|Southwest Asia News Digest
LaRouche Rep Addresses Cairo Scholars on 'New Politics'
On March 9, on the invitation of Professor Mohammad Selim of Cairo and Kuwait Universities, Muriel Mirak-Weissbach of EIR delivered a speech on "The 'New Politics' in Washington and Implications for the Middle East." The presentation, was sponsored by the Center for Asian Studies and the Institute for Malaysian Studies. Students and teachers were invited from these institutes as well as from the Institute for Arab Studies and Research, which is an organization of the Arab League.
The presentation focussed on the "New Politics" emerging from the Nov. 7 U.S. elections, and the implications for shifting foreign policy, as shown in the Baker-Hamilton report. The role of the youth vote was explained, with elaboration of the role of the LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM), emphasizing the LYM's campus work in exposing the Lynne Cheney networks in the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA).
Extensive discussion took place after Mirak-Weissbach's presentation. Most of the questions came from students, who wanted to continue after the formal time ran out after two and a half hours. Many students attending come from Arab countries, outside Egypt. The interest of all of them in the United States is overwhelming, and the general mood is: We would like to see America return to play a role for the Good in the world, as at the time of Eisenhower, for examplewhich all Arabs know about.
Background to Mecca Agreement for Palestinian Unity Government
Based on a series of discussions in early March, EIR has pieced together the basic parameters of the Saudi-sponsored Mecca meeting that took place on Feb. 8, where Hamas and Fatah agreed to form a Palestinian National Unity Government (NUG)much to the horror of Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams.
According to these reports, first, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia interceded with both Hamas and Fatah in late January 2007, at the point that violence between the two factions had nearly reached the level of civil war. As the result of fighting in Gaza between Hamas and Fatah militias, over 20 people were killed during the several-day period. According to several accounts, during a Hamas raid on a Fatah security compound, documents were seized, showing assassination plans against Hamas parliamentarians, and that American officials, including Elliott Abrams, were complicit, along with Fatah security official Mohammed Dahlan.
The Saudis had already concluded: 1. that the U.S. had failed to deliver on promises that the Israel-Palestine peace process would move forward; 2. that the situation in Iraq had deteriorated to the point that the whole region was in jeopardy; and 3. that Iran's strategic position was being strengthened by the hour, as the result of the disastrous American policy.
At the same time, EIR founder Lyndon LaRouche had taken careful note of the Asharq al-Awsat criticism of Cheney, accompanied by a signed commentary by EIR's Hussein Askary, on Feb. 21. Previously this Saudi paper had been aligned with the neo-cons and the Bush Administration and had slandered LaRouche. Clearly some strategic shift in Saudi thinking is indicated. The picture that came together around the Mecca summit confirmed that assessment.
According to sources, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah used his considerable diplomatic clout to bring the two warring Palestinian factions together in Mecca, and had gotten significant support from the Syrian government in this effort. Saudi Arabia pledged $1 billion in aid to the Palestinian Authority, as part of the Mecca deal.
According to one source, while the U.S. State Department was kept totally in the dark about the deal, a White House emissary, Frances Townsend, had been sent to Riyadh and had been briefed by King Abdullah on the just-concluded Mecca meeting and agreement. Reportedly, Abrams went berserk over the agreement, as he had been promoting the covert arming of factions of the Fatah militia to instigate war between Fatah and Hamas.
One source cautioned that the NUG agreement is yet to be really tested, and that the danger of sabotage cannot be underestimated. However, there is a clear indication that the Saudis are anything but enthusiastic about Abrams' Palestinian civil war schemes, and the larger Bush-Cheney plans to provoke a war with Iran. One Saudi official in Washington warned that, were the U.S. to attack Iran, the conflict "would never end."
