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Every now and then we have a chance to peek through a tiny window to see how “diplomacy” is done behind closed doors. Last week the leaked conversation between US diplomatsplotting the overthrow of Ukraine’s government was one such dramatic moment.
Another came Tuesday, in an interview with Iran’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, which appeared in the respected Lebanese Daily Star newspaper. In a sweeping interview, the Ambassador discussed the recent bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut and the regional threat of the growing number of jihadist groups in Syria.
Then he let loose with this bombshell. Roknabadi told the Daily Star that the Iranian government had been under pressure to convince Syrian president Bashar al-Assad not to run again for president. As Syria’s only regional ally, Iran presumably has a good deal of influence with the Assad government.
[U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey] Feltman, during a visit to Iran last summer, asked officials to convince Assad not to run in the elections. The Iranian officials asked him: ‘What’s the problem if he runs,’ to which Feltman responded: ‘If he runs, he will win the elections.’
Feltman is not just any UN bureaucrat. In the revolving door between the UN and US government, he previously served as US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from August 2009 to June 2012 and as United States Ambassador to Lebanon from July 2004 to January 2008. Before that he served in post-”liberation” Iraq.
More recently, Feltman was an important cast member in the above-mentioned “Ukraine-gate” phone call between US undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. In the Ukraine drama, his former State Department colleagues agreed that Feltman could be trusted to appoint a UN official to “glue” together the deal they were cooking up.
If Ambassador Roknabadi is accurate in his account, this confirms much about the US government’s cynical regime-change ploy in Syria. Not that it is any surprise to those paying attention. It is in keeping with US ambivalence toward actual electoral democracy in those places which it purports to democratize. From Gaza to Egypt to Afghanistan to Libya to Iraq, it seems what US democratization efforts fear most is actual democracy.
No wonder Secretary Kerry keeps desperately clinging to the US misread of the “Geneva I” communiqué, claiming without evidence that it is a regime-change agreement among signatories. Assad must be kept out of the picture, because the US is terrified of his popularityin Syria.
11:09 pm on February 12, 2014Email Daniel McAdams
I wish I could be optimistic about Geneva II, but I cannot. That it happened at all is good. But “good for what” remains unclear. Listening to the speeches at the opening session established quite convincingly that none of the participants were ready to deal with the reality of what has become the most horrific tragedy of this new century.
During the past three years, the Syrian people have been victimized by a cruel and unrelenting war. While the competing sides may argue over who is at fault and what should now be done, what remains indisputable are the cold hard numbers of those who have been killed or forced to flee from their homes. Less quantifiable, but still real, is the physical destruction of once beautiful neighborhoods and world heritage treasures, and the emotional destruction visited upon a generation of Syrian children who will bear the scars of this war for a generation.
Despite all of this, the fighting continues without letup with neither side willing or able to accept the responsibility of contributing to ending it. The people may be exhausted, but the regime and the opposition are not.
We are three years into this bloody mess and what should have been clear from the outset has now become certain. This conflict will not end with one side claiming a decisive victory. Neither the regime and its international sponsors, nor the opposition and the countries that support them will be able to win. That this simple fact is not, and maybe cannot be, accepted by either side is what keeps the conflict going.
While it is easy find fault with the combatants, equally at fault are those who have funded them, armed them, and provided them with political support without control or conditions. Continuing the fight and continuing to fuel the fight is worse than a fool’s errand, it is a crime.
Delusions abound. The fragmented and deeply divided opposition, represented at Geneva by a rump delegation, still claims to speak for the Syrian people. The reality on the ground speaks otherwise. They blame the U.S. for not supporting them and refuse to accept responsibility for their own disarray. Some of their elements continue to maintain that their revolution is democratic and pluralistic, but the main forces doing the fighting — even those who are now termed as “moderates” — are anything but. Among the main rebel forces are disciplined extremist groups that have committed deplorable acts against civilians. Even now the opposition coalition insists on the precondition that the regime must step aside, as if they would be in a position to govern in its stead.
For its part, the regime continues to speak of its “legitimacy”, but its behavior has, if anything, cost it the right to claim that mantle. It was a brutal dictatorship before the war began and its conduct during the conflict has rightly earned it the epitaph of “war criminal”.
