellow Muslim-majority nation where one of his wives was born. He is said to have been deeply disappointed when President Obama decided against airstrikes on Syria’s military in September in favor of a Russian-proposed agreement to secure Syria’s chemical weapons.

And Saudi officials made no secret of their fear that a nuclear deal between Iran and the West, the subject of multilateral talks this week in Geneva with another round scheduled for early November, could come at their expense, leaving them more exposed to their greatest regional rival.

The Saudi decision may also reflect a broader debate within the Saudi ruling elite about how to wield influence: the Saudis have long resisted taking a seat on the Security Council, believing it would hamper their discreet diplomatic style.

Still, the sudden about-face came across as a slap to the United Nations and the United States, one of Saudi Arabia’s strongest Western allies. On Thursday evening, the American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, had issued a statement congratulating the five new nonpermanent members — Chad, Chile, Lithuania, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. Officials at the United States Mission to the United Nations had no immediate comment.

Russia was sharply critical of the Saudi gesture. “We are surprised by Saudi Arabia’s unprecedented decision,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement from Moscow carried by news agencies. “The kingdom’s arguments arouse bewilderment and the criticism of the U.N. Security Council in the context of the Syria conflict is particularly strange.”

There was shock and dismay in Riyadh, too, where the Saudi political elite had seemed thrilled at the prospect of a shift to a more public and assertive diplomatic stance.

Late on Thursday, the spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Osama Nugali, forwarded a message on his Twitter account celebrating the kingdom’s election to the Security Council. The message was written by Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist with links to the ruling elite. Many other prominent Saudis also forwarded the message, which congratulated the kingdom for winning a seat it had “sought for more than two years with the help of a team of the best Saudi diplomats to represent the kingdom.”

Many experts had assumed that Saudi Arabia’s pursuit of a Security Council seat signaled a new desire to be more public and assertive in its stances toward the Syrian civil war and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Saudi ambassador to the United Nations, Abdallah Y. al-Mouallimi, was clearly elated after the General Assembly vote on Thursday.

“We take this election very seriously as a responsibility to be able to contribute to this very important forum to peace and security of the world,” he told reporters. “Our election today is a reflection of a longstanding policy in support of moderation and in support of resolving disputes by peaceful means.”

The statement on Friday struck a far different tone, calling for changes to enhance the Security Council’s contribution to peace. It did not say what those should entail.

“Allowing the ruling regime in Syria to kill and burn its people by the chemical weapons, while the world stands idly, without applying deterrent sanctions against the Damascus regime, is also irrefutable evidence and proof of the inability of the Security Council to carry out its duties and responsibilities,” the statement said.

The statement accused the Security Council of failing to find a “just and lasting solution” to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and of failing to free the Middle East of “all weapons of mass destruction,” an apparent reference to Israel’s presumed nuclear arsenal.

“This is very bad for the image of the country,” said one Saudi political insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision was assumed to be by the king, whose judgment is rarely questioned in public. “It’s as if someone woke up in the night and made this decision.”

But some others in Riyadh said they were not entirely surprised, given the kingdom’s long ambivalence about assuming a position that would strain friendships and alliances, particularly against the backdrop of the high profile and volatility of the Security Council’s recent decisions.

The kingdom has seen its reputation suffer in some quarters in recent years, in part because of the perception that it was combating the democratic aspirations of the 2011 Arab uprisings. On Thursday, the Pew Research Center released a poll indicating that Saudi Arabia’s popularity had declined in several Middle Eastern countries since 2007.

“The Saudis no doubt quickly realized that being on the U.N.S.C. would mean they could no longer pursue their traditional back seat and low-key policies and therefore decided to give it up,” said Bernard Haykel, a professor of Middle East studies at Princeton University and an authority on Saudi Arabia.

“Regardless of the short-term costs, a seat on the U.N.S.C. may have also meant that Saudi Arabia would be more constrained in backing the Syrian opposition,” Mr. Haykel said.

Diplomats at the United Nations said they did not believe the Saudi decision would be reversed, given its unequivocal and accusatory language. It also was unclear when the 193-member General Assembly would take a vote on a replacement.

As of late Friday, the Saudis had not officially notified the United Nations of their decision. Afaf Konja, a spokeswoman for John W. Ashe, the ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda, who is the current president of the General Assembly, said he had not received formal notification nor had held any meetings with Saudi representatives. Given the nature of the Saudi announcement, the spokeswoman said in an e-mail, “the next steps are yet to be determined and will be based on formal language from Saudi Arabia.”

