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Was a Clandestine Foreign Hand Behind the Chemical Outrage in Damascus?
Sep 13th, 2013
Daily News
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues

US President Barack Obama’s two weeks of epic zigzags on military force versus diplomacy for Syrian chemical weapons inspired some creative captions in the US media (“Obama’s Successful Foreign Failure,” A Trap of the President’s Making”), and even a comment by one of his former advisers on Iran, Dennis Ross, in the Washington Post: “A blocking action on Syria makes Obama’s attack on Iran more likely.”
Spurning the role of lame duck for his fumbles, Obama is convinced he is on track for pulling off the most brilliant triumph of his double term as president.
Like George W. Bush, who is waiting quietly for history to vindicate him for invading Iraq in 2003, President Obama is absolutely sure that ten years hence, the American people and the world at large will finally appreciate the great objectives and complexities of his strategy for Syria and acknowledge him as one of America’s great presidents.
Four key aspects of this strategy are revealed here by DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence sources:

After Syria, Iran can be stripped of nuclear capabilities

1. His overarching objective is to resolve the controversy over Iran’s nuclear program by means of the same diplomatic, non-military formula used in getting rid of Syria’s chemical and biological arsenals. This recipe is intended to be applied with equal success to disarm the Iranian nuclear peril by placing its program under international control.
As President Obama sees it, his diplomatic dexterity and enterprise have cornered the Syrian ruler, Bashar Assad, and left him no option other than to relinquish his weapons of destruction.
The same tactics, he believes will work just as successfully for Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, compelling him to give up the enriched uranium Tehran has accumulated for building a nuclear bomb.
The US President is following this simplistic, one-dimensional perception as his guiding star.
2. Obama has long entertained an ambition to get Israel’s nuclear arsenal dismantled in stages (as the key to a nuclear-free Middle East).
He seems to believe that after Syria is stripped of its chemical and biological tools of war and Iran transfers its fissile materials and the military elements of its nuclear program to international oversight, Israel will be obliged to follow suit and place its nuclear stockpile under the same control.
Catching on to the demands looming over the horizon, Israeli officials Thursday issued reminders that their country’s reported WMD arsenals were set up to guard the fledgling Jewish state from the multiple threats of annihilation by its Middle East neighbors. Those weapons were necessary to deter Israel’s enemies until such time as they opted for recognition if not peace.

Suspected: An outside hand orchestrated the Syrian chemical attack

3. The suspicion is gaining ground among Middle East intelligence agencies that the massive chemical attack on the eastern outskirts of Damascus on Aug. 21, which left more than 1,400 dead, was not ordered by Bashar Assad, one of his relatives or a member of his inner circle of top commanders, but a clandestine outside hand.
They suggest that a foreign agent penetrated the chain of command of the Syrian units in charge of the chemical weapons and obtained their commanders’ assent to a massive poison gas attack. Its purpose: To stir Washington into threatening military intervention in the Syrian civil war. To counter the threat, Moscow and Tehran would give Assad no other option but to agree to surrender his unconventional arms.
The Syrian ruler, it was calculated, might just decide to stand up to American military force, but on no account live with the cutoff of Russia and Iranian financial and military assistance for his war effort.
Conspiracy theories are endemic to Middle East political affairs. This one, however, points to it having been hatched in the rare exchanges between Washington, Moscow and Tehran on the Syrian chemical issue, which had sprung up through back channels from the last week of July.
That would be three weeks before the disastrous chemical attack took place.
Their suspicions were further bolstered by leaked a quote from UN investigators who visited the scene of the attack. Although their formal report is due to be released only next week, they are set to be preparing to attribute responsibility “predominantly” to government forces, without confirming Russian allegations that Syrian rebels mounted an attack on the scale of a massacre.
This suggested to some observers that a third, unidentified factor may have been at work.

