June 28, 2013

VOA: US Says Gulf States, BRICS Should Help Syria

June 27, 2013

FILE - Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Anne C. Richard speaks at an event in recognition of World Refugee Day at the State Department, June 20, 2013.
FILE - Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Anne C. Richard speaks at an event in recognition of World Refugee Day at the State Department, June 20, 2013.
BEIRUT — Gulf Arab states and the fast-emerging BRICS economies should do more to address an expected funding shortfall of billions of dollars for Syrian aid efforts, a senior United States official said on Thursday.

Describing Syria as an “overwhelming and fast-moving humanitarian catastrophe”, Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard said the accelerating pace of the crisis presented an almost unprecedented challenge.

Around 1.7 million refugees have fled Syria, most to Lebanon and Jordan whose small populations are struggling to cope with the influx, and four million more have been displaced within Syria by the two-year conflict between President Bashar al-Assad and rebels.

The United Nations expects the refugee numbers to double by the end of the year and says 10 million in total will need help. It has launched its biggest ever aid effort in response, seeking $5 billion to cover operations for the second half of the year.

But its more modest appeal for the first six months of the year was significantly underfunded, raising questions over prospects for meeting the latest target.

“Traditional donors in Europe feel the weight of economic problems. The world looks to the Gulf states to be new donors, emerging donors,” Richard told Reuters. “We are in fact approaching ... the BRICS and Gulf countries.”

According to United Nations figures the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa contributed just $9.3 million out of a total of nearly $2.1 billion so far this year to U.N. and aid organizations for the Syria crisis.

Richards singled out Kuwait for praise. It delivered on a pledge of $300 million earlier this year, and for handing it over to the United Nations to be part of a coordinated international effort.

But other wealthy Gulf Arab states could do more.

“Traditionally the Gulf states prefer to give assistance bilaterally and sometimes prefer to provide in-kind assistance,” she said in an interview at the U.S. embassy in Beirut.

“When I go and ask them to write a cheque to the United Nations, that represents a departure from their preferred methods of doing things,” she said.

The United States pledged $300 million in humanitarian assistance earlier this month, bringing its total contribution since the start of the conflict to $815 million.

Richard, Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration, was speaking during a visit to Lebanon, a country of four million people which hosts a Syrian refugee population that officially stands at half a million but may be closer to 1 million.

The influx has added to pressures in a country which is already suffering from the spread of sectarian tensions and violence from the Syrian conflict. The cities of Tripoli and Sidon have seen street battles, while the capital Beirut and eastern Bekaa Valley have come under rocket attack.

“Without additional help the communities that are hosting these refugees will ... really become strained and this will lead to tensions,” Richard said, adding that she was looking at directing U.S. funds towards Lebanese host communities “so that they don't have a backlash against the refugees”.

But, anticipating a regional funding gap “in the billions of dollars”, she said she had also discussed with U.N. agencies how they could prioritize aid to the most vulnerable cases, even if it meant turning away people in genuine need.

“That's a terrible calculus to make,” she said, but one that might be forced upon aid groups by the scale of events.

“I don't think any crisis matches this one in terms of so many [people] moving so fast. That speed ... has really challenged aid workers and all of the countries surrounding Syria.” Richard explained.

Syria crisis and America’s funeral

Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:55AM GMT

The site of a bomb attack in Damascus, Syria
The site of a bomb attack in Damascus, Syria

America, at least publicly, seems destined to put its military might against Syria, notwithstanding the fact that America will have to arm and train terrorists it has been fighting for a decade, notwithstanding America will be risking a world war and notwithstanding the simple fact that every authority advises against this policy and the American people want no part of it.

American Policy Heads to the “Other Side of the Mirror” 
When American CIA and Special Forces personnel received the orders to arm and train Syrian rebels, a week ago, they were flabbergasted. Many had been “on the ground” for months or longer, had seen the ‘Free Syrian Army’ purged and overrun with Jihadists, that and supplanted in its combat role by al-Qaeda in Iraq partner, al-Nusra. 

Not all Jihadists come to Jordan and Turkey and, eventually enter Syria (and Iraq) as terrorists. Most come for the $3,000 cash payment to their families, for the $200 per month, for the food and, frankly, for the free cigarettes. 

