|Southwest Asia News Digest
Are Cheney and the Brits Plotting a Coup vs. Maliki?
Aug. 25 (EIRNS)There is mounting evidence that the Cheney-Bush Administration and the British government are plotting the overthrow of the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in order to replace him with a "strongman" tied to former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and the recast Iraqi intelligence service. According to one well-placed Arab source, the U.S. and British governments are working behind the scenes to isolate and discredit the current Iraqi Prime Minister, with accusations that he is an Iranian agent or, at least, a Shi'ite-only sectarian leader, who cannot hold the country together.
U.S. intelligence sources contacted by EIR have confirmed that both Washington and London, under strong pressure from Saudi Arabia, are trying to oust Maliki, and blame him for the failure to politically stabilize Iraq through the Bush Administration's failed military "surge" policy. On Aug. 24, a number of U.S. news organizations, including ABC and CNN, revealed that Allawi had hired a White House-linked Washington public relations firm to lobby for him. The $300,000 payment went to Barbour Griffith & Rogers, a firm headed by Robert Blackwill, the former Bush White House special emissary to Iraq. BGR also employs Philip Zelikow, a recently retired aide to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and top Bush-Cheney fundraiser Lanny Griffith. The firm's founder, Haley Barbour, headed the Republican National Committee at the time of the 2000 Bush-Cheney election, and is now the Republican Governor of Mississippi.
The "dump Maliki" rhetoric has also come, increasingly, from the mouths of Bush Administration officials, including the U.S. Ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, and President Bush himself. Speaking in Montebello, Quebec, during a summit meeting with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts last week, President Bush hinted that the Iraqi parliament should dump the Prime Minister. The backlash against the President from "the foreign policy establishment," according to one U.S. intelligence source, was so severe, that several days later, speaking before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the President reversed himself and praised Maliki as "a good guy." Nevertheless, the Bush-Cheney kiss of death was unmistakable, and sources tell EIR that the coup maneuvers are moving apace.
One U.S. intelligence official, who confirmed the efforts to replace Maliki, and the role of Allawi in the effort, cautioned that the prospect of success was near zero, and the outcome of such an effort could be disastrousleading to the breakup of the country altogether.
NIE on Iraq Presents Mixed Picture
Aug. 24 (EIRNS)A new U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, released in a declassified summary on Aug. 23, concludes that although the addition of 30,000 U.S. troops in Iraq has brought some reduction in violence, "Broadly accepted political compromises required for sustained security, long-term political progress, and economic development are unlikely to emerge unless there is a fundamental shift in the factors driving Iraqi political and security developments." It also says that the "bottom-up" security initiatives that have reduced violence in Anbar province "represent the best prospect for improved security over the next six to 12 months" but only if they're accepted by the government in Baghdad. As for the viability of that government, the intelligence community "assesses that the Iraqi government will become more precarious over the next six to 12 months because of criticism by other members of the major Shia coalition, Grand Ayatollah Sistani, and other Sunni and Kurdish parties." On the other hand, "We judge that [Prime Minister] Maliki will continue to benefit from recognition among Shia leaders that searching for a replacement could paralyze the government."
In what appears to be a response to Congressional calls for a reduction in U.S. troops levels and a change in their mission, the NIE states that, "changing the mission of coalition forces from a primarily counterinsurgency and stabilization role to a primary combat support role for Iraqi forces and counter-terrorist operations to prevent AQI [Al-Qaeda in Iraq] from establishing a safe haven would erode security gains achieved so far."
No mention is made, in this unclassified summary, of the potential impact on the situation in Iraq of Dick Cheney's war plans for Iran, the Cheney plan to dump Maliki, or of the Saudi role in the Sunni areas, in conjunction with those plans.
Maliki Warns Washington: Iraq 'Can Find Friends Elsewhere'
Aug. 22 (EIRNS)Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki today lashed out against President Bush's recent demands that the Iraqi government has "to do more" to solve the crisis.
Addressing a conference in Syria, Maliki responded: "No one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government. It was elected by its people.... We care for our people and our constitution and can find friends elsewhere," Maliki said.
Maliki told the audience that he blamed the U.S. Presidential campaign for the latest spate of attacks. "Those who make such statements are bothered by our visit to Syria. We will pay no attention."
Prime Minister al-Maliki did not name any names, but he was clearly referring to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who said on Aug. 20 that Maliki, a Shi'ite, should be ousted and replaced with a less sectarian leader. Earlier, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said he was disappointed and frustrated by the lack of political progress by al-Maliki's government.
Brits Leaving Iraq Put South in Militia Hands
Aug. 25 (EIRNS)Sources in Britain have told the London Guardian that the withdrawal of troops from the last British base in the city of Basra "is imminent." Ministry of Defence officials privately say that a decision in principle has been taken, and the 500 British troops are on the verge of leaving.
Apparently, security at the base is so precarious that Labour MP Kevan Jones, a member of the House of Commons Defence Committee who just returned from a visit there, described delivery of supplies to the base as "nightly suicide missions." He said "We have a force surrounded like cowboys and Indians in the Basra palace."
The Guardian report conforms with a discussion EIR had with a senior British military source, who admitted that they are turning southern Iraq over to Shi'ite militiasnot the Iraqi governmentand that it's the British government policy to do so.
U.S. Rejects IAEA-Iranian Nuclear Agreement
Aug. 25 (EIRNS)On Aug. 22, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran reached a breakthrough which the Agency characterized as a "milestone." It set up a framework for settling all outstanding issues. However, the U.S. has rejected the deal. As the LaRouche Political Action Committee (LPAC) has warned for months, there is no possibility to normalize U.S. relations with Iranor take the war danger off the tableas long as Dick Cheney remains as Vice Presidentand the controller of the Bush Administration.
Following two days of talks in Tehran, IAEA deputy director Olli Heinonen, and deputy secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Javad Vaeedi, announced they had reached "effective progress," Vaeedi told IRNA today. He said that the two succeeded "to finalize an agreement previously made between the SNSC's secretary, Ali Larijani, the IAEA secretary general, Mohamed ElBaradei, and the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana. We made great and effective progress in fulfilling this major mission," Vaeedi stressed.
Heinonen referred to his talks with Vaeedi as "good and productive," noting, "We have now in front of us an agreed working plan, how to implement it, and we have a timeline for the implementation." Heinonen said exact details about their agreements "will be revealed in ElBaradei's report to be published in September." Asked whether the dossier would be returned from the UN Security Council to the IAEA, Heinonen replied: "We will deliver our report to the Board of Governors [of the IAEA] and it is up to the Security Council to send back or keep the case."
The U.S. response came immediately, from Greg Schulte, the ambassador at the IAEA in Vienna. The U.S. criticized the deal as having "real limitations," and again accused Iran of manipulating IAEA inspectors. Schulte also complained that Iran had not complied with earlier agreements, and argued for tougher sanctions at the UN Security Council. While the ambassador's statement in itself cannot dictate what the IAEA does, Washington-based intelligence sources tell EIR that Cheney is pushing for a hard resolution against Iran at the UN over the nuclear program, despite opposition from China, which has a veto in the Security Council, and from the European Union, which has been involved with the IAEA/Iran negotiations.
Also on Aug. 22, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on a visit to Azerbaijan, reiterated his nation's commitment to continue its nuclear energy program, adding, "We think that all people should develop nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes within the IAEA."