Hizbullah Won’t Attack Israel to Defend Iran-Syria

By Dalia Nehme
Hizbullah Stressed that it would not go into war with Israel if Syria and Iran were attacked by the Jewish state or the United States.

The stand was outlined by Hizbullah MP Hussein Hajj Hassan in an interview with Naharnet.

Hajj Hassan also said reaching consensus on a presidential candidate is “the destiny of the Lebanese people and not a choice,” noting that Hizbullah has not announced its “official Candidate for the presidential office.”

Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun “although he is a front runner for the post, but he is not the only candidate,” Hajj Hassan said.

In answering a question as to what would Hizbullah’s reaction be if Iran was targeted by a military strike, Hajj Hassan said: “We would denounce and reject this strike.”

What next?

“Just denunciation and rejection. Nothing more,” he stressed. “As a Lebanese citizen I say that I will denounce and deplore and carry out demonstrations. This is certain.”

However, he said “Things would be considered on time.”

He accused the United States of “attempting to Iraqize the region” in reference to an alleged scheme by Washington to spread the spate of violence that has ridden Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

Hajj Hassan warned against adoption of a law by the U.S. Congress to partition Lebanon similar to the law that adopts a federal approach to the Iraqi state.

He pledged that Hizbullah would confront such an alleged U.S. Scheme if it targeted Lebanon.

In answering a question as to How would Hizbullah confront such an alleged plan, Hajj Hassan said: “like we responded in the July (2006) war in case a war was staged on us, and we will confront politically if that (war) did not happen.”

If war targeted you or your allies? Hajj Hassan was asked.

“If it targeted us, directly us, our allies know how to defend themselves,” he stressed in reference to Tehran and Damascus.

Shifting to the forthcoming Presidential elections, Hajj Hassan said that reaching consensus on a presidential candidate is the Lebanese people’s “destiny, and not a choice.”

Hizbullah, he said, does not intend to boycott Walid Jumblat’s Progressive Socialist Party as well as Saad Hariri’s al-Moustaqbal Movement irrespective of political differences.

He insisted that Hizbullah wants a new president who rejects U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 of Sept. 2004 because it is “an aggression on Lebanon’s sovereignty and could lead to an internal problem.”

“Respecting international decisions is not more important than (preserving) Lebanon’s interest and its internal stability,” Hajj Hassan said.

He said Hizbullah supports the international tribunal that would try suspects in the 2005 assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes “despite objection to the context of its laws.”

He criticized the arrest of the four famous generals in connection with the Hariri Murder, suggesting putting them under house arrest in line with a conditional release if the authorities believe that they might try to leave the country or if they are worried about their safety.

Hajj Hassan rejected charges that Hizbullah was arming and training allied factions of the opposition and counter-charged that “those who accuse us” of sending groups to Jordan and Israel for training on the use of weapons and military techniques.

Asked when would the Hizbullah-led opposition dismantle its tent city protest of downtown Beirut, Hajj Hassan said the protest is “the response. When the crisis is over the response would be removed.”

 
Beirut, 01 Oct 07, 13:32
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Iran MPs condemn US ‘terrorists’

Iranian Revolutionary Guard (file)

The guards force was established after the Islamic revolution in 1979

Iranian MPs have voted to classify the US armed forces and the CIA as terrorist groups. A statement signed by 215 Iranian MPs cited the bombing of Japan during World War II, and the invasions of Vietnam and Iraq, as “terrorist actions”.

The largely symbolic move comes days after the US Senate urged the White House to brand Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation.

The foreign ministry in Tehran said it backed the MPs’ motion.

Correspondents say the ministry’s support is significant because government bodies are generally not as hardline as the parliament.

REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS

Officially the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)

Formed after 1979 revolution

Loyal to clerics and counter to regular military

Estimated 125,000 troops

Includes army, navy, air force, intelligence and special forces

Iran President Ahmadinejad is a former member

Source: Globalsecurity.org

US turns heat up on Iran

Timeline: US-Iran relations

While the Iranian motion is seen as largely symbolic, the labelling of a group as a terrorist organisation by the US could have financial implications for the guards.

Any assets within US jurisdiction would be frozen and the US Treasury Department could move against firms subject to US law that do business with the guards.

The Revolutionary Guards force was established after the Islamic revolution toppled the Shah and brought hard-line clerics to power in Iran in 1979.

