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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Syrian official newspaper takes credit for Iraq bombings

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/09/syrian-official-newspaper-takes-credit.html

Rather interesting that Syria more or less admits responsibility for bombings in Iraq.

MEMRI September 4, 2009
No. 2519

Following August 19 Baghdad Bombings, Syrian Daily Teshreen Warns Obama: The Syria-Iran Alliance, Which Is Cultivating the Resistance, Has Won a Great Victory– And Will Not Wait Until Hesitant Obama Reaches a Decision

In an August 22, 2009 article in the Syrian government daily Teshreen, Nasser Qandil, a former Lebanese MP who is close to Syria, wrote that some in Washington were acting to worsen the security situation in Iraq. Their aim, he said, is to extend the U.S. military presence in the country, which will harm U.S. President Barack Obama in his next election campaign; to promote the Biden Plan to partition Iraq into three regions; and to sabotage the relations among Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran.

Qandil warned that although Syria and Iran had shown openness to the possibility of dialogue with the U.S., this was in now at risk due to the hesitancy that characterizes the Obama administration.

Following are excerpts from his article:

The Violence in Iraq Is Meant to Prevent U.S. Withdrawal, Harm President Obama

"The escalation of violence and bloodshed in Iraq in recent days came as the Americans were beginning to prepare for their 2011 troop withdrawal, and as the commanders of the U.S. forces tried to draw up understandings with the countries neighboring [Iraq], particularly Syria, to increase coordination at the border...

"Anyone who is following conditions in Iraq knows that the bloody operations against Iraqi civilians are designed to [reinforce] the call for U.S. forces to remain [in Iraq], and perhaps even redeploy in the cities that they have already left. The excuse given is that if the forces withdraw according to the timetable, the security situation could explode...

"These attacks took place just as many articles and studies were being published by the American and Israeli press, and by several institutes researching the Middle East, about the need to extend the U.S. forces' presence for another four years - or at least until after the next U.S. presidential election in 2012 - so that Obama will not be able to use the withdrawal as a card in his election campaign, and will not be able to claim that he kept his promises from his [first] campaign.

"Other studies link the demand to keep [U.S.] forces [in Iraq] to what they call 'the requirements for negotiating with Iran and guaranteeing Israel's security' prior to the U.S. military pullout. Still other studies hint at the possibility of a war on Iran or of an Israeli war on Lebanon - which, according to this approach, requires U.S. willingness to give Israel this opportunity prior to the [U.S.] troop withdrawal [from Iraq]...

"American research institutes are saying that the safest option for Iraq is a return to the three regions theory, presented by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden when he headed the [U.S. Senate] Committee on Foreign Relations. According to this model, encouragement of this track will help provide the safety net required for a troop withdrawal, [by keeping] Iraq stable."

"This Reveals Two Opposing Lines Among the Influential Circles in Washington"

"It was against the backdrop of this American political and media atmosphere that the recent attacks in Iraq took place. This reveals two opposing lines among the influential circles in Washington. While the president's team is acting slowly and hesitatingly on the negotiations track, and opening a window to cooperation with the countries neighboring Iraq - as he started to do with Syria and is about to start with Iran - there are those who are acting to worsen the Iraq security situation, so as to reopen the door to an extension of the [U.S.] troop presence in Iraq, and also to encourage the option of partitioning the country."

The August 19 Attacks Were Aimed at Sabotaging Assad's Syrian-Turkish-Iraqi-Iranian Cooperation Plan

"...It seems that the [August 19] attacks were aimed at [sabotaging] Syria-U.S. contacts by fomenting suspicion between the allies Syria and Iran; at stopping the progress that had been made in Syria-Iraq relations on the security and economic level when the Iraqi prime minister visited Damascus; and at complicating the Syrian-Turkish-Iraqi-Iranian cooperation plan, proposed by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad as a future strategic plan, to which he is devoting much attention, time, and effort...

"Those engaged in escalating regional conflicts - those who lose by, and are harmed by, the American openness to the new reality - are racking up achievements against the Obama administration - because it is hesitant, slow, and irresolute in translating this openness into making the required bold decisions, and because it continues to give the Israeli leadership the right of veto in security and political resolutions regarding the region.

