|Southwest Asia News Digest
More Paramilitary Torture Units in Iraq
On July 3, Britain's Observer newspaper, the Sunday edition of the Guardian, exposed the diversion of funds intended for development of the Iraqi security forces, to U.S. and British commando operations. The revelations are coming at a point when in Washington, the conduct of the United States in enforcing a policy of torture during interrogations, secret detentions, and the lack of due process is being challenged by leading Republican Senators. As EIR Online reported in Issue #27, Sens. John Warner (R-Va.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are planning to introduce legislation to wrest control over prisoners detained in the "war on terrorism" from the Pentagon, and put the policies under Congressional oversight.
Excerpts of the Observer's revelations follow:
"British and American aid intended for Iraq's hard-pressed police service is being diverted to paramilitary commando units accused of widespread human rights abuses, including torture and extra-judicial killings, the Observer can reveal. Iraqi Police Service [IPS] officers said that ammunition, weapons and vehicles earmarked for the IPS are being taken by shock troops at the forefront of Iraq's new dirty counter-insurgency war.
"The allegations follow a wide-ranging investigation by this paper into serious human rights abuses being conducted by anti-insurgency forces in Iraq. The Observer has seen photographic evidence of post-mortem and hospital examinations of alleged terror suspects from Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle which demonstrate serious abuse of suspects including burnings, strangulation, the breaking of limbs andin one casethe apparent use of an electric drill to perform a knee-capping.
"The investigation revealed: A 'ghost' network of secret detention centers across the country, inaccessible to human rights organizations, where torture is taking place. Compelling evidence of widespread use of violent interrogation methods including hanging by the arms, burnings, beatings, the use of electric shocks and sexual abuse. Claims that serious abuse has taken place within the walls of the Iraqi government's own Ministry of the Interior. Apparent co-operation between unofficial and official detention facilities, and evidence of extra-judicial executions by the police....
"The [British] Foreign Office said last night that it was taking the reports of abuse 'very seriously'.... A [Ministry of Defence] spokesman told The Observer: 'We are aware of the allegations. We have raised this with the Iraqi government at the highest levels in Baghdad and Basra.'
"Privately, there is a growing belief that complaints are being stonewalled...."
Israeli President Warns of Religious Right Assassins
"I am concerned about more Yigal Amirs," said Israeli President Moshe Katsav to Israeli Army Radio on July 4. Amir is the Jewish fundamentalist activist who assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995. Katsav was referring to statements by ultra-right-wing rabbis, who have been saying that the State of Israel is threatened by Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. These religious networks are key to the mobilization of Jewish fundamentalists to stop the withdrawal by any means, including violence.
Katsav added, "A fool could arise and say, I must save the State of Israel from destruction, because the rabbis are saying that there will be destruction, that the state is about to be destroyed. And he ['some fool'] could draw a twisted conclusion that in order to prevent the destruction of the State of Israel, one must attack or assassinate the Prime Minister."
As EIR has reported in its articles on the Rabin assassination, and its review of the book by two Israeli journalists, Murder in the Name of God, Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir, was part of a network of settler fanatics, who had consulted with radical rabbis about whether the assassination of Rabin, a Jew, was allowed under Jewish law. The answer given to Amir, according to Murder in the Name of God, was yes, because Rabin had endangered other Jews with his Oslo Peace accord.
Fear of Third Generation of Jewish Terror
Under the title "Jewish TerrorThe Third Generation," columnist Amir Oren writes, in the July 4 edition of Ha'aretz, that the Israeli Shin Bet security service fears what is being called a third generation of Jewish terrorists. The Shin Bet has a serious concern "in the area of hidden threats: the present generation of Jewish terror. The first generation operated during the first half of the 1980s, carried out the attacks against the Palestinian mayors and planned the terror attacks on the Temple Mount. The second generation ... operated a decade laterthis is the generation of Baruch Goldstein (who killed and wounded a large number of Muslim worshippers in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron in 1994) and Yigal Amir (who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin). The third generation includes dozens of extremists whose names and photographs are on file in the (security) network, some of them active as individuals or in pairs, and some in units of 10 or more people, who are loosely linked in semi-underground cells."