It is estimated to have 125,000 active members and operates separately from Iran’s main armed forces.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7020603.stm

US, NATO and Israel Deploy Nukes directed against Iran

 

Global Research, September 27, 2007

 

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Note: Readers are welcome to cross-post this article with a view to spreading the word and warning people of the dangers of a broader Middle East war. Please indicate the source and copyright note.

In late August, reported by the Military Times,  a US Air Force B-52 bomber flew from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana with six AGM advanced cruise missiles, each of which was armed with a W-80-1 nuclear warhead. “… Missiles were mounted on the pylons under its wings. Each of the warheads carried a yield of up to 150 kilotons, more than ten times as powerful as the US bomb that leveled Hiroshima at the close of the  Second World War.”  (See Bill Van Auken, Global Research September 2007)

The Military Times byline was “B-52 mistakenly flies with nukes aboard”. The issue was casually acknowledged by The Washington Post and the New York Times. The reports quoted a US Air force spokesman. The matter was offhandedly brushed aside. The incident represented “an isolated mistake” and that “at no time was there a threat to public safety.” (Ibid) :

“As far as is known, the incident marked the first time that a US plane has taken off armed with nuclear weapons in nearly 40 years. …

… The transport of weapons from one base to another, however, is normally carried out in the holds of C-17 and C-130 cargo planes, not fixed to the wings of combat bombers.

Someone had to give the order to mount the missiles on the plane. The question is whether it was a local Air Force commander—either by mistake or deliberately—or whether the order came from higher up.

B-52s from Barksdale have been used repeatedly to strike targets in Iraq, firing cruise missiles at Iraqi targets in 1996 and 1998, and in the “shock and awe” campaign that preceded the 2003 invasion, carrying out some 150 bombing runs that devastated much of the southern half of the country.

Moreover, the weapon that was fixed to the wings of the B-52 flying from Minot air base was designed for use against hardened targets, such as underground bunkers.

Given the ratcheting up of the threats against Iran and the previous reports of plans for the use of “tactical” nuclear weapons against Iranian nuclear installations, there is a very real possibility that the flight to Barksdale was part of covert preparations for a nuclear strike against Iran.

If this is indeed the case, the claims about a “mistake” by a munitions officer and a few airmen in North Dakota may well be merely a cover story aimed at concealing the fact that the government in Washington is preparing a criminal act of world historic proportions by ordering—without provocation—the first use of nuclear weapons since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki more than sixty years ago. (Bill van Auken, op. cit).

In recent developments, Wayne Madsen (September 27) has suggested, based on US and foreign intelligence sources, that the B-52 carrying the advanced cruise missiles with bunker buster nuclear warheads was in fact destined for the Middle East. 

Is the B-52 Barksdale incident in any way related to US plans to use nuclear weapons against Iran? 

Madsen suggests, in this regard, that the operation of shipping the nuclear warheads was aborted “due to internal opposition within the Air Force and U.S. Intelligence Community”, which was opposed to a planned US attack on Iran using nuclear warheads. 

Without downplaying the significance of the Barksdale incident, if Washington were to decide to use nuclear weapons against Iran, they could be launched at short notice from a number of military bases in Western Europe and the Middle East, from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, from a submarine or from a US Aircraft carrier. Turkey has some 90 B61 tactical nuclear weapons which are fully deployed. (See details below). (Moreover, with regard to the Barksdale incidenct, it should be noted that the W-80-1 nuclear warheads mounted on the B-52s are not the type of nuclear weapon contemplated by the US military for use in the Middle East conventional war theater.)

To grasp the seriousness of the “Barksdale incident”, it is important to understand the broader context of nuclear weapons deployment respectively by the US, NATO and Israel.  

We are not dealing with a single aborted operation of deployment of nuclear weapons to the Middle East. 

There are indications that a large number of US made nuclear weapons are currently deployed in Western Europe and the Middle East including Israel. 

Coordinated Military Operation

We are dealing with a coordinated military operation in which US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) plays a central role. The main coalition partners are the US, NATO and Israel.