Most don’t arrive as hardcore Jihadists or terrorists, in fact few do. Most, if not all, however, those who survive, will leave, US trained and supplied but al-Qaeda led, “blooded,” radicalized and ready to move against Iraq, against Jordan or to set up terror cells across Europe and North America. 

Insanity or Beyond Insanity? 
What is America thinking, has it, as Paul Craig Roberts and so many others, even Zbigniew Brzezinski have observed, “lost their minds?” 

To all but the mentally challenged, the Global War on Terror is an artificial construct, 90% false flag terror, 90% bank robbery, 90% “Hollywoodism.” 

You say the total is more than 100%? Welcome to the “new math.” 

The terror “game” was supposed to replace the Cold War but better, helpless enemies, the chance to use new hi-tech weapons on defenseless civilians, a change to use a controlled press to manage the narrative and the lesson of World War II, a “slam bang” take-off, propelled by 9/11, long admitted, long proven to be the “New Pearl Harbor.” 

The basis of America’s program of encirclement of Russia and China that began with the Truman Doctrine in 1947 was the “domino theory.” 

If one nation fell to communism, such as Cuba or Nicaragua or Greece, we could name dozens, perhaps even mention Vietnam; the entire world would fall, “like dominos.” 

Domino Theory in Reverse 
It is now clear that the “Arab Spring” revolutions, purported to be an “instantaneous uprising” of “freedom loving” Muslims, a “grass roots” movement based on social media, whistleblowing and democratic reform has taken on a sinister side. 

Tunisia’s could be believed, initially at least. In Libya, Gaddafi’s flamboyance and alienated many but when the turn came for the UN to authorize use of force to bring about regime change, a move both Russia and China backed, more should have seen something very wrong. 

When Gaddafi was brutally murdered, the outline of what would continue was now unquestionable. Freedom was the last thing these revolutions would bring; this was clearly as “softening up” in preparation for what many now see a reestablishment of the Ottoman Empire. 

Syria and Iraq, both beleaguered by terrorist groups, Western backed, air support from the international psychopaths, Turkey and Israel, are going to be the dominos that bring the United States to its knees. 

A Warning Anyone Could See 
Egypt’s revolution has been the greatest disaster so far. A nation long under the thumb of Mubarak’s corrupt dictatorship, his long partnership with Israel and their Arab cohorts, the general uprising of the Egyptian people held great promise. 

It would and well should have immediately opened Gaza, removed walls, fences, ended the naval blockade and put a friendly air force in Gaza skies. 

Nothing of the kind happened, nothing of the kind is even spoken of. 

While Mubarak awaits trial and execution for his secret complicity with Israel, Morsi calls on Egyptians to march on Syria in a jihad on behalf of Israel, something even Mubarak would never have contemplated. 

You see, the Muslim Brotherhood is but another CIA “construct” from the Cold War days, one of several such as the Mujahedeen, ideological powerhouses to feed the wars on the periphery of the Soviet Union, Bosnia and Kosovo, Chechnya and Afghanistan. 

All that was needed was to reach out and “draw water from the well.” Revolution for freedom was derailed and reactionary totalitarianism again reared its head. 

This was proof, undeniable. A Shiite majority, long oppressed, long denied political expression, rose against a police state. 

Rows of tanks from Saudi and the Persian Gulf States flowed in, painting a clear picture: Revolution is OK, so long as the new regime is weak, corrupt, compliant and servile. 

Bahrain’s government, on each above count, had already gone as far as possible. There was no hope for improvement. 

It had also become abundantly clear that a third force was managing the entire movement and that things were not as they seemed. 

Nexus Control, “Strange Bedfellows” 
Simply put, if America “wins” and Syria falls, America loses, in fact loses more than even the most imagine and America’s greatest critics are aware of. 

Vis-à-vis Israel, the nomination of Hagel, the appointment of Dempsey and Rice were strong indications that the United States, at least the White House, was willing to steer a genuinely pro-American course, finally after years of unmistakable Zionist control and the ensuing disasters, incident after incident of false flag terrorism, espionage and economic warfare on America waged from Tel Aviv on an unprecedented scale and gross interference in US elections, bribery of public officials on a massive scale and orchestration of a “ham handed” and almost infantile program of psychological warfare using press and entertainment industry assets. 

Then, in an inexplicable and puzzling way, particularly after President Obama’s May 23, 2013 speech calling for an end to new US military involvement, the president backed a report citing WMD use by the Assad government and authorized military aid to groups he knows are terrorists bent on killing Americans. 

