Is Russia now the strongest backer of peace in Syria?

Is Russia now the strongest backer of peace in Syria?

Russia has emerged as a strong backer of Kofi Annan’s peace plan for Syria, and is now hammering Western nations for not doing enough to support it.

By , Correspondent

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov adjusts his headphones during a joint news conference with Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and Indian counterpart Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna in Moscow Friday.

Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

MOSCOW

Russia today challenged Western countries to get behind United Nations envoy Kofi Annan‘s peace plan for Syria, or accept the blame for its failure.

It’s a new role for Russia, which endured months of accusations that it was blocking a solution for strife-torn Syria after it vetoed two UN Security Council resolutions in the past several months calling for the removal of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

But last month, Moscow threw its weight behind Mr. Annan’s plan to end the year-long uprising, which has killed more than 9,000 people by UN estimates. It called for a withdrawal of all government forces from Syrian towns and cities, followed by a shaky cease-fire that went into effect last Thursday and appears to be just barely holding despite multiple violations alleged on both sides.

Speaking in televised remarks today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov implied that the shoe is on the other foot now, with Moscow strongly backing the UN peace plan for Syria and willing to hold both Mr. Assad and his opponents to task but, he alleged, the effort is being undermined by unnamed Western and Arab countries.

“There are those who want Kofi Annan’s plan to fail,” Mr. Lavrov insisted. “Today, those who from the beginning foretold the failure of Annan’s plan are doing a lot to see to it that this prophecy comes true… They are doing this by delivering arms to the Syrian opposition and stimulating the activity of rebels who continue to attack both government facilities and civilian facilities on a daily basis.”

The cease-fire remains “quite fragile” because of the reluctance of those outside forces to fully back the Annan plan, Lavrov suggested, although he added that Assad bears a share of blame for the continuing uncertainty. “Of course, government forces are also taking measures to react to such provocations, and as a result it is not all going very smoothly yet,” he said.

Analysts say that Lavrov is making the most of Moscow’s recent shift away from months of single-minded support for the Assad regime and its apparently sincere embrace of the Annan plan.

“This is an unaccustomed place for Lavrov to find himself, unambiguously on the side of peace and reason in Syria,” says Alexander Konovalov, president of the independent Institute for Stategic Assessments in Moscow.

“But, in fact, he’s got a point. The Annan plan needs to be supported, if only because it is the only plan out there. If other forces aren’t getting on board, and are indeed covertly fanning the flames of civil war as Lavrov alleges, then they and their backers will be to blame if the whole thing collapses. After months of being accused of obstructionism, this looks much better for Russia,” Mr. Konovalov adds.

Lavrov received a cautious vote of support from visiting members of the Syrian opposition today, who praised Russia for distancing itself from the Assad regime but urged it to do more to promote genuine democratic reforms in Syria.

“The representatives of the Russian government aren’t inclined to support the idea of preservation of the dictatorial regime,” Haytham Manna, spokesman for the Arab Commission for Human Rights, told a Moscow press conference today. “They are talking about the need for continuing democratic changes, and that’s very important for us… Russia has all the necessary levers to apply pressure on Assad’s government and help Annan’s mission.”

Abdul-Aziz al-Kheir, head of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria, which opposes armed insurrection, agreed that Moscow’s stance on Syria has been changing rapidly over recent weeks.

“[The Annan plan] is the last chance to end the fratricidal massacre and create preconditions for the transfer to a democratic form of government,” he told the press conference.

Some Russian experts say that changing conditions in Syria, where Assad’s military forces have gained the upper hand in recent weeks, are the main reason that Moscow’s diplomatic hand appears to be strengthening.

“Until last week the West’s preference was for a victory of the rebels at any price, but now there’s a lot less enthusiasm for that,” says Dmitry Babich, an expert with the official RIA-Novosti agency in Moscow. “This happened mainly because the rebels failed to seize any big cities and because of Assad’s military success. So if the tables have turned, it hasn’t been done by Russia.

“Actually, Russia’s position hasn’t changed much,” Mr. Babich adds. “Moscow was never a passionate fan of Assad, and wasn’t ready to do anything to save him, but it was alarmed at the idea of any more precedents that would license massive outside interference into the affairs of a sovereign country.”

