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Benghazi Massacre Far Graver Matter Than Watergate

The stunning resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus, days before he was to testify on the CIA role in the Benghazi massacre, raises many more questions than his resignation letter answers.

“I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair,” wrote Petraeus. “Such behavior is unacceptable … as the leader of an organization such as ours.”

The problem: Petraeus’ “unacceptable behavior,” adultery with a married mother of two, Paula Broadwell, that exposed the famous general to blackmail, began soon after he became director in 2011.

Was his security detail at the CIA and were his closest associates oblivious to the fact that the director was a ripe target for blackmail, since any revelation of the affair could destroy his career?

People at the CIA had to know they had a security risk at the top of their agency. Did no one at the CIA do anything?

By early summer, however, Jill Kelley, 37, a close friend of the general from his days as head of CentCom at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., had received half a dozen anonymous, jealous, threatening emails.

“Back off.” “Stay away from my guy!” they said.

Kelley went to an FBI friend who ferreted out Broadwell as the sender and Petraeus as the guy she wanted Kelley to stay away from.

Yet, learning that Broadwell was the source of the emails, that Petraeus was having an affair with her, and that the CIA director was thus a target for blackmail and a security risk should have taken three days for the FBI, not three months.

And when Broadwell was identified as the source of the threats, did the Tampa FBI office decide on its own to rummage through her other emails? And when Petraeus’ secret email address popped up, did the local FBI decide to rummage through his emails, as well?

Was the CIA aware that Petraeus’ private emails were being read by the FBI?

Surely, as soon as Petraeus’ affair became known, FBI Director Robert Mueller would have been told and would have alerted Attorney General Eric Holder, who would have alerted the president.

For a matter of such gravity, this is normal procedure. Yet, The New York Times says the FBI and the Justice Department kept the White House in the dark. Is that believable?

Could it be that Obama and the National Security Council were kept ignorant of a grave security risk and a potentially explosive scandal that the Tampa FBI field office knew all about?

By late October, with the FBI, Justice and the White House all in “hear-no-evil” mode, an FBI “whistle-blower” from Florida contacted the Republican leadership in the House and told them of the dynamite the administration was sitting on.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office called Mueller, and the game was up. But the truth was withheld until after Nov. 6.

On Thursday, closed Senate hearings are being held into unanswered questions about the terrorist attack in which Amb. Chris Stevens, two former Navy SEALs and a U.S. diplomat were killed.

There are four basic questions.

Why were repeated warnings from Benghazi about terrorist activity in the area ignored and more security not provided, despite urgent pleas from Stevens and others at the consulate?

Why was the U.S. military unable to come to the rescue of our people begging for help, when the battle in Benghazi lasted on and off for seven hours?

Who, if anyone, gave an order for forces to “stand down” and not go to the rescue of the consulate compound or the safe house? A week before Petraeus’ resignation, the CIA issued a flat denial that any order to stand down ever came from anyone in the agency.

Fourth, when the CIA knew it was a terrorist attack, why did Jay Carney on Sept. 13, David Petraeus to Congress on Sept. 14, UN Amb. Susan Rice on Sept 16 on five TV shows, and Obama before the UN two weeks after 9/11 all keep pushing what the CIA knew was a false and phony story: That it had all come out of a spontaneous protest of an anti-Islamic video made by some clown in California?

There was no protest. Was the video-protest line a cover story to conceal a horrible lapse of security before the attack and a failure to respond during the attack — resulting in the slaughter?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has sent word she will not be testifying. And she will soon be stepping down. Petraeus is a no-show this week. He is gone. Holder is moving on, and so, too, is Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

President Nixon’s Attorneys General John Mitchell and Richard Kleindienst and his top aides Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman were all subpoenaed by the Watergate Committee and made to testify under oath about a bungled bugging at the DNC.

The Benghazi massacre is a far graver matter, and the country deserves answers. The country deserves the truth.

http://cnsnews.com/blog/patrick-j-buchanan/benghazi-massacre-far-graver-matter-watergate

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Father of Slain SEAL: Who Made the Decision Not to Save My Son?

On meeting Obama: “Could not look me in the eye … like shaking hands with a dead fish.”

Charles Woods, the father of Tyrone Woods, who was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attack at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, reveals details of meeting Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton at the publically broadcast memorial service for the slain Americans at Andrews Air Force Base only days after the attack. And, in a recent radio appearance, Woods publicly questions who made the call not to send in back-up forces to possibly save his son’s life, as well as the three other Americans killed in Benghazi (which includes the American ambassador to Libya).

“When [Obama] came over to our little area” at Andrew Air Force Base, says Woods, “he kind of just mumbled, you know, ‘I’m sorry.’ His face was looking at me, but his eyes were looking over my shoulder like he could not look me in the eye. And it was not a sincere, ‘I’m really sorry, you know, that your son died,’ but it was totally insincere, more of whining type, ‘I’m sorry.’”

Woods says that shaking President Obama’s hands at his son’s memorial service was “like shaking hands with a dead fish.”

“It just didn’t feel right,” he says of his encounter with the commander in chief. “And now that it’s coming out that apparently the White House situation room was watching our people die in real time, as this was happening,” Woods says, he wants answers on what happened—and why there was no apparent effort to save his son’s life.

“Well, this is what Hillary did,” Woods continues. “She came over and, you know, did the same thing—separately came over and talked with me. I gave her a hug, shook her hand. And she did not appear to be one bit sincere—at all. And you know, she mentioned that the thing about, we’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video. That was the first time I had even heard about anything like that.”

Woods continues: “Apparently even the State Department had a live stream and was aware of their calls for help. My son wasn’t even there. He was at a safe house about a mile away. He got the distress call; he heard them crying for help; that’s why he and Glen risked their lives to go that extra mile just to take care of the situation. And I’m sure that wasn’t the only one received that distress call—you know, come save our lives … I’m sure that other people in the military, in the State Department, in the White House, received that same call that he would receive. And I’m sure that most military people would jump at the chance … to protect that life [and] not leave anyone behind.”

Woods made clear that he isn’t “mad,” but that he wants to the “truth” to be told because he feels ” abandoned.”

Woods says he was told by military officials that the military could have “come above [the area] and completely carpeted area,” and therefore saved the officials in Benghazi, Libya. But that someone gave the command for the American military not to save the lives of the Americans under attack.

“When I heard, you know, that there’s a very good chance that the White House as well as other members of the military knew what was going on and obviously someone had to say, don’t go rescue them. Because every person in the military–their first response [would be], we’re going to go rescue them. We need to find out who it was that gave that command–do not rescue them.”

Woods told his story to radio host Lars Larson. Here’s the full interview.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/father-slain-seal-who-made-decision-not-save-my-son_657782.html

‘Romney stressing military solutions to Middle East’

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.(AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)

While Barack Obama and Mitt Romney express agreement on most of issues regarding US foreign policy, the Republican seems far more willing to support Israeli offensive actions if elected president, analyst John Feffer told RT.

­The major difference between Obama and Romney is their “comfort level” with Netanyahu and his warmongering towards Iran, John Feffer of think tank Foreign Policy in Focus said.

And following the foreign policy debate with President Obama, the latest polls show Romney has taken a slight lead in the race for the White House.

RT: So why has Romney managed to edge ahead after the debate?

John Feffer: As we have seen, Mitt Romney demonstrated that he could talk in the debate. That was in the first debate, and he has not made any major gaps, and I stress major. Of course there have been minor gaps but nothing that has eliminated him as a potential candidate. So, I think his performance in the debates has been the major reason why he has closed the gap with the President Obama.

RT: The last debate was on foreign policy. Critics say Obama and Romney show no differences in their stance on Iran. But they both claim they do differ. What do you make of it?

JF: There are, I would say, some significant differences between the two candidates. Mitt Romney, even though he does talk about diplomacy, has put the stress on military solutions, and that there is absolutely no daylight between him and Netanyahu. The president, of course, has put more stress on diplomacy, and I think he means that when he says it – and of course, we have the possibility of bilateral negotiations with Tehran right after the election.

And although the president says there is no daylight – factually speaking – between him and Netanyahu, we know that there is and that the two leaders are uncomfortable with one another. So there, we have a major difference between the president and Mitt Romney: their comfort level with Netanyahu and their comfort level with diplomacy with Tehran.

RT: Will we see a change in policy over Syria after the election?

JF: I do not see that we’ll see a major change. As you have pointed out in earlier reports, the American public is certainly not ready for any major US commitment on the ground, or any other significant way, in Syria. So I do not think that the president or Mitt Romney, if he got elected, would execute major or significant change in American foreign policy toward Syria. Of course, if the situation substantially changes on the ground that might force the hand of anybody in Washington – and that is hard to predict.

RT: Despite the US pushing for democracy, the Arab Spring has seen some unexpected elements come to power, many seen as anti-Western and linked to terrorism. How will Washington determine who to do business with?

JF: I think the Obama administration has made a critical decision, an important decision, to work with what it perceives as the moderate Islamist elements in the region, the Muslim Brotherhood for instance in Egypt. I think this was a wise choice – I think it acknowledges that moderate Islamist positions have a great deal to do with popularity in the region, not just in Egypt but in other parts of the region. And this, I think, kind of represents a significant block in the region that prevents more extremist alternatives of whatever alternative nature.

I think this is the decision that Washington has made. There has been criticism of course from Republicans, from challengers here in the Romney camp, that the president has essentially given in to Islamists in the Middle East. But I think this is an incorrect reading. The situation shows that the Republican Party elements of this don’t understand wellsprings of popular sentiment in the Middle East, both before the Arab Spring, during the Arab Spring, and now after the major events of the Arab Spring.

http://rt.com/usa/news/romney-support-israel-iran-351/

PUTIN’S PIPELINE TO SYRIA

WHILE CNN WAS PROMOTING terrorists in Syria, (95% of ‘Syrian rebels’ are notSyrians), a little noticed headline appeared in the Wall Street Journal in July 2011.

The article, “Iran, Iraq, Syria Sign $10 Billion Gas-Pipeline Deal,” reported that a new Middle East pipeline, changing the geopolitical complexion of the region with dire consequences for the Jewish-led West, would run from the Iranian South Pars gas field to Damascus via Iraq territory.

According to the deal, Syria would purchase 20 million cubic meters of Iranian gas a day with Iraq acting as a transit agent.

In August 2011, Syrian exploration companies discovered a huge new gas field in Homs near its border with Lebanon and just east of the Russian-leased Naval port of Tartus on the Mediterranean situated above the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Syria ultimately plans to extend the planned pipeline from Damascus to its Mediterranean port of Tartus where it would be delivered to energy-thirsty EU markets.

Any export of Syrian-purchased Iranian gas to the EU would thus be transited through the Russian-docked port of Tartus.

Vladimir Putin is keeping the enterprise under wraps knowing that he stands to be a big winner in this new geopolitical equation.

For with Russia acting as shipper and liaison with its established European energy market via its energy giants, Gazprom and Rosneft, Russia’s role as the EU’s leading natural gas and oil supplier would be enhanced by the Syrian pipeline.

The rewards for Putin—considered by many to be a “geopolitical genius”—are manifold, both for Russia’s purse and its political leverage with regard to the EU.

As for Turkey, its saber-rattling goes no further than making a lot of noise. Grounding a Syrian-bound plane with Russians aboard and carrying essential aid for Syria was typical stupidity by Turkish authorities.

For with Turkey dependent on 58% of its natural gas from Russia’s Gazprom, it was forced to admit that Russian cargo bound for Syria was “legal” and have since muted their saber-rattling for now.

All said and done, Jewish-led America has made al-Qaeda their ally in hopes of toppling Assad and removing Putin from the region.

Continue: http://www.realjewnews.com/?p=765

General: Refugees at Turkish Border a ‘Crisis’ That’s Getting Worse

Syrians fleeing civil war exceeds 100,000 as winter snow and cold approaches

A Syrian boy rides his bike in Karma Jabl district in Aleppo, Syria. With death lurking around every corner, the survival instincts of Aleppo’s population are being stretched to the limit every day.

A senior U.S. general warned Tuesday of a humanitarian crisis along the border of Syria and Turkey with refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria in record numbers and the steady approach of winter snows.

The number of refugees at the Syrian border attempting to escape the bloody fighting in their war-torn homeland is tens of thousands more than previous estimates, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling told reporters at a breakfast meeting in Washington, exceeding the 100,000 limit Turkish officials said earlier in October that the country could withstand.

“It’s October. What [Turkey is] very concerned about is the approach of winter, and the way they can address the humanitarian crisis on the border,” Hertling says.

[GALLERY: Winter in Afghanistan]

The Turkish government has already spent nearly 400 million euros in relief efforts for the refugees.

This growing concern is further complicated by the NATO ally’s existing struggles against the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, in that same region, making it difficult to determine the scope of the refugee situation.

The commander of Turkish land forces Gen. Hayri Kıvrıkoglu said last week there are nearly 140,000 refugees on the Syria-Turkish border, according to Hertling, who commands U.S. Army troops in Europe. Previous estimates had that number at 100,000, up from only 10,000 at the end of August.