"Further hesitation by the Obama administration would mean another blow to the hopes for change that were pinned on it following the U.S. presidential election... Indeed, there could be Israeli war adventurism, or increased bloodletting in Iraq. But the biggest loser of an escalation in the destruction and blood[shed] would first and foremost be President Obama - they [i.e. those who act against him] want him to end his first term exhausted, without the confidence of the voters or of any of those with whom he promised to turn over a new leaf."

"The Syrian-Iranian Alliance... Will Not Wait Until Those Who Hesitate Reach a Decision"

"The region can tolerate no more experiments with the blood of its sons. Thus, the Syrian-Iranian message was clear and resolute, when President Assad visited Iran - that many, from near and far, must read well the meaning of what is happening in the region. The meaning is that the Syrian-Iranian alliance, which is cultivating the resistance movements, has won an historic, significant victory. Despite its openness to the dialogue option, this alliance will not wait until those who hesitate reach a decision."

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Prostitution in the Middle East: Mothers pimp daughers in Iraq

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/03/prostitiution-in-middle-east-mothers.html

We could predict that a repressed society would produce prostitution. Time magazine is shocked at the Iraqi sexportation industry, but in fact it is a staple of the Arab and Muslim world.
Here's an excerpt from Time's article on Iraq: Iraq's Unspeakable Crime: Mothers Pimping Daughters
By Rania Abouzeid / Baghdad
She goes by "Hinda," but that's not her real name. That's what she's called by the many Iraqi sex traffickers and pimps who contact her several times a week from across the country. They think she is one of them, a peddler of sexual slaves. Little do they know that the stocky, auburn-haired woman is an undercover human rights activist who has been quietly mapping out their murky underworld since 2006.
That underworld is a place where nefarious female pimps hold sway, where impoverished mothers sell their teenage daughters into a sex market that believes females who reach the age of 20 are too old to fetch a good price. The youngest victims, some just 11 and 12, are sold for as much as $30,000, others for as little as $2,000. "The buying and selling of girls in Iraq, it's like the trade in cattle," Hinda says. "I've seen mothers haggle with agents over the price of their daughters." The trafficking routes are both local and international, most often to Syria, Jordan and the Gulf (primarily the United Arab Emirates). The victims are trafficked illegally on forged passports, or "legally" through forced marriages. A married female, even one as young as 14, raises few suspicions if she's travelling with her "husband." The girls are then divorced upon arrival and put to work.
Nobody knows exactly how many Iraqi women and children have been sold into sexual slavery since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, and there are no official numbers because of the shadowy nature of the business. Baghdad-based activists like Hinda and others put the number in the tens of thousands. Still, it remains a hidden crime; one that the 2008 US State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report says the Iraqi government is not combating. Baghdad, the report says, "offers no protection services to victims of trafficking, reported no efforts to prevent trafficking in persons and does not acknowledge trafficking to be a problem in the country."
But it is not much different in other Arab and Muslim countries. Those that have stricter laws and better policing form lucrative export markets for their neighbors.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Better in Baghdad?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/04/better-in-baghdad.html

I am not saying it's true. It is this man's opinion.
 
Perseverance Pays Off in Baghdad
By MELIK KAYLAN
April 12, 2008; Page A9
Baghdad
 
The recent violence in Sadrist areas of Baghdad should not distract us from the big picture. The capital city of Iraq is immensely more at peace than it was a year ago.
 
This time last year, there were deep booms and the rattle of extended firefights from virtually all around the compass throughout the day and night. Such incidents are now a rare occurrence in a week.
 
Some of the reasons for this progress are better known than others. The surge, the Awakening Councils and the neighborhood-based counterinsurgency program have received solid credit.
 
But the condign effects of the Iraqis' own Baghdad Services Committee and Popular Mobilization Committee have garnered little attention outside Iraq, perhaps because they are led by Ahmed Chalabi, the returned exile who is far more controversial abroad than at home. Yet these days the committees' weekly government-level meetings are attended by ministers and American and Iraqi generals from David Petraeus on down.
 
Whatever some Americans in the U.S. may think of Mr. Chalabi, this much is certain: He has stayed in Baghdad throughout the troubles, living in the Red Zone, touring the neighborhoods more than any Iraqi politician, and routinely incurring considerable risks. He could have lived safely abroad on his family wealth.
 
