|Southwest Asia News Digest
Israelis, Arabs Find No Reason To Meet
Oct. 7 (EIRNS)According to sources close to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, he does not have any desire to attend George W. Bush's "legacy summit" on the Middle East. The Israeli government is going to find a reason not to participate, reported a well-informed source close to the Israelis. At the same time, the Arab nations, other than Jordan and Egypt, that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is trying to lure into the summitespecially Saudi Arabiado not plan to attend. Syria has been "invited," but only as an observer; it would be forced to sit silently, even though the return of the occupied territories of the Golan Heights, like the West Bank, is one of the major outstanding issues of the 1967 War. Under these conditions, Syria will decline.
On the Saudi front, a source with longtime experience in U.S. operations in the region, reported that the Saudis are "sick of" the Palestinian "problem" and want it resolved. But, they have no desire to be part of a summit where Israel continues to defend its occupation of the Palestinian lands, and to wage war against the Palestinian peopleeconomically by boycotts, stealing land via the Wall, and militarily, with killings of Palestinian civilians in the name of "counter-terror." In Saudi Arabia, the oppression of Palestinians by Israel is considered the "number one domestic issue" in public opinion polls.
Israeli opposition to the summit boiled to the surface Oct. 7, according to a Ha'aretz report of that day's Cabinet meeting. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, from Olmert's own Kadima Party, complained about Israel "being dragged into making strategic concessions to the PA [Palestinian Authority] just for the sake of arriving at the summit with a piece of paper." Avigdor Lieberman, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu and Minister of Strategic Threats, said, "We must make sure ... the summit will not become a forum where the whole world pressures us." And Labor Party leader Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said Israel has to make sure "we don't come out as losers." But, sources say it is Olmert himself who told some of his closest allies that he will not go to the summit.
Reuters reported Oct. 7 that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are deeply divided over the content of a joint document they are drafting for the summit. Chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurie reported that "we can say, ahead of the real discussions beginning between the negotiators, that there is no agreement on any issue yet."
On the reported Israeli unwillingness to participate, Lyndon LaRouche said, "I think that's confirmed. That's our best intelligence as of now. The Israelis are in a funny situation, at least the sane ones. They want to avoid these involvements they also consider to be insane. They're going to have to have a period of respite from operations against Syria, before going into peace negotiations. Israel's interest is to secure its last significant unsecured borderthe one with Syria.
"It's a situation where the U.S. is crazy, and stuck on its agenda. A period of uncertainty. Perhaps they also sense that some people in the U.S. are acting effectively to prevent George Bush and company from launching another war at this time."
LaRouche has backed Israeli President Shimon Peres's call for peace negotiations with Syria.
Cheney's 'Extraordinary Renditions'
PARIS, Oct. 2 (EIRNS)Presidential Airways and Aviation Worldwide Services (AWS), two subsidiaries of Erik Prince's mercenary outfit Blackwater USA, are named by the European Parliament in the "extraordinary renditions" scandal that strongly implicated Dick Cheney and Attorney General John Ashcroft. In 2005, Washington Post staff writer Dana Priest revealed that after 9/11, prisoners from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo were shipped to prisons in Eastern Europe (Poland, Romania) or North Africa/Near East (Morocco, Egypt), where widespread torture has been documented. Aircraft involved in these "extraordinary renditions" made stopovers in many European countries (Spain, Cyprus, Italy, Germany, France) often with, sometimes without, local government awareness.
Working Document #4 of the European Parliament, established by Giovanni Claudio Fava, names Blackwater and its two subsidiaries, saying, "Both companies fly Spanish CASA C-212 wide-body passenger/cargo aircraft. These carry paratroops and oversized cargo and can operate from short and unimproved runways. In Europe, Malta is the base for these planes." Dick Marty, a former Swiss state prosecutor and member of the European Parliament, addressed a special report on these violations of international law to the European Council on June 7, 2006, which confirmed that 14 countries had assisted "in the perpetration of such abuses."
