Montreux – the dance of the clowns

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"“We have come here to put an end to terrorism and its bitter consequences,” Moualem said, referring to the rebels fighting to unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “Diplomacy and terrorism cannot go in parallel. Diplomacy must succeed by fighting terrorism.” Opposition leader Ahmad Assi al-Jarba said those fighting Assad will never accept a negotiated settlement that keeps him in power, and implored the delegates from more than 30 nations to move quickly to end the conflict. “Time is like a sword,” Jarba said through an interpreter. “And for the Syrian people, time is now blood.”"  Washpost

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I, too, am tired of reading and writing about Syria but the subject seems unavoidable.  One can only ask rhetorically what this collection of mountebanks now meeting in the pictured hotel can possibly think they are doing.  Is it not obvious that the Syrian government is not going to agree to its own destruction?  Is that not obvious ?  Why would it do anything like that?  They are actually winning the war.

And what is it that John Kerry believes is going to happen?  Does he think that Lavrov and Putin are suddenly going to believe that they have been completely wrong and that the Ketchup prince has been right all  along?

This situation is reminiscent of the farce of Kerry's "negotiations" with Bibi and the Palestinians.  Someone referred to that situation the other  day as an embarassment in Israel since the Israelis do not want to see him but are still a little hesitant to tell him to stay away.  After all, from Natanyahu's point of view, it is he, the mighty Bibi who controls the votes in Congress, not Obama or Kerry.

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.  pl        

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/syria-talks-begin-in-rancor-foreign-minister-lashes-out-at-kerry-un-chief-ban-ki-moon/2014/01/22/6061a0f2-8356-11e3-a273-6ffd9cf9f4ba_story.html

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31 Responses to Montreux – the dance of the clowns

  1. Russ says:

    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.

  2. patrick lang says:

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

  3. Charles I says:

    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.

  4. RIchard says:

    A subterfuge to create a justification for attacking Syria?

  5. Kerim says:

    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…

  6. Medicine Man says:

    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.

  7. oofda says:

    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.

  8. Wondering if Kerry has taken the “whirling dervishes” as his lodestar in diplomatic effort?

  9. The beaver says:

    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.

  10. Norbert M Salamon says:

    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””

  11. VietnamVet says:

    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.

  12. JohnH says:

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

  13. Poul says:

    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.

  14. Matthew says:

    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.

  15. Don Bacon says:

    “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

  16. Don Bacon says:

    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.

  17. Alba Etie says:

    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.

  18. Alba Etie says:

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

  19. jon says:

    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

  20. walrus says:

    Watch what happens in Turkey.

  21. turcopolier says:

    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

  22. Thomas says:

    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.

  23. Tosk59 says:

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

  24. Ken Roberts says:

    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.

  25. Alba Etie says:

    Thomas
    The enemy of my enemy perhaps..

  26. Alba Etie says:

    Walrus
    I wonder if Erdogan will win the next election ?

  27. Richard Armstrong says:

    The best thing that ever occurred at the Hotel Montreux was the recording of Deep Purple’s album Machine Head album. I’m trying to link Smoke on the Water to the current activities there but I’m just not that clever.

  28. Thomas says:

    Alba,
    The enemy of our sponsor.
    “It is no secret that the Islamic Front now trying to wipe out ISIS is heavily backed and funded by Saudi Arabia, and in this light we can understand the real reasons and timing behind this sudden, all-out war. After the Islamic Front last month effectively destroyed the moderate Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army led by Gen. Salim Idris, it effectively rendered the Geneva talks meaningless and their outcome void.”
    http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/render/live/en/sites/almonitor/contents/articles/originals/2014/01/islamic-front-isis-rebel-clashes-syria.html
    Another possible fear of the Saudis would be an Iraqi takeover of the regional jihad which could turn it back on them in revenge for the betrayal after the Iran-Iraq war that led to the present day consequences.

  29. Poul says:

    Quite true,Rick, but the pro-war politicians don’t see the world in that light. And one must say that Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have had their share of follies.
    One can hope that it’s not just war fatigue in the American public which drove Obama’s policy choice but actual common sense. It’s not as if the US and their European allies don’t bring something to the negotiation table.
    I’m sure the Syrian government wants the trade sanctions lifted but not before they are certain of their own survival.

  30. Bandolero says:

    turcopolier
    I couldn’t agree more.
    The “rebels” (TM) have some remarkable political constitution, but militarily the Syrisn Army will grind them into the dust. So, my logical conclusion: they should do a conditional surrender, become a political force and test the Iranian commitment to democracy in Syria. My imagination is that Geneva II is all about it: if the rebels (TM) won’t take this offer, the army will put them through the meatgrinder, slowly, but continuing. And, of course, in addition to this the Syrian army will prepare some nasty surprises, be it the Iraqi King of Clubs, the red bearded Umar Shishani, the IRGC or all of them altogether or something else.
    US backed militias lost in numerous places that mattered like in Raqqa, Tel Abyad, Al Bab, Tabqa and Manbij. What’s Geneva about is to find a common language between Syria and the US to put that into a UNSC resolution. I guess professionals would blame the Syrian Army to be incompetent if they wouldn’t try to prepare some surprises. However, Syria doesn’t want total war with the US and or it’s puppets. Syria therefore wants from the US diplomatic support – eg in the UNSC – to stop foreign countries arming militants in Syria, so that the Syrian government will have it easier to find a new balance.
    I guess that all is obvious.

  31. turcopolier says:

    bandolero
    Your solution is ideal but unlikely, very unlikely. In fact the army will grind the rebels into dust. I wish I could participate. pl

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