Al-Nusra is, in fact, made of up Saddam’s former Baathist security personnel credit for the killing of 5,000 American soldiers in Iraq. 

Not only is this group, an al-Qaeda affiliate, still killing more and more every day in Iraq, they have already begun ethnically cleansing Christians in rebel occupied Syria and are militarily operating with air and artillery support from both Israel and Turkey. 

In fact, there is no more determined enemy on earth set on destroying the United States than al-Nusra, a terrorist organization the US is now planning on handing, not only Syria to but Iraq as well. 

Jordan would soon follow and, based on the flow of billions in oil revenue to al-Qaeda, now partnered with Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel, the nuclear threat continually parroted by the blitherings of DEBKA and the Times of Israel would become a reality. 

The Syrian conflict that the US has agreed to bolster despite clear evidence that the Syrian people choose their own imperfect government over what is now obvious, a decade of sectarian violence followed by broad corruption and Western dominance, makes America’s bankrupt policies clear. 

In fact, calling them “American policies” is, in itself, an absurdity. What nation would spend a decade creating an enemy where there was none, the purpose of the “war on terror,” quell that same conflict with military brutality and billions in bribes and then try to unleash another, guaranteed to be worse, perhaps endlessly so? 

What has been set in motion is a plan, one tied to re-establishment of feudal rule, one likely to be built on the ashes of sectarian wars, ethnic cleansing and brutal suppression of human aspirations. 

A similar plan is being put in motion for the Middle East as well. 


Gordon Duff is a Marine Vietnam veteran, a combat infantryman, and Senior Editor at Veterans Today. His career has included extensive experience in international banking along with such diverse areas as consulting on counter insurgency, defense technologies or acting as diplomatic representative for UN humanitarian and economic development efforts. Gordon Duff has traveled to over 80 nations. His articles are published around the world and translated into a number of languages. He is regularly on TV and radio, a popular and sometimes controversial guest. More Press TV articles by Gordon Duff

Security Council extends UN force in Golan Heights, calling for greater support

UNDOF peacekeepers on patrol in the Golan Heights. UN Photo/Gernot Payer
27 June 2013 – The Security Council today extended the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights for another six months, and requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to ensure that the mission – which has faced numerous threats to its safety in recent months as well as troop withdrawals – has the required capacity and resources to fulfil its mandate.
In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council extended the mandate of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which monitors the 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel after their 1973 war, until 31 December 2013.
In recent months, the mission has faced a spate of security risks and operational challenges – including detention of UN personnel – as a result of the spill-over from the ongoing crisis in Syria, where Government forces and opposition groups have been engaged in a conflict spanning more than two years and which has already claimed more than 93,000 lives.
In addition, Austria – which contributes about one-third of UNDOF's troops – announced earlier this month that it is withdrawing its soldiers, reportedly citing a lack of freedom of movement and an unacceptable level of danger to its personnel.
The Council today strongly condemned the incidents threatening the safety and security of UN personnel in recent months, and called on all parties to the Syrian conflict to “cease military actions in the UNDOF area of operation.”
The resolution “underscores” that there should be no military activity of any kind in the area of separation, including military operations by the Syrian armed forces. In addition, it “underlines” that there should be no military activity of the armed opposition groups in the area of separation.
In his latest report on UNDOF, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that recent clashes in the Golan Heights area are threatening the decades-long ceasefire between Syria and Israel and putting civilians and UN personnel at risk.
“Given the evolving security situation in the UNDOF area of operation, it is necessary to consider further adjustments to the posture and operations of the mission,” Mr. Ban wrote. This includes enhancing the mission's self-defence capabilities and boosting its force strength by about 300 to some 1,250 troops.
The Council today endorsed the Secretary-General's recommendations to consider further adjustments to the “posture and operations” of the mission, as well as to implement additional mitigation measures to enhance the self-defence capabilities of UNDOF, including maximizing the force strength and improving its self-defence equipment.