Iraq Charges Blackwater 'Deliberately' Killed 17 Civilians
Oct. 7 (EIRNS)Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh charged today that Blackwater USA employees "deliberately" killed 17 citizens in a Sept. 16 incident in Baghdad.
The spokesman reported that the special investigative committee set up by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had found no evidence whatsoever that Blackwater's guards had come under "any direct or indirect fire, or that it was even hit by stones." On the contrary, he said, Blackwater "violated rules governing the use of force and should be held legally responsible for the incident."
Blackwater claims that its employees had come under fire from "threatening targets."
State Department Ignored Warnings About Blackwater
Oct. 7 (EIRNS)Current and former U.S. diplomats have told the Los Angeles Times that the State Department ignored many warnings about the brutal behavior of Blackwater USA employees in Iraq, despite the fact that it was endangering Iraqi civilians and undermining U.S. efforts to win support from the population.
According to unnamed former and current State Department officials in Iraq, the June 2004 decision by Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) head Paul Bremer to grant immunity to foreign contractors from Iraqi courts was "a bomb that could go off at any time." One former official, Janessa Gans, told the Times that during her two years in Iraq, she saw Blackwater guards frighten Iraqi civilians and destroy their property.
When she protested after witnessing one incident of Blackwater's mistreatment of civilians, she was told that Blackwater employees are trained to consider all Iraqis as potential terrorists. She replied, "If they weren't terrorists before, they certainly are now."
Cholera Spreads to Iran, Threatens Refugee Camps
Oct. 7 (EIRNS)The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and World Health Organization (WHO) are warning that the cholera outbreak that now affects half of Iraq could spread to refugee camps on Iraq's borders, as well as inside Iran, Syria, and Jordan.
Since mid-August, according to the WHO, 3,315 people in Iraq have been infected with cholera. The WHO has identified 10 cholera cases inside Iran, but Iranian authorities put the figure at 43.
Refugee camps are particularly vulnerable, due to lack of adequate sanitation facilities, medical care, and clean water. Jordanian epidemiologist Dr. Abdel-Kareem Imad warns that there are more than 2 million Iraqis living as refugees in neighboring countries. They are in constant contact with new arrivals from Iraq, "and if the disease isn't controlled, it will spread fast in neighboring countries."
Iraqi Official Denounces U.S. Plan for Attack on Iran
Oct. 6 (EIRNS)Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie, spoke out Oct. 5 at Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington against any attack on Iran: "Attacking Iran? I say a big fat no. It's a fatal mistake. It should never be an option." He said a U.S. attack "is not a strategy. It's a mistake of Chernobyl magnitude. The whole area will be in flames and Iraq will be the battlefield for all this, and we will pay heavily," he said. "What we need from the United States government is to engage seriously with Iran," Reuters reported.
Was Israeli Raid on Syria a Screw-Up?
Oct. 3 (EIRNS)The reason for the Israel Defense Forces' censorship of their Sept. 6 air raid against Syria was to cover up a failure, Israeli journalist Amir Oren wrote in the Oct. 3 issue of the daily Ha'aretz. Oren explains that the real losers were those who expected that Assad would respond militarily, which would serve as a pretext for another war.
Oren's comments come after the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) finally admitted they conducted a raid, but gave no additional details. The decision to lift the censorship occurred after Syrian President Bashir Assad told BBC two days ago, that an Israeli air raid against an empty military building had taken place on Sept. 6.
Oren writes that "we can safely say that behind the successful black-out campaign lies an enormous failure."
"Whoever expected [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] to respond to the operation with a military operation, was wrong. If there is one quality characterizing Israel's efforts to decipher the actions of the Assad dynasty in the past four decades, it is the consistency of error...." Oren then lists how many times Israel failed to provoke Bashar's father, Hafez al-Assad, since 1981.
Such miscalculations, which could be on both sides, could "lead to disaster in the end," Oren concludes.