|Southwest Asia News Digest
EIR Interviewed on Iranian National TV and Radio
Expressing a continuing interest in the fight going on in Washington over foreign policy, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) called the EIR office in Wiesbaden, Germany Feb. 1, and interviewed Editorial Board member Muriel Mirak-Weissbach on their German-language program.
The interviewer wanted to know what plans President Bush has, given that he has said he had no intention of invading Iran. He cited Bush's State of the Union address and more recent remarks, in which Bush singled out Iran by name several times as a hostile force, and repeated that, although diplomacy were preferable, "all options" were on the table. The focus of the responses was on outlining Cheney's plans for war, and how the Congress has been mobilizing to prevent this. All the major Congressional initiatives, bills, resolutions, etc., were mentioned, against both the "surge" policy and an attack on Iran.
Mirak-Weissbach made special mention of the initiative of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) for a "Dialogue Caucus," which Lyndon LaRouche endorsed, and Iraq Study Group co-chairman Lee Hamilton and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright indirectly supported. The interviewer wanted explanations of how Congress could move in opposition to Administration policy, and if it were feasible for a group of them to visit Iran.
Israeli Elites Form Group Advocating Talks with Syria
A group of retired Israeli diplomats, and military and security officers have formed the "Forum of the Peace Initiative with Syria," according to Ynet.com Jan. 29. The group includes former IDF Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin Shahak and former Shin Bet chief Yaakov Peri and Dr. Alon Liel, the former Director General of the Foreign Ministry, who had been leading backchannel talks with Syria. On Jan. 28, they held a meeting at the Arab-Jewish Theater in Jaffa. "We all know that in recent months Syrian sources, including President Bashar al-Assad, have been indicating their readiness to begin negotiations with Israel without preconditions," Peri told the meeting. "It is possible that these signals from Damascus are a result of Syrian distress, or it's possible that Assad is trying to take advantage of voices within Israel calling for dialogue regarding a permanent solution with the Syrians."
Former Minister Tells Israel: Don't Be a Captive of the Holocaust
Shlomo Ben-Ami, the former Israeli Foreign Minister, in an address before the Spanish Parliament commemorating the Shoah (Holocaust), criticized Israel for always making comparisons to the Shoah, Ynet reported Jan. 30. He pointed out that, "if the strongest nation in the Middle East refers to every war and every threat as a threat of the Holocaust, we ourselves are making the Holocaust banal." We can't hold on obsessively to the mentality of being a victim, he continued, warning that "Israel is a captive of paranoia of the memory of the Holocaust." He said that such comparisons are an obstacle to Israel's relationship with the international community.
Ben-Ami played a leading role in the recent conference on peace, which commemorated the Madrid Conference of 1991.
Baroness Cox Raves Against Islam
At the Christian Zionist meeting in London at the end of January, Baroness Caroline Cox gave a wild anti-Islam speech, in which she said, "The threat of a militant and totalitarian form of Islam poses the greatest threat to our cultures today, and Israel is standing at the front lines of this struggle against militant Islam which would destroy the values of our societies." Speaking at the Jerusalem Summit Europe, she went on to say, "The sad thing is that growing in our midst, there is a significant portion of youth who seem to believe in values that are absolutely antithetical to the spiritual, political, and cultural values on which this nation has been based over the centuries," reported the Jerusalem Post Jan. 31.
Lord Malcolm Pearson, a supporter of Jimmy Goldsmith's Euro-skeptic U.K. Independent Party, was on hand to receive the third Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson award from the Jerusalem Summit organization, which is financed by alleged Russian Mafia tycoon Michael Cherney. "Violent Islam is clearly the greatest problem mankind is facing today," Pearson said.
Also attending were: Andrew Balombe of the Zionist Federation of the U.K. and Ireland, and Pamela Thomas, director of Bridges for Peace U.K., another Christian fundy organization.
