'Apocalyptic': Intelligence Chief James Clapper may have spoken the truth

this time, when he described the crisis in Syria. Above, people in Yarmouk,

Damascus, line up for food. Rebels in besieged neighborhoods have been

turning over their weapons to the Assad government in exchange for an

easing of its blockades, which have kept supplies from reaching civilians.



Obama Must Decisively Reject 'Partnership' with Assad (Dar al-Hayat, Saudi Arabia)


"U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly hinted that the Obama Administration will not collaborate with Bashar al-Assad and his family in an effort to draft this heretic into the fight against terrorism. ... the U.S. president is obliged to clarify what his position is on a partnership with Assad in the war against terrorism, which has been outlined by Moscow, supported by Tehran and adopted by Damascus. It would be illogical for the Obama Administration to demand the ouster of Assad if it would agree to a strategy that is dependent on him."


By Raghida Dergham


Translated By Lina Barakat-Masroujeh


March 4, 2014


Saudi Arabia - Dar Al-Hayat - Original Article (Arabic)

In the face of increasing shrieks of 'hypocrisy' from around the world, Secretary of State Kerry makes remarks on the release of America's annual country reports on global human rights, Feb 28.


STATE DEPARTMENT VIDEO: Secretary of State Kerry highlights Syria and Russia, at this State Department announcement on the release of America's report on human rights around the world, Feb. 28, 00:17:29RealVideo

What will President Obama do, after acknowledging that with each passing day, "more people inside of Syria are suffering" and "the state of Syria itself is crumbling"? ... "That is bad for Syria," he has said. "It is bad for the region. It is bad for global security," because "there are extremists who have moved into the vacuum in certain parts of Syria in a way that could threaten us over the long term."


This quote of the president's despair will not save Syria, which has been described to Congress by Director of U.S. Intelligence James Clapper as "apocalyptic." That President Obama grieves over the "heartbreaking" situation in Syria will not benefit the dead, victimized by barrel bombs, starvation and siege. It will not benefit the victims of terrorism, which has spread as a result of the prolonged conflict in Syria, the ridiculous backing-away of the United States, and the arrogance of Russian nationalism. If Barack Obama intends to correct his policies, he must first restore the world's confidence in him and his word.


He has to undo the reputation he acquired as a result of his handling of the Syrian question. If he genuinely believes that the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, the spread of Islamic radicalism and the persistence of killings and crimes against humanity make Syria "one of our highest national security priorities," the American president must put forward a policy - not express heartbreak. Despair is not a policy. Rather, it is a way of avoiding taking positions that Obama is well-aware of. A decisive turning point in the Syrian tragedy is available to the U.S. president. All he needs to do is to take actual decisions instead of hiding behind his pointing finger. Will Obama - today - remain hidden behind that finger, or astonish and surprise us by taking action?


This is not about the U.S. president abandoning his decision to satisfy American public opinion by withdrawing from the wars of others. No one expects the dispatching of American soldiers to Syria under any circumstances, nor even a military strike on Damascus, which was withdrawn in the final hours of the countdown. None of this is part of the thinking of those watching to see what Obama is willing to do in revisiting his policies toward Syria.


The first stop en route to a policy change is a review of previous policies in order to identify failures and successes.


In Syria, the policies of attrition, exhaustion, and mutual destruction between the forces of the Assad regime and its allies, Lebanese Hezbullah and Iran's Revolutionary Guard, and the forces of radical Salafism and affiliates of al-Qaeda - have failed.


The Damascus regime believes it is on verge of victory and is confident it will survive and restore itself. Furthermore, Assad's allies are determined to fight any battle beside him or for him, and he receives regular arms shipments from Russia and Iran. Fanatics and terrorists in Syria have found a focal point for their global ideological battle.


Having distanced itself from the Syria crisis, the Obama Administration has contributed to the growth of these profiteers, who have exploited America's restraint to their own benefit. Thanks to three Sino-Russian Security Council vetoes, the extension of the conflict is in keeping with the plans of the radicals and terrorists. Neither are consumed or exhausted. 


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All things considered, the time has come to admit that the policies of attrition, exhaustion, and mutual destruction in Syria have utterly failed, leading instead to a tragic and destructive catastrophe for Syria and its people, and that there is no justification for such policies to continue.


Neither is there room for a decisive military victory for either side in Syria, or for those taking part or who are implicated in such policies.


The notion of an alliance with the intelligence agencies of the West, from which information flowed on the al-Nusra Front, the ISIS and the like, would be a dream come true for the Assad regime and its allies, and an example of poor bad policies on the part of the West, notably the United States.


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly hinted that the Obama Administration will not collaborate with Bashar al-Assad and his family in an effort to draft this heretic into the fight against terrorism. Kerry has reiterated that Assad is a magnet drawing terrorism to Syria and the region. This left the impression that the administration would frustrate any hopes of Damascus to tempt the U.S. intelligence services into a political partnership.


