Oct
04

Two Articles of Interest by Phillip Giraldi (Sunday KCAA Guest)

 

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Coming to Terms With Iran

It only requires a little flexibility from both sides

by , October 03, 2013

President Barack Obama perhaps fortuitously did not shake hands with his Iranian counterpart at the United Nations General Assembly meeting last week, but his brief phone conversation with Rouhani should encourage just a ray of optimism that Washington’s most bloviated foreign policy issue of the past thirty years might somehow be resolved. The green light for Secretary of State John Kerry to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to discuss the Iranian nuclear program should also be seen in positive terms, even if Kerry is an unlikely Great White Hope given his ineptitude relating to the Middle East Peace talks and Syria, as hitherto Washington has eschewed any direct talks with Tehran. To his credit, Obama has made his move in the face of heavy opposition from the Israel Lobby and its friends in congress and the media, which have begun to do battle over the issue.

As many informed observers, including former senior government intelligence analystsPaul Pillar and Flynt and Hillary Leverett, have noted, closing a deal with Iran is actually quite simple and everyone in Washington and Tehran knows what must be done. The problem is that hardliners in Iran are resistant to any rapprochement with the west and, more importantly, the Israel Lobby conditions and even dictates the positions that the United States is able to take. Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is entitled to develop nuclear technology, including enrichment, for peaceful purposes like the generation of electricity and creating isotopes for medical applications. The Iranian people strongly support that right and find it bizarre that they are being subjected to a barrage of Washington-inspired United Nations Security Council resolutions that condemn it for behaving like every other NPT signatory that has a nuclear energy program. The country’s nuclear facilities are inspected by the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency and the inspectors have reported that there has been no significant diversion or loss of enriched uranium that might be used in a weapon. Indeed, Iran has recently de-weaponized much of its nuclear fuel by converting it into plates fit only for medical purposes .

If Washington truly wants to come to an understanding with Tehran it knows it has to accept that Iran has a right to a civilian nuclear program. Indeed, both the Bush and Obama Administrations have on occasion conceded that to be the case though sometimes also suggesting that a secret, more insidious nuclear program might simultaneously exist. If Tehran wants a deal with Washington it too knows what is required: a transparent and inspected program that will satisfy the White House that no weapons are being planned or developed. This might well include no capability to enrich nuclear fuel at all requiring it instead to buy the fuel from others. Tehran has already indicated it might be willing to go down that road when it discussed such a possibility both with the Turks and Brazilians and also with the Russians before Washington characteristically changed its mind and rejected such an arrangement.

Tehran and Washington then have to agree to opening up the Iranian nuclear program to outside inspectors while also simultaneously easing the current international sanctions on Iran. That way there would be something that Rouhani can present to his people as a net gain in helping is devastated economy to recover while Obama can claim that a rigorous inspection regime will prevent Iran from ever developing a nuclear weapon. Everyone wins, except Israel and its powerful lobby in the United States, which have constantly moved their red line but now oppose any Iranian nuclear program of any kind.

As Paul Pillar notes, “Benjamin Netanyahu will not support any agreement between the United States and Iran. Or to be more precise, he will not support any agreement that is at all reasonable…and thus has any chance of being negotiated…He is doing what he can to destroy the prospects for an agreement.” The Lobby’s attempt to derail the negotiations started almost immediately. Rouhani’s unscripted response to a question about the Holocaust, in which he said he was a politician not a historian, was immediately cited by the punditry as Holocaust denial, which it clearly was not. Not that the issue is relevant anyway, but Foreign Minister Zarif chose to address it more directly on the weekend, confirming that the Holocaust had taken place and that it was a “heinous crime” and a “genocide.” His explanation was predictably ignored by most of the mainstream media.

Typical of the level of invective unleashed against Iran was a September 27th op-ed by leading neocon Charles Krauthammer entitled “The real Rouhani” for the Washington Post which was full of false information intended to poison the waters if anyone should even attempt to negotiate with Tehran. Krauthammer claimed that there is no such thing as an Iranian moderate, that Iran has no right or need to develop nuclear energy, that it has nearly enough nuclear material on hand already to construct a bomb, and that the entire Rouhani appeal is a trick to have sanctions lifted with no concessions by Tehran in return. Oh yes, and their favorite refrain is “Death to America” while they are denying the Holocaust and plotting to “eradicate” Israel. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) could not have said it better and might well have provided Krauthammer with this “talking points.”

