|Southwest Asia News Digest
Obama Veto of Palestinian Statehood Denounced by PLO Leader
Aug. 15 (EIRNS)Jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti warned in an interview with the Palestinian news agency MENA that if President Barack Obama vetoes the recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations, there will be an outpouring of protests throughout the entire world.
Speaking through his attorney, Barghouti said, "Voting against the Palestinian state would be a historic, deadly mistake in the record of U.S. President Barack Obama, in whom there was hope for change.... Such a veto will be confronted by millions-strong protests throughout the Arab and Muslim world, indeed throughout the whole world."
Barghouti has been in prison since 2002, when Israel under Likud leader Ariel Sharon began its determined effort to crush every leader of the Palestinian movement in order to prevent a Palestinian state. After the death of PLO Chairman and Palestinian Authority President Yassir Arafat, Barghouti was identified as the strongest and most trusted leadership figure in the eyes of the majority of Palestinians. He successfully negotiated terms of unity among Fatah, Hamas, and other Palestinian organizations. His release has long been on the table and promised by Israel, but never delivered. Even now, Barghouti is regarded as the possible future President of a Palestinian State, which is now on the table for the upcoming session of the United Nations.
On Aug. 14, the Israeli daily, Ha'aretz reported that Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki had told the French news agency AFP that the Palestinian Authority will make an official request for statehood at the UN on Sept. 20, during the annual session of the General Assembly. The Israeli government is hysterical over the fact that the PA will present this issue for a vote, especially because inside Israel, demonstrations over the dire economic hardships by Jews and Arabs together are in their fourth week; among Israelis, where poverty is officially over 23%, and where the inequality gap between the upper 10% income bracket Israelis and the rest of the population is described as "obscene," and "even worse" than in the United States.
And while the Obama Administration continues the charade in which it denounces the Palestinians for not engaging in talks with Israel, Obama is allowing Israel to expand settlements in the occupied territories. On Aug. 11, the Israeli government announced that the Interior Ministry had approved the building of 1,600 new Jewish housing units in East Jerusalem, and then added another announcement on Aug. 15, of 447 new units in Ariel, one of the major settlements in the Occupied Territories. With these moves, which are a slap in the face to former Middle East envoy George Mitchell, and to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who both protested the expansion of settlements previously, the chance of negotiations is zero.
Is Obama Planning an Escalation in Syria To Oust Assad?
Aug. 10 (EIRNS)As voices are raised around the country seeking Obama's impeachment, a desperate and sinking President Obama is reportedly planning an escalation of U.S. efforts in Syria, to distract the American people. Ian Black of the London Guardian wrote in an article on Aug. 10, that Obama could issue a demand for Syria's President Bashar Assad to step down "because of the violence he has inflicted on his own people and his failure to implement meaningful reforms for the last five months." That demand could come soon, as pressure mounts on Obama because of the failure of the U.S. economy.
Until now, U.S. policy, echoed by Britain and its EU partners, has been that Assad must lead a transition or get out of the way. "Now, for the first time, the U.S. President will tell him bluntly to go," the Guardian article said. Black said that signs of a shift in U.S. policy came from the State Department on Aug. 9. The message from 2009 was that if you are prepared to be a reformer, if you are prepared to work with us on Middle East peace and other issues we share, "we can have a new and different kind of partnership," said spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. But "that is not the path that Assad chose."
During a Aug. 8 phone call to Italy's Berlusconi and Spain's Zapatero, Obama had discussed the situation in Syria. The White House said the leaders condemned the Syrian government's continued use of indiscriminate violence against the Syrian people, and agreed to consult further on additional steps to pressure the government and support the Syrian people's democratic aspirations.
Meanwhile, drum-beaters for intervention against Syria have also emerged. Elliott Abrams and Sen. Joe Lieberman, both strong voices for the right-wing Zionist-lobby in Washington, have strongly condemned President Assad's handling of unrest in Syria. Abrams, special assistant to the President and Senior Director on the National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs during the George W. Bush Presidency, and now a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, quoted Saudi King Abdullah to describe Assad as a "killing machine." He said that "the survival of the regime is at stake, for it is surviving now on brute force alone."
Lieberman, who had called for military intervention in Iran earlier, in an article with the Wall Street Journal on Aug. 10 said that the Syrian revolt is an important part of the broader Arab Spring transforming the Middle East, and that U.S. policy must transform with it. "After months of disappointing statements urging Assad to 'reform,' the Obama administration has begun to align itself with the Syrian people against the dictatorship that is brutally assaulting them."
The irony of the fact that Saudi Arabia, one of the most oppressive regimes in the region, and the brutal enforcer of the repressive regimes in Bahrain and Yemen, is taking the lead in going after Assad, in alliance with Obama, should not be lost on those analyzing the situation.