|Southwest Asia News Digest
Hariri: Syria SCUD Story a Hoax; Clinton Defends Diplomacy
April 23 (EIRNS)In the face of widely circulated reports that Syria has sent SCUD missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon, there have also been a number of denunciations of the SCUD story as Israeli disinformation.
On April 21, a very strong statement denying the SCUD missile story, was issued by the office of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Haririthe leader of the March 14 Coalition, which was supported by the U.S. after the 2005 assassination of his father, Rafiq Hariri.
"The media suddenly started reporting that there are SCUD missiles in Lebanon," said the statement, as quoted in Al Jazeera. "Threats that Lebanon now has huge missiles are similar to what they used to say about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.... Such arms were not found. They are trying to repeat the same scenario with Lebanon."
Well-placed intelligence sources in Washington, D.C. have told EIR that while the SCUD missile transfer information is "credible," that only means that the sourceIsraeli intelligenceis considered "credible" by the U.S. intelligence community. "That doesn't mean that it is true," said a source. "There is no confirmation that any missiles have actually been transported by Syria into Lebanon."
Several days after EIR received the above report, British news agency Reuters reported that "two U.S. officials" told them that "there were 'no indications' any SCUD rockets were transported into Lebanon." The official added that "surely" Syria realizes that transferring SCUD rockets to Hezbollah in Lebanon "could lead to serious consequences."
Israeli President Shimon Peres has stated point blank that Syria has already made this transfer, a charge which has been denied by both the Syrian and Lebanese governments. The Israel Lobby in the U.S. is trying to use this propaganda to block the confirmation of the nomination of Robert Ford as U.S. Ambassador to Syria, which has already been approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave her support to sending Ambassador Ford to Syria, at a news conference on April 22, before the opening of a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Estonia. Clinton said, "we believe it is important to return an ambassador" to Syria, and that engagement between the U.S. and Syria is a better way to voice U.S. concerns. The full Senate has yet to approve the Ford nomination.
Settler Fascists Burn Palestinian Olive Groves, Attack IDF
April 21 (EIRNS)"Violence and raising hands against IDF soldiers is crossing the line in an intolerable manner. This intolerable and deviant conduct will be handled according to the law with the necessary resolve," stated a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces on April 21, according to the Chinese People's Daily. The statement came after some 100 settlers from Yitzar settlement in the West Bank threw rocks and attacked soldiers as they tried to stop the settlers entering a Palestinian village.
The pro-peace Zionist organization, Americans for Peace Now, reports that the settlers from Yitzar have tried numerous attacks on Palestinian villages over the past several weeks. In another area of the West Bank near Nablus, settlers uprooted and then burned in a bonfire, about 250 olive trees belonging to Palestinian villagers. There was no intervention by Israeli police or military to stop this Nablus rampage. All this occurred on Israeli Independence Day, April 20.
The growing influence of Jewish religious fanatics in the Israeli military and other state institutions is becoming a big concern both in Israel, and among American Jews who support a Palestinian state. This was the subject of a forum at the New American Foundation in Washington April 21, that featured Eyal Press of the NAF and International Crisis Group, and Prof. Yoram Peri, a former aide to the late Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin, who was assassinated by a radical settler in 1995. While both speakers admitted that there is a greater and greater number of religious fanatics entering the official Israeli military, Peri believes that there is a strong enough tradition inside Israel and inside the militarygoing back to Ben Gurion's crackdown against the right-wing militiasto prevent religious agendas from determining policy.
But others in Israel, such as author Prof. Yigal Levy, believe that the religious infiltration of the Israeli army is so large that it will eventually bring about a "putsch" by the religious nuts when Israel is eventually forcedunder international pressureto give up the settlements. Levy is among those who have exposed the activity of fundamentalist rabbis during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, who were telling IDF soldiers that theirs was a mission from God, and to show no mercy to Palestinians.
Iran Holds Its Own Nuclear Summit
April 17 (EIRNS)Iran has answered President Obama's nuclear security extravaganza of the previous week, with a nuclear summit of its own. Organizers of the conference, entitled "Nuclear Power for All, Nuclear Weapons for No One," claimed representation from 60 nations and several international organizations, including a number of foreign ministers, and the deputy foreign ministers of Russia and China.
Kazem Jalali, member of the Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, told the Tehran Times that the conference seeks to revive the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). "The Tehran conference is a global call for the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the Islamic Republic of Iran is seeking to integrate states that are trying to attain nuclear technology meant for peaceful purposes," he said. He also said that, "through the conference Iran is announcing to the world that it is not pursuing nuclear weapons," because to do so violates the fatwa issued by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
The conference was opened by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who denounced the "bullying" by certain nations through the UN Security Council, and called for the U.S. to be suspended from the IAEA. In reference to the recent Nuclear Posture Review, in which the U.S. kept open its options regarding the use of nuclear weapons against Iran, Ahmadinejad, said that "those nuclear weapons states that threaten others with nuclear weapons should be suspended from the IAEA and its board of governors." Ahmadinejad also proposed that a new institution, under the auspices of the UN General Assembly, needs to be formed to supervise global disarmament. Only non-nuclear weapons states should be involved in this new exercise, and the United States, specifically, should be barred because it has been involved in the production, proliferation, and use of nuclear weapons.
Iran Police Seized Over 557 Tons of Drugs Last Year
April 18 (EIRNS)In their effort to defend their country from the avalanche of drugs which the British Empire pours over their border with Afghanistan, Iran's police have reported to the Tehran Times that they seized 461 tons of opium and 45 tons of hashish, 22 tons of heroin, 14 tons of morphine, and 14 tons of other illicit drugs last year. In addition, they seized 951 kilos of methamphetamine and 14 million ecstasy tablets.
Last year, 1,717 operations were launched against the drug traffickers that resulted in the deaths of 214 traffickers, and, unfortunately, 34 deaths and 46 injuries among police. Police intercepted 957 vehicles of drug traffickers and seized 37 tons of drugs at checkpoints using sniffer dogs. (The Iranian year began March 21, 2009, at the festival called Nowrooz, at the vernal equinox.)
"Well, it's good work," Lyndon LaRouche said. "They have a problem; they're dealing with it. You can't blame them."