Among U.S. institutions, there remains a firm conviction that the key to peace and stability in Southwest Asia is a just and permanent settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Neo-Cons' Man on the NSC Spiked Mecca Agreement
It was Elliott Abrams, Near East Director for the National Security Council, who spiked the agreement for a Palestinian national unity government between Hamas and Fatah, a highly qualified Arab source recently told EIR (see above).
Thus, just before the scheduled Feb. 19 "summit" with U.S. Secretary of State Rice, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, and Palestinian Authority President Abu Mazen, Abrams set up a telephone call between Olmert and President Bush, to make sure that the U.S. would denounce the unity government.
In the calla rare event recently, ever since the Israeli war on LebanonOlmert told Bush that his government is in a very "delicate" position, and if Rice supported the Mecca deal, this could sink Olmert.
Before Rice even landed in Israel for the Abu Mazen-Olmert "summit" meeting, Olmert gave a press conference on Feb. 18 to announce the U.S. would not accept the Mecca Agreement. "I spoke about this with the President of the United States, and I can tell you the Israeli and US positions are completely identical," Olmert said.
Chirac: European Leaders Should Support Mecca Agreement
French President Jacques Chirac will urge leaders at the European Union summit to endorse the Mecca deal aimed at the formation of a Palestinian unity government, it was reported on March 9. Chirac wants the EU to lift the financial blockade of the Palestinian government. He called on the EU leaders to "welcome the Mecca accords, which France sees as a first step towards applying the conditions of the "Quartet" of Middle East mediators, which include the United States, Russia, the EU, and the United Nations.
Netanyahu To Meet Cheney in Washington
Israeli Likud Party chairman Benjamin Netanyahu set out for Washington March 7; there he will speak at the March 11-13 annual AIPAC conference. Vice President Dick Cheney, with whom Netanyahu will be meeting, will also speak at the conference. Netanyahu will be pushing his new anti-Iran campaign, which centers around the idea of a "secondary boycott" of Iran, calling for hedge, investment, and pension funds to pull out of companies that trade with Iran. AIPAC-endorsed "Disinvestment in Iran" legislation was in fact introduced by Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on March 6. Foreign Affairs chair Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) is introducing legislation to close "third party" loopholes for companies and countries doing business with Iran. New, tougher sanctions against Iran are the main lobbying objective of the AIPAC conference.
Netanyahu could also be fundraising for himself on this U.S. visit, since the trip comes at a time when he is scheming to bring down the Olmert government. He is trying to engineer a split of 11 Kadima Knesset members who, if they rejoin the Likud, could make it the largest party and offer the possibility of Bibi being given the mandate to form a new government if Olmert falls.
Official Saudi Daily Hails Ahmadinejad-Abdullah Meetings
A Saudi source has forwarded to EIR an editorial from the March 3 Arab News, the English-language Saudi daily that speaks for the King, and emphasized that the editorial is an accurate reflection of the actions by the Saudi monarch, and reflects fruitful talks with Iran.
The editorial, "Consensus Building," began with a veiled attack on the Cheney crowd in Washington: "The two-day visit of Iranian President Ahmadinejad which gets under way today should lay to rest suggestions voiced in other parts of the world that Saudi Arabia and Iran are rivals and that the rivalry may end up with the Kingdom seeking nuclear weapons if the Islamic Republic obtains them. This is fantasy. The visit comes after a series of meetings between Saudi and Iranian officials to sort out a number of regional problems, including attempted mediation between the Lebanese government and Hezbollah. This visit can build bridges. Iran's ambassador to the Kingdom, Mohammad Hosseini, is right when he says that together the two countries can help resolve problems in the region and the wider Muslim world."
The editorial reiterated Saudi Arabia's policy of fully supporting the right of all nations to develop nuclear energy, but opposition to any nuclear weapons in the regionincluding in Israel. "The hope," the editorial continued, "is that bilateral links with Iran will deepen as a result of Ahmadinejad's visit." However, the editorial emphasized Saudi Arabia's hosting, later in March, of an Arab League summit, which will take up a number of regional issues, including Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq.