|Southwest Asia News Digest
Suppression of Goldstone Report BackfiresPLO Wants Rapid Followup
Oct. 8 (EIRNS)Two top members of the Palestine Liberation OrganizationFatah official Jibril Rajub and PLO executive member Yasser Abed Rabbohave come out in support of the Goldstone report on Gaza, which accused the Israelis of committing war crimes (see "Israel Accused of War Crimes in Gaza," EIR, Oct. 9). On Oct. 2, under British and Israeli pressure, the U.S. helped to engineer a delay in the vote to accept the report by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC).
Now, top officials in the camp of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) are putting out statements that the Goldstone report must be adopted immediately. On Oct. 8, Rabbo told Palestinian radio that the Palestinian Authority was mistaken in its previous rejection of the report. "We have the courage to admit our mistake, and this mistake can be amended," he said.
On Oct. 8, Agence France Presse reported that Jibril Rajub told reporters that "the Fatah leadership has decided to invite the Hamas movement as well as all other Palestinian factions to form a joint Palestinian committee ... to take action on the regional and international levels in order to relaunch the Goldstone report." Rajub said that Fatah is checking the reasons that led to the delay in the HRC's acceptance of the Goldstone report, but it is widely reported that Abbas made the decision to oppose it at Washington's request.
The best option would be if the U.S. would also, as Rabbo said, "have the courage to admit our mistake." Over the last week, demonstrations in the West Bank have criticized Abbas, with protesters throwing shoes at his pictureone of the greatest insults in Arab culture.
Has the World Had Enough Yet of Netanyahu?
Oct. 9 (EIRNS)A high-level Israeli visitor to Washington, D.C., with access to the White House and senior members of Congress, returned to Israel last week with the message that "he was stunned by the level of anger there [in the U.S.] over attempts to portray Obama to the American public as an enemy of Israel because of his efforts to restart peace talks and freeze settlement construction." The quotes are from an article by Ha'aretz strategic reporter Akiva Elder, who notes that the White House believes that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has personally been involved in spreading this line. The source told Ha'aretz, "There are people here [in Israel] who are playing with fire by damaging our relationship with the U.S."
The article appeared just after U.S. special envoy George Mitchell arrived in Israel for meetings with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, President Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and Netanyahu. Mitchell also met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salem Fayyad in Ramallah. But Israeli intransigence on expanding settlements continued, and no progress was reported on resuming peace talks.
After the rejection of the Goldstone report by the Israelis, world leaders may be getting tired of Netanyahubut will they do anything potent? A senior American official, apparently travelling with Mitchell, told Israeli reporters that Obama is getting "impatient" over the lack of progress "by both sides" in starting peace talks.
Jordan's King Abdullah warned Washington recently that "Israel's settlement policy in East Jerusalem is undermining the stability of Israeli-Jordanian relations," according to Ha'aretz on Oct. 9. King Abdullah also ordered the Jordanian Embassy in Israel to submit an official protest to the Israeli Foreign Ministry over a plan to build a new Jewish neighborhood on lands belonging to the East Jerusalem village of Walaja.
Turkey Bars Israel from NATO Exercise
Oct. 12 (EIRNS)Israel was unceremoniously dumped from a NATO air force exercise that was to take place in Turkey. The move was said to be on the initiative of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, because of concern that the Israeli aircraft that would be sent, had participated in the attacks on the Gaza Strip during the war earlier this year. The U.S. and Italy dropped out of the exercise in reaction, according to the Jerusalem Post. Israel is not a NATO member.
The Post article quoted Ephraim Inbar of the right-wing BESA Center for Strategic Studies, that Israel should retaliate for Turkey's "misbehavior," say, by cutting arms sales to Turkey. This would be like Israel cutting off its nose to spite its face.
Ha'aretz points out that Turkey's move was an understandable reaction to Turkish public opinion against Israel's attacks on Gaza, and that the Turkish military obviously backed the government decision.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said, "Our interest is not to reach a point of friction or crisis with Turkey. We consider Turkey an important strategic partner of Israel's and an anchor of stability."
The main point with this move, is that Israel's refusal to move on the peace process has a cost, and that even those with which it has diplomatic relations will take measures. It was reported today in al-Quds al-Arabi that Jordan was threatening to expel the Israeli ambassador, unless Israel cooled down the provocations that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been engineering in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, especially on the al-Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. Jordan, which holds responsibility for the al-Haram al-Sharif's religious sites, feared Israel would allow Jewish extremists onto the site and damage or destroy the mosques and other shrines.
Blair Has 'Blood on His Hands' from Iraq War
Oct. 10 (EIRNS)Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was accused of being a "war criminal" with "blood on his hands," by a bereaved father during a commemoration for the 178 British soldiers who died in the Iraq War.
The ceremony was held in St. Paul's Cathedral, one of the symbols of the British Empire so beloved of Blair, where the Empire's heroes are interred, including the Duke of Wellington, Lord Kitchener, and Winston Churchill. Uniformed enlisted ranks and officers from the Army, Navy, and Air Force attended a somber ceremony for those who gave their lives. The ceremony was attended by the Queen and senior members of the royal family, as well as Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
At the reception afterward, Peter Brierley, whose son Lance Cpl. Shaun Brierley died in Iraq in 2003, delivered a rebuke to Blair; as Blair offered his hand, Brierley declared, "I'm not shaking your hand, you've got blood on it." Blair was quickly ushered away.
According to The Scotsman, Brierley later said, "I understand soldiers go to war and die, but they have to go to war for a good reason and be properly equipped to fight. I believe Tony Blair is a war criminal. I can't bear to be in the same room as him.... I believe he's got the blood of my son and all of the other men and women who died out there on his hands." Brierley has been campaigning for an official inquiry into the war.
During the ceremony, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams also made comments that put Blair, who was not more than a few meters from the pulpit, in the uncomfortable position he so well deserves. "Many people of my generation and younger grew up doubting we should ever see another straightforward international conflict, fought by a standing army with conventional weapons," Williams said. "We had begun to forget the realities of cost. And when such conflict appeared on the horizon, there were those among both policymakers and commentators who were able to talk about it without really measuring the price, the cost of justice." Williams criticized the "invisible enemiesletting ends justify means, letting others rather than oneself carry the cost, denying the difficulties or the failures, so as to present a good public face...." Williams has previously leveled criticism at the decision to go to war in Iraq.
Brits Continue BAE Cover-up; U.S. Pursues Saudi Bribery
Oct. 4 (EIRNS)The British defense cartel, BAE Systems, is in even deeper trouble than before with the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), following the announcement last week by Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO), that it intends to prosecute BAE on bribery charges, involving defense contracts with Tanzania, Romania, the Czech Republic and South Africa. While the SFO continues to cover up the BAE role in the mega-slush fund scheme with Saudi Arabiathe so-called al-Yamamah programthe fact that they do intend to prosecute other bribery cases has spilled over into the U.S.A., where prosecutors have been probing the alleged $2 billion in al-Yamamah bribes that BAE paid to former Saudi Ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, through U.S. banks.
The DoJ has now asked the SFO to turn over documentation of the other BAE bribes, to consider whether American laws were violated in those deals. As the result, all efforts by BAE to shut down the U.S. investigation by reaching an out-of-court settlement, are at least temporarily off the table.
As EIR exclusively has reported, beneath the surface of the BAE bribery scandal is the much more significant Anglo-Saudi secret intelligence program, funded through the al-Yamamah oil-for-weapons slush fund. And, should the DoJ extend the BAE probe to include money laundering, it could open up a real can of worms: the role of the Saudis in the 9/11 attacks.