|Southwest Asia News Digest
Quartet Backs U.S. Demands on Israeli Settlements
June 26 (EIRNS)The Middle East Quartet (the U.S., EU, UN, and Russia), meeting on June 26 in Trieste, Italy, was briefed by U.S. special envoy George Mitchell, and issued a statement which is being taken as representing full support for U.S. efforts to compel Israel to freeze and dismantle settlements, and to move toward a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The Quartet statement also backed U.S. efforts to obtain peace agreements between Israel and Syria, and Israel and Lebanon, and for the full normalization of relations between all states in the region based on the Arab League initiative.
The official Quartet statement calls for an end to the 1967 occupation, a freeze on Israeli settlements, including "natural growth," the dismantling of outposts erected since 2001, and an end to home demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem.
It calls on the Palestinians "to fight violent extremism," and urged Palestinian unity based on what it referred to as the PLO commitments. It calls for the "sustained reopening" of the Gaza border crossings, to ensure a regular flow of people, and humanitarian and commercial goods.
This is the first Quartet meeting since the Obama Administration came into office. When questioned about its significance, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said: "I think that what the Quartet statement reiterated, is what the President has said, the Secretary of State has said, and Special Envoy Mitchell have all said recentlywhich is, we believe, that all settlements should stop, full stop." When a reporter asked, "That's a full and total, immediate, stop?" Crowley responded that, "the President, the Secretary, and Special Envoy Mitchell have all made pretty categorical statements on this, and it's reflected in the Quartet statement today."
The real question is whether President Obama will actually stick with his competent team of foreign policy and national security advisors, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mitchell, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones; or whether his Nero complex will ultimately lead him to strike out at those who are among his most qualified teammates.
Iran: Britain Is Running Election Destabilization
June 28 (EIRNS)Iranian authorities have arrested eight local employees of Britain's embassy in Tehran, accusing them of an active role in the recent unrest and riots following the June 12 national election, thus stepping up Iran's campaign against the British. The semi-official Farsi News Agency reported June 28, "The eight are accused of playing a 'remarkable role' in the recent unrests and riots after June 12 election in Tehran."
The June 28 Los Angeles Times reports that all eight British Embassy employees were members of its "political section." "Authorities with a search warrant," the Times reported, "detained at least one of the embassy staffers at his home Saturday morning. Authorities brought him back to his apartment later in the evening and seized computers and documents."
In addition to expelling BBC's Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne last week, Iranian authorities arrested a British-Greek journalist, Iason Athanasiadis (a.k.a. Jason Fowden), who works for the neocon Washington Times, as he was about to depart at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran, on charges of underground activities, according to the June 28 Sunday Times.
The Iranians are being quite specific in whom their arrest are targetting thus far: no Americans; only British nationals or employees of the British Embassy.