A Turkish embassy spokesperson confirmed 100,363 Syrian citizens are in 13 separate Turkish tent cities as of Oct. 15. There are five of the camps in Hatay, three in Gaziantep, two in Sanliurfa and one in Kahramanmaras, Osmaniye and Adiyaman.

View Turkish Refugee Camps in a larger map

The embassy declined to comment on any future planning for the camps or the potential threats posed by the impending winter or PKK fighting.

Since April 2011, more than 143,000 Syrians have crossed the border, according to an Oct. 15 release provided by the embassy, and almost 43,000 have returned to Syria.

[PHOTOS: Violence in Syria Escalates]

“All kind of humanitarian aid supplies have been provided by [Turkish aid organizations] in camps for more than a year,” the release states. “Sheltering, food, health, security, social activities, education, worship, translatorship, communication, banking and other services have been provided in tent cities and containers by related organizations and institutions within the coordination of our Presidency.”

The Turkish government has already supplied aid, tents and other humanitarian efforts to the refugees, Hertling adds, and are anticipating the onset of winter.

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/10/23/general-refugees-at-turkish-border-a-crisis-thats-getting-worse

UN calls for boycott of US companies doing business in Israel

The Washington Free Beacon has obtained a report soon to be released by the United Nations that calls for an international campaign of legal attacks and economic warfare on a group of American companies that do business in Israel, including Hewlett-Packard, Caterpillar Inc., and Motorola Solutions Inc.

The Human Rights Council (HRC), a body dominated by Islamic countries and known for its hostility to, and heavy focus on, the Jewish State, issued the report. The George W. Bush administration refused to participate in the HRC, but President Barack Obama joined it soon after taking office. Members of the HRC include infamous human rights abusers such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Libya, China, and Cuba.

The Obama-approved body maintains a “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories [sic].” The current rapporteur is American college professor Richard Falk, a 9/11 “truther” who once posted an anti-Semitic cartoon on his personal blog.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, the Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman blasted the report and the HRC’s special rapporteur: “We believe you should have prevented the Secretariat from being a party to Mr. Falk’s anti-Israel agenda. Mr. Falk’s entire tenure as Special Rapporteur has served to undermine the credibility of the institution of the United Nations.”

The report attempts to instigate a campaign of boycott, divestment, sanctions, and legal action against a litany of international companies doing business in Israel. In addition to American companies, the U.N. targets include major European firms such as Veolia Environnement, Group 4 Security, the Dexia Group, the Volvo Group.

“The costs to companies and businesses of failing to respect international humanitarian law are considerable,” the report warns, “including damage to a company’s public image, impact on shareholder decisions and share price and could result in employees being criminally responsible for rights abuses.”

The report warns American employees of targeted companies that they face legal risks.

“Employees of companies can face investigation and prosecution for human rights violations committed irrespective of where the violation was committed.”

In addition to legal action against American employees of targeted companies, the Special Rapporteur “concludes that all companies that operate in or otherwise have dealings with Israeli settlements should be boycotted.” The companies should ”be prepared to accept any consequences—reputation, financial, or legal—of continuing operations.”

Should the companies continue doing business in Israel, the Human Rights Council “calls on civil society to actively pursue legal and political redress against non-complying business” and “to vigorously pursue initiatives to boycott, divest and sanction the businesses highlighted in this report” and “calls on the international community to consider requesting an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice” to punish the businesses.

When the Obama administration joined the Human Rights Council in 2009, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice pledged, “Working from within, we can make the council a more effective forum to promote and protect human rights.”

http://freebeacon.com/u-n-human-rights-council-calls-for-boycott-of-u-s-companies/

Damascus agrees to 4-day Eid ceasefire across Syria, starting Friday

A unit of the Syrian armed forces carry out a military operation in the Khan al-Raslan neighbourhood of Syria’s northern city of Aleppo (AFP Photo / STR)

Damascus announced it has agreed to a four-day ceasefire across Syria for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, the ‘Feast of Sacrifice.’ The truce will begin on Friday.

“We hope that they both realize the importance of a pause in the fighting… in the symbolic quieting, the silence of the guns,” UN deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said after a closed-door meeting of the 15-nation Security Council.

Eliasson confirmed that the temporary truce could “create a political environment, where political talks are possible.”

The ceasefire came after UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi visited Syria earlier this week, and is one of the first real breakthroughs in halting violence in the war-torn country so far.

Brahimi proposed that both sides lay down their arms for the Islamic holiday celebrated by most of the world’s Muslims, which begins on Friday.

Syrian army command agreed to suspend military operations, but insisted on the right to retaliate against any rebel attacks.

During this period, it said, it would also respond to attempts to smuggle in arms from neighboring countries, and against any rebel group attempting to reinforce. The army also said it would prevent “terrorists” from crossing its borders.

The Free Syrian Army commander responded that the rebels would commit to the truce, on the condition that prisoners be released on Friday.

A spokesperson for the Islamist group Ansar al-Islam said that their fighters would not commit to the ceasefire, and expressed doubts that the Syrian Army would honor it.

http://rt.com/news/syria-ceasefire-eid-holiday-239/

Hungarian demonstrators burn Israeli flag in Budapest

Members of Hungary’s Jobbik ultra-nationalist party have burned an Israeli flag in front of a major synagogue in the capital Budapest, calling on the government to cut diplomatic and economic ties with the Tel Aviv regime.

File photo shows an Israeli flag being burned.

 

The protesters gathered outside the Dohany Street Synagogue, which is regarded as the largest synagogue in Europe, on Tuesday, when the country marked the 56th anniversary of the anti-Communist revolution in 1956.

Jobbik leader Gabor Vona denounced Hungary’s cooperation with the Israeli regime and said any “agreement between Hungary and Israel should be canceled.”

Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador to Budapest Ilan Mor appeared on a TV program later in the day, condemning the anti-Israel demonstration in Budapest.

Jobbik holds 47 parliamentary seats and has been against Israeli investment in Hungary. It also considers Israeli business as threatening for the country.

In an interview in February, the party’s foreign affairs spokesman, Marton Gyongyosi, condemned policies of the Tel Aviv regime toward Palestinians.

Gyongyosi stated that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians amounted to a “Nazi system.”

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/10/25/268630/israel-flag-burned-in-hungary-capital/

Romney: I will have Israel’s back, including militarily

In final debate, Repubican nominee attacks president for sidelining Israel to curry favor with regional players • Obama vows Iran will not get nuclear bomb on his watch and touts unprecedented U.S. aid, says visit to Yad Vashem and Sderot had great impact on him.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney squared off on Monday in their final debate, which focused on foreign affairs.|Photo credit: Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Governor Mitt Romney sparred on Monday over who was Israel’s strongest defender but both agreed that a military strike over Iran’s nuclear program must be a “last resort.”

Tehran’s nuclear program, which the West suspects is for developing weapons and that economic sanctions have so far failed to stop, is almost certain to be among the top foreign policy challenges facing the next president.

Yet Romney and Obama, in their foreign policy debate, did not offer sharply contrasting policies to address the challenge. They agreed on the need for tough economic pressure — and for safeguarding Israel. “If Israel is attacked, we have their back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily,” Romney said. “I will stand with Israel if they are attacked,” Obama said. Both were responding to a question on whether they would consider an attack on Israel an attack on the United States.

Obama later called Israel “a true friend and our greatest ally in the region,” and said Israel and the U.S. maintain “unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation, including dealing with the Iranian threat.” Obama went on to say that a nuclear Iran would be a national security threat to the United States. He stressed he would not let Iran obtain a nuclear bomb so long as he is president and would not let Iran “perpetually engage in negotiations that lead nowhere.”

Iran’s leaders have from time to time threatened to eradicate Israel, and Israeli leaders see an Iranian nuclear weapon as an existential threat. The question that has risen repeatedly this year is whether Israel would conduct a unilateral strike against Iran’s nuclear sites, which would put the United States in a difficult position of whether to enter another Middle East conflict.

The candidates did not say what they would do if Israel conducted a unilateral strike on Iran. Pressed by the moderator on how he would react if Israel were to launch a unilateral strike against Iran, Romney said, “Our relationship with Israel, my relationship with the prime minister of Israel [Benjamin Netanyahu] is such that we would not get a call saying our bombers are on the way or their fighters are on the way.” Romney and Netanyahu both worked for a Boston-based consulting firm in the 1970s. The two still maintain a close friendship, which was clearly on display during Romney’s visit to Israel over the summer.

Obama accused Romney of rushing to conclude that a military strike was necessary. “The disagreement I have with Governor Romney is that, during the course of this campaign, he’s often talked as if we should take premature military action,” Obama said at Monday’s debate, which was the final such encounter before the Nov. 6 election. “I think that would be a mistake, because when I send young men and women into harm’s way, I always understand that is the last resort, not the first resort,” he said.

“We need to increase pressure, time and time again, on Iran because anything other than … a solution to this … which stops this, this nuclear folly of theirs, is unacceptable to America,” Romney said. “And of course, a military action is the last resort. It is something one would only … consider if all of the other avenues had been … tried to their full extent,” he said.

Romney challenged the effectiveness of Obama’s Iran policy, saying his perceived weakness has strengthened the ayatollahs’ resolve. “They have looked at this administration and felt that the administration was not as strong as it needed to be,” Romney said. “I think they saw weakness where they had expected to find American strength.” “We’re four years closer to a nuclear Iran. We’re four years closer to a nuclear Iran,” Romney continued. “And — and we should not have wasted these four years to the extent they’ve — they continue to be able to spin these centrifuges and get that much closer.”

Obama bluntly said newspaper reports that Iran and the United States had agreed to hold bilateral talks on Tehran’s nuclear program were not true. Iran has also denied that bilateral negotiations on its nuclear program had been scheduled.

Romney went on to attack the president for sidelining the relations with Israel as part of the effort to curry favor with other Middle East players, evident by what the governor called an “apology tour.”

“You went to the Middle East and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to Turkey and Iraq. And by [the] way, you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region, but you went to the other nations,” Romney said. “And by the way, they noticed that you skipped Israel. And then in those nations and on Arabic TV you said that America had been dismissive and derisive. You said that on occasion America had dictated to other nations. Mr. President, America has not dictated to other nations. We have freed other nations from dictators.”

Romney also attacked Obama for not acting to shore-up relations with Israel even after 38 members of Congress had sent him a letter urging him to do so. “They asked him, please repair the tension — Democrat senators — please repair the damage,” Romney said.

Obama said his administration and he personally consider Israel’s security paramount, in part owing to the impression left by his visit there as a candidate in 2008. “I went down to the border town of Sderot, which had experienced missiles raining down from Hamas. And I saw families there who showed me where missiles had come down near their children’s bedrooms, and I was reminded of what that would mean if those were my kids, which is why, as president, we funded an Iron Dome program to stop those missiles.” Obama also attacked Romney for using his recent trip to Israel to benefit his campaign war chest rather than to study the region. “When I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors, I didn’t attend fundraisers, I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself [of] the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable.”

Speaking on Egypt, Obama said he would make sure Egypt’s pro-Islamic regime would uphold the country’s long-standing peace treaty with Israel. “That is a red line for us, because not only is Israel’s security at stake, but our security is at stake if that unravels,” Obama said.

On Syria, Romney tried to put Obama on the defensive by saying the administration has not led in the crisis in which thousands of Syrians have died and President Bashar al-Assad remains in power. “What I’m afraid of is, we’ve watched over the past year or so, first the president saying, well, we’ll let the U.N. deal with it,” Romney said. “We should be playing the leadership role there.”The United States should work with partners to organize the Syrian opposition and “make sure they have the arms necessary to defend themselves,” he said.

“I am confident that Assad’s days are numbered,” Obama said. “But what we can’t do is to simply suggest that, as Governor Romney at times has suggested, that giving heavy weapons, for example, to the Syrian opposition is a simple proposition that would lead us to be safer over the long term.” Obama also used Monday night’s debate to criticize Romney’s support for beginning the war in Iraq, for opposing his plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, for inconsistent stances on Afghanistan and for opposing nuclear treaties with Russia. “Every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong,” Obama said. Romney responded that “attacking me is not an agenda” for dealing with a dangerous world.

If and how the debate would affect the Nov. 6 presidential election was not clear. Foreign policy, the theme of the debate at Lynn University, in Boca Raton, Florida, has not been a major issue in a race centered on the U.S. economy. But both candidates were determined to appear to be strong leaders, rallying their supporters and winning over the remaining undecided voters.

Romney appeared more measured than Obama, agreeing with the president on a number of issues, perhaps seeking to appear more moderate to centrist voters who may determine the election’s outcome. Obama, from the opening moments, wasn’t as subdued. He said Romney would reinstate the unpopular foreign policies of President George W. Bush.

“Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s,” Obama said.

Romney said that despite early hopes, the ouster of despotic regimes in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere over the past year has resulted in a “rising tide of chaos.” He said the president has failed to come up with a coherent policy to grapple with the change sweeping the Middle East.

