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Iran War Weekly - July 21, 2013


By Frank Brodhead - Posted on 22 July 2013

Iran War Weekly

July 21, 2013

 

Hello All – Iran’s newly elected president will take office on August 3, and negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program are expected to begin in early September.  In the interim, intense and possibly important debates are taking place within the US policy-making elite about whether developments in Syria and Iran should prompt the United States to make more positive and creative diplomatic approaches toward Tehran.

 

Among the most important efforts for a more positive diplomatic effort by the United States is a statement urging such an approach signed by (as of today) 131 members of the House of Representatives, the largest number of signatories ever received by a “pro-Iran-negotiations” congressional effort.  Among the 131 signers were a majority of the House Democrats.  Also, on July 15 a letter signed by 29 “former policymakers, diplomats, military officials, and experts” called on President Obama to recognize the opportunities for diplomacy signaled by Rouhani’s victory in Iran’s presidential election.  Both of these documents, along with some discussion, are linked below.

 

Needless to say, the “bomb Iran” crowd hasn’t taken this lying down.  Their most significant effort came in an appearance by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” which the New York Times echo chamber immediately characterized as “Israel Increases Pressure on U.S. to Act on Iran” (the statement by a majority of the governing party was not characterized by The Times as putting pressure on anybody).  I’ve linked several good/useful analyses of Israel’s post-(Iran) election dilemmas below.

 

I’ve also linked several good/useful articles on essays on Iran’s election (free and fair?); the significance of the election for Iranian politics, and what we might expect/hope for from a Rouhani presidency in terms of relations with the United States.

 

Along with Iran’s president election, the other event that may pressure the United States and its allies toward a nuclear accommodation with Iran is the apparently unstoppable disaster in Syria.  Again this week we learned of further disarray among the Syrian armed opposition, with the United States and the United Kingdom now hesitating to act on their stated intentions to send arms to the opposition, uncertain how to navigate among the more than 1,000 armed groups now active in Syria.

 

Once again I would like to thank those who you who have forwarded this newsletter or linked it on your sites.  This “issue” and previous issues of the Iran War Weekly are posted at http://warisacrime.org/blog/46383.  If you would like to receive the IWW mailings, please send me an email at fbrodhead@aol.com

 

Best wishes,

Frank Brodhead

 

FEATURED ESSAYS

For a New Approach to Iran

By William Luers, Thomas R. Pickering, and Jim Walsh, New YorkReview of Books [August 15, 2013]

---- Could this be the year for an engagement with Iran that “is honest and grounded in mutual respect,” as President Obama proposed over four years ago? That goal seems unlikely without a shift in Iranian thinking and without a change in American diplomatic and political strategy. But two developments, one in Iran and one in the region, provide reason to think that diplomatic progress might be possible. The first is Iran’s recent presidential election…. The second development is the war in Syria, which has the potential to grow into a region-wide Shia–Sunni conflict. This poses a direct threat to Iran’s vital interests, giving Tehran an incentive to reduce tensions with the international community. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/aug/15/new-approach-iran/

 

Netanyahu's Crying Wolf on Iran

By Gary Sick, CNN [July 18, 2013]

[There are more articles on Netanyahu’s presentation linked below.]

---- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not a subtle man. When he has an objective in mind, he is not above resorting to hyperbole, exaggeration, or apocalyptic scenarios to make his point. He has been crying wolf nearly as long as he has been in politics. For a very good reason: It works. And it works. And it works. More than 20 years ago, Mr. Netanyahu solemnly informed us that, unless someone intervened, Iran would have a nuclear weapon within five years. That was one of the origins of the "three to five year" mantra. Almost every year since the early 1990s, senior political figures, intelligence specialists and respected commentators have assured us that Iran would surely have a nuclear weapon in three to five years, sometimes less, unless Iran were forced to stop its mad dash for the bomb. http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/18/opinion/sick-netanyahu-on-iran/index.html

 

Five Options for Iran’s New President

By Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Cairo Review [July 9, 2013]

