|Southwest Asia News Digest
AIPAC Beats the War Drums Against Iran
June 2 (EIRNS)In 2002, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was in the van of the British-driven campaign to go to war against Iran. Today, AIPAC is trying to play the same role again, goading the U.S. into war against Iran.
Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP Presidential candidate, opened AIPAC's Annual Policy Conference today by saying that the United States will stand with Israel against all threats, and that, "Foremost in all our minds is the threat posed by the regime in Tehran."
"Tehran's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons poses an unacceptable risk, a danger we cannot allow," McCain ranted. He mocked the idea of a U.S. Presidential summit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and demanded instead that the UN Security Council should impose tougher sanctions against Iran, or if it won't, then "the U.S. must lead like-minded nations in imposing multilateral sanctions outside the UN framework" (e.g., the Anglo-American "League of Democracies," without naming it).
McCain called upon countries in the region to impose targetted sanctions against Iran, including denial of visas and freezing of assets, and demanded that the U.S. impose financial sanctions on Iran's Central Bank; we should "privatize" sanctions by launching a worldwide divestment campaign, he added.
The AIPAC conference was preceded by a similar gathering on May 30, by the Washington Institute on Near East Policy (WINEP), which also featured anti-Iran ravings. Former CIA Director Jim Woolsey outdid any of the Israelis present, in his calls for action against Iran; while claiming that the use of military force against Iran isn't inevitable yet, Woolsey claimed that it "is getting closer every day," because the Bush Administration is wasting time. If we can't undermine the regime by supporting dissidents, breaking Iran's economy, etc., "we will have to look at the use of force," Woolsey threatened.
Obama to AIPAC: Jerusalem 'Will Remain' Israel's Undivided Capital
June 5 (EIRNS)Placing himself to the right of even George Bush and Dick Cheney, Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on June 4 that he would work to make Jerusalem the "undivided capital of Israel." This statement not only violates the U.S. government's longstanding policy, but also the several UN resolutions to which the U.S. is a signatory over the last 40 years.
"Let me be clear," Obama said, "Israel's security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive and that allows them to prosper. But any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided," he added.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attacked Obama's remarks later the same day, saying there would be no peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict without a resolution of the status of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital. "This statement is totally rejected," Abbas told reporters. "The whole world knows that holy Jerusalem was occupied in 1967, and we will not accept a Palestinian state without having Jerusalem as the capital."
The fact that Israel has occupied East Jerusalem, is the reason that almost every country in the world, including the United States, maintains their embassies in Tel Aviv and not Jerusalem.
On Iran, Obama said, "I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weaponeverything," for which he received a standing ovation. The Jerusalem Post quoted him saying, "Let there be no doubt: I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally, Israel."
'What, Me Pander?' Obama Staff Clarifies AIPAC Statements
June 5 (EIRNS)The Jerusalem Post reported on June 4 that Obama's staff clarified to them, the statements on Jerusalem he'd made to the AIPAC conference. The spokesperson said that the candidate did not rule out Palestinian sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem, when he called for Israel's capital to remain "undivided." The staff's quoted remarks are that Obama believes that, "Jerusalem is a final status issue, which means it has to be negotiated between the two parties" as part of "an agreement that they both can live with," and that, "Two principles should apply to any outcome," which the advisor gave as: "Jerusalem remains Israel's capital, and it's not going to be divided by barbed wire and checkpoints as it was in 1948-1967."
Israel's Mofaz Threatens Strike on Iran
June 6 (EIRNS)In an interview with the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Israeli Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz said that an Israeli attack on Iran is unavoidable, as sanctions have failed to stop Iran's uranium enrichment program. "If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective. Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable," said the former army chief, who has also been defense minister.
This is not the first time that Mofaz has issued such a threat. On May 1, speaking at Yale University, he linked the Nazi atrocities to the Iranian threat: "Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran; and I'd like to believe that the rest of the world will not allow it to happen. All is fair in the efforts to make sure it doesn't' happen." He told the Yalies on that occasion: "Appeasement has not proved an efficient policy and in the Middle East it is perceived as weakness."
Barak and Assad Both Call for U.S. to Join Peace Talks
June 3 (EIRNS)Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian President Bashar Assad have both underscored the need for the United States to eventually take part in peace talks between Syria and Israel, now being mediated by Turkey.
Testifying before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on June 2, Barak said that Turkey may not be able to see Israel and Syria through the entire process, and that at some stage it might be necessary for the United States to step in as well. According to the Jerusalem Post, Barak added, "Israel has a supreme responsibility to try and exhaust all of the possibilities to remove Syria from the cycle of aggression." Barak claimed that the return of the Golan Heights is not the Syrian government's number one priority, adding that his belief that Syria is still concerned that Israel could launch an attack on the country this Summer, and is continuing to strengthen its coordination with Hezbollah. Barak added that Israel had initially requested secret and direct talks with its Syrian counterparts, whereas Damascus had insisted upon indirect and overt talks. In any case, he estimated, it is highly unlikely that any agreement would be concluded by the end of 2008.
Speaking at a press conference in the United Arab Emirates, Assad said that Syrian-Israeli peace talks "will need international sponsorship in later stages of talks, particularly from the U.S." He explained that the U.S. is in an important position, both as a world power, and due to its special and strong connections with Israel.
Opposition Growing to U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement
June 7 (EIRNS)Opposition to the security agreement that the Bush Administration is negotiating with the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has reached a high enough level to raise doubts as to whether an agreement will ever be achieved. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih said yesterday that Iraq would not grant U.S. troops freedom of movement under the agreement. According to Reuters, Salih told Arabiya television that, "If we reach an agreement, any American military movements should be in the framework of Iraqi approval and decisions and through consultations with the Iraqi side." Salih's statement came as protests have been building in Baghdad's Sadr City and other Shi'ite strongholds, against the U.S. occupation.
Concern about the agreement has also been building on Capitol Hill, where the Bush Administration has been questioned for refusing to provide any details about the agreement. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Joe Biden (D-Del.), in a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, complained that the administration "has not followed through" on commitments made to consult with Congress while negotiations are underway. The letter was also signed by Senators Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), and John Kerry (D-Mass.).
In the House, Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) released a letter from a group of Iraqi parliamentarians warning that no agreement will be ratified in Baghdad without "clear mechanisms that obligate the occupying American military forces to fully withdraw from Iraq, in accordance with a declared timetable and without leaving behind any military bases." Delahunt noted that he and Rep. Rosa Delauro (D-Conn.) have introduced legislation that would bar any funding of any U.S.-Iraq agreement that has not been approved by Congress. This is one of a number of proposals cited by the Biden letter that indicates "a level of discomfort in Congress that will not abate on its own."