|Southwest Asia News Digest
Lavrov: Military Action Against Iran Now Off the Table
Following the June 1 meeting of the foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany in Viennaat which a consensus was reached on negotiations with IranRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov granted an interview to Itar-Tass and BBC. In that interview, reported June 2, he dropped a bombshell: "I can say unambiguously, that all the agreements ... rule out in any circumstances the use of military force." He added that, if Iran rejects the offer presented by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the matter will be referred again to the UN Security Council, but that the agreement among the foreign ministers was that this would not involve the imposition of any sanctions. Lavrov also thanked the United States for inviting Russia to participate in the multilateral talks with Iran. Previously, Russia was involved in bilateral negotiations with Iran, but this was distinct from the EU negotiations involving Britain, France, and Germany.
Iran Responds Positively to Proposal for Direct Talks
After U.S. Secretary of State Rice announced May 31 that the U.S. would open direct talks with Iran if it suspended uranium enrichment, Iran responded positively, albeit with reservations. Immediately following Rice's statement, an Iranian official told EIR that it was "very positive and useful," something which "the Iranian side has been waiting for." He stressed that the U.S. was in no position to start a new war in the region, a war no one wants, and that talks would provide the opportunity for "both sides to understand each other."
The crisis in the region, he said, required U.S.-Iranian cooperation, especially regarding Iraq: "Iran and the U.S. have common problems and common interests in the region; therefore they must cooperate." Iran, he added, sought foreign investments and economic cooperation, and therefore, open relations with others. "The U.S. is very important in this; there is no other country like Iran in the region," he said, pointing to its role as a regional power, and its special relations with Iraq and Afghanistan.
The first official statement by Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki on June 1 was also positive, with reservations. "We support dialogue in a fair and unbiased atmosphere, but we will not talk about our undeniable and legitimate rights, because this is the right of our people according to international laws and treaties," he said.
Saudi, Israeli Papers Echo LaRouche Warning of New 9/11
Lyndon LaRouche's warning that Vice President Dick Cheney could organize a new 9/11 to trigger the bombing of Iran, has found an echo of sorts in media in Southwest Asia.
According to the Saudi paper Al-Watan May 26, Israel has warned European and U.S. intelligence that Hezbollah was planning attackson Iran's behalfat the World Cup Soccer games in Germany. The attacks would be led by one Imad Mugniyah. The Al-Watan article was reported by Roee Nahmias on ynetnews.com, the online edition of Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronath, the same day. The ynet story continues: "According to the report, the terror plot is aimed at proving to the international community that Tehran is capable of retaliation if attacked."
The story continues: "Sources in Washington said a joint U.S.-European operations room has been set up to deal with such a scenario; to this end, two American aircraft carriers, along with a French ship, are making their way to the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.
"U.S. officials opposed to an attack on Iran fear the Bush Administration would take advantage of such terror attacks to launch an offensive that, according to the officials, would settle the Iranian nuclear crisis and boost the President's approval rating.
"The officials added that should the terror attacks be masterminded by a third party, they would still be used to justify an attack on Iran."
Iran and Turkey in Secret Talks To Stop Iraq Breakup
Iran and Turkey are engaged in secret talks in Ankara, driven by the U.S. promotion of the breakup of Iraq and its support for incursions into Iran by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), according to the May 24 Big Picture, an informative Internet newsletter. Both Turkey and Iran fear a break-up of Iraq and the emergence of an independent Kurdistan. And the U.S. is reportedly using PKK terrorists as part of the apparatus being deployed inside Iranian territory to spread chaos and weaken the Tehran regime.
According to an article by Phil Giraldi in the American Conservative April 24, the Iran-Turkey collaboration has trumped longstanding Israeli and U.S. neocon dealings with the Turkish militaryat a great financial profit. Giraldi revealed that the FBI is investigating the relations between the Turkish military, Israel, and a nest of neocon "consultants" who deal with both countries. The "consultants" are suspected of money laundering and other possible crimes, including illegal arms trafficking. Among the targets named by Giraldi are Doug Feith, Richard Perle, and Stephen Solarz.
Lyndon LaRouche commented that the Bush Administration is insane to be peddling the idea of a breakup of Iraq. This, he warned, could unleash the "Kurdish nightmare" and has no doubt produced the Turkish-Iranian cooperation, to halt this madness.
Larijani: Iran Needs Nuclear To Follow Oil Depletion
Iran needs to have nuclear energy in place when its oil is gone, to ensure Iran's energy independence, according to the secretary of the Iranian National Security Council, Ali Larijani, in an interview with the Italian daily La Repubblica that appeared June 1. "Why does France continue to develop its own nuclear sector? It does it for the same reasons as we, because it is a window towards development. Sure, we have oil resources, but they are limited. What will we do when they are depleted? We do not want to depend on anyone for our fuel, and there is no international mechanism that could guarantee our supplies," Larijani said.
Larijani lashed out at the "theory of globalization," according to which "there should be two kinds of countries, the industrialized, leading ones, and tomato producers, which are denounced to the UN Security Council as soon as they try to trespass the limits of what has been assigned to them."
On Ahmadinejad's anti-Israeli posture, Larijani responded, "Since he was elected, the President has given more than a thousand speeches. Beware of the media hype! The President has said many right things and, as concerns Israel, has explained that it is up to the people to decide democratically. The Guide [Ayatollah Khamenei] has stated on his side that we disagreed with Saddam and Nasser, who wanted to burn Israel and throw Israelis into the sea."
The interview was apparently conducted before the announcement of U.S. willingness for direct talks.
Iraqi Government Will Investigate Haditha Massacre
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, obviously under tremendous public pressure, announced May 31 that his government will investigate the deaths of civilians in Haditha and other locations. He said he realized mistakes could happen, but "there is an acceptable limit to mistakes."
In Haditha, 24 civilians were allegedly killed in cold blood. At least nine Marines could face charges, including murder. In addition, seven Marines and a sailor are likely to face murder charges in the killing of an Iraqi man near Hamandiya on April 26.
Iraqis Increasingly Enraged by U.S. Killings of Civilians
Muayed al-Anbaki, chairman of the Iraqi Human Rights Association, said June 2, in reaction to the video of killings in Ishaqi, "It looks like the killing of Iraqi civilians is becoming a daily phenomenon." The day before, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said, "This is a phenomenon that has become common among many of the multinational forces. No respect for citizens, smashing civilian cars, and killing on a suspicion or a hunch. It's unacceptable." He added that attacks on civilians will play a role in future decisions on the retention of American troops in Iraq. Maliki said June 2 that the Iraqi government would likely seek the investigation files on the Haditha massacre from the U.S. military. Deputy Prime Minister Salam Al-Zubaie said, in an interview with the New York Times June 2, "As you know, this is not the only massacre, and there are a lot. The coalition forces must change their behavior. Human blood should be sacred regardless of religion, party and nationality."
Iraqi Government Has Difficulty Appointing Key Ministers
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki failed to achieve agreement on appointments to the Defense and Interior portfolios as of June 4, despite a pledge that he would fill those positions on May 27. Because the appointments must be approved by Parliament, Maliki must reach agreement with the ethnic and sectarian parties.
Islamic Jihad Supports Prisoners' Document
The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad gave its support to the so-called Prisoners' Document, calling for a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict. A senior official of Islamic Jihad, according to the Jerusalem Post June 2, said a meeting of the leadership of the organizationthe most militant of all the groupsmet and approved it.
Meanwhile, a poll conducted by American and Swiss research institutes indicates that 85% of Palestinian voters would support the Document, Ha'aretz reported.