|Southwest Asia News Digest
Revolt vs. Cheney: Bipartisan Challenge to Iraq Policy
July 13 (EIRNS)Senior Republican Sens. John Warner (Va.) and Richard Lugar (Ind.) today introduced a carefully crafted amendment to the Defense Authorization bill that would, if passed, set the foundation for a change of policy in Iraq. Warner and Lugar are ranking members of the Senate Armed Forces and the Foreign Relations committees, respectively.
Rather than calling outright for a withdrawal of U.S. troops, the measure requires the President to update the Jan. 7, 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on the prospects for stability in Iraq, so as to include the consequences of various courses of action on the region, and on U.S. interests. It also requires that the President initiate planning to transition U.S. forces from policing the sectarian conflict, to a focus on counterterrorism and training and equipping Iraqi security forces. Such plans are to be submitted to the Congress no later than Oct. 16, 2007, the anniversary of the date in 2002 that the original "use of force" resolution was passed.
Most importantly, it declares that the 2002 resolution "requires review and revision," which expects the President to submit to Congress a proposed revisionwhich will revisit the whole initial debate, including the use of hoked-up intelligence.
The section of the bill which follows includes a Sense of the Congress resolution calling for the establishment of a "predictable and regular multi-lateral diplomatic forum related to Iraq." This is based on a proposal contained in the Iraq Study Group report, to engage regional partners in solving the Iraq mess.
In remarks on the floor of the Senate on July 13, Lugar noted that the evidence suggests that the Iraqi government and political system will not achieve necessary political accommodations in a short time frame. He also called the "use of force" resolution of 2002, "obsolete."
On July 9, a bipartisan amendment to the Defense Authorization bill, introduced by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), and co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) put limits on the deployment of troops, by requiring minimum periods between troop deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We are now in the fifth year of ground combat operations in Iraq," Webb stated in a July 9 press conference, "and this deck of cards is crashing down, and it's landing heavily on the heads of soldiers and Marines who have been deployed again and again."
Webb's "Minimum Period" requires that the time between combat deployments is equal to the period of the previous deployment; for Reserve forces, a three-year period between deployments would be required. This would throw a huge monkey-wrench into the Administration's war plans.
Hagel was the first to speak in support of the amendment, and charged that the Administration "has pushed the military to the breaking point." Webb noted that he and Hagel are the only members of the Senate who actually fought in ground combat in the Vietnam War.
The amendment was defeated.
Iran Gives Green Light to Reactor Inspections
July 13 (EIRNS)In the course of talks this week with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Islamic Republic of Iran agreed to provide access to the heavy water reactor under construction in Arak, which will have the capacity to produce plutonium. Such inspections were called for by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei as a way out of the crisis.
"During the visit [of the IAEA delegation to Tehran], agreement was reached on ... a visit of agency inspectors to the Heavy Water Research Reactor at Arak by the end of July 2007," the IAEA said in a statement. There was also agreement to resolve problems over inspecting the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, as well as remaining issues "regarding Iran's past plutonium experiments," the statement said.
A diplomat cited by Agence France Presse commented, "As long as the things promised are executed, it is a good deal, it is significant." Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said the inspection of the Arak site would "take place soon," and that "just one visit will be enough." He also announced that Iran and the IAEA will hold a fresh round of talks in Vienna on July 25 and 26.
Soltanieh also said that the Agency and Iran were putting together a working framework of "precise rules" concerning any inspections of Tehran's nuclear facilities. "For example, it is not necessary to discuss each time the placement of surveillance cameras and the manner of inspection. Rules need to be set," he said.
Iran Talks with Atomic Agency Seen as Very Positive
July 13 (EIRNS)The talks between an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delegation and Iranian officials in Tehran, have been characterized by both sides as positive, even as a breakthrough, according to Iranian news agencies IRNA and IRIB.
"We had constructive discussions and made some important steps and we will continue discussions in coming weeks," IAEA delegation leader Olli Heinonen told the press after three rounds of talks. "The atmosphere was very good. We immediately agreed on four or five steps. We'll continue on present issues in the next weeks and we look forward to progress."
"Iran did some things in the past where we were not present and we have to reconstruct this history," Heinonen added. "If the cooperation continues like this we hope that the problems will be solved, not now, but in a reasonable future."
