|Southwest Asia News Digest
Saudi Daily: 'Do We Need a Glass-Steagall?'
Dec. 10 (EIRNS)This is the title of an article published in the influential Saudi economic daily Al-Eqtesadiya on Dec. 9, by columnist Mohammad ben Fahad Alomran. His answer is "Yes!" He discusses the history of the Glass-Steagall legislation (without mention of President Franklin D. Roosevelt), and how indispensable was this "most important legislation regulating the banking sector for not only the United States but for most other countries in the world." Alomran laments its repeal in 1999, due to "pressure on Congress practiced by investment banks in order to allow them to compete with commercial banks in trading with derivatives and other types of speculative financial transactions that led to the worsening crisis we live through today and [will] for years to come."
He writes: "What we are interested in here in the Kingdom is to outline a clear separation between commercial banks' activities and those of the investment banks, which unfortunately today are allowed to deal with derivatives and securitizing financial paper for the purpose of hedging and speculation." He concludes: "This means we are in dire need for something similar to Glass-Steagall to reduce the risks for the depositors and to remove the commercial banks away from the competition of the investment banks."
This article was republished in other Arabic media and on Internet sites, including on the site of Al-Arabiya TV, a Saudi-financed satellite channel in Dubai.
The context for this type of article, although it is not stated explicitly, is the British pressure on the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates to bail out British banks that have been exposed in the Dubai bubble, and covering Saudi banks that have been speculating in this bubble. The Saudis seem to be split over whether to comply with British demands or to try to save their own skins. However, intelligent discussion of this type can help certain factions to get a clear picture.
Turkish Leader Calls for Even-Handedness with Iran
Dec. 7 (EIRNS)Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan parted ways with his U.S. hosts during his meetings today in Washington, on the question of Iran's nuclear weapons. While saying that nuclear weapons should not be developed in a region as volatile as the Middle East, he also underlined that if "we say 'no nukes,' other countries must also do the same," referring to Israel's nuclear weapons. He also countered the falsehoods that had been circulated regarding his recent visit with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, saying that the accusation that Turkey was now "turning East," was simply not true, but that Turkey's foreign policy has always been "multi-directional."
He used the occasion to also lambaste Israel for its bloody attack on Gaza early this year, and criticized the EU's efforts to keep Turkey out of its ranks.
Erdogan met with President Obama and Obama's security team, where all of these questions were undoubtedly discussed. The Obama Administration wants to keep the support of Turkey, the only Muslim power in its International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations in Afghanistan. Turkey took over the lead in the NATO ISAF operations last month, but its 1,750 troops are not to take part in combat, as Erdogan does not believe Muslims should be fighting Muslims. Obama has "upgraded" the U.S.-Turkish relationship from a "strategic relationship" to a "model relationship," a new category of created precisely for this particular circumstance.
British Empire Targets Turkey with Terror Attack
Dec. 9 (EIRNS)A terrorist attack killed seven Turkish soldiers on Dec. 7. Turkey has been attempting to resolve regional conflicts orchestrated by the British, and investigators should look for a British hand pulling the strings of the terrorists who committed this act.
The Turkish government has also continued its crackdown on the Ergenekon terrorist gang which had penetrated the Turkish military and security apparatus. This British-controlled network is on trial for planning more than one coup against the state, running terrorist groups, and being involved in the drug trade.
The attack occurred in the province of Tokat in north-central Turkey. No group took responsibility, but it is believed to have been the work of the far-left Revolutionary People's Party/Front, the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist, and the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).
Brits and Neocons Demand Confrontation with IranNow
Dec. 14 (EIRNS)American neoconservatives are rejoicing over President Barack Obama's two recent speechesat West Point and in Oslo, Norwayin which he announced a 30,000 troop increase in Afghanistan and defended his decision as a "just war." Obama's concept of "just war," as spelled out in his Nobel Peace Prize speech, embraced the idea of humanitarian interventionism and preventive war. The neocons and their British allies are wasting no time, demanding that the President prepare the way for military action against Iran.
The call for war on Iran was spelled out by William Kristol, in the Dec. 21 issue of the Weekly Standard, under the title, "A Nobel War Speech? Did Obama Lay the Groundwork for an Eventual Strike Against Iran?" After praising Obama's Oslo performance as an endorsement of the "Bush Doctrine," Kristol wrote: "Reading Obama's speech could lead one to wonder whether this president, who had been committed to engagement with Iran, has decided that engagement has failed and is moving toward pressure and sanctionsand that he has in the back of his mind the possibility that the United States, 'acting individually,' might have to use force to stop the Iranian nuclear program."
The same call to arms against Iran was issued by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who penned a Los Angeles Times op-ed today, titled "Hit Iran Where It Hurts." She called on the Administration to cut off all funding of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) until it suspends Iran. She demanded that Congress pass the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, which she co-sponsored, imposing sanctions on any countries or agencies that provide refined petroleum to Iran. She demanded that President Obama sign the bill into law before the end of the year.
For their part, the British are now claiming to have discovered documents about an Iranian "trigger program" for a nuclear bomb. Today's London Times, under the banner headline, "Secret Document Exposes Iran's Nuclear Trigger," reported, "Confidential intelligence documents obtained by The Times show that Iran is working on testing a key final component of a nuclear bomb. The notes, from Iran's most sensitive military nuclear project, describe a four-year plan to test a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion. Foreign intelligence agencies date them to early 2007, four years after Iran was thought to have suspended its weapons program." The story quoted Mark Fitzpatrick, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London: "The most shattering conclusion is that, if this was an effort that began in 2007, it could be a casus belli. If Iran is working on weapons, it means there is no diplomatic solution.... Is this the smoking gun? That's the question people should be asking. It looks like the smoking gun. This is smoking uranium."
The article gloated: "The latest leaks in a long series of allegations against Iran will also be seized on by hawks in Israel and the U.S., who support a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities before the country can build its first warhead."
Blair Admits: Iraq War Was About Regime Change
Dec. 12 (EIRNS)Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has finally admitted what was obvious all along: The invasion of Iraq was about regime change. In a BBC interview to be broadcast on Dec. 13, interviewer Fern Britton asked Blair: "If you had known that there were no WMDs [weapons of mass destruction], would you still have gone on?" Blair replied: "I would still have thought it right to remove" Saddam Hussein. He explained the threat represented by Saddam "was obviously the thing uppermost in my mind. The threat to the region. Also the fact of how the region was going to change and how in the end it was going to evolve as a region and whilst he was there, I thought and actually think, it would have been very difficult to have changed it in the right way."
The Guardian speculates that Blair is changing his tune because of his scheduled appearance next month before the investigating team of Privy Counsellors known as the Chilcot Inquiry. The Inquiry has already heard testimony that Blair was more interested in regime change than WMDs, from former members of his Cabinet. Lord Goldsmith, who was then Attorney General, warned Blair in July 2002 that "the desire for regime change was not a legal basis for military action." Others have testified that Blair told George W. Bush during an April 2002 meeting that the British would support military action to bring about regime change.