---- Nuclear negotiations lasting more than a decade between Iran and world powers have failed. The talks have been unable to reconcile the concerns voiced by the United States and other parties that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon with Iran’s insistence that its program is strictly peaceful and only intended for civilian energy production. The window for a diplomatic breakthrough will be most opportune during the second term of President Barack Obama who, in his 2013 State of the Union address, called on Iran’s leaders to “recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution.” The election of a new Iranian president in June also offers the prospect of a fresh approach to negotiations. There is, however, a risk that if the current American/Western policy of pressure politics continues, we will inch toward a military confrontation. In a broader sense, the outcome of the nuclear negotiations will have a profound impact on vital issues such as global nuclear non-proliferation, and the Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) and Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East. http://www.aucegypt.edu/GAPP/CairoReview/Pages/articleDetails.aspx?aid=374

 

A Counter-view – Nima Shirazi, “Relax, Iran Isn't Going to Withdraw from the NPT,” Wide Awake in America [July 11, 2013] http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com/2013/07/iran-withdraw-npt-mousavian.html

 

Going to Tehran

---- Perhaps the most important recent book about the contemporary US-Iran standoff is Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran, by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett.  As readers of the IWW are aware, I’ve linked many of their articles and video interviews, and I think they are among the most able presenters of the arguments for a just and peaceful resolution of the current conflict.  Much of their book is also valuable in this respect; but I find their historical writing, especially their presentation of Iran’s revolution and counter-revolution in the 1980s, to be appalling, and their polemic against the reform-protesters following the 2009 election to be devoid of understanding re: how social movements work. My conflicted outlook is now paralleled by a debate in the New YorkReview of Books.  Last month the Review published a scathing critique of Going to Tehran, by New York Times columnist Roger Cohen.  It was called “Ruthless Iran: Can a Deal Be Made?” http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/jun/06/ruthless-iran-can-deal-be-made/.  In a recent issue of the Review, the Leveretts replied and Cohen replied to their reply: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/jul/11/going-which-iran/.  I think the debate raises many issues that are active within the US antiwar movement as well, and comments are welcome. - FB

 

The summer issue of Cairo Review is focused on “The Iran Dilemma,” and includes many interesting essays (two of which are linked below).  The Review is online at http://www.aucegypt.edu/GAPP/CairoReview/Pages/intheJournal.aspx?issid=11.

 

NEGOTIATIONS ABOUT IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM

US Holds Line on Nuclear Talks “Onus Is on Tehran”

From Enduring America [July 15, 2013]

---- In a conference call with journalists on Friday, a “senior US administration official” held the line on Iran’s nuclear programme, saying Washington noted the “positive tone and remarks” of President-elect Hassan Rouhani but looked for “actions that indicate a desire to deal seriously”. Tehranand the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, Russia, China, France, and Germany) are expected to meet this autumn, their first high-level discussions since April. Both February and April negotiations in Almaty in Kazakhstan brought no advance on key issues like Iran’s enrichment of 20% uranium, recognition of the Islamic Republic’s right to enrich, and the widespread US and European sanctions on Tehran. The US official spoke ahead of a meeting of the political directors of the 5+1 Powers on Tuesday. The official — possibly Wendy Sherman, the lead US negotiator in the talks — said the 5+1 Powers are likely to ask Iran to give a “concrete response” to a “confidence-building proposal” put forward in February, rather than make any modified or new offers. http://eaworldview.com/2013/07/iran-today-us-holds-line-on-nuclear-talks-onus-is-on-tehran/

 

Other nuclear-program issues – Nima Shirazi, “MEK Re-Ups 3 Year Old Nuclear Propaganda,” Wide Awake in America [July 13, 2013]http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com/2013/07/dirty-laundry-mek-nuclear-propaganda.html; Jason Ditz, “Israel Warns Arabs Against Complaining About Nukes at IAEA Meeting,” Antiwar.com [July 9, 2013] http://news.antiwar.com/2013/07/09/israel-warns-arabs-against-complaining-about-nukes-at-iaea-meeting/; and George Jahn, “Arabs ready anti-Israel resolution over nukes,” Associated Press [July 15, 2013] http://www.timesofisrael.com/arabs-ready-anti-israel-resolution-over-nukes/

 

THE US POLICY DEBATE

131 House members sign letter supporting U.S. diplomacy with Iran

By Laura Rozen, Al-Monitor [July 18, 2013]