In this context, it was especially galling to listen to the Syrian Foreign Minister in his opening address speak of the “will of the Syrian people,” lecturing the U.S. Secretary of State saying “No one, Mr. Kerry, has the right to withdraw legitimacy of the [Syrian] president other than the Syrians themselves.” He said this, I presume, with a straight face, ignoring the tens of thousands killed, the millions who have been forced to flee, and the cities that have been devastated — all supposedly in the vain effort to establish this claim of “legitimacy”.
Surely this regime has run its course. Just as surely, this opposition, such as it is, is not in a position to lead. Therein lies the core of the Syrian tragedy. It is not just that neither side can win, but that neither side deserves to win — nor can they, in any event, govern the country.
Syria and the Syrian people deserve better. Those who maintain that the culture of the Syrian people is open, tolerant, and progressive are right. But those qualities are fast fading. Three years of conflict have ushered in a new reality of fanaticism, violence, and the evil of sectarian hostility. Out of all this, it will hard to build the new Syria. But Syrians still deserve the chance.
I have never supported a war and find it difficult to do so now, but I find myself increasingly convinced that the U.S. and international community have a responsibility to act and may need to use force to help end this conflict. If Geneva II fails to make progress toward any meaningful compromise, then I believe action must be taken.
There are firm demands that should be presented to all sides. The regime must stop its aggressive assault on “rebel-held positions” in populated areas. The destruction created by attacks on neighborhoods and the suffering that has been inflicted on innocent civilians is unacceptable. The opposition must be pressed to consolidate its ranks by becoming more inclusive and adopting a non-sectarian agenda for change. And they must purge their ranks of sectarian extremists. Both sides must agree to begin serious negotiations, without preconditions, to implement the transitional authority envisioned in the Geneva I formula.
Establishing a power-sharing transitional government will not be easy. It will take time. But both sides must be disabused of the notion that they can govern alone. The opposition has its base, as does the regime. If they want to be part of Syria’s future and if their funders and supporters want to be seen as making a constructive contribution to a resolution to this conflict, then they must agree to such a power-sharing arrangement. There is no other way.
If this does not occur within a defined period of time, then the U.S. may find it necessary to mobilize international support to launch strikes in Syria against both the regime and positions held by extremist groups. The strikes would in all likelihood need to be significant and sustained enough to change the calculations of the combatants. The Russians may choose to be part of this solution or not. But we are long past the time when the fate of Syria should be decided by a Russian veto.
Simultaneously, the U.S. would also need to lead an effort to mobilize a post-agreement peace-keeping force and a reconstruction and resettlement fund for Syria and its millions of refugees and internally displaced persons. Even after a power-sharing arrangement is reached, international support will be important to give the Syrians the time they need to make it work.
This degree of U.S. involvement may not be welcomed by many Americans and it will likely be rejected in many parts of the Arab World. But enough is enough. Something must be done to help end this Syrian nightmare.
|The Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki has vowed to eliminate “all terrorist groups” from Anbar province as a security source conceded the government had lost control of the town of Fallujah to al-Qaeda linked fighters.
Maliki, speaking on state television on Saturday, said his government would end “fitna”, or disunity, in the province and would “not back down until we end all terrorist groups and save our people in Anbar”.
His comments came after a senior Iraqi security official told the AFP news agency that the government had lost control of Fallujah to fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Videos showed ISIL fighters in control of the main Fallujah highway, and officials and witnesses inside the town told the Reuters news agency that ISIL was in control of nothern and northeastern parts of the town.
The ISIL has been tightening its grip in the Sunni-dominated desert province, near the Syrian border, in recent months in its effort to create an Islamic state across the Iraqi-Syrian borders.
In Ramadi, the other main city in Anbar, local tribesmen and the Iraqi security forces have worked together to counter the ISIL.
But in Fallujah, the Iraqi army has been prevented from entering by local Sunni tribesmen who, despite not supporting al-Qaeda fighters, are opposed to the Shia dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Imran Khan, Al Jazeera’s Iraq correspondent, said: “The Iraqi army is on the outskirts of the town, negotiating with tribal leaders to go and fight the ISIL. They need cooperation from the leaders to go in and root out the militants.
“The military had a base just outside, from where they were shelling the city. They have withdrawn from that base and the tribal leaders have moved in, claiming a victory, but it isn’t clear yet from the army if it was rather a tactical withdrawal.”
More than 100 people were killed on Friday during fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi, one of the worst days since violence flared when Iraqi police broke up a Sunni protest camp in Anbar on Monday.
