|Southwest Asia News Digest
UN Security Council Overrides Lebanese Sovereignty
May 31 (EIRNS)With five of 15 members abstaining, the United Nations Security Council on May 30 approved the establishment of a special international court to try suspects in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Refusing to support this U.S.-British-French-backed initiative were Russia, China, South Africa, Indonesia, and Qatar.
"Establishing the tribunal by a unilateral decision of the UN Security Council damages Lebanese sovereignty," Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN envoy, was quoted by Novosti. He added that, although "we believe the perpetrators of that crime must be prosecuted," the Security Council's move is "dubious" from the standpoint of international law.
The UNSC "cannot be seen to be taking sides in internal Lebanese politics," Dumisani Kumalo, South Africa's UN Ambassador, told the Council. He spoke of the danger that the Council's "imposition" of the court on Lebanon's divided political leadership would undercut "the political stability of an already fragile Lebanese state."
Amb. Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser of Qatar, the only Arab member of the Security Council, said he feared the ruling "would not bring stability in Lebanon," and involved "legal encroachment that may further complicate the situation."
Syria's Amb. Bashar Jaafari is quoted by the official Syrian Arab News Agency charging that the tribunal "violates Lebanese sovereignty." Jaafari added, "Those who were behind such a resolution would assume the consequences, but definitely this is something that goes against the interests of the Lebanese people and Lebanon as a whole."
In fact, the Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora could not get the ratification of a tribunal through the parliament, which has now been given until June 10 to ratify the tribunal; if it does not, the UN may act unilaterally. That the resolution was adopted under the UN Charter's Chapter 7, which refers to breaches of the peace and aggression, is an open provocation, since it has yet to be shown that any foreign power was behind the Hariri murder. Furthermore, Chapter 7 opens the way for the UN to impose economic and political sanctions, and even use military force, against any who do not cooperate with the tribunal. Thus, if Syria should refuse to extradite one of its citizens, should any be indicted or subpoenaed, it could be targeted for sanctions and even military action.
U.S. Arms To Lebanon: Who Is Getting Them?
May 27 (EIRNA)EIR investigators are probing the ongoing destabilization of Lebanon, and are finding increasing evidence that the Dick Cheney-Elliott Abrams apparatus inside the Bush White House may be wilfully fueling a new civil war, pitting Sunni Islamists against Hezbollah.
Eyewitness accounts provided to EIR sources indicate that the Fatah al-Islam group, which has been engaged in a showdown with the Lebanese Army inside a Palestinian refugee camp near the northern Lebanon city of Tripoli, has been financed and armed by Saudi Arabia, and by Saad Hariri, the son of slain Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, with the backing of the Cheney-Abrams circles in Washington. According to these sources, the Fatah al-Islam is a Taliban-like grouping of Salafi Islamists, who earned the hatred of many people inside the Palestinian refugee camp, for attempting to impose harsh Islamic law. Reportedly, the vast majority of the estimated 300-400 members of the group are not Palestinian, but came into Lebanon from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, North Africa, and other parts of the Muslim world.
Since May 24, a total of eight cargo planes full of military equipment have arrived in Beirut, ostensibly to boost the Lebanese Army. Four of the planes came from the U.S. Air Force, two from the United Arab Emirates, and two from Jordan, according to the Washington Post.
Sources on the ground in Lebanon are perplexed over the massive military resupply effort, given the small size of Fatah al-Islam, and given that under a 1969 treaty, the Lebanese Army cannot enter the Palestinian camps, which are considered to be sovereign Palestinian territory. Groups like Fatah al-Islam, according to sources, have proliferated in the eight Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, since the Israeli military assaulted the Palestinian Authority during the period of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the first George W. Bush Administration. The destruction of the Fatah/PLO infrastructure contributed to the ungovernability inside the PLO-administered camps in Lebanon, and created the opportunity for the fundamentalist gangs to emerge, sources emphasized to EIR. At that point, the Hariri grouping, along with Saudi businessmen and princes, with the blessing of Saudi Prince Bandar, began arming and funding groups like Fatah al-Islam, to create what one senior U.S. intelligence official described as a "Saudi-controlled asymmetric warfare capability, to challenge Iran."
The massive arms shipments into Lebanon over recent days have raised serious questions, according to Arab sources contacted by EIR, about where the arms are actually going: to the Lebanese Army, or to the Sunni countergangs and the private militias of Saad Hariri? Sources also warn of a humanitarian nightmare, with tens of thousands of Palestinians fleeing the refugee camp, in the wake of artillery barrages targeting the Fatah al-Islam enclaves inside the sprawling facility.