---- Though the letter doesn’t take a position on sanctions or the possible use of military force by the United States or its allies, it cautions that “we must also be careful not to foreclose the possibility of such progress by taking provocative actions that could weaken the newly elected president’s standing relative to Iran’s hardliners.” It also says that while members may have different views about those issues, “we should all be able to agree on the need for a renewed diplomatic push as part of our broader strategy toward Iran.” http://backchannel.al-monitor.com/index.php/2013/07/5744/over-100-house-members-sign-letter-supporting-u-s-diplomacy-with-iran/

 

Former Officials Call on Obama to Reinvigorate Iran Diplomacy
From the National Iranian American Council [July 15, 2013]
---- Twenty-nine prominent former government officials, diplomats, military officers, and national security experts are calling on the White House to pursue direct negotiations with Iran once the country's new president, Hassan Rouhani, is inaugurated. In a letter to President Obama today, the group called the election of Iran's new president "a major potential opportunity to reinvigorate diplomatic efforts to resolve the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program." http://www.niacouncil.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=9506&security=1&news_iv_ctrl=-1

 

Advocates of Iran Engagement Get Unexpected Boost

By Jim Lobe, Lobe Log [July 20, 2013]

---- For the first time in many months, supporters of intensified diplomatic engagement with Iran appear to be gaining strength here. Following last month’s surprise election of Hassan Rouhani – widely considered the most moderate of a field of six candidates – as the Islamic Republic’s next president, the possibility of a deal over Iran’s nuclear programme has become more widely accepted. That was reflected most dramatically this week by the fact that 131 members of the hawkish, Republican-led House of Representatives – including a majority of House Democrats – signed a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to “reinvigorat(e) U.S. efforts to secure a negotiated nuclear agreement”. The letter, whose signatories included 17 Republicans, suggested that Washington should be prepared to relax bilateral and multilateral sanctions against Iran in exchange for “significant and verifiable concessions” at the negotiating table. It also implicitly warned against adding new sanctions at such a sensitive moment. http://original.antiwar.com/lobe/2013/07/20/advocates-of-iran-engagement-get-unexpected-boost/

 

Disregarding Iran’s Election: A Taxonomy

By Marsha B. Cohen, Lobe Log [July 2013]

---- Appearances to the contrary, the narrative underlying much news coverage of Iran’s recent election is still unfolding. While media attention has been diverted to the George Zimmerman trial domestically and to events in Egypt internationally, efforts to malign Iranian president-elect Hassan Rouhani and to strangle any hopes for an improvement in U.S.-Iran relations continue unabated. The vacuum at the highest levels of U.S. foreign policy analysis is being filled by an echo chamber of self-styled and mutually reinforcing “experts”. Certain themes and talking points have been constant. They have been crafted and honed by AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which published these talking points 4 days after Rouhani won) and its spin-off think-tank WINEP (the Washington Institute), the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a host of other hawkish think-tanks and advocacy groups such as the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Heritage Foundation and the Gatestone Institute. Consider some examples: http://www.lobelog.com/disregarding-irans-election-a-taxonomy/

 

Also useful – Nima Shirazi, “The Language of [Samantha] Power: Obama's "Humanitarian Hawk" & Israel's New Gladiator at theUN,” Wide Awake in America [July 18, 2013] http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com/2013/07/samantha-power-israels-new-gladiator-un.html; Ali Vaez, “US must not miss new opportunity to engage with Iran,” International Crisis Group [July 16, 2013] http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2013/0716/US-must-not-miss-new-opportunity-to-engage-with-Iran; and the Editorial, “Next Steps With Iran,” New York Times [July 20, 2013] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/opinion/sunday/next-steps-with-iran.html

 

Netanyahu’s Intervention

Israel Increases Pressure on U.S. to Act on Iran

By Jodi Rudoren and David E. Sanger, New York Times [July 14, 2013]

---- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ramped up pressure on the White House on Sunday to put the buildup of Iran’s nuclear program ahead of other crises in the Middle East, complaining of a lack of urgency on the issue and saying that the Obama administration must demonstrate “by action” to Iran’s newly elected president that “the military option which is on the table is truly on the table.” Speaking via satellite on the CBS News program “Face the Nation,” Mr. Netanyahu expressed concern that Iran was pursuing “alternate routes” to a nuclear weapons capability, including a plutonium bomb, even while stopping just short of the specific enriched-uranium levels he had set in a speech at the United Nations last year as a “red line” for military action. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/world/middleeast/israel-calls-for-new-urgency-on-iran.html?ref=world

 

