|Southwest Asia News Digest
Israeli Military Plans vs. Gaza Threaten Regional War
Feb. 15 (EIRNS)Israel is planning a major military operation against the Gaza Strip, the planned size and scope of which could lead to a broader regional conflict, according to an article in the Feb. 15 Yediot Ahronot by Ron Ben Yishai, a leading correspondent. The article claims that the Israeli government has already made the decision to launch the operation over the next three months, and is now making all the preparations, so as not to make the same mistakes it made in the Lebanon War of 2006.
Ben Yishai writes: "This time around, the targets have already been defined, and they are clear. Some of them are tactical.... [The include] the facilitation of operational ... freedom of action for the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] and Shin Bet all across the Strip, ... destruction of most military infrastructure, arms arsenals, and means of production. We are not only talking about Hamas infrastructure, but rather, also that of the other organizations and crime families, ... [curbing], by at least 60%, smuggling into and out of the Strip."
Among the "strategic objectives" is "removing Hamas from power, and establishing a stable Palestinian regime in the Gaza Strip, with international monitoring and assistance," which includes "Israeli security and monitoring for years to come of crossings into the Strip, including [the crossing to Egypt at] Philadelphi (either independently or through an agreement with the Palestinians, the Egyptians, and international monitoring parties)."
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he has ordered the military to prepare for a major operation against Gaza, but no decision has been made as to when the operation will be carried out.
Israel To Begin Targeted Assassinations of Hamas Leaders
Feb. 11 (EIRNS)The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Shin Bet are preparing to step up assassinations against Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, in response to continued rocket attacks into Israel from Gaza. Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said, "They [Hamas] don't know when the missile is going to reach them, and that is the focused prevention. We needn't have mercy, rather to go with all our might. The IDF is ready to perform if called upon." The daily Ha'aretz reports that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah and others have gone underground.
Lee Kuan Yew on Catastrophe called 'Iraq War'
Feb. 12 (EIRNS)In an interview with UPI, the political doyen of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, revealed the following:
"Iraq was a mistake. I've said this before and I said this in the presence of Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the invasion, at an IISS conference two months after the fall of Saddam Hussein, when someone asked me what will happen in Iraq. In October 2002, I was in Washington and became quite convinced an invasion would take place. On the way home, I stopped in London and asked Tony Blair to brief me. After 45 minutes, I said, 'Look I accept the argument that with British and American military capabilities it would be a walk over, but then what do you do the day after?' Blair replied, 'That's up to the Americans.' I then said to Blair, 'If you were in charge, what would you do?' His political adviser then stepped in and said, 'We would appoint the strongest pro-Western general and then get out quickly.' So I repeated all that at the IISS conference and explained this reflected the institutional memory of what the British had been through in Iraq in the early 1920s...."
When asked: Did Wolfowitz ask anything of you? Lee replied: "Yes, he came to my office to ask that Singapore send police trainers to Iraq. I had known Paul since his days as an ambassador at the State Department. I said, 'Paul, do you realize how long it takes to train a policeman in Singapore? And that's only in one language, English, and it still takes two years. And you want me to teach Iraqis how to do it in three months in English?' No, he replied, we'll supply translators. This is an emergency, he said, and many nations are helping us. So I replied OK, but we'll do it in Amman, Jordan, not Baghdad, where we would become the targets of suicide bombers. When he told me they had disbanded Saddam's police force, I became very nervous. Because when the Japanese came down here in World War II, 20,000 of their troops captured 90,000 British, Indian and Australian troops. They sent them into captivity, but they left the local police in charge, and kept all the other positions of the British administration intactfrom power management to the gas boardand simply put Japanese in charge of each British position. And 20,000 Japanese troops moved on to Java. But in Iraq, you disbanded everything, and tried to run things without the former Baath party officials who had been in charge of civil administration. You created an ungovernable vacuum...."