|Southwest Asia News Digest
LaRouche Supports Berger's Call for Pullout from Iraq
July 23 (EIRNS)In the context of his own in-depth proposal for an immediate U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, Lyndon LaRouche today endorsed the call by former Clinton Administration National Security Advisor Samuel Berger and Brookings Institution Mideast expert Bruce Riedel, for American troops to leave Iraq to contain the civil war there. The Berger-Riedel comments appeared in an op-ed published on July 23, in the American edition of the Financial Times.
"A clear US commitment to a complete, irreversible withdrawal from Iraq may now be the only way to develop a regional concert of powers that could work with Iraqis to try to stabilize the country and cauterize the conflict," Berger and Riedel wrote. "The continuing US and British occupation is a roadblock to that co-operation. The galvanizing impact of a decision to depart unequivocally can be the last best chance at preventing the conflict from boiling over beyond Iraq to the whole region. How we design and implement our departure is our last significant remaining leverage."
Bush Administration Pushes Arms Buildup in Persian Gulf
July 28 (EIRNS)When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates travel to the Middle East next week, they will be bringing with them a $20 billion arms deal for Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf Arab states. The deal, according to today's New York Times, includes advanced satellite guided bombs, fighter upgrades, and new naval vessels, all as part of a strategy to contain Iran. Israel is to be bought off to accept the deal by a 40% increase in the amount of military aid it annually receives from the United States. The details of both packages were briefed to Congress this week, by senior Bush Administration officials. The Times report indicates a certain degree of desperation on the part of U.S. officials, because if the deal falls through, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries could turn to other suppliers, which is exactly what happened in 1985, when the Saudis turned to Britain in the now-infamous BAE/Al-Yamamah arms deal.
The proposed sale comes in the context of Dick Cheney's threatened "Guns of August" war on Iran, and a long-term perspective of a Sunni-Shi'a civil war in Iraq, that could spread to other parts of the region. According to the Israeli intelligence website Debkafile, an Israeli intelligence and right-wing Likud-linked outlet, there are three levels to the plan that Gates and Rice will be bringing to Riyadh next week: U.S. forces in Iraq will be redeployed to giant extraterritorial land and air bases in the north and central regions of the country; the U.S. would double the size of the air forces of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Oman, and expand its own military facilities in the Gulf; and Jordanian and Israeli military strength would form a backbone around the Red Sea, augmented by new U.S. bases. The arms deal includes advanced versions of the F-15 and F-16 fighter planes or even, according to Debkafile's sources, the new F-22 (although it's currently illegal to sell this plane overseas). Another element of the plan is to convert the U.S. facility on the Omani island of Masirha, in the Arabian Sea just outside the Strait of Hormuz, into the largest U.S. air base in the Persian Gulf region.
Debkafile further reports that Russia has responded to these Bush Administration military plans by selling 250 SU-30MKM fighter bombers to Iran, the first of which is to be delivered before the end of 2007.
Cheney-Bandar Sunnis Endanger U.S. Forces in Iraq
July 28 (EIRNS)U.S. military and intelligence sourcesand even some White House officialsare growing alarmed that Saudi-armed and -financed fundamentalist insurgents in Iraq could lead to a new "Hundred Years War" between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims in the region. According to the sources, when Vice President Dick Cheney traveled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in November 2006, to promote a Sunni bloc to challenge Shi'ite Iran's growing power in the region, some Saudi leaders took this as an open invitation to bankroll and heavily arm Salafi tribes in parts of Sunni-dominated Iraq, to wage war against the Shi'ite majority in the U.S.-occupied country.
Now, eight months since the Cheney visit, the reported flow of arms and cash to Sunni tribes in Anbar province and other Sunni-majority areas of Iraq, has reached the point where a major portion of the insurgency is Saudi-backed. This flies in the face of recent claims, from Cheney and Elliott Abrams-backed propagandists, that the greatest immediate danger coming from Tehran is Iran's backing for the insurgency in Iraq. In June, Cheney and Abrams dispatched Gen. Kevin Bergner to Baghdad, to establish a one-man "stovepipe" of fake or exaggerated intelligence, targeting Iran as the major source of trouble in Iraq. Previously, Bergner had been Abrams' military deputy at the National Security Council. Bergner's constant stream of anti-Iranian propaganda from Baghdad was recently used by warhawk Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to ram through a resolution demanding regular intelligence reports to Congress on Iran's nefarious activities inside Iraq.