Top 10 Reasons Americans should Dismiss Israel’s Netanyahu on Attacking Iran

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment [July 19, 2013]

http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/13277

 

Netanyahu Cries 'Wolf'...Again

By Nima Shirazi, Wide Asleep in America [July 16, 2013]

http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com/2013/07/netanyahu-cries-wolf-again-iran.html

 

More on Netanyahu’s intervention – Peter Jenkins, “Israel’s Strategic View of Iran: Time for a Change?” Lobe Log [July 17, 2013 ]http://www.lobelog.com/israels-strategic-view-of-iran-time-for-a-change/; and Jim Lobe, “Israel Resumes Threats Against Iran as Experts Urge Patience,” Lobe Log [July 15, 2013] http://original.antiwar.com/lobe/2013/07/15/israel-resumes-threats-against-iran-as-experts-urge-patience/

 

Washington promises Israel: More pressure on Iran, not less

By Barak Ravid, Haaretz [Israel] [July 13, 2013]

---- U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration has assured Israeli officials that the United States will not ease pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear program following the election of Iranian President Hassan Rohani, U.S. diplomatic sources said. The U.S. assurances were conveyed during a series of consultations between American officials and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s aides in Jerusalem following Rohani’s election. Senior U.S. officials involved in the matter told Haaretz that the United States made clear to Israel that although it sees Rohani’s victory as a positive development, it will not ease the pressure on Iran unless Iran takes steps to demonstrate a “change in attitude.” http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/washington-promises-israel-more-pressure-on-iran-not-less.premium-1.535571?trailingPath=2.169%2C2.216%2C2.217%2C

 

Sanctions

AIPAC & OFAC Ratchet-Up US Sanctions Targeting Syria and Iran’s Populations

By Franklin Lamb, Counterpunch [July 12, 2013]

---- The Obama administration has no interest in public participation or input as it targets the civilian populations of Syria and Iran. … The US-led sanctions increasingly target the Iranian and Syrian people for purely political purposes in order to ignite civil unrest which the Obama Administration hopes will lead to regime chance.  They are immoral, illegal, ineffective at achieving regime change, and they are doing incalculable damage to millions of innocents while further squandering whatever respect for our country still exists abroad and increasingly even within our own boarders as evidenced by the recent spate of protests on a number of subjects sending the message to Washington that it is time to come home and rebuild our society. http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/12/aipac-ofac-ratchet-up-us-sanctions-targeting-syria-and-irans-populations/

 

“Terror” Plots

No Evidence for Charge Iran Linked to JFK Terror Plot

By Gareth Porter, Antiwar.com [July 11, 2013]

---- Alberto Nisman, the Argentine prosecutor who was prevented by Argentine President Cristina Kirchner from testifying before a U.S. House subcommittee investigating alleged Iranian terrorist networks in the Americas here this week, claimed in a recent report that Tehran was involved in a 2007 plot to blow up fuel tanks at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. But his report offers no actual evidence that Iran was ever even aware of the airport plot, and the official documents in the case indicate that the U.S. government found no such evidence either. http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2013/07/11/no-evidence-for-charge-iran-linked-to-jfk-terror-plot/

 

IRANIAN ISSUES AND POLICIES

Rowhani's Challenge

By Nader Hashemi, CairoReview [July 21, 2013]

---- Iran’s pro-democracy movement has welcomed the election of Hassan Rowhani. Many members of the movement remain in a state of euphoria, partly because of their ability to mobilize support for the one candidate with whom the Iranian hardliners were most uncomfortable with. They view this election result as small yet significant victory in the struggle for democracy because the Iranian regime has been forced to make a tactical concession due to pressure from below.There are now huge expectations of Iran’s new president-elect. Will he be able to live up to them? A sense of Iran’s recent political history suggests cause for caution rather than optimism. http://www.aucegypt.edu/gapp/cairoreview/Pages/articleDetails.aspx?aid=382

 

The Presidential Election

An "Electoral Uprising" in Iran

By Kevan Harris, Middle EastReport [July 19, 2013]

---- Rouhani’s victory is indeed fragile. “All the election did,” a journalist muttered, “was to open up a tiny crack for us.” The United States could smooth the road ahead or roughen it. Either way, Iran’s election was a surprise. To understand it without recourse to casuistry, two questions are critical: What precipitated the collapse of right-wing solidarity and the separation from favored son Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? And how did reformist politicians and their centrist allies win with the odds stacked so highly against them? http://www.merip.org/mero/mero071913

 

Prospects for a Rouhani Presidency

What Will Rouhani Inherit Next Month?