Obama embraced the Russian plan without competent advice

Intelligence experts in the region tend to point the finger of suspicion for Assad’s “chemical trap” at Iranian intelligence, which has permeated the Syrian army at all levels of command, especially those responsible for securing the Damascus region and Assad’s person.
Tehran’s plan, according to this theory, was to offer the Syrian ruler up to Moscow and Washington in too weakened condition to resist being dragged to the negotiating table.
The Americans and Russians would not have been privy to the details of this purported plan, say those experts, but they would be clued in after it was in the oven..
4. The US president’s exchanges with the Russians and Iranians in the past month went forward in complete secrecy, aside from a tight team of White House aides.
Even Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and National Security Adviser Susan Rice were not always in the picture.
Rice is said to be hopping mad over being passed over by the president without consulting her in all his decisions relating to the Syrian chemical crisis and the Russian proposal.
The three top-ranking officials often found themselves performing like supporting actors running behind a roller coaster scenario with no script, as Obama pursued his secret tracks with Moscow and Tehran single-handed - except perhaps for CIA Director John Brennan and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough.
Obama’s only real confidants were his campaign trail buddies, like David Axelrod, who have no background in foreign policy and military affairs.

Obama pays dear for an all-but unfeasible Russian plan

Had he conferred with the diplomatic pros, Obama might not have grabbed Putin’s tempting proposal to relieve Assad of his chemical weapons, without submitting it first to expert scrutiny.
Yet Obama drove his dialogue with the Moscow forward away from the public eye and professional critical scrutiny, confident that he was masterminding a successful diplomatic ploy that would show the world he was not the fumbling, indecisive figure he appeared to be.
Now, all too late, the US President is being called on to pay the Russians, Syrians and Iranians in unintended major concessions for a plan which is turning out to be all but unfeasible in the foreseeable term.
For one, Obama has stopped demanding regime change in Damascus or questioning Bashar Assad’s legitimacy as Syrian president.
He sees the game as just starting. He understands it could go wrong, but never appreciated how quickly it could turn against him.
The impression DEBKA Weekly’s Washington sources gain is that Obama has climbed incautiously up to a dazzlingly height and, at this point, can’t afford to wobble without his entire presidency coming crashing down.
The Russians and Iranians are no doubt fully aware of his vulnerabilities and more than ready to exploit them to extort as much as they can in the way of concessions to their interests..
The areas of accord covered by this secret trilateral track will be revealed in a separate article.

The Obama - Putin Deal Saves the Assad Regime, Drops Syrian Opposition in Limbo
Sep 13th, 2013
Daily News
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues

In the past month, three presidents, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani, have secretly built a package of understandings around the outcry raised by Syria’s use of chemical weapons.
DEBKA Weekly has obtained exclusive access to its high points:
1. Assad gives up chemical arsenal: Syria will halt chemical weapon production forthwith and prepare a list of locations and facilities for Russian and other representatives to inspect, lock down and destroy.
The Syrian government will sign the Convention against the Use of Chemical Weapons and give the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – OPCW – access to oversee compliance.
This accord bans the use and production of chemical weapons and requires all existing arsenals to be destroyed.
The United Nations are usually cited in reference to weapons inspectors in Syria, but it is the experts of OPCW who do most of the work, analyzing samples in their own laboratories at The Hague, Netherlands.
DEBKA Weekly’s sources report two snags in this section of the trilateral accord:
a) The chairman of OPCW is Turkey’s Ahmed Uzumbcu, who knows Syria well from his service as consul general in Aleppo from 1982 to 1984, and is close to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu, a leading antagonist of US-Russian-Iranian understandings on Syria.
Uzumbcu is well placed to plant hurdles in the path of implementation.
President Obama took care to keep Ankara out of his dealings with Putin and Rouhani.

