“By virtue of our unique geography”, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in a 2011 Foreign Policy article, “the United States is both an Atlantic and a Pacific power.” Russia, meanwhile, has seen itself as a Euro-Asian country, as Vladimir Putin has argued from the start of his first term in the Kremlin. The American attitude, which in Secretary Clinton’s locution is about as uncontroversial a statement as an American Secretary of State can make, reflects the country’s historic “maritime” vocation. The Russian one reflects the longstanding fascination with the country’s continental scale and reflects its traditional terrestrial focus. It is really no surprise, when you think about it, that during the “space race” Americans fetched their returning astronauts at sea, while Russians did so over land. Continue reading
Canada should get out of is cold war mindset and move the majority of its warships from Halifax to the B.C. coast in response to the Chinese navy’s aggressive military buildup, say defence analysts.
The U.S. government has already announced its plan to put 60 per cent of its naval assets on its west coast by 2020 as part of its plan to make the 21st century “America’s Pacific Century” — a term coined by former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
The Canadian military’s tiny fleet of warships is split up on a 60-40 basis favouring the Atlantic coast, with seven frigates and two destroyers in Halifax compared to five frigates and one destroyer in Esquimalt. Continue reading
As Germany’s presence in the Middle East continues to grow, have they emerged as the “new America” over the region?
Give Germany credit. As America unwisely abdicates its leadership role in the Middle East, Berlin is quietly and steadily positioning itself to play a decisive role in the future of this important region. Right now, German foreign policy in the Middle East isn’t controversial, dramatic or eye-catching. Especially not compared to recent events in Egypt, Gaza, Syria and Iran.
The New America
Germany’s presence there, politically, commercially and militarily, is already more significant than most people realize. Continue reading
The Obama administration’s efforts to establish democracy in the Middle East are doomed to failure, Savage told his listeners. America’s Judeo-Christian foundation provided it with the “values that were necessary for a republic to arise out of the ashes of a revolution.”
The culture of the Middle East, Savage continued, has no such solid foundation.
“Cass Sunstein is a very dangerous academic egghead, and he has a dangerous wife named Samantha Power,” Savage said, adding:
These three women – Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton and Samantha Power – are the ones who orchestrated the overthrow of Mubarak and the killing of Gadhafi.
You might say, “But they meant well.” Yes, but the road to you-know-where is paved with good intentions.
They wanted to bring democracy to an area that isn’t ready for it, to a region that will never ever have a democracy.
They’re incapable of it.
This area, these people, this culture is never going to have a chance at democracy.
Democracy is not easy to achieve. The people need to have a basis for their democracy.
Fortunately for us, the people who founded America had a basis for their republic in the Christian Bible, which taught them compassion, constraint and other values that were necessary for a republic to arise out of the ashes of a revolution.
Those in the Middle East don’t have such a document. They have a document that is very different. Read it and you’ll find out what I’m talking about.
The average Middle Easterner doesn’t want to flip camel burgers. He would rather die.
But the mainstream media in the United States will not explain this to you.
And so it falls upon men like me to talk about the tyranny of the egghead wars and of Obama’s radical accomplices.
It’s all in my book “Trickle Down Tyranny.”
Full article: Michael Savage: ‘The Middle East will never have a chance at democracy’ (Michael Savgage)
In connecting the dots: The Ayatollah Khomeini, afterall, had said war within weeks will come. Israel can no longer depend on the current US administration that isn’t Israeli-friendly, and will likely not take a chance on Obama winning a second term. A second term means Obama has nothing to lose in handling diplomacy as he sees fit with the Jewish state. War is no longer off in the distant horizon. War is now around the corner.
More Washington insiders are coming to the conclusion that Israel’s leaders are planning to attack Iran before the U.S. election in November in the expectation that American forces will be drawn in. There is widespread recognition that, without U.S. military involvement, an Israeli attack would be highly risky and, at best, only marginally successful.
The recent pilgrimages to Israel by very senior U.S. officials — including the Secretaries of State and Defense carrying identical “PLEASE DON’T BOMB IRAN JUST YET” banners — has met stony faces and stone walls.(Actually, this remarkable parade reminded me (and perhaps even Netanyahu) of the biting comment by Longfellow’s beautiful Priscilla Mullins to a timid suitor, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, Obama, er, I mean John?”)
