|Southwest Asia News Digest
Fatah, Hamas Factions Reported To Reach Agreement
A report given to EIR by a Lebanese political figure Nov. 4 says that the Fatah and Hamas factions of the Palestinians have reached an agreement to form a national unity government. The Lebanese political figure was present over the past days, at talks in Qatar between Khaled Meshal of the Hamas, who is based in Damascus, and a high representative of Palestinian National Authority President Abu Mazen. The talks, sponsored by the first deputy foreign minister of Qatar (a UN Security Council member), led to a compromise agreement. When the deal will be made public is not clear. Condoleezza Rice was reportedly informed of the negotiations, and had to accept the outcome.
If this report is true, it could break the political impasse among the Palestinians. It may also help explain why the Israelis have been in such a mad dog assault mode in Gaza over the past days, killing dozens of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, and why the Cheney-Bush White House is trying to foment Palestinian civil war.
Is Cheney Behind Plans To Provoke Civil War Among Palestinians and Lebanese?
A well-placed U.S. intelligence source warned EIR on Nov. 3 that a major eruption of violence on the West Bank is being instigated by the Cheney circles in the Bush Administration. According to the source, there are several U.S. intelligence operatives on the ground in the West Bank, weapons are being smuggled from Jordan into Fatah militia factions, and some kind of confrontation with Hamas is being orchestrated, with the direct complicity of Dick Cheney and Elliott Abrams.
Fighting could erupt as soon as Nov. 5, 6, or 7, the source reported. A second U.S. intelligence source confirmed that there are flows of arms to the Fatah in the West Bank, coming from Jordan.
A close, well-placed Arab contact, based in Egypt, warned that a similar effort to provoke a bloody confrontation among rival factions is also being stirred by the Cheney crowd inside Lebanon. All of these leads are being actively pursued by EIR.
Iraq War: 'Operation Enduring Chaos'
On Oct. 29, the London Independent's Kim Sengupta summarized the situation in Iraq, calling it "Operation Enduring Chaos." The gist of her article was an exposé that "the death squads to which much of the sectarian killing is attributed, were the result of U.S. policy in the first place," what she called the "Salvador Option" for Iraq: support for the death squads as an effort to rein in the Shi'ite militias, after the U.S. "de-Baathification" policy put them in business.
Events and other commentaries this past week show that she chose the perfect title for the failed operation:
* Dr. Juan Cole of the University of Michigan, in an interview with Time magazine posted Oct. 27, identified the rift between the U.S. and the elected Iraq government. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "is protecting himself by being feisty, showing Iraqis that he is not taking orders from Washington. But he also has a serious policy dispute with the U.S. and a sense of betrayal." The feud was confirmed dramatically this week.
* On Oct. 31, Maliki ordered the U.S. to remove the barricades which had virtually shut down Baghdad's Shi'ite enclave, Sadr City, for a week. Maliki met with the U.S. ambassador and the U.S. forces commander on Oct. 31, and delivered his order with a deadline of 5:00 p.m. The order was carried out, with celebrations in the streets of Sadr City, a center of support for Shi'ite leader Moqtada al-Sadr. The barricades had been set up after the kidnapping of an American soldier, but Sadr's people called that a cover for a general clampdown on Sadr's Mahdi Army. Previous "anti-militia" operations involving combined U.S.-new Iraq army forces have involved mass killings of Shi'ite civilians.
Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi denounced Maliki's order, saying, the "lifting of the siege sent the wrong message to those who stand behind terrorism in Iraq. It says the iron fist will loosen and they can move freely." Shia Deputy Speaker Khaled al-Attiyya responded, saying that the militias are not the problem, but the "Ba'athists and Saddamists who want to destroy the political process."
* The U.S. Army's Central Command's own characterization of the situation in Iraq is nearing "chaos." In a Nov. 1, front-page article, the New York Times printed a picture of a color-coded bar chart produced by CENTCOM, which grids the level of chaos in Iraq. Called "Index of Civil Conflict (Assessed)," the bar shows a spectrum from green (peace) to red (chaos). Before the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February, the index was in the middle at orange. Now it is at a bright red, more than three-quarters of the way to total chaos.
