MENA Mashup: Hagel, Iran, Kerry, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and, Qatar
Some more SoS Kerry:
…We came to Turkey yesterday most importantly to join with other foreign ministers from the Core Group supporters of the Syrian opposition in order to outline our vision – the support group – but also to hear and listen to the Syrian opposition outline their vision for the future of their country and for the important principles that were affirmed last night of pluralism, of the equality of all Syrians, of the effort to reject extremism, and most importantly to recognize the shared goal, the most important goal of trying to find a political resolution to end the killing, to end the destruction, and to keep Syria whole. That was a critical commitment by all parties, and I believe we’ve left here with clarity with respect to how we might try to reach out to the Russians, reach out to the others, and see if there isn’t a way to achieve that.
But absent that, we also committed to raise our assistance levels to the Syrian opposition in order to make it clear that we are not equivocating with respect to that commitment and that President Obama and others are deeply committed to a transition that affords the people of Syria the right to choose their future and to move away from this path of destruction which the Assad regime is wreaking on their own citizens, on their own country.
As you know, the United States, in fulfillment of our obligations with respect to supporting the opposition, committed to doubling our nonlethal aid and to giving much of that to local leaders who are trying to lay the groundwork for a stable and a democratic future. And each of the countries represented that were here yesterday all made a commitment to direct their military aid and assistance directly and uniquely, solely, through the Supreme Military Command General Idris. I think that may be one of the most important single things that was agreed on last night that can make a difference to the situation on the ground…
Interestingly, it was a much diminished crew of Syrian War Enthusiaists in attendance:
…In a joint statement by the 11 countries attending the Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul, extreme concern was expressed over the Syria conflict and condemnation for the brutal campaign of the Syrian regime. But U.S. Secretary State John Kerry, at a press conference Saturday, said they were all still committed to a political solution.
“I was pleased to today continue our discussion with our allies. They share the view we should have a peaceful transition,” Kerry said. “That’s the first priority of everybody.“
Remember, at one point, there was 114 nations participating in the ‘Friends of Syria’ talks, as b at MOA succinctly pointed out today…!
Now, where is that Chuck Hagel that the AIPAC apparatchik had so feared?
… “The bottom line is that Iran is a threat, a real threat,” Hagel, who arrived in Israel on Sunday on his first visit there as defense secretary, told reporters on his plane.
“The Iranians must be prevented from developing that capacity to build a nuclear weapon and deliver it,” he said… … Asked about renewed debate in the Israeli media that Israel might have to strike Iran by itself, Hagel said “every sovereign nation has the right to defend itself and protect itself”.
“Iran presents a threat in its nuclear programme and Israel will make the decisions that Israel must make to protect itself and defend itself,” he said.
But Hagel added the United States and other countries believe there is still time for diplomacy and tough international sanctions to have an impact.
“The military option is one option that remains on the table, must remain on the table,” he said. “But military options, I think most of us feel, should be the last option.“
Hello…? I swear it’s a full-court press …
… “The actions of Iran and North Korea should concern every member of this conference,” Countryman told a news briefing.
“It is clear that if Iran succeeds in the project of constructing nuclear weapons, then it is not only the Helsinki meeting that becomes irrelevant, but it is in fact the entire credibility of this treaty.”
Countryman was referring to a decision last November to put off talks on banning atomic bombs in the Middle East that were due to have taken place in Helsinki in December.
Iran blamed the United States at the time for a “serious setback” to the NPT.
“The possession of such weapons by Iran constitutes a threat to the entire region and an impetus for greater proliferation, lateral proliferation of weapons, than we have ever seen.”
Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon would be a “genuine tipping point and would cause more damage to the treaty than anything else that has occurred in its history”, he added…
What a crock of sh*t!
As my long-time fave Persian blogger, Iran Affairs’ Cyrus Safdari, had to say to the Leveretts:
Many (including us) have sought to push back against the rampant misinformation and analytic nonsense that passes for mainstream reporting and analysis on the Iranian nuclear issue. But the misinformation (disinformation?) and nonsense continues—as exemplified by the recent “study” by Karim Sadjadpour and Ali Vaez, Iran’s Nuclear Odyssey: Costs and Risks, published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP0). Late last week, our colleague at Iran Affairs, Cyrus Safdari, published a wonderfully sharp critique of Iran’s Nuclear Odyssey. While we encourage everyone to read it at Iran Affairs, we think it deserves the widest possible circulation, and therefore are pleased to re-post it below…
Now, besides our preposterous, $10 billion ‘Arms Package’ to the Middle East, most especially, the KC-135’s to Israel, there’s other GCC machinations afoot:
Qatar buys modern tanks and weapons from Germany, but opposition members in German parliament criticize the arms deal with the Gulf state. Democracy doesn’t exist in Qatar, political scientists say. (Nor in Bahrain, Kuwait, SA, or, the UAE!)
German arms manufacturer Kraus-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) has just closed a billion dollar deal with Qatar that was five years in the making. On Thursday (18.04.2013), the Munich-based company announced that it signed a contract to deliver 62 Leopard 2 tanks and 24 self-propelled howitzers to the emirate. The price for the arms: roughly 1.9 billion euros ($2.48 billion)…
What is the armament for?
But one of the most important factors in such large weapons deals is money, Ruf said.
“Weapons are the goods that elicit the highest sums of bribery,” he said. “That makes for great earnings on the side for the person in charge of choosing the weapons.” Qatar may sell or provide the German tanks to other nations or groups, El-Aouni said
Qatar expert and political scientist Hamadi El-Aouni from the University of Berlin said he thinks the Gulf state wants the tanks to support friendly groups in other countries.
“It’s not impossible that that these weapons will be shipped off somewhere,” he told DW. “I assume toward Syria, via Turkey. Or possibly Lebanon.”
El-Aouni said he (did)not believe Qatar is purchasing the weapons to protect itself from Iran. Home to a large US Air Force base, he said the United States would protect Qatar if it came to a confrontation with Iran…
Now, why on earth would the 8,500 strong Qatari armed forces need 62 Leopard 2 tanks, and, 24 self-propelled howitzers…?