Still, Israel’s window of opportunity (what it calls the “zone of immunity” for Iran building a nuclear bomb without Israel alone being able to prevent it) is ostensibly focused on Iran’s continued burrowing under mountains to render its nuclear facilities immune to Israeli air strikes, attacks that would seek to maintain Israel’s regional nuclear-weapons monopoly.
But another Israeli “window” or “zone” has to do with the pre-election period of the next 12 weeks in the United States. Last week, former Mossad chief Efraim Halevi told Israeli TV viewers, “The next 12 weeks are very critical in trying to assess whether Israel will attack Iran, with or without American backup.”
It would be all too understandable, given Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s experience with President Obama, that Netanyahu has come away with the impression that Obama can be bullied, particularly when he finds himself in a tight political spot.
For Netanyahu, the President’s perceived need to outdistance Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the love-for-Israel department puts Obama in a box. This, I believe, is the key “window of opportunity” that is uppermost in Netanyahu’s calculations.
One source reported that U.S. forces are on hair-trigger alert and that covert operations inside Iran (many of them acts of war, by any reasonable standard) have been increased. Bottom line: we were warned that the train had left the station; that any initiative to prevent miscalculation or provocation in the Gulf was bound to be far too late to prevent escalation into a shooting war.
Full article: Batten Down the Hatches: Israel Likely to Strike Iran Before November (International.to)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday said the diplomatic track for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program is not “infinite”.
“So the sooner that we begin talks, the better it will be,” Clinton advised Terhan, adding that EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is still consulting with Iran on the time and venues of resumed nuclear dialog with Iran.
Full article: Clinton: Iranian Diplomatic Window Not ‘Infinite’ (Arutz Sheva)
US President Barack Obama this week gave his two allies, the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu, a lesson in the politics of expediency, when Tuesday, March 20, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced exemptions for 11 nations from new US financial sanctions against countries that don’t reduce the Iranian oil purchases by June 28.
Above all, Ankara is deeply engrossed in an effort to have the new Iranian and Iraqi pipelines to Europe routed through Turkey, reducing the Strait of Hormuz’s crucial importance as a primary route for the world’s oil supplies. This pipeline would also hurt Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf oil producers, all of whom are dead set against Erdogan’s hegemonic aspirations in the Middle East.
Full article: Obama’s back-channel to Tehran bypasses allies Erdogan and Netanyahu (DEBKAfile)
It should be no secret that the Saudis are both fed up with the Obama administration and seek an end to the Iranian regime. They have even threatened to go nuclear should Iran be allowed to continue its nuclear program.
Hardly a day goes by without the Obama administration pointing out in some US media outlet the futility, wrongheadedness, hazards, superfluity etc. of Israel military action for pre-empting a nuclear Iran. The public has been informed, for instance, that it would only set Iran’s program back by a year, and that the ayatollahs have put their nuclear bomb program on hold. So what’s the hurry?
But about the equally strenuous White House effort to hold Saudi Arabia back from attacking Syria as well as Iran – hardly a word sees the light of day.
The fuss and pother about Israel’s intentions distract attention from the very real fears in Washington about the Saudi royal family’s plans for military action against Iran and its allies, Syria and Hizballah, and Riyadh’s efforts to draw the heads of the Gulf oil emirates into the action.
Riyadh puts no trust in the sanctions and embargo Washington and its Western allies have put in place to curb Iran’s nuclear aspirations. Instead, they see sanctions becoming a boon for Tehran
Tuesday, March 20, oil fell by only 1 percent after the Saudis announced their most detailed steps yet to make good on any shortfalls generated by the embargo on Iranian oil and the cutoff from March 17 of Iran’s banks from transactions through the Belgian-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT), which facilitates most of the world’s bank transfers.
Money in Iran’s pocket from sanctions-boosting oil prices
Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi announced the kingdom was pumping 9.9 million barrels per day – the highest level in decades – and was willing to turn the taps up to a maximum capacity of 12.5 million bpd to meet its customers’ every request.
Iraq, too, added 30,000 barrels per day to its production of 2.1 million bpd.
But these steps failed to reverse the upward price trend.
And the sanctions’ deleterious impact on Tehran was offset by profits from skyrocketing oil prices: Not only were the extra costs of circuitous trade routes covered, but the declining value of the Iranian rial flattened.