Deputy head of Iran's National Security Council Javad Vaeedi characterized the meeting on July 12 as "serious and good."
"We discussed methods to regulate the outstanding problems with the agency, and made good progress," Vaeedi said, during a joint press conference with Heinonen. "We divided the matters into two parts, the current and the past problems. We made a breakthrough in both parts," Vaeedi said, according to the Iranian news agency IRNA.
According to IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei, the two sides are committed to "drawing up a plan of action," within 60 days.
The deputy head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Saeedi, said another round of talks between Iranian and IAEA officials was planned. "No date, but [in the] very near future," he told reporters. He also said that the IAEA delegation had met on July 11 with the national security chief and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani.
Propaganda for Israel's Summer War on Lebanon
July 10 (EIRNS)In a discussion today with EIRNS, a leading Lebanese journalist drew attention to a flurry of inflammatory media reports that are little more than agitation for the Israeli attack on Lebanon, about which EIRNS warned in its July 7 story entitled, "Warning: Cheney Pushing New Lebanon War This Summer."
An article, entitled "Getting Serious about Syria," by neo-con Barry Rubin, appeared in the July 10 Jerusalem Post. The article quotes Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak: "We must once again restore the Israeli army's deterrence." To do that, Rubin insisted that Israel recognize that Syria must be "the state actor to pay the price" of Hezbollah's attacks on Israelis, and the Syrians must be forced to recognize that they are the target. Like a schoolyard bully, Rubina top propagandist for the Iraq War, who was caught in 2002, pushing disinformation, taunted: "If deterrence must turn into implementation, the guns should be pointed in the right direction. Let the Syrian rulers tremble where they now swagger."
Another pretext for an Israeli attack on Lebanon was from the shop-worn "Lebanese Chalabi," Walid Phares, who wrote, in a July 8 posting on National Review online, an article titled, "A Hezbollah Coup Attempted This Summer?"
Then, on July 6, MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute), which is run by neo-con Meyrav Wurmser, published a disinformation piece targetting Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah, titled "Possible Eruption of Violent Crisis in Lebanon After July 15." This propaganda, which claims that Damascus was evacuating all Syrian workers from Lebanon, in order to prepare for war, could have been written in Dick Cheney's office, since Wurmser's husband (and co-author of "Clean Break," the neo-con "bible" for Syrian, Iranian, and Iraqi regime change), David Wurmser, is Cheney's chief advisor on the Middle East.
The MEMRI report claims that Syria is preparing for war by withdrawing its students and guest workers from Lebanon, but Lebanese sources told EIR that this is misleading. Students have been advised to return to Syria for the next year, but the number is inconsequential.
'War With Syria Will Be 10 Times Worse Than With Hezbollah'
July 11 (EIRNS)In its latest assessment, Israeli military intelligence warns that a "war with Syria would be ten times worse than with Hezbollah." Although Syria is not interested in a war with Israel, Syria fears that the U.S. will attack Iran this Summer, and in such a scenario, Israel would attack Hezbollah and strike targets in Syria. Therefore, the assessment warns that if Israel does not begin peace talks, a war could break out by "miscalculation." According to a report in today's Jerusalem Post, military intelligence warned that Syria could fire thousands of missiles at Israeli cities.
Olmert Continues Spin on Negotiations with Syria
July 13 (EIRNS)At a meeting with ambassadors of the European Union today, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert continued his spin on how it is Syrianot Israelthat does not want negotiations. Olmert claims Syria is using talks with Israel to get talks with the USA.
"Syria does not want war, and neither does Israel, but this does not mean that the situation will turn into negotiations. Assad says he wants negotiations, but in practice he means negotiations with the United States and [President George] Bush and not with Israel," Olmert is quoted as saying by the Israeli daily Ha'aretz.
Olmert's excuse is obvious sophistry, since he well knows there is no way a peace agreement could be signed without the U.S. as a participant. The importance of the U.S. role was underscored by a well-informed Washington intelligence source, who told EIR that Syrian President Bashir al-Assad cannot go to Israel for peace talks, the way that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat went to Israel in November 1977. The major difference is that the United States, under then-President Jimmy Carter, wanted there to be peace between Egypt and Israel, and backed the Sadat visit. There is no such inclination from the Bush-Cheney White House.