A task even beyond America’s resources

b) OPCW commands nothing like the large manpower pool and funding resources for undertaking the Herculean task of dismantling an arsenal which Secretary of State John Kerry estimated as running to about “1,000 metric tons of numerous chemical agents, including finished sulfur, mustard, binary components for sarin and VX."
As Kerry informed a House committee Tuesday, Sept. 9, "Most of that is in the form of unmixed binary components, probably stored mostly in tanks. But they also possess sarin-filled munitions and other things I can't go into here."
The only country with the resources for this project, say DEBKA Weekly’s experts, is the United States.
Even for America, the scale of the Syrian arsenal is incredibly daunting. It can be usefully compared with the Libyan case.
In 2004, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi offered to dismantle his nuclear program and hand over his chemical arsenal. In the nine years up until September 2013, the US has managed to destroy no more than 40 percent of Libya’s chemical stockpiles although they were much smaller than Syria’s.
For the task in Syria, dozens of facilities would have to be built from scratch or brought into the country from the US for the destruction of multiple chemical stores and production plants.
This job would take more than a decade to complete.
Furthermore, Assad and Putin would never to agree to the American military personnel needed for the project entering Syria. And, additionally, no one has the slightest notion of where to find the billions of dollars to fund an operation on this scale, complexity and longevity.

US agrees to stop arming rebels, Russia boosts military aid to Assad

During the years of implementation, the Syrian ruler would have ample opportunity for playing hide and seek with the international monitors, keeping poison gas stores hidden and surreptitiously passing quantities into the hands of its ally, Hizballah. The Lebanese organization would not be bound by Syria’s signature on the chemical weapons convention.
2. US commitment to stop arming rebels. President Putin promised Tehran that he would pin Obama to the wall to get him to halt arms shipments to Syrian rebels in lieu of Assad’s consent to hand over his chemical weapons. US military instructors must also stop training rebel fighters in the lands neighboring on Syria, especially in the CIA training facilities in Turkey and Jordan.
The Iranian-Russian plan is for America to abandon Syrian opposition fighters and leave them dependent on their Persian Gulf backers, led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
According to the information reaching DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence sources, the Russian president was successful. Obama agreed to desert the Syrian rebel movement to promote his understandings with Russia and Iran.
3. Russia to massively replenish Assad’s arms stores. After making sure the rebels were starved of American military support, Putin informed the US President that Russia would make large-scale consignments of arms to Assad to compensate his army for the loss of their chemical arsenal. The US president objected to this action but let it be known that he would not utter a word when the Russian arms shipments began to reach Syria.

Russian veto still on offer to Assad

DEBKA Weekly’s military sources report that the Syrian ruler’s shopping list is already on Putin’s Kremlin desk. It includes a large number of Aero L-29 military jet trainer aircraft (Nato codenamed Maya); Delfin-Dolphin strike aircraft for attacks on small guerrilla units in built-up areas; the Russian 8x8 BTR-909 wheeled armored personnel carrier; and large quantities of BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles, a kind of light tank adapted to combat in urban areas.
Assad is also demanding enough ammunition to keep his Russian weapons systems supplied without having to keep on demanding urgent replenishments for every emergency.
On Sept. 7, Moscow turned on the tap for the new arms deliveries to keep the Syrian ruler on track of Putin’s plan for the handover of his chemical weapons. .
4. Moscow will block any binding UN motion for Syria
President Putin gave Assad and Rouhani his word that Moscow would block any UN Security Council resolution, such as the French motion, which bound Syria to compliance with its commitment to pass its chemical arsenal to international control on pain of military force or punitive action.
Nonetheless, Obama was upbeat when he said in his address to the American nation Tuesday, Sept. 10 that “diplomacy suddenly holds the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons in Syria without the use of force.
All the same, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that while giving “the Russian proposal” a chance, US forces would remain in position opposite Syria in case it became necessary to revert to the military option against Syria.

