Posted by Joshua on Monday, April 2nd, 2007
Seymour Hersh was interviewed by Ghassan Ben Jeddo on Al-Jazeera Sunday evening. Here is the rough translation from Arabic sent to me by Alex:
1) American intelligence sources told him that Lebanese AND middle Eastern parties opposed to Syria misled the Unites States and France with false evidence (or manufactured evidence) designed to implicate Syria in the Killing.
2) His sources at the UN tell him there is no evidence against Syria yet. That the Hariri killing was very carefully planned and executed, and that we might never find out who ordered that assassination.
3) Prince Bandar is very ambitious … Seymour is not sure if the Prince wants to be the next King, but the prince has significant influence worldwide and is spending a lot of money to help this administration finance Anti Syria operations in Lebanon and elsewhere. Prince Bandar’s main American contact is Vice President Cheney… their meetings last long hours.
4) Sunni “moderate” Arab states indeed asked the United States to attack (not invade) Iran.
5) Prince Bandar is coordinating with the Americans to attack تهاجم)) Syria and Iran (not sure Attack was the English word .. I heard the Arabic translation: His purpose of the Iran visit was to isolate Syria.
6) Some in Israel want to work with Nasrallah, instead of trying to finish him.
7) The US is financing the Seniora government and its allies through Bandar money .. and through 9 billion dollars that was taken from Iraq. Samir Jeajea is getting some of that money.
8) Jeajea was invited to Washington for meetings with the Bush administration, but there was too much opposition to that visit. It was canceled.
9) There will be an American Syrian rapprochement … but only after 2009 (Hersh said it with certainty)
10) The Bush administration is not hoping for a regime change in Syria.
Jim Lobe in his Tough Week for Bush's Middle East Strategy, quotes my analysis of the Arab League summit.
"King Abdullah has come to the conclusion that only Arab unity can restore the regional balance of power [that has been] so skewed in Iran's favor by the destruction of Saddam's Arabist regime," wrote Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at University of Oklahoma, on his blog. "To do this, Saudi Arabia must reach an accommodation with Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas; it cannot destroy them, as the U.S. recommends."
Beirut's French language newspaper, L'Orient-Le Jour, picked up the same quote in its editorial: Les tensions avec Ryad mettent Washington en difficulté au Proche-Orient (Thanks Nur)
"Selon Joshua Landis, un expert du Center of Peace Studies de l'Université de l'Oklahoma, en qualifiant d'« illégitime » la présence de troupes américaines en Irak, le roi Abdallah s'est posé comme le champion d'un nouveau panarabisme, destiné à contenir la montée de l'influence de l'Iran dans la région. Le roi est déjà parvenu à la conclusion que le plan du président George W. Bush en Irak était voué à l'échec et cherche à éloigner la Syrie de l'Iran pour ramener le régime de Damas dans le giron arabe, explique cet expert. « Le roi Abdallah a annoncé qu'il cherchait à adopter une nouvelle politique irakienne, une politique destinée à une nouvelle phase postaméricaine en Irak et une politique qui doit être coordonnée avec la Syrie », ajoute-t-il, rappelant que le souverain saoudien a eu deux entretiens avec le président syrien Bachar el-Assad en marge du sommet de Ryad."
Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, met with Bush last May to press Saudi concerns. "We have two nightmares," Saud told the president, according to Turki. "One is that Iran will develop a nuclear bomb, and the other is that America will take military action to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb." (This quote is from Christopher Dickey's excellent article in Newsweek: "How the Saudi king, disillusioned with Bush, is trying to save the Arabs.")
Jim Lobe also quotes retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a vocal supporter of the strategy who had previously been upbeat about the military situation.
McCaffrey just returned from a visit to both Afghanistan and Iraq, where he met with top U.S. diplomats and military and intelligence officials. He wrote that the Iraqi population "is in despair" and expressed consternation at the resilience of both the insurgents and the militias.
"Although we have arrested 120,000 insurgents (hold 27,000) and killed some huge number of enemy combatants (perhaps 20,000 plus) – the armed insurgents, militias and al Qaeda in Iraq without fail apparently regenerate both leadership cadres and foot soldiers. Their sophistication, numbers, and lethality go up – not down – as they incur these staggering battle losses," he wrote, adding that they are "in some ways more capable of independent operations" than the Iraqi army. He also warned that the U.S. military was "in a position of strategic peril" as a result of its Iraq intervention.
Anthony Shadid is excellent as ever in this article:
Driven by War to a No Man's Land in Jourdan
Lives of Palestinian Refugees From Iraq Reflect Six Decades of Dispossession