The council has met before without a full membership. Diplomats recalled that in 1950, the Soviet Union refused to sit at the council table, though it did not repudiate its seat.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 6th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

”Saudi Arabia boosts Salafist rivals to Al Qaeda in Syria”

Reuters

Saudi Arabia re ‘The Army of Islam’

      “Saudi Arabia. . .this week helped engineer a consolidation of rebel
      groups (The Army of Islam) around Damascus under a Saudi-backed leader” ;
      “Syrian Salafists were increasingly embracing jihadist views close to Al
    Qaeda”

AMMAN — Alarmed by the rise of Al Qaeda in Syria, Saudi Arabia is
trying to strengthen rival Islamists with ties to Riyadh and this week
helped engineer a consolidation of rebel groups around Damascus under a
Saudi-backed leader.

That might bolster the opposition militarily as President Bashar Assad’s
forces have been pushing back, but it also underlines Al Qaeda’s expansion
in Syria — and the proliferation of splits among Assad’s enemies, just as
world powers are trying to corral them into talks with his government.

Rebel and diplomatic sources said it was Saudi Arabia which nudged rebel
brigades operating in and around Damascus to announce this week that they
have united under a single command comprising 50 groups and numbering some
thousands of fighters.

The formation of the Army of Islam in the capital’s eastern fringe under
Zahran Alloush, leader of the group Liwa Al Islam, strengthens Salafist
jihadists owing allegiance to Riyadh against the Islamic State of Iraq and
the Levant (ISIL), an Al Qaeda branch which has in recent weeks taken
control of territory from other Islamist forces in parts of northern and
eastern Syria.

While fighting for religious rule in Syria, local Salafists do not generally
share the international ambitions of Al Qaeda’s jihadists, many of them
foreign, who want to drive Westerners from the Middle East and unite Muslims
in a single state.

The establishment of the Army of Islam follows last week’s joint declaration
by groups, mainly in the northeast but also including Liwa Al Islam, who
agreed to fight for Islamic rule and also rejected the authority of the
Western- and Saudi-backed opposition in exile, the Syrian National Coalition
(SNC).

That accord was notably not signed by ISIL.

Zahran Alloush, who founded Liwa Al Islam, or the Brigade of Islam, with his
father Abdallah, a Salafist Syrian cleric based in Saudi Arabia, has avoided
declaring personal opposition to Al Qaeda or to the SNC. But he criticised
failures to bring unity to rebel ranks in explaining the creation of the
formation:

“We have formed this army… to achieve unity among the units of the
mujahideen and avoid the effects produced by the divisions within the
National Coalition,” he told Al Jazeera television, referring obliquely to
recent rebel in-fighting.

“The Army of Islam is the result of accelerating efforts to unify the
fighting units operating in the beloved homeland.”

 

The Saudi connection:

Liwa Al Islam, several thousand strong, is among the biggest and best
organised rebel groups, respected even among non-Islamist rebels for
integrity and effectiveness. Alloush could not be reached for comment on the
Saudi role in his new unit.

Saudi officials do not comment on their operations in Syria, where the Sunni
Muslim kingdom has backed the uprising among the Sunni majority against
Assad and his minority Alawite elite who are allied to Shiite Iran, Riyadh’s
rival for regional power.

However, rebel and diplomatic sources told Reuters that Saudi Arabia, which
furnishes arms and other supplies and funds to Assad’s opponents, was behind
the Army of Islam.

The commander of an Islamist rebel unit on the opposite side of Damascus
from the Army’s base of operations in the east told Reuters that Saudi
figures had been in touch with various Salafist groups in recent weeks,
offering support in return for a common front to keep Al Qaeda allies from
expanding their presence around the capital — a presence already detected.

“Saudi tribal figures have been making calls on behalf of Saudi
intelligence,” the commander, who uses the name Abu Mussab, said. “Their
strategy is to offer financial backing in return for loyalty and staying
away from Al Qaeda.”

While hoping to avoid outright confrontation with fellow jihadists, the
Saudis had been gauging the willingness of local Salafist fighters in
joining Saudi-backed formations, including a proposed Syrian National Army.
This, Abu Mussab said, might oppose Al Qaeda in the way the US-funded Sahwa,
or Awakening, movement of Sunni tribesmen fought Al Qaeda in Iraq from 2007.

