Just Foreign Policy News, August 3, 2006

Just Foreign Policy News

August 3, 2006

 

In this issue:

1) Just Foreign Policy does more radio on “Uniting for Peace”

2) Iran, Other Islamic States May Call for UN Meeting

3) New Poll Shows Lieberman Losing Ground

4) Israel Restarts Beirut Strikes; Blair Says U.N. Near Deal

5) Civilians Lose as Fighters Slip Into Fog of War

6) News Analysis: Israel’s Long-Term Battle

7) Kafr Kila: To Many in a Town Under Attack, Militiamen Are Defenders

8) The Fighting: Israeli Jets, Helicopters and Ground Forces Attack Baalbek, Hezbollah Hub in Bekaa Valley

9) Israeli Warplanes Pound Beirut’s Suburbs

10) Among the Militiamen, Patience and Talk of Victory

11)  7 Palestinians Killed in Gaza

12) World Opinion Roundup: The Qana Conspiracy Theory

13) Future of Orthodox Jewish Vote Has Implications for GOP

14) Detainees: G.I.’s Say Officers Ordered Killing of Young Iraqi Men

15) In Iraq, It’s Hard to Trust Anyone in Uniform

16) A Grim Prognosis for Iraq

17) Lebanon could overshadow Iran’s study of nuclear deal

18) Iran warns of $200 oil if US pursues sanctions

19) Iran' s President Voices New Optimism

20) Mexico Leftist Threatens More Protests

 

Contents:

1) Just Foreign Policy does more radio on “Uniting for Peace”

Radio journalists continue to express interest in the idea that the UN General Assembly could act to bring about a cease-fire in Lebanon, given the failure of the Security Council to do so, under Resolution 377 (see also the next item on the Organization of Islamic Conference calling for UN General Assembly action.) Just Foreign Policy was interviewed by the BBC this morning, and will be on KGNU Boulder tomorrow 10:30-11:30 Eastern, 8:30-9:30 Mountain, webcast at www.kgnu.org. The Just Foreign Policy petition in support of UN General Assembly action is at http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/justforeignpolicy.org/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=325. The list of signatories is growing.

  

2) Iran, Other Islamic States May Call for UN Meeting

Angus Whitley

Bloomberg

Last Updated: August 3, 2006 07:51 EDT

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=aUPZZwugopYo&refer=europe#

Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and 15 other states said they will call for a meeting of the UN General Assembly to achieve a cease-fire in the Middle East should the UN Security Council fail to end hostilities immediately. The UN Security Council should enforce an “unconditional” cease-fire without delay, the Organization of Islamic Conference said today in a statement after meeting in Malaysia. The group said OIC countries should cooperate with UN members to support a General Assembly meeting in the absence of instant measures to end the fighting. “We strongly condemn the relentless Israeli aggression against Lebanon,” the group said. “We express our concern at the inability of the UN Security Council to take the necessary actions for a cease-fire.” The OIC meeting, convened by Malaysia, is the largest gathering of Muslim nations since war broke out in Lebanon last month.

 

3) New Poll Shows Lieberman Losing Ground

Associated Press

August 3, 2006

Filed at 8:45 a.m. ET

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Connecticut-Senate.html

Businessman Ned Lamont opened a double-digit lead over veteran Sen. Joe Lieberman less than a week before Connecticut’s Democratic primary, according to a poll released Thursday. Lamont had support from 54 percent of likely Democratic voters in the Quinnipiac University poll, while Lieberman, now in his third term, had support from 41 percent of voters. The sampling error margin was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

A similar survey July 20 showed Lamont with a slight advantage for the first time in the campaign. ”Senator Lieberman’s campaign bus seems to be stuck in reverse,” poll director Douglas Schwartz said. ”Despite visits from former President Bill Clinton and other big-name Democrats, Lieberman has not been able to stem the tide to Lamont.” ”Although we realize the only vote that counts is Aug. 8, we hope this energizes our base,” said Liz Dupont-Diehl, a spokeswoman for the Lamont campaign.

