Posted by Joshua on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007
"Palestinian militant confesses to trifecta of terror: Says he is agent of al-Qaida, Syria and Fatah al-Islam," Michael Bluhm, Oct. 3, Daily Star,
BEIRUT: A Fatah al-Islam militant gave "precious" information to investigators on Tuesday regarding the assassination of former Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, a judicial report said.
Ahmad Merhi, who was captured early in the fighting between Fatah al-Islam and the Lebanese Army at the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp near Tripoli, was interrogated for two hours on Tuesday concerning the assassination, the report added.
Gemayel was gunned down in broad daylight in Jdeideh on November 21 by unknown assailants who showered his car with bullets from assault rifles and then sped away.
Merhi confessed to being an agent for the Syrian intelligence apparatus and Al-Qaeda, in addition to his membership in Fatah al-Islam, the report said.
Gemayel's colleagues in the ruling March 14 Forces have long blamed Syria for the rash of political assassinations that have plagued the country since the massive bomb blast in February 2005 that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others on Beirut's seafront.
Damascus has denied involvement in any of the eight killings of political figures that have since taken place.
US Needs to Keep Engaging With Syria
Ted Kattouf, Arab News
With no realistic possibility of overthrowing the Bashar regime or otherwise changing its unhelpful policies, the administration is denying itself an important diplomatic lever that could help save lives in Iraq, ameliorate Syria’s disruptive regional role, and perhaps even lead to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.
Syria is hardly a great regional power or even as influential as when the late and wily Hafiz Assad ruled. But it does have allies in Lebanon, among the more radical Palestinian factions, and to a lesser extent in Iraq. Talking to Syria is not so much a reward for bad behavior as it is a realistic approach that, according to the Baker-Hamilton Commission, is in the best interest of the United States.
— Ted Kattouf is a former US ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Syria. He is currently the president and CEO of AMIDEAST, www.amideast.org. This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).
Famed investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who has a new piece in the New Yorker, had some very interesting things to say in an interview with Der Spiegel last week. Topics ranged from Hitler to the First Amendment in the United States, but his most interesting comments were on Iran and Iraq.
October 2, 2007; Page A16
Wall Street Journal Review article
Granted, diplomacy requires some confidentiality, but transparency and verification are crucial to disarmament, especially when dealing with a regime like Kim Jong Il's. The February 13 six-party accord called for Pyongyang to deliver a comprehensive accounting of its nuclear program and arsenal within 60 days. We're still waiting.
Transparency is all the more essential given recent news reports about likely North Korean nuclear proliferation in Syria. Washington says the main goal of the six-party talks is to prevent proliferation, and North Korea promised to cease and desist. Yet Pyongyang seems to have been caught in the act in Syria only months after making that promise. The Israelis were worried enough to risk a confrontation with Syria by bombing the site, not to mention flying over Turkish air space. Notably, the Turks didn't object….
President Bush dodged three questions on the issue two weeks ago, except to warn North Korea one more time not to proliferate, which sounds suspiciously like a confirmation. Meanwhile on September 21, the Washington Post quoted government sources as saying that "Israel shared intelligence with President Bush this summer indicating that North Korean nuclear personnel were in Syria."
Then there's the not-so-little matter of North Korea's continuing missile proliferation. Last week the State Department's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation announced new sanctions against a North Korean company for spreading missile technology. …
All of this is a far cry from the nuclear disarmament model set by Libya's Moammer Gadhafi in the wake of Saddam Hussein's ouster in 2003. Libya abandoned its nuclear program up front, inviting U.S. investigators to see the hardware and haul it back to Tennessee; it was rewarded only after the disarmament was verified.
For North Korea, the U.S. is winking at evidence of further proliferation, while offering more diplomatic bribes — all in the cause of getting Pyongyang to repeat promises it has already failed to honor.
Russia and China delay discussion of new sanctions on Iran until after International Atomic Energy Agency's report in Nov.
Also From THE WALL STREET JOURNAL) By Michael Rubin
(Editor's Note: Mr. Rubin, editor of the Middle East Quarterly, is a resident
scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.)
Last week, the United States turned to the United Nations in an attempt to increase pressure on Iran. The U.S. wanted to expand sanctions against the budding nuclear power.
Neither China nor Russia would go along. And faced with the prospect of one or the other vetoing sanctions at the U.N. Security Council, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice punted. She put off further action against Iran until at least November.
It's hard to see how much will change in a month. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is firm in his opposition to sanctions. "Interference by way of new sanctions would mean undermining" the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as it puts pressure on Iran, he said.
This is a charade. …….
The defiant Mr. Ahmadinejad offers the White House a stark choice: Live with a nuclear Iran, or take action to stop it. Winning Russian approval is a chimera, delaying an inevitable decision.
Ex-diplomats Say US Faces Failure Of Peace Summit, By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Gaurdian, October 2, 2007
The Bush administration was warned yesterday in a letter (pdf) by former senior US diplomats that it is setting itself up for the failure of its Middle East peace summit by neglecting to lay the groundwork for a successful meeting of American, Israeli and Arab leaders…..
More controversially, the former officials urge the administration to drop its insistence on isolating Syria and Hamas. "Maximising the prospects for a successful meeting entails finding a way to deal with both Hamas and Syria," the letter says. It notes that Mr Abbas, the Palestinian president, has no control over Gaza and so would be vulnerable to attempts by Hamas to undermine any future deal. "Simply saying no to Hamas without planning for the consequences is a likely ticket to new problems," the letter says.
The diplomats go on to sketch out the contours of a future deal between Israel and the Palestinians, including an arrangement for sharing Jerusalem as the capital of two states.
Concern about chaos in Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon and fear of Islamist political victories have led many American commentators to identify Middle East democracy promotion as unwise. The Bush administration should not have insisted on elections in Arab countries, according to the new conventional wisdom, but instead should have patiently promoted the growth of institutions, civil society, and the rule of law. This new canon seems utterly reasonable, and indeed has already found its way into the foreign policy pronouncements of several candidates for the presidency of the United States.
But there are three flaws in the new anti-elections thinking about democracy in Arab countries. First, it ignores what is happening in the region. Second, it is out of touch with how democracy typically emerges. And third, it leads to a harmful instrumentalist approach to democracy promotion – one that has already do… Read entire article