Putin grabs the driving seat from Washington

The next day, Putin was busy with showing who was in charge.
He went over the US president’s head, to push his agenda against US force for Syria by an article which The New York Times ran on Sept. 12. Notwithstanding Obama’s suspension of military action, Putin threatened, “A US strike could unleash a new wave of terrorism” and maintained that “millions around the world increasingly see America… as relying solely on brute force.”
Putin ran his anti-war article shortly after a Kremlin source revealed his decision to send Tehran five advanced S-300VM surface-to-air missiles, an earlier model than the new S-300 PMU which Iran had ordered, for taking down aircraft or guided missiles.
This Moscow later denied.
By then, the Russian president was on his way to a meeting Friday, Sept. 13, with Rouhani
who was using Tehran’s observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to make his debut appearance at its Bishbek summit as Iranian president.
Since Washington made no response to Putin’s moves, he took them a stage further and bluntly confronted America with Russia’s own military options.
Wednesday, a special session of Russia’s lower house of parliament, summoned to debate a resolution on Syria, heard lawmakers call on their government to expand its arms sales to Iran and revise the terms of US military transit to Afghanistan - if Washington launched a military strike on Syria.
Alexei Pushkov, the Kremlin appointee chairing the foreign affairs committee, said such actions now would be premature as Russia and the US are working to find a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis, but warned that if “the party of war” prevails in Washington, Russia should consider those moves.
“If the US takes the path of exacerbating the situation and forgoing diplomacy for the sake of a military scenario, such measures would seem absolutely justified to me,” Pushkov said.
DEBKA Weekly’s Moscow sources note that Putin is demonstratively running circles around his US partner. He wants to be sure that no one doubts who is calling the shots in the US-Russian-Iranian diplomatic initiative and that Obama understands that failing to match steps with those of the Russian leader will get him into trouble.

Standing Aside on Syria Stripped Israel of Leverage Against a Nuclear Iran
Sep 13th, 2013
Daily News
Categories: Today's Headlines;Commentary

The change of tone in four days was striking. Sunday, Sept. 8, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu confided to his close circle that President Barack Obama’s sudden turn against a military strike on Syria’s chemical weapons was the right thing to do. He considered the removal of Bashar Assad’s chemical arsenal to international control, as agreed between Washington and Moscow, preferable to the ineffectual, limited strike by a small number of missiles, which Obama was contemplating.
Wednesday, Sept. 12, a different Netanyahu, stressed and red-eyed from apparent lack of sleep appeared at the graduation ceremony of a course of naval commanders. In his speech, he called up age-old Jewish wisdom when he paraphrased the first half of an adage from the Mishnah. “If we don’t help ourselves, who will help us? (Im ain ani li me li?), he thundered.
But he left out the highly pertinent continuation of the saying, which any Israeli could recite for him: Loosely translated, it is: If I only help myself, who am I? And if I don’t act today, then when?
Netanyahu was showing signs of shock which had apparently come from the realization that he had wasted four years following the wrong policy and was now bankrupt.
Although elected twice on a pledge to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, he never followed through, preferring to follow President Obama’s lead and hold back from a proactive policy against a nuclear Iran. His pretext was that Iranian threat was shared by the whole world and it was up to the international community to deal with it.

His policy on Syria will come to roost in Tehran

During his watch, Tehran attained the ability to assemble a nuclear bomb, held back from going all the way by nothing more than a word from supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The prime minister has said the ayatollah is deterred by fear of an Israeli attack.
However, there is no certainty that he was. Iran may already have built one or more bombs and hidden them at secret military facilities. Tehran knows by now that it has nothing to fear from military action. Under the rule of Barack Obama, America will not take military action against is nuclear facilities; neither will Israel chance it without Washington’s approval.
In the final reckoning, neither Obama nor Netanyahu prevented Iran becoming a nuclear power.
Israel’s Syria policy in the two and-a-half years of its civil war has been fraught with intelligence and strategic blunders, such as -.
1. Its intelligence and military strategists consistently misread Assad’s ability to survive the uprising against him. Assuming his days were numbered in weeks, they were caught unawares when the tide of war turned in his favor in the spring of 2013.
2. Israel refrained from stepping in to interrupt the wholesale intervention of Iranian and Hizballah military forces in the Syrian conflict, turning a blind eye to the hostile military buildup on its borders. The argument then was that the war would sap the strength of those forces and weaken the Tehran-Damascus-Hizballah axis.
This argument was proven wrong. The axis has emerged from the long, bloody Syrian war much strengthened.