Syria war likely to drag on, Red Cross president says

By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA | Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:36am EDT

(Reuters) - The Red Cross said on Thursday it was planning humanitarian operations for an extended conflict in Syria in the absence of any sign of a political solution and military stalemate between rebels and government troops.
Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that the aid agency had urged major powers to try to stop all sides from committing violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes.
He saw no reason to expect the 27-month-old conflict to end anytime soon.
"We don't see where a political solution should easily come from. And that's the reason why we would rather calculate for a longer conflict," Maurer told a news conference. "Even if we would find a solution tomorrow, Syria would need badly much more humanitarian assistance than what is delivered today."
International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, who held talks with senior U.S. and Russian officials in Geneva on Tuesday, has ruled out convening a peace conference before August at best.
"What we have seen over the past couple of weeks, what we observe as ICRC on the ground, is a stalemate between the two sides in Syria," Maurer said. "Sometimes it's the one side, sometimes it's the other side, and in the rare moment where both probably are at a balance of forces there is a glimmer of hope that they come to the negotiating table.
"But the glimmer of hope normally disappears when the one side or the other side is making a military advance in one or the other city," he said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces have retaken a town on the Lebanese border as they press an offensive against rebels in a conflict that has now cost more than 100,000 lives, activists said on Wednesday.
The fall of Tel Kalakh, two miles from the border with Lebanon, marks another gain for Assad after the capture of the rebel stronghold of Qusair this month, and consolidates his control around the central city of Homs, which links Damascus to his Alawite heartland overlooking the Mediterranean coast.
Each side is encouraged to make military gains, Maurer said, adding: "And because it is encouraged to win over the other, it is encouraged to violate international humanitarian law."
The ICRC has begun a political discussion with states that have signed the Geneva Conventions to persuade their "partners and allies" in Syria of the need to respect international humanitarian law laying down the rules of war, he said.
"I think that without major countries exerting the most and the best possible influence on the parties on Syria, we won't see a change in the pattern of violence. And without a moving together also of those important countries we won't see a political solution," Maurer said, without naming names.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay)

U.S. Begins Shipping Arms for Syrian Rebels

MIDDLE EAST NEWS Updated June 26, 2013, 7:26 p.m. ET
CIA Aims to Vet and Train Fighters With New Weapons for Deployment by August; Saudi Antiaircraft Missiles Expected

