|Southwest Asia News Digest
LaRouche Movement's 'Isotope Economy' Circulating in Arab World
The Arabic-language pamphlet "Nuclear Economics: The Promethean Challenge to Arabs," which has been posted on the LaRouche Arabic website since Jan. 15, is now posted on several Arabic websites, such as the Damascus Data and Strategic Studies Center (DASC-Syria) and the Lebanese Al-Moharer, in addition to discussion groups and local websites in Iraq and Gulf states.
The pamphlet has been sent by e-mail to all available Arab countries' energy ministries, nuclear energy agencies, economics ministries, and scientific colleges in all 22 Arab states. There is a positive response from individuals familiar with LaRouche, who recommended it be sent to people they knew in different agencies. While the response from official organs was initially more cautious, due to paranoia created by decades of Israeli Mossad hunting of Arab nuclear scientists, when they realize its from LaRouche, they become more relaxed and open.
The pamphlet consists of several articles: The introduction, "Prometheus Challenges the Arabs" by Hussein Askary; Lyndon LaRouche's "Like JFK's Moon Landing" prologue to Jonathan Tennenbaum's "Isotope Economy"; Marjorie Mazel Hecht's "The Beauty of Completing the Nuclear Fuel Cycle." The translations were undertaken by LYMers Ali and Abdussalam. (The pamphlet is available at http://www.nysol.se/arabic/alert-winsider/isotope-arabic.pdf)
Administration Still Withholds 'Evidence' of Iran Role in Iraq Insurgency
According to the New York Times of Feb. 10, the Bush Administration is expected to make public an increased body of evidence pointing to an Iranian link to roadside bombs, including information from Iranians and Iraqis captured in recent U.S. raids in Irbil and Baghdad. Reportedly, some components of the bombs have been found with Iranian factory markings from 2006.
On Feb. 9, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said serial numbers and other markings on weapon fragments found in Iraq point to Iran as a source. A still-classified U.S. intelligence report that was prepared in 2006 says: "All source reporting since 2004 indicates that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Corps-Quds Force is providing professionally built EFPs [explosive formed penetrator bombs] and components to Iraqi Shia militants." According to U.S. intelligence agencies, the Iranians are also believed to have provided Shi'ites with rocket-propelled grenades, shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, mortars, 122-millimeter rockets, and TNT.
In fact, the components for such weapons are readily available just about anywhere, and cannot be traced to one nation. The appropriate light in which to see the current finger-pointing campaign is the shift in strategy by the U.S. government, from one which attempts to use non-existent intelligence on the Iranian nuclear program, to one which blames Iran for U.S. troubles in Iraq, and thus seeks to justify U.S. attack.
Syrian President: Now May Be 'Last Chance' To Save Iraq
Syrian President Bashir Assad, in an interview aired Feb. 5 by ABC-TV's "Good Morning America," was critical of the Bush Administration, but praised Bush's father, saying the elder Bush had the "will to achieve the peace in the region."
Assad said Syria could play an important role in "supporting the dialogue between the different parties inside Iraq with the support from the other parties like the Americans and the other neighboring countries.... We're not the only player, not the single player. But we are the main player in this issue. So that's how we can stop the violence."
Assad dismissed the prospects that the Bush Administration would pursue diplomatic contacts, despite pressure from Congress to do so. "We are hearing, but we don't expect that much. We don't expect, that, after nearly four years of occupation, they haven't learned their lesson, they haven't started the dialogue. I think it's too late for them to move toward that. It doesn't mean we can't turn the tide. But [it may be] too late, because Iraqis are heading towards civil war. So maybe [this is] the last chance that we have now to start."
During the interview, Assad also criticized Washington for trying to solve the Iraqi crisis militarily. He said the Americans shared the blame for the chaos "because they're responsible for the political situation.... They only talk about troops and power, not about the political process."
Some Have High Hopes for Larijani Trip to Munich
The Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Ali Larijani, speaking to the Iran news agency IRNA upon his Feb. 10 arrival in Munich for the Wehrkunde meeting, said, "The conference aims to establish international peace. We come from a region in which over 25 big wars have occurred in the past 20 years. We feel the pain of war and if in this conference, there are signs that sustainable peace can be achieved we will consider the event as a very big and auspicious one."
