|Southwest Asia News Digest
Conflicts of Interest Plague Dennis Ross
Jan. 25 (EIRNS)While Dennis Ross remains in contention for the vital post of the Obama Administration's special envoy to Iran, new evidence suggests that Ross is caught up in such a blatant conflict of interest, that he should remove himself immediately from consideration.
As initially reported on Col. Patrick Lang's authoritative website, Ross is chairman of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (JPPPI), a think tank established in 2002 by the Jewish Agency. The organization is directed by a team of top Israeli military and diplomatic personnel, including at least one figure with ties to the Larry Franklin/American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spy ring. Franklin, an Iran analyst at the Pentagon, pled guilty to espionage in 2006 and was sentenced to 12 years and 7 months in prison. He agreed to cooperate with Federal prosecutors.
Uzi Arad, a director of the JPPPI, heads the Interdisciplinary Center at Herzliya, Israel, and is a former Mossad officer. Arad was deeply implicated in the Franklin spy case, having brought Franklin to Herzliya conferences, and having met with him at the Pentagon on at least one occasion. U.S. intelligence sources had told EIR, when the Franklin case first surfaced, that Arad was being positioned to be his "handler." The argument was that an "ex" Mossad officer, working at a "think tank," could give Israeli intelligence plausible deniability of any role in the spying efforts, should Franklin be caught. Arad's name appeared in the Franklin indictment, and it is unclear what further details have emerged in the probe into the two AIPAC officials accused of channeling Franklin's intelligence reports to Israel; they are still awaiting trial.
The fact that Ross is the chairman of an organization that is a virtual branch of the Israeli government, should be reason enough for his name to be removed from consideration for such a sensitive diplomatic assignment. The Israeli government has made it clear that it has a very different policy towards Iran than does the United States, as evidenced by the fact that Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Michael Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates made it clear, throughout 2008, that the United States was opposed to any Israeli preventive military strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.
Al-Faisal: Obama Must Act Quickly on Mideast Peace
Jan. 23 (EIRNS)Former Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Turki al-Faisal writes in the Financial Times that President Barack Obama must act quickly and firmly for a Middle East peace. Turki notes that his confidence in the possibility of peace with Israel was almost irreversibly shaken by Israel's brutal war against Gaza, and therefore Obama must take "forceful steps" to prevent any further suffering of the Palestinians. He writes:
"First, President Barack Obama must address the disaster in Gaza and its causes. Inevitably, he will condemn Hamas's firing of rockets at Israel. When he does that, he should also condemn Israel's atrocities against the Palestinians and support a UN resolution to that effect; forcefully condemn the Israeli actions that led to this conflict, from settlement building in the West Bank to the blockade of Gaza and the targeted killings and arbitrary arrests of Palestinians; declare America's intention to work for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, with a security umbrella for countries that sign up and sanctions for those that do not; call for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Shebaa Farms in Lebanon; encourage Israeli-Syrian negotiations for peace; and support a UN resolution guaranteeing Iraq's territorial integrity." Obama should then promote the Arab peace initiative.
Prince Turki points out that "President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad of Iran wrote a letter to King Abdullah, explicitly recognizing Saudi Arabia as the leader of the Arab and Muslim worlds and calling on him to take a more confrontational role over 'this obvious atrocity and killing of your own children' in Gaza. The communique is significant because the de facto recognition of the Kingdom's primacy from one of its most ardent foes reveals the extent that the war has united an entire region, both Shi'a and Sunni. Further, Mr. Ahmadi-Nejad's call for Saudi Arabia to lead a jihad against Israel would, if pursued, create unprecedented chaos and bloodshed in the region."
He concludes that, so far, the Saudi Kingdom has resisted these calls, but if Israel continues its aggression, "Eventually, the Kingdom will not be able to prevent its citizens from joining the worldwide revolt against Israel. Today, every Saudi is a Gazan...."
Ten Years after EIR: Israel's Hand in Created Hamas Revealed
Jan. 24 (EIRNS)The Wall Street Journal today features an account, based on interviews with Israeli officials and Palestinian activists, of how the Israeli occupying forces in Gaza helped create Hamas. The story appears a decade after EIR documented this.
The Journal focusses on the role of the late Sheikh Yassin, the founder of Hamas, and of the earlier Islamist movement Mujama al-Islamiya, which he founded in Gaza in the late 1970s. Mujama was registered by the Israeli occupying authority as a charity, and was later registered as an association. It was all part of Israel's strategy of building an Islamist alternative to the PLO of Yasser Arafat.
Avner Cohen, a retired Israeli government official who worked in the religious affairs department of the Gaza occupation government, told the Journal, "Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel's creation." Israel made an "enormous, stupid mistake" 30 years ago, in directly fostering the buildup of Hamas. Cohen recounted how, in the mid-1970s, traditional Islamic clerics in Gaza came to him and warned about Sheikh Yassin, but the Israeli authorities ignored the warnings.
As EIR has reported, the Israeli military authority, which has ruled the Gaza Strip and the West Bank from the time of the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War, gave out as many as 600 permits to mosques, madrassas, health clinics, food banks, which all formed the fabric of the Hamas apparatus, particularly in Gaza.
Netanyahu To Establish Right-Wing Coalition
Jan. 23 (EIRNS)In the aftermath of the Gaza war, it is clear that the war is benefitting the right wing in Israel.
The latest polls show Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu to be in the lead. The Dahaf poll, sponsored by Yedioth Ahronoth, gave Likud 29 seats, Kadima 25, Labor 17, and Yisrael Beiteinu 14. A second poll, conducted by Teleseker for Ma'ariv, predicted 28 mandates for Likud, 24 for Kadima, and 16 each for Labor and Yisrael Beiteinu. The reporting of these polls does not say what the Yisrael Beiteinu, or Shas Party, could receive. This is an ultra-Orthodox religious party, which in the last five elections received between 9 and 15 seats. Its leader, Avigdor Lieberman, would gladly accept a place in a Netanyahu coalition government. A former Likud member, he is very close to Netanyahu, having been cabinet secretary when the latter was prime minister at the end of the 1990s. Also not mentioned are the ultra-right-wing settler parties, which could also garner up to 10 seats.
Under these conditions, it is quite possible that Netanyahu could form a coalition without the Labor Party, and perhaps, even without Kadima.
Ha'aretz reports that Netanyahu has ordered the Likud not to criticize the Yisrael Beiteinu party, and has promised Lieberman that he would be a partner in any government he himself formed. Ha'aretz reports that the Likud is also not attacking the smaller right-wing settler parties. Likud is instead concentrating on attacking Kadima, which is filled with former Likud members.
Iraq Reiterates Intent To Expel MEK Terrorists
Jan. 21 (EIRNS))Iraqi National Security Advisor Muwafaq al-Rubaie reiterated on Jan. 19 that the Iraqi government is determined to expel the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK), a gaggle of Iranian exiles who, even as they remain on the U.S. State Department's terrorist list, have been protected by the Bush-Cheney regime and their Saudi patrons as a terrorist capability to be used against Iran. On Aug. 31, 2008, the Iraqi government announced it had given the MEK six months to leave Iraq.
Al-Rubaie reiterated the government's intent to expel the group, during his visit to Tehran for talks on regional security matters. The Iraqi government "has made a serious decision to expel" the 3,500 MEK members who have been protected at a U.S. military camp, Camp Ashraf, inside Iraq for several years. Al-Rubaie charged that a member of the organization had turned himself in to Iraqi security forces and confessed that he had been instructed to attack the security force's headquarters.