Mr. Chalabi has made no effort to advertise that he helped the surge succeed by implementing the civilian arm of the Baghdad Security Plan through the work of the two committees. Arguably, he has, more than anyone in the country, evolved a detailed sense of what ails Baghdadis and how to fix things.
 
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appointed Mr. Chalabi to launch the committees last year, no doubt because Mr. Chalabi's unusual habit of direct contact with the populace made him the only realistic choice.
 
The Popular Mobilization Committee (PMC) was launched in February 2007. It now supervises the activity of some 3,000 volunteers around Baghdad. They, in turn, operate a localized system of 120 neighborhood watch committees. They provide intelligence, report trouble, help settle returnees to their homes and the like. They have been crucial in stabilizing the city neighborhood by neighborhood.
 
Mr. Chalabi estimates that a total of perhaps one million (mostly Sunni middle-class) refugees left Baghdad after 2003. Many of them left Iraq, while some 350,000 were internally displaced. A quarter have now returned, and more are coming back, chiefly because their money has run out. They routinely find squatters in their homes.
 
According to Mr. Chalabi, the situation is often delicate, but not as bad as it might be. "Everyone knows who actually lives where," he says. "People work out reasonable solutions. Baghdadis are very clear about ownership." (According to a Chalabi aide, real estate values in the city have actually gone up in the last year.) Since many of the refugees were forcibly purged, a deal of suspicion and anxiety attends the process, which the local committees help smooth out.
 
Meanwhile, the PMC takes Shiite leaders into Sunni areas and vice-versa. "We just did two reconciliation meetings where hostile tribal chieftains invited each other just because they heard we were coming," Mr. Chalabi told me.
 
Through the PMC, Sunni mosques are returned to Sunnis. Intersectarian prayers are held. The PMC also monitors the prisons, and provides legal help to citizens, as requested by the local committees. To avoid favoritism and the appearance of patronage, "we decided that whoever does the most work gets to lead the committees," says Mr. Chalabi. As a result, even the most hostile sectarian areas welcome his efforts as practical rather than political, and above all as efficacious.
 
This is especially true of the Baghdad Services Committee, which concentrates on water, electricity, infrastructure repair and the like. The BSC was launched in November 2007, with the immediate goal of reclaiming the circle of power plants deliberately positioned by Saddam Hussein around Baghdad in Baathist areas.
 
Much of the city's post-Saddam power supply was either hijacked or deliberately sabotaged, until the BSC identified the problem. It demanded a military presence to protect substations, while arranging for the railways to transport diesel into the city. Electricity supply today is three hours on, three off, up from one hour a day last year.
 
Mr. Chalabi complains that the U.S. does not do enough to help the power supply. "In Mahmoudiya [a suburb], we are asking the Russians to come back and complete a power station which they half-finished in Saddam's time," he says. "Electricity is crucial also for pumping water. Baghdad needs three million cubic meters of water a day. The most reliable source north of Baghdad can provide almost a half of that, but it needs power. We got . . . [from the US military] a massive generator of 60 megahertz, whereas all our system is designed for 50 megahertz – it's just sitting there."
 
Some Baghdad neighborhoods are improvised shantytowns with no access to water and no sewage system. Says Mr. Chalabi: "We must provide 1,000 tanker trucks quickly by this summer. But I'm not confident we'll get them. The real, long-term solution is to build housing with proper infrastructure – we are in desperate need of new housing."
 
The BSC has gained a considerable reputation around Baghdad for taking government ministers into neglected areas, television cameras in tow, to shame the government into action. Mr. Chalabi's political party, the Iraqi National Congress, also recently launched a weekly newspaper entirely about services, in which citizens get to sound off and government officials are asked to respond.
 
The practical projects of these committees aside, one could argue that their greatest service has been psychological: to show that the problems of Baghdad, and by implication Iraq, are not some bottomless pit of chaos. They can be dealt with concretely and overcome with perseverance.
 
Mr. Kaylan is a writer based in New York.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New poll shows growing discontent with Hamas rule in Gaza

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/new-poll-shows-growing-discontent-with.html

A large majority of Palestinians oppose rocket attacks on Israel, but they continue anyhow. This is a reminder that democracy is more than elections. Likewise a majority would vote for Abbas and his government. So, why not hold elections?
 
