|Southwest Asia News Digest
Iran Charges Britain Responsible for Afghan Drug Scourge
Jan. 11 (EIRNS)In an unusually forthright statement, Iran's Foreign Minister has stated that Britain must be held accountable for the way it has managed the drug problem in Afghanistan, which has led to a tenfold growth in narcotics production, Iran's Press TV reported on Jan. 10.
"Before anything else, the UK must answer to the international community about the kind of management it has employed in Afghanistan that has raised illicit drug production from a few hundred tons to around nine thousand (tons)," said Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on his return to Tehran after a visit to Iraq. Press TV says that Mottaki was referring to the London summit on Afghanistan later this month, and to the chances of bringing about any real change in that war-ravaged country. Mottaki said he was hoping that during the summit, the countries responsible for the events of the past eight years in Afghanistan would offer a clear response to world public opinion, for what they have brought about in that country.
Mottaki said that Iran has not yet decided whether to participate in the summit, as it still has doubts about how effective such meetings can really be. He emphasized that, other than the two summits in Bonn and Tokyo, which focused on governmental infrastructure in Afghanistan, and international aid for its reconstruction, the rest of the gatherings on the country were merely held with the aim of certain countries dictating the policies which have led to the conditions that, after eight years, dominate Afghanistan today.
Mottaki emphasized that all the U.S.-led forces have managed to bring to Afghanistan are more insecurity, extremism, and poppy production.
Saudis Signal Support for Hit on Iran
Jan. 6 (EIRNS)An insulting attack by a leading Saudi cleric, against the leading Iraqi Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, signals Saudi support for Britain's plan to have its pawn Israel attack Iran. Ayatollah Sistani, who is himself Iranian, has played a leading role in improving relations between Iran and Iraq, as well as intervening for civil calm in Iraq.
In a sermon in Riyadh Jan. 1, Wahhabi cleric Mohammad al-Ureifi called al-Sistani an "atheist and debauched." He also attacked the Iraqi Shi'as for allegedly conspiring with a Yemeni tribe against Saudi Arabia, with Iran's support. Both Iran and Iraq are predominantly Shi'ite nations.
Israeli Firm Linked to 9/11 Handled Security at Amsterdam Airport
Jan. 8 (EIRNS)An Israeli-owned private security company, with close ties to the right-wing Likud party, handled the security contract for Northwest-Delta Airlines at Amsterdam International Airport on Christmas Day, when the Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab passed through a security screen, and later attempted to detonate explosives as the flight approached Detroit. The company, ICTS International N.V. (International Consultants on Targeted Security), also had security screening contracts at Logan Airport in Boston and Newark Airport on Sept. 11, 2001, through their U.S. subsidiary, Huntleigh USA Corp.
The Amsterdam airport contract was held by another wholly-owned ICTS subsidiary, I-SEC International Security B.V. ICTS International N.V. was founded in 1982 by "a select group of security experts, former military commanding officers and veterans of government intelligence and security agencies," according to the company's website.
All of the founders, and the majority of current officers and directors are Israeli. ICTS's principal owner is Menachem J. Atzmon, who also serves as the CEO of the German port of Rostock. According to a lengthy dossier in the Jan. 24, 2003 Executive Intelligence Review, titled "A Bigger Scandal: Illegal U.S. Funding of Sharon's Likud," Atzmon was co-treasurer of the Likud Party during the 1988 elections, and was convicted of laundering illegal corporate contributions into the party campaign coffers.
Prior to his conviction in 1996, Atzmon ran the Israel Development Fund, a U.S. tax-exempt foundation, which also funneled at least $1.5 million in illegal contributions into the Likud. Atzmon's American lawyer for the IDF was Stephen L. Friedman, general counsel in the United States for the Likud, and a longtime neighbor of both Benjamin Netanyahu and his father Benzion Netanyahu, the personal secretary to Vladimir Jabotinsky.
The ICTS director of security for Northwest-Delta at Amsterdam airport is Ran Langer, joint managing director of ICTS as well as I-SEC. According to his official biography from the ICTS website, before being appointed joint managing director in 2004, he was general manager of ICTS International N.V.'s German subsidiary. Prior to that, "Ran Langer filled a variety of roles in El Al Israel Airlines' security operations, mainly in Germany, the United Kingdom, including Department Head responsible for El Al European and African stations."
Is Jewish Elder Statesman Siegman Breaking with Obama?
Jan. 7 (EIRNS)Israel's refusal to carry out even a limited settlement freeze in the occupied Palestinian territories has "succeeded in locking in the irreversibility of its colonial project," and with that, "Israel has crossed the threshold from 'the only democracy in the Middle East' to the only apartheid regime in the Western world," wrote Henry Siegman, the American Jewish elder statesman, in the Jan. 25, 2010 edition of The Nation.
Siegman holds Obama's "politics as usual" as responsible for failing to "impose Middle East peace." The lengthy article goes through Siegman's own battle with successive Israeli prime ministers and officials, from Moshe Dayan to Ariel Sharon, who proudly showed Siegman the future sites of "Greater Israel" settlements in Palestinian territory during a helicopter ride, and told him that these settlements would "rule out a Palestinian state."
Siegman hits at "Barack Obama's capitulation to Netanyahu on the settlement freeze," and says that Obama's policy has been a failure. "Middle East peacemaking efforts will continue to fail, and the possibility of a two-state solution will disappear, if U.S. policy continues to ignore developments" in Israel and the occupied territories, which "can be reversed only through outside intervention...." But Obama must break with "politics as usual."
What a shift from a year ago, when Siegman teamed up with former national security advisors Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, to write a hopeful "blueprint" for Obama to adopt for Israel-Palestinian relations. Like many other liberal backers of Obama, Siegman appears to have had enough of this lying President. Siegman should state it openly, and forcefully.