The escalating tension shows the civil war in Syria, where mostly Sunni rebels are battling President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Shia Iran, is spilling over to other countries such as Iraq, threatening delicate sectarian balances.
|Saudi Arabia has pledged $3bn in aid to the Lebanese armed forces, a gift that comes in a time when tensions run high, both inside Lebanon and across the region.Lebanese President Michel Sleiman announced the donation on Sunday describing it as the largest grant ever given to the country’s armed forces. It is almost double the amount of Lebanon’s entire defence budget for last year.
“This aid aims to support Lebanon in all its religions and support the Lebanese army that is known for supporting national unity. We will provide it with all the needed conditions to achieve the great national cause that it was set up for,” he said.
Sleiman made the announcement after the funeral of senior Lebanese politician Mohamed Shatah who was killed in a car bomb on Friday.
Shatah was critical of Lebanon’s Shia movement Hezbollah and Syria’s president, which Hezbollah supports. But there has been no claim of responsibility for his killing.
Lebanon’s army has struggled to deal with violence spilling over from Syria’s civil war and is seen as weak in dealing with armed internal groups, especially Hezbollah.
In the last three years, Saudi Arabia has been pushing to be the Middle East’s most powerful player.
In Egypt, the Saudis backed the military coup that overthrew President Mohamed Morsi; within two hours of the coup, they pledged $5bn in aid.
They have also positioned themselves as crucial players in Syria, funding the rebels against President Bashar al-Assad and providing them with weapons.
And in Yemen, Saudi Arabia carefully brokered the power transition in 2011 following the uprising there. That allowed its long-time ally, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to leave office with immunity from prosecution.
So, is the donation to Lebanon a recipe for further turmoil or will it allow for greater security? And what does it mean for Saudi Arabia’s role in the region?
Inside Story explores the reasons behind this donation and the potential ramifications. Presenter Laura Kyle discusses with Hisham Jaber, a retired Lebanese army general and head of the Middle East Centre for Studies and Research; Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor of political science at Tehran University; and Mustafa Alani, a military analyst and senior adviser at the Gulf Research Centre.
Day After Saudi Arabia Gives Record $3 Billion To Lebanese Army, Lebanese Troops Fire At Syrian Warplanes | Zero Hedge
That didn’t take long.
It was only yesterday that Saudi Arabia pledged a record $3 billion to prop up Lebanon’s armed forces, in what the WSJ described as “a challenge to the Iranian-allied Hezbollah militia’s decades-long status as Lebanon’s main power broker and security force.” Lebanese President Michel Sleiman revealed the Saudi gift on Lebanese national television Sunday, calling it the largest aid package ever to the country’s defense bodies. The Saudi pledge compares with Lebanon’s 2012 defense budget, which the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute put at $1.7 billion.
The Saudi move was announced hours after thousands of Lebanese turned out for the funerals of former cabinet minister Mohamad Chatah and some of the other victims killed Friday in a bombing in downtown Beirut. The bomb was believed to have targeted Mr. Chatah, an outspoken critic of Hezbollah’s dominance of Lebanese affairs and security. No group has claimed responsibility. Saudi Arabia on Friday responded to the assassination by calling for Lebanon to build up the government and armed forces “to stop this tampering with the security of Lebanon and the Lebanese.”
Surprisingly, the biggest winner here may be none other than France: “Lebanon would use the Saudi grant to buy “newer and more modern weapons,” from France, said Mr. Sleiman, an independent who has become increasingly critical of Hezbollah. It followed what he called “decades of unsuccessful efforts” to build a credible Lebanese national defense force.”
However, back to the Lebanese quid pro quo: less than 24 hours after the announcement, what does Lebanon go ahead and do? Why it fired at Syrian warplanes (recall Syria is the archnemesis of Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar) of course, the first time it has done so since the start of the Syrian conflict. From BBC:
Lebanese troops have fired at Syrian warplanes violating its airspace, for what is thought to be the first time since the conflict in Syria began.
Lebanon’s National News Agency said the army had responded to a raid on Khirbet Daoud, near Arsal in the Bekaa Valley.
Syrian government forces have fired into Lebanon in the past, targeting rebels sheltering over the border.
The Lebanese authorities had until now not responded militarily, hoping they would not be dragged into the war.
Arsal is predominantly Sunni and its residents have been broadly supportive of the Sunni-dominated uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shia Islam.
The north-eastern town has been flooded with refugees since the Syrian military launched an offensive in the Qalamoun mountains last month.