There are four interrelated “building blocks” pertaining to the preemptive use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater: 

1. CONPLAN 8022 formulated in 2004. CONPLAN integrates the use of conventional and nuclear weapons.  

2. National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 35, entitled Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization  issued in May 2004  

3. The deployment of Israeli nuclear weapons directed against targets in the Middle East

4. Deployment of Nuclear Weapons by NATO/EU countries, directed against targets in the Middle East  

1. CONPLAN 8022

CONPLAN 8022 under the jurisdiction of USSTRATCOM sets the stage. It envisages the integration of conventional and nuclear weapons and the use of nukes on a preemptive basis in the conventional war theater. It is described as “a concept plan for the quick use of nuclear, conventional, or information warfare capabilities to destroy–preemptively, if necessary–“time-urgent targets” anywhere in the world.” CONPLAN became operational in early 2004. “As a result, the Bush administration’s preemption policy is now operational on long-range bombers, strategic submarines on deterrent patrol, and presumably intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).” (Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists)

CONCEPT PLAN (CONPLAN) 8022 now consists of  “an actual plan that the Navy and the Air Force translate into strike package for their submarines and bombers,’ (Japanese Economic Newswire, 30 December 2005, For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, op. cit.).

“CONPLAN 8022 is ‘the overall umbrella plan for sort of the pre-planned strategic scenarios involving nuclear weapons.'”

2. Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization: NSPD 35 (2004)

National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 35, entitled Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization  was issued in May 2004.  

The contents of this highly sensitive document remains a carefully guarded State secret. There has been no mention of NSPD 35 by the media nor even in Congressional debates. While its contents remains classified, the presumption is that NSPD 35 pertains to the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater in compliance with CONPLAN 8022.

There are unconfirmed reports that  B61-11 type tactical nuclear weapons have been deployed to the Middle East following NSPD 35. According to a report published in the Turkish press, the B-61s could be used against Iran, if Iran were to retaliate with conventional weapons to a US or Israeli attack (See Ibrahim Karagul, “The US is Deploying Nuclear Weapons in Iraq Against Iran”, Yeni Safak,. 20 December 2005, quoted in BBC Monitoring Europe).

In this regard, NSPD-17 of December 2002 entitled National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction, quoted in the Washington Times (January 31, 2003) points to possible use of nuclear weapons in retaliation, if US or allied forces are attacked:  

    “The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force — including potentially nuclear weapons — to the use of [weapons of mass destruction] against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies.” (emphaisis added, this section quoted by the WT pertains to the classified version of NSPD)

3. Israeli Nukes

Israel is part of the military alliance and is slated to play a major role in case  the planned attacks on Iran were to be carried out. (For details see Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Jan 2006 ).

Israel possesses 100-200 strategic nuclear warheads . In 2003, Washington and Tel Aviv confirmed that they were collaborating in “the deployment of US-supplied Harpoon cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads in Israel’s fleet of Dolphin-class submarines.” (The Observer, 12 October 2003) . Coinciding with the 2005 preparations to wage air strikes against Iran, Israel took delivery of  two new German produced submarines “that could launch nuclear-armed cruise missiles for a “second-strike” deterrent.” (Newsweek, 13 February 2006. See also CDI Data Base)

The Israeli military and political circles had been making statements on the possibility of nuclear and missile strikes on Iran openly since October, 2006, when the idea was immediately supported by G. Bush. Currently it is touted in the form of a “necessity” of nuclear strikes. The public is taught to believe that there is nothing monstrous about such a possibility and that, on the contrary, a nuclear strike is quite feasible. Allegedly, there is no other way to “stop” Iran. (General Leonid Ivashov, Iran Must Get Ready to Repel a Nuclear Attack, Global Research, January 2007)

At the outset of Bush’s second term, Vice President Dick Cheney dropped a bombshell. He hinted, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the rogue enemies of America, and that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us”, without US military involvement and without us putting pressure on them “to do it”. 

“Rather than a direct American nuclear strike against Iran’s hard targets, Israel has been given the assignment of launching a coordinated cluster of nuclear strikes aimed at targets that are the nuclear installations in the Iranian cities: Natanz, Isfahan and Arak.(Michael Carmichael, Global research, January 2007)

Israel is a Rottweiler on a leash: The US wants to “set Israel loose” to attack Iran. Commenting the Vice President’s assertion, former National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in an interview on PBS, confirmed with some apprehension, yes: Cheney wants [former] Prime Ariel Sharon to act on America’s behalf and “do it” for us:

…”And the vice president today in a kind of a strange parallel statement to this declaration of freedom hinted that the Israelis may do it and in fact used language which sounds like a justification or even an encouragement for the Israelis to do it.”

