|Southwest Asia News Digest
Jewish Leader: 'Middle East Peace Process Is a Scam'
Aug. 11 (EIRNS)The entire Bush Administration's so-called "peace conference" involving the Arab states, Israel, and the Palestinians is a fraud, says Henry Siegman, in the current issue of the London Review of Books (Aug. 16). Siegman, director of the U.S./Middle East Project at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), is a senior voice of the international Jewish community, and is known as the highest-ranking Jewish member of the U.S. establishment. The article is titled "Middle East Peace Process Is a Scam."
Siegman demands that the U.S. and the European Union finally face up to the real impediments to peace among Israel and the Palestiniansthat is, Israel's notion that the occupation of Palestinian territories, and the creation of "facts on the ground" to justify land grabs, can go on indefinitely. The problem isn't the failure of the Palestinians to renounce violence or to recognize the right of Israel to exist (which the PLO did, a "wrenching concession," for which they never received credit), Siegman writes, but rather "the failure of the international community to reject (other than in empty rhetoric) Israel's notion that the occupation and the creation of 'facts on the ground' can go on indefinitely, so long as there's no agreement acceptable to Israel." This is what has "defeated all previous peace initiatives and the efforts of all peace envoys."
Siegman charges that Israel's interest in a peace process "has been a fiction that has served primarily to provide cover for its systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and an occupation whose goal, according to former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon is 'to sear deep into the consciousness of Palestinians that they are a defeated people.'" He also notes that Dov Weisglas, chief of cabinet to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told the daily Ha'aretz, in a 2004 interview, that the strategic goal of Sharon's diplomacy was to put the peace process and Palestinian statehood in "formaldehyde." This is a "fiendishly appropriate metaphor," Siegman says, because formaldehyde "uniquely prevents the deterioration of dead bodies and sometimes creates the illusion they are still alive."
Siegman concludes that what is required is that the UN Security Council adopt a resolution that affirms the following: 1) Changes to pre-1967 borders can only be made by agreement between the two parties. 2) The default setting for UN Resolution 242 is a return by Israeli forces to the pre-1967 border. 3) If the parties do not reach agreement within 12 months, the default setting will be invoked by the Security Council, which will then adopt its own terms for an end to the conflict and arrange for an international force to enter the occupied territories, help establish the rule of law.
Well-informed sources in Washington described this article as one of the most angry that Siegman has ever written. "He's had it with this administration," said one Middle East expert.
UN Report: Gaza Faces Economic Disaster
Aug. 10 (EIRNS)The ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip has precipitated an economic disaster there. As a result of the Bush Administration's anti-Hamas policy, both Israel and Egypt have closed the border crossings into and out of Gaza to all trucks except those carrying only humanitarian aid. The already fragile internal economy of Gaza, which has a considerable agricultural export sector, has been virtually brought to a standstill. Already 1.1 million of the 1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza are dependent on foreign aid. This will go to 100% very shortly.
Already, two weeks ago, the Palestinian Federation of Industries said it has lost $23 million, and has been forced to dismiss between 70,000 and 120,000 workers in the private sector.
Fatah and Hamas in Secret Talks
Aug. 8 (EIRNS)Secret talks, aimed at laying the basis for a reconciliation, are reportedly taking place between the Palestinian factions of Hamas and Fatah.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said on Aug. 7 that he was prepared to step down in order to pave the way for a resumption of talks between Hamas and Fatah. According a report in the Jerusalem Post, he said, "There are attempts to open channels of communication between the two sides. At this moment, we can't talk about a real dialogue, but these attempts could development into something positive."
One of the proposals being considered is turning over the security headquarters in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to Egyptian authorities. In fact, Egypt, along with a mediator from Kuwait, Muhammad Jassem al-Saqer, who is speaker of the Arab Parliament, is involved in fostering these talks. The two sides have already held meetings, so far at a lower leadership level, in the West Bank, Beirut, Cairo, and Damascus and in a number of Gulf states.
Ahmed Yusef, a political advisor to Haniyeh, said that the only thing blocking progress are some of the advisors to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). "These people are serving an American-Israeli agenda," he said. "They want to maintain the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip and are working toward foiling any attempt to reach an understanding between Fatah and Hamas...." Nonetheless he commented that mediation efforts were "very serious" and that they could "strike a deal" in the near future.
Dump Cheney, Not Maliki
Aug. 10 (EIRNS)As the Cheney-Bush Administration made it clear that it wants to dump Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Iranian leadership signalled, during the visit of Maliki to Tehran Aug. 9, that it now believes that U.S. troops should withdraw from Iraq soon. This is a shift from Tehran's earlier stance, whereby Iran wanted withdrawal to be postponed until the security situation were under control.
Al-Maliki met with all the top leaders: Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and national security chief Ali Larijani, as well as Vice President Parviz Davoudi. Maliki was also quoted by Iranian state media as praising Iran's "constructive" role in "fighting terrorism" in Iraq. Bush's public criticism of Maliki on this point is a reflection of Cheney's commitment to remove the Prime Minister.
Khamenei told Maliki, in the Shi'ite holy city of Mashhad, that it was the presence of the U.S.-led forces that was the "biggest misfortune" shadowing Iraq. "The occupiers claim that if they exit now, Iraq will be destroyed. Whereas if the occupiers leave, all the Iraqi officials will move with full force to solve the people's problems," state television quoted Khamenei as saying. "The U.S. is trying to put in power a lackey government" in Iraq, Khamenei added. "But the U.S. policy will definitely fail and the victors in this arena will be the Iraqi people."
Al-Maliki was quoted as telling Khamenei: "Iraq should regain its independence and dignity. The Iraqi government is trying to get Iraq back to normal." Ahmadinejad earlier told the Iraqi Prime Minister: "Iran and Iraq both have heavy responsibilities to bring about peace and security in the region."
Maliki also made the gesture of meeting the families of Iranian officials arrested in Iraq by U.S. forces on accusations of being members of an elite Revolutionary Guards, on a mission to stir up trouble. "The Iraqi government will do all it can to release these people," Maliki said.
Lyndon LaRouche stressed that the U.S. effort to dump Maliki is a big mistake. U.S. credibility in the region is less than zero, and that any effort in the direction of regime change undermines the possibility of achieving stabilization. Therefore, there should be no more regime change. The lives of too many Americans and others have already been lost because of such policies. Instead of dumping Malaki, dump Cheney.