A Western diplomat following the conflict closely said: “Saudi Arabia is
growing increasingly uncomfortable with more rebels joining Al Qaeda ranks.
The recent advances by the Islamic State have embarrassed the Saudis and the
new alliance appears designed to stop Al Qaeda from gaining influence.”

He said Saudi strategy was two tiered: back less extreme Islamist figures in
the exile SNC political organisation and woo Salafist brigades on the ground
with arms and money.

“Lots of these Salafist groups detest the Syrian National Coalition,” he
said. “But the Saudis do not see this as a contradiction as long as they
stay away from Al Qaeda.”

Abdulrazzaq Ziad, a liberal activist based in Turkey, said the formation of
the Army of Islam, announced with elaborate ceremony in an online video, has
already irked Al Qaeda: “We are already seeing from Facebook comments of
people close to the Islamic state that they view the new formation as a
rival.”

A second diplomat based in the Middle East said: “We have seen in the last
few weeks that every major group has stepped up its efforts to increase its
sphere of influence. An alliance like this would not take place without
Saudi blessing.

“Liwa Al Islam and its allies have not been comfortable with Al Qaeda
establishing a foothold in the Ghouta so their interest and that of Saudi
Arabia converged,” he said, referring to the Damascus suburbs where rebel
forces are dug in round the city.
Confrontation:

The Salafist movement in Islam, founded on literal readings of early texts,
is close to the Wahhabi school associated with the Saudi royal house. Its
religious teaching influences Al Qaeda but the militant network’s Saudi
founder, Osama Bin Laden, turned against Salafists he saw as allies of a
Saudi monarchy that had been corrupted by its alliance with the United
States.

The Army of Islam seems to want to avoid fighting Al Qaeda for now. After a
man named Saeed Jumaa, described as a captain in the army, told an
opposition television station that there could be open conflict with ISIL if
they “continue this chaos”, Zahran Alloush took to Twitter on Tuesday[1
Oct.] to disown him.

Jumaa’s comments were “dangerous”, Alloush said, and were designed to create
“strife among Muslims”.

The Army of Islam has also avoided an outright break with the SNC: “We do
not make enemies of those who are not enemies to us,” army spokesman Islam
Alloush told Reuters. However, the group did share the others’ criticism of
the SNC that it should be directed by fighters inside Syria, not leaders in
exile.

If Riyadh’s aim is to thwart Al Qaeda enemies by rallying local Syrian
Islamists in the way Washington did with Iraq’s Sunni tribal Sahwa, it may
be miscalculating, said commentator Hazem Amin. Unlike the Iraqi fighters,
he said, Syrian Salafists were increasingly embracing radical views close to
Al Qaeda.

“Syria is different,” Amin wrote in Al Hayat newspaper. “The social fabric
is less cohesive… At its core, the new Syrian Salafism is jihadist in
nature. It is moving towards extremism.”

Posted by Ted Belman @ 4:07 am | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to ”Saudi Arabia boosts Salafist rivals to Al Qaeda in Syria”

  1. bernard ross says:

    this narrative is full of half-truths and disinfo. Although it is true that the Saudis are unifying the local syrian jihads financed by them it is absurd to believe they are in conflict with AQ. The foreign paid sunni mercenaries who have been flitting around the globe are paid by……………? who paid for their transport, clothes, arms, training, vehicles, etc. DUH???

    Its funny because the story going around for the last couple of years, including Benghazi, is that it has been the saudis and Qataris and now all of a sudden the narrative is that the saudis have nothing to do with those they financed.

    It is convenient to break the sunni groups into factions for political purposes and recruiting. Saudi, and the other GCC members,organized, recruited and finance them all. The syrian jihadis are being unified in prep for negotiations on future power sharing in the country (e.g. Iraq) and saudi (GCC) wants to continue to control them politically in the future. The foreign jihadis can then move on to the next theater of destabilization: Lebanon and Iraq, which are already under attack, and Iran which is next on the list. After financing, arming and training foreign mercenaries into syria for almost 3 years in collusion with US and Turkey, the saudis are now able to present themselves as (LOL, wait for it): moderates against AQ. The suckers who can’t keep score, or can’t tell the difference between Achmed and Ali, will be none the wiser.
    As my son sometimes says to me when I give him a narrative he doesn’t buy: Dad, that’s a great story! :)

  2. CuriousAmerican says:

    The KSA is evil. We should treat it like we treat Iran.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 24th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

 

Let Refugees Remain in Their Own Culture Zones.