Some 20,000 people have settled in makeshift camps, as Syrian troops backed by members of the militant Lebanese Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah have sought to cut rebel cross-border supply routes.
And that is how Syria buys proxy war access on yet another front in an indication that its hopes that sooner or later the Syrian conflict will re-escalate enough to allow the “developed west” to stage another chemical attack and finally have the US topple Assad, are still alive. The only question is whether this time Putin, instead of simply diffusing the Syrian confrontation once again, will have an incendiary present or two for the Saudi princes, in part as gratitude for the string of recent Saudi-inspired terrorist attacks in Volgograd.
» Volgograd Bombings Follow Saudi Threat to Attack Russia Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!
Prince Bandar warned Putin, “The Chechen groups….are controlled by us”
Paul Joseph Watson
December 30, 2013
Twin blasts targeting a train station and a trolley bus in the city of Volgograd which killed at least 31 people follow a threat by Saudi Arabia to attack Russia using Chechen terrorists if Moscow did not withdraw its support for President Assad in Syria.
The first attack took place at Volgograd-1 station on Sunday morning, killing 17 people. CCTV footage shows an orange blast behind the main doors of the station, smashing windows and sending debris out into the street. The prime suspect is a female suicide bomber.
The second attack occurred near a busy market in Volgograd’s Dzerzhinsky district. A bus packed with people on their morning commute was ripped apart by a suicide bomber, killing 14.
Although no group has claimed responsibility for the blasts, suspicion immediately fell on Islamists from the North Caucasus region who routinely attack soft targets in Russia.
While the media has concentrated on the threat such groups pose to February’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, no scrutiny has been given to a warning issued by Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan back in August when he told Vladimir Putin that Saudi Arabia would activate the Chechen terrorist groups it controls to target Russia if Moscow refused to abandon its support for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
As we reported at the time, the threat was made during a closed-door meeting between Prince Bandar and Putin at the beginning of August.
According to a transcript of the comments made during the meeting by Middle Eastern news agency Al Monitor, Bandar made a series of promises and threats to Putin in return for Moscow withdrawing its support for Assad in Syria.
“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year,” Bandar allegedly stated, adding, “The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us.”
Bandar made it clear that his position was supported by the US government.
This “guarantee” to stop the Chechens from attacking the Sochi Olympics was also obviously a veiled threat that if Russia did not abandon Assad, terrorist attacks would be given the green light.
Given that Russia did not abandon Assad and indeed virtually single-handedly prevented a US military strike on Syria, much to the chagrin of Saudi Arabia which is the primary supplier of anti-Assad rebel jihadists, are we to believe that the Volgograd bombings are evidence of Bandar following through on his threat?
This article was posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 5:49 am
Lebanese President Sleiman announced the grant on Sunday in a televised address [AP]
|Saudi Arabia has pledged $3bn for the Lebanese army, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman announced, calling it the largest grant ever given to the country’s armed forces.The pledge comes just as Lebanon held a funeral for Mohamad Chatah, the former finance minister, amid rising tensions over who might have killed him.
“The king of the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is offering this generous and appreciated aid of $3bn to the Lebanese army to strengthen its capabilities,” Suleiman said in a televised address on Sunday.
He said the funds would allow Lebanon’s military to purchase French weapons.
French President Francois Hollande, currently on a visit to Saudi Arabia where he met King Abdullah, said France would supply weapons to the Lebanese army if it was asked to do so.
He told a news conference in Riyadh: “France has equipped the Lebanese army for a while up until recently and we will readily answer any solicitation … If demands are made to us we will satisfy them.”
Lebanon’s armed forces have been struggling to deal with violence spreading over the border from Syria’s civil war.
The country, which is still rebuilding after its own 15-year civil war, has seen clashes between gunmen loyal to opposing sides of the Syrian conflict, as well as attacks on the army itself.
Lebanon’s army is seen as one of the few institutions not overtaken by sectarian divisions that plague the country, but it is ill-equipped to deal with internal threats.
The Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia may be seeking to bolster the army as a counterbalance to Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah, a Shia armed group and political party backed by regional Shia power Iran.
Rising regional Sunni-Shia tensions have been stoked by the war in neighbouring Syria, where rebel forces, made up mainly by the country’s Sunni Muslim majority, are fighting against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, who hails from the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam.