What happens in Cartagena …

President Barack Obama, left, and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos arrive to attend a joint news conference during the 6th Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, Sunday, April 15, 2012. Photo: Carolyn Kaster / AP

What happens in Cartagena …

Our view: The scandal involving Secret Service agents and Colombian prostitutes is shocking, but the implications (beyond short-term political embarrassment) are not so clear

Many of us who labor in journalism inevitably have contact with U.S. Secret Service agentsand encounter men and women as devoted to their task, as serious of purpose, and as professional as any of the finest in law enforcement. So it is nothing short of shocking to learn not only of last week’s scandal in Colombia but also of hints that the problem may run deeper than one night of wild partying with prostitutes in Cartagena.

President Barack Obama has said that he will be “angry” if the allegations prove true, but it appears the White House is slightly behind the curve. Already, 11 agents have been placed on administrative leave, and a handful of military personnel are under investigation as well. Mr. Obama ought to be a little bit more than potentially peeved about it.

The scandal is hugely embarrassing for the agency. Whether the misconduct actually represents a security breach is not yet clear, but it’s certainly a distinct possibility given that the agents probably preferred to keep their behavior a secret and therefore might have been susceptible to blackmail or other coercion. Or they might simply have blathered about security arrangements to the wrong people, the kind of tender trap the KGB used effectively during the Cold War years.

Have married agents long held a “wheels up, rings off” philosophy on foreign trips like the recent Latin summit, as some have alleged since the scandal broke? Others, including former agents, claim this is an isolated incident that is far out of the norm. As one might expect, those with firsthand knowledge of the incident aren’t revealing much, at least not publicly.

Naturally, it hasn’t taken long for such a salacious incident to pique the interest of Washington’s favorite scandal-chaser, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, who rarely backs away from an opportunity to score political points. His interest here, however, is not unwarranted. If the incident is found to involve more than a serious lapse in judgment by 11 of the agency’s 4,500 employees, a full-blown congressional inquiry might even be justified.

For the Obama administration, the timing is not so great. The practices of the General Services Administration (especially the now-infamous Las Vegas conference) are already suggesting a touch of undisciplined excess in the bureaucracy. That’s not an especially good thing for a candidate to put on his resume in an election year.

After all, if he really wants taxpayers revved up during an economic recession, Mr. Issa can just show them federal tax dollars being used to put some bureaucrat in a gilded bathtub in a fancy Vegas hotel suite with a million-dollar view and two full glasses of wine — as he did this week. That would be none other than the GSA’s Jeffrey Neely, who struck the pose during a “pre-conference” scouting trip in 2009 (when U.S. unemployment woes were at their peak).

But other than embarrassing, what does it all really mean? This is obviously not where 99.9 percent of federal tax dollars are going, and any organization the size and breadth of the federal government is going to have knuckleheads in its ranks. Good management or no, that’s simply the nature of the human condition.

Republicans will use “hookergate” to try to tar the president, but Americans have bigger issues on their minds than some bungling bureaucrats, or at least they ought to. Besides, one can argue that the chief victims of any shortcomings within the Secret Service are the president and his family. They are the ones put in danger when agents don’t do their jobs correctly.

Mr. Obama is going to have to demonstrate that he’s serious about cleaning up such messes when they are encountered, and he can start by rolling some heads. That’s already happened at the GSA. The Secret Service’sMark Sullivan may be next on the chopping block. To his credit, it appears the director acted quickly to recall the agents involved, but that may not be enough if the alleged behavior of agents in Colombia turns out to be part of a pattern.

Still, the Secret Service’s image has been sullied, and that’s not something to be taken lightly. Agents are famous for their willingness to “take a bullet” for those they protect, and their reputation likely deters some who might otherwise do the president harm. Restoring that ideal will require more than a few sharp words or some political posturing.

Copyright © 2012, The Baltimore Sun

Uzbekistan’s Faux “Democracy” Movement and Its Value To the Dictatorship

Muhammad Salih, 2006

[Mr. Salih is one of the original Uzbek intellectuals who took a stand against Communist misrule even before Uzbekistan was a state.  He was a co-founder of the "Birlik" (Unity) party and fled the country after being charged in a bomb plot.  In the interview quoted below, Salih appears to call for open revolution against the government of Islam Karimov.  Such incendiary words being issued over State-controlled media might incite a popular uprising, but it is more likely that Karimov will use them as an excuse for some sort of nationwide crackdown on resistance.  Even though there may be greater access to the Internet in Uzbekistan than in other CA countries, such as in Turkmenistan, content there is tightly controlled, as well, meaning that very few people within Uzbekistan would hear a call for revolution if one were made.  

The Internet is first and foremost a WEAPON, never forget that.  Washington's social engineers continue to use dissidents and the Internet as their primary tools of subversion .]  

