Thursday, November 17, 2011

In the news:

Arab League to Syria: Stop Violence in Three Days or Else

The Arab League confirmed Syria’s suspension from the organization on Wednesday and gave its government three days to stop the violence against protesters or face economic sanctions.

“The Syrian government has to sign the protocol sent by the Arab League and end all violence against demonstrators,” bin Jassim was quoted by The Associated Press as having said.

He added that Syria has three days to do so and added that “economic sanctions are certainly possible, if the Syrian government does not respond. But we are conscious that such sanctions would touch the Syrian people.”

The Assad government, meanwhile, remains unfazed by the continued violence. More than 70 people were killed in Syria on Tuesday alone, in what observers said was one of the bloodiest days of Assad's eight-month crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

Libyan scenario unfolding in Syria

The “illegitimate” decision to suspend Syria from the Arab League has received wide support from the EU and the US. Russia, however, has strongly opposed the measure, which is starting to look like another step on the road to a Libya-style scenario.

During a press conference on Monday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem said that “Libya’s scenario will not be repeated” in Syria despite the Arab League’s decision, which he called a “conspiracy that is bound to fail.”

“The Arab League vote to suspend Syria’s membership was an illegitimate decision prompted by American incitement,” al-Moallem said, as cited by Al-Arabiya. He added that it was reached “under a plan announced about a month ago.”

“Syria has other cards to play if Arab states decide to become conspirators,” the Syrian FM stated.

Meanwhile in an interview carried by a British news outlet, Jordan’s King Abdullah has called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to resign.

Syria has called an emergency meeting of the League in an attempt to reverse the decision which saw it kicked out of the organization. The suspension and accompanying sanctions are due to come into force on Wednesday.

Syria is the second nation to be expelled from the League this year. Libya’s suspension from the regional bloc in February was swiftly followed by a UN Security Council resolution which opened the way for NATO’s intervention in the sovereign state.

Barak: Iran is testing uranium and plutonium based bombs - not tactical arms

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the PBS interviewer Charlie Rose Wednesday, Nov. 16 that none of the experiments Iran was conducting was based on a neutron source.

Tehran, he said, was experimenting with uranium- and plutonium- based explosives, meaning large nuclear bombs rather than small, tactical warheads.

A short statement was read out to the Knesset (Israel's parliament by cabinet member Michael Eitan Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 16. It read:

"Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu informed the full Knesset plenum that all options are on the table when it comes to Iran's nuclear program. The prime minister and the authorized bodies are acting to stop the nuclear armament of Iran. The efforts are ongoing and we will do everything possible to enlist states in the international community, "he continued "because the Iranian threat is adanger not only to the State of Israel but to world peace."

DEBKAfile's military sources report that this is the first statement of this nature the prime minister has ever delivered to Israel's parliament. It was phrased notably in the present tense. "The authorized bodies" are thought to refer to the Israeli Defense Forces and its intelligence community.

The implication is that an operation against a nuclear Iran may be in the works. If so, a response from Tehran is to be expected shortly.

By stating that "efforts are ongoing" to stop Iran's nuclear armament, he may have been implying that the explosion at the Guards base Saturday was indeed a covert Israeli operation in line with those efforts.

Iran's threats go beyond their quest for nuclear weapons - they are a significant influence in the Middle East:

Iran trains Gazans to operate anti-tank missiles

A select group of Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip have undergone extensive military training recently in Iran, turning them into expert operators of sophisticated anti-tank missiles, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The IDF believes that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have obtained several hundred advanced Russian-made antitank missiles – such as the Kornet and the Fagot – which have a range of more than 4 kilometers and are capable of penetrating armored personnel carriers and some IDF tanks.

The anti-tank missiles are obtained by Hamas in several different ways. In some cases, they are purchased directly from Russia by Syria and are then transferred to Hamas or Hezbollah.

In other cases, Hamas operatives buy the weaponry on the black market and then smuggle it into the Gaza Strip via the tunnels it maintains under the Philadelphi Corridor.

“The Gaza Strip is completely different today than what it was almost three years ago,” a senior defense official said. “The amounts of weaponry are significantly higher as well as the type of weaponry and its sophistication.”

Syrian army planting mines along Jordanian border

The Syrian army planted landmines at the border with Jordan in order to "restrict Syrians access to humanitarian asylum in Jordan," a week after reports that Syria was laying explosives on the border with Lebanon as well, Jordanian daily Al Ghad reported Wednesday.

Syria was laying mines on its border with the Hashemite Kingdom in order to prevent Syrian evacuees from the Deraa governate and the city of Ramtha from entering Jordan, according to an informed source speaking on condition of anonymity to Al Ghad.

And lets not forget the Roman Empire II. Its hard to believe that these developments don't receive more publicity and discussion:

Monti names unelected government of technocrats and bankers

Incoming Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has named a government entirely composed of unelected figures, just days after a technocratic government was installed in Greece, where the presence of far-right figures linked to the military junta are raising hackles.

Monti, an ex-EU-commissioner, was appointed officially on Wednesday by the president of the republic.

The new leader has in turn also appointed himself finance minister and, in a move likely to amplify criticisms that a regime of bankers has been imposed on Europe’s southern flank, Corrado Passero, the CEO of Intesa Sanpaolo, the country’s largest high-street bank, has been awarded the industry and infrastructure dossier.

He said that the absence of democratically endorsed characters will allow austerity measures to proceed without obstruction.

In other words, the EU have selected these 'leaders' so that their plans for Italy (and Greece) may proceed - unobstructed by those pesky citizens/voters.

The lightning speed of the displacement of the Berlusconi administration with a regime of technocrats will be matched by how rapidly Monti moves to push through austerity measures demanded by EU power brokers.

The Monti government rather than working as a temporary administration as many MPs originally believed, now intends to hold on to power until the next scheduled general election in 2013.

The package of measures will first be proposed in the Senate on Thursday, followed by a vote of confidence vote in both the upper and lower houses. The approval of the Chamber of Deputies will then be sought on Friday.

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