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
September 24, 2013

www.danielpipes.org/13389/syria-refugees

 

The lull in the chemical weapon crisis offers a chance to divert attention to the huge flow of refugees leaving Syria and rethink some misguided assumptions about their future.

About one-tenth of Syria’s 22 million residents have fled across an international border, mostly to neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. Unable to cope, their governments are restricting entry, prompting international concern about the Syrians’ plight. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, suggests that his agency (as the Guardian paraphrases him) “look to resettle tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in countries better able to afford to host them,” recalling the post-2003 Iraqi resettlement program, when 100,000 Iraqis resettled in the West. Others also look instinctively to the West for a solution; the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for example, has called on Western states “to do more” for Syrian refugees.

 

The appeal has been heard: Canada has offered to take 1,300 Syrian refugees and the United States 2,000. Italy has received 4,600 Syrian refugees by sea. Germany has offered to take (and has begun receiving) 5,000. Sweden has offered asylum to the 15,000 Syrians already in that country. Local groups are preparing for a substantial influx throughout the West.

But these numbers pale beside a population numbering in the millions, meaning that the West alone cannot solve the Syrian refugee problem. Further, many in Western countries (especially European ones such as the Netherlands and Switzerland) have wearied of taking in Muslim peoples who do not assimilate but instead seek to replace Western mores with the Islamic law code, the Shari’a. Both German chancellor Angela Merkel and British prime minister David Cameron have deemed multiculturalism, with its insistence on the equal value of all civilizations, a failure. Worse, fascist movements such as the Golden Dawn in Greece are growing.

And many more Muslim refugees are likely on their way. In addition to Syrians, these include Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Afghans, Iranians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians, Egyptians, Somalis, and Algerians. Other nationals – for example, Yemenis and Tunisians – might soon join their ranks.

Happily, a solution lies at hand.

To place Syrians in “countries better able to afford to host them,” as Guterres delicately puts it, one need simply divert attention from the Christian-majority West toward the vast, empty expanses of the fabulously wealthy Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as the smaller but in some cases even richer states of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. For starters, these countries (which I will collectively call Arabia) are much more convenient to repatriate to Syria from than, say, New Zealand. Living there also means not enduring frozen climes (as in Sweden) or learning difficult languages spoken by few, such as Danish.

More importantly, Muslims of Arabia share deep religious ties with their Syrian brothers and sisters, so settling there avoids the strains of life in the West. Consider some of the haram (forbidden) elements that Muslim refugees avoid by living in Arabia:

  • Pet dogs (61 million of them alone in the United States).
  • A pork-infused cuisine and an alcohol-soaked social life.
  • State-sponsored lotteries and Las Vegas-style gambling emporia.
  • Immodestly dressed women, ballet, swimsuit beauty contests, single women living alone, mixed bathing, dating, and lawful prostitution.
  • Lesbian bars, homosexual-pride parades, and gay marriage.
  • A lax attitude toward hallucinogens, with some drugs legal in certain jurisdictions.
  • Blasphemous novels, anti-Koran politicians, organizations of apostate Muslims, and a pastor who repeatedly and publicly burns Korans.

Instead, Muslims living in Arabia can rejoice in a law code that (unlike Ireland) permits polygamy and (unlike Britain) allows child marriages. Unlike France, Arabia allows the advocacy of wife-beating and goes easy on female genital mutilation. Unlike the United States, slaveholding does not entail imprisonment and male relatives can honor killing their women-folk without fear of the death penalty.

The example of Syrians and Arabia suggests a far broader point: regardless of affluence, refugees should be allowed and encouraged to remain within their own cultural zone, where they most readily fit in, can best stay true to their traditions, least disrupt the host society, and from whence they might most easily return home. Thus, East Asians should generally resettle in East Asia, Middle Easterners in the Middle East, Africans in Africa, and Westerners in the West.

UN take note: Focus less on the West, more on the rest. As for Saudis: It’s time to welcome Muslim coreligionists under stress with open arms.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2013 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

Sep. 24, 2013 addenda:

(1) I am quite aware that the Saudis and others have no intention of allowing in Syrian or other refugees; that is the implicit premise of my analysis; why should they be rewarded for bad behavior? I am also aware that Syrian refugees have been maltreated in Middle Eastern countries; for example, they have become a handy scapegoat in Egypt.

(2) These broad cultural zones are provisional; their boundaries would need to be worked out.

(3) Exceptions to these cultural zones exist. Middle East Christians, for instance, fit better in the West than in Arabia; and exceptional individuals always deserve special consideration.

