|Southwest Asia News Digest
State Dept. Reprimands Israel on Jerusalem Evictions
Aug. 6 (EIRNS)Barack Obama has lost the support of the Arab media and many Arab leaders because of his failure to live up to promises of a new approach to the Arab world, especially the Palestinians, report EIR sources in Washington, Europe, and several Arab countries. The United States, along with Britain, has continued to block the reconstruction aid to Gaza after Israel's invasion in January 2009. Even more important, in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's fascist regime escalating the expansion of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalemwhich has been broadly described as ethnic cleansingthe White House has done almost nothing, despite strong statements from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and special envoy George Mitchell, demanding a freeze of all settlement activity.
However, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren was called into the State Department for a reprimand on Aug. 3, over the eviction of two Arab families who had lived in their homes since 1958, and which they purchased under UN supervision when East Jerusalem was part of Jordan. At the same time, the Israeli ambassador to Sweden was called in for a reprimand on this same issueSweden is the head of the European Union at present. This was the second time in two weeks that the U.S. called in Oren, but the British-controlled Netanyahu government is intent on pushing the confrontation over the settlements to the maximumcounting on the fact that the U.S. will back down, or that its foreign policy team will fracture.
According to the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, in the meeting with Oren, the State Department called the eviction of two Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, "a provocation that was contrary to the spirit of the road map." At another meeting with Oren, State Department officials conveyed U.S. "displeasure" over plans to build housing for Jewish religious settlers in on the site of the Shepherd Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah.
The pedigree of the Shepherd Hotel confrontation as a British operation was exposed by EIR in 1985-86, when its Special Report, Moscow's Secret Weapon: Ariel Sharon and the Israeli Mafia, identified the purchases of West Bank properties by organized-crime-linked Jewish circles in Israel and the U.S., as part of Britain's "Temple Mount" operation to incite religious warfare.
GOP's Cantor Backs Netanyahu Against Mitchell, Clinton
Aug. 6 (EIRNS)A delegation of 25 Republican Congressmen, led by Republican whip Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), has been on a week-long visit to Israel, with the goal of undermining the U.S. policy of demanding a freeze on Israeli settlements in occupied territory. Cantor made clear that this largest-ever Congressional delegation is there to defend the "special relationship," and stop the U.S. from pressuring Israel on a settlement freeze. "Any discussion of settlements, any discussion of the issues of living in East Jerusalem should not take precedence over the primary focus [on] the growing threat of a nuclear Iran," Cantor told Israeli radio on Aug. 6.
Cantor's statements came out just as the Netanyahu regime leaked alleged details of discussions with special envoy George Mitchell last week. According to Ha'aretz on Aug. 6, Mitchell had asked both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak for a peace "deposit" of a one-year settlement freeze. Previously, there had been no time limit, and the freeze was being posed as non-negotiable. In addition, the use of the word "deposit" has great historical and emotional weight, because that was the word used by the assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, in their peace negotiations with then-President Bill Clinton. Rabin's and Assad's preliminary agreements were written down and given to Clinton, who put them in his pocket. To this day these agreements are referred to as the "pocket deposit." The leaking of the Mitchell discussion is an attempt to chisel away at the policy on freezing all settlement expansion.
This slimy violation of the confidentiality of the talks with Mitchell, was strongly criticized in an internal memo to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, by the well-respected Israeli Consul General in Boston, Nadar Tamir. His letter was made public by Channel 10 TV on Aug. 6. Tamir's memo rebuked Netanyahu, saying: "The manner in which we are conducting relations with the American administration is causing damage to Israel. The distance between the U.S. and Israel has clear consequences for the Israeli deterrence.... Nowadays, there is seen in the U.S. that Obama is forced to deal with the obduracy of the governments in Iran, North Korea and Israel.... [T]he American administration is making an effort to lower the profile of the disagreements and yet it is Israel that is the source which is highlighting the differences." He added that Netanyahu's sparring with the U.S. over the construction of new housing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is losing American Jewish support for Israel.
A spokesman for Netanyahu then accused Tamir of violating protocol by expressing political views against the Prime Minister.
(A group of about 30 Democratic Congressmen are scheduled to travel to Israel on Aug. 13, according to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.)
Anglo-Israeli Making of an Iran Provocation
Aug. 6 (EIRNS)The recent escalation of stories that Iran is about to build a nuclear bomb, has been shown to be an Anglo-Israeli operation. Under the headline, "Iran ready to build a bomb; it is just waiting for the Ayatollah's order," the Times of London claimed that Iran could build a bomb within one year of a go-ahead from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The article, published on Aug. 3, quoted unnamed "Western intelligence sources" who told the Times that Iran has mastered the technology to trigger a bomb, and that it would take six months to enrich the uranium, and another six months to assemble a bomb, once approval were given.
After also citing Israeli claims, the Times wrote: "British intelligence services are familiar with the secret information about Iran's experiments, sources at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said. Although the British do not have their own independent evidence that Iran had successfully tested the explosive component of a nuclear warhead, they said there was no reason to doubt the assessment."
The next day, the Times wrote that Lebanon's Hezbollah has 40,000 missiles and that the Israeli Northern Commander, Gen. Alon Friedman, said that the Lebanese-Israeli border could "explode at any minute." This story created concern in the region that Israel could strike out at Lebanon.
While the Times has a reputation of serving as a leak sheet for Israeli intelligence, Ha'aretz military correspondent Amos Harel gives a little background on the genesis of these articles. He points out that the Times' foreign news editor, Richard Beeston, was in Israel last week, and that his "Western source" was the Israeli head of Military Intelligence Research, Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz, who gave a briefing in the Knesset saying the same thing. The second story was unusual, because it is very rare for Israeli commanders to grant interviews to foreign journalists. Harel concludes that the stories are part of an ongoing campaign by Israeli military intelligence to make clear that it has the capability and will to attack Iran.
Beeston's resumé demonstrates that this is an Anglo-Israeli operation, not just some leak given to the Times. He is one of the most senior correspondents in Britain, who cut his teeth in 1956 when he worked at MI6's clandestine Arabic-language radio station on Cyprus during the Suez Crisis. He worked for the Daily Telegraph between 1961 and 1986, covering hot spots such as the Belgian Congo crisis, and various Middle East crises and wars.
DNI Responds to Congressional Query on Iran Nuclear Program
Aug. 7 (EIRNS)The U.S. Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, has submitted written answers to questions from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, regarding Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon, and some of his answers have been recently declassified. According to Blair, Iran could "technically" produce enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) in the 2010-15 time frame, but there is no evidence "that Iran has yet made the decision to produce highly enriched uranium, and INR [State Department Intelligence and Research Bureau] assesses that Iran is unlikely to make such a decision for a least as long as international scrutiny and pressure persist."
While Blair noted that Iran had made significant technical progress in 2007 and 2008, in producing low-enriched uranium at their Natanz facility, he added that "Iran probably would use military-run covert facilities, rather than declared nuclear sites, to produce HEU. Outfitting a covert enrichment infrastructure could take years." This latest assessment underscores that there is both time and motive for conducting direct diplomatic negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue and a wide array of other issues.