In this issue:

Bush Administration Blows Up Iraq

Barghouti: Palestinians Ready for Historic Reconciliation

Jimmy Carter's Upcoming Mideast Tour

Primakov: Follow-Up to Annapolis Must Involve Syria

From Volume 7, Issue 16 of EIR Online, Published Apr. 15, 2008
Southwest Asia News Digest

Bush Administration Blows Up Iraq

April 13 (EIRNS)—In the wake of last week's Capitol Hill testimony by Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker, the Bush Administration, according to senior U.S. intelligence sources, has ordered American forces inside Iraq, to escalate the military campaign against Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Madhi Army. Lyndon LaRouche denounced this action as guaranteed to blow up the Iraqi situation, which is already fragile, at best.

According to the sources, U.S. military forces will increasingly take the lead in battling the Shi'ite militia in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, and in the southern region of Basra. This, LaRouche warned, is guaranteed to throw Iraq into further chaos. "Is President Bush actually psychotic?" he asked.

The United States is counting on Saudi Arabia to continue pouring money into the Sunni tribes in the Anbar and Diyala provinces, to prevent a new outbreak of anti-American insurgency in that part of the country. However, it is known, according to U.S. military and intelligence sources, that the Saudi support is not reliable, particularly as the Saudis view the U.S. support of the Shi'ite Maliki government, as evidence that Washington will back a Shi'ite domination of Iraq. The sources add that, within the Pentagon, both Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and the majority of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, oppose the acceleration of U.S. ground operations against al-Sadr, because they are concerned about other threats to the stability of the larger region, including the prospects of a major escalation in fighting in Afghanistan and the bordering regions of Pakistan.

In recent testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, two retired U.S. Army generals, Barry McCaffrey and William Odom, had asserted that the Iraq situation could not be settled militarily, and called for a U.S. troop withdrawal, accompanied by a new U.S. diplomatic initiative, including direct talks with Iran and Syria.

LaRouche painted an even more dire strategic picture, one that is largely missed by American policymakers and intelligence officials. The entire Iraq fiasco was "Made in London," with then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair playing a dominant role in drawing the United States into the invasion and ensuing quagmire. The British then pulled their forces out of Basra in 2007, setting the stage for the Shi'a-on-Shi'a confrontation, which the United States has now been drawn into as well. The psychotic policy of the Bush White House, LaRouche concluded, borders on treason—although President Bush, personally, could make a very compelling case that he is not guilty, by virtue of insanity. LaRouche suggested that medical records from the President's year-long drug rehabilitation treatment, from cocaine addiction, while he was purportedly serving in the Texas Air National Guard, during the Vietnam War period, might assist in his insanity defense.

As the result of the Bush Administration walking into the British trap, which is part of a larger British drive to orchestrate a world war between the trans-Atlantic powers and Asia, we now have both Russia and China preparing strategic asymmetric warfare against the West. India is headed in the same direction, and even Japan will be forced, albeit reluctantly, to join with the rest of Asia. "We are staring at World War III," LaRouche warned, "orchestrated from London. And most so-called strategic thinkers in Washington are clueless about the British role."

Barghouti: Palestinians Ready for Historic Reconciliation

April 8 (EIRNS)—Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, who is currently imprisoned in Israel, called for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, based on a two-state solution.

Writing in a letter to be read on April 8 before the ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Israeli peace movement, Peace Now, Barghouti declared: "The vast majority of the Palestinian people, myself included, are ready for an historic reconciliation based on international resolutions that will result in the establishment of two states, a Palestinian and an Israeli one, that will exist side by side in peace and security. We are ready for reconciliation that will grant ours and your own children a life devoid of the threats of war and bloodshed; to this end, we must reach a comprehensive ceasefire as soon as possible."

Barghouti, a leader of the PLO's Fatah group, is one of the most popular leaders in the West Bank, a strong nationalist who has the respect of all the Palestinian factions, including Hamas. In recent days, two leaders of the Israeli Labor Party, including Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer and former Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz, have called for his release. The latter will be launching a political campaign for that purpose. Lyndon LaRouche and former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker III have called for his release as well.

Calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners, Barghouti wrote, "I am writing to you from my small, dark cell in an Israeli prison, where I am being held along with 11,000 other Palestinian prisoners, including women and children; thousands of these prisoners are being held without a trial. From the Palestinian people who suffer, and have lived under military occupation for 40 years—I extend my blessings to you and empower you."

Barghouti also referred to the so-called "prisoners" document which he helped draft with the imprisoned leaders of all Palestinian factions, including Hamas, which should serve as an agreement by which to unify all the Palestinian factions. "Our plan," Barghouti wrote, "determines very clearly that the goal of the Palestinian nation is to bring about an end to the occupation of Palestinian lands conquered in 1967 and the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. It also presents a solution for the refugee problem based on international resolutions. This agreement will lead to a referendum. It paved the way for the launching of negotiations from a unified Palestinian stance."

Jimmy Carter's Upcoming Mideast Tour

April 11 (EIRNS)—Following the report that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter would meet with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, several prominent Israeli leaders have also agreed to meet with him, including Israeli President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and even rightists Eli Yishai, leader of the Shas party, and Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Israel Beiteinu party. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have refused to meet, claiming scheduling problems. Benjamin Netanyahu has simply refused to meet.

Carter will arrive in Israel on April 13, where he will meet Peres the same day. He will then visit Sderot (April 14), the town outside the Gaza Strip which has been targetted by Qassam rockets, and where he will meet Barak. Later that day he will speak at an event sponsored by Ha'aretz's business website; there will be meetings on the following days with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Yishai and Lieberman. He will then travel to Damascus where he will meet Meshal on April 18.

The U.S. State Department conveyed, through Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, its displeasure at Carter's proposed meeting with Hamas officials, saying that Hamas is a "terrorist" organization.

Yishai, who is a minister in the government, told the Jerusalem Post that he wants to meet Carter, because he hopes the former U.S. President will relay a message to Hamas to help bring about the release of Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier who is being held prisoner in the Gaza Strip.

Carter's full April 13-21 travel itinerary includes: Israel, West Bank, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.

Primakov: Follow-Up to Annapolis Must Involve Syria

April 9 (EIRNS)—Yevgeny Primakov, the former Russian prime minister, and senior specialist on Southwest Asia, accused the United States and Israel of dropping the follow-up to the November 2007 Annapolis conference—especially the important opportunities regarding Syrian-Israeli peace. Primakov said that the Annapolis discussions were to be pursued in Moscow, but the Americans are foot-dragging.

"The conference [in Russia] must take place without fail," said Primakov in an interview in the April 8 Voice of Russia. "...[W]hen the Annapolis conference was being planned, we were proceeding on the basis that there would definitely be a continuation in Moscow. The Americans spoke to me about this—they agreed with it—and so did the Israelis. Now, it seems to me that they are showing less interest in this matter. But I think they are wrong." Primakov said that the Russian foreign ministry has stepped up work on this conference, and "apparently" it will take place in the Summer, but didn't mention a date.

On Syria, Primakov said that the conference would be successful "if it examines questions not only of Palestinian-Israeli relations, but also of Syrian-Israeli relations.... The question of the restoration of Syria's sovereignty over the Golan Heights must also be tackled. In this case, Syria will also become a supporter of a general settlement in the Middle East, including a Palestinian-Israeli settlement. That will move the Middle East settlement process forward on all tracks. "

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