Foreign policy is generally seen as Obama’s strength and he highlighted two of his campaign’s main points, that he gave the order leading to the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and fulfilled a promise to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. Romney, a multimillionaire businessman, has little foreign affairs experience. Romney congratulated Obama “on taking out Osama bin Laden and taking on the leadership of al-Qaida.” But he added, “we can’t kill our way out of this mess. … We must have a comprehensive and robust strategy.”

The election is a state-by-state contest and the outcome in a small number of states that are not predictably Democratic or Republican will determine the winner. With the final debate behind them, both men are embarking on a two-week whirlwind of campaigning. The president is slated to speak in six states during a two-day trip that begins Wednesday. Romney intends to visit two or three states a day. Already four million ballots have been cast in early voting in more than two dozen states. Just hours before the debate CNN published the latest “poll of polls,” showing Romney has been able to maintain his momentum. The poll, which is the average of five polls conducted over the past week, has both Obama and Romney locked in a dead heat — each garnering 47 percent support among likely voters. A Reuters/Ipsos poll from Monday night (before the debate) also had both candidates tied at 46% in a sample that included both registered and likely voters. Gallup’s daily tracking poll has Romney holding on to a 6% advantage among likely voters.

The last debate could turn out to be decisive in such a close race. One Democratic activist told Politico on Monday that the voters who had yet to make up their minds “go back and forth every day”. “One day they are for Romney, and one day they are for the president. Right now they have gone back to Obama. The last thing they hear matters. … It’s extremely fluid outside the base.”

For the first time since May, The Politico/George Washington University Battleground Tracking Poll has Romney ahead in ten competitive swing states, with the former governor commanding a 50% to 48% lead among likely voters. This marks an upset from last week, when the president was at 49% to Romney’s 48%. In all-important Ohio, with its 18 electoral votes, Obama still maintains a 50% to 45% advantage among likely voters according to a Quinnipiac University/CBS poll, although Romney has been able to narrow the gap lately.

Meanwhile, real estate magnate Donald Trump, who is a Romney supporter, announced on Monday that he will release as early as Wednesday a political bombshell the could decide the race. Speaking on Fox News, Trump described it as “something very, very big concerning the president of the United States.” “It’s going to be very big. I know one thing — you will cover it in a very big fashion,” Trump said. Trump has been one of Obama’s most vocal critics and even questioned Obama’s claim that he was born in the United States. The U.S. constitution stipulates that the president must be a “natural-born” U.S. citizen.

http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=6180

Michael Scheuer: Mrs Clinton Has Blood on her Hands Everywhere

U.S. Foreign Policy the Cause of Middle East Protests?
Air Date: Sep 14, 2012
Former CIA Operative Michael Scheuer on the motives behind the recent protests in the Middle East.

All credits to: Fox Business Network

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Jimmy Carter Claims Israel Creating ‘Catastrophic’ Situation With Palestinians

Former President Jimmy Carter, former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, right, and former prime minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland, left, listen to a guide as they tour East Jerusalem, on Oct. 22, 2012, during the second day of a visit by “The Elders”, a group of global leaders focused on human rights. (credit: AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said Monday during a visit to Jerusalem that the prospect of an Israel-Palestinian peace accord is “vanishing,” blaming Israeli settlement of the West Bank.

Carter, a longtime critic of Israeli policies, called the current situation “catastrophic” and blamed Israel for the growing isolation of east Jerusalem from the West Bank. He said a Palestinian state has become “unviable.”

“We’ve reached a crisis stage,” said Carter, 88. “The two-state solution is the only realistic path to peace and security for Israel and the Palestinians.”

Carter is currently on a two-day visit leading a delegation known as the “The Elders,” which includes the former prime minister of Norway and the former president of Ireland. The group met with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

But they didn’t meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Carter said that the delegation didn’t request a meeting because they haven’t been granted meetings on previous visits.

Netanyahu has pledged support for a Palestinian state but peace talks with the Palestinians have been frozen for most of his tenure. Carter criticized him for not doing enough.

“Up until now, every prime minister has been a willing and enthusiastic supporter of the two-state solution,” he said.

The Palestinians say they will only return to the negotiating table if Israel freezes settlement construction on occupied lands claimed by the Palestinians. Israel says talks should resume without preconditions.

As president, Carter brokered the historic peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. But since he left office, he has become increasingly critical of Israel. His 2006 book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” claimed that Israel’s settlement of Palestinian land was the primary obstacle to Mideast peace. The book sparked widespread outrage in Israel.

Carter and the delegation also expressed concern about the ongoing divisions between the main Palestinian parties, Fatah and Hamas, and vowed support for a Palestinian observer state status bid at the United Nations General Assembly in November.

The group departs for Egypt on Tuesday, where they will meet with newly elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/10/22/jimmy-carter-claims-israel-creating-catastrophic-situation-with-palestinians/

Negotiations — or War With Iran?

“It would be unconscionable to go to war if we haven’t had such discussions,” said Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state in the Bush administration, of reports the Obama White House has agreed to one-on-one talks with Tehran over its nuclear program.

Sen. Lindsey Graham dissented Sunday: “I think the time for talking is over. … We talk, they enrich. It needs to stop. We need to have red lines coordinated with Israel and end this before it gets out of hand.”

Clearly, Graham believes an ultimatum, followed by an attack if Iran denies us “access to their nuclear program,” is the way to “end this.”

What kind of attack?

According to David Rothkopf, writing in Foreign Policy magazine, U.S. and Israeli military authorities are discussing a joint attack, and the idea getting the most traction is “a U.S.-Israeli surgical strike targeting Iranian enrichment facilities.”

“The strike might take only ‘a couple of hours’ in the best case and only would involve ‘a day or two’ overall, the source said, and would be conducted by air, using primarily bombers and drone support.”

Smashing the enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow, writes Rothkopf, would mean “setting the Iranian nuclear program back many years, and doing so without civilian casualties.”

This would have “region-wide benefits,” writes Rothkopf.

“One advocate asserts it would be a ‘transformative outcome: saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the [Persian] Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come.’”

Thus, according to Rothkopf and his source, a U.S. attack on Iran’s enrichment facilities would produce the same glorious benefits we were promised if only we would invade and occupy Iraq in 2003.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has another view. “The results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could … prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world.” What consequences might Gates have in mind?

Iran might mine the Persian Gulf, sending ships to the bottom, halting traffic, doubling the price of oil, and plunging Europe into the economic abyss on the edge of which the continent stands today.

U.S. ships might face swarm attacks from Iranian speedboats, forcing us to sink the Iranian navy’s surface ships and destroy the hundreds of fast missile boats in the Gulf and Iranian ports.

Iran could send its submarines out and fire its anti-ship missiles to sink a U.S. warship. Iranian missile attacks on U.S. bases in Bahrain and the Gulf region could ignite an all-out air and sea war, with the U.S. having to destroy Iranian air fields, antiaircraft and missile sites, and Iran’s remaining nuclear facilities.

The U.S. could face the kind of attacks across the region that Ronald Reagan confronted when he put Marines in Beirut, with the U.S. embassy blown up and 241 Marines massacred by a suicide truck bomber.

And if after months we had smashed Iran as we did Iraq in Desert Storm, would the regime give way to a pro-Western democracy? Or would the result in Iran look like what exists today in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan?

Syria is breaking apart into Sunni and Alawite, Arab, Kurd and Druze, Christian and Muslim, Islamist and secular. Afghanistan is dissolving into Tajik and Uzbek in the north, Hazara in the center, and Pashtun in the south and east. Iraq is losing Kurdistan and reverting to civil-sectarian war.

A U.S. defeat of Iran could bring to power revanchists bent on payback through terrorism and propel that half of the population that is Arab, Baluch, Kurd, and Azeri to try to break away.

Who would benefit from a breakup of Iran, other than jihadists?

Iran would surely stir up Hezbollah to rain down rockets on Israel and incite the Shia in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to rise against the regimes there.

Would Shia in Iraq attack the U.S. embassy in Baghdad? We cannot know, but Gates is surely right that the consequences could be catastrophic.

Which raises the question. Why are we even talking about war?

Sen. Graham notwithstanding, the sanctions are working. The Iranian economy is sinking into recession, oil revenues have fallen, and hard currency reserves are being depleted. And what is the grave threat that justifies a war?

While Iran is enriching uranium to 20%, it has not enriched to weapons grade. Should they do so, we would know it. Ayatollah   has called nuclear weapons anti-Islamic, and the U.S. intelligence community says Iran has no nuclear bomb program.

America’s position as of today is: We do not want war with Iran, but will tolerate no Iranian bomb. Iran’s official position is: We want no bomb, and we are willing to negotiate, but we have a right to have a peaceful nuclear program.

Can we find no common ground here?

Gates and Burns are right. Before we go to war, let us find out, in face-to-face talks if need be, if we really have to go to war.

http://original.antiwar.com/buchanan/2012/10/22/negotiations-or-war-with-iran/

Israeli Navy used tasers and beat passengers aboard the Ship to Gaza

Oct. 22, 2012

The Israeli activists detained on board the Estelle were released
Elik Elhanan: excessive force was used against us, without any reason

Electric shocks by taser out of vengeful hatred
A Greek MP was beaten by Shabak Security Service interrogators

Parents of Israeli activist, Elik Elhanan, protest with other activists outside the Ashdod police station, after three Israeli activists were arrested on the Estelle ship on their way to Gaza, October 20, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)

“I am now on my way home, but I keep thinking of my shipmates, my fellow activists from abroad who are still imprisoned under harsh conditions and undergo interrogation by the Shabak Security Service, among them Parliament Members from several countries,” said Elik Elhanan, one of the Israeli activists who had sailed aboard the Gaza-bound Swedish ship “Estelle”. Today, the court ordered his release and that of two other detained Israelis, Yonatan Shapira and Reut Mor. “At first they tried to charge us with all kinds of very serious felonies, such as ‘aiding the enemy’. The court rejected this out of hand. Today they tried a article on the law books called “Attempted infiltration into a part of the Land of Israel which is not part of the State of Israel” (sic). But the court threw out this charge, too.” The detained activists were represented by Attorney Gaby Lasky and her team, who have considerable experience with Human Rights cases.

The released detainees were cheerfully greeted by peace activists who arrived at the courtroom, among them Elik Elhanan’s parents – Rami Elhanan and Nurit Peled-Elhanan, who is the daughter of the late Major General Matti Peled. Smadar Elhanan, Elik’s sister, was killed in a suicide bombing at the center of Jerusalem – a harsh experience which made surviving family members all the more determined to strive for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, so as to prevent further casualties on either side.

“I have gone though difficult days, but I certainly do not regret sailing on that boat. I knew what I was getting into” said Elik Elhanan. “During the voyage I made a special contact with Evangelis, a Member of the Greek Parliament who sailed with us. When the Naval Commandos came aboard and while we were blocking their way to the bridge, Evangelis told me we have generated in him a love for the people of Israel and a hope for a better future in the Middle East. Shortly afterwards they separated us. Yesterday evening, when they put Dror Feiler in our cell, he told us that Evangelis had been beaten by the Shabak interrogators. The Shabak lied shamelessly to the Consuls and representatives of foreign countries, telling them that their citizens and MPs were being treated well.” Dror Feiler, who was born in Israel and whose mother Pnina lives in Kibbutz Yad Hana, gave up his Israeli citizenship after moving to Stockholm, and was therefore separated most of the time from the Israeli detainees.

“They used a completely disproportional amount of force against us” continues Elhanan. “When the Navy arrived to take us over, Yonatan Shapira counted no less than fifteen vessels surrounding us on all sides. Large and small ships and boats, a ship carrying a helicopter, as well as the Zodiacs of the Naval Commandos. Fifteen armed naval vessels against one small civilian boat carrying games for the children of Gaza. We must have disturbed very much the Navy and those who give orders to the Navy.

When they came aboard and we blocked their way, the soldiers knew exactly who I was. They shouted in Hebrew: ‘Elhanan, you will pay for your Leftism!’ and used the taser to give me electric shocks. Even after they completed their takeover of the boat, they continued to use the taser and administer more shocks. But if they think they could deter me and those who sailed with me, they are mistaken. The siege of Gaza is an ongoing crime and it must be ended. We will continue the struggle.”

http://mondoweiss.net/2012/10/israeli-navy-used-tasers-and-beat-passengers-aboard-the-ship-to-gaza.html

Fast and Furious Two: The Syrian Connection! Obama Administration Supplying the Munitions to Al Qaeda in Syria!

Watch Video:

http://www.surenews.com/obama/fast-and-furious-two-the-syrian-connection-obama-administration-supplying-the-munitions-to-al-qaeda-in-syria.htm

Romney, Obama appeal to voters on Israel, talk tough on Iran

At the final presidential debate, both President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney appealed to voters in Boca Raton, Florida by talking tough on security for Israel and Iran’s future.

US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the end of the third and final presidential debate October 22, 2012 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. (MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney went head-to-head on foreign policy in the third and final presidential debate at Lynn University appealing to voters in Boca Raton, Florida by talking tough on security for Israel and Iran’s future.