Beneath the rhetoric, what we are dealing with is a joint US-NATO-Israeli military operation directed against Iran and Syria, which has been in the active planning stage since 2004. US advisers in the Pentagon have been working assiduously with their Israeli military and intelligence counterparts, carefully identifying targets inside Iran ( Seymour Hersh, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/HER501A.html )

In recent developments, at the September 2007 meetings of the Vienna based IAEA, a critical resolution, implicitly aimed at Israel, was put forth which would put Israel’s nuclear program “under international purview.” The resolution was adopted with the US and Israel voting against it. 

4. NATO Nukes. Nuclear Weapons Deployment by Five Non-nuclear States

Several Western European  countries, officially considered as “non-nuclear states”, possess tactical nuclear weapons, supplied to them by Washington.

The US has supplied some 480 B61 thermonuclear bombs to five non-nuclear NATO countries including Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey, and one nuclear country, the United Kingdom. These weapons are ready for delivery to “known military targets”.


 

Source: http://www.nukestrat.com/us/afn/nato.htm 

See Details and Map of Nuclear Facilities located in 5 European Non-Nuclear States


As part of this European stockpiling, Turkey, which is a partner of the US-led coalition against Iran along with Israel, possesses some 90 thermonuclear B61 bunker buster bombs at the Incirlik nuclear air base. (National Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons in Europe , February 2005). These military facilities are part of the war plans directed against Iran.   

B61-11 NEP Thermonuclear Bomb


Consistent with US nuclear policy, the stockpiling and deployment of B61 nuclear weapons in Western Europe are intended for targets in the Middle East. Confirmed by “NATO strike plans”, these thermonuclear B61 bunker buster bombs (stockpiled by the “non-nuclear States”) could be launched  “against targets in Russia or countries in the Middle East such as Syria and Iran” ( quoted in
National Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons in Europe , February 2005) 

Moreover, confirmed by (partially) declassified documents (released under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act):

“… The approximately 480 nuclear bombs in Europe are intended for use in accordance with NATO nuclear strike plans, the report asserts, against targets in Russia or countries in the Middle East such as Iran and Syria.

The report shows for the first time how many U.S. nuclear bombs are earmarked for delivery by non-nuclear NATO countries. In times of war, under certain circumstances, up to 180 of the 480 nuclear bombs would be handed over to Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey for delivery by their national air forces. No other nuclear power or military alliance has nuclear weapons earmarked for delivery by non-nuclear countries.”

(quoted in  http://www.nukestrat.com/us/afn/nato.htm emphasis added)

Moreover, the U.S. military made arrangements in the mid-1990s for the use of these nukes outside the area of jurisdiction of European Command (EURCOM). For EUCOM, this would mean responsibility for the delivery of nukes within CENTCOM’s (Central Command) area of jurisdiction, meaning that nuclear attacks on Iran and Syria could be launched from military bases in non-nuclear EU/NATO countries:

The report also documents that the U.S. military in 1994 made arrangements for nuclear targeting and use of nuclear weapons in Europe outside European Command’s (EUCOM) area of responsibility. For EUCOM, this means CENTCOM (Central Command) which incorporates Iran and Syria

.. It is unclear whether [the] parliaments [of EU/NATO countries] are aware of arrangements to target and potentially strike Middle Eastern countries with nuclear weapons based in Europe.(
http://www.nukestrat.com/us/afn/nato.htm

 


 

Source: http://www.nukestrat.com/us/afn/nato.htm

 


Nuclear Weapons’ Double Standards. Where is the Nuclear Threat?

While these “non-nuclear states” casually accuse Tehran of developing nuclear weapons, without documentary evidence, they themselves have capabilities of delivering nuclear warheads, which are targeted at Iran and Syria.  To say that this is a clear case of “double standards” in the process of identifying the threat of nuclear weapons is a gross understatement.

France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy Endorses Bush’s Pre-emptive Nuclear War Doctrine

France accuses Tehran of developing nuclear weapons against mountains of evidence that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.  