The Bergner-Abrams-Cheney "stovepipe" flies in the face of recently released data, showing that over 40% of the jailed foreign fighters in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia, and a much higher percentage of suicide bombers are also from the Kingdom. In contrast, one percent of the jailed insurgents are Iranians and under 10 percent are from Syria.
Bergner's propaganda wurlitzer also runs counter to the recent Baghdad meeting between U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and his Iranian counterpart, hosted by the Iraqi Foreign Minister. At the meeting, the second such face-to-face session in the past two months, Iran and the U.S. discussed mutual interests in the stability of the al-Maliki government, and the end of sectarian violence. Work is underway to establish a permanent working commission of American, Iranian, and Iraqi officials, to improve the security situation in Iraq. While sources say that the Baghdad meeting by no means guarantees U.S.-Iranian cooperation, they did say that it could counter the Cheney war drive against Iran.
Bandar-Linked Fatah al-Islam Kills Three Lebanese Troops
July 23 (EIRNS)Fatah al-Islam gunmen barricaded in a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, killed three Lebanese soldiers, a senior military official told AP today. Fatah al-Islam gunmen were holed up in a small area of the besieged Nahr el-Bared camp on the outskirts of the port city of Tripoli. As reported by larouchepac.com, according to investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, Fatah al-Islam is funded by the Saudis, as a product of "an agreement among Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national security advisor."
Turkish Prime Minister To Present Kurdish Peace Initiative
July 24 (EIRNS)According the Guardian, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to offer a peace initiative in the Kurdish areas of Turkey, as well as in Iraq. His Justice and Development Party (AKP) received 52% of the vote in the Kurdish areas during the recent elections. The Democratic Turkey Party (DTP), which is believed to be linked to the Kurdish separatist PKK, received 10%, but not as an organized party.
Erdogan opposes an invasion of northern Iraq and is expected to try to open channels to the Iraqi Kurdish leadership. Prior to the election, he tried to invite Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to Ankara, but was blocked by Turkey's President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. There have also been attempts to set up a secret meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Massoud Barzani, the head of the regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan, which is not recognized by Turkey.
An unnamed aide to Erdogan is quoted as saying that the only way that relations between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds can improve, is if the latter act on the terror threat posed by the PKK, which is using Iraq as a safe haven.
Abbas Visits Moscow as Russia Mediates Palestinian Crisis
July 27 (EIRNS)It appears that Moscow is trying to mediate contacts between the Hamas and Fatah factions of the Palestinians, in an attempt to cool down that hot spot. As Itar-Tass reported, both Moscow and Ramallah announced that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would visit Moscow for three days beginning July 29. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin made the announcement. According to an advisor of the Palestinian Embassy in Moscow Ahmed Musleh Saleh, Abbas "is planning to discuss with Russian leaders the situation in the Middle East and on Palestinian territories."
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia supports Abbas. He told the KUNA news agency on July 26, "Russia would like to see Palestine united and strong. We uphold Mahmoud Abbas as a Palestinian leader who is heading the Palestine Liberation Organization and is simultaneously the legally elected PLO head. It is necessary to overcome the deadlock through the constitutional framework. Abbas proposes one of the variantsto hold early elections." He went on: "Despite visible calm, the situation in the Palestinian territories remains extremely difficult. The split between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank adds to the hardships of occupation. It is unknown when and how it is to be overcome," the minister said. "The agreement between Fatah and Hamas may settle the intra-Palestinian crisis. Hamas remains an influential political force, which has the majority of seats in the parliament. We do not see any alternative to a dialogue," Lavrov stressed. He said he was convinced, "we should not forget the main thing: the need to ensure a lasting peace in the region in compliance with the norms of international law. Special attention should be riveted to the Arab peace initiative."