Brian Williams on NBC’s Friday prime time news also did his bit to make the American viewer understand the Iran is a perfidious place given to lying about its secret weapons of mass destruction, asserting on national television that Iran’s leaders are “suddenly claiming they don’t want nuclear weapons,” adding that “Skepticism is high and there’s a good reason for it.” Williams does not write his own scripts but clearly someone with an agenda did have a hand in telling him what to say. The fact is that no Iranian leader has ever called for nuclear weapons and the only skepticism comes from people like Williams who know what they are expected to report to hew to the conventional wisdom on Iran.

On the following day the Washington Post featured the headline article on its front page “Obama, Iranian president speak by phone,” asserting in the third paragraph that Washington was seeking “…a deal over Iran’s uranium-enrichment program, which the United States, Israel and other nations believe is cover to develop nuclear weapons.” What the Israeli government actually believes can certainly be questioned and its moral high ground for condemning anyone, considering that it is a secret nuclear power, is a bit shaky, but the US intelligence community has concluded that Iran halted its weapons program in 2003 and has not restarted it. In the judgment of both the Agency and even Mossad, Tehran has not made the essentially political and economic decisions to develop a weapon, so asserting a general view among the “informed” that Iran is developing nuclear weapons is more than a bit of a stretch. According to President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, their country has no intention of doing so, and they note that the Iranian religious leadership has issued a fatwa condemning such a development.

A former intelligence officer friend of mine, reacting to the Obama-Rouhani phone call, predicted that there would be Washington Post op-eds by Senators McCain, Menendez, and Graham attacking Iran in response. A Menendez-Graham piece“Unseduced by Iran’s charm offensive” did indeed appear on Sunday, stating that the U.S. should “take whatever action necessary” to prevent Iran from acquiring a “nuclear weapons capability” that would be “threatening the very existence of our ally Israel.” It might be noted that Israel is no ally, that many in Israel admit that Iran is no existential threat, and that Iran already has a nuclear “capability.” So that leaves “take whatever action necessary” as the core message, doesn’t it? Nor is there any mention of how Iran might actually threaten the United States, possibly because Iran does not threaten the United States.

The Menendez-Graham op-ed was followed up on Monday by a blog by neocon Jennifer Rubin “On Iran, a bad call,” which describes the phone call between the two heads of state as “deeply worrisome” because the event was greeted with enthusiasm by the “chattering classes.” Rubin as usual doth protest too much as she is a poster child for everything that is wrong with the chattering classes that she denigrates. Her own newspaper the Post has repeatedly featured op-ed, editorials, and news pieces slamming Iran and opposing any attempts at rapprochement, so it is not as if there is a widespread wave of “chattering” enthusiasm greeting the news of talks between Iran and the US at least if one judges from the mainstream media.

And then there is, of course, this week’s visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the UN and to Washington. It was preceded by the phony news of the arrest in Israel of an Iranian “spy” who was allegedly carrying photos of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, a crude attempt to influence American opinion by suggesting that Iran was planning to attack a US diplomatic facility. On Monday Netanyahu met with Obama and warned him that already harsh sanctions should be further tightened in light of Iran’s nuclear program, noting that a “credible military threat” must back up any negotiations. He demanded that Iran’s nuclear program be dismantled. At the United Nations on the following day he asserted that “Rouhani doesn’t sound like Ahmadinejad. But when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the eyes — the wool over the eyes of the international community.” He describes Rouhani as smiling “…a lot because smiling never hurts; pay lip-service to peace, democracy and tolerance; offer meaningless concessions in exchange for lifting sanctions; ensure Iran retains sufficient nuclear material and infrastructure to race to the bomb at a time that it chooses.” And a big lie unsupported by even a shred of evidence never hurts: “… in the last three years alone, Iran has ordered, planned or perpetrated terrorist attacks in 25 countries on five continents.” For Netanyahu, nothing ever changes.

For Netanyahu, Krauthammer, Rubin, Menendez, and Graham apart from complete surrender on all issues and total disarmament there is absolutely nothing that Iran could possibly do to confirm that it is actually seeking some kind of accommodation. And even then they would object that it is all a trick and that Tehran has a secret program to attack Israel. Graham and Menendez, who are senators ostensibly elected to represent the American people, should wake up because change is coming. Israel and the United States are not two parts of the same organism. The US, which is struggling economically, desperately needs peace instead of another round of Asian wars. Most Americans are beginning to understand that. If Israel is threatened by anyone it certainly has itself at least partly to blame and Tel Aviv is, at the end of the day, responsible for its own security, which it is well equipped to do thanks to the generosity of the American taxpayer.

