|Southwest Asia News Digest
Scowcroft, Brzezinski Warn of Loose Talk About Bombing Iran
July 23 (EIRNS)While putative U.S. Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama try to outdo each other in threatening Iran, two former National Security Advisors warned against loose talk about bombing Iran, during a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on July 22.
"Don't talk about, 'Do we bomb them now or do we bomb them after they get the weapon.' That's not the point," said Brent Scowcroft, who served in the Ford and the Bush 41 Administrations. Scowcroft said that talk of bombing "puts it in the wrong context," and is "militarizing the problem."
Zbigniew Brzezinski, who essentially ran the Carter Administration, said that he doesn't want the public to get the idea that a pre-emptive attack on Iran is justified, "because I think a pre-emptive attack on Iran would produce a calamity for sure." Brzezinski added that he is against the notion of "keeping all options on the table," because it obstructs the negotiating processboth by convincing the Iranians that they are being threatened, and by pushing them into a more nationalistic, dogmatic stance, and uniting them against us. Brzezinski also said that by casually talking about bombing Iran, we are legitimizing the use of military force, and this may "tempt the Israelis even more to use force, because we are in effect saying it's a legitimate option."
If we get into a war with Iran, Brzezinski said, "there will be a disaster," and the U.S. will be involved in a four-front war, probably for two decades, mentioning Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Joint Chiefs Head Mullen 'Encouraged' by Iran Talks
July 20 (EIRNS)Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen said, during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," that he was "encouraged" by the talks that took place in Geneva the previous day, concerning Iran's nuclear program, with the participation of U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns. "A few weeks ago, I wouldn't have thought those were possible," he said, calling for further economic, diplomatic, financial, and political pressure, to bring Iran to the point where the nuclear issue can be dealt with. When asked by the interviewer about the risk of military strikes on Iran, Mullen replied that "it would be significant. I worry about it a lot.... I'm fighting two wars, and I don't need a third one.... I worry about the instability in that part of the world and, in fact, the possible unintended consequences of a strike like that and, in fact, having an impact throughout the region that would be difficult to both predict exactly what it would be and then the actions that we would have to take to contain it." Instead, he said, other types of pressure have to be brought to bear on Iran not to proceed with any nuclear weapons program. "I believe they're headed in that direction," he said.
There were no immediate results from the Geneva talks. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana was quoted saying that the talks were "constructive," but "we didn't get the answer we were hoping for. I hope very much we will get an answer to our question presented five weeks ago and we hope we will get it in two weeks."
Turkey Plays Mediating Role in Iran Nuclear Talks
July 21 (EIRNS)The Geneva 5 plus 1 talks between Iran and the EU, U.S., Germany, France, China, and Russia ended with Iran being given a two-week deadline, to say yes or no to a new proposal. While some media say Iran would have to "suspend" enrichment, South Africa's Mail & Guardian reports that the issue is a "freeze for freeze," in which "Iran would not expand its uranium enrichment program, while the international community refrained from imposing further sanctions." This phase would last six weeks, "possibly paving the way for suspension of enrichment and more comprehensive talks."
Iran's nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, traveled from Geneva directly to Turkey, where he met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan. His visit follows a trip to Ankara on July 18 by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, when Babacan announced that Turkey would be prepared to act as a mediator between Iran and the West, if it were asked to do so. One day before Mottaki's arrival in Turkey, U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley was in Ankara.
While in Turkey, Mottaki announced that next year will be "Iranian-Turkish Cultural Year," when the two countries will hold a series of events celebrating the 50th anniversary of signing a cultural agreement.
Obama in Israel: A Man for All Wars
July 23 (EIRNS)Before arriving in Israel on July 22 to threaten war against Iran, Barack Obama gave an interview to CBS-TV, calling for an escalation of the war in Afghanistan, and claiming that the troops and the money that the Bush Administration has put into Iraq, should have gone into Afghanistan instead. Obama also pointed out that he's been calling for more troops for Afghanistan for over a year.
Obama was in Jordan where he met King Abdullah II, who told him that the United States should adopt an "even-handed" policy on Israel-Palestine. However, Obama said that he doesn't intend to change the current U.S. approach.
Upon arriving in Israel, Obama made a statement supporting Israel's attack on the alleged nuclear site in Syriasomething about which the Israeli government itself has been very circumspect. "I think that there was sufficient evidence that the [Syrians] were developing a site using a nuclear blueprint that was similar to the North Korean model." Then, according to Ynet, he used a line that was coined by Israeli Likud party right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu: "The Israelis live in a very tough neighborhood where a lot of folks publicly proclaim Israel as an enemy and then act on those proclamations."
On July 23, Obama visited the town of Sderot, where he gave a press conference stressing his "unshakeable commitment to Israel's security," and said that "the world must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
"I will take no options off the table in dealing with this potential Iranian threat," Obama said, adding that "a nuclear Iran would be a game-changing situation not just in the Middle East, but around the world."
Besides meeting with top Israeli and Palestinian officials, Obama also met with Likud chairman Netanyahu. "The Senator and I agreed that the primacy of preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power is clear, and this should guide our mutual policies," Netanyahu said in a statement.
Sweeping Arrests of Fatah in Gaza
July 26 (EIRNS)In the wake of a Gaza Strip car-bombing which killed four military leaders of Hamas yesterday, the Hamas government of Gaza has reportedly arrested up to 200 leaders of the Fatah faction there. The Israeli daily Ha'aretz reports that Hamas blames exiled Fatah security chief Mahmoud Dahlan for the bombing. The head of Fatah's parliamentary caucus says that Hamas knows the identity of the assassin, and that he is not under control of Fatah.