|Southwest Asia News Digest
Is Elliott Abrams Promoting Palestinian Civil War?
May 17 (EIRNS)Clashes continue between Hamas and Fatah factions in Gaza, which have left 41 dead. On May 16, Hamas declared a unilateral ceasefire with the hope that fighting would end. At the same time, Israel has launched counter-strikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, in retaliation for the firing of Qassam rockets into Israel.
As EIR has reported over the past weeks, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams, Dick Cheney's close ally, has covertly promoted a policy of provoking armed confrontation between Hamas and Fatah. According to well-placed Washington and Egyptian sources, Abrams is running a covert fund under the guise of "democracy promotion," that is providing arms to Palestinian factions, to provoke the conflict.
The sources added that the same pattern of Abrams-directed outside interference had been uncovered in January 2007, when civil war nearly erupted in the Gaza Strip. At that time, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah intervened by sponsoring unity government talks in Mecca, that led to the formation of a Palestinian Authority coalition government, made up of Hamas, Fatah, and independent ministers. Under the so-called "Abrams Plan," armed confrontation between the rival Palestinian factions is to be promoted, leading to the collapse of the unity government, and early elections, in which, Abrams and his neo-con allies hope, Fatah would win and the "Hamas factor" would be diminished.
Shortly before the announcement of the ceasefire by Hamas, gunfire struck the home in Gaza of Palestinian Prime Minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in which, fortunately, no one was hurt. Despite the truce, two additional Hamas members were killed in clashes.
During the nearly week-long fighting, Fatah suffered the most casualties. Fatah leader in Gaza Mohammed Dahlan, who has been leading the campaign against Hamas, has been out of Gaza for the past week, undergoing surgery in a Cairo hospital.
Meanwhile Qassam rockets continue to be fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz has called for a temporary evacuation of Sderot, which has been the prime target of these attacks. Prime Minister Olmert has ordered a "harsh response" that would include a resumption of targetted assassinations.
Likud Party chairman Benjamin Netanyahu called on the government to cut off the water and power supply to Gaza in retaliation until the rocket-fire ends. Speaking at an event commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Likud Party first coming to power in 1977, Netanyahu said the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "must leave this world."
LaRouche: Did Rice Tell Bush What Abrams Is Doing in Gaza?
May 19 (EIRNS)Reviewing new reports of a covert operation to foment Palestinian civil war by National Security Council Middle East officer Elliott Abrams, Lyndon LaRouche said today that the question to ask is: "Did the Secretary of State tell the President about the problem?" Does the President know what is happening, or is the U.S. already ungovernable?
Abrams is a notorious neo-con warmonger, working on behalf of Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of State George P. Shultz. Abrams, who was convicted of lying to Congress about the Iran-Contra affair, is actually running White House policy on the Middle East for Cheney and Cheney's boss, George Shultz.
In the 1980s, Shultz oversaw the destruction of Lebanon through fomenting civil war by arming different factions against each other. Now, the "Shultz plan" is being implemented in Gaza, through Cheney and Abrams, with the British Empire manipulating from "behind the curtains."
"Go to the cause of the problem," said LaRouche, which is the fact that the President of the United States is dysfunctional. "That's a strategic issue," he said.
There are other critical questions to be answered:
* What is the source of the Israeli weapons that are covertly arming the Palestinian factions?
* What is Abrams doing to hijack the policy of the United States?
Abrams has been the Secretary of State's "shadow" in every meeting in Israel and in the Arab world, report both Israeli and Arab sources, and he reports back to sociopath Cheney, who is trying to both liquidate Hamas, and to overthrow the Israeli government in order to bring in Bibi Netanyahu as Prime Minister.
And as Rice was reportedly attempting to get the Israelis and Palestinians to agree to meeting certain "benchmarks" in the course of resuming negotiations for Israeli-Palestinian "peace," Abrams was briefing American Jewish "communal leaders" that there was nothing substantive in Rice's actions. According to Jerusalem Post writer Nathan Guttman's article of May 16, published on lebaneselobby.org, Abrams told a "regular gathering" of Jewish Republicans that President Bush is an "emergency brake" who would prevent Israel from being forced into accepting conditions which it finds "uncomfortable." Abrams added that what Rice was engaged in was "just process," and did not have the backing of Bush.