The Sarkozy government favors a military operation directed against Iran. Ironically, these threats by President Sarkozy and his Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner were formulated immediately following the release of the IAEA Report. The latter confirms unequivocally the civilian nature of Iran’s nuclear program.  

According to President Sarkozy in his September 26,  2007 address to the UN General Assembly: 

 “There will be no peace in the world if the international community falters in the face of nuclear arms proliferation … Weakness and renunciation do not lead to peace. They lead to war,”  

France has also confirmed that it could use its own nuclear warheads estimated at between 200 and 300, on a preemptive basis. In January 2006, (former) President Jacques Chirac announced a major shift in France’s nuclear weapons policy. 

Without mentioning Iran, Chirac intimated that France’s nukes should be used in the form of  “more focused attacks” against countries, which were “considering” the deployment of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). 

He also hinted to the possibility that tactical nuclear weapons could be used in conventional war theaters, very much in line with both US and NATO nuclear doctrine (See Chirac shifts French doctrine for use of nuclear weapons , Nucleonics Week January 26, 2006).

Chirac’s successor, Nicolas Sarkozy has embraced the US sponsored “War on Terrorism”. 

France supports the preemptive use of nuclear weapons in the conventional war theater, broadly following the principles formulated in the Bush Administration’s nuclear doctrine, which  allows the use of nukes (against Iran or Syria) for purposes of  “self-defense”.


A Note of Caution

The existence of war plans, which are currently in an advanced state of readiness, does not imply that war will occur.

But at the same time, these war plans and their consequences must be forcefully addressed. An all out war, which would engulf the entire Middle East Central Asian region, cannot be excluded.

Moreover, a political consensus in favor of a war directed against Iran is building up in the US. This war agenda is now supported by several of America’s European allies including Britain, France and Germany.

Public opinion is not informed due to a media blackout. The war on Iran using nuclear weapons is not front page news.

The legitimacy of the war criminals in high office remains intact. There is visibly no mass movement against this war as occured in the months leading up to the Iraq invasion.  Moreover, concurrent with the development of the war agenda, the Western countries are developing their “Homeland Security” apparatus with a view to to curbing public protest against the war.

In the months ahead, we can expect the media propaganda war against Iran to go into high gear with a view to galvanising public opinion in support of a military intervention.

It is absolutely essential that people in America and around the World take a firm position against a war, which in a very real sense threatens the future of humanity.

Note: Readers are welcome to cross-post this article with a view to spreading the word and warning people of the dangers of a broader Middle East war. Please indicate the source and copyright note.

media inquiries crgeditor@yahoo.com

The Iran Offensive Builds

Former New York Times journalist (they only became readable once they part with the paper) and author of the best book on CIA’s overthrow of Mossadegh, All the Shah’s Men, offers sober warnings of imminent war.

When President Bush took his place in front of television cameras last Thursday to deliver his latest assessment of conditions in Iraq, one thing was certain. He would utter the word “Iran” more than once.

Sure enough, Bush blamed “Iranian-backed militants” for much of the violence in Iraq. He said the United States had to keep fighting in Iraq in order to “counter the destructive ambitions of Iran.” Then he warned that Iran’s efforts to influence events in Iraq “must stop.”

This came just two weeks after Bush asserted that Iran is placing the Middle East “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust” and announced: “I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities.”

We have now entered a season in which every speech by an official of the Bush administration that has anything to do with Iraq or the Middle East includes threats against Iran. This intensifying drumbeat suggests that, incredible as it may seem, the United States is seriously considering launching a military attack on Iran.

The day before President Bush’s recent speech, the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, told Congress that his forces were already fighting a “proxy war” against Iran. He told reporters at the National Press Club that the power of the anti-American insurgency in Iraq “would by no means be possible without Iranian support.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described Iran as Iraq’s “very troublesome neighbor”. Ryan Crocker, the American ambassador in Baghdad, said Iran was pursuing a “fairly aggressive strategy” in Iraq, and added, “It needs to stop”.

This latest round of saber-rattling comes in the wake of more concrete evidence that the US is marshaling its forces for an attack on Iran.

Two prominent British specialists recently issued a report asserting that US military planners have identified an astonishing 10,000 bombing targets in Iran. Private contractors report that the Pentagon has asked them to prepare cost estimates for ground support and reconstruction in an unnamed West Asian country.

