Libya hurting Obama…even though many don’t know where it is

Libya hurting Obama…even though many don’t know where it is

Barack Obama’s approval numbers have been hitting record lows in our polls and others of late and one of the things that’s really hurting him right now is Libya- even though barely half of voters in the country actually know where it is.

Our most recent national poll found that only 27% of Americans supported the military intervention in Libya to 40% who were opposed and 33% who had no opinion. Democrats only narrowly stand behind the President in supporting the action in Libya, 31/28. Meanwhile Republicans (21/51) and independents (29/42) are considerably more unified in their opposition.

Libya doesn’t seem likely to be a big vote shifter next year- 52% of voters say it won’t make a difference in their decision on whether to support Obama for reelection or not. But for the voters who do say it could be a game change it’s a negative- 31% say what’s going on in Libya right now make them less likely to vote for Obama compared to only 17% who say it makes them more likely to vote for him.

Obama’s not picking up any Republicans on Libya- just 4% say his actions there make them more likely to vote for him. He’s losing more Democrats on the issue- 14% say it makes them less inclined to support him again. And it’s also hurting him with independents, who split 13% more likely to vote for him because of Libya to 29% less likely.

Libya is definitely proving to be a political loser for Obama which is interesting because only a little more than half of Americans, 58%, can actually correctly identify that it’s in northern Africa. 27% think that it’s in the Middle East, 4% think it’s in South Asia, 2% think it’s in South America, and 9% don’t offer an opinion. Voters may not be terribly informed when it comes to Libya but they know they don’t like what they’re seeing.

There’s a wide array of things causing Obama’s popularity issue and it would be a mistake to try to pin it all on Libya- but it’s certainly not helping.

Full results here

India’s independent line on violence in Syria

India’s independent line on violence in Syria

Once bitten, twice shy. Russia and China aren’t taking chances anymore. They squarely said ‘nyet’ to the western move on Wednesday to get the UN Security Council condemn the violence in Syria. Their apprehension is that US and its european partners (which now includes Germany as well) might resort to a Libya-like build up by getting a UN SC resolution through that provides an alibi to military intervention. All indications are that on the pattern of Libya, Syrian protestors are getting large-scale support from outside from such diverse sources as Saudi Arabia and Qatar and western intelligence and Israel. Unsurprisingly, Syria has closed its border with Jordan, which has always acted as a cat’s paw for British and US intelligence operations in the Middle East.
China told the Security Council that Syria must be left alone to sort out its internal problems on its own and it “welcomed” Damascus’ moves in this regard such as the lifting of emergency and the pledge for democratic reforms. China also warned that if the turbulence sweeping the Middle East isn’t “addressed properly, they will jeopardize peace and stability and
stability in other regions and 
underlined that any constructive help from the international community should be within the ambit of the UN Charter.
Russia voiced different concerns. It was much more forthright than China in stating that the Syrian developments didn’t constitute any threat to international security warranting UN SC action. Russia also alluded to the external support to the Syrian protestors. Of course, Syria is a traditional ally of Russia and any western-sponsored “regime change” in Damascus would have far-reaching consequences for Russia’s global strategy. Russia maintains in Syria its only naval base in the Mediterranean . Without the Syrian base, Russian fleet in the Black Sea would get “bottled up”. Syria is also a buyer of Russian weapons. Russia made it clear that it remained supoortive of Assad’s initiatives to ease the tensions.
Curiously, India did some tight-rope walking on Syria. There was a slight “tilt” in favour of Assad with the Indian stance taking note of “armed extremist elements” posing as protestors in Syria. and of the government’s moves for dialogue and reform. Interestingly, Ambassador Hardeep Puri did someplain-speaking about what all this is adding up to – Arab spring and the incohate doctrine of “humanitarian intervention” in the internal affairs of sovereign states. Puri said: “As we deplore violence from any quarter, the Council needs to make clear that it is the responsibility of sovereign states to respond to the aspirations of its people… At the same time, it is for states to decide on the best course of action to maintain internal law and order and to prevent violence. The primary responsibility of the Council in this respect is to urge all sides to abjure violence in any form and to seek a resolution of grievances through peaceful means”.
In short, India dissociated from identifying with the western condemnation of the Syrian government and expressed scepticism about outside intervention. Arguably, there was even a note of advice to the West not to “exacerbate” the tensions. Similar clarity of thinking was also apparent in the statement made by Puri on March 30 on the situation in Cote d’Ivorie. Puri said UN resolutions should not be “made instruments of regime change” and, therefore, the UN forces should not become party to the Ivorian political stalemate.
These thought processes are at marked variance with the approach taken by the US and its european allies. But the Indian stance will be appreciated by the African countries which harbour deep fears over the intentions behind the clamour for western intervention. A good political setting becomes available for India’s forthcoming summit with the African countries scheduled to be held in Addis Ababa next month.