Washington sources say that Abrams had no such assurances from Bush, and that it is quite likely that Bush is not briefed on what his "Svengali" Cheney is up to with Abrams.
Israeli Expert: 'Bush May Strike Iran Near End of Term'
May 16 (EIRNS)A top Israeli strategic expert, Shai Feldman, warned that the Bush Administration could conduct a military strike against Iran toward the end of its term in office (January 2009), especially if Vice President Dick Cheney wins the policy debate over Iran. Feldman is formerly of the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies and now director of the Crown Center for Middle East studies at Brandeis University in New York.
"I, for one, don't exclude the possibility that the U.S. will act," Feldman told the Jerusalem Post. "My feeling, though, is that if it will act, it will act in the last months of the administration, mostly because I think that they are inclined to try to give the other options the fullest possible chance." Feldman warned that the danger would increase as Bush becomes a lame duck. "The paradox of this is that the closer you are to a position of being a lame-duck president, the more freedom of action you have," he said.
Feldman said the policy debate continues in the Bush Administration, with Vice President Dick Cheney taking the hard line against Iran, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaning toward engagement with Iran.
Coming out in support of a U.S. dialogue with Tehran, Feldman said the American war in Iraq had left Iran "the sole power in the Persian Gulf." Calling himself "a deterrence theorist," he said he was convinced that deterrence could work, because there is a clear address in Iran for dialogue, the regime is aware of the costs of war, and it is sensitive to outside forces. "This is not an isolated regime like North Korea, and like Saddam was," he said. "It's a regime that's got extremely good sensors, and in the past it has reacted to international pressures."
He also said he doesn't believe Israel and the U.S. are coordinating their policies on Iran, despite the fact that they discuss the question so often.
Iran Ready for Full Diplomatic Ties with Egypt
May 16 (EIRNS)Iran is ready to restore full diplomatic relations with Egypt, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday. "We are ready to establish diplomatic ties with Egypt. If the Egyptian government signals its willingness, we will open our embassy that very same day," Ahmadinejad told reporters, according to the IRNA news agency. Iran and Egypt have only had interest sections in their respective countries since 1980, after Iran cut ties, following the Islamic Revolution, in protest at Cairo's recognition of Israel. Iran was also reacting to Egypt's having given asylum to the deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
An Egyptian political figure, who has been involved in negotiating the reestablishment of ties, for years, emphasized to EIR the importance of such a step, which, in the current situation, would dampen attempts by the Cheneyacs to use Egypt against Iran. Egypt is the only Arab state that does not have ties with Iran.
Iraqis Want Timetable for U.S. Withdrawal, Too
May 12 (EIRNS)The New York Times reports that 144 of the 275 members of the Iraqi Parliament have signed a petition for a timetable governing withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The withdrawal would be contingent on the readiness of Iraqi security forces to take over from U.S. troops so as not to create a security vacuum. A member of the Sadr bloc in the parliament told the Times that the document is being developed by the relevant committees into a draft bill.
Britain's Chatham House Revels in Bush Iraq Quagmire
May 18 (EIRNS)In a briefing paper, "Accepting Realities in Iraq," the London-based Royal Institute for International Affairs (RIIA)aka Chatham Housesaid that Iraq has fractured into regional power bases and there is no longer "a" civil war, but many civil wars and insurgencies which are involving a number of communities and organizations struggling for power.
The report pointed out the critical destabilizing issues will come to the fore in 2007-08. Federalism, the control of oil, and control of disputed territories, need to be resolved. While the Bush Administration is still clinging to the hope that the situation in Iraq can be turned around, Chatham House says that it is interesting to note the recent change in language regarding Iraq, particularly in the United States. This began in the second half of 2006, as observers, senior military figures, and politicians alike came to see the outlook as increasingly bleak. Previously confident "declarations of victory" began to be replaced with more cautious, even ominous, warnings of "hard times ahead" and an even more stark claim that "victory is still possible."