New poll shows growing discontent with Hamas rule in Gaza

Terror organization to lose elections if new vote were held today in Palestinian Authority, survey conducted by Near East Consulting concludes. Poll also finds that majority of Gazans oppose rocket attacks on Israel, favor a peace agreement with the Jewish state, and do not consider Hamas authority in Gaza to be the legitimate Palestinian government
Associated Press Published: 10.03.07, 15:11 / Israel News

Most residents of the Gaza Strip are afraid to openly express their political views following Hamas' takeover of the area in June, according to a poll released Wednesday, the latest sign of public discontent with Gaza's Islamic militant rulers.

The poll found that a majority of Gazans oppose rocket attacks on Israel, favor a peace agreement with the Jewish state, and do not consider the Hamas authority in Gaza to be the legitimate Palestinian government. It also concluded that Hamas would lose elections if a new vote were held today.

The poll was conducted by Near East Consulting, a research firm based in the West Bank. The firm said it surveyed 470 Palestinians in Gaza by telephone on September 25-27. It did not give a margin of error.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in mid-June after routing forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement. Abbas responded by forming a pro-Western government in the West Bank.

According to the survey, 58 percent of respondents said they are now afraid to express their political views following the Hamas takeover, and 60 percent say Hamas' paramilitary police, known as the Executive Force, has done a poor job respecting individual rights.

It also found 52 percent of respondents consider Abbas' government to be the legitimate Palestinian ruling authority, while only 26 percent favor the Hamas government led by Ismail Haniyeh. Sixty-four percent said they trust Abbas, compared with 36 percent who trust Fatah.

In another blow to Hamas, 72 percent said they support a final peace agreement with Israel, and 55 percent called on Hamas to change its position toward the Jewish state. Hamas opposes peace talks and is committed to Israel's destruction.

Nearly three-quarters said they support Abbas' call for new elections - a position opposed by Hamas. It said 42 percent would vote for Fatah, with just 15 percent support for Hamas.

Since the Hamas takeover, the international community has welcomed Abbas' government, while pushing Hamas into deep isolation.

In the poll, 86 percent said they are worried about the state of affairs in Gaza, and 47 percent said they are thinking of emigrating. In comparison, 33 percent said they were considering emigration a month earlier.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Iraq: CIA paints a black picture

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/07/iraq-cia-paints-black-picture.html

Bob Woodward reports in the Washington Post, that at a secret meeting in 2006, the CIA verdict on Iraq was that
 

...[CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said]"the inability of the government to govern seems irreversible," adding that he could not "point to any milestone or checkpoint where we can turn this thing around," 

 "The government is unable to govern," Hayden concluded. "We have spent a lot of energy and treasure creating a government that is balanced, and it cannot function."

Later in the interview, he qualified the statement somewhat: "A government that can govern, sustain and defend itself is not achievable," he said, "in the short term."

Hayden's bleak assessment, which came just a week after Republicans had lost control of Congress and Bush had dismissed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, was a pivotal moment in the [Iraq] study group's intensive examination of the Iraq war, and it helped shape its conclusion in its final report that the situation in Iraq was "grave and deteriorating."

...

Among the 79 specific recommendations the Iraq Study Group made to Bush was withdrawing support for the Maliki government unless it showed "substantial progress" on security and national reconciliation. And it recommended changing the primary mission of U.S. forces from combat to training Iraqis so that combat units could be withdrawn by early 2008.

...

Hayden's description of Iraq's dysfunctional government provides some insight into the intelligence community's analysis of Maliki and the situation on the ground. Five days before his testimony, national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley had written a memo to Bush raising doubts about Maliki's ability to curb violence in Iraq, but his assessment was not as bleak as Hayden's.

...

Asked by former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a member of the study group, if she was aware of the CIA's grim evaluation of Iraq, Rice replied, "We are aware of the dark assessment," but quickly added: "It is not without hope."

It gets worse...

But we knew all that already. Anyone who did not understand the nature of the disaster in Iraq, has to be deaf, dumb and blind. It is not just the Iraqi government, unfortunately, that is at fault. It is defective and amateurish US intelligence, and policy decisions that result in turning a blind eye to Syrian and Iranian meddling. It is defective US administration that keeps pouring money into a black hole, and more.

One small comfort - a CIA Intelligence estimate in 1947 insisted that the Jews would lose a war against the Arabs of Palestine, even though it also erroneously predicted that Arab states would not fight!

