|Southwest Asia News Digest
Neo-Cons Ride AgainAgainst Iran
"At the Pentagon, the new Iranian directorate has been set up inside its policy shop, which previously housed the Office of Special Plans," reported Laura Rozen of the Los Angeles Times on May 19. The OSP, center of the neo-conservatives' rogue intelligence apparatus in the Pentagon, is still under investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
According to the Times, "Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Venable declined to name the acting director of the new Iran office and would say only that the appointee was a 'career civil servant.' Among those staffing or advising the Iranian directorate are three veterans of the Office of Special Plans: Abram N. Shulsky, its former director; John Trigilio, a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst; and Ladan Archin, an Iran specialist." Shulsky was identified in EIR's April 2003 groundbreaking feature, "Children of Satan: The Ignoble Liars of Bush's No-Win Iraq War," as one of the cabal of followers of Leo Strauss, along with Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and Douglas Feith.
The OSP reported directly to the Vice President's office, and there is good reason to believe that the same is true of this new Iran "directorate." While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has succeeded in tilting administration policy towards opening direct U.S. talks with Iran, Cheney remains committed to a military strike that will further his aims for a Clash of Civilizations "perpetual war" against Islam.
Nothing New About Bush's 'New' Iraq Strategy
Intelligence and military veterans with long experience in the Iraq, view George W. Bush's surprise trip to Baghdad last week, as a meaningless public relations stunt.
White House spin doctors had made the week of June 12-16 into "Iraq week," and rolled out a schedule that included: an all-day top-level meeting at Camp David on June 12 to plan a "new strategy" for victory; a super-secret surprise trip by Bush to Baghdad on June 13; a Republican Party fundraiser in New Hampshire addressed by Karl Rove where he denounced Democrats Rep. John Murtha, and Sen. John Kerryjust hours after his lawyer announced that Rove would not be indicted by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald; and a Congressional resolution that declares Iraq to be essential in the war on terrorism, to be debated by the full House on June 15 and voted on (see USA Digest for more on the House debate and vote].
Outside of the "Amen chorus" of Dick Cheney supporters, the response to the White House propaganda focus on Iraq has been to warn that it is a replica of the May 1, 2003 "Mission Accomplished" appearance by Bush, which has been followed by a tragic three years of high U.S. casualties, now topping 2,500, and civil war in Iraq.
A high-level retired diplomat reported that James Baker III and Lee Hamilton, who head the Iraq Study Group, have been told bluntly by intelligence professionals that "stability" in Iraq, and "regime change" or threats against Iran are completely incompatiblethe administration has to choose what it will be, and it cannot be both. Washington's threats and war plans against Iran, have provoked unprecedented Shiite violence in Iraq that is now out of control.
A former military officer with long experience in the Persian Gulf, dismissed Bush's trip there supporting the al-Maliki government as sheer public relations, which has no effect at all, on helping the new Iraqi government gain credibility and security.
On June 13, two Democratic SenatorsJoe Biden (Del) and Jack Reed (RI)who were called in as part of a bipartisan group to receive a classified briefing on Iraq from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeldsaid that they had heard nothing substantially new. Biden said that if Bush continues to call the killing of Zarqawi and the formation of a new Iraqi government a "strategy," then he is "sadly mistaken."
Lebanese Army Arrests Israeli Mossad Terror Cell
On June 13, spokesmen for the Lebanese Army announced that it had dismantled a Mossad-directed network used to carry out attacks against Hezbollah and Palestinian leaders. The statement, according to Lebanonwire, said, "The army arrested a terrorist cell working for Israel's Mossad, and its members admitted responsibility for the May 26 attack that killed Mahmud al-Majzub and his brother," and also "admitted taking part in the assassination of Hezbollah official Ali Saleh in 2003 and Ali Hassan Dib in 1999, as well as the killing of Jihad Jibril in 2002." The killing of al-Mazjub, a leader of a Palestinian faction, Islamic Jihad, in the southern city of Sidon sparked cross-border air strikes and rocket attacks in late May.
These arrests are especially notable, since the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and other assassinations in 2005 have been blamed on Syrian- and Iranian-based organizations in reports to the UN and the U.S. Congress.
Israel occupied Southern Lebanon since its invasion in 1978 until 2000, and had a notorious record of assassinations of Palestinian forces.
China, Russia Refuse To Join Sanction Threats vs. Iran
At the IAEA talks at Vienna June 13, China and Russia refused to join with other the big powersthe U.S., Britain, France, and Germanyin threatening sanctions over Iran's nuclear program. the Daily Times reported June 14. China and Russiaboth major trading partners of Iranhad joined the other four powers on June 1 in urging Iran to halt uranium enrichment and join talks. Following his telephone conversation with the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, issued a statement saying: "China will continue to play a constructive role to help peacefully solve the Iran nuclear issue through negotiations."
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Muttaki, upon his arrival in Madrid on June 14, said the six-party talks took "a step forward to present this package of incentives."
The United States' efforts to present a united front in the six-party talks with Iran received another setback when Non-Aligned Movement member-nations prepared a statement reaffirming Tehran's right to enrich uranium.
Diplomats claimed that Washington was fighting hard to prevent non-aligned states on the IAEA board from issuing such a statement, as the United States wants to maintain pressure on Iran.
Italy Begins Withdrawing Troops from Iraq
On June 14 Italy began its gradual withdrawal of troops from Iraq. By the end of June, there should be no more than 1,600 Italian soldiers stationed in Iraq, half the 3,200 stationed in Nasiriyah in southern Iraq, Following the U.S.-led invasion in March of 2003. Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who entered office less than three weeks ago, promised that all Italian troops would be withdrawn by Spring 2007, according to Italian state television.
The Italian withdrawal represents a further weakening of the so-called "Coalition of the Willing." Spain withdrew its 1,300 troops in 2004, and the Netherlands, its 1,300 soldiers a year later. Ukraine also withdrew its 1,650 troops; Nicaragua, the Philippines, and Honduras have pulled out their small contingents as well.