A former CIA analyst, Bob Baer, published an article predicting that the US will use Iran’s activities in Iraq to justify a massive bombing campaign, and concluded: “There will be an attack on Iran.”

Most Americans, like most people around the world, still doubt the US will launch such an attack. The reason is obvious. It seems too unbelievable. Logic leads us to wonder: Why would the United States, bogged down in a disastrous quagmire in Iraq, want to widen the scope of the disaster rather than try to reduce it?

The prospect of attacking Iran seems even more far-fetched when one considers its likely effects.

Iran would probably respond to an attack by launching missiles at Israel, Saudi Arabia, US positions in Iraq and American vessels in the Persian Gulf. That might well lead Israel to retaliate against both Iran and pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon. These conflicts could set off a series of explosions around the world, ranging from an uprising against President Pervez Musharraf’s pro-American government in Pakistan to a decision by Venezuela to cut its vital oil supplies to the United States. Iran could also close of the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil passes, and thereby force a sharp increase in oil prices around the world.

Worst of all, an attack on Iran would turn an entire new generation of Muslims into bitter enemies of the United States, sworn to revenge at any cost. This will have unimaginable consequences for decades to come.

President Bush and his allies have used one justification after another to explain their decision to invade and occupy Iraq. They now seem to have settled on the one they will use to justify attacking Iran. They will say that Iran brought devastation on itself by meddling in Iraq and refusing to curb its nuclear ambitions.

The Iranian regime is, as the Bush Administration asserts, both brutally oppressive and highly destabilizing. There may come a time when outside powers will need to use military force against it. That could only be justified under two conditions: first, that all diplomatic means be exhausted, and second, that a decision to attack be made by a broad coalition of nations, not the United States alone.

The Bush administration has repeatedly ruled out the option of opening direct, unconditional talks with Iran. As long as it refuses to test the diplomatic option, it has no moral basis for launching a new war. That, however, means little or nothing to President Bush and his comrades.

The message of this past week is chilling. A massive US attack on Iran has become a very real possibility.

When General Petraeus was asked on Wednesday whether his charges against Iran were meant as a prelude to an attack, he replied, “Absolutely not.”

Don’t believe him.

Source: Fanonite

Badruddin Khan: AIPAC Intervenes on Iran

It has happened again, and in the open. The American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) which heads a network of pro-Israeli lobbies, persuaded Congress to drop a provision which would have required President Bush to ask for Congressional approval prior to attacking Iran.

As reported in the May 16, 2007 issue of The Hill:

“The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), an influential group that advocates strong U.S. ties with Israel, lobbied heavily to remove the Iran provision in the supplemental, arguing that the measure would weaken President Bush’s attempts to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons.”

This intervention by AIPAC to permit President Bush to act without Congressional debate was widely reported, as was AIPAC’s earlier intervention with a supplemental budget bill.

In other words, a Democratic Congress elected to end the Iraq war has willingly given up its right (and responsibility) to engage in public debate prior to a new act of war against Iran, a sovereign nation. By voting to look the other way, Congress has left this war decision to the discretion of an unpopular president, who has already failed once.

read the rest: Badruddin Khan: AIPAC Intervenes on Iran

Regional powers fight over Lebanon

 When Iran donates money, weapons and military training to Lebanese you can be sure it has its own agenda and that strings are attached in one way or another.  But this is also true of US involvement in the country.  This article suggests the opposite but this is laughable, the US has clear goals in dominating the region with its partner Israel.  When the US gives Lebanon military aid its clear this is for fighting Hezbollah and certainly not for defending against the Israeli threat.  Also I’d be willing to bet that the $30m dollars to rebuild a massive bridge in the eastern Bekaa valley will go to a US Engineering firm to do the job….

Regional powers fight over Lebanon

By Kim Ghattas
BBC News, Beirut

 


Anti-US demonstration in Lebanon

Hezbollah supporters say US help spells loss of independence

In the southern suburbs of Beirut, pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of Iran’s Islamic revolution, are not an uncommon sight. This is a stronghold of Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shia guerrilla movement and political party which looks to Iran and its supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for spiritual guidance and more.

In the aftermath of the summer 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, the group distributed around $300m dollars in aid, in crisp dollars bills. The money was thought to originate from Tehran.