Bob Schieffer, CBS News’ chief Washington correspondent and host of “Face the Nation,” moderated the 90 minute debate.

Both candidates tried to paint themselves as friends of Israel, while attacking their opponents’ record, in an attempt to court Jewish voters.

Romney criticized the president’s Middle East foreign policy, saying he had gone on an “apology tour” of the region but had skipped a visit to Israel in his first term.

“I want to underscore… if I’m President of the United States, when I’m President of the United States, we will stand with Israel,” said Romney. “And if Israel is attacked, we have their back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily. That’s number one.”

In fact, post-debate fact checkers at the New York Times noted that both George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan did not visit Israel in their first term.

President Obama had a strong come back, telling Romney on his most recent visit to Israel, he went to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

On the subject of Israel’s enemy Iran, Obama made news, explaining a recent New York Times story about one-on-one talks between the US and Iran are in fact false, explaining “Those are reports in a newspaper. They are not true.”

Both candidates talked tough on Iran and emphasized their commitment to seeing it remain nuclear free.

Romney said the Obama administration has been weak on Iran and that “we are four years closer to a nuclear Iran” reiterating that a “nuclear-capable Iran is unacceptable to America.”

However, despite repeated calls for continuing the US policy of “crippling sanctions” for Iran, Romney did not put forth any new policy ideas on how his administration would contain Tehran’s nuclear threat.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121022/romney-obama-appeal-voters-israel-talk-tough-ira?

Romney reverses on Afghanistan

Rachel Maddow talks about Mitt Romney’s commitment to the U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan in 2014, which he once opposed. Chris Matthews joins to discuss Romney’s strategy during the debate – to avoid looking like a radical.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Netanyahu ‘America Won’t Get in Our Way..It’s Easily Moved’

Bibi:…The Arabs are currently focusing on a war of terror and they think it will break us. The main thing, first of all, is to hit them. Not just one blow, but blows that are so painful that the price will be too heavy to be borne. The price is not too heavy to be borne, now. A broad attack on the Palestinian Authority. To bring them to the point of being afraid that everything is collapsing…

Woman: Wait a moment, but then the world will say “how come you’re conquering again?”

Netanyahu: the world won’t say a thing. The world will say we’re defending.

Woman: Aren’t you afraid of the world, Bibi?

Netanyahu: Especially today, with America. I know what America is. America is something that can easily be moved. Moved to the right direction.

Child: They say they’re for us, but, it’s like…

Netanyahu: They won’t get in our way. They won’t get in our way.

Child: On the other hand, if we do some something, then they…

Netanyahu: So let’s say they say something. So they said it! They said it! 80% of the Americans support us. It’s absurd. We have that kind of support and we say “what will we do with the…” Look. That administration [Clinton] was extremely pro-Palestinian. I wasn’t afraid to maneuver there. I was not afraid to clash with Clinton. I was not afraid to clash with the United Nations. I was paying the price anyway, I preferred to receive the value. Value for the price.

In the following segment, Bibi boasts about how he emptied the Oslo Accords of meaning by an interpretation that made a mockery of them:

Woman: The Oslo Accords are a disaster.

Netanyahu: Yes. You know that and I knew that…The people [nation] has to know…

What were the Oslo Accords? The Oslo Accords, which the Knesset signed, I was asked, before the elections: “Will you act according to them?” and I answered: “yes, subject to mutuality and limiting the retreats.” “But how do you intend to limit the retreats?” “I’ll give such interpretation to the Accords that will make it possible for me to stop this galloping to the ’67 [armistice] lines. How did we do it?

Narrator: The Oslo Accords stated at the time that Israel would gradually hand over territories to the Palestinians in three different pulses, unless the territories in question had settlements or military sites. This is where Netanyahu found a loophole.

Netanyahu: No one said what defined military sites. Defined military sites, I said, were security zones. As far as I’m concerned, the Jordan Valley is a defined military site.

Woman: Right [laughs]…The Beit She’an Valley.

Netanyahu: How can you tell. How can you tell? But then the question came up of just who would define what Defined Military Sites were. I received a letter — to me and to Arafat, at the same time — which said that Israel, and only Israel, would be the one to define what those are, the location of those military sites and their size. Now, they did not want to give me that letter, so I did not give the Hebron Agreement. I stopped the government meeting, I said: “I’m not signing.” Only when the letter came, in the course of the meeting, to me and to Arafat, only then did I sign the Hebron Agreement. Or rather, ratify it, it had already been signed. Why does this matter? Because at that moment I actually stopped the Oslo Accord.

Woman: And despite that, one of our own people, excuse me, who knew it was a swindle, and that we were going to commit suicide with the Oslo Accord, gives them — for example — Hebron…

Netanyahu: Indeed, Hebron hurts. It hurts. It’s the thing that hurts. One of the famous rabbis, whom I very much respect, a rabbi of Eretz Yisrael, he said to me: “What would your father say?” I went to my father. Do you know a little about my father’s position?

…He’s not exactly a lily-white dove, as they say. So my father heard the question and said: “Tell the rabbi that your grandfather, Rabbi Natan Milikowski, was a smart Jew. Tell him it would be better to give two percent than to give a hundred percent. And that’s the choice here. You gave two percent and in that way you stopped the withdrawal. Instead of a hundred percent.” The trick is not to be there and be broken. The trick is to be there and pay a minimal price.”

djonesowens1writes: At a point in the middle of the video Netanayhu asks the camera man to stop taping, but he continues… Netanyahu says what he really thinks for the first time: He brags about how easy is to manipulate the USA and he proudly explains how he sabotaged the Oslo process.

America’s Drone Terrorism

In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the U.S. safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.

This narrative is false.

Those are the understated opening words of a disturbing, though unsurprising, nine-month study of the Obama administration’s official, yet unacknowledged, remote-controlled bombing campaign in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan, near Afghanistan. The report, “Living Under Drones,” is a joint effort by the New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic and Stanford Law School’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic.

The NYU/Stanford report goes beyond reporting estimates of the civilian casualties inflicted by the deadly and illegal U.S. campaign. It also documents the hell the Pakistanis endure under President Barack Obama’s policy, which includes a “kill list” from which he personally selects targets. That hell shouldn’t be hard to imagine. Picture yourself living in an area routinely visited from the air by pilotless aircraft carrying Hellfire missiles. This policy is hardly calculated to win friends for the United States.

Defenders of the U.S. campaign say that militants in Pakistan threaten American troops in Afghanistan as well as Pakistani civilians. Of course, there is an easy way to protect American troops: bring them home. The 11-year-long Afghan war holds no benefits whatever for the security of the American people. On the contrary, it endangers Americans by creating hostility and promoting recruitment for anti-American groups.

The official U.S. line is that America’s invasion of Afghanistan was intended to eradicate al-Qaeda and the Taliban, who harbored them. Yet the practical effect of the invasion and related policies, including the invasion of Iraq and the bombing in Yemen and Somalia, has been to facilitate the spread of al-Qaeda and like-minded groups.

U.S. policy is a textbook case of precisely how to magnify the very threat that supposedly motivated the policy. The Obama administration now warns of threats from Libya — where the U.S. consulate was attacked and the ambassador killed — and Syria. Thanks to U.S. policy, al-Qaeda in Afghanistan spawned al-Qaeda in Iraq, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

If that’s success, what would failure look like?

Regarding Pakistani civilians, the report states,

While civilian casualties are rarely acknowledged by the U.S. government, there is significant evidence that U.S. drone strikes have injured and killed civilians.… It is difficult to obtain data on strike casualties because of U.S. efforts to shield the drone program from democratic accountability, compounded by the obstacles to independent investigation of strikes in North Waziristan. The best currently available public aggregate data on drone strikes are provided by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), an independent journalist organization. TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562–3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474–881 were civilians, including 176 children. TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228–1,362 individuals.

The Obama administration denies that it has killed civilians, but bear in mind that it considers any male of military age a “militant.” This is not to be taken seriously.

The report goes on,

U.S. drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury.Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves.

It’s even worse than it sounds:

The U.S. practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups.

How can Americans tolerate this murder and trauma committed in their name? But don’t expect a discussion of this in Monday night’s foreign-policy debate. Mitt Romney endorses America’s drone terrorism.

http://www.fff.org/comment/com1210q.asp

US and Iran: Could Romney be tougher than Obama? Unlikely

Short of conducting a unilateral military strike or declaring war against the Islamic Republic, a Romney administration would be faced with the same legislative options on Iran as President Obama, who has already administered them.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at a press conference in Tehran, Iran, Oct. 2. Ahmadinejad blames the steep drop in Iran’s currency to “psychological pressures” linked to Western sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear program.

In the run-up to Monday’s debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the most disputed foreign policy issue hasn’t been Afghanistan, where roughly 68,000 US troops are still based in the fight against Al Qaeda, or the contentious decision by the Obama administration to withdraw US troops from Iraq.

As moderator Martha Raddatz said at the Oct. 11 vice-presidential debate, the biggest national security threat faced by the United States is now considered to be the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Every American is less secure today because [President Obama] has failed to slow Iran’s nuclear threat,” Mitt Romney said at the Republican National Convention in August. The Republican candidate has since argued that Mr. Obama hasn’t been tough enough on Tehran, and he has vowed to institute a different, harsher sanctions program that will be sure to cripple the Islamic Republic.

But analysts, legal experts, and US-allied diplomats say that when it comes to sanctions on Iran, US legislation isn’t expected to differ much from one administration to another. Short of conducting a unilateral military strike or declaring war against the Islamic Republic, a Romney administration would be faced with the same legislative options on Iran as President Obama, who has already administered them.

Obama vs. Romney 101: 3 ways they differ on Iran

Former President George W. Bush began implementing legislation for harsher financial sanctions against Iran during his last two years in office. After the 2008 presidential election, the Obama administration instituted and expanded those sanctions at a speed that has made current US sanctions policy on Iran the harshest in contemporary history. This leaves a potential new Romney administration with few policy alternatives.

“The only thing Romney can really do to get to the right of Obama on Iran policy is to say he’d bomb Iran if elected president, or would actively promote and pursue a policy of regime change,” says Karim Sajadpour, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Given the misgivings Americans have about the Iraq war, I don’t think those are winning talking points for him.”

Since Obama became president in 2009, his administration has used a carrot-and-stick approach with the Islamic Republic, practicing a policy of limited engagement while boosting the implementation of Bush-era financial sanctions against Tehran and enacting new, tighter financial restrictions.

Iran’s economy began feeling the bite of new US and United Nations sanctions during the last two years of former President Bush’s second term in office. When Obama became president, the US Treasury Department upped the ante on Iran sanctions, accelerating their implementation and obtaining concrete commitments from US allies and private international entities to institute them as well.

Obama’s administration has also been tougher on US allies, particularly in Europe, flanking traditional diplomacy with direct pressure for collaboration on Iran policy, according to interviews with western European diplomats.

“A lot of what has come out on sanctions is a result of what Congress is passing,” says Erich Ferrari, a DC-based lawyer specializing in US Treasury legislation and author of the first comprehensive guide to US transactions regulations on Iran. “What Obama did was continue Bush-era policies and put them on steroids.”

Western European diplomats say Obama has been less willing than the Bush administration to engage in “multilateral conversations” with Europe on sanctions, opting instead to directly pressure some governments and private institutions to agree with and implement Washington’s unilateral sanctions laws.

As a result, US financial sanctions against Iran – now considered the harshest in recent history – have during the last four years been integrated into the global banking system much more quickly and deeply.

The US now sanctions foreign companies that do not significantly cut or completely stop purchases of Iranian oil, and it penalizes banks engaging in financial transactions with the Islamic Republic.

Coupled with a European embargo on Iran’s oil imposed in July, the country’s oil exports have fallen by more than 50 percent since last year, forcing Tehran to continue reducing oil production as a result of declining demand. This summer, Iraq out-produced Iran for the first time in more than twenty years, according to data from the International Energy Agency.

US banking sanctions have also hindered Tehran from accessing its foreign exchange reserves held overseas, constraining the ability of its central bank to defend the value of Iran’s national currency, which has fallen by roughly 80 percent since last year.

The European Union intensified its sanctions against Tehran last week, formally barring all trade and transactions with Iranian banks (except those with specific EU government permission), and tightening restrictions against Iran’s central bank, the National Iranian Oil Company, and the National Iranian Tanker Company.

In addition to sanctions, Iran has dealt with breaches to its security.

Since January 2010, Israel’s spy agency, Mossad, has reportedly conducted covert operations leading to the assassinations of at least four Iranian nuclear scientists, according to intelligence officials cited anonymously in a Time Magazine report. A wave of damaging cyberattacks targeting Iran’s nuclear-fuel centrifuges started in mid-2009.

“After this level of sanctions, the only thing left would be a real blockade of all communications,” says Roberto Toscano, who served as Italy’s Ambassador to Iran for five years until 2008.