(4) Some Middle Eastern economic refugees have discovered China and an increasing number go there on one- to five-year renewable residence permits.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 13th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Uri Avnery
September 14, 2013

A Good War // and he means it as the war that was avoided !!

HERE IS another Jewish joke: A hungry young Jew sees an announcement outside a local circus: anyone who climbs to the top of a 50 meter pole and jumps onto a tarpaulin below will win a prize of a thousand rubles.

Out of desperation he goes in, climbs the pole and shudders looking down.

“Jump! Jump!” the ringmaster shouts.

“Jumping is out of the question!” the Jew shouts back. “But how do I get down again?”

That’s how Barack Obama was feeling, a moment before the Russians provided the means.

THE TROUBLE with war is that it has two sides.

You prepare a war meticulously. You have a perfect plan. Future generals will study it in their academies. But once you make the first move, everything goes awry. Because the other side has a mind of its own and does not behave the way you expect.

A good example was provided exactly 40 years ago today (by the Hebrew calendar) with the Egyptian and Syrian attack on Israel. According to our planning, they shouldn’t and they couldn’t have done so. No way. They knew that our forces were superior and their defeat inevitable.

The chief of army intelligence, the man responsible for the overall evaluation of all intelligence gathered, coined the famous phrase: “low probability”. So, while hundreds of items indicated that an attack was imminent, the government of Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan still managed to be surprised when the Egyptians crossed the Suez Canal and the Syrians advanced down to the Sea of Galilee.

Some time before, I had warned the Knesset that the Egyptians were going to start a war. No one took any notice. I was no prophet. I had just returned from a peace conference with Arab delegates, and a very highly-placed Egyptian former colonel told me that Anwar al-Sadat would attack, if Israel did not accept his secret peace proposals and withdraw from Sinai. “But you can’t win!” I protested, “He won’t attack in order to win, but in order to get the frozen situation moving again,” he responded.

SINCE THEN, the phrase “low probability” has had an ominous ring in Israeli ears. No one ever used it. But during the last two weeks, it has made a sudden comeback.

Incredible as it sounds, it was given new life by our army command. Eager to have the Americans attack Syria, and faced with a run on gas masks in Israel, they announced that there was a very low probability that Bashar al-Assad would retaliate by attacking Israel.

He wouldn’t dare, of course. How could he? His army is bogged down in fighting with the rebels. It is inferior to our army anyhow, and after two years of civil war it is even weaker than usual. So it would be madness on his part to provoke us. Absolutely. Very, very low probability.

Or is it?

It certainly would be, if Assad’s mind worked like that of an Israeli general. But Assad is not an Israeli general. He is the Syrian dictator, and his mind might work quite differently.

What about the following scenario:

The Americans attack Syria with missiles and bombs, with the intention of underlining the Red Line. Just a short, limited, action.

Assad declares Israel responsible and launches his missiles against Tel Aviv and Dimona.

Israel retaliates with a heavy attack on Syrian installations.

Assad declares that the civil war is over and calls upon all Syrians, and the entire Arab and Muslim world, to unite behind him to defend holy Arab land against the common Zionist enemy, the oppressor of the Palestinian brothers.

The Americans will rush to the defense of Israel and – – –

Low probability? My foot!

THEREFORE, I was as relieved as Obama himself when the Russians helped him to climb down the pole. Wow!

What will happen now to the chemical weapons? I don’t really care very much. I thought from the beginning that the hysteria about them was vastly overblown. Assad is quite capable of committing all the atrocities he wants without poison gas.

It should be remembered why his father produced this gas in the first place. He believed that Israel was developing nuclear weapons. Not being able to aspire to such expensive and technically advanced devices himself, he settled for much cheaper chemical and biological weapons as a deterrent. According to a secret 1982 CIA report, Israel was producing such weapons itself.

So now we are in for a long process of negotiations, mutual recriminations, inspections, transfers of materials, and so on. Good for many months, if not years.

In the meantime, no American intervention. No regional war. Just the usual mutual bloodletting in Syria.

ISRAEL IS furious. Obama is a wimp. A coward. How dare he listen to American public opinion? Who will ever believe him again?

After this red line was crossed, who will believe in the much broader line Obama has drawn in the sands of Iran?

Frankly, nobody. But not because of Syria.

There is absolutely no similarity between the situation in Syria and in Iran. Even if the “limited” action had led to a bigger operation, as was quite possible, it would still have been a small war with little effect on American national interests. A war with Iran is a very different matter.