Syrian chemical weapons mistakenly consigned to Russia care last year

The Iran-led bloc’s enhanced self-confidence was reflected in an article by Ibrahim al-Amin, a close friend of Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah, in the Beirut-based Al Akhbar daily.
“No one needs to tell Syria’s allies that Washington no longer possesses complete freedom to do as it pleases,” he writes, “particularly compared to a decade or so ago, before getting bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“They also know that America’s recent setbacks have produced a regional and international opposition alliance that brings together powerful forces that continue to grow by the day.”
According to Al-Amin, “This opposition alliance operates on a number of levels: Russia playing a diplomatic role, while Iran is prepared to take the lead militarily, if it comes to a regional confrontation with the US.”
He concludes: “Tehran is not only capable of facing down Washington in Syria and the surrounding region, but it has the ability to cause them serious harm. In two short weeks, this alliance succeeded in mobilizing a broad front that is prepared tot engage in an extended war that could last for months or more.”
3. Israel slipped up badly in its handling of Syria’s chemical stockpiles, no less than Washington.
They made their first mistake in passing the hot potato to Moscow 10 months ago.
In December 2012, the Obama administration accepted a Russian proposal to ascertain that the Assad regime consigned its chemical stockpiles to three central depots under Russian military oversight.
Then on Dec. 22 of that year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed that the Syrian government had concentrated its chemical and biological weapons in “one or two places,” where they could be guarded against rebel attack.
Lavrov further explained: Russian military instructors training the Syrian army maintained a close watch on the chemical depots.”

Obama will dump US allies for a deal with Tehran

The massacre of Syrian civilians by poison gas on the eastern outskirt of Damascus on Aug. 21 proved how horribly Washington and Jerusalem had erred by relying on Russia’s “close watch.”
The Obama and Netanyahu administrations are making the same mistake again – only by now the Syrian chemical peril has magnified many times over. And worse still, it is obvious to all the American, Israeli, European, Russian and Iranian players concerned that an accommodation for the Syrian chemical issue will lead straight to direct US-Iranian dialogue for a settlement of the Iranian nuclear controversy, on terms beyond Tehran’s wildest dreams a year ago.
If the Israeli prime minister has sleepless nights, it is because he has finally grasped that just as the American president was willing to throw the Syrian rebels to the wolves and turn his back on his Israeli and Turkish allies for the sake of deal with Moscow, he will have as few qualms when he faces Tehran.
Indeed, Obama’s ambition to gradually bring Iranian nuclear weapons under international control, like Syria’s chemical arsenal, won’t end in Tehran and Damascus. His next target will be the weapons of mass destruction reputedly held by Israel.
Netanyahu has suddenly woken up to the worry that he will soon find Israel’s WMD is under US threat, instead of the Iranian nuclear program.

Rouhani Buys from Obama An Easy Ride on Iran's Nuclear Program
Sep 13th, 2013
Daily News
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues

The budding entente between Washington and Tehran, which sprang from the understandings they reached with Moscow on Syria, sounded pretty cordiale this week.
On Sept. 10, Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani greeted the new UN General Assembly session opening in New York on Sept. 23 as “the perfect setting to reignite talks about Iran’s nuclear program.”
Washington reciprocated promptly by lifting a string of sanctions which had restricted humanitarian and athletic exchanges between US and Iranian NGOs and environmental projects.
By this good-will rejoinder, President Barack Obama kicked off his effort to translate the progress made with Moscow in relieving Syria of its chemical weapons into a big step toward a nuclear accommodation with Iran.
But the Iranian president also took two actions which showed his motives in quite a different light.
First, he declared that his country would not give up “one iota of its nuclear capabilities” and, second, he appointed a staunch hardliner, former defense minister Rear Adm. Ali Shamkhani, as Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.
Shamkhani, 58, commander of the Revolutionary Guards Navy before he took over as defense minister from 1997 to 2005, is a trusted military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Another hardliner joins Rouhani’s cabinet

