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MENA Mashup: Bye-Bye Sykes-Picot, Game-Changers, and, Tiddlywinks

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius had recently raised the topic of redrawing the borders of Syria and/or the Middle East…

An opening emerges for Syria talks

…Here, American diplomatic pressure will be crucial. To empower Idriss, the United States may expand its current training and nonlethal assistance to include supplying weapons — even as its real hopes remain with a negotiated peace deal backed by Russia.

For Russia, the Syrian endgame offers a test of President Vladimir Putin’s sincerity and his clout. He regally left the details to Lavrov Tuesday, after keeping Kerry waiting three hours.

This lèse-majesté may impress Russians, but it won’t get the job done on Syria. If Putin has finally come to understand that Russia would potentially suffer most from the dissolution of the 1916 Sykes-Picot boundaries in the Middle East, then he will have to put his personal political energy behind the deal, rather than making a handoff to Lavrov.

The extremists also get a vote in this process, unfortunately. Hard-liners within Assad’s camp could step up their use of chemical weapons, hoping to set off a regional bonfire. Sunni jihadists could slaughter Alawites, in revenge for past attacks but also to torpedo a peace deal. Hezbollah and Iran could decide that their interests would be so harmed by Assad’s removal that they would rather torch Syria and take their chances. And Israel could continue its recent attacks, drawing Arab reprisals.

There are many ways this peace initiative could fail, but at least it has begun.

Honestly, do take a gander at what the Sykes–Picot Agreement is all about…!

Now, let’s look at recent developments from ‘on the ground’…

First off… US envoy holds border talks with rebels: US

…US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford met with Syrian rebel commanders at a border crossing with Turkey this week, the State Department confirmed Friday, saying the envoy crossed briefly into Syria.

Ford held talks with General Selim Idriss, who heads the rebels’ Supreme Military Council, and Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi, the head of the Free Syrian Army’s fighters in Aleppo, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.

“While at the border crossing, he discussed the situation on the ground with commanders and other Syrians,” Ventrell told AFP… …Earlier, Okaidi told AFP that Ford arrived at the Bab al-Salameh border crossing with a shipment of food and medical assistance.

Okaidi, who along with other rebel leaders has criticised Washington’s reluctance to arm the rebels, said the supply of weapons was discussed during the 40-minute meeting.

“There were promises that, in future, there will be better assistance than this, and that there might be military assistance,” he said.

“The issue is being studied. (The visit) may bring positive results.”

The United States has repeatedly expressed its support for the anti-Assad uprising, but it has been unwilling to provide arms, in part for fear that they may end up in the hands of extremists.

Okaidi said Ford’s visit could be a sign that “the United States has started to move in the direction of arming the Syrian rebels.”

A great take on what it all entails… What the US Media Won’t Tell You About the “Good” Syrian Rebels

Now, ex-CIA Desk Chief, Philip Giraldi, penned a must-read…

Gatekeeping for Zion

…Progressives who are nervous about mentioning the shameless politicking of Jewish organizations frequently parrot what I call the Noam Chomsky rationalization, engaging actively in criticizing Israeli behavior while at the same time blaming the Middle East farrago on outside forces like American imperialism, capitalism, or oil. This approach largely exonerates Israel from actual blame for what it does and it also by extension minimizes the role of the Jewish groups that constitute the core of the pro-Israel lobby because it is claimed that Washington drives the Israeli government’s behavior based on its own self-interest not vice versa. As a result, the critics seldom question the legitimacy of the self-defined Jewish state and they are sometimes reluctant to support any measures that would actually do damage to Israel and its perceived interests…

…Americans can either confront the ugly realities of what has been going on for the past twelve years or they can pretend that what they are seeing is not really there. The gatekeepers are understandably concerned lest Washington’s next war be blamed on American Jews so it is far better to suggest against all evidence that Israel is a pawn of American imperialism or that recent wars have been about oil or capitalist exploitation. The reality is that if progressives (and the rest of us) really want to stop a proxy war against Syria followed by a catastrophic conflict with Iran we have to take the blinkers off and be willing to confront Jewish groups like AIPAC and the ADL directly and persistently.

Now, in my defense, I’ve long extolled AIPAC’s insidious grasp upon the helm of our floundering Ship of State…!

Moving along… Nasrallah shatters Israel’s red lines on arms…

…Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said Thursday Syria would supply his party with “game-changing” weapons in response to last week’s Israeli airstrikes on Damascus that reportedly targeted shipments of sophisticated Iranian arms destined for the group.

