|Southwest Asia News Digest
Cultural Shift in Arab World, as Mass Strike Spreads
Feb. 27 (EIRNS)What is actually a global political mass strike has continued to expand and roll through the Arab countries, with attention focussed on Libya and the last days of Tony Blair's favorite, Muammar Qaddafi. In recent days, the upsurge has reached into Iraq with mass demonstrations in cities all over the country, in which 29 Iraqis were killed by security forces; the Iraqi parliament speaker called for new elections in three months, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened in an emergency meeting to fire his cabinet. It reached into Oman for the first time, with tens of thousands of the emirate's 2.7 million people demonstrating against escalating food and other prices, and three killed. Bahrain demonstrations grew, and so did those in Yemen, coming closer to toppling the 35-year military rule there. And notably, mass protests are continuing where they have already "succeeded" in forcing dictators to resignin Egypt, and in Tunisia, where the remnant prime minister and cabinet resigned Sunday.
LPAC's "The Hope for Africa" video with Arabic subtitles is soon to be posted, and will circulate throughout the region.
Nearly 1 million demonstrators turned out on Friday, Feb. 25 in Tahrir Square in Cairo, to keep up the pressure on the Supreme Military Council to rapidly move ahead with the promised constitutional reforms and free elections. The plan is for the demonstrations to continue every Friday, until the elections take place. There is growing concern that the old guard around former President Mubarak and his son Gamal will attempt to gradually reassert control, and so the protesters are demanding further cabinet purges, including Prime Minister Shafiq, the former head of the Egyptian Air Force, who recently made the mistake of publicly admitting that he is in daily contact with Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheikh. The size and peaceful nature of the demonstrations, which also occurred in Alexandria, Suez, Port Said, and many other cities and towns around the country, was very significant.
Egyptian Development Corridor Discussions Reveals Potential Problems
Feb. 25 (EIRNS)Egyptian NASA scientist Dr. Farouk El-Baz is back in Egypt promoting his project "Development Corridor," an impressive infrastructure project to create a new Nile Valley west of the present one, to reclaim the desert, and move large numbers of Egyptians to new agro-industrial centers all the way from the border with Sudan to the Mediterranean coast. This is a reflection of the patriotic Egyptian attitude more common among the older generation which grew up with Gamal Abdel Nasser and the post-war development era in Africa, where FDR's true American spirit was still present.
However, the reality of the financial breakdown crisis is not on the minds of Dr. El-Baz and the people discussing it in the country. El-Baz, who spoke in a seminar in Cairo on Feb. 23 on the "development corridor" theme, said he does not want the state to be involved in financing and implementing the project, that it should be financed by Egyptian citizens buying shares in the project and the rest could be complemented by national and international private investors.
El-Baz states that he presented this project to the Egyptian government 25 years ago, but nothing serious was done about it. According to his website (http://faroukelbaz.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=22&Itemid=59), the proposed project includes the establishment of the following:
1. A superhighway to be built using the highest international standards, 1,200 km in length, from west of Alexandria to the southern border of Egypt
2. Twelve east-west branches, with a total length of approximately 800 km, to connect the highway to high-density population centers along the way
3. A railroad for fast transport parallel to the superhighway
4. A water pipeline from the Toshka Canal to supply freshwater
5. An electricity line to supply energy during the early phases of development.
The dream of a new era of development is still alive in the developing sector, where the aspirations for freedom are entwined with the aspirations for a better future and living standards. However, these dreams will be crushed without the intervention to bring down the monetarist empire and replacing it with a global Glass-Steagall standard banking system.
The immediate move to prevent a total collapse of the nations of North Africa would be LaRouche's proposal to put a cap on the food prices. Immediately after that, with a Glass-Steagall-based credit system, millions of African youth could be brought into the process of building their nations' future.
Dr. El-Baz was featured in LPAC TV's video "NAWAPA, Possibilities for Africa," and various EIR studies.