 

4) Israel Restarts Beirut Strikes; Blair Says U.N. Near Deal

John Kifner And John O’Neil

New York Times

August 3, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/03/world/middleeast/03cnd-mideast.html

British Prime Minister Blair said that the UN Security Council would likely agree within the next two days on a cease-fire plan that would be followed by negotiations for a longer-term settlement. The two-step approach marks a sharp change from the position held previously by Blair and President Bush, who have resisted halting the fighting until a plan for a “sustainable” peace could be adopted. Blair acknowledged that the new approach reflects the “very real danger” that continued civilian deaths and destruction in Lebanon could end up making Hezbollah and other extremist groups more popular. Blair said that the negotiations that would follow a cease-fire would be based on both Israel’s need for security from Hezbollah attacks and on the seven-point plan put forward by Lebanon’s Prime Minister, which calls for a prisoner exchange and an Israeli withdrawal from disputed territory along the border.

 

The Israeli Defense Forces announced that an investigation into the bombing at Qana said the raid was based on mistaken information “that the building was not inhabited by civilians and was being used as a hiding place for terrorists.” Dan Halutz, the chief of staff, said that policies on the choosing of targets would be reviewed. Much of southern Lebanon was a landscape of destruction on Wednesday, with smoke rising from shelled villages.

 

The Maronite Catholic patriarch convened a meeting this week of religious leaders of other communities, Shiite and Sunni Muslims and several varieties of Christians, resulting in a statement of solidarity and photographs in Wednesday’s newspapers. Their joint statement, condemning the Israeli “aggression,” hailed “the resistance, mainly led by Hezbollah, which represents one of the sections of society.” [Editor’s note: A recent poll in Lebanon, cited by Jefferson Morley in item 12, suggests that four out of five Lebanese Christians support Hizbollah’s “resistance against the Israeli aggression.”: http://www.beirutcenter.info/default.asp?contentid=692&MenuID=46.%5D

 

5) Civilians Lose as Fighters Slip Into Fog of War

Sabrina Tavernise

New York Times

August 3, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/03/world/middleeast/03civilian.html

A convoy of Lebanese villagers was fleeing north shortly after the war began. They had heard Israeli soldiers telling them to evacuate. Suddenly, a rocket struck a pickup truck full of people. Twenty-one people were killed, more than half of them children. Israel said it believed the convoy was transporting rockets. The convoy had not notified Israel that it was going to make the trip. Those who survived said in interviews that they were simply following Israeli orders to flee the south as best they could. The case was one of those noted in a report released on Wednesday by Human Rights Watch. It said the killings formed a pattern so extensive that it seemed to indicate that the Israelis were deliberately shooting civilians. It went so far as to accuse Israel of war crimes. “In many of these strikes there is no military objective anywhere in the vicinity,” said Peter Bouckaert, who conducted the study. “Day after day we are documenting these strikes where they clearly hit civilian targets.”

 

6) News Analysis: Israel’s Long-Term Battle

Steven Erlanger

New York Times

August 3, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/03/world/middleeast/03israel.html

Israel is fighting now to win the battle of perceptions. Prime Minister Olmert wants to ensure that when a cease-fire is finally arranged, Israel is seen as having won a decisive victory over Hezbollah. It is important for him politically. Israel wants to recover from an image of an unimpressive military venture against a tough, small, but well-trained group of fighters. Israel also wants to send a message to the Palestinians, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran, that attacks on Israel will be met with overwhelming force. Giora Eiland, Israel’s national security adviser under Sharon, predicts a solution in the next week or so that is “far from Israel’s original intent.” He sees a political package negotiated at the UN that includes an exchange of Lebanese prisoners, with Israel regaining its two soldiers; a security zone in southern Lebanon under the control of a multinational force; an Israeli promise not to violate Lebanon’s sovereignty; and “a general understanding or commitment by the Lebanese government to be responsible for Hezbollah’s behavior.”

