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22 January 2014

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Russ

Conferences to end the Lebanese civil war were also held in Switzerland. I suspect the outcome will be similar.Hope some of the delegates had the good sense to bring their skis.

patrick lang

Russ

They can always pop over to Davos when they get bored. p l

Charles I

Theater of the absurd, listening to Ban Ki Moon, after 2o minutes of rhetoric try to cut off the Syrian Minister's observation that the Syrian government exists and won't be agreeing to suicide.

Peace talks all over again.

RIchard

A subterfuge to create a justification for attacking Syria?

Kerim

International politics these days seems to be one big sad joke.
Re. Syria or any other middle eastern country (actually, any other country full stop), the last few US administrations were primitive (ie short sighted) in their dealings with the ROW, while the current administration seems to definitively have lost the plot.
Not sure what internal compass Kerry et al. are following. They probably ditched their compass long ago...

Medicine Man

Col.: Harper is a joy, isn't he? His tough talk on Iran is also worthy of scorn; a classic case of letting your mouth write checks your armed forces can't cash.

oofda

Canadian media and public have complained about PM Harper's lack of expertise in foreign affairs. Prior to becoming PM Harper had never traveled in the world and had no practical or educated knowledge of world affairs.
And before becoming PM he helped start the Northern Foundation to fight against the release of Nelson Mandela and to offer support to the Apartheid Regime in South Africa. So much for his judgement. His comments have upset a lot of Canadians.

William R. Cumming

Wondering if Kerry has taken the "whirling dervishes" as his lodestar in diplomatic effort?

The beaver

Colonel

"Ah, I forgot, the Canadian PM told the knesset a few days back that anyone who criticizes Israel is an anti-Semite. I must be more careful in what I say, or think."

Yep, the clown from Ottawa believes that now he is the best friend of Israel and that he will teach those believers of "Islamicism" (his word) of the ME what Canada means.
There is a general election in 2015 and he wants to get the votes. That's why Canada gets respect at the UN ( insert sarcasm) and was not given a rotating UNSC seat.
Poor Stevie could not access the Dome of the Rock
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/stephen-harper-cancels-visit-to-dome-of-the-rock-1.2506050
Canada is becoming like J street and the current FM believes that he can bully those who are anti-Zionists in Canada.

Norbert M Salamon

Beaver and Medicine Man
That Harper is so fond of Israel has much to do with the Zionist ownership of Canada's Largest metropolitan newspaper chain, whose main interest is a regurgitation of neocon BS straight from WP and elated ""impartial USA media""

VietnamVet

Colonel,

I am sure it is old age. We live in a different world from when we were kids.

Nowadays, the whole premise of government working for its citizens has flipped upside down; even in Canada. It functions only for the 85 persons who have more wealth than half of the human population. No State will enter peace negotiations whose sole purpose is its extermination. The Assad regime is not collapsing.

The unrest in Ukraine is inexplicable, unless like Syria, it is being injected with money to stir up ethnic conflict. No Ukraine government in its right mind would join Greece, Italy, Spain and Ireland in having economic austerity forced on it by outside unelected technocrats in Brussels. In addition, Ukraine is right next door to Russia and its Elite have the history of being part of the USSR.

Today, common sense is in short supply, propaganda abounds and risky business rules.

JohnH

Montreux is a beautiful place to waste time. And the weather will only get better as the talks drag on...

Poul

The anti-Assad posturing of Kerry is rather amusing. Given that after the golden opportunity to attack Syria was discarded by Obama everyone knows that the US only got it in the mouth. It's political theatre.

The Syrian opposition present at the summit is even worse. How large a part of the rebel armed forces do they have control over. 5%, 10% or maybe as much as 15%?.

The rest of the insurgents seem more interested in killing each other over which type of salafisme should be the new way of life in Syria.

Matthew

oofda: I love Canada, but if Harper is representative of Canada's likely contribution to world affairs, then thank God Canada is a geo-political lightweight.

Don Bacon

"Ah, I forgot, the Canadian PM told the knesset a few days back that anyone who criticizes Israel is an anti-Semite. I must be more careful in what I say, or think."