As head of the SNSC, it is Shamkhani’s job to keep national defense and security policies to the guidelines laid down by the supreme leader. In this capacity, he also dictates the tactics and endgame for Iran’s nuclear negotiations with world powers.
The rear admiral is a military man to the core whose loyalty to Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards knows no bounds. This appears to have made him an unlikely choice for Rouhani.
DEBKA Weekly’s Iranian experts say that, although the president said the new foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would lead the forthcoming negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, it now turns out that he will be no more than a genial puppet, whose strings are pulled behind the scenes by the rigid ex-Revolutionary Guards officer.
The identities of the key go-betweens for the secret interchanges between Washington and Moscow are equally instructive, say DEBKA Weekly’s Iranian sources.
One was the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said Al-Saidis, who carried messages from President Obama to Ayatollah Khamenei and Hassan Rouhani - and back from Tehran to Washington.
The secret postman for Tehran’s messages to and from Moscow and Damascus is Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs.
This official has spent all his time in Damascus ever since the chemical outrage of Aug. 21 and he talks to Bashar Assad several times a day.

Tehran dogs US-Russian steps on Syria

He also accompanied Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem when he traveled to Moscow on Sept. 8 for an update from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the deal for Syria struck between the Kremlin and the White House in Washington.
Abdollahian was kept abreast of every twist and turn in these exchanges. He reported back to Tehran and was able to inform the Russian and Syrian ministers which points met with Iran’s approval and on which the leader demurred.
Against President Obama’s consent to ditch the Syrian rebel movement and rescue the Assad regime, Tehran agreed to let Syria’s chemical and biological arsenals go by the board to buy American flexibility on the Iranian nuclear program.
This quid pro quo was integrated in the understandings they reached.
By the third week of September, when the Iranian president arrives in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, the US president will have to decide whether to go through with this transaction or not, depending on the implementation of his deal with Russia’s Vladimir Putin for the dismantling of Assad’s chemical program.
If that goes forward satisfactorily, Washington and Tehran will move on to the next stage of the trilateral US-Iranian-Russian understandings, and give Iran its easiest ride ever on its nuclear program.
But if not, Obama will have to decide whether to back out of those understandings and start afresh.
For now, he is moving along the track marked out for him by Putin and Ali Khamenei.

Let the Headlines Speak
Sep 13th, 2013
Daily News
From the Internet
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues

The Pope Separates Jews from Israelis
One of the grave dangers in the Vatican's dialogue with Judaism is the Church's attempt to drive a wedge between the “good” and docile Jews of the Diaspora and the “bad” and arrogant Jews of Israel. It seems that there is no room for stubborn, faithful Zionists in the Pope's lenient smile. In his speeches, Jewish national aspirations are ignored, if not denigrated.  

Egypt Tanks Cross Gaza Border Fence
Witnesses told the AFP news agency that two tanks "crossed the first Egyptian border fence along the corridor between Egypt and (Gaza), and drove along the road running next to the cement wall that Egypt built." They said it was the "first time Egyptian tanks have been in this area, although they didn't cross into the area ruled by Hamas," adding that the soldiers on top of the tanks had masked faces.  

500,000 attend slihot prayers at the Western Wall since start of Jewish month of Elul
Thousands more arrived Thursday night for the final penitential prayer service before Yom Kippur, in which Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef participated along with Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz. Throughout the month of Elul and especially in the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, tens of thousands came to the site – individually, as families or as part of an organized group – to recite the traditional prayers said at this time of year.  

