In this issue:

EIR on Palestinian TV: U.S. Must Break with British Methods

Mubarak Opposes U.S. Defense Umbrella

Institutional Opposition to Ahmadinejad in Iran

Iran's Nuclear Chief Negotiated 2003 Enrichment Freeze

From Volume 36, Issue 33 of EIR Online, Published Aug. 28, 2009
Southwest Asia News Digest

EIR on Palestinian TV: U.S. Must Break with British Methods

Aug. 18 (EIRNS)—A satellite TV station that is widely distributed in the Palestinian Authority's West Bank, featured a one-hour interview show with EIR's Michele Steinberg and the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram's chairman, Dr. Abdelmonem Said Aly of Cairo, commenting on President Hosni Mubarak's Aug. 18 visit to Washington, and what effect this will have on Israel-Palestine peace talks. The Arabic-language program is called "America and Palestine," and is hosted by veteran journalist Atef A. Gawad.

The key concept that Steinberg developed, was the long history of British manipulation in Southwest Asia, and the tactic of "divide and conquer," which unfortunately has been often used by the United States under the influence, especially on Congress, of the British, and of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

She also identified the role of Lyndon LaRouche and EIR in opposing the Iraq War, and exposing the lies and disinformation that were used to justify that war. The same type of disinformation cannot be tolerated today against Iran, said Steinberg, and she warned that some Anglo-American-European circles try to spin the 2002 Arab League offer of peace to Israel in exchange for agreement to Palestinian statehood, as defined by the "Abdullah Plan," into a Arab alliance against Iran. This British trick must be rejected, and the U.S. should heed a recent article by Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, she said, that only an America that is willing to pressure Israel—which pressure would be supported by the Israeli population—can bring peace to the region. Steinberg was given half the time of the show to answer wide-ranging questions.

The interview occurred less than an hour after Mubarak's meetings with President Obama, and then with Cabinet officials, had concluded. But reports had already confirmed that Mubarak told the White House that a "temporary solution" and "temporary borders" being proposed by Israel were not acceptable, and that it is important for the United States to spell out its proposal for Middle East peace before any Israeli-Palestinian talks. In interviews outside the meeting with Obama, Mubarak said, "We cannot afford wasting more time, because violence will increase."

There is significant agreement in Washington with Mubarak that there is not unlimited time in which successful talks are possible, but no one expects specific progress from the Obama meeting with Mubarak.

Mubarak Opposes U.S. Defense Umbrella

Aug. 21 (EIRNS)—Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is not at all pleased with the idea of the United States providing a nuclear umbrella for Israel and the rest of the Middle East against a nuclear Iran, according to Egyptian press reports. The Egyptian daily al-Gumharia sees the proposal as a veiled attempt to get support for a military strike against Iran.

According to a report at Ynet, al-Gumharia wrote that the proposal smacks of "a bribe to Israel for indirect normalization purposes." The editorial stated that White House advisors and several pro-Israel Congress members suggested "offering a bribe or compensation to Israel so that it approaches the conditions of peace in a more convenient manner. That bribe was the American umbrella of defense against Iran, in order to protect the Gulf states." According to this idea, Israeli and American aircraft would be deployed in those Arab countries in preparation of a response against any expected Iranian strike. Everyone knows, the editor wrote, that those bases would be used to launch a war on Iran if the American diplomatic dialogue with Tehran were to fail.

"The deceptive thought was that Israel would in actual fact defend the Gulf states against the danger they are saying is approaching. We cannot rule out a possibility that they would even present the Gulf rulers with satellite images showing that an Iranian attack against the region is imminent. And this will lead to a war Israel has been planning for some time, with Israel turning later on into the only nuclear regional force in the Middle East, which will be a huge gain as far as they are concerned," the editorial said.

"The American defense umbrella which Israel will be part of is aimed at allowing Israel to enjoy the Gulf countries' trust and be part of the defense lineup over the economic wealth of oil-producing countries. This is indirect normalization and a concealed bribe to Israel." According to the editor, "The only one to reveal this satanic plan was President Hosni Mubarak, who was very firm in his response. He stressed that Egypt does not support free normalization with Israel, regardless of its reasons."

Institutional Opposition to Ahmadinejad in Iran

Aug. 24 (EIRNS)—Despite the inauguration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second term as President of Iran, he has been significantly weakened, report Washington intelligence sources, who commented on several contradictory developments over the past week. There is a power struggle, the sources report, in which Ahmadinejad is attempting to consolidate a cabinet, intelligence apparatus, and foreign policy team that are loyal to him. At the same time, even members of the Conservative and fundamentalist religious bloc that brought Ahmadinejad into power in 2005 are blocking this consolidation, and letting him know that he may be overstepping his bounds as President. In Iran's complex power arrangement, key areas of policy—including nuclear decisions and foreign relations—are the domain of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

On the nuclear side, two events—the agreement to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors into the nuclear reactor site in Arak, and the appointment of Ali Akbar Salehi as the new head of the Iranian nuclear agency—are potentially positive for the prospect of U.S.-Iran talks.

However, Ahmadinejad also appointed Ahmad Vahidi—who has been on the Interpol wanted list for terrorism since 2007—as his new defense minister. Vahidi was indicted in Argentina in connection with the bombing of the Argentine-Israel Mutual Association in Buenos Aires in 1994, which killed 85 people dead and injured hundreds.

Another area of conflict is the control of Iran's intelligence agencies. On Aug. 24, the Supreme Court of Iran appointed Mohseni Ejeie as prosecutor general—even though Ejeie had just been fired by Ahmadinejad as intelligence minister in July. The firing was allegedly due to Ejeie's opposition to Ahmadinejad's choice for Vice President, who was also opposed by Khamenei. EIR's sources indicate that there's another issue: The agencies that Ejeie oversaw as minister, have files on the illegal diversion of up to $2 billion in government funds into election activities for Ahmadinejad, and into accounts being used by Ahmadinejad's allies in the Revolutionary Guard to take over critical industries under new privatization agreements. Control of these files is reported to be very important for Ahmadinejad's allies to stay in power after the disputed elections.

Iran's Nuclear Chief Negotiated 2003 Enrichment Freeze

Aug. 20 (EIRNS)—The government of Iran has brought back Ali Akbar Salehi, the nuclear physicist who announced the Iranian suspension of uranium enrichment in 2003, into two posts—Vice President, and head of Iran's nuclear agency. Under reform Mohammed President Khatami, Salehi was Iran's representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The selection of Salehi as Vice President was technically made by Ahmadinejad, but this was not his first choice. Ahmadinejad is under pressure, both from the reform bloc of his electoral opponent, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, and from former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a conservative who joined the opposition. In addition, harsh criticism from conservative Ayatollahs and from his own hardline supporters in the Parliament blocked some of Ahmadinejad's appointments.

On Aug. 23-24, the IAEA's press office reported that Iran had okayed expanded inspections of nuclear sites. "Last week ... Tehran acceded to demands by the IAEA to expand its monitoring of the Natanz uranium enrichment site," reported the New York Times. And, after a ban of at least one year, "Iran also allowed the IAEA to visit the Arak heavy water reactor." While the IAEA has repeatedly reported there has been no leakage of low-enriched uranium from Natanz, there has been concern that the Arak heavy water program could produce plutonium for a bomb. Therefore, the renewal of the Arak inspections is very significant.

All rights reserved © 2009 EIRNS