Long Arm of British Colonialism in Bahrain
Feb. 21 (EIRNS)For the past 42 years, the security apparatus in the Emirate of Bahrain, now the scene of mass protests, demanding the ouster of the current government, if not the entire al-Khalifa dynasty, has been in the hands of one man: Police Col. Ian Henderson. Henderson cut his teeth as a colonial police officer in Kenya during the 1950s, where he played a pivotal role in the brutal campaign to wipe out the Mau Mau uprising. He was notorious for his torture interrogations of the captured Mau Mau, and he boasted in a 1958 book of his role in capturing Mau Mau leader Dedan Kimathi.
Courtesy of the Ian Smith regime in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Henderson was introduced to the al-Khalifa family ruling Bahrain, and was brought to the Emirate to run the security police and the intelligence service in the 1960s. He staffed the security apparatus with foreign mercenaries, many veterans of the British colonial police administrations in Africa. Henderson was made a Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, for his work in preserving the Empire. He ostensibly retired as head of security for Bahrain in 1998, but has been retained, ever since, as the chief security consultant to the ruling family.
The Bahrain situation is not unique. In virtually every one of the Persian Gulf emirates, ministries of security, finance, and information are heavily staffed with Britons, all veterans of the British colonial apparatus. Sources in Washington have warned that Henderson's iron-fisted methods, unleashed last week on protesters in the Bahrain capital of Manasa, before the Emir ordered the military and the police off the streets, may have tipped the balance, such that the popular anger will not be satisfied until the entire royal family is deposed.
Bahrain is a crucial base for the United States in the Persian Gulf, hosting the U.S. Fifth Fleet, and many other overt and covert U.S. military and intelligence missions. Today, Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Bahrain to assess the situation and, reportedly, to press the Emir to follow through out promised reforms before the situation blows up again.
Netanyahu and Barak Still Want To Strike Iran
Feb. 25 (EIRNS) The British Empire's top agent in the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his triggerman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, are still committed to a military strike against Iran, if they can get away with it, despite strong resistance in Israel's security establishment
Ha'aretz senior correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on Feb. 25, under the headline, "Israel Could Still Strike Iran, Despite Mideast Unrest," that Netanyahu and Barak are still considering a strike. While the major concern in such an attack is a counterattack by Hezbollah, Syria, and Hamas, in a war that "could last years," Barak and Netanyahu don't care, Benn writes,
"The dispute over how Israel should deal with Iran has split the defense and policy elite. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are more in favor of taking action. On the other side are Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, Vice Prime Ministers Moshe Ya'alon and Silvan Shalom, and also, apparently, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman; they are considered moderates on this subject, holding similar views to the coalition that includes [former Mossad chief Meir] Dagan, former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin. The moderates prefer a combination of diplomatic pressure, sanctions and clandestine activities over going into battle.
"What all the moderates including the (former) chief of staff and Mossad head have in common, however, is that all of them hold advisory positions. The responsibility is on the statesmen and the public, and history will judge them if Israel does nothing and Iran goes nuclear. The decision as to whether to go to war will be borne by Netanyahu and Baraknot by their colleagues in the ministerial forum of seven or the heads of intelligence.
"Dagan has publicly warned against an attack on Iran and has offered a wealth of arguments in support of his view."
Nonetheless, Benn writes, "a successful strike requires the right combination of capabilities, international legitimacy and timing. Israel's capabilities are not known. Furthermore, there would not be formal legitimacy of any action, but 'the world' would not necessarily excoriate Israel if it bombs Iran. In all probability, the condemnations would be inversely related to the success of the operation."
While Benn speculates that by Spring a decision could be made, he concludes: "All this notwithstanding, in the meantime there are no signs that Netanyahu, who until now has stuck to a 'zero risk' policy, will dare embark on such an adventure."
Angelides Report Covered in Israeli Media
Feb. 23 (EIRNS)Israel's Ha'aretz covers the Angelides report, positively, as "the report on the greatest financial meltdown ... with lessons aplenty for Israel," noting that "the document, released three weeks ago, is a hefty tome of text, tables, graphs and technical analyses. Yet it's moving reading." And: "FCIC chairman Phil Angelides tells some bitter home truths."