“We are ready and willing to put more oil on the market, but you need a buyer,” Al-Naimi said bitterly, aware that no matter how much more oil Saudi Arabia may pump, Tehran is still ahead of the sanctions game. Only if China, Japan and India can be persuaded to line up behind the Obama administration and make genuine cutbacks in their oil purchases from Iran, would the topped-up Saudi oil production come into play.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources in the Gulf report that the Saudis suspect the Obama administration of publicly talking up the latest round of sanctions (Barack Obama: “We’ve applied the toughest sanctions ever on Iran”), while assuring Tehran in quiet talks (See the item in this issue about secret US-Iranian talks), that, so long as they keep the dialogue going, sanctions will put Iran in the black.
US stalls British-Saudi arms sales
This week, US acted to stymie Saudi operations in two key arenas:
1. Iran was the first: They suspect the White House of ordering US International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) to stall the sale of British precision-guided Paveway IV bombs developed by Raytheon UK, a weapon that would enable Saudi Arabia to attack key Iranian Persian Gulf sites, such as its naval bases on the Sirri, Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb islands around the strategic Strait of Hormuz, and strategic locations on Iran’s Persian Gulf coast.
The Saudis believe the US administration is deliberately keeping those assault weapons out of their hands to frustrate a potential attack on Iran.
They had pinned their hopes on British Prime Minister David Cameron interceding on their behalf with President Barack Obama during his visit to Washington in mid-March and getting the weapons released to Riyadh.
But the bonhomie and shared jokes aside, Cameron made no headway in budging the US president from his opposition to the sale, although British interests are also at stake. The sale to Saudi Arabia of 72 Eurofighter Typhoons delivered by BAE Systems (the combination of British Aerospace and Marconi Electronic Systems), is still up in the air because without the precision-guided bombs, those bomber jets are not much use to the Saudis.
Washington stops Jordan allowing Saudi troops transit to Syria
2. The Obama administration is firing every stratagem in its quiver to hold Saudi Arabia back from military intervention in the Syria crisis.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources in the Persian Gulf disclose exclusively that, two weeks ago, SaudiKing Abdullah secretly asked Jordan’sKing Abdullah for permission to send Saudi military forces into Syria by way of the Hashemite Kingdom.
Senior Saudi princes, including Saudi Defense Minister Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, had already been in touch with their Jordanian counterparts to discuss detailed plans which designated the routes Saudi forces would take, the Jordanian bases they would use and the Saudi Air Force’s tactics for covering the advancing Saudi troops and shielding the Kingdom of Jordan against potential Syrian air force action.
The Saudis plan to send troops in to the Syrian Druze Mountains and Horan regions for setting up safe havens to protect the beleaguered civilian population from Syrian military and security forces.
On March 15, Prince Salman attended a military parade on the grounds of the Eighth King Fahd Brigade in Tabuk in northern Saudia near the Jordanian border.
It was attended by a high-powered lineup: Chief of Staff Gen. Hussein Al-Qubail, Gen. Abdul Rahman Al-Binyan, Director General of the Prime Minister’s office, Gen. Prince Khaled bin Bandar, commander of Land Forces, and Maj. Gen. Eid Al-Shalawi, Commander of the Northern Region.
The parade of military prowess and resolve was mean to impress on Jordan that the Saudis were serious about getting a force into Syria through its territory.
The two Abdullahs in deep discord
This Saudi plan was soon nipped in the bud.
Riyadh was informed that US officials had warned the Jordanian monarch against acceding to the Saudi request. Stuck in an impasse, the Hashemite king stopped answering insistent Saudi calls for clarifications.
Seeing their plans for intervention in Syria in ruins, the Saudis decided to get their own back.
In an unprecedented move against a fellow Arab ruler, they arranged for an Arab diplomat, who remained anonymous, to inform the Omani Gulf News agency that Saudi arms were being pumped to the anti-Assad Syrian rebels and the first shipment was on its way to destination through Jordan.
By spilling the beans about Jordan’s clandestine role in this traffic, Riyadh exposed the kingdom to Syrian punitive action.
This maneuver brought the Jordanian king hurrying over to Riyadh for a secret visit.
Our sources report that when he tried explaining to the Saudi king that if Assad was toppled his successors would be worse, he was brusquely brushed aside. Saudi King Abdullah, who is twice the age of the Hashemite royal, reproved him sharply and told him it was time to make up his mind on which side he was in the Middle East.
The two kings Abdullah parted in deep discord.