Ami Isseroff

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Leader of Shiite religious cult killed by U.S., Iraqi forces

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/leader-of-shiite-religious-cult-killed.html

By Louise Roug and Borzou Daragahi, Times Staff Writers
[Los Angeles Times] 2:44 PM PST, January 29, 2007

BAGHDAD -- American and Iraqi forces killed the leader of a Shiite religious cult, known as the Heaven's Army, along with several hundred armed members who had planned to launch an attack in the holy city of Najaf, including against the country's most known religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraqi officials said today.

The gunmen planned to attack during ceremonies marking one of the holiest Shiite holidays, in the Islamic month of Muharram.

At least 600 cult members, hiding on the city's outskirts in palm date orchids, had been digging trenches and were planning to disguise themselves as pilgrims, Maj. Gen. Othman Ghanemi, the Iraqi commander who heads the Najaf region, told the Associated Press.

He said the gunmen planned to kill as many senior clerics as they could, including Sistani, apparently because they believed the violence would cause the Imam Mahdi, the last in the line of Shiite saints who disappeared more than 1,000 years ago, to reappear.

Iraqi authorities identified the leader of the fringe group as Dyaa Abdul Zahra, also known as Thamir Abu Gumar, who was said to be armed with two pistols when he was killed. At least 60 cult members were wounded and 120 were captured. The death toll ranged from 150 to 400, officials said.

In addition, about 500 automatics rifles were recovered during the raid, along with mortars, heavy machine guns and rockets, Ghanemi told the A.P.

The militant group's members included Shiite and Sunni extremists and foreign fighters, Najaf government officials said. They pitched a daylong battle against Iraqi and American troops, in which a U.S. helicopter crashed, killing two U.S. troops. In a separate attack, five teenage girls also were killed in a mortar attack at a Baghdad school, authorities said.

The cause of the helicopter crash near Najaf was unclear, but U.S. and Iraqi officials said there was ground fire before the craft went down, and witnesses said they saw it shot out of the sky. It was the third U.S. helicopter to go down in Iraq in eight days.

Three additional U.S. troops were reported killed Sunday.

Sunday's fighting near Najaf and elsewhere was extraordinary, even by Iraq's bloody standards, highlighting the challenge faced by U.S. and Iraqi forces, which are fighting a complex patchwork of elusive enemies, including Shiite militias and Sunni-led insurgents. The deaths outside Najaf would constitute the highest daily casualty toll inflicted by U.S. and Iraqi forces since U.S. troops arrived in Baghdad shortly after the March 2003 invasion.

Iraqi security forces took authority over Najaf's security about a month ago. Witnesses and security officials said Sunday that Iraqi forces were being defeated by the enigmatic, well-organized fighters until U.S. air support and U.S.-Iraqi ground troops arrived.

Shaky footage recorded by mobile telephone, broadcast on Iraqi television, showed Iraqi soldiers hunkered behind a berm as intense gunfire erupted and smoke rose in the distance.

Ali Nomas, an Iraqi security official in Najaf, said the leader of the hitherto unknown Heaven's Army had told followers that he was a missing son of the Imam Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad. Ali's remains are entombed in Najaf.

"They believe that the Mahdi has called them to fight in Najaf," Nomas said, adding that fighters had converged on the Najaf area from other predominantly Shiite cities in Iraq.

He lamented that Iraq's death and destruction had convinced some Shiites that the end of days was coming.

"There's nothing bizarre left in Iraq anymore," Nomas said in a telephone interview. "We've seen the most incredible things."

Najaf Gov. Asad Abu Gulal said some of the fighters were members of Hussein's Baath Party.

Although they disagreed on the attackers' identity, Iraqi officials and witnesses offered similar accounts of events on the battlefield. Most of the fighting took place in farmland outside the city, which is home to Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric, Sistani. Security forces cordoned off the ancient, labyrinthine city to prevent attacks on pilgrims, clergy and holy sites, the governor said.

The gunmen apparently planned to launch their attack today, but Iraqi security forces were tipped off Sunday night about their presence on nearby farms, Gulal said.

Iraqi security forces struck at dawn but were overwhelmed by the militants, who had dug trenches on farms. At least two Iraqi soldiers were killed in the initial fighting, a security official in Baghdad said.