The beauty (to Israel) of people having to recognize that Israel is a Jewish state means that any criticism of Israel is anti-semitism. This is in fact US policy:
The new anti-Semitism
US State Department, Mar 13, 2008
The distinguishing feature of the new anti-Semitism is criticism of Zionism or Israeli policy that—whether intentionally or unintentionally—has the effect of promoting prejudice against all Jews by demonizing Israel and Israelis, and attributing Israel’s perceived faults to its Jewish character.
http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/102406.htm#contemporary

Don Bacon

The SNC's Ahmad Assi al-Jarba is a Saudi agent so he probably thinks that he "controls" the takfiris, although they're currently fighting amongst themselves so probably not.

Alba Etie

Poul
It is not so much that President Obama discarded the opportunity to attack Assad - but more it was a course correction in actual policy , after our Congress voted against attacking Syria. IMO all of the Montreux talksd are nothing but kabuki theater . Assad Jr will choose not to run for reelection , thus we will have "regime change light" thus saving face for all of those concerned . Meanwhile the BHO administration insisting that the Iranians be disinvited from the peace talks was a tactical ploy to blunt the home front neocons push back on the nuclear disarmament deal with Tehran . Finally again in my non expert layman's opinion - the US, Russia ,Iran and most of the EU are very happy to see the intramural killings go on amongst the various salafist rebel groups.

Alba Etie

Richard
No attack on Syria will be forthcoming since our CongressCritters voted no on the AUMF last year -

jon

It's doubtful that any progress will come from these talks, at least this round. But it's better for them to be talking than not. Both sides have ridiculous demands as baseline positions. I suppose Kerry had to jump in with an unrealistic US demand as well. Let's also not forget that the UN insisted that Iran not participate, and that is unlikely to prompt a breakthrough.

Assad no longer seems to be the reluctant ruler he was a decade ago. And the Syrian government seems to have the upper hand in the contest now. So the government is not about to put itself out of business and expose its leadership and personnel to reprisals. But it's also notable that the Army seems to be making rather slow progress, and with a great deal of destruction and harm to civilians. The rebels must have substantial support in large areas of the country. Without that, it would not matter how much foreign money, weaponry and advising they are receiving.

In other news, this is very good for the Kurds.

Relatedly, here's a Foreign Affairs article about the failures of the US' Middle East engagement policies, particularly military intervention.
http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/140347/michael-j-mazarr/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-failed-state-paradigm

walrus

Watch what happens in Turkey.

turcopolier

jon

"The rebels must have substantial support in large areas of the country. Without that, it would not matter how much foreign money, weaponry and advising they are receiving." Yes the rebels have quite a lot of support, but the name of the game from the government's side is to grind the rebels into the dust without losing too many men or too much materiel. "Softly, softly catchee monkey." No rush, it will last a few more years. pl

Thomas

In the Islamist intramural military matters, everyone is gunning for al-Bagdahdi’s ISIS.

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/al-qaeda-leaks-baghdadi-and-golani-fight-over-levant-emirate

http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/new-isis-leaks-reveal-particulars-of-al-qaida-strategy/

I am wondering if this Col Rokn Hajji Bakr, a ruthlessly efficient man, has red hair since the Iraqi King of Clubs, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri has not been accounted for yet.

Tosk59

A little off-topic, but the Canadian PM apparently has a bit of 'Rob Ford' in him: http://www.bit.ly/1c7N3LQ

Ken Roberts

The critique of "Stevie" Harper is on the mark. The man is a dull mediumweight intellectually, but devious bureaucratically, and has effective electoral machine. The rot has set in, and public is getting occasional whifts. We are working to unseat him. "Harper" is presently the biggest negative meme in polling of conservatives when calling to firm up support. The Cons will have to pick new leader, but Harper has formed a one-man fiefdom ... so it will be interesting. Justin Trudeau on other hand, has turned out very impressively, and I was pleasantly surprised by the support he is receiving from old hands. There appears to be plenty of "there" there.

rick

A golden oppertunity to engage in folly is best discarded.

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