In its own interests, Washington should be racing to talk to Iran to find an exit from the longest running unnecessarily sustained neither-war-nor-peace conflict since the cold war. American politicians and media talking heads who say otherwise are being led by the nose by the likes of Netanyahu, a charlatan who has contempt for a congress and White House that he believes he can control. Along the way one might note that the past twelve years of war have not exactly delivered anything positive for the American people, quite the contrary. An unnecessary armed conflict with Iran, which might easily be avoided, could well be the final blow that will sink the American ship of state.

 

Defeating AIPAC Starts with Syria

by , September 12, 2013

In the second century B.C., Cato the Elder, a Roman Senator, would end every speech he made with the admonition “Delenda Est Carthago,” meaning that the city of Carthage, Rome’s perennial rival, must be destroyed. Among other claims, the Romans accused the Carthaginians of engaging in human sacrifice to their god Ba’al Hammon, something that one might describe as the “red line” of that era as Greco-Roman culture abhorred the practice and condemned those who engaged in it. Even though Rome dominated the Mediterranean and Carthage was in decline, Cato believed that one day the ancient resentments would again rise to the surface and a resurgent Carthage would discover a new Hannibal and take revenge. In other words, the survival of Carthage was seen as a threat to the continued existence of the Roman Republic. Cato’s argument was convincing enough to many Romans that it resulted in the Third Punic War in which Carthage was indeed destroyed.

I mention Rome and Carthage to illustrate the fact that there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to making compelling arguments about what today might be termed national security. There is in today’s world no Carthage to serve as a counterpoint to America’s new Rome, but in a nation where corruption enabled by the art of lobbying has become so refined that interest groups are able to dominate the political discourse the real enemy is internal. It is plausible to argue that the nation’s legislature is only marginally answerable to the citizens that have elected it. This has nowhere been more evident than in the still ongoing debate over America going to war against Syria, which the White House intends to initiate to establish its “credibility” in spite of the clear evidence that Damascus poses no actual threat to the United States or its interests. Even if one considers a government killing its own citizens as humanitarian grounds for outside military intervention, which I do not, the White House has failed to produce any compelling evidence that the Syrian government actually used chemical weapons against its own people. Ordinary American citizens have responded to the mess of pottage they have been served by writing and calling their congressmen and, overwhelmingly, saying “no.” Even normally bellicose evangelical Christians are surprisingly nearly two to one opposed. But still congress dithers.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has weighed into the debate big time, unleashing hundreds of its activists on Capitol Hill, buttonholing congressmen and staffers alike. This is how it works according to a congressional staffer: “First come the phone calls from constituents who are AIPAC members. They know the Congressman and are nice and friendly and just tell him, or whichever staffer the constituent knows, just how important this vote is to him and his friends back in the district. Then the donors call. The folks who have hosted fundraisers. They are usually not only from the district but from New York or LA or Chicago. They repeat the message: this vote is very important. Contrary to what you might expect, they do not mention campaign money. They don’t have to. Because these callers are people who only know the Congressman through their checks, the threat not to write any more of them is implicit. Like the constituents, the donors are using AIPAC talking points which are simple and forceful. You can argue with them but they keep going back to the script… Then there are the AIPAC lobbyists, the professional staffers. They come in, with or without appointments. If the Congressman is in, they expect to see him immediately. If not, they will see a staffer. If they don’t like what they hear, they will keep coming back. They are very aggressive, no other lobby comes close. They expect to see the Member, not mere staff. Then there are the emails driven by the AIPAC website…and then the ‘Dear Colleague’ letters from Jewish House members saying how important the vote is for Israel and America. They also will buttonhole the Members on the House floor… And, truth be told, all the senior Jewish Members of the House are tight with AIPAC. Also, the two biggest AIPAC enforcers, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and his Democratic counterpart, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, are fierce AIPAC partisans, and they make sure to seek out Members on the floor to tell them how they must vote. On anything related to Israel, they speak in one voice: AIPAC’s. Obviously, there is no counterpart to this on the antiwar side. No anti-AIPAC to speak of. AIPAC owns this issue. It gets what it wants.”

