|Southwest Asia News Digest
Russia Opposes Anglo-American-French Threats on Iran
French President Jacques Chirac is pressuring Iran to reconsider the European Union "offer," on nuclear fuel, and if Iran does not, the matter could be referred to the UN Security Council. The exchange was reported in Iranian and French news services on Aug. 29.
Bringing Iran to the UNSC, for an "ultimatum," similar to the pre-war build-up of a case against Iraq, has long been the strategy of the Bush-Cheney regime, and of Britain's Tony Blair.
However, following the ending of talks between Iran and the EU in early August, Iran has said it will now negotiate only with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This is an important decision by Iran.
Egyptian professor, Dr. Mohammad Selim, pointed out in TV interviews in Cairo, that the EU negotiating process with Iran took the entire issue out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), making it possible for the Europeans to make demands that the IAEA, by law, could not have made. (See EIR Aug. 5, 2005, for Dr. Selim's address to EIR's June 28-29 Berlin seminar.)
And, lurking behind the EU negotiations has always been a threat by the Dick Cheney neo-conservatives, and the war-hawks in Israel, to use military action for regime change, and destruction of the nuclear energy program in Iran. The attacks on Iran have been on the drawing board since the 1996 neo-con strategy paper, "A Clean Break."
But the UN threat made by the U.S. and Britain, and now France, has run into Russian opposition.
In a Sept. 5 press release, the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation (which has veto power in the UNSC), said, "We see no grounds for transferring to the UN Security Council a matter that is being actively and productively handled by the International Atomic Energy Agency at the present timemeaning the monitoring of Iran's nuclear program. The Foreign Ministry statement cited IAEA director Mohammed ElBaradei's Sept. 2 report, which noted that Iran's renewal of work on enriching uranium was taking place under IAEA monitoring. Iran is cooperating with the IAEA, said Russia, and ElBaradei's report "provides a good basis for continuing professional, not politicized work to resolve this problem quickly in the framework of the Agency."
White House Meeting on Syria: Neo-cons Call for Bombing Damascus
A special White House meeting was held on Aug. 30 to discuss the question of Syrian cooperation in the investigation of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harari. The meeting included U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Chief Diplomatic Advisor to French President Jacques Chirac, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, and UN special envoy for Lebanon and Syria, Terje Roed-Larsen.
The meeting took place just as Dick Cheney's neo-cons were ramping up the propaganda campaign for bombing Syria.
Coinciding with this meeting, and with anti-Syria diatribes at the UN by temporary U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, his old friend from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard called for a limited invasion of Syria, accompanied by a massive bombing of that country.
In an article that was posted on Aug. 30, Kristol insists that neither the Iraq war, nor the "war on terror" can be won without attacking Syria. Furthermore, he complains that both Republican members of Congress and the Senate, and Bush advisers at the White House have become "wobbly" over the Iraq war. Ever the utopian chicken-hawk, Kristol rejects the analysis that the U.S. military is overstretched with the occupation of Iraq, and bombing of centers of insurgency, and argues that the U.S. military is strong enough to drop bombs on Syria, and can occupy the border towns, and this is the way to stop terrorists from invading Iraq through Syria. He adds that leaving Iraq is not an option, that the war on terror must be won there.
Omri Sharon Indicted; Is Ariel Next?
Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz filed a criminal indictment Aug. 28 against Omri Sharon, the son of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Ha'aretz reported. The indictment is over the "shell companies affair" which involves the illegal use of shell companies to finance Ariel Sharon's 1999 primary campaign for control of the Likud. Although Mazuz had dropped Sharon, Sr. from this case, new evidence could be presented at Omri's trial, and with Benyamin Netanyahu, the Likud's right-wing hero, trying to unseat Sharon, the corruption scandal could be used to bring about new elections.
Right Wing Blames Sharon for New Palestinian Attack
The Israeli right-wing parties that opposed the withdrawal from Gaza, are demanding that Sharon be removed from power, in the wake of the Aug. 28 suicide bombing at a bus station in Beersheba, Israel, which has been claimed by Islamic Jihad. The right wing claims that a Palestinian terror wave will continue as long as Sharon is in power, because he "capitulated" on Gaza.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who met on Aug. 27 with the Labor Party chief Efraim Sneh, to discuss the Israel-Palestine peace process, condemned the suicide bombing, and called for calm. The chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat likewise condemned the attack, and spoke of how the recent killing of five Palestinians by Israeli right-wingers may have led the militant groups to abandon the truce.
Arafat Nephew Killed by Palestinian Faction
Moussa Arafat, a former Palestinian Authority security chief in the Gaza Strip, was killed by members of the Popular Resistance Committees on Sept. 8. The Committees are comprised of militants, mostly former members of the Fatah organization, who opposed accommodations with Israel, and are considered a grass roots movement.
Moussa Arafat was the nephew of deceased Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and had recently been dismissed from his security position by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He was still a senior official on the Fatah Revolutionary Council.
The PRCs had accused Arafat of corruption, and moral crimes. Manhal Arafat, the son of Moussa, was also kidnapped when PRC gunman attacked Arafat's home. According to a PRC spokesman, the organization was "questioning Moussa's son Manhal, over his father's crime and he will be sentenced according to Allah's laws."
The Palestinian Authority has called the murder an attack on its government, and has issued a security alert.
Two background factors should be taken into account. First, according to the analysis of the late Israeli strategic analyst, Maxim Ghilan, who had a close working relationship with the PLO for over 30 years, the stability of the Palestinians after Yasser Arafat's death required the leadership of Marwan Barghouti, who has been sitting in an Israeli jail for over three years. Ghilan's view was that Barghouti, the head of the Tanzim militias, has both the security experience, the respect, and the leadership ability to keep factions in line.
Secondly, because of the longstanding failure to protect Palestinians from wanton killings by the Israeli security forces, and because of the continuing abject poverty and lack of jobs, even after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the militants are continuing to gain support. An Egyptian source who is well-informed on Palestinian developments in Gaza, told EIR that the militant groups, including Hamas, are expected to do extremely well in the January 2006 elections for Palestinian Legislative elections. In particular, Um Mohammed Rantisi, the wife of assassinated Hamas leader Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi is heading the slate of women candidates. Hamas is not giving up arms, but is going to be putting their arms "in storage" and taking a more active political position, the source said.
The "corruption" allegation by the militants against Moussa Arafat concerned his being too cooperative with the Israelis, the source added.
U.S. Pressures Arab Nations To 'Stabilize' Iraq
The Bush Administration is pressuring Arab governments to send ambassadors to Baghdad, and to open an office there of the Arab Leaguein order to do what the U.S. has failed miserably to do"bring stability" to the occupied country. However, such measures would only be a "fig leaf," that would not only fail to stabilize the situation, but would exacerbate security threats to the Arab nations. The first Arab envoy to Baghdadfrom Egyptwas killed by kidnappers in Iraq, earlier this year, and Algerian contract workers were also kidnapped and brutally killed for collaborating with the occupiers.
One Arab source told EIR that the U.S. pressures aim at having an Arab League meeting convoked, to discuss sending Arab "peacekeeping" troops to Iraq, as well as dispatching ambassadors to Baghdad, as a show of solidarity with the puppet government. Iraqi President Talabani attacked Arab states for not doing so. Many Arab governments are upset about the wording of the Iraqi constitutional draft, which denies Iraq its Arab identity.