|Southwest Asia News Digest
Madrid+15 Peace Initiative Moving Forward
A source involved in the Madrid+15 Mideast peace initiative, which held its first conference at the end of last year, told EIR March 2 that some interesting follow-up is in the making. The Crisis Group, which was one of the sponsors of the group's first conference, is about to take a tour of the region, which will take it to Israel, the Palestinian National Authority, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, with the purpose of organizing an international peace conference. To further this, the Madrid+15 will form a steering committee/working group with representatives from each country and sponsoring organization. There is also an attempt to set up an Israeli-Egyptian conference in Egypt, something that has not happened in a long time.
Baker: Hold Peace Talks with Syria
Speaking at a lecture at the Library of Congress on Feb. 27, James Baker III urged the Bush Administration to expand peacemaking to include Syria as well as the Palestinians. Israel, he said, needs peace on both fronts, while Syria may be able to influence Hamas militia to recognize Israel's right to exist. He said, "We need to recognize and accept that the United States will sometimes have to deal with authoritarian states. The United States must recognize the limits of power."
EC To Renew Some Financial Aid to Palestinians
The European Commission will renew some financial aid to the Palestinian National Authority through what is known as the Temporary International Mechanism, details of which were presented at the Quartet meeting at the end of February in Berlin, Ha'aretz reported Feb. 26. The aid would amount to 35 million euros. European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero Waldner was to arrive in Israel on Feb. 27 to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as well as the defense and foreign ministers, and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu. She will then go to Ramallah to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israeli Military: Syria Will Not Attack Unprovoked
Israeli military intelligence said Syria will not attack unless provoked, according to Ha'aretz Feb. 23. Both the head of Israeli military intelligence, Gen. Amos Yadlin and Mossad head Meir Dagan briefed the cabinet on the regional security situation. While both agreed that Syria would not initiate war against Israel, they also warned that if Israel attempted a provocation, such as flying over the palace of Syrian President Bashar Assad, as Israel had done last June, or launched a provocation along its border, Syria would likely respond aggressively. Although neither saw Israel going to war in 2007, both said Iran was determined to acquire nuclear weapons.
New Yorker's Hersh Echoes EIR on Iran
In a lengthy article, in the March 5 New Yorker, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh echoes EIR's Nov. 27, 2006 report of Dick Cheney's Sunni vs. Shi'a strategy for war on Iran. Hersh reiterated the evidence EIR presented and adds a great amount of his own, but fails to report on the recent contrary developments in and around the recent Mecca Palestinian summit meeting.
New elements of the Hersh article include the following:
* The U.S. military has arrested and interrogated hundreds of Iranians in Iraq, holding as many as 500 at one point. "The White House goal is to build up a case that the Iranians have been fomenting the insurgency...."
* In recent months, a special planning group has been established in the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the President, within 24 hours. In recent months, the group has further been assigned to identify Iranian targets that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq.
* Hersh multiply confirms EIR's reports that U.S. aid to Lebanon is getting into the hands of al-Qaeda allied radical Sunni groups there. On this, a Saudi source told Hersh, "Salafis are sick and hateful, and I'm very much against the idea of flirting with them. They hate the Shi'ites, but they hate Americans more. If you try to outsmart them, they will outsmart us. It will be ugly."
* In an interview, Hezbollah head Sheikh Nasrullah told Hersh that the Bush Administration is trying to ethnically partition Iraq, Lebanon, and Syriaobviously true.
* Finally, Hersh reports that "Iran-Contra was the subject of an informal 'lessons learned' discussion two years ago among veterans of the scandal. Elliott Abrams led the discussion. One conclusion was that even though the program was eventually exposed, it had been possible to execute it without telling Congress. As to what the experience taught them, in terms of future covert operations, the participants found: 'One, you can't trust our friends. Two, the CIA has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can't trust the uniformed military, and four, it's got to be run out of the Vice President's office."
Hersh's sources said this was a factor in John Negroponte's resignation as Director of National Intelligence: "No way," he said, "I'm not going down that road again, with the NSC running operations off the books, with no findings." Negroponte also "had problems with this Rube Goldberg policy contraption for fixing the Middle East."
Hersh's sources say the billions of dollars that Paul Bremer lost in Iraq, are being used for black operations all over the world.
"This goes back to Iran-Contra," a former NSC aide told him. "And much of what they're doing is to keep the Agency [CIA] out of it." He said that Congress was not being briefed on the full extent of the U.S.-Saudi operations. And, he said, "The CIA is asking, 'What's going on?' They're concerned, because they think it's amateur hour."
Lyndon LaRouche responded: "It's out of control. The CIA has got a good read on the thing."
Hersh says this will be a subject of Sen. Jay Rockefeller's (D-W.Va.) Senate Intelligence Committee's March 8 hearings on DOD intelligence activities.
Interviewed on CNN's "Late Edition" on Feb. 25, Hersh reiterated that "we [the U.S., i.e., Bush Administration] have been pumping money, a great deal of money, without Congressional authority, without any Congressional oversightPrince Bandar of Saudi Arabia is putting up some of this moneyfor covert operations in many areas of the Middle East where we think that thewe want to stop the Shi'ite spread or the Shi'ite influence."
"All of this should be investigated by Congress, by the way, and I trust it will be," Hersh added. "In my talking to the membership, [Congressional] members there, they are very upset that they know nothing about this. And they have great many suspicions.
Iraqi Official: Iran Not Arming Insurgents
A well-informed Washington intelligence source in Washington told EIR on Feb. 26 that the Bush Administration has complete confirmation of the statements made by Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak Al-Rubaie in his interview with CNN's Late Edition Feb. 25.
Al-Rubaie told interviewer Wolf Blitzer, "See, Wolf, we do not have any solid evidence that Iran is supporting al-Qaeda in Iraq." He added that the aid to Shi'ite militias is very limited. Finding this in contradiction to Bush Administration assertions, Blitzer then asked:
"So let me just be clear on this point, Dr. al-Rubaie, you believe that in recent weeks, the Iranians have stopped interfering, militarily providing improvised explosive devices or any other training, funds or equipment for various Shi'ite militia groups, various forces within Iraq?"
Al-Rubaie replied: "That's absolutely right. Recently the Iranians have changed their position, and we have some evidence that they have stopped supplying arms or creating any of these charge-shaped mines in the streets of Baghdad.
"And they have also advised some of their allies in the Iraqi political arena to change their position and supporting the government to give the Baghdad security plan a good chance of success. I honestly believe that they do not mind if the United States and the American Army and the Iraqi security forces succeed and prevail in Baghdad and defeat terrorism in Iraq."
Cheney's New 'Yellowcake' Hoax Exposed
A cloud has appeared over Dick Cheney's new yellowcake hoax: the claim that Iran is providing roadside bombs to insurgents in Iraq. As the New York Times reported on Feb. 27, the cache of bomb-making components seized in a recent raid in Iraq "included items that appeared to cloud the issue" of their being made in Iran. "Among the confusing elements were cardboard boxes of the gray plastic PVC tubes used to make the canisters. The boxes appeared to contain shipments of tubes directly from factories in the Middle East, none of them in Iran (emphasis added). One box said in English that the tubes inside had been made in the United Arab Emirates and another said, in Arabic, "plastic made in Haditha, a Sunni town in Iraq."