In this issue:

Israelis Shocked That U.S. Could Change the Rules

Ross Thinks Clinton's Mideast Policy Will Fail

Netanyahu Brings Israel Closer to War with Iran

High-Level U.S. Officials in Lebanon Prior to Elections

From Volume 8, Issue 22 of EIR Online, Published June 2, 2009
Southwest Asia News Digest

Israelis Shocked That U.S. Could Change the Rules

May 31 (EIRNS)—When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to Israel empty-handed from his mid-May Washington meetings with President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and Special Envoy George Mitchell, Lyndon LaRouche pointed out that the life-long British asset takes his orders from London, not Tel Aviv. Netanyahu is key to the British plan to keep the entire region in a state of perpetual crisis and war.

In keeping with LaRouche's instruction that the only solution is to get really rough with Netanyahu, members of the U.S. Administration have insisted that the Israelis immediately stop all settlement activity, in preparation for a two-state solution. LaRouche also instructed that the U.S. explicitly call out Netanyahu on his British agentry, and get him to start taking his orders from Washington.

Now the British are trying to position themselves to deal with what they see as unacceptable American demands. Articles in the British and Israeli press portray Israeli officials as stunned by positions taken by the U.S. Administration. The May 31 Sunday Times of London places the blame for the change in U.S. policy on Secretary of State Clinton: "The biggest shock to the Israelis came from Hillary Clinton, who has made clear that the U.S. demands an immediate freeze on all building or expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank."

The Israeli daily Ha'aretz quoted one senior Israeli official complaining, "All of the understandings reached with the Bush administration are worth nothing." Ha'aretz reported, "The Israeli delegates were stunned by the uncompromising U.S. stance, and by statements from Mitchell and his staff that agreements reached with the Bush administration were unacceptable. An Israeli official privy to the talks said that the Americans took something that had been agreed on for many years and just stopped everything."

The latest spin coming out of Israel is that the only reason the Obama Administration is standing fast, is to propitiate the Arab world, in advance of Obama's trips to Saudi Arabia and Egypt this week. But Israeli leaders have told EIR that representatives of the military and security institutions and a majority of the Israeli population are in agreement with the position Clinton and Mitchell are taking. One Israeli analyst said most Israelis are relieved that the U.S. is standing up to Netanyahu and his coalition.

Ross Thinks Clinton's Mideast Policy Will Fail

May 27 (EIRNS)—Dennis Ross, the U.S. Secretary of State's special advisor on Iran, in a book written before he joined the Obama Administration, asserted that making the Palestinian-Israeli peace process the key to a successful broader Middle East policy will fail. Ross was head of the Washington Institute for the Near East, the think tank most associated with the right-wing American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He is considered an AIPAC agent of influence within the Administration

The book, written with David Makovsky, and entitled Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East, is to be published by Viking Press this month. Ross writes: "Of all the policy myths that have kept us from making real progress in the Middle East, one stands out for its impact and longevity: the idea that if only the Palestinian conflict were solved, all other Middle East conflicts would melt away. This is the argument of 'linkage.'"

Netanyahu Brings Israel Closer to War with Iran

May 26 (EIRNS)—Speaking before a Likud parliamentary caucus meeting on May 25, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Iran is the biggest threat facing Israel. Therefore, in order to get support from the Obama Administration, settlement "outposts" have to be sacrificed. "We are not in regular times. The danger is approaching, and the most dangerous thing is to not recognize the danger on the way...." He added that if Israel does not lead the defense against the Iranian threat and bring in the U.S. and other countries, no one else will.

Ha'aretz correspondent Aluf Benn in an article today, warns that, "Netanyahu is bringing Israel closer to war with Iran." He notes that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had issued a statement May 25, saying discussions on the nuclear issue are over—i.e., Iran does not intend to give up enriching uranium. Benn writes that it would be dangerous to dismiss these statements as made only for internal political consumption, and adds, "A senior source close to the Obama administration has said that the dialogue Obama has offered Iran will come to nothing and that the U.S. will not strike Iran unless something unusual and unexpected happens. If this turns out to be the case, the Netanyahu government may have to decide whether to attack Iran's nuclear installations."

While arguments are made that an Israeli strike against Iran would be too complicated, Benn warns: "There are other possibilities to consider: a war in the north that drags Iran in, or a strike against a valuable target for the Iranian regime, which leads Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Ahmadinejad to take action against 'the Zionist regime'. If Iran attacks Israel first ... then Israel's strike against the nuclear installations will be considered self-defense."

Benn writes that it remains to be tested whether, once an attack were launched, the U.S. would shoot down aircraft that flew over U.S.-controlled Iraqi airspace.

No cabinet minister would oppose an attack plan presented by Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Witness the lack of opposition to the second Lebanon War, Benn writes. He concludes, "The prime minister took another step yesterday toward preparing the general public for the possibility that [war] might break out."

In building up a threatening atmosphere, the Israeli government is said to have drafted a report claiming that Venezuela and Bolivia are supplying Iran with uranium. There is reportedly no evidence presented, except that relations between Iran and Venezuela have improved. The report was allegedly written by the Foreign Ministry, for Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who is heading for South America next week to attend the Organization of American States Conference in Honduras. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on the international community to deal with the Iranian and North Korean nuclear threat with an "iron fist."

High-Level U.S. Officials in Lebanon Prior to Elections

PARIS, May 28 (EIRNS)—In the last days prior to the June 7 Lebanese elections, five high-level American officials have taken the road to Lebanon: Jeffrey Feltman, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs; David Hale, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Commander of the U.S. Central Command Gen. David Petraeus; and Vice President Joseph Biden.

Lebanese opposition forces say that the evaluation in Washington is that the election victory of the opposition—Gen. (ret.) Michel Aoun's CPL, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's Hezbollah, and Nabih Berry's Amal—is considered as a done deal, but they would like to reduce it as much as possible and to negotiate a deal concerning the upcoming government.

In an article in the French-language paper l'Orient le Jour, Scarlett Haddad quotes an opposition source saying that the United States would like to have a say in determining who will be the Defense and Interior ministers in the upcoming government. "Joseph Biden stated openly that the position of the Administration will depend on the policies of the government that will rule after the elections," reports that source. What that means, is that "the victory of the opposition is already envisaged and would not provoke a hostile attitude from the American administration, if the government which will be formed responds to American expectations."

The same source believes that the Americans have asked already that the security portfolios, especially that of Defense and of the Interior, be granted to personalities close to them, or at any rate, not belonging to the opposition. Apparently the U.S. attaches great importance to the role that the Lebanese Army will play in the coming period. That is the reason why the Lebanese Defense Minister made a visit to Washington, followed by the Army Chef of Staff. Further, while the American Vice President was in Beirut, he gave a speech to the Army, whose aim, according to opposition circles, was to influence Christians who are still undecided, who represent 7-10% of the voters of that community and who are generally favorable to the Army. They could be impressed by the promise of American aid. The question, according to those circles, "is to find out what types of weapons the U.S. would furnish to the Army and to what missions they would be deployed."

The same opposition circles, continues Haddad, report that this U.S. deployment is "worrying the Syrian and Iranian authorities, who wonder if all that 'care' is not aimed at controlling the Lebanese Army and pushing it to confront the Hezbollah, or at any rate, to change its ideology."

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