Turkish straightforward analyses

this is a nice Turkish review of what prominent American ideologues thought of Hamas’ leader Khaled Mashaal recent visit to Turkey. For example you have major neocons’ opinions along with more moderate elements. A useful and simplistic way to refresh our memories of the way major American policy “influencers” thinks of Middle East rapprochement that does not systematically go in line with the now acive American strategy of “divide-and-conquer” in the region.

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ok that’s it i have to say it. the only person who can still pull things up in this country (if surrounded by the right people that are now politically weak) is Aoun. Unfortunately, between the mad megalomaniac general and the isolationists-cum-playing-with-fire-with-the-americans-wackos, it seems that we have a slight chance to be more on the safe side with the general.
That’s it I said it, and would have never thought I would.
Now may the gods (of the different 15 or so confessions in Lebanon) help us go to the next stage in peace.

Now for a daily commentary i would say that i was amazed how Condoleeza Rice could not wait to meet first and foremost the Maronite Patriarch Sfeir then warlord and severely mentally disturbed Walid Jumblatt. The problem with these Americans is that they really know who to talk to when they want something done. The hell with the protocol! Rice may have seen Siniora and Berri by accident! Check out Joseph Samaha’s brilliant analysis on the subject.
That was Rice’s rationale: Hey Sfeir we need to know (and we need to convince you of the following idea) if we can take out your maronite president without any major damage done, and who might replace him other than Aoun. Hey Jumblatt, good job here’s your money, but not so fast you will never get the political clout you ask for.
Briefly speaking, Rice came to reassure the “14 of march” (or whatever you want to call it) oligarchic (i prefer this label) forces that they still have American support, and that the priority is to remove Lahoud. Then we’ll deal with Hezbollah subsequently. Because for now, there is still a “politesse oblige” vis-a-vis Hezbollah

Another note: how come Christians in Lebanon never learn from past mistakes? I mean I refer to them as Christians because they like to be distiguished as such. Yesterday, Geagea started to change his mind and backed off from the insulting tone he carried two days ago against the president (sorry can’t find a good link on the subject). Why? I wonder if he thought the following: “Shit, I forgot that I am an extremist Christian that has no even faith in the state as a consensual (i.e. confessional) democracy (preferring what can be described as a tiny chunk of Christianstan), yet i am allying with Muslims and Druzes in order to take out the only Christian who could if removed, be replaced by a puppet Christian put in place by the other guys (meaning non-Christians)”.

It won’t take long before other Christians starts thinking the same and the 14 of March forces will just disintegrate. Sadly (or fortunately?) this will not lead to Christian convergence of interests. But it won’t lead either to complete Lebanese convergence of interests either.

Meaning that if you’re right-wing or like fascist in Lebanon, you will never have what you want. And if you’re left-wing or like some king of progressist, you will definitely not have what you want.

Why? Because it’s just about individuals running after the last standing chair. Do you know this game?

Meanwhile in Nigeria

It is interesting to see how instrumental were these uproars against the caricatures of the prophet in shaping the way simple reporting is now taking place. News agencies always have “background” information on daily news in order to make up a substantial article. They end up mixing two pieces of news in a way that would create a correlation between them although in some cases there isn’t any. For example,See how pipelines are held in Nigeria have to do with Muslim “resentment” according to this FT reporter (it is possible that this rapprochement is unvoluntary):

Nigerian militants yesterday threatened to extend their disruption of the country’s oil industry to attacks on oil tankers, after violence and abductions at the weekend led to the closure of an entire oilfield and forced Royal Dutch Shell to abandon loadings at one of its export terminals.

Militant attacks, including the kidnapping of nine oil workers on Saturday, have led to a 25 per cent cut in oil exports from the world’s eighth-largest crude exporter, a cut likely to put some upward pressure on prices when markets reopen today.

Militants said they had destroyed the loading facility at the 380,000 barrel per day Forcados terminal in attacks over the weekend against oil and gas facilities in the western Niger Delta. Shell said it was assessing the damage at Forcados and had shut down its nearby EA offshore field as a precaution, turning off 115,000 b/d of production.

The company had already seen its production cut by attacks last month.

Nigeria produces about 2.4m b/d. Its light and sweet crude is highly sought after, as it is easier to refine into petrol. Nigeria’s central location also means it is well placed to serve the US and Europe.

A representative of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), the group claiming responsibility for the weekend attacks, was quoted yesterday as saying: “There is no shortage of things to destroy.”

His comment underlined the vulnerability of oil companies in the region. In January Mend threatened to cut Nigeria’s export capacity by 30 per cent this month.

And here is the transition that loses the reader. two different news in one article making it look as if both were connected:

The trouble in the delta coincided with an outbreak of violence in the Muslim-dominated north of Nigeria, as a protest in the state of Borno against Danish cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed turned violent. At least 15 people died on Saturday in the bloodiest reaction to the cartoons to date around the world as mobs burned churches and other buildings.