Security forces on high alert as Israelis mark Yom Kippur
Expecting many thousands of Jewish worshipers to gather at the Western Wall in Jerusalem at the start of Yom Kippur Friday evening, police have preemptively undertaken numerous security measures to safeguard them for the duration of the fast, which ends on Saturday evening.  

Charles Krauthammer: ‘Obama Has Been Played’
“Here is the president of the greatest democracy on Earth, being lectured — insultingly, really — in an American newspaper about human rights, about international law, about the protection of the elderly and children in wartime.” Krauthammer said. “What we are seeing here is Putin so confident of himself…that he could actually engage in this,” Krauthammer added. “It’s an index of how, sort of, Obama has been played and continues to be right now in Geneva.”  

WSJ: Emails Show IRS' Lerner Targeted Tea Party Groups
In a February 2011 email, Lerner told her staff that a tea party issue is "very dangerous" and is something "Counsel and [Lerner adviser] Judy Kindell need to be in on ... Cincy should probably NOT have these cases." That contradicts former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller's comments in May that the targeting was merely the work of two "rogue" employees in Cincinnati.  

Volcano prompts declaration of emergency in Peru
Peru declared a state of emergency Thursday in nine districts threatened by the Ubinas volcano, which has erupted seven times since September 1, spewing harmful gas and ash. Authorities are distributing masks and have given themselves a 60-day period to relocate villagers from areas where ash is damaging crops and polluting water sources.  

Israel prepares for solemn, silent Day of Atonement
Jews traditionally spend the solemn day fasting and asking God for forgiveness at intense prayer services in synagogues. It caps a 10-day period of soul-searching that began with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year holiday. In Israel, the country virtually shuts down for Yom Kippur. Businesses, restaurants and offices close, and TV and radio stations go silent. Airports close and buses and trains stop running. Highways and roads become eerily quiet, devoid of vehicles.  

'Unusual' outbreak hits Stanhope: Four foxes test positive for rabies
Four foxes have tested positive for rabies in Stanhope, an unusual occurrence that has prompted health officials to urge residents to get their pets vaccinated immediately. The rabies-infected animals were among five foxes destroyed by police and tested after they had charged two police officers and people walking their dogs in the vicinity of Lake Musconetcong.  

NSA masqueraded as Google to spy on web users - report
The NSA used ‘man in the middle’ hack attacks to impersonate Google and fool web users, leaks have revealed. The technique circumvents encryption by redirecting users to a copycat site which relays all the data entered to NSA data banks.  

Russia to expand Mediterranean fleet to 10 warships – Navy chief
“The task is crystal clear: to avoid a slightest threat to the security of the state. This is a general practice of all fleets around the world, to be there when a tension level increases. They are all going to act on operational command plan of the offshore maritime zone,” Chirkov told journalists on Friday. "Russia will be building up its Mediterranean fleet until it is deemed sufficient to perform the task set."  

Researchers have long waited for one of the Voyager probes to leave the solar system. In a surprising turn of events, NASA announced today that Voyager 1 entered interstellar space a whole year ago! This event sets in motion a new era of exploration of the realm between the stars.  

Arrow 3 trials successful, may move operational timetable ahead
Analysis of the Arrow 3 missile launch tests, which took place last February in the Israeli Air Force's Palmachim base in cooperation with American partners, revealed that the experiment was successful beyond all expectations, to an extent that may speed up the timetable for the declaration of the program as operational. Arrow 3 is the Israeli solution to intercepting long-range missiles that exit the atmosphere.  

Assad tells Obama to stop arming rebels, or no deal
President Obama must promise not to arm rebel forces or Syrian dictator Bashar Assad will not hand over his chemical weapons...while demanding that Israel also surrender its nuclear arsenal. “When...the U.S....stops threatening us with military intervention and stops supplying terrorists with weapons, then we will consider it possible to finalize all necessary procedures and they will become legitimate and acceptable for Syria...  