We should respect all countries that offer help except those that have a political agenda, and try to take away people’s dignity

Iranian engineer Hussam Khoshnevis

In one apartment in the area, the television is playing a song in Farsi and in a corner there’s a big Iranian flag.

These are the offices of Iranian engineer Hussam Khoshnevis, sent to Beirut by the Iranian President Mahmound Ahmadinejad, to help rebuild south Lebanon after the war.

With his team, he is repairing some 50 bridges, 60 schools and 150 kilometres of highway and 30 places of worship, including churches – all destroyed by Israeli shelling.

Political stand-off

In total Mr Khoshnevis expects at least $250m to be spent on the reconstruction.

Some other governments are not quite so transparent and some of them don’t even give their aid to legal entities but instead choose to use their assistance in ways to coerce or push people for political ends

Juliette Wurr
US embassy in Beirut

Many see this is as the Shia revolutionary state’s attempt to increase its hold over Lebanon and boost the power of the Shia guerrilla movement and political party Hezbollah in its stand-off against the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

The five-month long political crisis, in part over differing visions of Lebanon’s future, is one of the worst that the country has faced in decades. The engineer says Iran has no ulterior motives.

“We help all people in need, we don’t expect anything in return,” he said.

“We helped Pakistan, Indonesia and our help fits in with the ideology of the Lebanese.”

Bomb-out town in south Lebanon

Israel did billions of dollars’ worth of damage to Lebanon last summer

But is help from other countries welcome, such as the US, which unequivocally backs Mr Siniora.

“We should respect all countries that offer help to Lebanon, it’s to the benefit of the people, except those countries that have a political agenda, and try to take away people’s dignity.”

Mr Khoshnevis did not have to spell out what country he was referring to. It seemed obvious he meant the US.

Transparent intentions

“The United States has pledged one billion US dollars in aid,” Juliette Wurr told me at the US embassy half an hour north of Beirut.

Around $30m dollars is going to rebuild a massive bridge in the eastern Bekaa valley, one of the tallest bridges in the Middle East.

We are concerned that Lebanon would become a theatre for the actual conflict between Iran and the US

Mohammed Shatah
Advisor to the PM

Part of the aid has also been in the form of training and equipment, including Humvees, for the Lebanese army and the police force.

Critics say the US has an agenda when it gives aid and it is trying to influence the government and keep it firmly in the pro-Western camp.

“We’ve been very transparent with what we do, when we give money we talk about it, when we give military equipment we hold a ceremony, none of this is under-the-hand cash transfer,” said Ms Wurr.

“Some other governments are not quite so transparent and some of them don’t even give their aid to legal entities but instead choose to use their assistance in ways to coerce or push people for political ends.

“Neither Syria nor Iran have played a very positive role recently in Lebanon.”

Strategic battle

The US and Iran are both vying for influence here, trying to win the hearts and minds of the Lebanese and backing different parties – while the US supports the government, Iran and its ally Syria, support Hezbollah.

Barbed wire fence to separate political groups in Beirut

Divisions between Lebanese minorities are being reopened

“Iran is in a defensive state at the current time, it is positioned in a strategic axis, with Syria and Hamas, to confront US plans in the region,” said Amal Saad Ghorayeb of the Carnegie Middle East think tank.

“I think it’s a battle between two strategic visions, and you have two domestic camps within Lebanon which adhere to one or the other and that’s the real problem.”

In a country that often sums up all the complexities of the Middle East, it can get even more complicated.

Regional power-house Saudi Arabia has also been pumping aid and money into Lebanon.

The Sunni Muslim kingdom deposited $1bn in the central bank during the summer war to boost the Lebanese pound and paid fees for all pupils in state schools to a total of $30m, among other initiatives.

The Saudis are keen to keep Lebanon stable and prevent it from falling completely into the Syrian-Iranian orbit, at a time of Shia-Sunni tensions in the region.

No strings attached?

In a way, the Saudis are on the same side as the US in the stand off, but they also try to play a moderating role.

Many Lebanese are critical of the Saudi petro-dollars pouring into the country. But others, including the government say they welcome Saudi involvement and American aid because they believe it does not come with any strings attached.

“Iran has a certain affiliation with a community in Lebanon. We have a problem when that affinity between Iran and Hezbollah translates into a flow of weapons or an attempt to dictate a certain policy over Lebanon which is not agreed upon by other communities,” said Mohammed Shatah, an advisor to the prime minister.