ByReza Akhlaghi, Foreign Policy [July 20, 2013]

---- Can Rouhani keep and fulfill his promises? Does the Islamic political system have the ability to adapt to the new Iranian and international environment? In these uncertain times, one fact stands out: the election of Rouhani has raised many hopes and expectations in Iran and elsewhere. Is he able to unlock Iran’s foreign policy and bring prosperity to his fellow citizens with the symbolic key he carried during his election campaign? http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2013/07/20/what-will-rouhani-inherit-next-month/

 

Also useful – Arash Karami, “Iran Becoming ‘Uninhabitable,’ Says Former Agriculture Minister,” Iran Pulse [July 9, 2013] http://iranpulse.al-monitor.com/index.php/2013/07/2353/iran-becoming-uninhabitable-says-former-agriculture-minister/; and Thomas Erdbrink and Rick Gladstone,”Iran’s Next President Faults Ahmadinejad on Economy,” New York Times [July 15, 2013] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/world/middleeast/irans-president-elect-describes-a-bleak-economy.html?ref=world

 

Directions for Iran’s Nuclear Diplomacy

A Directive for Maintaining Positive Atmosphere in Iran-US Relations

By Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh, Editor of IranReview [July 21, 2013]

---- These new signals sent by the United States, especially in combination with reports about the decision to postpone enforcing new sanctions against Iran up to October, have led to hot debates in the Iranian media. The common denominator among those debates is that, regardless of pessimistic or optimistic views of the experts, all of them have pointed to the necessity of adopting a cautious approach to the United States signals. This issue, per se, is indicative of the maturity and dominance of realism among Iranian political experts. With the above facts in mind, the following points may prove useful in this regard. http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/A-Directive-for-Maintaining-Positive-Atmosphere-in-Iran-US-Relations.htm

 

Also useful– “Tehran Should Trust West One More Time,” an interview with Hassan Beheshtipour, Iran Review [July 20, 2013] http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Tehran-Should-Trust-West-One-More-Time.htm

 

CIVIL WAR/INTERVENTION IN SYRIA

Interview on the Syrian Revolution

By Noam Chomsky and Mohammed Attar, Heinrich Boll Stiftung [July 13, 2013]

---- During his recent visit to Beirut, American thinker and philosopher Noam Chomsky met with a group of independent Syrian media activists, aid workers and individuals active in cultural and economic spheres. Chomsky had made it clear that he had come to listen to them; to lend an ear to their different views on the current situation in Syria. … The discussion ranged over positions that Chomsky has subscribed to in previous interviews concerning his view of the complex situation in Syria, Hezbollah’s involvement, the American and Israeli stances towards revolutionary Syria and other related issues. http://www.zcommunications.org/interview-on-the-syrian-revolution-by-noam-chomsky

 

Syria's communal tensions are fuelled by politics not theology

Robin Yassin-Kassab, The National [UAE] [July 11, 2013]

---- As in the conflicts in Iraq, Palestine, Israel or Northern Ireland, the conflict in Syria is not about theology but about group fears and resentments. Ultimately, it's about power. Communal tensions are the result not of ancient enmities but of contemporary political machinations. And nothing is fixed in time. Syria's supposedly "Sunni rebellion", which in fact contains activists and fighters of all sects, becomes more or less Islamist in response to rapidly-changing political realities. A few months ago, for example, Islamist black flags dominated demonstrations in Raqqa, in the east of the country; now, Raqqa's demonstrations are as likely to be against Jabhat Al Nusra, the extremist militia which nominally controls the city, as against the regime. This is not an Islamist rebellion but a popular revolution. As in Egypt, if Islamists oppress the people or fail to deliver, they too will be rebelled against. http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/syrias-communal-tensions-are-fuelled-by-politics-not-theology#full

 

A month after U.S. pledged more help, Syrian rebels in worse shape

By Hannah Allam, McClatchy [July 12, 2013]

---- A month after the Obama administration pledged stepped-up support for Syria’s armed opposition, the government of President Bashar Assad’s position has improved, with U.S. assistance to the rebels apparently stalled and deadly rifts opening among the forces battling to topple the Assad regime. Government forces appear close to forcing rebels from the key city of Homs after a 10-day offensive, while an al Qaida-linked rebel group on Thursday assassinated a top commander from the more moderate, Western-backed Supreme Military Council, signaling what one British newspaper dubbed a “civil war within a civil war.” And that’s only some of the recent setbacks for the Syrian opposition’s two-track struggle toward improved fighting capabilities and greater political legitimacy. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/07/12/196581/a-month-after-us-pledged-more.html#.UeG6qqz-rfV

 

Will There Be a Peace Conference?