Promise of a better world? Is that the mission?

Promise of a better world? Is that the mission?

US troops last week watched the start of the Operation Lion’s Leap, a joint US-Iraqi exercise to demonstrate the Iraqi forces’ ability to provide security. US troops last week watched the start of the Operation Lion’s Leap, a joint US-Iraqi exercise to demonstrate the Iraqi forces’ ability to provide security. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)
April 29, 2011

H.D.S. GREENWAY’S April 26 op-ed “It may turn out to be three cups of bitter tea’’ was right on about these being “times of disillusion.’’ However, he stops at pointing out the illusion that military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq could achieve “the brave promise of a better world through military intervention.’’ To me, the deeper disillusionment is in recognizing that these military interventions don’t have much to do with the promise of a better world.

You don’t have to probe very deeply to suspect that these interventions have much more to do with a US drive for dominance in these regions (including Libya) for the benefit of US economic interests (read transnational corporations) and our apparently unquenchable thirst for oil.

This is a time for eyes-wide-open recognition of the real motivations for US military interventions.

Jim Wallace 
The writer is a member of the Smedley D. Butler Brigade of Veterans for Peace. 

© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.

Russia sees current situation in Syria as no threat to international peace, security

Russia sees current situation in Syria as no threat to international peace, security

UNITED NATIONS, April 27 (Xinhua) — Russia said here on Wednesday that the current situation in Syria, despite an increase in tension and confrontation, does not threaten international peace and security, but “a real threat to regional security … could arise from outside interference in Syria’s domestic situation.”

Alexander Pankin, Russia’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, made the statement as he was speaking at an open meeting of the UN Security Council on the current situation in Syria.

“The main thing in our view, is that the current situation in Syria, despite an increase in tension and confrontation, does not present a threat to international peace and security,” Pankin said. “One cannot disregard the fact that the violence does not all originate from one side.”

“A real threat to regional security, in our view, could arise from outside interference in Syria’s domestic situation, including attempts to push ready made solutions or taking of sides,” he said.

“It is increasingly clear that some of the demonstrators both in Syria and in other countries hope that the deteriorating situation could force the international community to help them and to take sides,” he said. “Such approaches lead to a never ending cycle of violence. This is a type of invitation to civil war.”

With his statement, the Russian ambassador implied that there is no need for the Security Council to discuss this issue as the 15-nation body, under the UN Charter, only takes up issues that threaten international peace and security.

The Security Council on Wednesday first met behind closed doors on Syria and then held an open meeting to hear a briefing from the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe.

“Violence, regardless of perpetrators or sides, must be avoided, ” Pankin said. “It is only through constructive dialogue and the implementation of announced political reforms and social, economic change, that stability and democratic development in Syria for the good of all its citizens will occur.”

“It is extremely important to focus all efforts to avoid such a dangerous turn of events, especially as Syria is a cornerstone of the Middle East security architecture,” he said. “Destabilizing this significant link in the chain will lead to complications throughout the region.”

“It is of a sense of deep concern that the Russian Federation views the increasing tension and manifestations of confrontation in Syria, which are claiming victims and causing suffering among demonstrators, law enforcement personnel and the army,” he said. ” We expect that the Syrian authorities will conduct a transparent and effective investigation of all such cases and that the guilty will be brought to justice.”

“Clearly, the process of democratic reforms, proclaimed and being implemented by Syria’s leadership is worthy of support,” he added. “A great many significant steps have been taken over a very short period of time.”

Editor: Mu Xuequan

Putin: Should all weird regimes in the world be bombed?

Putin, about the military intervention in Libya: Should all weird regimes in the world be bombed?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, ridiculed the military intervention in Libya Tuesday, asking in a press conference in Copenhagen if it will be necessary to bomb all the “odd regimes” in the world and denouncing the hunting of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Gaddafi has invented a new monarchy. Like Napoleon, who came to power after a revolution and proclaimed himself emperor (…) yes, it’s a background monarchy, strange, suspicious, and abnormal, everything you want, but this is it,” said Putin during a visit to Denmark.