A car bomb shook downtown Beirut today, killing former Finance Minister Mohamad Chatah and five other people, underscoring how the fallout from Syria’s civil war is deepening divisions in neighboring Lebanon.
Fifty others were injured when the bomb, rigged with about 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of explosives packed inside a stolen Honda, detonated around 9:45 a.m. local time, the state-run National News Agency reported. Chatah, 62, a member of the Western-backed March 14 coalition, was traveling to meet other people in the group when the attack occurred.
The strike was the first to target a member of the March 14 organization since a wave of explosions began shaking Lebanon in July. Most of the assaults have targeted Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group, a member of the rival March 8 alliance that has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“This comes in the context of the Sunni-Shiite conflict triggered by the war in Syria,” Sami Nader, a professor of international relations at Beirut’s St. Joseph University, said in a telephone interview. This blast was a “direct message to the moderate Sunnis in Lebanon and their Saudi supporters,” he said.
News of the death of Chatah, an adviser to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, was posted on March 14’s official website.
Security officials and forensic experts inspected the scene of the blast in an area of Beirut that houses the Parliament building, government headquarters and Hariri’s house, where the March 14 coalition was set to meet. Hariri has been living abroad for security reasons.
The attack occurred amid deep divisions in Lebanon over the war in Syria, pitting mostly Sunni rebels against Assad, who is an Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. March 14, a coalition of several parties including the mostly Sunni Muslim Future Movement, supports the opposition while the March 8 alliance, which includes Iran-backed Hezbollah, supports Assad.
In his last statement on Twitter, posted shortly before today’s blast, Chatah, a Sunni Muslim, wrote that Hezbollah “is pressing hard to be granted similar powers in security & foreign policy” that Syria exercised in Lebanon for 15 years.
Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, with a stronghold in southern Lebanon, receives support from Iran. The group has sent fighters to support Assad’s army in Syria.
“This ugly crime comes in the framework of the crimes and bombings that aim at destroying the country,” Hezbollah said in an e-mailed statement. The group “strongly condemns the crime” that led to Chatah’s death, it said.
Iran, whose Beirut embassy was targeted by twin blasts last month, alleged today’s attack carried “fingerprints of the Zionist enemy,” the Islamic Republic’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ghzanfar Asl Roknabadi, told Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV today in an interview.
Violence has surged in Lebanon in the six months since Hezbollah acknowledged joining Assad’s side in the Syrian civil war. Attackers have targeted Hezbollah strongholds in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley while twin explosions also ripped through Sunni Muslim mosques in the northern city of Tripoli.
Chatah’s assassination came two weeks before the U.N.- backed Special Tribunal for Lebanonbegins the trial of four Hezbollah suspects over the 2005 killing of Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
“This is a message of terror to Lebanon,” Hariri said in a statement on Future TV, adding that those responsible for assassinating Chatah were the same who killed his father.
Chatah spent years learning and working in the U.S., according to his resume. In 1983 he received a doctorate in economics from the University of Texas. From 1997 to 1999 he was Lebanon’s ambassador to Washington. A former adviser to the International Monetary Fund, Chatah was married and had two children.
While a military campaign against Syria (and Iran) on the usual grounds has been postponed indefinitely, two nations in the Middle East have been seething: Saudi Arabia and, of course, Israel. Yet while Saudi Arabia rarely if ever gets its own hands dirty, instead executing its geopolitcal strategy through puppet states in need of its oil, Israel has never had a problem with engaging in offensive wars. And now that the threat of an imminent war, one which would have been largely carried out on the back of the US military, is gone Israel is preparing to do just that.
According to UPI, “Israeli generals are preparing for a decisive — and probably brief — war against Hezbollah, one of Israel’s most implacable foes, with plans to smash the Iranian-backed Lebanese movement’s military power, a study says. The Israelis’ primary objective will be to eradicate Hezbollah’s reputedly massive arsenal of missiles and rockets “for years to come,” the report by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv said.”
In other words, Syrian script, rinse repeat – spook with stories of massive weapon arsenals, propose a permanent resolution that involves invading – “briefly” although it never really works out that way – and then leak a few false flag videos “proving” just how evil the nation that is about to be invaded is.
Full story from UPI
Israel gets ready for ‘short, sharp war’ against Hezbollah
Israeli military intelligence estimates Hezbollah has 80,000 missiles and rockets of all calibers, ranging from ballistic missiles with warheads packing 700 pounds of high explosives, to short-range rockets, many of them aimed at cities including Tel Aviv. Some estimates go as high as 100,000.