Russia says Syrian opposition blocking peace conference

From Reuters [July 10, 2013]

---- A Syrian opposition leader is undermining chances for proposed peace talks by saying that foes of President Bashar al-Assad will only attend if they make military headway first, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday. Ahmad Jarba, the new president of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, told Reuters on Sunday it would not go to the conference that Russia and the United States are trying to convene in Geneva unless its battlefield fortunes improve. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/10/us-syria-crisis-russia-idUSBRE9690ME20130710

 

US Policy and Arming the Opposition

No Quick Impact in U.S. Arms Plan for Syria Rebels

By Mark Mazzetti, et al., New York Times [July 14, 2013]

---- A month ago Obama administration officials promised to deliver arms and ammunition to the Syrian rebels in the hope of reversing the tide of a war that had turned against an embattled opposition. But interviews with American, Western and Middle Eastern officials show that the administration’s plans are far more limited than it has indicated in public and private. In fact, the officials said, the administration’s plans to use the C.I.A. to covertly train and arm the rebels could take months to have any impact on a chaotic battlefield. Many officials believe the assistance is unlikely to bolster the rebellion enough to push President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to the negotiating table. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/world/middleeast/no-quick-impact-in-us-arms-plan-for-syria-rebels.html?hp&_r=0

 

Tentative Support in US Congress for Arming Syria’s Rebels

By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [July 15, 2013]

---- Secret Congressional briefings have apparently borne some fruit, and the Obama Administration has reportedly gained “tentative” support from Senators who were opposed to arming Syria’s rebels. How the administration answered criticisms of its plan to arm rebels, which came under criticism for getting the US involved in an open-ended civil war and potential having the arms end up in the hands of al-Qaeda fighters, is unclear. But as US officials are getting less cautious, one of the most outspoken international advocates for the scheme, British Prime Minister David Cameron, is said to have scrapped his own plans, leading rebels to accuse him of “betraying” them. http://news.antiwar.com/2013/07/15/tentative-support-in-us-congress-for-arming-syrias-rebels/

 

More on US policy - Mark Hosenball and Phil Stewart, “Congress delaying U.S. aid to Syrian rebels,” Reuters [July 8, 2013] http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/08/us-usa-syria-arms-idUSBRE96713N20130708; John Glaser, “In Syria, U.S. Arms Go To Pro-Assad Militias and Jihadists,” WashingtonTimes [July 12, 2013] http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/john-glaser-intelligence-foreign-policy-world/2013/jul/12/syria-us-arms-go-pro-assad-militias-and-jihadists/; John Glaser, “Obama Lawyers Said Arming Syrian Rebels Would Be Illegal, Prompt War,” Antiwar.com [July 15, 2013] http://antiwar.com/blog/2013/07/15/obama-lawyers-said-arming-syrian-rebels-would-be-illegal-prompt-war/; and Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti, “U.S. Intelligence Official Says Syrian War Could Last for Years,” New York Times [July 20, 2013] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/world/middleeast/us-intelligence-official-says-syrian-war-could-last-for-years.html?ref=world

 

The Syrian Opposition in Disarray

(Video) Syria: A war within a war

From Aljazeera [Inside Syria] [July 21, 2013]

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidesyria/2013/07/201372184651137499.html

 

New front opens in Syria as rebels say al Qaeda attack means war

By Mariam Karouny and Oliver Holmes, Reuters [July 2013]

---- Syrian rebels said on Friday the assassination of one of their top commanders by al Qaeda-linked militants was tantamount to a declaration of war, opening a new front for the Western-backed fighters struggling against President Bashar al-Assad's forces. Rivalries have been growing between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Islamists, whose smaller but more effective forces control most of the rebel-held parts of northern Syria more than two years after pro-democracy protests became an uprising. http://news.yahoo.com/front-opens-syria-rebels-al-qaeda-attack-means-082038413.html

 

Where Does Jabhat al-Nusra End, and the Islamic State of Iraq & ash-Sham Begin?