Iraqi forces then called in U.S. air support as well as the Scorpion Brigades, an Iraqi quick-reaction force based in a neighboring province.

Helicopters arrived, but after one was downed about 1:30 p.m., they were replaced by higher-flying jets, as American Humvees and armored vehicles rolled into the area.

Three more Iraqi soldiers were killed, as were at least 250 of the militants, according to several Iraqi officials. Those numbers could not be independently confirmed. By 4 p.m., the tide of the battle had shifted, but U.S. forces continued bombing into the night in an attempt to stamp out remnants of the militants, Iraqi officials and witnesses said.

Two U.S. soldiers and a Marine were killed in three separate attacks around Iraq on Saturday, the U.S. military said Sunday. The deaths brought the number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion to 3,080, according to icasualties.org.

Violence began early Sunday and continued throughout the day, including in the northern city of Kirkuk, where bombings killed 14 people, and Babil province, south of the capital, where mortar rounds killed 10 and five bodies were found in the Tigris River. A suspected Baath Party loyalist was assassinated in the southern city of Kut, and in the western city of Fallouja, a car bomb killed two and injured four.

Assailants in Baghdad targeted both Sunnis and Shiites. In a Sunni neighborhood in west Baghdad, mortar rounds hit a girls' secondary school, killing five students and wounding 21 others. In another western neighborhood, explosives hidden in a wooden cart killed four and injured 18, and an Industry Ministry advisor and his daughter were shot to death in a nearby area.

In a Shiite neighborhood on the east side of the Tigris, a bomb exploded on a bus, killing one and injuring five. Two other bombings killed seven and injured 35 people in Shiite neighborhoods.

Gunmen elsewhere in the capital killed a bank clerk in a car lot near her house. At least 54 bodies were found in various Baghdad neighborhoods, including a woman kidnapped two days ago, her family said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi officials in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad sacked 1,500 policemen, charging them with absenteeism and fleeing fighting. They also dismissed Baqubah Mayor Khalid Sanjary on suspicion of having ties to Sunni Arab rebels. The province is riddled with Al Qaeda in Iraq members as well as militiamen affiliated with Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr.

roug@latimes.com

daragahi@latimes.com

Times staff writers and special correspondents in Baghdad, Baqubah, Hillah, Najaf and Kirkuk contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Iraq Study Group Report - Recommendations on Israel Peace (& link to entire text)

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2006/12/iraq-study-group-report-recommendations.html

Iraq Study Group Report - Recommendations on Israel Peace Process
 
The mountain gave birth to a mouse
 
Below are the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group report regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In many respects this is a positive document. We cannot but applaud any effort to achieve peace between Israel and its neighbors.
 
The following is a wonderful statement of US commitment:
 
• No American administration --Democratic or Republican -- will ever abandon Israel.
 
Considering that James Baker had a hand in preparing the report, it is a remarkable statement. However, it has no tangible worth. It cannot be the basis for any Israeli commitment to make any concessions. Will any American administration sign a defense pact with Israel? Will any American administration commit itself to nuclear retaliation against any nation that attacks Israel with nuclear weapons? For 58 years, US administrations have declared their love of Israel, but this love does not translate into a defense pact. It doesn't even go as far as establishing an embassy in our capital city.
 
In the first forty pages of this report, the study group ably and meticulously summarized why the US is unable to defend defend democracy in Iraq - its intelligence is incompetent, its planning is poor, and it doesn't have the national will or the ability to commit sufficient resources to win. Therefore, the report recommends a US withdrawal from Iraq. The US failed in Iraq because they don't understand the complexities of the Middle East, don't have enough trained personnel, don't have a coherent strategic vision and don't have the national will to deal with a conflict in the far off Middle East.  Having declared themselves incompetent and unable to defend Iraq, the report now implicitly undertakes to settle the affairs of Israel and its neighbors, based on an implicit and informal, and actually worhless, if grandiose sounding guarantee:
 No American administration --Democratic or Republican -- will ever abandon Israel.

What does this mean? Will the US send half a million soldiers to fight our next war in Israel? Will they risk nuclear attack when Iran has ICBMs? Or, when push comes to shove, will James Baker III say "F... the Jews, they didn't vote for us?" Anyone who thinks the Iraq war is unpopular in the US should understand that they ain't seen nuthin yet. No war will be more unpopular and politically unfeasible than a US war to defend Israel. The US would not even commit any soldiers to the worthless UNIFIL force in Lebanon.

