MENA Mashup: Jubhat al-Nusra, McInsane, Morsi, and Qatar
From the RT blurb… The US claims it has found a way to make sure the arms it sends to the rebels in Syria won’t fall into the wrong hands. This comes after leaked reports from the CIA that it’s about to start funneling heavy weapons to rebel fighters.
From the Grey Lady… Taking Outsize Role in Syria, Qatar Funnels Arms to Rebels
…“They like to back winners,” one Middle Eastern official said.
In meetings with Mr. Obama, the leaders of Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have expressed a host of grievances about the Qatari shipments and have complained that Qatar is pursuing a reckless strategy.
In Mr. Obama’s meeting with Sheik Hamad at the White House on April 23, American officials said, he had warned that the weapons were making their way to radical groups like Jabhet al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, a Qaeda-affiliated group that the United States has designated as a terrorist organization.
“It was very important for the Qataris to understand that Nusra is not only an organization that destabilizes the situation in Syria,” said one senior Obama administration official. “It’s a national security interest of ours that they not have weapons.”
But Charles Lister, an analyst with the IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center in London who follows the Syria opposition groups, said that there was evidence in recent weeks that Qatar had increased its backing of hard-line Islamic militant groups active in northern Syria.
Mr. Lister said there was no hard evidence that Qatar was arming the Nusra Front, but he said that because of existing militant dynamics, the transfer of Qatari-provided arms to certain targeted groups would result in the same practical effect.
“It’s inevitable that any weapons supplied by a regional state like Qatar,” he said via e-mail, “will be used at least in joint operations with Jabhet al-Nusra — if not shared with the group.”
To be sure, folks, about those ‘Islamists’… Syrian rebels threaten to target Shi’ite villages in Aleppo and Sharia ‘spreading’ in Syria’s rebel held areas
Now, talk about your warmongering tomfoolery…
Visiting Israel and addressing the nation’s Army Radio today, Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) insisted it was vital for the US to arm Syria’s rebels to “deter” Iran from continuing with its civilian nuclear program.
Calls to impose regime change on Syria for no other reason than to spite Iran seem to have some resonance in Israel, since a top figure in the Ministry of Strategic Affairs made similar comments last week.
McCain took the concept a step farther however by explicitly addressing concerns that US arms would end up in the hands of al-Qaeda’s allies in Syria, asking “would you rather have these weapons – perhaps some of them – in the hands of the wrong people, or would you rather have Bashar Assad prevail and then encourage Iran to further their ambitions on nuclear weapons.”
Apparently, McInsane and most of the DC Critters are indeed aware of the problem…
…few details are available of whether and in what quantities US arms are flowing to the opposition. As the CIA disposes of prepositioned stocks in Jordan and Turkey, intelligence analysts continue to warn of extremist infiltration into the opposition ranks. Some estimates run as high as 30%, with a high proportion being fighters from outside Syria, including Western Europe. The congress has been briefed by the CIA of an overall weakening of the Free Syrian Army’s forces due to defection to the Islamist front as well as desertions. Obama himself remains keenly aware of these factors and, as related to us by NSC contacts, will act as a constraining force against those members of the Administration and Congress who favor a more activist approach.
Ironically, in spite of all the Sturm und Drang coming from the EU…
…Despite the end of the European Union’s embargo on supplying weapons to the rebels, which expired May 30, experts see little will or appetite among European nations for adding more weapons to the bloody Syrian civil war. Not even the British, who were pressing just weeks ago for arming the rebels, are likely to do so.
In part, that sentiment is based on a deep concern that not enough is known about the groups that make up the rebel forces. In particular, the prominence of the Nusra Front, with strong ties to al Qaida and the al Qaida-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, raises concerns that any weapons sent into that conflict might be used eventually against international troops or interests, either in Syria or elsewhere…
In wrapping up, Egyptian President Morsi appears to be under ‘house arrest’…
The Egyptian Army is carrying out a “full military coup” and the army has placed a travel ban on the country’s embattled President Mohamed Morsi, officials said.
The action came at the end of the 48 hours Egypt’s military gave Morsi two days ago to answer the demands of protesters who have filled the country’s streets in recent days.
The streets of Cairo was jammed again today, this time with competing throngs of pro- and anti-Morsi protesters.
In a statement posted on the Egyptian Presidency Facebook page, Essam El-Haddad, Egypt’s national security adviser called the on-going situation “a full military coup,” and warned that it will only lead to more violence…
…From Tanzania on Tuesday, President Obama called Morsi and urged him to take steps to contain the situation, reminding the Egyptian president that while the United States is committed to the democratic process in Egypt, competency must play a role.
“Democracy is about more than elections; it is also about ensuring that the voices of all Egyptians are heard and represented by their government, including the many Egyptians demonstrating throughout the country,” said a statement released by the White House reading out Obama’s call with Morsi.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who has just returned from a Mideast trip, also placed a call to Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amir, who reportedly resigned from Morsi’s cabinet on Tuesday.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has also spoken to his counterpart in Egypt, Pentagon spokesman George Little confirms…
It’s definitely a hot night in Tahrir Square…!
God bless the Syrians and Egyptians…!