April 26, 2014

Some News On Terrorist Funding In Syria, Improving US-Iranian Relations, A Palestinian Unity Government, New Kurdish Divisions Emerging Along Syria-Iraq Border, And Disinfo About The Ukraine Crisis [4.26.14]

President Barack Obama greeting the leader of Kuwait,  Shaykh Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah, at the White House in August 2009. At the time, President Obama said: "We're also discussing important regional issues ranging from the importance of moving the Arab-Israeli peace process forward, to the situation in Afghanistan, our joint counterterrorism efforts, and our need to emphasize Iran meeting its international obligations. And I'm confident that, based on this conversation and ongoing work between our two countries, that we can strengthen not only Kuwaiti-U.S. relationships, but also to create a more stable region of peace and security in the region." LOL. Such lofty goals, but no follow through. The Israeli-Palestinian peace process charade has come to a halt in Obama's second term, and the part about "joint counterterrorism efforts" also isn't working out too well with Kuwait funding international Jihadist terrorists in Syria. (Source of photo and quote).

1. Kuwait is being singled out by Washington for financing Jihadist terrorist forces in Syria. Here is an excerpt from, "Kuwait, a U.S. ally on Syria, is also the leading funder of extremist rebels" by Karen DeYoung, The Washington Post, April 25:
Until recently, tiny, oil-rich Kuwait avoided public scrutiny as attention to terrorist financing focused more sharply on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

But the fact that those countries have made strides in addressing the problem, a senior Treasury official said, has “shed more light on the less forward-leaning steps taken in Kuwait.”

Last month, the administration decided to go public with its concerns. In a remarkably undiplomatic statement that officials said had been cleared at senior levels, Treasury Undersecretary David S. Cohen called Kuwait “the epicenter of fundraising for terrorist groups in Syria.”
Kuwait is a key cog in the financial machinery that is artificially propping up the international Jihadist terrorist groups in Syria. In January, Elizabeth Dickinson wrote for The New Yorker that, "With its open political atmosphere and its weak terror-financing laws, Kuwait also serves as a hub for private donors across the Gulf."

2. A former leader who played a role in the US-Iranian hostage crisis made an apology to the families of the American hostages, saying, "Talk of an apology is not from one administration to another, but of sympathy for families of individuals that for any reason were mentally and spiritually hurt. . .  Relations between Iran and America cannot remain at an impasse forever and must be resolved. There are issues between the two countries that must be resolved — that if they are not resolved, will cast a persistent shadow over the next incident" (Source: Al-Monitor). Such words are a good start, they help pave the way for better relations, but actions are what really matter, and, so far, good words from the Obama administration and the Rouhani administration have not led to real, significant changes in the relationship between the two countries.

3. Read, "Reconciliation and Peace: The Latest Hamas-Fatah Deal" by Mitchell Plitnick, Lobe Log, April 25. Here is an excerpt:
As far as the U.S. position goes, one need look no further than the statement made by State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki. “It is hard to see how Israel will negotiate with a government that does not recognize its right to exist,” said Psaki yesterday. “The Palestinian reconciliation deal raises concerns and could complicate the efforts to extend peace talks.”

Well, as it turns out, it led to the suspension, at least for now, of the U.S. effort to extend the talks, an effort that any U.S. citizen, whatever their politics, should find embarrassing. But let’s examine that statement. Why, one wonders, would Psaki find it so “hard to see” how an Israeli government could negotiate with an unified Palestinian one? It is not Hamas Israel would be negotiating with, for a start, but a representative Palestinian Authority (PA). Indeed, one of Israel’s chief complaints has long been that even if they struck a deal with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, it might not hold since he does not represent all of the Palestinian body politic as does Benjamin Netanyahu for the Israeli one.

More to the point, even if this deal represented a new and unified Palestinian government (which it does not, as I shall explain below), why must the parties involved in it all recognize Israel’s right to exist? After all, the current Israeli majority coalition includes two major parties — Likud and HaBayit HaYehudi — that explicitly reject the creation of a Palestinian state. In fact, unlike the Palestinians who would continue to be represented by Abbas, the Israeli Prime Minister belongs to one of those parties. Why does Psaki find it so easy to see how a Palestinian leadership could negotiate with such an Israeli government while finding it so hard to see how Israel could negotiate with a far milder version of the Palestinian side?
4. Read, ""Trench of Treason" divides Kurds like no occupation force ever did" by Rozh Ahmad, Your Middle East, April 25. An excerpt:
The KDP in Iraqi Kurdistan openly stands against Kurdish-led autonomous canton governments in northeast Syria, shutting its borders last year to impose an embargo and now digging a trench to entirely block crossings with Syria.

Ten thousand Kurdish political prisoners also went on hunger strike across Turkish prisons on 20 April to condemn the KDP.

Turkish-Kurdish Prisoners Representative Deniz Kaya, said: "We are on hunger strike to condemn the KDP and Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP), as they jointly entrench their borders to blockade Syrian Kurds. We call on KDP leaders to stop being an enemy to their own brothers and sisters."

In solidarity with the hunger strike in Turkish prisons, 190 political prisoners in Syrian regime's prison of al-Hasakah province also went on hunger strike and they reportedly included Kurds, Arabs and Assyrians.

Protesters as well as Kurdish journalists claim that Turkey and KDP jointly entrench their borders to impose a total blockade on Kurdish self-rule in Syria, a view held by almost all the main Kurdish parties of the Kurdistan regions.
5. Read, "Domestic Politics, Foreign Intelligence, and the Crisis in Ukraine" by Gordon M. Hahn, Geostrategic Forecasting Network, April 24. An excerpt:
The Ukrainian SBU claimed to have captured 20 GRU agents a few weeks ago, reduced the number in recent days to 10, and most recently to 3 in its report to NATO’s Atlantic Council. However many there may (or may not) be, it seems they should be shown live to the world on television. So far this has not been done and it remains unclear why not. In that case it would be incumbent upon those who see this clear evidence to acknowledge that which is fully possible – though unlikely, in my view – that Putin has sent forces into Ukraine to orchestrate the east Ukrainian uprisings. Presenting conclusive evidence of a clandestine Russian incursion into eastern Ukraine therefore would help to mobilize support for a tougher military response.

To be sure, the fact that Putin denied that Russian forces had occupied locations in Crimea casts a heavy shadow of doubt over Russian denials this time around. Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon the US government, military, and media figures who have been disseminating this information as fact to answer these questions and provide the full details. Until such time that is done, one should reserve and fully make use of one’s right to distrust and verify the claims being made by all parties in the conflict.