The chart was revealed on a slide at an Oct. 18 briefing by the U.S. military. An intelligence summary at the bottom of the slide reads "Urban areas experiencing 'ethnic cleansing' campaigns to consolidate control ... violence at all-time high, spreading geographically."
* FOIA documents revealed that a female U.S. soldier in Iraq killed herself after objecting to interrogation techniquesi.e., torture, reported the Columbia University publication Editor & Publisher Nov. 2. Alyssa Peterson, 27, who served in a military intelligence unit in Iraq killed herself in September 2003 after objecting to the techniques being used on prisoners at Tal Afar airbase. The truth about her death was only revealed after reporters obtained records under FOIA; before that, the Army classified her death as the result "non-hostile discharge of a weapon." Peterson spoke Arabic, and had been trained in interrogation at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Her suicide occurred shortly after Gen. Geoffrey Miller, commander of the Guantanamo prison, had been sent to Iraq to implement "Gitmo" methods in Iraq.
300 Palestinians Killed by Israel in Last Three Months
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proudly said that military operations in the Gaza Strip will be increased. Speaking to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Oct. 29, he added that in the last three months alone, 300 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The body count was not enough for Knesset members Effie Eitam, a fascist from the National Religious-National Union party, and Limor Livnat and Dan Neveh of the Likud, who charged that the Israeli Defense Forces are not aggressive enough.
Israel Accused of Using Uranium, Other Special Weapons
While Israel has denied that its forces used uranium-tipped weapons in Southern Lebanon last summer, an allegation which appeared in the British Guardian newspaper on Oct. 28, a new accusation has surfaced that it is using a new weapon that causes especially horrendous injuries to anyone who is unfortunate enough to be caught within range of its detonation. Doctors in Gaza had reported an exceptionally large number of wounded who lost legs, suffered completely burned bodies, and have injuries unaccompanied by the usual metal shrapnel. One doctor told an Italian investigative team that the legs of the injured were sliced from their bodies "as if a saw was used to cut through the bone." He said there were signs of heat and burns near the point of amputation, but no signs of the dismemberment caused by metal fragments. Another doctor in Gaza City reported that doctors found small entry wounds on the bodies of the wounded and the dead and a powder was found on the victims' bodies and in their internal organs. "The powder was like microscopic shrapnel and these are what likely caused the injuries," he said.
The Italian team, in a TV documentary aired in Italy at the end of October, raised the possibility that the Israelis are using a weapon similar to the U.S.-developed Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME), which the U.S. military describes as a "focused lethality" weapon, designed to destroy the intended target while minimizing collateral damage. The weapon is comprised of a carbon-fiber casing filled with tungsten particles and explosives. According to one defense website, the result is that the destructive power of the mixture causes far more damage than pure explosive. An Italian laboratory that tested samples of the particles found in the wounds in Gaza reported findings consistent with the hypothesis that the Israeli weapon is DIME. NGO Physicians for Human Rights has written to Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz asking for an explanation of the aforementioned weapons, and according to his office, Peretz is supposed to meet with the group in the near future.
Iranian Minister: SCO Should Promote Regional Cooperation
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) should encourage its members to intensify their cooperation with other regional bodies, said Iranian Foreign Minister Manochehr Mottaki Oct. 30. Speaking at the opening session of the 14th International Central Asia and Caucasus Conference, Mottaki said that member states are well situated to promote regional economic growth, and embark on transportation, infrastructure and energy development projects.
"One of Iran's major foreign policy strategies is based on cooperation with regional states to resolve a major part of the problems facing the region, and promote security, welfare, and economic development," he said. Mottaki added that as an SCO member, Iran seeks to establish relations among "the real peace-seeking Islam and regional populations, and to warn the region's governments against the unreasonable hard-line approach toward Muslims" that is part of the so-called war on terror. Central Asia has a crucial role to play also, he said, between East and West.