In this issue:

Attack on Syria Could Be White House Scheme To Help Netanyahu

Israeli-Palestinian-Saudi Peace Symposium

Jerusalem Patriarch Calls for Just Peace in Mideast

Abizaid: Israeli Strike on Iran Will Not Stop Nukes

From Volume 7, Issue 44 of EIR Online, Published Oct. 28, 2008
Southwest Asia News Digest

Attack on Syria Could Be White House Scheme To Help Netanyahu

Oct. 26 (EIRNS)—A U.S. military helicopter raid into Syrian territory conducted operations that killed a number of civilians today. Syrian media first reported the attack. While there have been continuing accusations and sanctions against Syria by the U.S. for allegedly failing to crack down on the insurgency in Iraq, this is the first time in 5 1/2 years that the U.S. has attacked Syria. The operation, as described by international reports, is reminiscent of the deliberate targetting of a military building there by Israel in September 2007. Associated Press reported today that a U.S. military official confirmed that the reason is Syria's lack of cooperation in cracking down on insurgents. "We had to take matters into our own hands," the anonymous official said.

In however, the Syrian government has extensively tightened up the border with Iraq, with checkpoints placed about every 4 km. A senior retired Special Forces officer commented to EIR that the U.S. military community is worried about the "wild bunch" of "special operations units" created by Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. These units, such as the Intelligence Support Activity (ISA), Delta Force, Yellow Fruit, and others, do not report to the normal chain of command in Iraq, but to the Special Operations Command. Another well-informed Washington intelligence source told EIR that this could well have been a White House ploy to sabotage the Israeli-Syria talks being mediated by Turkey, in order to help Likud fascist Benjamin Netanyahu come to power in Israel, now that Kadima's Tzipi Livni has been unable to form a government.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that a Syrian official "announced that four U.S. helicopters coming from Iraq violated the Syrian airspaces in al-Boukamal region (al-Sukariah Farm) targetting a civilian building and leading to the killing of eight citizens." The victims included four children, said media reports.

The U.S. helicopters returned to Iraq, and Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister "summoned the Chargé d'Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, informing him of Syria's condemnation and complaint of this dangerous aggression, holding the U.S. administration with full responsibility for it. The Iraq Chargé d'Affaires was also summoned for the same purpose."

SANA also reported that Syria "calls on the Iraqi government to assume its responsibilities and make an immediate investigation into this dangerous violation and prevent using the Iraqi lands from launching aggression on Syria."

The attack comes at a time of increasing diplomatic contacts with Syria, and while Syrian Foreign Minister Muallem is making an official visit to London.

Israeli-Palestinian-Saudi Peace Symposium

Oct. 20 (EIRNS)—An Israeli-Palestinian peace symposium was held in London at the end of last week, where a member of the Saudi royal family presented a peace plan. Both Israelis and Palestinians were participants.

Held under the auspices of the Oxford Research Group, participants included former Chief Palestinian Minister Nabil Shaath, former Palestinian National Security Advisor Jibril Rajoub; Avi Gil, former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry; Alon Liel, also former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, who is known to have held back-channel peace talks with Syria; and Matti Steinberg, a former advisor to the Israeli security services.

Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief and now head of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, presented the Saudi peace plan. Former Egyptian Ambassador to Washington Nabil Fahmy also attended, as did Hisham Youssef, the chief of staff to Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa. There were Americans and Britons in attendance as well.

Speaking at the event on the Arab peace plan, which had been presented in 2002, Prince Turki told the symposium that every Arab state "made clear they will pay the price for peace, not only by recognizing Israel as a legitimate state, but also to normalize relations with it and end the state of hostilities that had existed since 1948," according to a report in Britain's Guardian (Oct. 18). In return Israel must "accept peace as a strategic choice ... withdraw completely from all the lands they occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, ... accept a just solution for the refugee problem, ... and recognize the independent state of Palestine."

Jerusalem Patriarch Calls for Just Peace in Mideast

Oct. 25 (EIRNS)—His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, Patriarch of Jerusalem, was the featured speaker at the 10th International Conference of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, in Washington, D.C. today. The conference focussed on the battle for a just peace in the Middle East. One panel and a workshop addressed the need for American Christians who support peace, and a viable, sovereign independent Palestinian state, to out-organize the Christian Zionists, who are more anti-Palestinian than any Jewish groups in the United States.

In his speech to the conference, the Patriarch stressed that the only way to love God the Creator is to love them—the other.

Before his keynote, the Patriarch gave an interview to EIR which will appear in an upcoming issue.

Patriarch Sabbah said that his assessment of the potential for a Middle East peace is that the political will which did not exists for generations finally does exist on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides—but the question right now is whether the Israelis will pursue peace. He said that in Israel the opposition to a peace agreement does not come from the government but from right-wing extremists.

Abizaid: Israeli Strike on Iran Will Not Stop Nukes

Oct. 26 (EIRNS)—An Israeli strike against Iran cannot abolish Iran's nuclear facilities, and will only succeed in further destabilizing the region, says Gen. John Abizaid (ret.), the former Commander of the Central Command under George W. Bush.

Dozens of media have advance notice of a Newsweek interview with Abizaid, which is due out in its Nov. 5 issue. According to Ha'aretz, the Israeli daily, Abizaid says that he doubts whether "the Israelis have the capability to make a lasting impression on the Iranian nuclear program with their military capabilities."

Press TV, a Tehran-based station, reports that several other officers and Pentagon analysts were also quoted by Newsweek saying that "the U.S. military believes Israel would face huge challenges in reaching Iran, refueling its warplanes along the way, and penetrating fortified nuclear targets."

Ha'aretz also reports that last year Abizaid said that "There are ways to live with a nuclear Iran," and that "an Israel-Iran confrontation would be bad for the U.S. and would further destabilize the region."

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