[FB – An interesting and in-depth series on these groups.]

By Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, SyriaComment [July 13 and 18, 2013]

http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/

 

More on the Syrian opposition - Anne Barnard and Hania Mourtada, “Opposition in Syria Continues to Fracture,” By New York Times [July 7, 2013] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/08/world/middleeast/tension-between-rebel-groups-intensifies-in-syria.html?ref=world; Jason Ditz, “Syrian Rebel PM Resigns After Failing to Form Cabinet,” Antiwar.com [July 8, 2013] http://news.antiwar.com/2013/07/08/syrian-rebel-pm-resigns-after-failing-to-form-cabinet/; Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad, “Syrian Rebel Infighting Undermines Anti-Assad Effort,” New York Times [July 12, 2013] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/13/world/middleeast/syrian-rebel-infighting-undermines-anti-assad-effort.html?hp&_r=0; and Martin Chulov, “Free Syrian army clashes with jihadists in wake of commander's assassination,” The Observer [July 13, 2013] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/14/free-syrian-army-jihadists-clashes-aleppo

 

Another Israeli Attack in Syria

Israel Airstrike Targeted Advanced Missiles That Russia Sold to Syria, U.S. Says

By Michael R. Gordon, New York Times [July 13, 2013]

---- Israel carried out an air attack in Syria this month that targeted advanced antiship cruise missiles sold to the Syria government by Russia, American officials said Saturday. The officials, who declined to be identified because they were discussing intelligence reports, said the attack occurred July 5 near Latakia, Syria’s principal port city. The target was a type of missile called the Yakhont, they said. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/world/middleeast/israel-airstrike-targeted-advanced-missiles-that-russia-sold-to-syria-us-says.html?ref=world

 

More on the Israeli attack – Three articles by Jason Ditz, “US Officials: Israel Behind Recent Syria Attack,” Antiwar.com [July 12, 2013] http://news.antiwar.com/2013/07/12/us-officials-israel-behind-recent-syria-attack/; “Israel Used Turkish Base to Attack Syria,” Antiwar.com [July 15, 2013] http://news.antiwar.com/2013/07/15/report-israel-used-turkish-base-to-attack-syria/; and “Officials: Israel Puzzled by US Decision to Confirm Syria Attack,” Antiwar.com [July 15, 2013] http://news.antiwar.com/2013/07/15/officials-israel-puzzled-by-us-decision-to-confirm-syria-attack/.

 

Were Chemical Weapons Used?

Poison Gas & Arabian Tales

By Conn Hallinan, Counterpunch [July 5, 2013]

---- Western intelligence services want us to believe that Damascus deliberately courted direct U.S. intervention for something totally marginal to the war. Maybe the Assad regime has lost its senses. Maybe some local commanders took the initiative to do something criminal and dumb. Maybe the whole thing is a set-up. http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/05/poison-gas-arabian-tales/

 

Russia Says Study Suggests Syria Rebels Used Sarin

By Rick Gladstone, New York Times [July 9, 2013]

---- Russia said that its scientific analysis of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria on March 19 showed it probably had been carried out by insurgents using sarin nerve gas of “cottage industry” quality delivered by a crudely made missile. The finding contradicted conclusions presented by Western nations, including the United States, that the Syrian government had been responsible. Mr. Churkin said the Russian investigators had found evidence of crudely manufactured sarin, a nerve agent, delivered via an unguided projectile with a crude explosive charge — not the sort of munitions stockpiled by the Syrian military. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/10/world/middleeast/russia-says-study-suggests-syria-rebels-used-sarin.html?hp

 

Also on chemical weapons – “Syrian rebels reject Russian claims on chemicals,” http://news.yahoo.com/syrian-rebels-reject-russian-claims-chemicals-152354678.html; and Jason Ditz, “UK Report Warns Chemical Weapons ‘Catastrophe’ Looms if Assad Falls,” Antiwar.com [July 10, 2013] http://news.antiwar.com/2013/07/10/uk-report-warns-chemical-weapons-catastrophe-looms-if-assad-falls/

 

 

 

 

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