|Southwest Asia News Digest
Olmert: Israel Should Give Up East Jerusalem and Golan Heights in Exchange for Peace
Sept. 29 (EIRNS)In his last Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) interview before leaving office, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Israel would have to withdraw from East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, if it expects to make peace with the Palestinians and Syria. "[Former Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon spoke about painful costs and refused to elaborate," Olmert told the daily Yedioth Ahronoth. "I say, we have no choice but to elaborate. In the end of the day, we will have to withdraw from the most decisive areas of the territories. In exchange for the same territories left in our hands, we will have to give compensation in the form of territories within the State of Israel. I think we are very close to an agreement."
Respecting Syria, Olmert said, "First and foremost, we must make a decision. I'd like to see if there is one serious person in the State of Israel who believes it is possible to make peace with the Syrians without eventually giving up the Golan Heights. It is true that an agreement with Syria comes with danger. Those who want to act with zero danger should move to Switzerland."
The key to peace with the Palestinians is their demand for a capital in East Jerusalem; no Israeli prime minister has ever recognized the necessity to give that up. Although Olmert says this at a time when he has nothing to lose, since his term in office is ending, it is, nonetheless, an icebreaker which could start a real debate on the question.
Syrian Foreign Minister Meets Rice, Walsh
Oct. 1 (EIRNS)Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East David Welsh, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
"[Rice] expressed her satisfaction with the situation moving forward in Lebanon, also with the indirect talks between Syria and Israel," the Syrian Foreign Minister told the Wall Street Journal, as reported on Sept. 30. "She said they support these talks and they are ready to assist. I consider this a good progress in the American position," he added. "We agreed to continue this dialogue."
The Journal reported that a State Department official downplayed the meetings, saying they did not represent a shift in American policy, but rather an opportunity for the United States to voice its grievances with Syria over its human rights violations and its ties with Hezbollah and Iran. "The international community still awaits a credible demonstration of Syria's willingness to renounce their sponsorship of terrorism," the Journal quoted the unidentified official as saying.
On Syrian-Israeli talks, Moallem told the Journal, "We had four rounds of talks, promising talks, in Istanbul. We agreed to have the fifth round.... But because of the situation in Israel [the change in governmented.], the Israeli side asked the Turks to postpone it. We are waiting to see what the position will be of Ms. Livni's government. So, are they ready to resume or not? The most important thing is not, to continue or not, but to have the will, the political will, to achieve peace based on the Madrid terms of reference and land-for-peace."
"Peace between Israel and Syria is part of a comprehensive peace involving the Lebanese, the Palestinians, and Israel also," Moallem said. "If we reach this point, it will have strategic implications for the entire Middle East. Whether we accept it or not, Iran is an important player in the region. And Iran always supported Syria's right to liberate the Golan Heights and the Palestinian people's rights. If we achieve this through peaceful means, I don't see the Iranians opposed," he concluded.
Avnery: 'Israeli Fascism Is Alive and Kicking'
Sept. 29 (EIRNS)Israeli political leader Uri Avnery, founder of the Gush Shalom (Movement of Peace), wrote a blistering column on the attempted assassination of Israeli professor Ze'ev Sternhell last week, by Israeli right-wing extremists. Entitled, "It Can Happen Here," Avnery writes, "Israeli Fascism is alive and kicking. It is growing in the flowerbed that produced the various religious-nationalist underground groups of the past: the group that tried to bomb the Muslim shrines on the Temple Mount, the underground that tried to assassinate the Palestinian mayors, the 'Kach' gang, the perpetrator of the Hebron massacre Baruch Goldstein, the murderer of peace activist Emil Gruenzweig, the murderer of Yitzhak Rabin, and all the underground groups that were uncovered at an early stage before their deeds could bring them to public notice." He adds that while all settlers in the occupied Palestinian Territories are not fascists, "most fascists are settlers. They are concentrated in certain well-known settlements."
EIR, in two Special Reports: "Ariel Sharon and the Israeli Mafia" (1986) and "Who's Sparking a Religious War in the Middle East?" (2000), detailed the late Vladimir Jabotinsky's fascist pedigree and catalogued the settlement networks involved in the Jewish terrorist underground. These are the ones that Avnery lists in his column. What Avnery doesn't mention is that these terrorists are supported by the same foundations that were behind the 1996 "Clean Break: A New Strategy for the Realm," which includes the military campaign against Iranlong before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the nuclear centrifuges.