Muhammad Salih, “The Arab Spring legitimized armed struggle against such dictators like Karimov”

Ferghana

Responding to questions from a journalist of Russian service of the International Broadcasting Corporation BBC , a well-known Uzbek dissident and emigre opposition politician Muhammad Salih said that “the Arab revolution, the Arab Spring, in a sense legitimized armed struggle against tyranny, against such dictators like Karimov.” “That is it – is already a precedent that people can fight against their dictator with weapons in their hands. I’m not saying that we have already chosen this path. But if Karimov is to destroy the people as well as in Andijan , the people will be forced to defend himself. It is possible that the uprising of the people receive the same status as the Arab countries “, – said M.Salih.

“Literally, if part of the army or law enforcement agencies will go [to the people], then the people can no longer be shot, as in Andijan”, – said Muhammad Salih.

Referring to the events in Osh in June 2010 , Muhammad Salih said that “in Osh were actually ethnic cleansing, and it is a fundamental difference. If there is a general uprising in Uzbekistan, it would not be an ethnic nature. It may be the struggle of clans, the movement in the social strata and chaos, but in terms of ethnicity, as we saw in Kyrgyzstan, will not. “

Responding to a question about what will be the fate of Islam Karimov, if the People’s Movement of Uzbekistan (opposition organization led M.Salihom) comes to power, the politician said that “people will judge him and he will be punished according to the laws of Uzbekistan.” However, M.Salih admitted that the regime of Islam Karimov and the possible compromise negotiations under the motto “the power in exchange for immunity”: “If it will serve as a bloodless transition from dictatorship to civilian life, to a more democratic system, I could go on such a the contract. “

Muhammad Salih, like BBC, lived in exile for nineteen years after, in 1993 he was arrested for “treason.” When the pressure of world public, he was released on bail from Tashkent, he fled to Turkey.

In 1999, authorities accused Salih of the attempt on the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov in February 1999. Then Saleh was sentenced in absentia to 15 and a half years in prison.

The international news agency “Fergana”

Saudi Arabia Claims Exemption from US State Dept. Homosexual Agenda

[SEE:  US commits ‘cultural terrorism’ by sponsoring gay pride event in Pakistan ;  U.S. ambassador fuels gay rights debate in El Salvador

Saudi Arabia bans ‘gays, tom-boys’ from schools

Saudi Arabia has decided to bar “gays and tom-boys” from its government schools and universities within a crackdown against the spread of this phenomenon in the conservative Moslem Gulf Kingdom, a newspaper said on Monday.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the most feared law enforcement authority in the oil-rich country, has been asked to enforce the new orders, Sharq Arabic language daily said.

“Instructions have been issued to all public schools and universities to ban the entry of gays and tom boys and to intensify their efforts to fight this phenomenon, which has been promoted by some websites,” it said.

The paper did not make clear who issued those instructions but said gay and tom boy students can go back to schools and universities if they prove they have been corrected and have stopped such practices.

It said high-level orders have been issued to the Commission to immediately enforce the new rules and to step up efforts to combat this phenomenon and other “unacceptable behavior” in public places.

Deciphering Zionist Misdirection

Misdirection

Assassination Columbia – What If It Ain’t About Whores?”:

The real deal is very probably this: 
At least one of the members of the presidential detail is suspected of working with foreign nationals to arrange the assassination of President Obama.
A certain nation comes to mind, one very close to former Governor Romney, the GOP candidate hopelessly behind in the polls, a candidate belonging to a religion seen as a dangerous sect, a candidate hated by most American women and women vote.
One country was told it wasn’t getting a war with Iran, has chosen to put all its weight behind an obvious loser and has no choice but to kill Obama or suffer the wrath of a president who has little to lose during a second term. There is no other reason such a hare brained story as this one would be foisted on the world during an election year.”

The e-x-t-r-e-m-e unlikelihoods:

  1. All of these guys
  2. who are expressly ordered not to do this very thing
  3. and are under constant surveillance
  4. bring prostitutes to their rooms
  5. and the hotel rats them out.

On the other hand, if one of them is in the employ of a certain Bibi, explaining to this certain Bibi’s local operatives – in a country filled to the brim with such operatives -  where the weak spots in Presidential security might be, and the Obama administration is terrified at even hinting that such a plot from America’s bestest friend ever might exist, rounding up a bunch of people using a misleading sex scandal is just the way to remove the threat and the necessity of explaining what the real threat is.

The good news is that somebody running things is interested in keeping Berry’s head free of Israeli bullets.