|Southwest Asia News Digest
Propaganda for Israeli or American Attack on Iran
Aug. 12 (EIRNS)The Atlantic Monthly magazine's September 2010 issue has a cover story by Israeli Defense Force reservist Jeffrey Goldberg, aggressively peddling the need for Israeli or American military action against Iran (see InDepth). Goldberg sees a deadline of March 2011 for a massive Israeli air assault against Iran's nuclear sitesunless the United States either convinces Iran to give up its nuclear weapons quest through diplomacy, or President Obama orders an American military strike first.
The Goldberg propaganda tract is the most widely promoted "bomb Iran" piece to appear yet. Goldberg interviewed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, top Israeli generals, Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, and a number of top White House Middle East policymakers, including Dennis Ross. The Obama crew attempted to present the President as fully committed to using military force to prevent an Iranian bomb, but Goldberg presented a skeptical picture, insisting that, ultimately, Israel will likely have to bomb Iran with no U.S. military backing by no later than Spring 2011.
In direct contrast to the "bomb Iran" propagandists, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) issued an open memorandum "for the President" on "War With Iran," warning that Israel could launch an air attack on Iran "as early as this month." The memorandum was dated Aug. 3, and was signed by the group's steering committee members: Ray Close, Phil Giraldi, Larry Johnson, Patrick Lang, Ray McGovern, Coleen Rowley, and Ann Wright.
The VIPS memorandum harshly criticized the President for propitiating Netanyahu at the pair's July 7 White House meeting, accusing Obama of being "distinctly out of tune with decades of unfortunate history with Israeli leaders." Netanyahu "reads your reluctance even to mention controversial bilateral issues publicly during his recent visit as affirmation that he is in the catbird seat in the relationship." After reviewing Netanyahu's recently exposed contempt for the United States, VIPS warned that Iran is pledged to resume talks on their nuclear enrichment program in September in Vienna, and this is why an Israeli attack during August cannot be totally dismissed.
Sarkozy on a 'Sykes-Picot' Rampage
Aug. 14 (EIRNS)The following report is excerpted from an Aug. 9 article in Nouvelle Solidarité, the newspaper of the LaRouche movement in France.
The violence of the flairup which occurred on Aug. 3 at the blue line dividing Lebanon from Israel since the last Israeli-Lebanese war in 2006, reflects intense manipulation, in the Sykes-Picot tradition of imperial skullduggery, of the entire region, and of Lebanon in particular, in the context of the confrontation against Iran that the City of London and Wall Street oligarchy is orchestrating.
In recent months, the attitude of the French government towards Iran has shown that France is acting as one of the leading elements pushing for confrontation, and that it is fully collaborating with the Israeli war party in this objective.
The Sykes-Picot method is once again on the verge of provoking ethnic strife in a Lebanon which had managed to establish a precarious unity since May 2008. At that time, Egypt and Qatar, as well as Saudi Arabia and Syria, had helped broker a national peace agreement which had held up to this day. The crisis erupted when the Saudi-backed Saad Hariri, then the head of the Current of the Future political bloc, had attempted a putsch which failed when Hezbollah, backed by patriotic Lebanese factions, used military force to stop it.
A full compromise evolved out of the Qatari deal and out of national elections held thereafter, which lead to a pacified situation accepted by all, whereby Hariri became Prime Minister, and Hezbollah and the Christians of Gen. Michel Aoun (ret.) saw their institutional position in the government and the parliament solidified. In the meantime, unimaginable for Lebanon, Hariri, the Sunni, established regular relations to Hassan Nasrallah, the Shi'ite, to Aoun, the Christian, and to Walid Jumblatt, the Druze.
It is precisely this fragile national unity which is threatened by news that the Lebanon Special Tribunal in charge of investigating the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri will publish an indictment accusing asteroid elements of the Hezbollah of having murdered him.
This is the same Tribunal which claimed for several years, using corrupt sources, that Syria had murdered Hariri. Detlev Mehlis, the first head of the International investigation commission on the murder, was discharged when it appeared that his sources were totally corrupt. And, on May 2009, Germany's Der Spiegel magazine was the first to announce that the Commission, now led by Daniel Bellemare, a Canadian, was reorienting its investigations against elements of Hezbollah.
The Special Tribunal is expected to issue its accusation between September and October, something which has brought tensions in Beirut once again to a head, particularly pitting the Sunni faction, which now has Rafik's son Saad Hariri in the Prime Ministership, against the Shi'ite Hezbollah.
According to Hassan Nasrallah, it was Saad Hariri himself, who, in a recent discussion with him, informed Nasrallah of the coming indictment by the Special Tribunal. Hariri noted, however, that he could not hold Hezbollahwhich occupies several Cabinet postsresponsible for the murder, but only extraneous elements of it. However, the fear is that the Sunni population does not see it this way, and could instigate violence.
While initially French President Nicolas Sarkozy contributed to the calming of the situation in Lebanon, this has changed since Sarkozy moved into a campaign targeting Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program, and many sources are reporting that in Lebanon, France is using its participation in UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force, to try to weaken Hezbollah, in the context of the buildup of the confrontation against Iran.
First, violent incidents involving UNIFIL provoked Shi'ite populations in southern Lebanon on June 29 and July 3-4, when, in the context of maneuvers aimed at testing attack capabilities against the Israelis in Southern Lebanon, French UNIFIL troops deployed with tanks into villages of southern Lebanon and into the houses of local inhabitants, searching for weapons, passports, and taking pictures.
This was the first time UNIFIL had deployed tanks in those areas, and the deployment was not coordinated with the Lebanese Army, as the UN mandate requires. Complaints about the incident went all the way up to the UN Security Council, with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman criticizing the UNIFIL deployment and insisting that UNIFIL is there to protect the borders.
According to al-Manar of July 10, General Kahwagi, chief of staff of the Lebanese Army, denounced a secret mission run by the UN forces in Southern Lebanon to the benefit of Israel. He said that Israel is often turning lists over to the Lebanese army, with houses and people in southern Lebanon suspected of acting against Israel, but that the Lebanese army does not pursue them, since its role is not to protect Israel. General Kahwagi was reportedly irritated at the numerous deployments of elements of the UNIFIL to Israel, according to French specialist George Malbrunot, in a July 19 article in Le Figaro.
Malbrunot also highlights visits by top Israeli Defense Forces commanders to their French counterparts, asserting that such visits, which did not exist during the 40 years that preceded Sarkozy's election in France in 2007, have become current, and some are now wondering why a bureau for the Israeli army has not been set up at the Defense Ministry, as in the Fourth Republicthe time of the joint Franco-British seizure of Suez.
In general, there is talk in Lebanon that the French are trying to use their role in UNIFIL to weaken Hezbollah, in the context of their campaign against nuclear power in Iran. Following the incursion of the French UNIFIL soldiers into southern Lebanon, Hezbollah put out posters in French in the area, warning of retaliations if the French were caught engaging in operations against the resistance.