|Southwest Asia News Digest
U.S. State Department Sabotaging Arab League Summit
March 15 (EIRNS)The U.S. State Department is brazenly moving to sabotage the March 29-30 Arab League summit, by explicitly telling the Arab states, especially Lebanon, not to attend, because the summit will be held in Damascus. "We're certainly never going to try to dictate who should attend one of these meetings," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack claimed. But he then added: "In contemplating whether or not they attend a meeting in Syria, it certainly bears keeping in mind what Syria's role has been to this point in not allowing a Lebanese electoral process to move forward."
He then accused Syria of intervening in Lebanon's internal affairs by not allowing its parliament to elect a new President. It was hoped that the situation could be resolved at the upcoming summit which, if Lebanon, or other Arab countries do not attend, will collapse.
Militia Violence Intensifies in Iraqi Port of Basra
March 13 (EIRNS)Growing militia violence in the port city of Basra has created uncertainty as to whether, or how many, British troops will be able to withdraw from Iraq in the Spring, according to the London Times. British Defense Minister Des Brown was in Basra today to assess the situation.
Since the British handed security of the city over to Iraqi troops, militia violence has intensified, and Iraqi officials have asked Baghdad to send 6,000 extra troops, in addition to a new brigade sent last month. According to the New York Times, the government is mooting that it might seize control of the city's port, where the militia presence is very strong.
Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih confirmed that plans to seize control in Basra definitely involve a major troop build-up, which would include Western troops as well. Some observers suggest that this would parallel the "surge" that was applied in Baghdad.
Pentagon Report May Help Iran War Drumbeaters
Mar. 12 (EIRNS)In what could be used as "evidence" to start beating of the wardrums against Iran again, the Pentagon's quarterly report to the U.S. Congress, "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq," issued on March 11, blamed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Khamenei for not assisting in "stemming the flow of weapons, funding and other militia and insurgent support" in Iraq.
However, the report ignores the fact that, when the Iranian President went to Baghdad recently, he did not have to sneak in, as the U.S. President and Vice President must do, but was given a welcome that befits a head of state.
The Pentagon report also took a pot-shot at Syria by claiming that "terrorists and foreign fighters continue to find safe haven, border transit opportunities, and logistical support in Syria, and estimates suggest that Syria is the entry point for 90% of all known foreign terrorists in Iraq."
In light of two major developments which almost coincided with the release of the report, there exists a genuine reason to believe that the Bush Administration is once again training its guns on Iran. The first of the two developments is the resignation March 11 of CENTCOM chief Adm. William J. Fallon, who had gone on record opposing an attack against Iran. The second ominous development is the trip to the Middle East, beginning March 16, by the leading anti-Iran demagogue, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. Although the trip has been defined as one in quest of peace, Cheney has a well-known record of being nothing less than a thug for the British Imperial forces who, after leading the U.S. into war in Iraq five years ago, would love to see the war extended in the immediate period ahead.