Cheney Cabal Wants To Overthrow Iraqi Prime Minister
May 29 (EIRNS)A Washington plan to overthrow Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was put "on hold" about three weeks ago, after it was decided that the scheme to replace him with the former occupation-installed Premier Iyad Allawi would not work, reported an Egyptian-based intelligence source.
But, the plan is favored by its patron, Vice President Dick Cheney, and his closest ally in Saudi Arabia, the former ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, known as the "Saudi neo-con." The reason for the delay is that there is no force in Iraq that is capable of enforcing Cheney's "new order," and the U.S. is frantically trying to build up an Iraqi internal security apparatus that could do the job.
Cheney's lack of support for al-Maliki complicates and undermines the U.S.-Iran-Iraq talks which took place on May 28 between U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker and Iranian Ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi, said the source, whose assessment is that Cheney is totally committed to a military attack on Iran, but has met intense opposition from the U.S. military. Ahead of Cheney's visit to Saudi Arabia, on May 11, the Washington Post played up the Saudi opposition to al-Maliki, a Shi'ite, who has not eased any of the discrimination and mistreatment of Sunni Muslims in Iraq under the U.S. occupation's "de-Baathification." In order to enlist Saudi support for an attack on Iran, Cheney had promised more "rights" for Sunnis in Iraq, but has failed to deliver.
On May 30, al-Maliki himself told CBS News that there is a real threat of a military coup against him by the Iraqi army. Al-Maliki said that some of the officer corps "are making problems; sometimes they even violate the security of military operations." And he added: "I'm not afraid, but I have to watch the army, because those still loyal to the previous regime may start planning coups. Those people don't believe in democracy, and for that reason we are monitoring the status of the army very closely."
Turkish Army Chief Indirectly Attacks Cheney as Terrorist Sponsor
June 1 (EIRNS)"There are countries directly and/or indirectly supporting PKK [Kurdish separatist] terrorism, among our allies," said Turkish Chief of Staff General Yasar Buyukanit during an international symposium in Istanbul on security on May 31. As reported in the New Anatolian, Buyukanit didn't mention any country by name, but he said that terrorism against Turkey is "supported by those who give us lessons on human rights." The New Anatolian concludes that the general was talking about certain NATO countries, but fails to mention the obvious: that the Kurdish separatists have been the darlings of Dick Cheney and the neo-cons.
Buyukanit continued: "Countries use a double standard in combatting terrorism, and turn a blind eye to activities of persons or organizations that do not stage terrorist attacks on their own territories." He also criticized NATO for turning a blind eye to the manipulation by ethnic separatism aimed at dismantling nation-states: "Some of our allies focus on terrorism stemming from fundamentalist trends. Actually, terrorism cannot be defined in this way. Terrorism is also fed by separatist nationalist tendencies. This kind of terrorism is as dangerous as the first one. However, some countries consider such kind of terrorism a domestic problem. This is an extremely dangerous approach since it seriously hampers the fight against terrorism.... The ethnic nationalist fascist terrorist organization PKK is an example of this."
Buyukanit also opposed the American move to hand over the security responsibilities of northern Iraq to the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil, saying: "Such special status for the Kurds is noteworthy, and we feel is inappropriate." However, the general denied that there is any military build-up in southeastern Turkey by Turkish Armed Forces on the border with Iraq. He said these reports are false and harmful. Buyukanit had said at a press conference on April 12 that there is a need for a cross-border operation into the North of Iraq against PKK bases.
Was Israel Behind Entebbe Hijacking?
June 1 (EIRNS)Recently released British Foreign Office documents revealed that at least one source claimed Israel was behind the 1976 hijacking of an Air France airliner by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). This led to the famous Entebbe raid to free the hostages in Uganda, by the Israeli army. The purpose of this operation, said the source, was to prevent the growing rapprochement between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the United States.
According to a June 1 BBC report, the document was written in the midst of the crisis on June 30, 1976, by David Hugh Colvin of the British Embassy, who received the information from one of his sources.
"According to his information," Colvin wrote, "the hijacking was the work of the PFLP, with help from the Israeli Secret Service, the Shin Bet." He add, "The operation was designed to torpedo the PLO's standing in France and to prevent what they see as a growing rapprochement between the PLO and the Americans. My contact said the PFLP had attracted all sorts of wild elements, some of whom had been planted by the Israelis."
The only Israeli soldier killed was Jonathan Netanyahu, the brother of Benjamin Netanyahu. Three hostages died, as did up to 20 Ugandans. All the hijackers were killed in the Israeli attack that freed the hostages at Entebbe airport, so no evidence was left behind.
David Hugh Colvin was a professional foreign service officer and former British Ambassador to Belgium. In 2004 he was one of 52 former British Ambassadors and foreign service officers who signed an open letter critical of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Iraq policy.