Larijani is scheduled to speak on Feb. 11. He will meet with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on the sidelines of the conference. On his way to Munich, he stopped in Vienna for talks with IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who expressed hope that progress could be made in Munich.
According to Reuters Feb. 10, a few European nations were weighing a compromise proposal under which Iran could run a few hundred nuclear centrifuges for research ends, but without feeding uranium into them to generate fuel, while negotiating for trade incentives from Western powers to curb its nuclear program, European diplomats said. The report said Swiss intermediaries would make the proposal to Larijani.
Meanwhile, Iranian officials in Tehran said the IAEA had installed surveillance cameras at Iran's underground nuclear plant where "industrial-scale" enrichment of uranium is planned. "We have nothing to hide," one official told Reuters. In Vienna, a diplomat familiar with IAEA operations in Iran confirmed cameras were now in place inside the complex at Natanz.
Larijani told Reuters in Munich: "The Iranian nuclear dossier is resolvable by negotiation. We've had constructive talks with Mr. Solana in the past and we believe that had we continued, we could have come to a positive conclusion," he said.
The Arab Gulf States Plan To Go Nuclear
The Secretary General of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Abdulrahman Al-Atiya, said Feb. 4 that he will travel to Vienna on Feb. 22 to meet with IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei and inform him of "the intention of the GCC states to develop a civilian nuclear program." He stressed that "the Gulf states' attempt to acquire peaceful nuclear technology is not a message against anyone," in an implicit reference to Iran. Al-Atiya explained that "this is the right of the GCC states and is a right to all nations, as long as there is a commitment to the criteria and measures defined by the IAEA."
Asharq Al-Awsat cites Al-Atiya as saying that he will discuss with ElBaradei and other IAEA officials "the draft study that the GCC states are intending to prepare concerning the acquiring of peaceful nuclear technologies." He added, "The IAEA will not take part in the study, but will merely be informed and consulted due to its international responsibility for this type of activity internationally."
Turkey's Foreign Minister Issues a Veiled Threat to the United States
Visiting the United States for three days Feb. 5-7, Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told reporters that he has asked for concrete and significant measures to be taken in the fight against the PKK, a terrorist Kurdish outfit based in the Kurdistan part of Iraq, according to MSNBC Feb. 7. The PKK is involved in terrorist activities aimed at breaking the Kurd-majority area from Turkey and merging that with the Kurdistan part of Iraq to eventually form an independent Kurdistan.
Following his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney, Gul said the PKK has become more active inside Kurdistan because the United States allowed it to be. "PKK leaders are giving interviews on television channels in a friendly country. The United States which earlier stated it could not divide its forces in Iraq, has now changed this position."
Gul said that Turkey reserves the right to act in its own defense with regard to the PKK presence in northern Iraq. What Gul infers is that Turkey has rights based on international laws to move into Iraq to dismantle the PKK camps inside Kurdistan. He said, "U.S. officials are aware of this."
Saudis Broker Agreement Between Palestinian Factions
The two leading Palestinian factions signed an agreement for a government of national unity Feb. 8, at the conclusion of a several-day meeting in Mecca of Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Khaled Mashaal of Hamas. The meeting was sponsored by the Saudi government. a well-informed source close to Hamas, told Xinhua that the factions had agreed on ministerial posts for a national unity government: Hamas with the Prime Ministership and seven cabinet posts, and Fatah with six posts. In addition, three independent ministers were reportedly to be named by Hamas, for Interior, Planning, and State Ministries. Four other posts are to be held by other parliamentary parties, the PFLP, the DFLP, Third Way, and Independent Palestine.
The usual suspects, including British Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett, immediately announced that the agreement won't change anything regarding the Palestinian government's position in the world, unless it agrees to Western (and Israeli) demands that it recognize Israel and its right to exist. The Jerusalem Post, however, notes that the principles of the agreement include a promise that the coalition government will "respect" previous peace agreements with Israel. It reports that Hamas will not accept that the government "commit" itself to the accords (which it regards as tantamount to recognition of Israel, which it has long rejected), but will endorse "respect" for the accords.