|Southwest Asia News Digest
Is Obama's Israel-Palestinian 'Peace' Charade Finished?
Nov. 5 (EIRNS)Palestinian National Authority President and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) announced in a speech broadcast from his Ramallah headquarters on Nov. 5, that he has no desire to run for the Presidency in the elections that he called for January 2010. Under the PNA Constitution, Abbas's term expired in January 2009, but since Gaza was under Israeli attack, and parts of the West Bank were under Israeli lockdown, it was impossible to hold elections at that time. After the Gaza war that ended on Jan. 18, some of the most senior experts on the region, including former National Security Advisor Gen. Brent Scowcroft (ret.) and Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki bin Faisal, warned Obama that he had about six months to make good on moving toward a just peace.
Lyndon LaRouche has repeatedly identified the British imperial hand behind the Israel-Palestine war. No British puppet like Obama can bring about peace. Only breaking with the Sykes-Picot-style manipulation will succeed. [See this week's EIR Editorial.]
In his resignation statement, Abbas said, "We're at a crossroads. We have made lots of sacrifices in order to be able to have a right to a state.... Since the Oslo agreements in 1993, all these agreements are based on land for peace and an end to [the] Israeli occupation of 1967.... We've pledged with Israel to reach a two-state solution, but month after month we've seen nothing but complacency and procrastination."
On Nov. 4, a very significant press conference was given by PLO negotiator and longtime PLO leader Saeb Erekat, who suggested that the entire discussion of a "two-state solution" might be abandoned. Erekat, who was the key negotiator, with Yasser Arafat, and later with Abbas, said that the United States' acceptance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's partial, conditional freeze on settlements, was "unacceptable" and "unforgiveable."
Citing statistics about the increase of settlements in the Palestinian territories by the Israeli government, for new settlers in Jerusalem and "elsewhere," Erekat said that these numbers are destroying the two-state solution, and other alternatives should be sought. "The Palestinian people still have choices; there is still the one state to fight for, if the two-state solution" collapses. He also emphasized that settlement expansion must end, saying that the PNA "made a mistake" when it did not insist on freezing the settlements from the beginning; so, this time, "we need facts on the ground" to confirm the end of expansion.
In reply to AFP, which asked Erekat about the Palestinian elections taking place at the beginning of 2010, he said, in view of the domestic situation inside the PNA, if Israel continues the construction, it is possible that Abbas will not remain in his position. He might say that consecutive Israeli governments each had destroyed a part of the two-state solution, leaving nothing of it. He added that Abbas "believes in international legitimacy, international law and peace, and if he believes that these could not be achieved, he would ask himself even about the meaning of elections."
He said that a PNA committee is reviewing the situation to determine that Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem will all be part of one Palestinian election, and if that condition is not met, then it is unlikely that elections will be held. The Committee will make a report to Abbas, who will then bring it to the Central Committee, and then to the PLO for approval. Erekat noted that Hamas might not allow elections in Gaza, and Israel has prevented fair and open elections in Jerusalem.
Rabin Memorial Ceremony: Warnings Voiced on Next Assassination
Nov. 5 (EIRNS)Warnings that a right-wing extremist could assassinate a leading Israeli political figure and peace advocate were voiced at a ceremony commemorating the 13th anniversary of the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
In a ceremony before Rabin's grave at Mt. Herzel attended by 100 friends and family members, former Labor Party Prime Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer warned, "The next political murder is just around the corner. The seeds of the calamity were sown in certain towns and bizarre Messianic circles in Judea and Samaria [the Palestinian West Bank], but there are also outgrowths within the Green Line [within Israel proper]."
Ben Eliezer also denounced the two Israeli commercial television stations for seeking to air a series of interviews with Rabin's murderer, Yigal Amir, the previous week. He called it part of the "reckless worship of the almighty ratings." He said that Amir "should rot in his cell.
Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell, a peace activist who was wounded in September by a bomb planted by extreme rightists, also spoke, describing Rabin as a man who tried to spark a revolution based on "the idea that the War of Independence is over once and for all, and that in this country live two nations, and both of them have rights to this land." In order to kill the idea, "they murdered the man."
Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, former IDF chief of staff and signer of the unofficial Geneva Peace Accord of 2003, appealed to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who was also at the ceremony, to "stop issuing warnings, and start doing something" about the extremists.
Rabin's daughter Dalia earlier in the day told Israel's Army Radio, "Today we are also hearing the same shrill voices, perhaps with different terminology, but it is impossible to ignore their intensity."
Turkey Promotes Cooperation with Greece, Mideast
Nov. 6 (EIRNS)Turkey has approached Greece to establish a "high-level strategic cooperation council," similar to those it has established with Iraq and Syria. This is part of the implementation of the foreign policy principle of "from zero problems to maximum cooperation" with neighbors, promoted by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. It is the 21st-Century version of the "peace at home, peace in the world" policy of Turkey's founding President, Mustapha Kemal Atatürk, and is an attempt neutralize one of Britain's key tools to control the Eastern Mediterranean through fostering Turkish-Greek tension.
Turkey is also moving to position itself as a key political economic force in the Middle East.
According to today's Zaman newspaper, the initiative has to be seen in view of the Turkish Foreign Minister's idea of "having mutual economic dependence with neighboring countries" which will contribute to strengthening security in the region and serving to help resolve tensions between countries. This involves joint projects such as transportation and energy, including a pipeline link that will carry natural gas from the Caspian Sea to Western Europe.
On Oct. 30, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a letter to Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, expressing Turkey's eagerness to improve relations with Greece in all fields and to resolve all current issues. He offered a series of proposals for creating new cooperation opportunities within this framework, his office said, without elaborating on the content of the proposals.
In the last two months alone, Turkey has established "high-level strategic cooperation councils" with Syria and Iraq, which have met in the last weeks. Both Erdogan and Davutoglu made an official visit to Iraq in October, where 38 agreements were signed. Speaking at a press conference with Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, Davutoglu declared, "It is time for Arabs, Turks, Kurds, Shi'ites, and Sunnis to rebuild the Middle East. Therefore, it is time for everyone to take brave steps.... We have a common vision, and this vision is about the way we look at the Middle East.... Let's rebuild the entire region. Let people travel from Basra to Edirne [northeastern Turkey] without any security concerns. Turkey is becoming Iraq's door to Europe and Iraq is becoming Turkey's door to the Gulf Region."
Erdogan was also in Iran last month, where several deals were concluded in the energy, transport, and industrial areas. On Oct. 28, an accord was signed on allocating some of Iran's South Pars gas field to the Turkish Petroleum Corporation, as well as allowing Iranian gas to be transported via Turkey, and Turkmenistan's natural gas to be pumped to Turkey via Iran. The gas could also go through the proposed Nabucco pipeline. This is not to be confused with British-backed pipeline proposals aimed against Russia, but is, to a certain extent, coordinated with the Russians, as witnessed by the recent visit of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who discussed Russian-Turkish cooperation in energy cooperation, including gas, through the proposed Russian-Italian South Stream pipeline and the construction of a Russian-built nuclear power station in Turkey.
According to the Turkish Daily News, these Turko-Iranian projects will entail a mid-term investment by Turkey of $5 billion. Iran will supply the gas while Turkey provides the transit through its pipeline, as well as using the gas for Turkish consumption, and also finding follow-on markets. Also involved are agreements to build two gas power stations, to establish a free industrial zone on both sides of the border, and to open Iranian and Turkish banks in both countries. Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz announced that a Turkish delegation will visit Iran next week to work on the technical details of the agreement.