In a fiery televised speech devoted mostly to responding to the Israeli air raids in Syria, Nasrallah said Hezbollah would assist other resistance groups seeking to liberate the Syrian Golan Heights from Israeli occupation…

…Nasrallah said, Syria would provide Hezbollah with advanced weapons which it has not had before.“Syria’s first response to Israel’s airstrikes was to tell Israel that if your goal was to prevent the capabilities of the resistance [Hezbollah] from growing, then take note … [Syria] will provide the resistance with sophisticated weapons that the resistance has never had before,” Nasrallah said, speaking through a giant screen via a video link. “We mean game-changing.”

“Syria’s second strategic response is to open the Golan front and to open the door to popular resistance in the Golan,” he said, drawing cheers from the crowd.

“The third response is to prepare rocket launch pads and give orders for firing missiles without returning to the command. This has frightened the Israelis who sent messages to calm the situation,” he added…

…“We, the Lebanese resistance, are ready to receive any kind of game-changing weapons, even if it upsets the balance of power [with Israel]. … We deserve such weapons, and we will use them to defend our people and our country.”

“Just as Syria stood by the Lebanese people and gave moral and financial backing to its people’s resistance, we announce that we stand by the side of the Syrian popular resistance,” Nasrallah said. He pledged “moral, financial and logistical support, cooperation and coordination and for the liberation of the Syrian Golan” which was captured by Israel in the 1967 War.

Here’s a great insight from within the ‘Lebanese Resistance’…!

Now, don’t ya find this a tad ironic coming from the ‘few stirred-up moslems’ architect, Zbig…

Syria: Intervention Will Only Make it Worse

…The Syrian conflict is a sectarian war in a volatile region whose potential to spread and directly threaten American interests would only be increased by U.S. intervention.

The struggle is between forces funded and armed by outside sponsors, notably Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran. Also participating are foreign religious groups not directly controlled by the sponsors, namely the Sunni Salafists and Iranian-aligned militias, not to mention intensely anti-Western al-Qaeda fighters. American involvement would simply mobilize the most extreme elements of these factions against the U.S. and pose the danger that the conflict would spill over into the neighborhood and set Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon on fire.

That risk has been compounded by the recent Israeli bombing of weapons sites inside Syria. Whatever their justification, the attacks convey to some Arabs the sense that there is an external plot against them. That impression would be solidified if the U.S. were now to enter the fight, suggesting a de facto American-Israeli-Saudi alliance, which would play into the hands of the extremists…

…The various schemes that have been proposed for a kind of tiddlywinks intervention from around the edges of the conflict—no-fly zones, bombing Damascus and so forth—would simply make the situation worse. None of the proposals would result in an outcome strategically beneficial for the U.S. On the contrary, they would produce a more complex, undefined slide into the worst-case scenario. The only solution is to seek Russia’s and China’s support for U.N.-sponsored elections in which, with luck, Assad might be “persuaded” not to participate…”

Meanwhile, Erdogan and the Turks, keep on stirring the pot… Tests on Syrians show traces of chemical weapons -Turkish FM… From Erdogan… Turkey would support U.S.-led no-fly zone in Syria

…Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would support a U.S.-enforced no-fly zone in Syria and warned that Damascus crossed President Barack Obama’s “redline” on chemical weapons use long ago, according to an NBC News interview released Thursday.

A no-fly zone to prohibit Syrian military aircraft from hitting rebel targets has been mentioned by American lawmakers as one option the United States could use to put pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Right from the beginning… we would say ‘Yes,’” Erdogan said when asked if Turkey, a NATO member that shares its longest border with Syria, would support such action, according to an report…

…Erdogan also said Assad has fired missiles with chemical weapons at his opponents, crossing Obama’s so-called red line a “long time ago.”

…“It is clear that the regime has used chemical weapons and missiles. They used about 200 missiles, according to our intelligence,” Erdogan said in the interview with the U.S. television news outlet.

The Turkish leader did not make clear whether Turkey believed that all 200 missiles carried chemical weapons and said his government had not determined whether sarin gas was used.

“There are different sizes missiles. And then there are deaths caused by these missiles. And there are burns, you know, serious burns and chemical reactions,” Erdogan told the network when asked what evidence Turkey had.

“And there are patients who are brought to our hospitals who were wounded by these chemical weapons,” he added.

“You can see who is affected by chemical missiles by their burns,” said Erdogan, who told NBC that Turkey would share intelligence with the United Nations Security Council…

With neighbors like that…!


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