|Southwest Asia News Digest
Saudis Identified as Patrons of 'al-Qaeda II'
July 15 (EIRNS)A senior U.S. military official in Baghdad has charged that Saudi Arabians make up half of the foreign fighters inside Iraq, and that, under the "worst case" interpretation, the Saudi government is fueling an insurgency that is killing American soldiers and Iraqi civilians.
The Los Angeles Times prominently reported today that "45 percent of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15 percent are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10 percent are from North Africa." The U.S. military official also told reporters, "Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality," and that "50 percent of all Saudi fighters in Iraq come here as suicide bombers," adding that over the past six months, at least 4,000 Iraqis have been killed or injured in suicide bombing attacks.
As Times Baghdad reporter Ned Parker noted, "The situation has left the U.S. military in the awkward position of battling an enemy whose top source of foreign fighters is a key ally that at best has not been able to prevent its citizens from undertaking bloody attacks in Iraq, and at worst shares complicity in sending extremists to commit attacks against U.S. forces, Iraqi civilians and the Shiite-led government in Baghdad."
Indeed, Washington intelligence community sources have reported to EIR that the Saudi governmentparticularly national security advisor Prince Bandar bin-Sultanhas been directly involved in sponsoring "al-Qaeda II," a Wahabi fundamentalist apparatus drawn from Sunni tribes inside Iraq. "al-Qaeda II," according to the sources, has no relation with the bin Laden organization, but is now better armed, better financed, and poses more of a threat to both American forces and the Iraq regime.
State Department Announces New Talks with Iran
July 17 (EIRNS)In the midst of a raging brawl within the Bush Administration over Dick Cheney's demand that the U.S. carry out military strikes against Iran, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters this morning that the United States is ready to hold new direct talks with Iran on the deteriorating security situation in Iraq. "We think that given the situation in Iraq and given Iran's continued behavior that is leading to further instability in Iraq, that it would be appropriate to have another face-to-face meeting," McCormack said. According to Associated Press, he said no date for the Baghdad talks had yet been arranged.
The first set of talks with Iran held by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker on May 28, 2007, broke a 27-year boycott by the United States following the ouster of the Shah of Iran by the Islamic Revolution. While it was planned at these talks to "meet again" in about one month, the anti-Iran lobby in the United States succeeded in raising tensions again. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), an appendage of the Cheney war policy, succeed this week in passing an amendment in the U.S. Senate to "censure" Iran for its role in endangering U.S. troops, an allegation made by Gen. Kevin Bergner, deployed by Cheney to Iraq as part of an disinformation team to falsify intelligence reports from Iraq.
The fact that new talks were announced by the State Department in the midst of Cheney plans for a attack on Iran as early as August, the Lieberman amendment, and the Bergner disinformation, indicates the level of faction fighting in the Bush Administration.
U.K. Paper: Cheney Has Upper Hand for Iran War
July 16 (EIRNS)Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly has reasserted the military option against Iran, according to an account in today's London Guardian from a "well-placed source in Washington."
At a June meeting on Iran policy involving the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department, Cheney gained the upper hand. He was opposed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, along with Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. "The balance has tilted. There is cause for concern," the Guardian's source said.
Burns had told the meeting that diplomatic maneuvering would continue until January 2009, which displeased Cheney and Bush.
"Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo," the source said.
The Guardian reports that almost half of the 277 U.S. warships are stationed close to Iran, including two carrier groups. But the paper quotes a Pentagon spokesman as saying that, when the USS Enterprise arrives there, the USS Nimitz will leave, and that there will be no overlap which would leave three carriers in the Gulf at the same time.
In fact, the July 13 India Defense Review reported that both the Nimitz and the USS Kitty Hawk will be participating in five-nation military maneuvers in the Bay of Bengal in September, which means that four U.S. aircraft carriers will be in or near the Persian Gulf by that time, at the latest.
An informed Washington source confirmed the broad substance of the Guardian's account, along with the above report about the four U.S. carrier groups.
Colin Powell: Talk to Hamas
July 20 (EIRNS)Former Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that the only way to move the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians was to engage Hamas. This was in sharp contrast to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Her Majesty's former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who, speaking at a meeting of the Quartet of Middle East mediators in Lisbon, declared their refusal to deal with Hamas. Rice demanded that Hamas recognize the right for Israel to exist and renounce violence in order to achieve "international respectability" before she would talk to them.
"I don't think you can just cast them into outer darkness and try to find a solution to the problems of the region without taking into account the standing that Hamas has in the Palestinian community," Powell said in an interview with National Public Radio (NPR). Pointing out that Hamas has considerable support within the Palestinian population and controls the Gaza Strip, he said, "They won an election that we insisted upon having," and having won, they needed to be engaged, "as unpleasant a group as they may be and as distasteful as I find some of their positions."
Pentagon Figures: Training Iraqi Security Forces "an Illusion"
July 20 (EIRNS)An op-ed by Lt. Gen. William Odom (ret.) (former head of Army Intelligence and of the National Security Agency) and former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, published in the July 19 Financial Times, attacked as an "illusion," the idea that the Iraqi insurgencies can be combatted by training local security forces. They say that the application of this program in Iraq will have the effect opposite of that desired: We simply arming the several sides in a civil war.
"The fundamental problem with the Iraqi security forces is that they lack allegiance to the national government and the will to fight and die for a non-existent Iraqi nation." Further, they say, even were the factions not shooting each other, there's a danger that the Shia-dominated national security forces will turn their weapons on U.S. troops as they begin to withdraw, or will turn their weapons on Sunni neighborse.g., Saudi Arabia, in support of Iran.
Odom and Korb cite other situations in recent U.S. history concerning such training programs, such as Vietnam, where the South Vietnamese forces failed "not because they were incompetent, but because the government lost the banner of nationalism to the Viet Cong." They conclude with the demand that the United States set a deadline for troop withdrawal, and cease supplying weapons and training to all sides, lest we endanger departing U.S. troops and enhance the civil war's violence after we depart.
Syrian President Calls for Direct Talks with Israel
July 17 (EIRNS)Addressing the People's Assembly after being sworn in for his second term as President, Syria's Bashar al-Assad reiterated Syria's readiness to hold peace talks with Israel, provided those talks are above-board and open. A number of foreign delegations have come to Syria with messages from Israeli officials and others on peace. However, "we do not want secret talks. We ask Israel's leaders to state in a clear and official manner their desire for peace," and their guarantee that they will return all of Syria's land, Assad said.
Did France Have To Threaten Israel To Hold Lebanon Summit?
PARIS, July 18 (EIRNS)During the first day of the Lebanese all-party summit in Paris on July 14, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassah reported that the French government had strongly warned Israel against any aggression toward the conference participants, stating that France would consider any such attempt an attack against itself, and that Franco-Israeli relations would be severely affected.
According to the Kuwaiti paper, the warning came after French secret services discovered that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was scheming to kidnap members of the Lebanese Shi'ite groups Hezbollah or Amal on their way to the conference. The information came from both Israel and an Arab state, probably Jordan, the paper reported.
As a result, France increased the security detail for the conference to 400, equivalent to what is required for a European summit. An eyewitness at the final press conference of the Lebanese summit, observed strong police intervention when two cars tried to bypass the security perimeter.