BAE's Islamist Terrorists Target Syria and Lebanon
Sept. 29 (EIRNS)Syrian authorities and media are pointing the accusing finger for the bombing that took place Sept. 26 in Damascus, claiming the lives of 17 civilians, not at Israel as usual, but at extremist Islamists of the Salafi type (i.e., the Wahhabis, who are backed by Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar and financed by the British-based defense consortium BAE). Although no country or group is mentioned by the Syrians, the signals cannot be mistaken for anything else.
The bombing hit a road leading to the shrine of the Shi'a "saint" Saida Zainab, granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammed and daughter of Imam Ali, the Shi'a world's most prominent symbol. Syrian government press and think tanks made it clear that the perpetrators wanted to sow the seeds of sectarian Shi'a-Sunni hatred in the country, as was done successfully in Iraq and Lebanon recently.
The Syrian Interior Ministry announced on Sept. 28 that the car used in the bombing entered Syria from a neighboring Arab country on Sept. 26. This means Iraq, Jordan, or Lebanon. Iraq is to be excluded, for the heavy control of passage of vehicles on the borders. Syrian troops have been building up on the border with Lebanon in the last weeks in anticipation of the spread and infiltration of Wahabi militant groups from northern Lebanon into Syria. Northern Lebanon has witnessed sectarian clashes and bombings in the recent weeks, driven by Wahabi militias against Allawites (a branch of Shi'a Muslims) who are close to the Syrian Allawite leadership, and also politically allied with Hezbollah. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned last week against this threat coming from these groups in Lebanon.
The Salafi-Wahabi groups were exposed last year as pawns of the Saudi Prince Bandar, a key player in the British BAE operation, when the Lebanese Army arrested a Wahabi terrorist group that was using Palestinian refugee camps, such as Nahr el-Bared camp in northern Lebanon, as a base. These groups were reportedly supported by Saudi Arabia through their Lebanese ally Saad al-Hariri. Following the failure of this tactic, a process of reconciliation was initiated in Lebanon. Al-Hariri had to abandon these groups and enter negotiation with Hezbollah. With continued Saudi backing, these groups are moving their operations to target Syria directly.
British Agents and Saudis Target Shi'as and Iran
Sept. 29 (EIRNS)A new round of sectarian tension was launched in the past few weeks, by agents of the British and factions of the Saudi religious establishment. Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader in Egypt and a British-sponsored anti-American agent provocateur, issued a number of statements against Iran and "the Shi'a invasion" of "Sunni" Arab countries.
Al-Qaradawi's statements were widely circulated by the Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat on Sept. 25. Speaking from Mecca, Saudi Arabia where he was on a visit, he accused Iran and the Shi'a clergy of attempting to convert Sunnis in Egypt, Sudan, and Morocco, into the Shi'a branch of Islam. He considers this a crime and part of the Iranian leadership's attempt to revive old "Persian Empire" ambitions and hatred against the Arabs. He describes the Shi'a as "invaders" who are far more dangerous than the Americans, whom he admits he hates more than anything on Earth. He called on Sunni nations to do everything to stop the Iranians.
Al-Qaradawi, previously based in London and Qatar as a self-exile facing arrest by the Egyptian state, enjoys international support among Sunni Muslims. He was made even more popular through a popular weekly program on Al-Jazeera TV. He recently returned to Egypt, where he was exonerated of previous charges of extremism. Saudi scholars, such as Ayidh al-Garni, issued statements supporting al-Qaradawi. Today, Asharq al-Awsat reports that the Iranians have launched a massive hackers' attack on websites of these Saudi scholars, placing a huge Israeli flag on their websites. One of the Iranian government news agencies accused al-Qaradawi of being a "Zionist and freemasonic agent."
The British are, however, not being mentioned at all. Al-Qaradawi has been a frequent visitor to London, where he heads the European Fatwa Council of Europe-based Muslim scholars. He was recently banned from entering Britain after a massive campaign by conservative MPs, who accused him of supporting al-Qaeda and fomenting Islamic extremism in Europe.