 

7) Kafr Kila: To Many in a Town Under Attack, Militiamen Are Defenders

Jad Mouawad

New York Times

August 3, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/03/world/middleeast/03village.html

For the past week, Israel’s army has thrown everything at Kafr Kila. It has bombed it, unleashed tank fire against it, lobbed phosphorus shells into it. Many residents have fled the destruction, but so far the defenders, local fighters with Hezbollah and allied factions, have held on.  Villagers are overwhelmingly supportive of the group and of allied organizations like Amal. Kafr Kila has been without power or water since the Israeli attack began nearly three weeks ago. Food and medicine are running short for residents who have remained.

 

8) Israeli Jets, Helicopters and Ground Forces Attack Baalbek, Hezbollah Hub in Bekaa Valley

Hassan M. Fattah

New York Times

August 3, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/03/world/middleeast/03baalbek.html

In peacetime, Baalbek is best known for its Roman ruins and its summer festivals. But in war, it is a prime target, a strategic center for Hezbollah in the Bekaa Valley. Seven people, including two children, were killed when Israeli planes bombed a house in Jamaliye, a few miles outside Baalbek. In the house were about 50 members of an extended family who had fled the house when the jets were flying over. After the family returned, a rocket landed in the garden, one relative said.

 

9) Israeli Warplanes Pound Southern Beirut

Hezbollah Sprays Rockets, Killing 5 Israelis

Jonathan Finer, Edward Cody and Debbi Wilgoren

Washington Post

Thursday, August 3, 2006; 10:42 AM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/03/AR2006080300305.html

Israeli warplanes pounded the southern suburbs of Beirut Thursday for the first time in eight days, and a barrage of Hezbollah rockets fired across the border killed at least five people in northern Israel. Hezbollah fighters and Israeli ground troops were engaged in fierce ground battles in Lebanese border towns and villages that left two Israeli soldiers dead and two others injured. Israeli jets also bombed roads and bridges in the northern part of Lebanon, in an apparent effort to cut off potential resupply routes from Syria.

Lebanese prime minister Fuad Siniora said the death toll in his country has risen above 900 in the three weeks since hostilities broke out after a Hezbollah raid into Israel. More than 3,000 have been wounded, Siniora said. He said a third of the total casualties have been children under 12.

 

10) Among Militia’s Patient Loyalists, Confidence and Belief in Victory

Anthony Shadid

Washington Post

Thursday, August 3, 2006; A01

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/02/AR2006080201584.html

Three weeks into its war with Israel, Hezbollah has retained its presence in southern Lebanon, often the sole authority in devastated towns along the Israeli border. The militia is elusive, with few logistics, little hierarchy and less visibility. Even residents often say they don’t know how the militiamen operate or are organized. Communication is by walkie-talkie, always in code, and sometimes messages are delivered by motorcycle.

 

11)  Seven Palestinians Killed in Israeli Raid in Rafah

Molly Moore

Washington Post

Thursday, August 3, 2006; 7:24 AM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/03/AR2006080300293.html

Israeli military forces killed seven Palestinians, including a 13-year-old boy, during a midnight attack on the outskirts of Rafah. At least two of those killed were identified as members of the militant group Islamic Jihad, according to a report issued by the organization. Palestinian witnesses in the area reported that the Israeli military fired tank rounds and fired rockets from an unmanned drone patrolling overhead. They said Israeli forces enter the area nightly in search of Palestinian fighters.