AIPAC carefully avoided naming Israel in its statement of support for Obama even though it prides itself on being America’s pro-Israel lobby, presumably because it wishes to avoid Syria being labeled as Israel’s war if the bombing turns out badly. Which it will. AIPAC cares nothing for the fate of Syrian civilians but it does fear that failing to attack Damascus could possibly strengthen noninterventionist sentiment when it comes time to confront Iran, which it regards as Israel’s principal enemy. Its statement asserts “America’s allies and adversaries are closely watching the outcome of this momentous vote. This critical decision comes at a time when Iran is racing toward obtaining nuclear capability. Failure to approve this resolution would weaken our country’s credibility to prevent the use and proliferation of unconventional weapons and thereby greatly endanger our country’s security and interests and those of our regional allies.” The White House, for its part, is increasingly playing the Israel card to gain support, with the Israeli media even reporting that Obama has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene directly in lobbying American Jews to support an attack.

So AIPAC and the other components of the Israel Lobby, which are marching in lock step on this issue, are basically advocating a series of wars in which the United States will do the fighting and dying to make the world safe for Israel. They have chosen to go on the offensive over the issue of Syria to head off any developing peace agenda. Alan Dershowitz, noted Israel-firster from the world of academia, makes the argumentin his usual obtuse fashion: “Congress should first authorize the president to keep his commitment with regard to Syria. Then it should authorize the president to keep his far more important commitment with regard to the red line against Iran. This dual congressional action will strengthen America’s position in the world…” Dennis Ross, who until quite recently exploited a series of top level U.S. government posts to shamelessly promote Israeli interests, spoke recently before a gathering of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), observing several times that approval of an attack on Syria would legitimize taking similar action against Iran in the future. Ross’s open advocacy for the Jewish state while in government earned him thesobriquet of “Israel’s lawyer” and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice once testily interrupted him at a meeting, telling him that when the Likud position was needed they would call on him. Unfortunately, Ross was not and is not unique in US government circles when it comes to dealing with the Middle East.

If congress eventually approves the Obama program, now temporarily on hold, it will be because it fears AIPAC more than it does the voters in this country. That is not to say that there are not other constituencies that want to attack Syria for other reasons, but the critical component that will ultimately tip the scales towards war is the influence wielded by AIPAC. Which means that if Syria is actually attacked by the United States it will and should rightly be regarded as AIPAC’s war, a conflict which could also be fairly described as a victory of a foreign interest group over the American people.

AIPAC operates with a budget exceeding $50 million and has several hundred full time staff. Let there be no mistake about what the organization is and what it stands for: it wants the United States to start what almost certainly would quickly escalate into a major war on behalf of another country as a prelude to yet another war against yet another Middle Eastern country. AIPAC is a tax exempt foundation which claims to be educational, though anyone on Capitol Hill would be able to testify that it is anything but. President John F. Kennedy, recognizing the danger it posed, tried to get it listed by the Treasury Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act but was killed before he could complete the process. AIPAC does indeed have the right to organize and express any view that it sees fit but it should not be able to do so on the taxpayer’s dime as an exempt organization and it should be clearly understood that it is an organization that exists to support its own perception of Israeli interests first and foremost. Congressmen should be able to tell AIPAC lobbyists to go away without fear of reprisals.

If the United States is ever again to be free of the danger posed by well-funded special interests like AIPAC it must first recognize that it has a problem and then take steps to find a remedy. To be sure powerful interests will strike back hard, but a good first step to demonstrate seriousness would be for congress to vote against President Obama’s plan to attack Syria should it be brought to the floor in the next several weeks. It would be a major defeat for AIPAC and it could substantially shift perceptions in the United States, opening the door to a freer discussion of the interventionist foreign policy that has produced so many ills over the past twelve years. Putting the AIPAC genie back in the bottle would do just that, removing at a stroke the Israeli stranglehold on US policy in the Middle East and holding the White House accountable every time it seeks to initiate a war of choice.

Read more by Philip Giraldi

Oct
03

Former CIA Officer, Phillip Giraldi to Guest on Sunday’s Radio Show

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Phillip Giraldi -

Philip Giraldi is a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a columnist and television commentator who is the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a group that advocates for more even handed policies by the U.S. government in the Middle East.

Giraldi was employed by the CIA for eighteen years working in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain and is fluent in Turkish, Italian, German, and Spanish.