Aside from a military strike on Iran by either the US or Israel, which could drag Washington into a regional war, the only policy option left beyond sanctions is diplomacy, Ambassador Toscano says, adding: “If we think sanctions alone will make them cave, this is not going to happen.”

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Foreign-Policy/2012/1021/US-and-Iran-Could-Romney-be-tougher-than-Obama-Unlikely?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+feeds%2Fusa+%28Christian+Science+Monitor+|+USA%29

Major Us, Israeli Air Defense Exercise Begins

AP  JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military says its largest ever exercise with the United States has begun.

A major air defense drill called Austere Challenge 2012 started Sunday and includes more than 3,500 Americans and 1,000 Israelis. The militaries are practicing their ability to work together against a range of threats facing Israel, the main U.S. ally in the Mideast.

The military exercise was originally scheduled for April but was postponed at Israel’s request. No reason was given but it came amid growing talk of Israel preparing to attack Iran if Tehran does not cease its uranium enrichment program.

The weeks-long joint exercise will test multiple Israeli and American air defense systems against incoming missiles and rockets from places as far away as Iran.

http://fromthetrenchesworldreport.com/major-us-israeli-air-defense-exercise-begins/24148/

Media Ignores Increased Deaths, Casualties in Afghanistan Under Obama

On the somber 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, nearly 2,000 members of the U.S. military have died in Afghanistan since the war started in response to the attacks in 2001. The Defense Department has tallied 1,987 deaths. The Associated Press has counted 1,980. Other organizations put the number above 2,000. In addition, according to the Defense Department, 17,519 service members have been wounded in Afghanistan.

What is more striking, though, is more U.S. soldiers have been killed and wounded during President Barack Obama’s first term in office than former President George W. Bush’s two terms. And the anti-war mainstream media that regularly counted the number of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan under Bush, for the most part, has been silent on the number of deaths and casualties that have resulted under Obama.

Under former President George W. Bush, 575 American soldiers died and fewer than 3,000 were wounded in Afghanistan. This means under Obama, at least 1,405 soldiers have died and nearly 15,000 additional soldiers have been wounded, which means 70% of the deaths  and nearly 80% of the injuries in Afghanistan have occurred under Obama’s watch.

In 2010, Obama sent 33,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan as part of the “surge,” and Americans have been received with more hostility with each passing day. In June, Obama announced he would accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and America would transfer security duties to the Afghans in 2014.

Because Obama is a Democrat, the media has been reluctant to shine more of a light on Afghanistan’s destabilization under Obama. Perhaps the media is afraid that such reports would make Americans question whether Obama has mismanaged the Afghanistan war like he has the economy. Or maybe the media does not want to report on anything that would make Democrats seem weak on national security, as was the case when Bill Clinton was president.

For whatever reason, the mainstream media is not reporting the striking increase in deaths and casualties in Afghanistan under Obama, again helping Obama through their omissions.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2012/09/11/Mainstream-Media-Ignoring-Increase-In-Deaths-Wounded-In-Afghanistan-Under-Obama

WikiLeaks: Iraqi children in U.S. raid shot in head, U.N. says

This official police document contains allegations that American soldiers killed 11 Iraqi civilians in the village of Ishaqi on Wednesday, March 15, 2006.

This cell phone photo was shot by a resident of Ishaqi on March 15, 2006, of bodies Iraqi police said were of children executed by U.S. troops after a night raid there. Here, the bodies of the five children are wrapped in blankets and laid in a pickup bed to be taken for burial. A State Department cable obtained by WikiLeaks quotes the U.N. investigator of extrajudicial killings as saying an autopsy showed the residents of the house had been handcuffed and shot in the head, including children under the age of 5. McClatchy obtained the photo from a resident when the incident occurred.

 

A U.S. diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi.

The unclassified cable, which was posted on WikiLeaks’ website last week, contained questions from a United Nations investigator about the incident, which had angered local Iraqi officials, who demanded some kind of action from their government. U.S. officials denied at the time that anything inappropriate had occurred.

But Philip Alston, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said in a communication to American officials dated 12 days after the March 15, 2006, incident that autopsies performed in the Iraqi city of Tikrit showed that all the dead had been handcuffed and shot in the head. Among the dead were four women and five children. The children were all 5 years old or younger.

Reached by email Wednesday, Alston said that as of 2010 — the most recent data he had — U.S. officials hadn’t responded to his request for information and that Iraq’s government also hadn’t been forthcoming. He said the lack of response from the United States “was the case with most of the letters to the U.S. in the 2006-2007 period,” when fighting in Iraq peaked.

Alston said he could provide no further information on the incident. “The tragedy,” he said, “is that this elaborate system of communications is in place but the (U.N.) Human Rights Council does nothing to follow up when states ignore issues raised with them.”

The Pentagon didn’t respond to a request for comment. At the time, American military officials in Iraq said the accounts of townspeople who witnessed the events were highly unlikely to be true, and they later said the incident didn’t warrant further investigation. Military officials also refused to reveal which units might have been involved in the incident.

Iraq was fast descending into chaos in early 2006. An explosion that ripped through the Golden Dome Mosque that February had set off an orgy of violence between rival Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and Sunni insurgents, many aligned with al Qaida in Iraq, controlled large tracts of the countryside.

Ishaqi, about 80 miles northwest of Baghdad, not far from Saddam Hussein’s hometown, Tikrit, was considered so dangerous at the time that U.S. military officials had classified all roads in the area as “black,” meaning they were likely to be booby-trapped with roadside bombs.

The Ishaqi incident was unusual because it was brought to the world’s attention by the Joint Coordination Center in Tikrit, a regional security center set up with American military assistance and staffed by U.S.-trained Iraqi police officers.

The original incident report was signed by an Iraqi police colonel and made even more noteworthy because U.S.-trained Iraqi police, including Brig. Gen. Issa al Juboori, who led the coordination center, were willing to speak about the investigation on the record even though it was critical of American forces.

Throughout the early investigation, U.S. military spokesmen said that an al Qaida in Iraq suspect had been seized from a first-floor room after a fierce fight that had left the house he was hiding in a pile of rubble.

But the diplomatic cable provides a different sequence of events and lends credence to townspeople’s claims that American forces destroyed the house after its residents had been shot.

Alston initially posed his questions to the U.S. Embassy in Geneva, which passed them to Washington in the cable.

According to Alston’s version of events, American troops approached a house in Ishaqi, which Alston refers to as “Al-Iss Haqi,” that belonged to Faiz Harrat Al-Majma’ee, whom Alston identified as a farmer. The U.S. troops were met with gunfire, Alston said, that lasted about 25 minutes.

After the firefight ended, Alston wrote, the “troops entered the house, handcuffed all residents and executed all of them. After the initial MNF intervention, a U.S. air raid ensued that destroyed the house.” The initials refer to the official name of the military coalition, the Multi-National Force.

Alston said “Iraqi TV stations broadcast from the scene and showed bodies of the victims (i.e. five children and four women) in the morgue of Tikrit. Autopsies carries (sic) out at the Tikrit Hospital’s morgue revealed that all corpses were shot in the head and handcuffed.”

The cable makes no mention any of the alleged shooting suspects being found or arrested at or near the house.

The cable closely tracks what neighbors told reporters for Knight Ridder at the time. (McClatchy purchased Knight Ridder in spring 2006.) Those neighbors said the U.S. troops had approached the house at 2:30 a.m. and a firefight ensued. In addition to exchanging gunfire with someone in the house, the American troops were supported by helicopter gunships, which fired on the house.

The cable also backs the original report from the Joint Coordination Center, which said U.S. forces entered the house while it was still standing. That first report noted: “The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 persons, including five children, four women and two men. Then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles and killed their animals.”

The report was signed by Col. Fadhil Muhammed Khalaf, who was described in the document as the assistant chief of the Joint Coordination Center.

The cable also backs up the claims of the doctor who performed the autopsies, who told Knight Ridder “that all the victims had bullet shots in the head and all bodies were handcuffed.”

The cable notes that “at least 10 persons, namely Mr. Faiz Hratt Khalaf, (aged 28), his wife Sumay’ya Abdul Razzaq Khuther (aged 24), their three children Hawra’a (aged 5) Aisha (aged 3) and Husam (5 months old), Faiz’s mother Ms. Turkiya Majeed Ali (aged 74), Faiz’s sister (name unknown), Faiz’s nieces Asma’a Yousif Ma’arouf (aged 5 years old), and Usama Yousif Ma’arouf (aged 3 years), and a visiting relative Ms. Iqtisad Hameed Mehdi (aged 23) were killed during the raid.”

(Schofield, an editorial writer at The Kansas City Star, was Berlin bureau chief and was on temporary assignment in Iraq at the time of the Ishaqi incident.)

READ THE CABLE:

Cable: massacre of Iraqi family by U.S. troops in 2006

‘Peace’ president’s war record: how Obama melted down his Nobel prize to make bullets

Obama continued George W Bush’s “war on terror” under a different name — extending Bush’s wars to Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and elsewhere while greatly expanding the war in Afghanistan.

When Sen. Barack Obama ran for the presidency in 2008 many wishful-thinking Democratic voters viewed him as a peace candidate because he opposed the Iraq war (but voted yes on the war budgets while in the Senate).

Some others assumed his foreign/military policy would be along the lines of Presidents George H. W. Bush (whom Obama admires) or Bill Clinton. Some who identified as progressives actually thought his foreign/military policy might tilt to the left.

Instead, center rightist that he is, Obama’s foreign/military policy amounted to a virtual continuation of George W. Bush’s Global War on Terrorism under a different name.

He extended Bush’s wars to Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and elsewhere while greatly expanding the war in Afghanistan, hiking the military budget, encouraging the growth of militarism in US society by repeatedly heaping excessive praise on the armed forces, and tightening the military encirclement of China.

Summing up some of his military accomplishments a few months ago, Obama declared: “We’ve succeeded in defending our nation, taking the fight to our enemies, reducing the number of Americans in harm’s way, and we’ve restored America’s global leadership. That makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that’s an achievement that every American — especially those Americans who are proud to wear the uniform of the United States Armed Forces — should take great pride in.”

Obama actually has little to show for his war policy after nearly four years. Most importantly, Afghanistan — the war he supported with enthusiasm — is predictably blowing up in his face. A symbol of the Bush-Obama 11-year Afghan folly is the recent 2,000th death of an American soldier, not at the hands of the Taliban but a US-trained Afghan police officer, our supposed ally. The truth is that public opinion in Afghanistan has always overwhelmingly opposed the invasion, and rightly so.

Obama hopes to avoid the embarrassment of a takeover by the Taliban or another violent Afghan civil war (as happened in the 1990s) after the bulk of US troops pull out at the end of 2014. He’s made a deal with the Kabul government that allows Washington to keep thousands of American troops — Army, CIA agents with their drones, elite Special Operations forces and pilots — until 2024.

There are two reasons for this. One is to keep a US-controlled government in Kabul as long as possible. The other is to station American combatants near Afghanistan’s borders with Iran to the west and China to the east for another 10 years, a verdict hardly appreciated in Tehran and Beijing.

The Middle East is in turmoil. Israel is still threatening to attack Iran, an act that would transform turmoil into catastrophe. The Syrian regime refuses to fall, much to Washington’s chagrin. Egypt’s new government has just declared partial independence from Washington’s longstanding domination. The plight of the Palestinians has worsened during Obama’s presidency. Relations with China and Russia have declined.

Very few of Obama’s 2008 foreign/military election promises have come to fruition. He said he would initiate a “new beginning” in relations with the international Muslim community which had reached a low point under Bush. America’s popularity jumped after the president’s promising Cairo speech in 2009. But now, after repeatedly attacking Muslim countries with drone assassins, the rating is only 15% positive, lower than when Bush was in command.

Obama had promised to improve relations with Latin America, get diplomatically closer to Iran and Cuba, settle the Israel-Palestine dispute and close Guantanámo prison, among a number of unrealized intentions.

All the foreign developments the Democrats could really brag about at their convention were ending the war in Iraq “with heads held high” as our legions departed an eight-year stalemated conflict that cost Uncle Sam $4 trillion, and assassinating al-Qaeda leader Osama bin-Laden (which drew the most enthusiastic of those jingoist “USA! USA! USA!” chants from Democratic delegates).

Actually, George W Bush ended the Iraq war by signing an agreement with the Baghdad regime — before the new president took office — to pull out all US troops at the end of 2011. Obama supported the treaty but tried unsuccessfully until the last minute to coerce the Iraqis to keep many thousands of American troops in the country indefinitely. (Antiwar.com reported Oct. 2 that up to 300 US soldiers and security personnel have been training elite Iraqi security forces for months.)

Obama as warrior president discombobulated the Republicans who in past elections always benefited from portraying the Democrats as “weak on defense.” Efforts to do so this year have fallen flat after the president in effect melted down his undeserved Nobel Peace Prize to make more bullets. Obama also obtained a second dividend. He wasn’t besieged by antiwar protests as was his predecessor, because most anti-Bush “peace” Democrats would not publicly oppose Obama’s militarist policies. (This essentially destroyed the mass US antiwar movement, which has been kept going on a much smaller scale by the left and the pacifists.)