 

12) World Opinion Roundup: The Qana Conspiracy Theory

Jefferson Morley

Washington Post

August 2, 2006; 10:30 AM ET

http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/worldopinionroundup/

An alternative view of the Qana attack is emerging in blogs — that the incident was actually staged by Hezbollah. The Qana conspiracy theory not only underscores how the Internet can misinform, it also reveals a popular demand for online content that attempts to explain away news reports that Israel (and by proxy, its closest ally and arms supplier, the United States) was responsible for the deaths of dozens of women and children in a Hezbollah stronghold. At a time when American and Israeli public opinion of the war diverge radically from the world opinion elsewhere, the emergence of a right-wing equivalent of the Sept. 11 conspiracy theories is worth noting. EU Referendum claimed that a Lebanese rescue worker seen in many photos from Qana was a “Hezbollah official.” I e-mailed co-author of the site, Richard North, to ask for his evidence. “All I have to go on is gut instinct,” North replied. I appreciate his candor. It confirms that he has no evidence to support the central claim of his blog posts. North says he is just trying to “raise questions,” which is certainly a legitimate goal. My question is: What is it about the photos from Qana that made Israel’s supporters prefer fantasy to fact?

 

13) Future of Orthodox Jewish Vote Has Implications for GOP

Small but Growing Group Receptive to Republican Ideas

Jim VandeHei

Washington Post

Thursday, August 3, 2006; Page A06

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/02/AR2006080201692.html

Republicans are hoping a strong defense of Israel translates into greater support among Jewish voters this fall, but the biggest political benefits are likely to come long after the 2006 campaign concludes, according to political and demographic experts studying Jewish voting trends. The Jewish group proving most receptive to Republican overtures over the past decade is among the smallest: Orthodox Jews. Right now, they account for roughly 10 percent of the estimated 5.3 million Jews in the United States, hardly enough to tip most elections. This is likely to change significantly in the years ahead because Orthodox Jews are the fastest-growing segment of the Jewish population, raising the possibility that one of the most reliable Democratic voting blocs will be increasingly in play in future elections, according to surveys of Jewish voting and religious and social habits.

 

14) G.I.’s Say Officers Ordered Killing of Young Iraqi Men

Paul von Zielbauer

New York Times

August 3, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/03/world/middleeast/03abuse.html

Four American soldiers from an Army combat unit that killed three Iraqis in a raid in May testified Wednesday that they had received orders from superior officers to kill all the military-age men they encountered. The soldiers gave their accounts at a military hearing to determine if four colleagues should face courts-martial on charges that they carried out a plan to murder the three Iraqis. Their testimony gave credence to statements from two defendants that an officer had told their platoon to “kill all military-age males” in the assault. That officer, Col. Michael Steele, has declined to testify, an unusual decision for a commander. “We are now talking about the possibility of command responsibility, not just unlawful orders and simple murder,” said Gary D. Solis, a former military judge and prosecutor who teaches the law of war at Georgetown University. Colonel Steele, who led the 1993 mission in Somalia later made famous in the film “Black Hawk Down,” has a reputation for aggressive measures. In Iraq, as a commander involved in harrowing assaults against insurgents, he inspired the use of “kill boards” to track how many Iraqis each soldier had killed over time.

 

15) In Iraq, It’s Hard to Trust Anyone in Uniform

Damien Cave

New York Times

August 3, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/03/world/middleeast/03uniforms.html

The camouflaged Iraqi commandos who kidnapped 20 people from a pair of central Baghdad offices this week used Interior Ministry vehicles and left little trace of their true identities. Were they legitimate officers? Members of a Shiite or Sunni death squad? Or criminals in counterfeit uniforms bought at the market? Majid Hamid, a Sunni human rights worker whose brother was kidnapped and killed by men in uniform four months ago, said he doubted that the answer would ever be known. Now, he said, the authorities normally trusted to investigate may be responsible for the crime. “Whenever I see uniforms now, I figure they must be militias,” Mr. Hamid said in a recent interview. “I immediately try to avoid them. If I have my gun, I know I need to be ready to use it.”