China Anti-Satellite Breakthrough Focus of Israeli Space Conference
The question of China's ability to knock out satellites dominated the second Ilan Ramon Annual International Space Conference in Herzliya, the Jerusalem Post reported Feb. 1. Israeli Air Force commander Gen. Elazar Shkedy told the conference that Israel's space assets are endangered, requiring the development of countermeasures.
"His comments came in light of China's destruction on Jan. 11 of one of its own satellites, an act that has sparked concern among the world's leading space powers that potential enemies may target their space-based assets," the Post wrote,
The conference was sponsored by the Fischer Brothers Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies in Herzliya and the Science, Sports and Culture Ministry.
Shkedy took the opportunity to announce that the Israeli Air Force has now changed its name to Israel Air and Space Command. Israel Aircraft Industries has changed its name recently to Israel Aerospace Industries.
"Battle in space is on our agenda, whether we want it there or not," Shkedy said.
Deputy commander of the USAF Space Command General Frank G. Klotz, also addressed the danger especially since satellites are required for both military and civilian needs.
Israel To Decide on New Missile-Defense System
Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz will soon make the final decision on which of three missile-defense systems to develop to counter short-range rockets, Ynet reported Feb. 1. One, a missile system, would be developed by the Israeli Rafael Development Corporation and a U.S. company; a second by Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries, also a kinetic energy system; the third, a laser system, is the Skyguard laser system now being developed by Northrop-Grumman.
Progressive Caucus Holds Hearing on Iran War Danger
The Congressional Progressive Caucus held a hearing on the dangers of a U.S.-Iran war, focussing on diplomacy with Iran as an alternative to a preemptive military attack. The panel of witnesses for the hearing were Ken Katzman of the Congressional Research Service; Dr. Paul Pillar, a former CIA officer; Col. Sam Gardiner, U.S. Air Force (ret.); and Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council.
Col. Gardiner told the panel that several steps toward a military attack on Iran have already been put into place, noting the second aircraft carrier going to the Gulf region, and preparations for a major naval exercise in the Gulf in the coming weeks. He pointed out that the White House has set up a Media Outreach Working Group, whose mission is to establish international outrage against Iran. We're seeing a pattern very much like the run up to the invasion of Iraq, he said.
Dr. Pillar stated that the Congress has to press this Administration to keep the dialogue with Iran broad, noting that "even if Iran gets the bomb, there are other ways to deal with this, other than military confrontation."
At the same time, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) introduced a bill Feb. 1 to stop a preemptive attack on Iran. The bill is called the Iran Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 2007.
Iraq War Veterans Lobby Against Bush's 'Surge'
On Feb. 2, VoteVets.org and Americans Against Escalation in Iraq announced their plan to continue lobbying on Capitol Hill, against the Administration's surge of troops in Iraq. Their campaign unites a broad coalition of groups and has targetted members of both the House and Senate, especially Republicans, in their home districts. So far, they have met with Republican Senators Norm Coleman (Minn.) in St. Paul (who, they say, is still on the fence); Richard Lugar (Ind.) in Indianapolis; George Voinovich (Ohio) in Columbus; Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins in Portland; New Hampshire's Judd Gregg and John Sununu in Manchester; Arlen Specter (Pa.) in Philadelphia; and John Warner (Va.) in both Norfolk and Richmond.
VoteVets, which is composed of Iraq War veterans, has put out an ad, saying, "If you support the troops, you don't support the escalation."
Another VoteVets veteran, Jonathan Powers, who served for 15 months in Iraq and started War Kids Relief in Iraq, said it is time for the Administration to listen. Cheney said "they" can't stop him. But it is we, the American people, who are trying to stop him.
Bush Admin. Still Can't Prove Iran Meddling in Iraq
President Bush's security advisers have ordered a delay in publication of evidence which would support Washington's claims of Iranian meddling in Iraq, the New York Times reported Feb. 2. The decision has upset U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and embarrassed other U.S. officials, who are now struggling to explain the delay. One explanation is that the evidence that they could present may not survive close scrutiny.