WASHINGTON—The Central Intelligence Agency has begun moving weapons to Jordan from a network of secret warehouses and plans to start arming small groups of vetted Syrian rebels within a month, expanding U.S. support of moderate forces battling President Bashar al-Assad, according to diplomats and U.S. officials briefed on the plans.
The shipments, related training and a parallel push to mobilize arms deliveries from European and Arab allies are being timed to allow a concerted push by the rebels starting by early August, the diplomats and officials said, revealing details of a new covert plan authorized by President Barack Obama and disclosed earlier this month.
The Central Intelligence Agency has begun moving weapons to start arming small groups of vetted Syrian rebels within a month. Adam Entous reports.
The CIA is expected to spend up to three weeks bringing light arms and possibly antitank missiles to Jordan. The agency plans to spend roughly two weeks more vetting an initial group of fighters and making sure they know how to use the weapons that they are given, clearing the way for the first U.S.-armed rebels to enter the fight, diplomats briefed on the CIA's plans said.
Talks are under way with other countries, including France, about pre-positioning European-procured weapons in Jordan. Saudi Arabia is expected to provide shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, known as Manpads, to a small number of handpicked fighters, as few as 20 at first, officials and diplomats said. The U.S. would monitor this effort, too, to try to reduce the risk that the Manpads could fall into the hands of Islamists.
Up to a few hundred of the fighters will enter Syria under the program each month, starting in August, according to diplomats briefed on CIA plans.
At that rate, U.S. and Saudi officials believe it would take four to five months before there are enough rearmed and trained moderate fighters to make a meaningful difference against Mr. Assad's forces and their Hezbollah allies, according to diplomats and U.S. officials.
A spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, declined to provide or confirm details on U.S. assistance to rebels, including the timeline for delivery.
The U.S. effort remains marked by debate. With Mr. Obama's decision to arm Syrian rebels after months of White House opposition to the idea, some U.S. officials say the CIA needs to move faster; others argue careful measures are necessary to make sure any fighters armed by the agency don't join pro-al Qaeda groups.
Associated Press
This photo taken Monday by an Aleppo resident shows a Syrian rebel firing his weapon during clashes with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
The death toll in the civil war now exceeds 100,000, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday. The most recent United Nations estimate exceeded 90,000.
Mr. Obama's decision reflects growing U.S. fears that Mr. Assad, bolstered by Iranian and Hezbollah fighters and armed by Russia, will prevail in the conflict, according to current and former U.S. officials. The president's decision followed urgent appeals by Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other allies for greater U.S. involvement.
The U.S. shift was a response in part to a determination by intelligence agencies that Mr. Assad used chemical weapons in the conflict, crossing a "red line" set by Mr. Obama, administration officials said.
The U.S. effort is designed to strengthen forces loyal to Gen. Salim Idris, the top Syrian rebel commander backed by the West. The aim is to give them more clout than Islamist extremist antiregime fighters who now dominate in some areas, and eventually to shift the war in the rebels' favor, reversing gains by regime forces bolstered by an influx of Hezbollah fighters, officials said. U.S. intelligence agencies now think that there are 2,500 to 4,000 Hezbollah fighters in Syria, U.S. officials said.
The CIA has put in place what officials have described as an "elaborate" vetting procedure for the rebels they train. But officials acknowledged the difficulty of getting reliable information about the backgrounds of individual foot soldiers in a country where the CIA has limited intelligence-collection resources.
The agency is under pressure from the White House and Congress to minimize the risk that American arms could be diverted to hardline Islamists, particularly the al Qaeda-aligned al Nusra Front. Mr. Obama rejected a proposal last year for the CIA to arm moderate rebels because of concerns that weapons would end up in the hands of extremists. But administration officials said the agency has a much better understanding today of who's who in the opposition, and has confidence in Gen. Idris's leadership.
Some current and former officials said that caution is warranted.
"I'd rather be a little slow and keep control of the weapons as much as possible, rather than try to move fast in what is likely to be a long, drawn-out war," said Seth Jones, associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corp.
Citing the U.S.'s track record of arming rebels in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the 1980s, Mr. Jones said the U.S. needs to keep in mind that "this has the potential to go badly."
To be successful, some U.S. officials said, the training effort is going to have to produce moderate rebel forces faster than the most powerful Islamist extremist fighting group, the al Nusra Front, can build up the size of its militant organization.
"Numbers are an issue," said a counterterrorism official. "Al Nusra has added thousands of fighters in the past year. We are going to have to outpace that."
The CIA, in advance of Mr. Obama's decision to provide American arms, had already begun to store Soviet-era weapons, including ammunition for Kalashnikov rifles and armor-piercing antitank missiles. The first rebel units expected to receive arms and training by the U.S. already have military experience using Soviet-era weapons, reducing the need for more extensive training. Many of the rebels are defectors from Mr. Assad's armed forces, which use such weapons.
Russia has been a longtime military ally of Mr. Assad. On Wednesday, a Russian newspaper reported that the country's navy had pulled all its personnel from its naval base in Syria because of risks from the war, according to the Associated Press. The base at Tartus is used mainly to service Russian navy ships in the Mediterranean.
Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been divided on arming the rebels. While the Senate Foreign Relations Committee overwhelming approved legislation to arm the rebels in May, a similar measure hasn't advanced in the House.
Key lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committees, who met at the White House on Wednesday and oversee the CIA's programs, have asked for more details about the agency's plans, according to officials.
A small bipartisan group of senators, including Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, has introduced legislation to prohibit Mr. Obama from using any funds on activities that would escalate U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war. Mr. Obama has opted to arm the rebels covertly using the CIA, limiting public disclosures about the effort and restricting oversight to a small group of lawmakers who oversee secret programs.
To accelerate the effort, the CIA is considering putting U.S. military special-operations force units under agency authority to conduct some of the training. The U.S. is also considering using special-operations teams from Jordan and the United Arab Emirates to ramp up the training effort, officials said.
Saudi officials have told their American counterparts that they believe Riyadh can identify a small group of trusted rebel fighters and provide them with as few as 20 Manpads initially, reducing the risk that the weapons will fall into the hands of radical Islamists, a major U.S. and Israeli concern.
Write to Adam Entous at adam.entous@wsj.com, Julian E. Barnes atjulian.barnes@wsj.com and Siobhan Gorman at siobhan.gorman@wsj.com
A version of this article appeared June 27, 2013, on page A9 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: U.S. Begins Shipping Arms for Syrian Rebels.

