In this issue:

Arab League To Introduce Palestinian State Status at UNGA

Is Panetta Obama's Bully Boy Against Iran?

British Wars of Destabilization Spread Hunger in Southwest Asia

From Volume 38, Issue 28 of EIR Online, Published July 22, 2011
Southwest Asia News Digest

Arab League To Introduce Palestinian State Status at UNGA

July 17 (EIRNS)—Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al-Arabi announced on July 14, following a meeting in Doha, Qatar, that the organization would submit to the UN General Assembly a request for recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The announcement came after a meeting of the league's Peace Initiative Committee, which was attended by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, who said its object was to strengthen Arab support for obtaining full membership for a Palestinian state, reported the Khaleej Times Online.

Washington sources involved in discussions with Palestinian leaders have reported that the Arab League's agreement to introduce the motion is extremely significant, and all but ensures a wide majority of support in the General Assembly, despite opposition by the United States and Israel. The Arab League support also creates a difficulty for the Obama Administration, which elevated the League's status after the U.S., France, and Britain sought its support for a no-fly zone over Libya. Now the U.S. has condemned the Arab League announcement as detrimental to the "peace process."

But there is no "peace process" because of the continued intransigence of the Netanyahu government on the issue of territorial expansion of settlements known as the doctrine of "Eretz Israel" (Greater Israel). Sources close to the meeting of the Mideast Quartet called by Obama in Washington for July 11, emphasized that this meeting was a complete failure, where the Quartet was unable to issue a joint communiqué. Russia and other principals in the Quartet wanted to issue a statement that identified the 1967 borders as the borders of a Palestinian state—which Obama himself had referenced in a May 2011 speech—but the U.S. refused to go along with formalizing that statement. The sources also reported that there was no attempt to force "talks" between the Israelis and Palestinians to begin, since all sides know that no talks are possible as long as Israel refuses to stop building settlements.

The Arab League move and the Quartet failure are both signs of how isolated the U.S. has become under the failed Obama Administration.

Is Panetta Obama's Bully Boy Against Iran?

July 11 (EIRNS)—Exhibiting the vicious nature of the Obama Administration, which has escalated drone attacks to kill thousands in Pakistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, during his first visit to Iraq in his new position, threatened Iran that he would do everything that is necessary to retaliate against it for what he called attempts to arm Shi'ite militias in Iraq. Panetta provided no concrete evidence, other than making vague references to the use of Iranian matériel in the militia's weaponry. Panetta insisted that he didn't want to get into particulars about what the United States would do.

Expressing anger at Iraqi Premier Nouri al-Maliki, Panetta said the sometimes slow-moving decision-making process in Iraq can be "frustrating" for the U.S., which has also been waiting for the appointment of a new Iraqi defense minister. "I'd like things to move a lot faster here, frankly, in terms of the decision-making process. I'd like them to make the decision, you know: Do they want us to stay? Don't they want us to stay? Do they want to have, you know, a minister of defense or don't they want to get a minister of defense? But dammit, make a decision."

Panetta is projecting himself as a hard-talking U.S. official, as he did during his earlier stop at Kabul. In a brief question-and-answer session with reporters after talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Panetta was asked about the pace of the U.S. troop drawdown. "We're going to have 70,000 there through 2014, and obviously, as we get to 2014, we'll develop a plan as to how we reduce that force at that time," Panetta said.

Later, Douglas Wilson, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, when questioned by the media about what Panetta was saying, said Panetta "misspoke."

British Wars of Destabilization Spread Hunger in Southwest Asia

July 10 (EIRNS)—Widespread hunger has emerged as one of the consequences of the British-led destabilizations of Libya, Yemen, and Syria. The conflicts in those countries, along with extreme weather and rising energy prices, have worsened already bad situations. On June 17, the World Food Program reported that it was in the process of distributing food to more than 500,000 people in Libya and expressed concern about the food situation inside the country, especially in the areas hardest hit by the fighting. "Libya is a food deficit country heavily reliant on imports with a public food distribution system under stress as food stocks in the country are being consumed without replenishment," the agency said.

Yemen is in even worse shape as 7 million people, or about one-third of the country's population, had, according to the British aid agency Oxfam, already reduced their meals from three a day to one, before the unrest began. Aziz Al-Athwari, Oxfam's Yemen country director, told The Media Line that "although we have no current statistics, that number has certainly increased since fighting began." The WFP recently launched an emergency operation to feed 1.7 million in Yemen, where access to food is being hindered by rising fuel prices. Al-Athwari added that since both food and water are shipped into many communities by truck, rising fuel prices have raised the prices of both food and water beyond the ability of many Yemenis to pay.

Syria's northeast has been plagued by drought since 2006, which had already resulted in mass migration from rural agricultural areas into the cities. The problem of less food in the markets was made worse when the Assad regime cut food subsidies and froze wages in 2004, though some of those measures were lifted in the weeks before the protests broke out in March 2011. Since the fighting broke out, government troops have blocked food supplies from reaching villages near the Turkish border, where thousands of refugees fled to escape the violence.

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