Oren warns that some of these terrorists, such as Avri Ran, are known to have served in the military 25 years ago, together with men who are now leading figures in the security services.
An expert on this network in the intelligence community compared the structure to a pizza parlor: "There are delivery boys and there are those in charge of transportation, fuel, equipment, communications and instructions, but instead of pizzas, they are delivering bombs."
The network is separate from the anti-disengagement activists who burn tires on Israeli roads, which are the more open protesters, wrote Oren.
President Abbas Visits Syria and Lebanon
On July 8, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with his counterpart in Lebanon, President Emile Lahoud. Relations between the Lebanese government and Palestinian government are being described as promising, especially after the Labor Minister of the outgoing government of Lebanon partially lifting a 22-year ban on Palestinians seeking employment in Lebanon. While there, Abbas said that Palestinians should abide by the laws of Lebanon, and he also thanked the Lebanese government for lifting the ban on employment. Abbas said this was done for "purely humanitarian" reasons, since the [approximately] 400,000 Palestinians who have lived in Lebanon's refugees camps, had not been allowed to hold regular jobs, but only to be hired on a "day-labor" basis for the past 22 years.
In addition to this, Abbas spoke to Lahoud about opening a Palestinian embassy in Beirut.
During Abbas's trip to Syria, he met with Syrian President Bashar Assad, and briefed him on the current situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Assad backed Abbas's initiative to form a coalition government in Palestine. Abbas also met with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Al Sharaa and Hamas political chief Khaled Mashal. Their discussion ranged from the Palestinian Authority being briefed on the needs of Hamas, under what conditions Hamas would join a government coalition, the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and plans for reopening the port of Gaza City and the international airport in southern Gaza.
State Dept. 'Contra' Operation Set Up Against Syria
On July 6, at a press conference at the National Press Club, six leaders of the opposition National Syrian Council, which has been in discussions with the "Democracy" office of the U.S. State Department, declared their determination to remove President Bashar Assad from power in Syria, through an "intifada," or uprising. But some observers immediately questioned whether the purpose of this event was to try to provoke the Syrian security services into a repressive reaction, so that the State Department and Bush White House could justify new sanctions, either unilaterally, or through an attempted action at the United Nations Security Council.
According to the speakers at the event, Mohammed Aljbaili, Mohammed Alkhawam, Hussam Aldairi, Abd Almuhaymen Alsibai, and Najib Alghadban, who described themselves as doctors, engineers, and professors, the National Syrian Council is an umbrella group for Syrian opposition groups in the U.S., Europe, and inside Syria. Individuals from the group have been meeting with the State Department democracy group headed by Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter, Liz Cheney.
In March, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Liz Cheney drew headlines when they met with Farid Ghadry, head of the so-called Reform Party of Syria, who wants the U.S. to invade Syria and topple Assad. The Reform Party is considered a joke among Middle East experts, a party which one specialist described as "created in a washroom of the American Enterprise Institute."
In response to some sharp questioning by journalists, the National Syrian Council explained that it was not affiliated with Ghadry because Ghadry "adamantly decided to go his own way," after a resolution his group sponsored at their founding convention, was voted down. The resolution, defeated at the convention, held June 18 at the Jury Hotel in Washington, wanted to create a "temporary government in exile."
But Liz Cheney and the Bush Administration are still meeting with Ghadry, as well as with the new group, report Washington intelligence sources.
The group claims that it completely opposes the "Iraq model" of a U.S. war against Syria to remove the Bashar Assad regime, but says that it supports "everything short of a military invasion." Several of the speakers insisted that "an uprising, an intifada" against the Assad family, and other powerful Syria families is their preferred mode of accomplishing regime change.