Obama's 'Alice in Wonderland' Syria Strategy

If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.
President Obama's decision to intervene more directly in Syria's civil war by providing limited lethal aid to certain members of the Syrian opposition is a significant foreign policy commitment. It is also a very confused one.
Forget for a moment that the case for Syria's chemical weapons use was based on unverifiable evidence, or that the administration had reportedly decided to arm Syrian rebels before it even had that evidence. Forget that the president himself reportedly does not think arming the rebels will achieve much, that only 11 percent or 20 percent of the American people endorse his decision, that analysts dismiss it as "too little, too late," and that even Capitol Hill supporters believe the move is insufficient. As Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez stated: "You can't just simply send them a pea shooter against a blunderbuss."
What was most troubling about this latest shift in U.S. policy was the absence of a speech or briefing by the president, or a cabinet official, to clearly articulate why America is deepening its involvement in this Middle East conflict, what U.S. interests are at stake in the civil war, and what strategic objective the United States hopes to achieve. When asked directly about his decision to provide lethal assistance, Obama stated: "I cannot and will not comment on specifics around our programs related to the Syrian opposition."
The cornerstone of holding public officials accountable by evaluating their policy choices is to first understand what those policies are, but since the June 13 announcement, Obama administration officials have offered the following reasons:
President Obama:
  • "[W]e want a Syria that is peaceful, non-sectarian, democratic, legitimate, tolerant. And that is our overriding goal. We want to end the bloodshed. We want to make sure that chemical weapons are not used, and that chemical weapons do not fall into the hands of people who would be willing to use them."
Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes:
  • "[T]o help build an opposition that can be broadly representative of the Syrian people."
  • "[T]o create a more moderate foundation for opponents of the regime so that we're marginalizing extremists and empowering people that we believe will respect the rights of the Syrian people."
  • "[S]ome type of transition that preserves state institutions."
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki:
  • "[T]o strengthen the opposition on the ground, but also their political organization, increase their effectiveness and their cohesion."
  • "[T]he goal is for [the opposition] to expand.... They need to elect leadership."
  • "[A] political solution, a political transition.... [T]hat remains our focus."
  • "[I]mproving the ground situation for the opposition ... change the balance on the ground."
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel:
  • "To assure that this problem in Syria doesn't totally break down and we see the disintegration of Syria."
Secretary of State John Kerry:
  • "We do so not to seek a military solution; we do so to come to the table and find a political settlement." 
While some of these partially overlap, administration officials have put forth over a dozen objectives for the United States and its partners in Syria -- in just the last 12 days. Never in the history of third-party interventions in civil wars has so much been asked of so little. This combination of maximalist and minimalist goals without a single clearly articulated strategic objective, or any degree of prioritization, should be troubling to all Americans. The situation brings to mind the condensed quote from a conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland: "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there."
The practical effect of the policy shift is that America is now formally tied to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is ostensibly commanded by the Supreme Military Council (SMC) and led by former Syrian army general Salim Idriss. Shortly before the White House announced Syria's chemical weapons use, Idriss warned: "If we don't receive ammunition and weapons ... to change the balance on the ground, very frankly I can say we will not go to Geneva." Rather than condition U.S. lethal assistance on Idriss's participation in the Geneva talks, the United States provided arms in the hopes that Idriss might decide to attend Geneva at some point in the future -- an early demonstration of who has leverage over whom.
When an outside power openly backs certain rebel groups in a civil war, it immediately becomes invested in their prestige and power vis-à-vis other groups and in their success against the ruling regime. The outside power can fail: 1) If the groups receiving support see their relative power reduced, either through battlefield failures or political incompetence; 2) If the groups that the outside power hopes to marginalize actually gain prestige or power; or 3) If the ruling regime survives. Therefore, the United States and its partners are not merely "picking sides" in Syria, but picking sides of sides, and doing so with conflicting goals. French President Francois Hollande recently called on the FSA to start fighting Islamist rebels to "push these groups out." This would be yet another objective.
A spokesperson for the FSA's Washington-based lobbying wing welcomed the White House's public commitment of support, noting: "Obama is now directly involved, so he has more of a stake in whether we win or lose." This is, of course, a strategic goal for the weaker party in any conflict: securing and then deepening the political and military support of outside third parties to help them win. Proponents of intervening in Syria claimed that U.S. credibility -- vis-a-vis Iran, the Middle East, the world, etc. -- was on the line. Having tied its fate to the FSA, U.S. credibility is arguably now at even greater risk. If the FSA fails on the battlefield, then it will claim that it didn't get enough weapons -- or powerful enough weapons. However, should the combined armed opposition groups believe they can "seek a military solution" over the Assad regime, then why engage in the Geneva diplomatic process at all?
Furthermore, it is difficult to see how arming certain rebel groups will achieve some of the Obama administration's objectives. For example, why would more weapons compel the Supreme Military Council to become more cohesive or broadly representative? The SMC could simply pocket the additional arsenal to bolster its power relative to other rebel groups. It could also sell them: TheNew York Times reported this weekend that SMC-backed groups have sold weapons to extremists who are purportedly blacklisted from receiving outside military assistance. Finally, the weapons could cause further rifts within the Free Syrian Army: After a shipment of advanced weaponry arrived in Syria recently, an FSA spokesperson complained, "The distribution was not fair. It was random, based on the people they know." A rebel commander in Aleppo asked: "Do [the Americans] not realize that they will prompt further infighting in rebel ranks?"
In discussing Syria, administration officials have repeated the post-Iraq interventionist mantra: "[A]ll options remain on the table" -- except "boots on the ground." Or, as a senior official put it: "We are looking for the best option with the least involvement." Rather than stating a strategic objective for Syria and developing a political-military campaign plan that could plausibly achieve it, the Obama administration's "strategy" is focused primarily on keeping the effort level down. If the White House has decided -- above all else -- to minimize America's commitments in Syria, then it should also markedly reduce its stated political and military objectives. President Obama acknowledges that, in Syria, "it is very easy to slip-slide your way into deeper and deeper commitments." That is especially true when the United States and its partners are so unclear and conflicted about why they are there.

