|Southwest Asia News Digest
Is Anglo-Saudi Crowd Plotting an October Surprise?
Oct. 9 (EIRNS)Well-placed Washington intelligence sources have warned that Saudi Arabia and Great Britain are conspiring on a very nasty "October Surprise" involving Afghanistan: Saudi officials, in collusion with London, are trying to mediate a deal between factions of the Taliban and the Karzai government of Afghanistan, to establish a national unity governmentbringing back into power some of the very Taliban dark age fanatics who were ousted after 9/11.
According to one source, the Saudis are pressing, as a precondition for the deal, that the Taliban turn over Osama bin Laden. The capture or murder of bin Laden, just days before the Nov. 4 Presidential elections in the United States, could tilt the outcome of the election, and give President George Bush the "legacy" that has been so illusive up until this point. The consequences of such a filthy deal would assure that Afghanistan would sink into another disastrous decade of civil war and chaos.
The London Independent, on Oct. 8, confirmed some details of the story, reporting that the Saudi monarchy recently hosted secret talks between Karzai's representatives and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the most cut-throat of the mujahideen opium warlords, who fought the Soviets in the 1980s, aligned at one time with Taliban, and is now, again, up for sale.
IAEA Votes for Nuclear-Weapons-Free Southwest Asia
Oct. 6 (EIRNS)By an 82-0 vote, with 13 countries abstaining (including the United States and Israel), the International Atomic Energy Agency on Oct. 4 voted up a resolution calling on all Southwest Asian nations to take steps towards making the region free of nuclear weapons. The resolution says that countries should not "develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons."
The IAEA annual general conference called on all nations in the region to accept IAEA inspections and to adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) banning development of nuclear weapons. Israel is the only country in the region that has not signed the NPT, and accepts only limited IAEA inspections. While Israel will not admit that it has nuclear weapons, it's a universally known "secret."
Yet, Germany's DPA news agency reports, on Israel's initiative, the conference also added an indirect reference to Iran and Syria to the resolution, calling on states in the region to comply with their obligations on cooperating with IAEA inspections.
Barak Calls for Israel To Intervene in Economic Crisis
Oct. 6 (EIRNS)With the financial crisis hitting the Tel Aviv stock market, Israeli Defense Minister and Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak told the weekly Cabinet meeting that the government had to act to deal with the economic-financial crisis.
"We need intervention by the government in dealing with the crisis," Barak is quoted by the daily Ha'aretz. "The Finance Ministry, the Governor of the Bank of Israel, the Histadrut labor federation and the employers must all be involved in the solution." He also attacked the free-market reforms that Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu implemented as finance minister in 2003-05. "Today, Netanyahu's reforms look problematic."
Tzipi Livni, who is trying to put together a new government, did not respond directly, but pointed to the "need to maintain economic stability."
Earlier in the day, under the initiative of Barak, ministers met with several economists, including Dan Ben-David, who is the economic advisor to the Kadima party, Avia Spivak, Yaakov Sheinin, Avi Ben Bassat, Avi Tiomkin, and Yoram Gabai. While Livni called for not reopening the budget process, the economists called for expanding the budget, but not welfare supplements. What is needed, they said, is expanding government investment in "growth engines," including infrastructure.
On Oct. 5, Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini demanded that pensions be insured, but agreed with Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On that such a move would "demonstrate panic." Prof. Avi Ben-Bassat told the Israeli business daily Globes yesterday, that, "Insuring deposits in Israel will increase stability and certainty."
Is Iraq More Constitutional than the Bush Regime?
Oct. 10 (EIRNS)Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki held a crucial meeting with Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Najaf, to ask the Shi'ite leader whether a status of forces agreement would be acceptable. Press TV reported that after the meeting, al-Maliki told reporters that Sistani "does not want anything forced or imposed on the Iraqi people. Rather he wants it to be done through the institutions. If the government and the parliament approve this, then the Seyyed [al-Sistani] will be convinced that is what the Iraqi people have decided."
Press TV reported that some Shi'ite factions claim that the U.S. is assassinating Iraqi leaders who oppose the State of Forces agreement. Saleh Auqaeili, a member of the Parliament from Moqtadar al-Sadr's Shi'ite bloc, died this week after being injured in a bomb blast near Sadr City in Baghdad.
Larijani Reveals Differences with Ahmadinejad
Oct. 11 (EIRNS)Iran's Majlis (parliament) chairman, Ali Larijani, the former Supreme National Security Council secretary and chief nuclear negotiator, gave an unusually blunt account of his differences with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, reported the Tehran Times. Asked why he had resigned, "Larijani said he had differences with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on how to manage the nuclear issue." Larijani was speaking to an audience of university students, whom he told to "resist pressure from Western states which ... are trying to deprive Iran of its legal rights to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes."
But Larijani also said, "From a management point of view, I had differences with the President, and after some studies I felt that these differences would hurt the work, and therefore I proposed that another person take my place and, of course, I will help him...." He also noted that he was the representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei at the time.
This was not the only area where Larijani was critical of the Presidenthe also warned against the proposal by Ahmadinejad to provide a direct subsidy to every Iranian citizen of 500,000-700,000 rials a month ($50 to $70). The Tehran Times reports that "economic experts and the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) have predicted that inflation would rise to about 60% upon the implementation of the plan," and even "more than 100%." Larijani said the Majlis is trying to slow down the implementation because of the danger of inflation.
Ahmadinejad's economic policies are reported to be the most likely reason that he would lose the 2009 Presidential elections. Unemployment is as high as 30% for young men, and 50% for young women under 30, reported Dr. Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, professor of economics at Virginia Tech, at a briefing this Spring to U.S. Congressional staff members. A well-informed Washington intelligence source reported this week that if oil prices dropped below $80 a barrel, Iran would begin to have a devastating budgetary collapse. Oil prices fell to that level yesterday.
Owen: Bush Should Warn Israel Against Attack on Iran
Oct. 12 (EIRNS)"In the past 40 years there have been few occasions when I have been more concerned about a specific conflict escalating to involve, economically, the whole world," writes former British Foreign Secretary David Owen (1977-79) in the Sunday Times of London.
"We are watching a disinformation exercise involving a number of intelligence services," Owen says, in which it is becoming ever harder to find the reality. He reviews a number of accounts, such as the story that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had asked U.S. President George Bush, in May, for a green light to attack Iran, and that Bush had refused; the Israeli military exercises over the Mediterranean; stories about what may be happening in Iran; and a New York Times story claiming that the IAEA had talked about experiments being done in Iran which indicated a nuclear weapons program.
Owen notes how an Israeli attack on Iran, and the subsequent blocking of the Strait of Hormuz by Iran, would have dire economic consequences, and how such a conflict could come to involve much of the rest of the world.
The lessons of the Republic of Georgia are worth remembering, Owen states, noting that even though President Mikheil Saakashvili had been warned by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice not to attack South Ossetia, there were other powerful voices pushing him on, with a wink and a nod. "The experience of Georgia has given an amber, if not a green, light to Israel and only Bush can switch that to red."
The way for Bush to do that, Owen recommends, is "taking dramatic diplomatic action to prevent war with Iran." He should warn Israel that the U.S. would use its air power to prevent an Israeli attack, while sending Rice to Tehran to negotiate a "grand bargain." This would be "a last act of real statesmanship from Bush, who is otherwise destined to end his term a miserable failure."