Saudis are gunning for the US and Turkey
As for Syria, Bashar Assad will have understood by now that Riyadh is rolling up its sleeves for military action against him as soon as a way can be found. Four complications are unfolding:
First: The disclosure that weapon shipments to anti-Assad rebels were passing through Jordan has revived the Saudi pledge of a military and air shield for the Hashemite Kingdom against Syrian aggression. This may lead to military and aerial clashes between Syria and Saudi Arabia on Jordanian soil very near the sensitive junction of Jordanian, Lebanese and Israeli borders.
With this eventuality in mind, Riyadh is reported by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources to have selected the Druze Mountains and Horan region as potential safe havens for persecuted Syrians.
Second: Saudi-US relations are in sharp decline: Riyadh’s Syrian initiative is an act of protest against Washington’s decision to refrain from military intervention to stop Assad’s brutal suppression of the revolt in Syria – even after at least 8,000 Syrian civilian deaths.
The encounter three weeks ago in Tunis between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, ended with Faisal angrily stalking out with words to the effect of: if you don’t take action against Bashar Assad, we will.
The Saudis fully intend now to make good on that threat.
Third: The Saudis are gunning for Turkey. They intend to show up Ankara’s toothlessness in the fight against Assad in contrast to its leaders’ high rhetoric about their prowess as a Middle East Muslim superpower.
Most of all, they can’t abide Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s pretensions as go-between for the back-channel dialogue the Obama administration is conducting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (See a separate item in this issue.)
Fourth: Riyadh finds it essential to counteract Iran’s airlift of arms and equipment into Syria through Iraqi airspace. The Saudis refuse to stand by idly while Iran enhances its position in Syria and Iraq.
Full article: Obama Holds Saudis Back from Striking Iran – and Syria Too (DEBKAfile)
Clinton reportedly told her Russian counterpart to rely message to Tehran that it must engage in talks with world powers or face a military strike within months, according to Russian daily Kommersant.
The United States has asked Russia to deliver an ultimatum to Iran, warning the Islamic Republic that it has one last chance for talks before a military strike, the Kommersant daily quoted Russian diplomats as saying on Wednesday.
According to the Russian newspaper, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in New York on Monday to tell Tehran that it has one last chance to solve the conflict peacefully by making progress in the talks with the P5+1 group – United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany. Otherwise, an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities will occur within months, the diplomats said.
Full article: Report: U.S. asked Russia to warn Iran of ‘last chance’ to avoid military strike (Harretz)
The systematic disarming of America’s aging nuclear arsenal and strategic rearming and modernization of Russia’s nuclear deterrent continues:
Russia and the United States have tentatively agreed to a weapons inspection program that would allow Russians to visit nuclear sites in America to count missiles and warheads.
The plan, which Fox News has learned was agreed to in principle during negotiations, would constitute the most intrusive weapons inspection program the U.S. has ever accepted.
Full article: Tentative Inspection Program Would Allow Russia to Visit U.S. Nuclear Sites (Fox News)
The State Department has begun coordinating with Syria’s neighbors to prepare for the handling of President Bashar al-Assad’s extensive weapons of mass destruction if and when his regime collapses, The Cable has learned.
This week, the State Department sent a diplomatic demarche to Syria’s neighbors Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, warning them about the possibility of Syria’s WMDs crossing their borders and offering U.S. government help in dealing with the problem, three Obama administration officials confirmed to The Cable. For concerned parties both inside and outside the U.S. government, the demarche signifies that the United States is increasingly developing plans to deal with the dangers of a post-Assad Syria — while simultaneously highlighting the lack of planning for how to directly bring about Assad’s downfall.
Syria is believed to have a substantial chemical weapons program, which includes mustard gas and sophisticated nerve agents, such as sarin gas, as well as biological weapons. Syria has also refused IAEA requests to make available facilities that were part of its nuclear weapons program and may still be in operation.
Full article: Exclusive: State Department quietly warning region on Syrian WMDs (Foreign Policy)
Despite public denials, military preparations for intervention in the horrendous Syrian crisis are quietly afoot in Washington, Paris, Rome, London and Ankara. President Barack Obama is poised for a final decision after the Pentagon submits operational plans for protecting Syrian rebels and beleaguered populations from the brutal assaults of Bashar Assad’s army, debkafile’s Washington sources disclose.
This process is also underway in allied capitals which joined the US in the Libyan operation that ended Muammar Qaddafi’s rule in August, 2011. They are waiting for a White House decision before going forward.
Full article: US, France, UK, Turkey, Italy prepare for military intervention in Syria (DEBKAfile)