Throughout Obama’s election declarations he occasionally speaks of, and exaggerates, increasing threats and hazards confronting the American people that only he can manage. He told the convention that the “new threats and challenges” are facing the country. Romney does the same thing, in spades.

Overstating the threats confronting the US is a perennial practice for Democratic and Republican presidents and candidates. George W. Bush brought this dishonest practice to an apogee, at times sounding as though he was reciting a Halloween ghost story to gullible children — but this year’s candidates are no slackers.

Historian and academic Andrew J. Bacevich, an Army colonel in the Vietnam War and now strongly opposed to America’s wars, mentioned fear-mongering in an article published in the January-February issue of The Atlantic magazine. He writes: “This national-security state derived its raison d’être from — and vigorously promoted a belief in — the existence of looming national peril…. What worked during the Cold War [fear of the ‘Communist menace’ and nuclear war] still works today: to get Americans on board with your military policy, scare the hell out of them.”

The main purpose of this practice today is to frighten the public into uncomplainingly investing its tax money into the largest military/national security budget in the world — about $1.4 trillion this year (up to $700 billion for the Pentagon and an equal amount for national security).

This accomplishes two objectives for that elite ruling class that actually determines the course of empire: First, it sustains the most powerful military apparatus in history, without which the US could hardly function as world leader (yes it has the biggest economy, but look at the shape it’s in).

Second, it constitutes a huge annual infusion of government cash — a stimulus? — into the economy via the military-industrial complex without the “stigma” of being considered a welfare-like plan to create jobs or benefit the people. (This is wrongly called Military Keynesianism, a notion that was repudiated by the great liberal economist John Maynard Keynes, who helped pull the US out of the Great Depression with his plan to increase government spending to end the crisis.)

The White House and Congress talk about reductions in military spending, and there may be some cuts by eliminating obsolete defense systems — but over the decade the budget will continue to expand. Obama said to the convention, and Romney will pledge the same if elected — “As long as I am Commander-in-Chief we will sustain the strongest military in the world.”

This has been a sine qua non for election to the presidency for decades. It is so familiar and so justified by official scare stories that most Americans don’t think twice about paying an annual national fortune to maintain the most powerful military machine in the world to deal with a few thousand opponents with relatively primitive weapons many thousands of miles away.

The US military, of course, has an entirely different purpose: at a time of gradual US decline and the rise several other countries such as Brazil, India and China, among others — Washington’s military power is intended to keep the United States in charge of the world.

http://stopwar.org.uk/index.php/usa-war-on-terror/1954-the-peace-presidents-war-record-how-obama-melted-down-his-nobel-prize-to-make-bullets

OBAMA CUTS DEAL WITH IRAN OVER NUKES

Sanctions to vanish in exchange for ‘temporary’ halt in enrichment work

Iranian and U.S. negotiators have reached an agreement that calls for Iran to halt part of its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of many of the U.S. sanctions against the Islamic regime, according to a highly placed source.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, expects a letter from President Obama in a few days guaranteeing the details of the agreement, arrived at recently during secret negotiations in Doha, Qatar.

The source, who remains anonymous for security reasons and is highly placed in Iran’s regime, said that once Khamenei receives Obama’s guarantees, he will authorize an announcement by Iran on a solution to the nuclear crisis before the U.S. presidential elections.

The agreement calls for Iran to announce a temporary halt to partial uranium enrichment after which the U.S. will remove many of its sanctions, including those on the Iranian central bank, no later than by the Iranian New Year in March. Iran is in the throes of massive inflation and citizen unrest because of the sanctions.

French intelligence verified today that Yukiya Amano, the current director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been given the go-ahead by the U.S. to be ready to travel to Iran and announce the agreement, according to Hamid Reza Zakeri, a former intelligence officer in the regime who has defected to Europe.

The source in Tehran said Khamenei has made it clear that unless he receives Obama’s written guarantees, he will not begin the process, which would dramatically boost Obama’s re-election chances. If the guarantees are not given, Khamenei has warned, Iran will speed up its nuclear program.

The guarantees would ensure the regime’s right to peaceful enrichment, quickly remove many of the sanctions, accept that Iran’s nuclear program does not have a military dimension and relieve international pressure on the regime while it continues its nuclear program. Also, the U.S. would announce that the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists was the work of a foreign country, though Israel would not be named, to increase legal pressure on Israel.

According to the Iranian source, a previous Obama letter to Khamenei indicated that it’s best for the regime not to give any motive to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, a message that was re-emphasized in the Qatar negotiations.

As reported exclusively by WND Oct. 4, a three-person delegation led by a woman on behalf of the Obama administration traveled to Qatar about Oct. 1 and met with Iranian counterparts, including Ali Akbar Velayati, the former foreign minister of the Islamic regime and a close adviser to Khamenei on international matters.

In the meeting, according to the source, the U.S. delegation urged an announcement, even if only on a temporary nuclear deal, before the U.S. elections to help Obama get re-elected. A Romney presidency, the delegation said, would surely move more toward Israel, and the Iranians were reminded that Obama has stood up to Israel against any plans to attack Iran. The regime’s delegate was urged to understand that if Iran does not stand by Obama, Israel will attack Iran.

Days after the WND report, Ali Akbar Salehi, the regime’s foreign minister, in an
interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, stated, “If our right to enrichment is guaranteed, we are prepared to offer an exchange.”

The same message was relayed by several other officials of the regime.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently in Kazakhstan that the sanctions can be lifted immediately if Tehran worked with world powers to address questions about its nuclear program.

Beirut bombing kills anti-Assad official, bringing Syrian war to Lebanon

Gen. Wissam al-Hassan’s assassination in today’s bombing is the most significant political killing in Lebanon since that of the former prime minister in 2005.

Lebanese soldiers inspect damaged buildings at the scene of an explosion in the mostly Christian neighborhood of Achrafiyeh, Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Oct. 19.Bilal Hussein/AP

 

Beirut, Lebanon

Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, a top Lebanese security chief and staunch opponent of the Syrian regime, was reported killed today in a powerful car bomb explosion.

The assassination of Hassan, the head of the Information Branch, the intelligence wing, of the Internal Security Forces, is probably the most significant political killing in Lebanon since 2005, despite his relatively low public profile. It will create significant reverberations in Lebanon, a country torn down the middle over the conflict in neighboring Syria and fearful of Syria’s violence, which has split the country along sectarian lines, spilling over the border. Angry Sunni supporters of Hassan took to the streets in the evening, burning tires at intersections. In the flashpoint city of Tripoli in north Lebanon, gunbattles broke out between factions of Sunnis and Alawites, a Shiite offshoot.

Hassan was politically allied to Saad Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister who heads the mainly Sunni Future Movement. He played a key role in the arrest in August of Michel Samaha, a former minister and close ally of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president. Mr. Samaha was charged with plotting a series of bombings around Lebanon at the behest of the Syrian authorities. The Syrian regime rejected the charges.

The explosive-packed vehicle, which killed at least seven other people, was parked in a narrow street in the Ashrafiyah district, around 100 yards from the bustling Sassine Square intersection, a hub of cafes, banks, and boutique shops. The bomb exploded in mid-afternoon, sending a rumble of thunder across the eastern half of the city. Several cars were destroyed and caught fire, as did at least one adjacent building. Surrounding buildings had balconies blasted off walls and windows in surrounding blocks of flats and offices were shattered, the glass shards crunching under the feet of rescue workers and wide-eyed onlookers.

“It was horrendous. The bomb exploded just as children were walking home from the school. It was very frightening,” says Magda Karam, a housewife who lives nearby.

The car that presumably carried the bomb was mangled beyond immediate identification and apparently hurled some distance down the narrow street by the blast. Voice of Lebanon radio reported that human remains had been discovered at the bomb scene and that the death toll could climb.

“I was shocked by the huge magnitude of destruction, which indicates that the bomb was very large,” said Hatem Madi, Lebanon’s state prosecutor to LBCI television.

The street where the bomb exploded is the site of offices belonging to the March 14 parliamentary coalition which is supported by the West and is critical of the Syrian leadership. The headquarters of the Phalange Party, a Christian organization allied to the March 14 coalition, are also nearby. Before the news broke of Hassan’s death, both were thought to be potential targets.

With its complex sectarian rivalries, Lebanon is particularly vulnerable to the possibility of violence in Syria fomenting domestic unrest. The government has attempted to remain aloof from the Syrian conflict, but the country is divided between supporters and opponents of the regime of Syria’s President Assad.

The militant Shiite Hezbollah is reportedly providing military assistance and training to the Syrian Army and dispatching combatants across the border into Syria, while several hundred Lebanese Sunni volunteers have joined various units of the opposition’s Free Syrian Army.

Many Lebanese fear a resurgence of the bombings and assassinations of political figures that blighted the country in the three years following the truck bomb assassination of Rafik Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister and Saad Hariri’s father, in February 2005. Prior to his appointment as head of the ISF’s Information Branch, Hassan was in charge of Hariri’s security.

Hassan’s political affiliation with Hariri’s Future Movement earned him the enmity of the Syrian regime and its allies in Lebanon. The arrest in August of Samaha, a sharp veteran politician and once considered untouchable, was a bold step that may have breached a red line. After his arrest, Samaha confessed to the charges of plotting bomb attacks when shown covertly filmed video footage of him discussing the plot with others. The Lebanese judicial authorities also issued arrest warrants for a Syrian general and a colonel for their alleged roles in the plot, which have been ignored by the Syrian authorities.

“Why Wissam al-Hassan?” asked Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces party, at the scene of the bomb blast. “Because he arrested Michel Samaha.”

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2012/1019/Beirut-bombing-kills-anti-Assad-official-bringing-Syrian-war-to-Lebanon

Drone Strikes by US end up Killing More Innocent Civilians than Militants

It is a frightening fact that the majority of Pakistanis killed by American drone strikes are innocent civilians. Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Rehman Malik has made the claim as well as noting that 336 UAV strikes have occurred in the most recent years by the United States. According to statistics, most of which are not completely accurate, of the 336 strikes in Pakistan, there have been 2,500 to 3,000 civilian victims with up to 174 of those victims being children.

As SLN reported, New York University and Stanford researchers examined the strikes throughout Pakistan and concluded that 49-50 civilians are killed per drone attack.  “Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological,” University researchers explained.

Interior Minister Malik said in early October, “They had given us F-16’s, we haven’t used them against India, instead they were used in [the] War against Terror. Now [the] United States should provide drones to Pakistan in order to target militants in areas bordering Afghanistan,” hoping to sway US officials into sending the technology and/or devices.

PakNationalists Forum correspondent, Ahmed Quraishi commented to RussiaToday, “The Americans have been trying very, very hard to convince Pakistanis the drone attacks are actually for the betterment of the country…but I think with this kind of statement coming from a senior Pakistani minister [Malik], this just totally destroys the position of the US from inside Pakistan. I’m sure that the American diplomats at the US embassy here in Islamabad are increasingly applying pressure on Washington and their counterparts, especially at the CIA and the Pentagon,” alluding to the division that drone strikes bring to Pakistan.

Months ago, Pakistan’s ambassador, Sherry Rehman met with US officials at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado and told listeners, “I am not saying drones have not assisted in the war against terror, but they have diminishing rate of returns,” hitting on the term of blowback.

A meeting followed the Colorado forum, taking place in Langley, VA between the head of the CIA, David Patraeus and Pakistan’s spy chief, which was highly anticipated by Pakistani officials in hopes that some drone reform would be achieved. However, nothing in relevancy to drones was discussed.

Just last weekend, protestors in Pakistan organized and held a two-day anti-drone rally that brought out tens of thousands of people, giving a clear message to the US. The leader of the protest, Imran Khan explained, “We have succeeded in raising this issue. We came here to raise this issue, we came here to take a stand against drones.”

http://spreadlibertynews.com/drone-strikes-by-us-end-up-killing-more-innocent-civilians-than-militants/

Deadline dismissed: US wants troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014

US Army soldiers attached to the 1st Squadron (Airborne) 91st US Cavalry Regiment 173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team, pay their respects to US Staff Sergeant Orion Sparks and Sergeant Jonathan Gollnitz during a memorial ceremony at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank near Puli Alam in Logar Province.(AFP Photo / Munir uz Zaman)

 

The United States’ post-9/11 actions in Afghanistan have already earned the operation the distinction of being America’s longest-running war, and promises on the verge of being shattered could cause an expected end to be still a ways in the future.

Despite repeated pleas from US President Barack Obama to conclude the war in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, a leading official with the State Department tells reporters this week that the United States is readying plans that will leave boots on the ground for the unforeseeable future, perhaps long after the Obama-insisted deadline comes and goes.

Marc Grossman, the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, reportedly told the press on Tuesday that upcoming negotiations in the region will iron out how and who will be left overseas after 2014 to allegedly engage in counterterrorism efforts and assist Afghans with military training.