The recommendations are not "good for Israel" or "bad for Israel." They are simply detached from all reality, beginning with the implied U.S. commitment to never abandon Israel, a commitment written on sand and continuing with the heart of the recommendations:

This effort should include --as soon as possible --the unconditional calling and holding of meetings, under the auspices of the United States or the Quartet (i.e., the United States, Russia, European Union, and the United Nations), between Israel and Lebanon and Syria on the one hand, and Israel and Palestinians (who acknowledge Israel's right to exist) on the other....

Lebanon refuses to meet with Israel. A small detail that the learned committee failed to assimilate. The Arab Palestinians who acknowledge Israel's right to exist (but not necessarily as a Jewish state) are not in power. They can't offer anything because they don't have anything. They cannot even keep the shaky truce in Gaza. And the recommendation continues, of course:  

 The purpose of these meetings would be to negotiate peace as was done at the Madrid Conference in 1991, and on two separate tracks -- one Syrian/Lebanese, and the other Palestinian.

This is clearly the work of James Baker III. If Baker had a parrot, it would say "International Peace Conference." This recommendation is indeed realistic. The groups will negotiate peace exactly as was done at the Madrid conference in 1991. That is, they won't do anything at all. Nothing at all came of the Madrid conference. Israel negotiated peace separately with Jordan, and the Oslo Accords, for what they are worth, were negotiated through a route that bypassed the Madrid conference. Nothing came of the Madrid conference and nothing would come of these negotiations.

The "elements" of the negotiated peace envisioned by this report are truly amazing:

 

RECOMMENDATION 15: Concerning Syria, some elements of that negotiated peace should be:

• Syria's full adherence to UN Security Council Resolution 1701 of August 2006, which provides the framework for Lebanon to regain sovereign control over its territory.

• Syria's full cooperation with all investigations into political assassinations in Lebanon, especially those of Rafik Hariri and Pierre Gemayel.

• A verifiable cessation of Syrian aid to Hezbollah and the use of Syrian territory for transshipment of Iranian weapons and aid to Hezbollah. (This step would do much to solve Israel's problem with Hezbollah.)

• Syria's use of its influence with Hamas and Hezbollah for the release of the captured Israeli Defense Force soldiers.

• A verifiable cessation of Syrian efforts to undermine the democratically elected government of Lebanon.

• A verifiable cessation of arms shipments from or transiting through Syria for Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups.

• A Syrian commitment to help obtain from Hamas an acknowledgment of Israel's right to exist.

• Greater Syrian efforts to seal its border with Iraq.

RECOMMENDATION 16: In exchange for these actions and in the context of a full and secure peace agreement, the Israelis should return the Golan Heights, with a U.S. security guarantee for Israel that could include an international force on the border, including U.S. troops if requested by both parties.

 

So, according to Mr. Baker and his friends, Israel would give up the Golan heights in return for a promise from Syria to stop shipping arms to Hamas and Hezbollah and similar fictions. No recognition of Israel, no commitment to stop harboring Khaled Meshal and other terrorists - just cessation of arms shipments. Syria would be committed to "help obtain from Hamas an acknowledgment of Israel's right to exist." And if they don't succeed?  Syria would not even have to stop publishing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf.   Israel would give up the Golan heights in return for Syrian efforts to seal its border with Iraq in Mr. Baker's plan, because Mr Baker and his friends wrote in their report that no American government will ever abandon Israel. And if both countries agree, the US will send some of those wonderful troops that succeeded so well in Iraq to guard our border! Of course, if the Syrians don't agree, the US won't send troops, and if the troops come, they will be good for business in the bawdy houses of Nahariya and Haifa and for nothing else, just like the UN troops. Mr Baker and his friends deal in large issues and can't be bothered with details. They forgot that the Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations failed last time because of a tiny details - 10 meters that separate the border offered by Israel from the Sea of Galilee. For Mr Baker and his friends, down in Texas, the Sea of Galilee is a tiny detail. It could be swallowed up and forgotten in a tiny corner of Texas after all. For us, it is very important.