Since 1992 Giraldi has consulted for several Fortune 500 corporate clients. President of San Marco International, an international security management and risk assessment consulting firm and a partner in Cannistraro Associates, another security consultancy. Giraldi has written columns on terrorism, intelligence, and security issues for The American Conservative magazine, Huffington Post, and Antiwar.com and op-ed pieces for the Hearst Newspaper chain. He has been interviewed by Good Morning America, 60 Minutes, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, National Public Radio, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the British Broadcasting Corporation, al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya and other outlets. During the 2008 presidential primaries, Giraldi served as a foreign policy adviser to Ron Paul.

Click Here for Link to Phillip Giraldi Website Original.AntiWar.com

 

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Sep
28

Sunday Sept 29 Radio Show Guests Alan Hart and Harry Fear

Alan Hart Harry Fear

KCAA Radio Presents Co-Hosts 

 

Roseanne Barr and Kathleen Wells Sunday September 29, 2013

 

with Guests

 

Alan Hart

“Human Rights vs. Tyranny”

 

Harry Fear

 “Challenging Realities, the Mainstream Media and You”

 

 2:00pm Eastern   11:00am Pacific  8:00am Hawaii

Click Here for Direct Link to Broadcast and UStream

 

Alan Hart

Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and their global consequences and terrifying implications for more than 40 years.

He has worked as a correspondent covering wars and conflict, for ITN’s News At Ten and the BBC’s Panorama programme.

In 1980, Mr. Hart was intimately involved in negotiations, serving as a covert diplomat in conflict resolution, between Arafat and Peres.

He has worked as a researcher and author. His 2nd book explains why it is difficult to impossible for any Israeli prime minister, even a rational, well-motivated one, to make peace on any terms the Palestinians can accept. His latest book: Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews.

Mr. Hart has had one on one private conversations with leaders on both both sides of the conflict. With, for example, Golda Meir, Mother Israel, and Yasser Arafat, Father Palestine. From these private conversations, Alan, has heard the truth of what leaders really believed and feared as opposed to what they said in public for propaganda and myth-sustaining purposes.

Alan has long believed that what peacemaking needs above all else is some TRUTH-TELLING, specifically, with regards to the Israel/Palestine conflict, truth telling, with regards to the difference between Zionist mythology and real history, and, the difference between Judaism and Zionism.

Thus, Alan Hart, believes that it is perfectly possible to be passionately anti-Zionist (anti Zionism’s colonial enterprise, that is) without being in any way, shape or form anti-Semitic.

Recently, Mr. Hart gave a speech in Geneva on human rights. That speech can be read here:

Human Rights vs Tyranny

http://www.alanhart.net/human-rights-v-tyranny/#more-2369

 

Harry Fear

Harry Fear is a British journalist and campaigning documentary maker. He works independently and as a freelancer. He is also a radio show co-host (KCAA’s own Palestine Today series with Kathleen Wells). He regularly lectures around the world on his work in Gaza and the Israel-Palestine conflict. He’s just come back from Copenhagen, Denmark, where he did a 20-minute talk at the prestigious TEDx conference there (TEDx is a franchised, independent version of the well-known TED organization.

Sep
23

Syrians Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack

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EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack
Rebels and local residents in Ghouta accuse Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaida linked rebel group.

Dale Gavlak assisted in the research and writing process of this article, but was not on the ground in Syria. Reporter Yahya Ababneh, with whom the report was written in collaboration, was the correspondent on the ground in Ghouta who spoke directly with the rebels, their family members, victims of the chemical weapons attacks and local residents. 

Gavlak is a MintPress News Middle East correspondent who has been freelancing for the AP as a Amman, Jordan correspondent for nearly a decade. This report is not an Associated Press article; rather it is exclusive to MintPress News. 

Ghouta, Syria — As the machinery for a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria gathers pace following last week’s chemical weapons attack, the U.S. and its allies may be targeting the wrong culprit.

Interviews with people in Damascus and Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital, where the humanitarian agency Doctors Without Borders said at least 355 people had died last week from what it believed to be a neurotoxic agent, appear to indicate as much.

The U.S., Britain, and France as well as the Arab League have accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for carrying out the chemical weapons attack, which mainly targeted civilians. U.S. warships are stationed in the Mediterranean Sea to launch military strikes against Syria in punishment for carrying out a massive chemical weapons attack. The U.S. and others are not interested in examining any contrary evidence, with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that Assad’s guilt was “a judgment … already clear to the world.”

However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.