 

16) ‘Low Intensity Civil War’ Likely in Iraq, Ambassador Says

Mary Jordan and Fred Barbash

Washington Post

Thursday, August 3, 2006; 7:10 AM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/03/AR2006080300277.html

Britain’s outgoing ambassador to Iraq has advised his government that the country is more likely headed to “low intensity civil war” and sectarian partition than to a stable democracy, the BBC reported Wednesday. The network said it obtained a diplomatic dispatch from William Patey to Prime Minister Blair and top members of Blair’s cabinet.

Patey wrote that “the prospect of a low intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq is probably more likely at this stage than a successful and substantial transition to a stable democracy. Even the lowered expectation of President Bush for Iraq — a government that can sustain itself, defend itself and govern itself and is an ally in the war on terror — must remain in doubt.” Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has reversed a decision to skip a public hearing on Capitol Hill and said he will testify Thursday at a session on the Iraq war. The move came after pressure from Senate Democrats who urged him to come before the Senate Armed Services Committee to answer questions about the administration’s Iraq policies.

 

17) Lebanon could overshadow Iran’s study of nuclear deal

Clarence Fernandez

Reuters

Thursday, August 3, 2006; 9:47 AM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/03/AR2006080300576.html

Iran said on Thursday it was still weighing an international package of incentives to suspend its nuclear programme but conflict in Lebanon had diverted its attention. On Monday, the U.N. Security Council demanded that Iran suspend its nuclear activities by August 31 or face the threat of sanctions, although Iran responded by insisting on its right to produce nuclear fuel. “We have said we are open to negotiations, and in the shadow of negotiations it is possible to settle any dispute,” President Ahmadinejad said.”And even now some sort of dialogue is going on, but the crimes committed by the Zionist regime have overshadowed all our considerations,” he said in a reference to Israel’s campaign in Lebanon.

 

18) Iran warns of $200 oil if US pursues sanctions

Reuters

Thursday, August 3, 2006; 10:59 AM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/03/AR2006080300577.html

Global oil prices could hit $200 per barrel if the United States pursues international sanctions against Iran, an Iranian official said on Thursday, although analysts passed the comment off as saber rattling. Markets appeared to shrug off the comment, with U.S. crude oil falling $1.01 to $74.80 on signs that Tropical Storm Chris would not become a hurricane. Tension over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which has rattled oil markets in recent weeks, has been overshadowed by the bloody conflict in Lebanon.

 

19) Iran’s President Voices New Optimism

Associated Press

August 3, 2006

Filed at 10:21 a.m. ET

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Iran-Nuclear.html

Iran’s president expressed optimism Thursday that the dispute over his country’s nuclear program can be resolved through talks, despite mounting impatience with his rejection of U.N. Security Council demands to suspend uranium enrichment. Underlining the international concern, one of Iran’s leading trade partners, Russia, issued a statement Thursday telling the Tehran regime it must respect the council’s Aug. 31 deadline to stop enrichment.

 

20) Mexico Leftist Threatens More Protests

Reuters

August 3, 2006

Filed at 0:41 a.m. ET

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-mexico-election.html

Lopez Obrador, heading protests to pressure Mexico’s electoral court into ordering a full recount of votes in the July 2 presidential election, threatened on Wednesday to turn the screws even tighter despite anger over demonstrations that have crippled Mexico City.

Thousands of Lopez Obrador’s supporters have seized the capital’s vast Zocalo square and main Reforma boulevard, causing three days of traffic chaos and drawing fire from the government. “Mexico City belongs to everyone. All those who live here deserve to have their rights respected,” said Ruben Aguilar, spokesman for President Vicente Fox.

The protests have been peaceful, but are angering residents and alienating some former Lopez Obrador supporters. Lopez Obrador has apologized for the disruption, but insisted it was a small price to pay. The former Mexico City mayor said he would decide whether to step up the campaign of civil disobedience after a court decision over a recount, which he expected within days. “It causes annoyance, anger, we know that, but there is no other choice … we have to make democracy count in our country,” he said. 

——–

Robert Naiman

Just Foreign Policy

www.justforeignpolicy.org

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