“We are concerned that Lebanon would become a theatre for the actual conflict between Iran and the US.

“In the past, Lebanon served as a theatre for other conflicts and this has cost the country dearly.”

So once more, Lebanon finds itself at the centre of a regional power struggle and while the different outside players are helping to rebuild the small nation, their competing agendas may still bring it all down.

Robert Fisk: Lebanon will be first victim of Iran crisis

Published: 21 February 2007

 

How easily the sparks from the American-Israeli fire fall across the Middle East. Every threat, every intransigence uttered in Washington and Tehran now burns a little bit more of Lebanon. It is not by chance that the UN forces in the south of the country now face growing suspicion among the Shia Muslims who live there. It is no coincidence that Israel thunders that the Hizbollah are now more powerful than they were before last year’s July war. It is not an accident that Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbollah’s leader, says he has brought more missiles into Lebanon.

Why, the Lebanese ask, did President Bashar al-Assad of Syria visit President Ahmadinejad of Iran last weekend? To further seal their “brotherly” relations? Or to plan a new war with Israel in Lebanon?

The images of Iran’s new missile launches during three days of military manoeuvres – apparently long-range rockets which could be fired at US warships in the Gulf – were splashed across the Beirut papers yesterday morning, along with Washington’s latest threats of air strikes against Iran’s military. Be certain that the Lebanese will be the first to suffer.

For the West, the crisis in Lebanon – where Hizbollah and its allies are still demanding the resignation of Fouad Siniora’s government – is getting more serious by the hour. Up to 20,000 UN troops – including Nato battalions of Spanish, French and Italian forces – are now billeted across the hillsides of southern Lebanon, in the very battleground upon which the Israelis and the Hizbollah are threatening to fight each other again.

If Israel is America’s proxy (which the Lebanese don’t doubt), then Hizbollah is Iran’s proxy. The more the United States and Israel warn Iran of its supposed nuclear ambitions, the more Hizbollah increases the pressure on Lebanon.

Already, there are dangerous signs of what may be to come. Spanish troops were stoned by youths in a Lebanese village last week. French soldiers who arrived at Maroun al-Ras with their weekly medical convoy for local Lebanese civilians were told in no uncertain terms that they were not welcome. The French left immediately. Was this because President Jacques Chirac, busy commemorating his murdered Lebanese friend Rafiq Hariri in Paris on Monday, is now talking of placing UN forces not just along the Lebanese border with Israel but along the country’s frontier with Syria as well?

M. Chirac is warning that last summer’s war between the Hizbollah and Israel could “re-plunge Lebanon into a deep crisis”. If the Lebanese don’t pull themselves together, the French President added, they could “slide once more into a fatal chasm”. These are not words which are likely to commend themselves to President Assad or his opposite number in Tehran.

Add to this the statement by Brigadier Yossi Baidatz, Israel’s head of research for military intelligence – disputed by Amir Peretz, the country’s Defence Minister – that the Hizbollah “is building up more firepower than it had before the war… some is still en route from Syria”, and it’s not difficult to see why a visiting delegation of Italian senators in Beirut have been expressing their fears for their own country’s UN troops in southern Lebanon.

An Italian major general, Claudio Graziano, has just taken command of the multinational force, Unifil, and has been described by the Israelis as an expert in “counter-terrorism” – not quite the praise that General Graziano is likely to have wanted from the Israelis as he faces the dangers of the coming weeks and months. In fact, generals seem all the rage in Lebanon these days, the latest of whom – the Lebanese army commander General Michel Sulieman – has made a speech of remarkable common sense, effectively blaming Lebanon’s politicians for not creating the unity which might resolve its problems.

In last month’s street fighting in Beirut and other towns, General Sulieman’s soldiers achieved the extraordinary feat of repeatedly breaking up riots without killing a single one of their own citizens.

“Lebanon cannot be governed by its military or through a dictatorship,” he said. “It is a country satiated with democracy… but such a great amount of democracy in Lebanon might lead to chaos.

“Soldiers are even more conscientious than many leaders in this country.”

Up to 70 per cent of the Lebanese army – which is now a volunteer, rather than a conscript force – are Shia, which is why it cannot be used to disarm the Shia Hizbollah.

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