Internal contradictions have turned into an armed conflict. Why should we intervene in this conflict? Don’t we have other weird regimes in the world? Should we intervene in internal conflicts everywhere? (…) Should we bomb all these countries?” he asked.

Moreover, the head of the Russian Government has denounced the hunting of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. ”It is said that it is not wanted the liquidation of Gaddafi, but why are his palaces bombed?” he asked, stressing that the only effect of these attacks is to kill civilians because Muammar “Gaddafi is not there, he ran long time ago”.

Now, some officials say yes, they are trying to murder Gaddafi. Who allowed this? Was there a process? Who has granted the right to execute a man?” he said, stressing “everyone is silent” when it comes to responding to these questions.

Putin doesn’t like the coalition’s attitude

However, for Putin, the international community must respect international law and take care of civilians. “When so-called civilized world is attacking a small country with all its power, destroying the infrastructures created for generations I don’t know if it is good. I do not like this, “he concluded.

Moscow has multiplied in recent weeks its criticism against the international coalition, believing that interventions are beyond the UN mandate, which does not provide a military intervention.

Israel ‘very concerned’ over plans to open Gaza border

[If Obama’s Arab revolutions have managed to turn the tables on Israel, does that disprove the conspiracy theory that the “Jews” control everything?  (SEE: The president’s catastrophic Mideast policy ).]

Israel ‘very concerned’ over plans to open Gaza border

A Hamas security forces member closes the gate of the Rafah border between Egypt and southern Gaza Strip.

A Hamas security forces member closes the gate of the Rafah border between Egypt and southern Gaza Strip.

JERUSALEM : Israel is “very concerned” about the implications of Egypt’s plans to permanently reopen its border with Gaza, a senior official said Friday, warning it could impact on Israel’s security.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi told Al-Jazeera that the crossing would be permanently opened in coming days as part of Cairo’s plans to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the Israeli official said Gaza’s Hamas rulers had already build up a “dangerous military machine” in northern Sinai which could be further strengthened by opening the border.

“We are very concerned about the situation in northern Sinai where Hamas has succeeded in building a dangerous military machine, despite Egyptian efforts to prevent that,” he told AFP, without giving further details.

“What power could they amass if Egypt was no longer acting to prevent that build up?”

Earlier this week, unknown assailants in northern Sinai blew up a gas pipeline supplying Israel and Jordan in what was the second time it had been sabotaged in 10 weeks.

It is still unclear who was behind the attacks, and the official would not be drawn on whether Israel was implicating Hamas.

But the fact that the new regime in Cairo was seeking to upgrade its ties with Gaza’s Hamas rulers and was also seeking to better ties with long-time foe Iran, was an issue which could have strategic implications for Israel’s national security, the source said.

“We are troubled by the developments in Egypt, by the voices calling to annul the peace treaty, by the rapprochement between Egypt and Iran, and by the upgrading of relations between Egypt and Hamas. These developments potentially have strategic implications for Israel’s national security.”

The move was announced a day after Hamas reached a surprise reconciliation deal with its Fatah rivals which control the Palestinian Authority, in a development which stirred anger and concern in Israel.

“The recent developments have been very worrying,” he said, without elaborating.

The Rafah border is the only way in and out of Gaza which does not pass through Israel.

It has remained largely shut since June 2006 when Israel imposed a tight blockade on the territory after militants there snatched Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who is still being held.

The blockade was tightened a year later when the Islamist Hamas movement seized control of the territory, ousting forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.

Egypt has actively supported Israel’s blockade, frequently coming in for harsh regional criticism for keeping the border closed and for building an underground wall in a bid to curb smuggling, which it views as a security risk.

But earlier this year, mass street protests in Egypt led to the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak, with the new military regime keen to review its policy on Gaza.

Opening the border without any international supervision is likely to be a breach of 2005 agreement between Israel and Egypt which was brokered by the United States.

Under terms of the deal, the crossing would be under Egyptian and Palestinian control, with European observers and Israeli camera surveillance.

Israel fears that an open border would allow the free passage of weapons and personnel into Gaza, a stronghold of militant factions bent on attacking the Jewish state.

– AFP/ch