Al-Qaeda chief calls for attacks on US in 9/11 speech to followers
Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Al-Qaeda leader, has called on followers to commit attacks inside the US to "bleed America economically", in a speech marking the anniversary of the 9/11 strikes. In an audio message...Zawahiri laid out a plan of attack, saying he wanted a "few of the brothers" to commit small-scale strikes to trigger big spending by Washington on security, while awaiting the opportunity for a major onsalught later.  

Syria crisis: Geneva talks on chemical weapons enter second day
The US and Russian foreign ministers, John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov, are meeting for a second round of talks on how to secure Syria's chemical weapons. But their talks in Geneva with UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi began with the wider issue of peace in Syria. Speaking afterwards, the three men said they had agreed to meet again later in the month to prepare for a long-delayed peace conference.  

Herat attack: Afghanistan Taliban target US consulate
US and Afghan forces have fought off an attack by Taliban insurgents on the US consulate in the western city of Herat. Two Afghan police and one security guard were killed in the dawn assault, along with seven attackers. The US consulate said its staff were safe. The Taliban said they carried out the attack, which began with a huge blast at the compound gates, sparking a gun battle near consulate buildings.  

Egypt extends state of emergency for two months
Egypt is extending its state of emergency for a further two months. The president's office said the decision had been taken because of the security situation. The current state of emergency was introduced in August after hundreds died following the clearing of protest camps set up in support of the ousted Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi.  

Thousands warned to evacuate amid Colorado floods
Thousands of people have been warned to evacuate the Boulder area of Colorado and a mountain hamlet as flooding swells creeks to dangerous levels. Storm rains have killed three people in the state and caused severe damage to property. Water levels in the Boulder Canyon are reportedly rising rapidly because of debris and mud blocking its mouth.

Egyptian Gen. Fattah El - Sisi Quietly Makes His Mark
Sep 13th, 2013
Daily News
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues

While American, Russian and Iranian attention has been obsessively focused on Syrian President Bashar Assad and his use of chemical weapons, a new Middle East leader, unattached to any of those powers, is quickly making his mark in Egypt.
Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has taken over a million-strong army from the ageing generals, who spent their time tending their business empires, and within three months transformed it into an effective fighting machine.
This army, operating at warp speed, is accomplishing three assignments set by the new Egyptian strongman:
1. Support for his ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi as president;
2. Backing for his campaign of detentions against key Brotherhood figures, placing its top political, religious and administrative echelons behind bars. El-Sisi is waiting for the right moment to finally smash this Islamist movement for good
3. The execution of a large-scale military offensive to eradicate Islamist terrorist networks in Sinai. This offensive, virtually overlooked by the world media, is described by DEBKA Weekly’s military experts as the biggest and most impressive counter-terror operation ever undertaken in the Middle East against al Qaeda.

The biggest anti-al Qaeda military campaign seen in the Middle East

The Egyptian leader is not just fighting to rid the peninsula of 10,000 lawless Salafist Islamists and smugglers; He is reshaping the geo-strategic landscape of Sinai by separating it from the Gaza Strip and moving its focal point to the Suez Canal region, with its cities of Port Said, Ismailia and Suez.
To this end, military engineers are employed in massive earthworks as armored units and air force planes depopulate large “security zones” in order to divide the Gaza Strip from Egyptian Sinai. They are at the same time building new bridges and tunnels across the Suez Canal to reinforce the peninsula’s links to Egypt’s heartland.
A security fence studded with surveillance cameras and sensors and guarded by mixed ground, sea and air units is being set up to secure Suez Canal shipping against attack.
The American and Israeli officers watching the Egyptian general at work say that the Sinai landscape is unrecognizable. He clearly remains determined to preserve his independence of foreign powers, accepting only assistance and operating capital from his Saudi and Arabian Gulf backers.
Our Cairo sources say that El-Sisi has not missed US President Barack Obama’s readiness to embrace the Shiite rulers of Iran and his widening breach with Riyadh and the Gulf Emirates. He expects the remodeled, toughened and indeed reinvented Egyptian army to occupy an important place on the changing Middle East map.

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