“My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”

Ghouta townspeople said the rebels were using mosques and private houses to sleep while storing their weapons in tunnels.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and the others died during the chemical weapons attack. That same day, the militant group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is linked to al-Qaida, announced that it would similarly attack civilians in the Assad regime’s heartland of Latakia on Syria’s western coast, in purported retaliation.

“They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K.’ “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

“When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” she warned. She, like other Syrians, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution.

A well-known rebel leader in Ghouta named ‘J’ agreed. “Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other rebels, except with fighting on the ground. They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material,” he said.

“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” ‘J’ said.

Doctors who treated the chemical weapons attack victims cautioned interviewers to be careful about asking questions regarding who, exactly, was responsible for the deadly assault.

The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders added that health workers aiding 3,600 patients also reported experiencing similar symptoms, including frothing at the mouth, respiratory distress, convulsions and blurry vision. The group has not been able to independently verify the information.

More than a dozen rebels interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government.

 

Saudi involvement

In a recent article for Business Insider, reporter Geoffrey Ingersoll highlighted Saudi Prince Bandar’s role in the two-and-a-half year Syrian civil war. Many observers believe Bandar, with his close ties to Washington, has been at the very heart of the push for war by the U.S. against Assad.

Ingersoll referred to an article in the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph about secret Russian-Saudi talks alleging that Bandar offered Russian President Vladimir Putin cheap oil in exchange for dumping Assad.

“Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord,” Ingersoll wrote.

“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” Bandar allegedly told the Russians.

“Along with Saudi officials, the U.S. allegedly gave the Saudi intelligence chief the thumbs up to conduct these talks with Russia, which comes as no surprise,” Ingersoll wrote.

“Bandar is American-educated, both military and collegiate, served as a highly influential Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., and the CIA totally loves this guy,” he added.

According to U.K.’s Independent newspaper, it was Prince Bandar’s intelligence agency that first brought allegations of the use of sarin gas by the regime to the attention of Western allies in February.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the CIA realized Saudi Arabia was “serious” about toppling Assad when the Saudi king named Prince Bandar to lead the effort.

“They believed that Prince Bandar, a veteran of the diplomatic intrigues of Washington and the Arab world, could deliver what the CIA couldn’t: planeloads of money and arms, and, as one U.S. diplomat put it, wasta, Arabic for under-the-table clout,” it said.

Bandar has been advancing Saudi Arabia’s top foreign policy goal, WSJ reported, of defeating Assad and his Iranian and Hezbollah allies.

To that aim, Bandar worked Washington to back a program to arm and train rebels out of a planned military base in Jordan.

The newspaper reports that he met with the “uneasy Jordanians about such a base”:

His meetings in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah sometimes ran to eight hours in a single sitting. “The king would joke: ‘Oh, Bandar’s coming again? Let’s clear two days for the meeting,’ ” said a person familiar with the meetings.

Jordan’s financial dependence on Saudi Arabia may have given the Saudis strong leverage. An operations center in Jordan started going online in the summer of 2012, including an airstrip and warehouses for arms. Saudi-procured AK-47s and ammunition arrived, WSJ reported, citing Arab officials.

Although Saudi Arabia has officially maintained that it supported more moderate rebels, the newspaper reported that “funds and arms were being funneled to radicals on the side, simply to counter the influence of rival Islamists backed by Qatar.”

But rebels interviewed said Prince Bandar is referred to as “al-Habib” or ‘the lover’ by al-Qaida militants fighting in Syria.

Peter Oborne, writing in the Daily Telegraph on Thursday, has issued a word of caution about Washington’s rush to punish the Assad regime with so-called ‘limited’ strikes not meant to overthrow the Syrian leader but diminish his capacity to use chemical weapons:

Consider this: the only beneficiaries from the atrocity were the rebels, previously losing the war, who now have Britain and America ready to intervene on their side. While there seems to be little doubt that chemical weapons were used, there is doubt about who deployed them.

It is important to remember that Assad has been accused of using poison gas against civilians before. But on that occasion, Carla del Ponte, a U.N. commissioner on Syria, concluded that the rebels, not Assad, were probably responsible.

Some information in this article could not be independently verified. Mint Press News will continue to provide further information and updates . 

