Western diplomatic sources said the administration of President Barack Obama has ordered the U.S. intelligence community to ensure the ouster of Assad in 2012.
The sources said Obama, urged by allies that range from France to Saudi Arabia, was persuaded that without U.S. intervention, Al Qaida would emerge as the leading force in Syria.
“The game is on the ground,” the diplomat said. “The political opposition in exile has no control or even influence in Syria, while FSA is seen as active, even if that is not really the case.”
The sources suggested that Washington was already involved in major operations against the Assad regime. The operations were said to have included a failed FSA attempt to poison the regime leadership, particularly Assad’s powerful brother-in-law, Assaf Chawkat.
I left “Soviet Russia” with my family at the first opportunity, for we felt that the creeping “half-dictatorship” under which we lived was a precursor of the full-blown, cruel dictatorship it used to be during Stalin’s times.
We lived through those horrible forebodings, and felt unbelievably lucky to have escaped from that hell and into the paradise of the United States.
But after living in this country for forty years, we cannot escape the feeling that even in this unique democracy such as the United States, President Obama’s dictatorial tendencies reveal themselves in a slow, step-by-step process of chipping away the people’s inalienable rights granted to them by the United States Constitution.
The regime of President Bashar Assad, despite nearly a year
of fighting, has been using only a fraction of its military might against
the Sunni rebel movement.
Regime sources said Assad, despite the massive assault on Homs, has
reserved most of his military assets. They said the president did not want a
bloodbath while Army commanders feared the breakup of their units.
“The assessment is that Assad and his advisers have prepared for a long
haul, and they would rather tire out the rebels than risk a rupture in the
military through massive assaults,” the regime source said.
Russia has been preparing for the prospect of an Israeli or U.S. air strike on Iran in 2012.
Officials said the Kremlin has ordered the military to draft options for a Russian response to any foreign attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. They said the Defense Ministry has established a facility to monitor Teheran, an ally and trading partner of Moscow.
If a breakout of the escalating Syrian conflict or an Israel/U.S. military attempt to halt Iran’s progress toward nuclear weapons sets off even a 200-day regional conflict, it would be catastrophic for the Chinese economy.
Han Xiaoping, chief information officer of the China Energy Resources Net, recently warned China’s estimated reserve of only 110 million barrels would last only 46 days if there were a Persian Gulf closure. China’s dependence upon imported crude is far greater than the United States’ with some 40 percent coming from the Gulf. But only a declining 11 percent actually comes from Iran, the rest from the Arab states now unsuccessfully lobbying China to help defuse the Syrian timebomb and halt Iran’s nukes.
Hizbullah has asserted that its only means of financial and military support stem from Iran.
Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah said Iran marked the sole supplier of the Shi’ite militia in Lebanon. Nasrallah said Hizbullah was not engaged in illicit financial activity, including drug trafficking and money-laundering.
“We have been receiving since 1982 all kinds of moral, political and material backing from the Islamic republic of Iran,” Nasrallah said.
In a television address on Feb. 7, Nasrallah issued the first claim that Iran was the sole backer of Hizbullah. The Shi’ite militia chief did not explain why Hizbullah was announcing Iranian sponsorship.
“In the past we alluded partially to this truth,” Nasrallah said. “We used to speak of a moral and political support while keeping silent when questioned about our military backing so as not to embarrass Iran. But today, we have decided to speak out.”
Israel was said to have lost its strategic relationship with the United States, but the U.S. ambassador to Israel disagreed.
A former senior Israeli diplomat asserted that the United States no longer sees Israel as a strategic asset. Alon Pinkas, who served as consul-general in New York, said the loss has led to an asymmetry in the relationship between Jerusalem and Washington.
Analysts and diplomats assert that the Saudi royal family has been
frustrated by the U.S. hesitation to stop Iran. They cited the refusal by
the administration of President Barack Obama to sign tough sanctions
legislation that targeted Iran’s energy sector.
“The Gulf states are definitely taking a stronger stance against Iran
and are using their considerable influence to try to convince others of
their Iranian fears,” Theodore Karasik, an analyst at the Institute for Near
East and Gulf Military Analysis in the United Arab Emirates, said.
Currently, the GCC, led by the Saudis, were engaged in a massive
military buildup. Riyad has ordered about $30 billion worth of fighter-jets
and munitions from the United States while the UAE was expected to purchase
another $20 billion from Washington.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military has continued its project to expand a
base in Qatar.
The Defense Department has been awarding contracts for construction work at the Al Udeid air base in Qatar. On Jan. 17, the Pentagon awarded a $27.8 million contract to Contrack International for the expansion and upgrade of Al Udeid, which contains the Air Force operations command for the Gulf region.
“The award will provide for the construction services at Al Udeid Base, Qatar,” the Pentagon said.
LONDON — The Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah has begun its first combat operations in Syria, the opposition said.
Opposition sources said Hizbullah fighters launched Russian-origin BM-21 Grad rockets toward civilian protesters on Jan. 16. The sources said the Hizbullah rocket attack took place near Damascus amid Iranian threats to increase intervention in Syria.
“The attack was coordinated with the forces of President Bashar Assad,” the Syrian Revolutionary Coordination Union said.
Other opposition sources also reported Hizbullah rocket fire. No injuries, however, were reported, and later other sources said mortars, rather than rockets, were launched during a military operation.
“The United States has decided to enter into formal consultations and negotiations with the European Union and other spacefaring nations to develop an International Code of Conduct,” said an administration official familiar with the announcement.
The U.S. government has rejected space-arms talks promoted by Russia and China at the United Nations as a covert attempt to limit U.S. military space operations, but the administration official called the EU draft code an improvement.
“We believe the European Union’s draft Code of Conduct is a solid foundation for future negotiations on reaching a consensus international code,” the administration official said, noting that signing a code is not imminent and that negotiations are expected to continue throughout this year and possibly into next year.
The comments contradict those of Ellen Tauscher, undersecretary of state for international security and arms control, who told reporters last week that the U.S. had rejected a draft EU code of conduct as “too restrictive.”