The elements of peace with the Palestinians show the same level of realism and attention to detail. There is no mention of the road map there - a noticeable omission. That is realism of sorts, since the roadmap is really dead. The rest is fantasy. There is no explanation of how the Hamas will be convinced to recognize Israel, or how, if they are not persuaded, it will be possible to negotiate and maintain a peace settlement that is opposed in principle by an armed group that represents the majority of Palestinians and that shows no intention of disarming. There is no mention of the refugees. There is no requirement to disband the various armed militias, no mention of Jerusalem. It is as though the people who wrote this report are not even aware that this issues exist. Somehow, all will be solved by blowing trumpets and announcing international conferences. All is forgotten in the grand rush of meaningless sophomoric declaratory statements.

Read it and laugh - or weep.

Ami Isseroff


From the Iraq Study Group Report:  Pages 54-58

4. The Wider Regional Context

The United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict.

There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon, Syria, and President Bush's June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. This commitment must include direct talks with, by, and between Israel, Lebanon, Palestinians (those who accept Israel's right to exist), and particularly Syria --which is the principal transit point for shipments of weapons to Hezbollah, and which supports radical Palestinian groups.

The United States does its ally Israel no favors in avoiding direct involvement to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. For several reasons, we should act boldly:

• There is no military solution to this conflict.

• The vast majority of the Israeli body politic is tired of being a nation perpetually at war.

• No American administration --Democratic or Republican -- will ever abandon Israel.

• Political engagement and dialogue are essential in the Arab- Israeli dispute because it is an axiom that when the political process breaks down there will be violence on the ground.

• The only basis on which peace can be achieved is that set forth in UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and in the principle of "land for peace."

• The only lasting and secure peace will be a negotiated peace such as Israel has achieved with Egypt and Jordan.

This effort would strongly support moderate Arab governments in the region, especially the democratically elected government of Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas.

RECOMMENDATION 13: There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon and Syria, and President Bush's June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

RECOMMENDATION 14: This effort should include --as soon as possible --the unconditional calling and holding of meetings, under the auspices of the United States or the Quartet (i.e., the United States, Russia, European Union, and the United Nations), between Israel and Lebanon and Syria on the one hand, and Israel and Palestinians (who acknowledge Israel's right to exist) on the other. The purpose of these meetings would be to negotiate peace as was done at the Madrid Conference in 1991, and on two separate tracks -- one Syrian/Lebanese, and the other Palestinian.

RECOMMENDATION 15: Concerning Syria, some elements of that negotiated peace should be:

• Syria's full adherence to UN Security Council Resolution 1701 of August 2006, which provides the framework for Lebanon to regain sovereign control over its territory.

• Syria's full cooperation with all investigations into political assassinations in Lebanon, especially those of Rafik Hariri and Pierre Gemayel.

• A verifiable cessation of Syrian aid to Hezbollah and the use of Syrian territory for transshipment of Iranian weapons and aid to Hezbollah. (This step would do much to solve Israel's problem with Hezbollah.)

• Syria's use of its influence with Hamas and Hezbollah for the release of the captured Israeli Defense Force soldiers.

• A verifiable cessation of Syrian efforts to undermine the democratically elected government of Lebanon.

• A verifiable cessation of arms shipments from or transiting through Syria for Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups.

• A Syrian commitment to help obtain from Hamas an acknowledgment of Israel's right to exist.

• Greater Syrian efforts to seal its border with Iraq.

RECOMMENDATION 16: In exchange for these actions and in the context of a full and secure peace agreement, the Israelis should return the Golan Heights, with a U.S. security guarantee for Israel that could include an international force on the border, including U.S. troops if requested by both parties.

RECOMMENDATION 17: Concerning the Palestinian issue, elements of that negotiated peace should include:

• Adherence to UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and to the principle of land for peace, which are the only bases for achieving peace.

• Strong support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to take the lead in preparing the way for negotiations with Israel.

• A major effort to move from the current hostilities by consolidating the cease-fire reached between the Palestinians and the Israelis in November 2006.

• Support for a Palestinian national unity government.

• Sustainable negotiations leading to a final peace settlement along the lines of President Bush's two-state solution, which would address the key final status issues of borders, settlements, Jerusalem, the right of return, and the end of conflict.

 
 

The complete text of main body of the Iraq Study Group Teport is published in html form here:
 
Many of our readers will find this html format more convenient for copying snippets of text than the pdf document of the original publication.
 
 

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