According to a report published this week in Foreign Policy, Grossman says the State Dept. will soon start up a round of talks with overseas officials with the goal of establishing a game plan for how America will conduct itself after the war is considered over.

Josh Rogin with Foreign Policy writes, “the point of the upcoming negotiations is to agree on an extension of the US troop presence well past 2014, for the purposes of conducting counterterrorism operations and training and advising the Afghan security forces.”

Grossman adds that the State Dept. has already held meetings to discuss “how we will manage our forces going forward in Afghanistan,” and now must begin negotiations to figure out a number of factors, including who and how many troops will be left behind.

The why, of course, is to aid Afghans unable to fend against insurgency on their own after the US military formally walks away. Just last week, however, US Vice President Joe Biden said he opposes assisting the Afghans any further once the operation hits the 2014 deadline.

“The fact is we went there for one reason: to get those people who killed Americans, al-Qaida. We’ve decimated al-Qaida central. We have eliminated Osama bin Laden. That was our purpose,” Mr. Biden said during last week’s debate against Paul Ryan, the GOP running mate vying for an Executive Branch position under Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney. “And in fact, in the meantime, what we said we would do, we would help train the Afghan military. It’s their responsibility to take over their own security. That’s why, with 49 of our allies in Afghanistan, we’ve agreed on a gradual drawdown so we’re out of there by the year — in the year 2014.”

“It is the responsibility of the Afghans to take care of their own security,” Mr. Biden added. “We are leaving in 2014, period, and in the process, we’re going to be saving over the next 10 years another $800 billion. We’ve been in this war for over a decade. The primary objective is almost completed. Now all we’re doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security. It’s their responsibility, not America’s.”

Earlier this week, officials with NATO confirmed that allied troops composed in part with US soldiers will remain in Afghanistan after the 2014 deadline, but strictly in an advisory role.

http://rt.com/usa/news/deadline-us-2014-afghanistan-585/

Turkey spineless to start new war

Saudi Arabia and Qatar after the failed pan-Arab campaign against Syria seem to have found the country ready to get into a fight – Turkey. Erdogan urged his people to prepare for war because the parliament gave him a permission to do so. For Russia, this is the worst case scenario.

Saudi Wahhabi monarchies have become independent players in the Middle East. They have both the necessary influence and money. Their co-religionists in Turkey (incidentally, all leaders of the country came from the “Brotherhood”), too, strive for global leadership. Interestingly, the ill-fated Syrian shell landed on the Turkish soil on October 3, the day after Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi voiced his determination not to interfere in the internal affairs of Syria. The call of the Emir of Qatar for punitive action under the auspices of the Arab League made at the UN General Assembly found no supporters, and then the Turkish card was played. On October 4, the Turkish Parliament gave the green light for military operations outside its borders. On Sunday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on his people to be ready for war with its neighbor. “You have to be ready at any time to go to war, if necessary. If you are not ready for this, you are not a state, if you are not ready for this, you are not a nation,” said Erdogan.

However, such emotional appeals are a product for domestic consumption. In fact, Erdogan will not dare to launch a full-scale war against Syria, though he has a comparable army. First, Syria has a strongest ally in the religion – Shiite Iran. President Ahmadinejad vowed that an attack on Syria will automatically signify an attack on Iran, with all the consequences. It is unlikely that Ahmadinejad will allow the regime of Bashar Assad to fall – in this case, the Islamic Republic would lose its path to the Middle East and will be surrounded by enemies.

Second, for obvious reasons, albeit not openly, Syria is supported by Iraq where power is in the hands of the prime minister, Shiite Nouri al-Maliki. Iraq supplies to Syria oil despite the U.S. sanctions, and its airfields, according to the Americans, serve as transit bases for Iranian aircraft that bring arms to Assad. In Iraqi Kurdistan thousands of Syrian Kurds from Peshmerga unit (“going to die”) are undergoing military training. This is a formidable force, ready to cross the border at any moment, cross the sparsely populated southern Sunni Syria and come to the defense of Syrian Kurds who support pro-Assad position and fight against the so-called rebels, but in fact, mercenaries Wahhabis. The Turkish authorities clearly see the threat, and recently have been making strikes at such camps, despite warnings from Baghdad.  

This implies the third and most serious problem for Erdogan – the Kurdish one. If he starts a war, he will not be able to keep Turkish Kurdistan in the hands. There is already a large-scale war with the Kurds. This is indicated by the news about the losses in the ranks of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party last month – 500. According to Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Turkish Center for Economic and Policy Studies (EDAM), the majority of the Turkish population believes that the government’s policy towards Syria is one of a hawk, and many people think that what is happening in Syria is the business of the Syrians and the international community should not interfere.

Fourth, the chances of support of such a war by the West are very slim. The United States has expressed “outrage” over shelling on the Turkish territory. Yet, President Obama has distanced himself from direct intervention. Similar statements of solidarity with Turkey were made by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, but the topic of Syria and conflict on the border with Turkey was not included in the agenda of a meeting of NATO defense ministers on October 9-10. The United States and Europe simply have no money for a conflict that is likely to be a lengthy one. In addition, the fact that the West has lately seen enough (i.e., murder of the American ambassador in Benghazi) does not impress western politicians.

Fifth, what about Turkey’s desire to join the EU? They would have to say good bye to it, because a country cannot become a member if it is in a war with its neighbors.

Sixth, Putin will not let Erdogan get reckless. The victory of the Wahhabis in Syria would free up the gangsters who would rush to the Caucasus and other Muslim regions of Russia. This was indicated by head of the center of the Volga regional and ethno-religious Studies of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies Rais Sulemanov. According to him, a great number of radical Islamists from different regions, including Tatarstan, are fighting against Assad today. One group of Tatar Wahhabis returned to Almetyevsk, and then hastily moved to Mari El. According to him, “Tatar Wahhabis may join the underground Wahhabi in the Volga region who badly need people with terrorist skills. We shall see what the outcome of President Putin’s visit to Turkey on October 15 would be.  

Finally, there were signs that the Turks and the so-called “Syrian National Council” (SNA) are seeking to negotiate. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu suggested “replacing” President Assad with Syria’s Vice President Farouk al-Sharra, who in his opinion is a “reasonable man.” The same nomination was made by the SNA. Their leader Abdulbaset Sid said on Monday that he would not object to the participation of members of the ruling party “Baath” in the political future of the country provided that they have not participated in the killings during the revolt.

But the Syrian authorities feel that they can sustain their line, as long as they can save the president from direct physical elimination. “We are no longer living in the Ottoman Empire,” said Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi. He encouraged the Turkish government to stop pushing personalities acceptable to the Turkish people. The position of the legitimate government is simple: Assad will remain in office until his seven-year term expires in 2014. Then an election will be scheduled where the Syrians will choose a new president.

http://english.pravda.ru/hotspots/conflicts/17-10-2012/122480-turkey_war-0/

Washington’s enemy ‘doesn’t exist’

Pakistani radical Mulsims burn the American flag during a demonstration near a local mosque in down town Peshawar after performing Friday noon prayers protesting against the US-led air strikes on Afghanistan 12 October 2001 (AFP Photo / Tariq Mahmood)

Americans are in the crosshairs of terrorists worldwide purely due to Washington’s policy in the Muslim world, not because there is an Islamic enemy whose only aim is to kill Americans for their freedoms and lifestyle, insists a former CIA officer.

­Historian Michael Scheuer, an author of “Through our enemies’ eyes”, who worked for the agency for over 20 years till 2004 and at one time was the chief of the CIA’s ‘Bin Laden unit’, says America’s greatest enemy – radical Islam – never existed: neither when Bin Laden was alive, nor now.

­Israeli lobby drag America into wars

Actually, “it is America’s relationship with Israel that is causing this war [on Islam]”, and until Americans accept this, “we are not going to defeat this enemy,” the author says.

Michael Scheuer believes it is the Israeli lobby in America that is dragging the US into wars.

“In Israel itself as a country, it is not a problem. The real problem is the leaders of the Jewish American community in the US, who influence and corrupt our Congress to support Israel when we have no interest there,” he states.

“The American political establishment is caught between two things. They are extremely pro-Israel and they are almost Marxist in their belief that the spread of democracy is inevitable in all places, in all peoples, in all time,” evaluates the former CIA officer, adding that in their desire to protect Israel, the US establishment cannot tell what’s real.

­Radical islamists will benefit

­Michael Scheuer predicts that in countries caught up in the Arab Spring like Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, “there is not going to be a democracy that in any way resembles democracy in the west.”

At the same time, the anarchy being created in the Muslim world will make radical Islamists the only beneficiaries of the chaos engulfing the Arab countries.

According to Michael Scheuer, further radicalization of Islamist groups, particularly in Africa, is inevitable – thanks to guns becoming more affordable.

The endless flow of uncounted weapons and the opened prisons in the above countries have reinforced Islamist groups around the world, believes Scheuer.

“Their [American political establishment’s] mindless pursuit of secular democracy at the end of the day endangers the stability of the region and probably the whole world,” he says.

­If Syria falls to Islamists – Israel will go down

­As for the situation in Syria – it has been interfered in by the US unconscionably.

“Until they [the Syrians] removed the US ambassador, he was running around their country trying to encourage groups to overthrow the Syrian government. That is not the role of any diplomat, US, Russian, Chinese or British,” the author points out, saying that “Syrians were urged onto the streets cold-bloodedly,” without mention of the possibility of being shot dead by the government.

The author recalls that Syria, with its traditional support of Hezbollah, is naturally an Israeli zone of interest, not an American one.

“Syria is a country with no US interest. Since I was a little boy, we’ve been afraid of the Syrians,” the author says, laughing at the fact that “if you look at the map – it’s hard to imagine that this little blat of country called Syria could be a threat to the US.”

Clarifying a possible result of any American success in Syria, Scheuer says that “this is another good example of dichotomy in the thinking of the American leaders. Because as we call for democracy in Syria, if Assad goes – Israel’s security goes straight down.”

­Israel sets US plans on Iran

­Michael Scheuer reveals that America’s ‘plan on Iran’ depends on that of Israel.

“Both Republicans and Democrats are deathly afraid that Israelis will attack Iran off their own work. If Israel attacks Iran, the Americans will get blamed for condoning it, whether we did or not,” he explains.

“What we are seeing is a slow, almost non-accelerable advance toward some kind of a conflict with Tehran.”

He labels the alleged plot of eliminating a Saudi Arabian ambassador in the US with the help of a Mexican drug cartel “a comic uproar”, saying he can hardly believe Iran would risk a war with the US, Israel and much of NATO, just to kill somebody who is not even a member of the ruling family of Saudi Arabia.

“They’ve come down under belief that democracy is better for everybody. The truth is, American and western foreign policy interests in the Middle East have depended for 50 years on the maintenance of tyranny that gave us access to oil, that protected Israel and persecuted Islamists to protect us. All of that going by the wayside,” acknowledges the author, recalling the Israelis, who were first to realize that democracy might not be good for their security.

­‘Libya will be anti-American’

­Answering a question about war-torn Libya, the author pointed out that this country is notorious for having its Islamists fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and then the same men encountering the Americans in Iraq and also in Afghanistan. Michael Scheuer is uncertain whether Libya will become a hotbed for terrorists, but “it will decidedly be anti-American and anti-NATO”.

­‘We are fighting a religious war’

Despite being largely well-educated and technologically advanced,

“America lacks common sense”

, claims the former CIA officer, maintaining that for the last 20 years, the US has been very efficient in creating enemies and endangering security. The last four American presidents have been telling the population that the wars the US wages abroad are against a bunch of madmen, and in no way religious wars.

“We are definitely fighting a religious war. And until we come to realize that – we are never going to be able to defeat it,” Scheuer concludes.

“Let the Chinese deal with these [Islamist] people for the next 50 years, we’ve had enough of it, but the point is – the Americans cannot get out.”

http://rt.com/news/us-muslim-policy-sheuer-895/

Iran: How long can debt-laden US remain world power?

Ahmadinejad says US influence in world affairs waning due to massive debt and loss of legitimacy, adds West increasingly questioning legitimacy of “Zionist regime,” hints EU hurt more by sanctions than Iran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad predicted the impending downfall of the “US empire,” blaming the collapse on a combination of the country’s massive debt and its loss of legitimacy within the international community, Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported Thursday.

“How long can a government with a $16,000 trillion foreign debt remain a world power?” he asked at a press conference with Kuwaiti media personnel. “The Americans have injected their paper wealth into the world economy and today the aftermaths and negative effects of their pseudo-wealth have plagued them.”

He added: “An empire, or a government, remains in power so long as the people under its power support it, but today the Americans have acted in a way that the world nations do not like them at all, and therefore, their international legitimacy is annihilated.”

Ahmadinejad also predicted that the West would soon drop their alliance with the “Zionist regime,” saying that Westerners and US politicians are increasingly “at a loss” as to why Israel exists.

Downplaying the effect of Western sanctions on the Iranian economy, Ahmadinejad said that the Islamic Republic would persevere. “The hegemonic powers have no way [forward], but to change the conditions.” Earlier this month, riots broke out in Tehran in protest of the collapse of the rial currency, which has lost some two-thirds of its value against the dollar in the past 15 months, stoking inflation that is now running at around 25 percent.

