|Southwest Asia News Digest
Tribunal Finds Bush, Blair, Sharon Guilty of War Crimes
On Feb. 4, the Egyptian Bar Association and the Arab Federation of Lawyers held a war crimes tribunal in Cairo, charging President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with war crimes in the cases of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Palestinian Authority. The two-day session was chaired by former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, and a full report will be provided by EIR, whose correspondent Muriel Mirak-Weissbach attended.
Bills of indictment for war crimes based on the Geneva Convention and the Nuremberg criteria were drawn up for Bush, Blair, and Sharon. Testimony from Iraqis, Egyptian lawyers defending detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Palestinians, and others gave eyewitness accounts of the multiple crimes of the three accused. Since the three did not attend or send lawyers, as they were invited to do, court-appointed lawyers argued in their defense, using the arguments used by the three in their public pronouncements.
The event was packed, and was played live on at least one TV station, with prominent government officials attending. The trial occurred against the backdrop of major disturbances in the Muslim world over a series of cartoons published in major Danish newspapers, ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed and Islam. Participants in the Cairo tribunal planned to join in a demonstration over the cartoons in the following days.
'Clash of Civilizations' Warfare Explodes Against European Offices in Muslim Countries
On Friday, Feb. 3, violence exploded in Muslim countries, after a week of heightened tensions over the continued publication in Danish newspapers of anti-Muslim cartoons that ridicule the Prophet Mohammed. (See this week's Europe Digest for background.) U.S. Democratic Party leader Lyndon LaRouche has pointed to the British Empire, and its anti-American system, both in the U.S. and in Europe, as the architects of the dirty operation which is now destabilizing Europe.
In Damascus, the Danish and Swedish embassies were burned to the ground, together with the Chilean embassy, which is located in the same building, when thousands of demonstrators took to the streets protesting the Danish newspapers. No one was in the building at the time of the fire. The Norwegian embassy, which was at a different location, was also burned down.
The violence was triggered by the rumor, spread by e-mails and television broadcasts, that right-wing groups in Copenhagen were planning a demonstration in which the Koran would be burned.
According to the Danish government, the Syrian police did not attempt to stop the demonstrators. It is reported that small groupings within the larger demonstration were responsible for the attacks.
The Danish Foreign Ministry has now called for all Danish citizens to leave Syria. Only the Danish Ambassador will stay, to help ensure a safe evacuation. The Foreign Ministry is considering calling the Ambassador home in protest, or taking other measures against the failure of the Syrian police to protect the building. The Syrian Foreign Minister has apologized for the events.
The Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said that the problem is that the Muslim masses are now being manipulated to promote a clash of civilizations, when the opposite is what is needed. No one can be served by continuing in this way that can result in blood and fire. The situation is now out of control, he said.
But now the attacks in Syria are being used to feed the propaganda for U.S. fascist Vice President Dick Cheney's "long war" of imperial attacks. On Feb. 4, several Danish journalists and political figures stated that the Syrian state bears responsibility, as it is a "dictatorship," where no demonstration is allowed without approval of the authorities.
On the same day, the Danish embassy in Indonesia was attacked by demonstrators, who threw objects, and got into the building, but were removed by the police. Things cooled down when the Danish Ambassador met with three representatives of the demonstrators for discussions.
The European Union has strongly condemned the burning of the embassies in Damascus. The protests and unrest are by no means limited to Syria, and continued into Saturday, Feb. 4 and Sunday, Feb. 5, when the Danish embassy in Beirut was burned down.
Also Feb. 4, protesters ransacked the EU office in Gaza. On the same day, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered the cancellation of all contracts with Danish companies, and companies from other countries that have printed the Mohammed cartoons.
In Jordan, a newspaper editor who had been fired for reprinting the cartoons was arrested.
In Holland, there was a bomb threat against a newspaper that printed the cartoons.
The Vatican responded to the conflict by stating that freedom of the press does not include the right to insult religions.
In Denmark, there is continuing social unrest. There was fighting between police and young Muslims who wanted to board a train to the city where right-wingers who are anti-Muslim were demonstrating. This was the demonstration that had led to the rumors that they would burn the Koran. The 30 demonstrators who showed up did not burn the Koran, and had previously denied the reports that they had planned to do so. But rumors apparently spread by television reports were taking on a life of their own.
During and after the demonstration, 160 people were arrested, mostly young anti-fascist activists who had come to protest the right-wing demo. The police also used tear gas.
U.S. Admits Iraqi Reconstruction Will Be Left Unfinished
The United States admits that hundreds of Iraq reconstruction projects will be left unfinished or scrapped, according to the Special Inspector for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart W. Bowen, Jr., in a new report, released Jan. 26, 2006. According to the report, only 49 of 136 projects in the water and sanitation sector will be completed, and only 300 of 425 projects in the electricity sector. This is the result of $5.6 billion, of the $18.2 billion allocated for reconstruction, being shifted to other projects, mostly unexpected security costs, which increased the costs of projects by an average of 16 to 22%.
Clinton Says U.S. Must Talk to Hamas
Former President Bill Clinton, while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in late January, urged the U.S. to establish a dialogue with Hamas, the Palestinian victors in the Jan. 25 election, reported the online Newsmax, on Jan. 31. "One of the politically correct things in American politics," Clinton said, "is, we just don't talk to some people that we don't like, particularly if they ever killed anybody in a way that we hate." Clinton, who worked hard during his Presidency for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, noted that Hamas "may wind up like the IRA or Sinn Fein," which agreed to a ceasefire after decades of fighting.
Financial Times Says No Confrontation With Hamas
"The U.S. Faces a Real Dilemma Over Hamas," headlined the Jan. 31, Financial Times' lead editorial, in which the editors attempt to apply the brakes on those crazies who would escalate the Hamas victory in Palestine into a confrontation. The FT observes the failure of the Bush Administration's push for democratic elections throughout the Middle East to achieve pro-U.S. governments: More Islamic fundamentalists have been elected than "Abu Jeffersons."
The FT then notes, "The response to [Hamas] should emphasize that democracy is not just about voting, but about seeking institutional responses and upholding the rule of law. If they are pragmatic, so should we be. It may be easier for the Europeans than the Americans to take the lead on this, as they have done on Iran. Short-term, Hamas must extend its truce. It must also formally forswear attacks on civilians. It is not essential it recognizes Israel: the Irish constitution did not recognize British jurisdiction over Northern Ireland for 60 years. What is essential is that Hamas behaves as a responsible government.
"By the same token, the U.S. and close allies such as the U.K. should stop deferring to unilateralism whereby Israel is setting new borders to an enlarged state. That voided Fatah's last plausible claim to power."