Damascus is patiently betting on the exhaustion of Washington, confident that the Obama Administration will shrink away and walk the path set by Damascus, Tehran and Moscow for a partnership in the fight against terror, with the intent of evading the political transition laid down by Geneva II, which means in practical terms the replacement of the Assad regime.


President Obama is obliged to directly explain himself - not merely through his secretary of state. There is an impression that Obama uses Kerry to make political talk while keeping his options open - and not necessarily in keeping with his public discourse. Even if that [U.S. intelligence cooperation with Assad] was merely an impression held by the Syria-Russia-Iran-China-Hezbullah axis, the president's lack of clarity on the partnership sought by this axis only serves to aid and foster its strategy.



Therefore, the U.S. president is obliged to clarify what his position is on a partnership with Assad in the war against terrorism, which has been outlined by Moscow, supported by Tehran and adopted by Damascus. It would be illogical for the Obama Administration to demand the ouster of Assad if it would agree to a strategy that is dependent on him.


If Obama has chosen to reject this call for a partnership, he must adopt a clear, consistent and determined policy that includes the means to eradicate the growing Salafist fanaticism in Syria and prevent the further influx of new jihadists and foreign volunteers in their terrorist ideological war.


One of those means is interagency intelligence collaboration both regionally and internationally, in addition to a high-quality dialogue with its partners about Syria, implemented with other participants and their friends who possess both influence and expertise on how to contain al-Qaeda and register victories against it.


Another such means lies in rebuilding confidence with the forces of the moderate opposition and local leadership - quickly - done like it was with the "Sons of Iraq." Certainly, insistence on implementing Geneva II and its primary objective - the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers - is of the utmost importance in this endeavor.


Now this is where the American-Russian relationship becomes part of the equation. This relationship, which since the agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons has been the subject of celebration, needs for practical reasons to take a pause. The Obama Administration is required, with resolve and clarity, to demonstrate that it will not play second fiddle to Russia concerning Syria, and take into account that Russia is an ally of the Damascus regime.



There is a clear imbalance on this issue: Russia is an active ally of Damascus, funding, supplying arms, preventing the U.N. Security Council from adopting resolutions, hindering accountability for crimes against humanity and defending the use of "tools" like starvation, siege and barrel bombing. Utilizing its leverage as co-sponsor of the political process with the United States, Russia destroys American credibility, assured that Washington will subordinate itself to the Kremlin's wishes, given its desire to distance itself from the Syrian issue.


The Obama Administration does not enjoy a similar alliance-style of relationship with the Syrian opposition it supports verbally but hardly practically. Washington has parted with its allies over Syria, including with the Arabs and Europeans. Consequently, it has acquired a reputation of retreat and treachery and disloyalty to its friends, losing the prestige and influence as a great power.


Now there is a chance for Obama to restore that confidence and prestige, provided that he makes a decision. This is an opportune moment because Russia has abused its power and itself acquired a reputation for making a deal with the devil and disregarding human values for the sake of its own national interests.


Russia today appears above accountability, boasting of its victory over the "old" USA in Syria and the Middle East. So the moment is right for a serious and solemn dialogue with Russia - if Obama is serious about diverting Syria from the path of tragedy.


Another solemn message should be sent to Tehran addressed to Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, who, commenting on sanctions, described U.S. officials as arrogant and opportunistic bastards and said he considers U.S. threats to be, "like the roar of an old lion that doesn't dare to attack."

                        'RED LINE'

Jeop Bertrams, The Netherlands

[Click Here for More Jeop Bertrams Cartoons]


The American President has the capacity to make clear to Iran that sanctions relief requires a serious reform of Iranian foreign policy, which is required under the U.S. D'Amato Act [aka/the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act]. This should be firmly asserted by Obama as he encourages openness on Iran, putting Syria at the forefront of the policy changes demanded of Tehran.

Posted By Worldmeets.US


If he chooses to adopt them, the U.S. president has several tools and diverse options at his disposal to impliment effective policies toward the Syrian disaster.


If Obama actually decides that the Syrian crisis is a top national security priority, he can inform Moscow and Tehran that Washington will now judge their roles in Syria from an American national security perspective, and that their policies are contributing to the spread of terrorism, the collapse of Syria, and are destabilizing neighboring countries.


The decline of the reputation and prestige of the United States in the Middle East and beyond is a matter that Barack Obama must remedy and repair, which he will fail to do unless he reverses himself and stands with confidence, decisiveness and determination. Consequently, President Obama can regain what they call America's moral leadership. Hiding behind one’s finger is not a policy worthy of a man who came to the White House with promises that amazed the world - all of which now seem like a mirage.



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Posted By Worldmeets.US Mar. 4, 2014, 4:39am