As I have written many times before, a war with Iran would immediately lead to the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, a world-wide oil crisis, a global economic catastrophe with unimaginable consequences.

I repeat: there will be no American – and no Israeli – attack on Iran. Period.

ACTUALLY, OBAMA comes out of this crisis rather well.

His hesitation, which evoked so much contempt in Israel, does him credit. It is right to hesitate instead of rushing into war. In war, people get killed. Even a surgical strike can kill very many people. In laundered military language, it’s called “collateral damage”.

We should know. Years ago, Israel started a tiny little operation in Lebanon and unintentionally killed a lot of people in a UN refugee camp.

Also, Obama did use military force the way it should be used: not for fighting, if fighting can be avoided, but for giving weight to diplomatic pressure. The Russians would not have moved, and Assad would not have bent to their pressure, if there had not been the credible threat of an American military strike. Even Obama’s decision to ask for congressional approval was right in this context. It provided the breathing space which made the Russian initiative possible.

Yes, the Russians are back in the Great Game. They will also play a role in the coming confrontation with Iran. They are just too big to ignore. And Vladimir Putin is too shrewd a player to allow himself be shoved aside.

For viewers with a literary bent, the interplay between Obama and Putin is fascinating – such different characters, such different motivations. Like the sword-wielding and the trident-wielding gladiators in the ancient Roman arena.

And the UN is back again, too. The good old UN, so inefficient, so weak, but so necessary in situations like these. God bless them.

BUT WHAT about Syria? What about the ongoing massacre, a.k.a. civil war? Will it go on forever? Can this crisis be turned around into a solution?

I think that it is possible.

Now that the US and Russia are not at loggerheads, and Iran is speaking with a much more reasonable voice (Thank you for your Rosh Hashana greetings) we might perhaps cautiously, very cautiously, think about a solution.

I can, for example, imagine a joint American-Russian initiative along the following lines:

Syria will be reorganized as a federal state, similar to Bosnia or Switzerland.

It will be composed of confessional cantons along existing lines: Sunni, Alawi, Kurdish, Druze etc.

Instead of the all-powerful president, there will be a collective or rotating presidency. That will solve the personal problem of Assad.

This is a solution everybody can live with. I don’t see any other that can be adopted without much bloodshed. I don’t think that one can go back to the status quo ante. The alternative to this solution is endless bloodshed and the breaking up of the state.

If anything like this solution is adopted, this crisis may yet bear valuable fruit.

Showing once again that the only good war is a war avoided.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 12th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UN Watch Briefing
Latest from the United Nations
September 11, 2013 —- 9/11/13 reminder of 9/11/01

“The UN Rights Council on Syria: Apathy, Banality and Triteness”

Testimony before the United Nations Human Rights Council delivered by UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer, September 10, 2013.

Madam President,

The purpose of this council is to protect human rights victims and respond to urgent situations.

Yet as we meet here today, three weeks have passed since Syria gassed to death hundreds of its own men, women, and children — and still the council closes its eyes, refusing our call for an emergency session.

The world deserves to know: Are innocent civilians attacked by their own government with chemical weapons not human rights victims? Is the most horrific crime of the 21st century not an urgent situation?

Yes, the council will discuss Syria next week, but that was scheduled months ago. And yes, High Commissioner Pillay mentioned Syria, yet she avoided any condemnation of its murderous regime.

Madam President, why is this monstrous crime being treated here with such apathy, banality and triteness? Where is this council’s moral outrage? Where is its sense of urgency?

Can a human rights body that ignores this atrocity be deemed credible, effective, or in any way relevant?

The United Nations, which constantly demands accountability, must ask itself:

Why were the killers of Damascus time and again promoted by this organization to key positions, awarded a legitimacy they never deserved?

When Assad murdered 20,000 in 1982, why was Syria sitting here, as an elected member of the Human Rights Commission, and then reelected? What message did that send?

And even after the current massacres began, why was Syria elected in 2011 to UNESCO’s human rights committee? Why is Assad still there, despite our repeated appeals?

Finally, why is it, that of the 10 Agenda Items for this session, only one specific country is listed, and it’s Israel — whose hospitals, as we speak, are quietly treating dozens of Syria’s injured victims?

Let us state the truth: if the UN allocated just one-hundredth of the moral outrage it uses against the only democracy in the Middle East, murderous dictators like Assad might have been shamed, isolated and weakened, instead of elevated, celebrated and strengthened as champions of human rights.

Thank you, Madam President.

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