Despite his country’s reeling economy, Ahmadinejad questioned who was really suffering under the sanctions. “These sanctions are in fact imposed against the European countries,” he charged. “It has now been five years that they have imposed sanctions against Iran, but the question is, which one is experiencing tougher economic conditions, the EU, or the Islamic Republic?”

Earlier this week, the EU agreed to impose further sanctions against Iran’s banking, shipping, and industrial sectors, cranking up financial pressure on Tehran in the hope of drawing it into serious negotiations on its nuclear program.

Turning to his country’s illicit nuclear program, Ahmadinejad termed Western pressure as “boring,” and expressed that his country would proceed in its drive for a peacefully nuclear program. “Due to the political approach of the world oppressor powers, the Iranian nuclear issue has become a boring issue. Today everyone knows that the westerners are basically opposed to the advancement of the Iranian nation and even if the nuclear issue would be solved they would resort to another pretext, such as Iran’s manufacturing of satellites, or even production of medicines, or becoming a space power, to interfere in our internal affairs.”

Addressing increasing speculation that the Persian Gulf could become a flashpoint for violence between the West and Iran, Ahmadinejad said his country would respond to any threats posed against it. “I do not think such a war would occur, because we all contribute to the establishment of security in this region, but at any rate when the United States make some threats, Iran, too, responses to them. Everyone knows that it is not possible to urge the Iranian nation to retreat resorting to war threat.”

http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=288322

Russia slams EU for new round of Iran sanctions

Calling for a fresh round of talks, Moscow says unilateral sanctions imposed by the EU harms unity of P5+1 who are seeking a diplomatic solution to end Iran’s race for nuclear arms.

Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, addresses the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 28, 2012. Photo by Reuters

 

Russia criticized the European Union on Wednesday for imposing new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program and called for a fresh round of talks between world powers and Tehran as soon as possible.

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing “deep concern” over EU sanctions imposed on Tuesday against major Iranian state companies in the oil and gas industry and the central bank.

Moscow said unilateral sanctions by the EU dealt a “palpable blow” to the unity of the six nations – the United States, France, Britain, China, Germany and Russia – leading diplomatic efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear program.

“We will continue to consistently seek to achieve the organization of the next round of negotiations … as soon as possible,” the statement said. No talks have been held since the last round in Moscow failed to bring a breakthrough last June.

Russia has supported four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran but says further measures are counter productive.

The West suspects Iran of using its civilian atomic energy program as a cover for ambitions to build a nuclear bomb – accusations Tehran denies.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Monday she hoped turning up the heat on the Islamic Republic would persuade it to make concessions and that negotiations could resume “very soon”.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/russia-slams-eu-for-new-round-of-iran-sanctions-1.470617

Iran and Turkey Join Syria Peace Envoy in Call for Truce

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Iran declared support on Wednesday for the new Syria peace envoy’s cease-fire proposal, joining Turkey in a rare moment of accord between two of the regional powers backing opposite sides in the 19-month conflict that has pitted the Syrian government against an array of armed opponents.

But the Syrian government expressed skepticism that rebels would honor a cease-fire, and the peace envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, who represents both the United Nations and the Arab League, said a temporary halt to the fighting would constitute only a tiny step toward resolving the conflict, which has left more than 20,000 people dead.

A veteran Algerian statesman who has been on the job for less than two months, Mr. Brahimi has spent the last several days conferring with Middle East leaders about ways to break the Syria impasse. His predecessor, Kofi Annan, resigned in frustration at the end of August after his proposed peace plan slipped into seeming irrelevance.

On Monday, Mr. Brahimi proposed a cease-fire during the three-day Muslim holiday of Id al-Adha, which begins Oct. 26, hoping that a religious reprieve universally respected by Muslims could be the basis not only for a pause in the fighting but perhaps the beginnings of a dialogue in Syria.

Sunni Muslims constitute most of the Syrian population and virtually the entire insurgency, while President Bashar al-Assad is a member of the ruling Alawite sect, a Shiite offshoot. The country is home to a variety of other religious minorities, including a significant Christian population.

Both Turkey and Iran publicly endorsed Mr. Brahimi’s effort on Wednesday. Those endorsements were significant because Iran is the most influential regional supporter of Mr. Assad’s, while Turkey supports Mr. Assad’s armed adversaries, is host to more than 100,000 Syrian refugees and has repeatedly called on Mr. Assad to resign.

In the past few weeks Turkey also has banned Syrian aircraft, moved armed forces close to its 550-mile border with Syria and engaged Syrian gunners in sporadic cross-border shelling, raising fears that the conflict in Syria could turn into a regional war.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who met this week with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey at a regional summit meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, was quoted by Iran’s state-run news media on Wednesday as saying he supported the Syria truce proposal and “any group that derives power through war and means to continue war has no future.”

The Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, was quoted by the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency of Turkey as saying a holiday cease-fire was desirable but that any longer-term truce would require “certain measures for its sustainability.”

Mr. Brahimi, who was visiting Lebanon on Wednesday, called on the Syrian government to back the cease-fire, saying he had guarantees from rebel leaders that they would observe it if the government acted first. But a Syrian government newspaper expressed doubt that insurgent units, who lack a unified command, would or could simultaneously uphold a cease-fire.

In Damascus, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdessi, said in a statement released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency that his government would welcome any “constructive initiative” from Mr. Brahimi, who was widely expected to travel to Syria.

But the very modesty of Mr. Brahimi’s proposal seemed to be an indication that in recent months the conflict has drifted further from resolution. Random responses from ordinary Syrians reached by telephone seemed to reflect a similar assessment.

A resident in the embattled northern city of Aleppo, who gave only a nickname, Abu al-Hassan, said he believed neither side was willing to stop shooting. “What does this even mean?” he asked. “That instead of 40 martyrs we will have 20 martyrs a day?”

A Syrian businessman based in Damascus said Mr. Brahimi’s efforts would be better spent persuading the Syrian authorities to release the thousands of people arrested or abducted by pro-government militias during the conflict. “We got used to the gunfire — no need to cease it — but we will never get used to the absence of the detained and kidnapped people,” he said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/18/world/middleeast/iran-and-turkey-join-syria-peace-envoy-in-truce-call.html?_r=0

Refreshing, rational U.S. views on Iran

Sometimes things happen so slowly that the casual observer misses them, and one such occurrence is the slow evolution in the United States’ position in its faceoff with Iran.

Two important things seem to have occurred since the spring: Washington seems to have taken control of the Iran situation from Israel’s hard-line prime minister who had been pushing the U.S. toward imminent war, and there seems to be more flexibility among top echelons of the American establishment on the realistic and achievable goal of any negotiations with Iran, which will require simultaneously addressing issues of concern to Iran beyond the nuclear file that has been the main preoccupation of the United States and Israel.

The loose and jingoistic talk about bombing Iran into submission that had prevailed in the United States and Israel in recent years has slowly been replaced recently by a much more hard-nosed realization of the actual costs and consequences of an attack. The evolving tone accepts that Iran is already enriching uranium and continues to develop a full nuclear fuel cycle capability, and has not been significantly deterred either by existing sanctions or the threat of being attacked. A military strike against Iran would set back the nuclear research program by a few years, but not end it, experts here seem to agree.

So an important sign of rational change in the U.S. is a more serious assessment of the pros and cons of attacking Iran – an exercise that was not carried out when the United States and Great Britain decided to attack Iraq in 2003.

The world is still paying for the disastrous consequences and many prices of that reckless venture – by the way, if you are unhappy with those Salafist militants streaming into Syria to fight the Assad regime, you should ask George W. Bush and Tony Blair why they created in Iraq the greatest magnet, training ground and export hub for Salafist militants and terrorists since the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.

A good example of this more rational public discussion is a paper that was recently published by a group of eminent American former officials and national security professionals entitled “Weighing the Benefits and Costs of Military Action Against Iran,” under the aegis of the independent Iran Project that was established in 2002 in New York to encourage more official contacts among Americans and Iranians.

The report’s respected authors – like Thomas Pickering, Paul Volcker, Ann-Marie Slaughter, Nicholas Burns, Zbigniew Brzenzski, Lee Hamilton, Gen. Anthony Zinni and others – do not offer policy recommendations, but simply lay out the expected costs, benefits and consequences of a military strike against Iran.

This report is important therefore for both the substantive issues it raises, but perhaps even more because of its insistence on promoting a serious national debate about considering the military option against Iran. I especially liked the quotation by Abraham Lincoln at the start of the report: “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.” It suggests that perhaps the American people have not had all the facts on this matter presented to them.

Based on my discussions around the United States during the last month, I have a sense that a slow but important shift in American attitudes toward Iran continues to see diplomacy as being the best route to achieving the legitimate goal of preventing Iran from producing a nuclear weapon.

One of the best expressions of this view comes from former ambassador and senior State Department official Nicholas Burns, who worked on Iran policy under presidents Bush and Obama, and is now a professor at Harvard University. To his credit, he says the same things in his public pronouncements and private discussions, and makes several critical points that are worth pondering:

First, he says, the American president should “create a direct channel between Washington and Tehran and begin an extended one-on-one negotiation with all issues on the table. The United States should aim for the sustained and substantive talks it has not had in the three decades.”

Second, he urges the United States “for the first time” to put “far-reaching proposals” on the table if diplomacy and negotiations are to succeed.

Third, he feels the United States must take control of the Iran issue from Israel, both to give Washington more independence and to protect Israel’s core interests.

Like most other Americans who deal with this issue, he also says that military force should not be removed as an option if it is needed one day. Yet it is refreshing to hear solid establishment types like Burns stress the need for substantive and direct high-level negotiations on issues of concern to all sides, and that are not managed from afar by Israelis.

Most Americans oppose war with Iran, and perhaps the Obama administration and others in the policy establishment now feel that achieving legitimate foreign policy goals through diplomacy is preferable to waging war. What a refreshing change that would be.

Russia to target Turkey with anti-aircraft missiles

Hurriyet Daily News  Russia has begun installing a new state-of-the-art anti-aircraft weapon system in its southern military region with an eye toward targetingTurkey in response to a NATOmissile defense shield outpost that was recently established in East Anatolia, daily Hürriyet reported.

The installation will be completed by the end of this year, said RussianCol. Igor Gorbul, adding that the S-400 anti-aircraft missiles were capable of destroying all types of airplanes, as well as ultra-stratospheric and ballistic missiles.

Turkish-Russian tensions rose last week after Ankara forced down a Syrian passenger plane en route from Moscow to Damascus on suspicions that it was carrying weapons, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov moved to defuse tensions by saying the country’s bilateral relationship would not be damaged by the incident.

http://fromthetrenchesworldreport.com/russia-to-target-turkey-with-anti-aircraft-missiles/23881/

Egyptian Expert: United Islamic-Arab Army Able to Defeat Israel in One Day

Fars News Agency  TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Egyptian military expert underlined the Muslim world’s military capabilities and potentials, and said if the armies of different Islamic and Arab countries become united, they can defeat Israel in one day and then free the occupied Palestinian territories.

“A joint army formed by the Islamic and Arab countries can defeat Israel within 24 hours,” Foad Allam told FNA on Wednesday.

“Leaders of Islamic and Arab states should decide in their meetings to form a joint army to free Palestine,” he said, adding, “If they take the decision and task Muslims with implementing it, a force more powerful than Israel will be formed.”

His remarks came after the spokesman of the Iranian foreign ministry said that Iran extends support to the front of resistance against warmongers less than a week after Lebanese Hezbollah Leader Seyed Hassan Nasrallah declared the drone which penetrated Israel’s air space used Iranian technology.

“We are at the service of the region’s security and stability and our country’s progress in defensive fields makes war less likely,” Ramin Mehman-Parast said at his weekly press conference in Tehran on Tuesday.

“Our country’s defensive capabilities are very high and our progress in different fields has given us the chance to defend our territorial integrity as well as the regional states’ sovereignty and independence and find the ability to reinvigorate the resistance front against the western warmongers and interventionists and the Zionist regime,” Mehman-Parast stressed.

On October 6, Israeli media announced that an unknown drone was flying over the Yatir forest in the South Mount Hebron area and the Israeli army was trying to figure out what its destination was.

Israeli army later alleged that its forces had hit the drone kilometers after it infiltrated all the Israeli missile shields and radar systems and just a few kilometers away from the Dimona nuclear center.

Four days later the Hezbollah leader confirmed that the pilotless drone belonged to Hezbollah, adding that the operation codenamed Hussein Ayub saw Hezbollah’s drone fly hundreds of kilometers into the Israeli airspace and getting very close to Dimona nuclear plant without being detected by advanced Israeli and US radars.

Nasrallah further stated that Hezbollah’s drones use Iranian technology, but are assembled by his resistance movement in Lebanon.

http://fromthetrenchesworldreport.com/egyptian-expert-united-islamic-arab-army-able-to-defeat-israel-in-one-day/23885/

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