June 27, 2013

Please don't go dad

Nanise Loanakadavu
Thursday, June 27, 2013

SIX-year-old Eseta Tatalau clung to her father asking him not to go.
"Kerekere Ta, kua ni lako (please dad, don't go)," she cried.
Her father Private Ulaiasi Radio is among military and medical personnel bound for the Golan Heights who held their last military parade at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Suva yesterday.
Little Eseta was crying while her mother Maraia Radio explained to her that her father would be home soon.
It was an emotional occasion when families stood around the drill square, braving the rain to see their loved ones for the last time before they left last night.
Private Radio said it was hard seeing his family in tears.
"Although I have been to the Middle East for peacekeeping mission, this one was a bit different just from how we have been farewelled whole of this week," he said.
"I am confident that we will do our job well despite the many challenges we will face."
For Private Benjamin Delaimatuku, 32, he said all they needed was the nation's prayer.
The Macuata man said he was "scared and worried about the task ahead because of the civil unrest and situation in Golan".
"I have been searching on the internet and reading the newspaper about the situation there since I was told that I will be part of the troop that will be deployed there," Private Delaimatuku said.
"The only thing that came to my mind is we need God's protection and prayers from our families back home."
The father of one shook hands with his colleagues and friends as he boarded the bus.

300 extra for Golan

Nanise Loanakadavu
Thursday, June 27, 2013

AN additional 300 military personnel will join the 182-member contingent headed for the troubled Israeli-Syria border.

Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Land Force Commander Lieutenant Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga told departing troops yesterday that the additional personnel were expected to leave the country at the end of this year.

Speaking at their final parade at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks at Nabua, Lt-Col Tikoitoga called on the peacekeepers to perform to their best and lay the platform for those who would follow them to the Golan Heights.

He also called on the personnel bound for the Golan not to complain about the task they would face but to use God's word as their weapon.

Rabi Island Council dissolved

18:17 Wed Jun 26, 2013

Taken from/By: FBC
Report by: Apisalome Coka
The Rabi Island Council has been dissolved for allegedly not meeting targets set by the government.
This was confirmed to FBC NEWS by Salimoni Karusi of the Prime Minister’s Office
Karusi says the government and the council had an agreement for some works to be carried out but this has not been done.
Karia Christopher has been appointed the interim administrator of the council.
According to Karusi, the government has worked hard to develop projects on the island and everything will go to waste if the council members are not active.
Karusi says this is why they council and appointed an Interim Administrator.
Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama is the Minister Responsible for the Rabi Island Council.
The former president of the council, Dr Paula Vanualailai could not be reached for a comment.