The weapons that give Israelis nightmares are the long-range missiles with which Hezbollah can pound the Jewish state’s population centers and strategic installations without let-up for at least a month.
Israel’s military, which failed to crush Hezbollah in a 34-day war in 2006, “has prepared for a combined air and large-scale ground operation, driven by new intelligence and precision-firepower capabilities, to deliver a knockout blow and eliminate Hezbollah as a fighting force for years to come,” observed the report’s author, Yaakov Lappin, the Jerusalem Post’s military analyst.
Knocking out Hezbollah’s missile storage bunkers and launch sites will be the air force’s main mission, as it was in 2006, when Hezbollah only had about 20,000 missiles, 4,000 of which hit northern Israel.
Lappin said Israel will use “unprecedented capabilities” and a combat fleet that could destroy hundreds of targets a day.
In the last year, Israelis have been bombarded with government warnings to brace themselves for weeks of unprecedented missile bombardment if war comes — although the media have sought to reassure the public the armed forces will protect them with new weapons, tactics and all manner of electronic wizardry.
A key protection system will be the much-vaunted, four-tier missile defense shield known as Homa, The Wall in Hebrew. This includes the long-range Arrow 3 system, designed to destroy Iranian ballistic missiles outside Earth’s atmosphere, down to the Iron Dome, which has by official count shot down 84.6 percent of the short-range Palestinian rockets it has engaged in the last two years.
Even so, whatever the dimensions and capabilities of the generals’ plan, another report poured cold water on Israeli expectations of survival in the next war, which will — for the first time since the state was founded in 1948, a half dozen wars ago — target the home front.
Nathan Faber of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology, warned in an article on the website of the Magen Laoref, or Homefront Shield, foundation, that the Homa could crumble due to technological, operational and financial reasons in a multifront war with Hezbollah, Iran and others.
Faber, formerly chief scientist in the military’s missile division, said at least one-third of all missiles fired at Israel will in all probability get through.
He calculates Israel could be threatened by 800 Iranian Shehab-3b and more advanced Sejjil-2 ballistic missiles, and 400 Soviet-era Scud ballistic missiles held by Syria, some of which may be used in its 33-month-old civil war.
There will also be 500-1,000 medium-range tactical missiles — like Iran’s Fajr or Fateh weapons, which Hezbollah already has — and more than 100,000 short-range rockets held by Syria, Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas group in Gaza.
Faber reckons about one-third of the missiles fired at Israel will be intercepted by the air force, another third will malfunction and one third will get through defensive screens, including about 400 of the 1,200 ballistic systems.
Regarding tactical missiles, Faber noted that “since these are very precise missiles the great majority of them will hit their target” after evading the anti-missile defenses.
He calculates Iron Dome — which he assesses has a kill rate of only 66 percent — will have to deal with 30,000 rockets.
The cost will be awesome — and possibly prohibitive.
By Faber’s tally, Iron Dome operations will cost $6 billion, countering 400 ballistic missiles another $3 billion, while mid-range interceptions will total as much as $2 billion.
Welcome to our world, Seymour. Better late than never…
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh has dropped yet another bombshell allegation: President Obama wasn’t honest with the American people when he blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a sarin-gas attack in that killed hundreds of civilians.
In early September, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States had proof that the nerve-gas attack was made on Assad’s orders. “We know the Assad regime was responsible,” President Obama told the nation in an address days after this revelation, which he said pushed him over the “red line” in considering military intervention.
But in a long story published Sunday for the London Review of Books, Hersh — best known for his exposés on the cover-ups of the My Lai Massacre and of Abu Ghraib – said the administration “cherry-picked intelligence,” citing conversations with intelligence and military officials.
A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening. The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam. The same official said there was immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy: ‘The guys are throwing their hands in the air and saying, “How can we help this guy” – Obama – “when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along?”’
Here’s what Hersh alleges:
The administration buried intelligence on the fundamentalist group/rebel group al-Nusra. It was seen, Hersh says, as an alarming threat by May, with the U.S. being aware of al-Nusra member able to make and use sarin, and yet the group – associated with the rebel opposition in Syria – was never considered a suspect in the sarin attacks. Hersh refers to a top-secret June cable sent to the deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency that said al-Nusra could acquire and use sarin. But the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of the Defense Intelligence Agency could not find the document in question, even when given its specific codes.
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