Dale Gavlak is a Middle East correspondent for Mint Press News and has reported from Amman, Jordan, writing for the Associated Press, NPR and BBC. An expert in Middle Eastern affairs, Gavlak covers the Levant region, writing on topics including politics, social issues and economic trends. Dale holds a M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago. Contact Dale at dgavlak@mintpressnews.com

Yahya Ababneh is a Jordanian freelance journalist and is currently working on a master’s degree in journalism,  He has covered events in Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Libya. His stories have appeared on Amman Net, Saraya News, Gerasa News and elsewhere.

 

Sep
23

Bandar Threatens U.S. and Foreign Journalists

Bandar Threatens U.S. and Foreign Journalists Who Exposed Syrian Rebel Role in Chemical Attack

September 23, 2013 • 5:20PM

The two journalists who authored the August 29, 2013 story, “Syrians in Goutha claim Saudi-supplied rebels behind chemical attacks,” published by Mint Press, have been threatened with having their careers “ended” if they do not disavow the story, and both journalists have told Mint Press that they believe that the pressure comes from Saudi Arabia. One author, Yayha Ababneh, who conducted the interviews on the ground that were the guts of the story, told MintPress that he received threats from the Saudi Embassy in Jordan, his home country. Dale Gavlak, the other reporter, an American, has been suspended by Associated Press, and further subjected to “immense amounts of pressure,” according to Mint Press, which said she believes the source of pressure to be Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the head of Saudi intelligence.

Bandar, the former Ambassador to the United States at the time of the 911 attacks, left that post after exposes that showed his wife had provided funding for 911 hijackers through a Saudi Arabian intelligence operative living in the U.S., and after exposes that he had received bribe funds in the range of $2 billion from BAE (formerly called British Aerospace) for arranging the Al Yamamah defense contract deal with Saudi Arabia. Bandar is also a major figure in the suppressed “28 pages” of the report on the 911 attack produced by the U.S. Congress. The “28 pages” were “classified” and pulled from distribution because of their detailed information about the role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its charities, bank accounts and nationals in the funding of the 911 attack.

On September 21, MintPress which was founded earlier this year and is edited by Mnar Muhawesh, a Palestinian American journalist, put out a lengthy statement in response to Gavlak’s claims that she had not authored the August 29 story.

MintPress editor Ms. Muhawesh wrote:

“Dale [Gavlak] is under mounting pressure for writing this article by third parties. She notified MintPress editors and myself on August 30th and 31st via email and phone call, that third parties were placing immense amounts of pressure on her over the article and were threatening to end her career over it. She went on to tell us that she believes this third party was under pressure from the head of the Saudi Intelligence Prince Bandar himself, who is alleged in the article of supplying the rebels with chemical weapons.

“On August 30th, Dale asked MintPress to remove her name completely from the byline because she stated that her career and reputation was at risk. She continued to say that these third parties were demanding her to disassociate herself from the article or these parties would end her career. On August 31st, I notified Dale through email that I would add a clarification that she was the writer and researcher for the article and that Yahya was the reporter on the ground….

“Yahya [Ababneh] has recently notified me that the Saudi embassy contacted him and threatened to end his career if he did a follow up story on who carried out the most recent chemical weapons attack and demanded that he stop doing media interviews in regards to the subject.”

The statement from MintPress adds, “We are aware of the tremendous pressure that Dale and some of our other journalists are facing as a result of this story, and we are under the same pressure as a result to discredit the story. We are unwilling to succumb to those pressures for MintPress holds itself to the highest journalistic ethics and reporting standards….”

In terms of Gavlak’s role, MintPress says:

Gavlak pitched this story to MintPress on August 28th and informed her editors and myself that her colleague Yahya Ababneh was on the ground in Syria. She said Ababneh conducted interviews with rebels, their family members, Ghouta residents and doctors that informed him through various interviews that the Saudis had supplied the rebels with chemical weapons and that rebel fighters handled the weapons improperly setting off the explosions.

When Yahya had returned and shared the information with her, she stated that she confirmed with several colleagues and Jordanian government officials that the Saudis have been supplying rebels with chemical weapons, but as her email states, she says they refused to go on the record.

Gavlak wrote the article in its entirety as well as conducted the research. She filed her article on August 29th and was published on the same day.” [all emphasis in the original]

Sep
22

Radio Show KCAA Middle East Experts Rania Masri & Grant Smith

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Sep
21

Grant Smith is One of Our Guests on KCAA Sunday Sept 22 at 11:00am PST

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Listen at KCAARadio.com or Watch Live at KCAA UStream

I will be Co-Hosting with Kathleen Wells

Sep
11

Interview with a Jew and an Arab

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