And here we are back to normal reporting for the first story:

The clashes will leave the military – which security analysts say is already severely under-resourced to tackle the insurgency in the delta – even more stretched. A spokesman for Nigeria’s military commander in the delta said no reinforcements were expected and “no military option” was being considered while the government worked on negotiating the release of hostages.

The nine hostages, including three US workers for the oil servicing company Willbros and a British security consultant, were kidnapped from a barge in the delta and taken to a jungle hideout.

Mend says it is fighting for the rights of the delta’s majority tribe, the Ijaw, many of whom claim they have been cheated out of their oil wealth by the central government and oil industry and have been politically marginalised through rigged elections. But some analysts believe Mend could be acting on behalf of anonymous political figures.

The group said its weekend attacks were in retaliation for an operation launched by the Nigerian military last week, which coincided with the visitof Jack Straw, UK foreign secretary, to the delta.

The group is focusing attacks on Shell, saying the Anglo-Dutch oil company is responsible for severe environmental damage in the delta.

Ni vu ni connu!

Foreing Policy explanations

This article by Stephen Zunes argues religious extremism’s rise is directly correlated with harmful US foreign policy in the Middle East. The logic is interesting, and is important as a source of explanation when such views are lacking in the mainstream media. You will find an exaustive review of US doings in the region.
Yet, it’s not just about that, but we’re almost there…
In any case I love this line:

The United States provides six times more military aid to the Middle East than it does economic aid, and arms sales are America’s number one commercial export to the region, strengthening militarization and weakening financial support for human needs.

What’s really promising is to think that actually the US ambassador in Lebanon is practically giving orders to the petty Lebanon politicians thirsty for power. I try not to think of what this will bring in terms of alienation between the growing poor (confessionally divided), and the increasingly rich and corrupted minority.

Russia supports Hamas-led parliament but will consult Israel for the serious matters

eh oui let’s not forget material concerns. According to Russian news agency Mosnews:

Russia to Seek Israeli Consent Before Selling Arms to Palestine
Russian military equipment will only be supplied to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) with Israeli agreement, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov was quoted by Russian media as saying.

“All equipment supplies to Palestine might be carried out only with Israeli consent and through its territory,” Ivanov said. “This issue is under preliminary consideration.”

Ivanov’s remarks came a day after Chief of the General Staff Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky said Russia may supply arms to the PNA after talks in Moscow with leaders of Hamas, which swept the Jan. 25 Palestinian parliamentary elections.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday a Hamas delegation will visit Moscow in early March.

Reports have said Russia would supply two MI-17 helicopters and 50 armored personnel carriers to the Palestinians.

Baluyevsky said the two helicopters will be delivered without arms. “They are intended to transport the Palestinian leadership.”

Witch-Hunters of "Antisemitism" feel the boomerang effect

This whole “anti-jewish” rhetoric emanating from Iran is simply the most funny aspect of their strategy to create outrage in the Western world. It is reversing the tools Jewish extremists used for over a century to create a modicum of cohesion between jews built on fear so as to attract them to Israel.
Iranian officials are just using this tool to the fullest, pushing it to ironic levels such as asking to send researchers to Poland so as to examine the veracity of facts about some 6 million jews being killed during the holocaust.
It just obliges western officials to answer very seriously as it was done by Poland’s Foreign Minister Stefan Meller who ruled out the possibility of having researchers sent by Iran.
Playing the ideological game by keeping the masses agitated and busy confronting imaginary demons, while real chess players are moving along respective borders.

US financing opposition groups in Syria

Well nothing is new here (the US has a infamous legacy for interfering in other country’s political changes), except that this time it is officially published and it’s Reuters that brings you the information directly to your PC! It partly means that some things are just not taboo anymore, but may even be popular to cite.

From Latin America, to Eastern Europe, and recently the Middle East the US has relentlessly tried to change regimes with a multitude of different means. Iraq was the case where all out war was more strategic, as the hawks preferred to displace opposition groups who were deemed to be not pro-American enough. I remember watching the news once right before the outbreak of the Iraqi war, and having several opposition Iraqi figures and arch-enemies of Saddam, based in London, denouncing the American crusade.

Actually one need not look very far to see double standards in US rhetorical commitment to democracy. Just observe current US pressures against a democratically Hamas-led parliament. It seems that contradictions in US foreign policy don’t need to be looked relative to past history but can be reflected in day to day strategies. It still is very shocking to see Rice warning Middle Eastern state not to help the newly formed palestinian parliament. The crazy aspect of all this is the fact that Arab states will just obey.

In any case, I don’t know if “$5 million for democratic reformers”, supervised by Liz Cheney (the daughter of Dick Cheney, who by the way also has his wife working in political arenas such as the very conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank) is going to be enough to displace Assad’s regime, but it sure is a step towards trying to isolate the Muslim Brotherhood party. I wonder if the website to apply for these grants has a special block mode for Islamic parties. Or maybe, quite the contrary?…

Plus it seems that Iran is not to miss the “democratizing” train through increased use of media propaganda:

The Syrian grant program follows an announcement this week that the Bush administration will ask Congress for $75 million to expand television broadcasts in Iran as part of a campaign to boost democracy there.