WAR ON SYRIA; 2002 Article Has ‘HIT LIST’ Of Middle East Countries, Iraq War Was Just The Start, ‘SKITTLES THEORY’
The “skittles theory” of the Middle East - that one ball aimed at Iraq can knock down several regimes…
“We fear a state of disorder and chaos may prevail in the region.” – Hosni Mubarak
While searching for something else, I ran across this article from 2002 that I had filed away. After a quick look I realized how interesting this article is considering it was written before the Iraq War and contains a “Hit List” of Middle East countries. This is very reminiscent of General Wesley Clark’s ”7 countries in 5 years” hit list (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan & Iran) that generated so much attention in certain circles.
While the Guardian article below frames this as an “Israeli Plan” I’d have to strongly argue that the evidence clearly shows the powers behind planning and attacking these Middle East countries comes from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and is implemented via their mad dog known as NATO.
Here’s the most interesting quote:
The six-year-old plan for Israel’s “strategic environment” remains more or less intact, though two extra skittles – Saudi Arabia and Iran – have joined Iraq, Syria and Lebanon on the hit list.
Interesting, however I must confess, I do not understand the “Skittles” reference, it’s mentioned twice… perhaps some popular culture I missed out on… to me “Skeet” would be more logical. Here is my current evaluation of the countries discussed, how “The Plan” is going…
‘HIT LIST’ COUNTRIES:
Iraq (Destroyed, no Hashemite Monarchy or Kingdom yet)
Iran (Economic warfare, international sanctions, targeted)
Lebanon (Weakened by past Israeli invasions, now receiving spillover from Syria’s foreign insurgency)
Saudi Arabia (Not really on the hit list, not as yet, see below)
Syria (Economic warfare, under attack by foreign insurgency)
PROXY COUNTRIES (NATO PUPPETS):
Jordan (Supplying Syria’s foreign insurgency)
Saudi Arabia (Supplying Syria’s foreign insurgency)
Turkey (Supplying Syria’s foreign insurgency)
Here’s the article (emphasis mine):
Playing Skittles With Saddam
The gameplan among Washington’s hawks has long been to reshape the Middle East along US-Israeli lines, writes Brian Whitaker
In a televised speech last week, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt predicted devastating consequences for the Middle East if Iraq is attacked.
“We fear a state of disorder and chaos may prevail in the region,” he said. Mr Mubarak is an old-fashioned kind of Arab leader and, in the brave new post-September-11 world, he doesn’t quite get the point.
What on earth did he expect the Pentagon’s hawks to do when they heard his words of warning? Throw up their hands in dismay? – “Gee, thanks, Hosni. We never thought of that. Better call the whole thing off right away.”
They are probably still splitting their sides with laughter in the Pentagon. But Mr Mubarak and the hawks do agree on one thing: war with Iraq could spell disaster for several regimes in the Middle East. Mr Mubarak believes that would be bad. The hawks, though, believe it would be good.
For the hawks, disorder and chaos sweeping through the region would not be an unfortunate side-effect of war with Iraq, but a sign that everything is going according to plan.
In their eyes, Iraq is just the starting point – or, as a recent presentation at the Pentagon put it, “the tactical pivot” – for re-moulding the Middle East on Israeli-American lines.
This reverses the usual approach in international relations where stability is seen as the key to peace, and whether or not you like your neighbours, you have to find ways of living with them. No, say the hawks. If you don’t like the neighbours, get rid of them.
The hawks claim that President Bush has already accepted their plan and made destabilisation of “despotic regimes” a central goal of his foreign policy. They cite passages from his recent speeches as proof of this, though whether Mr Bush really knows what he has accepted is unclear. The “skittles theory” of the Middle East – that one ball aimed at Iraq can knock down several regimes – has been around for some time on the wilder fringes of politics but has come to the fore in the United States on the back of the “war against terrorism”.
Its roots can be traced, at least in part, to a paper published in 1996 by an Israeli thinktank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. Entitled “A clean break: a new strategy for securing the realm”, it was intended as a political blueprint for the incoming government of Binyamin Netanyahu. As the title indicates, it advised the right-wing Mr Netanyahu to make a complete break with the past by adopting a strategy “based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism …”
Among other things, it suggested that the recently-signed Oslo accords might be dispensed with – “Israel has no obligations under the Oslo agreements if the PLO does not fulfil its obligations” – and that “alternatives to [Yasser] Arafat’s base of power” could be cultivated. “Jordan has ideas on this,” it added.
It also urged Israel to abandon any thought of trading land for peace with the Arabs, which it described as “cultural, economic, political, diplomatic, and military retreat”.
“Our claim to the land – to which we have clung for hope for 2,000 years – is legitimate and noble,” it continued. “Only the unconditional acceptance by Arabs of our rights, especially in their territorial dimension, ‘peace for peace’, is a solid basis for the future.”
The paper set out a plan by which Israel would “shape its strategic environment”, beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad.
With Saddam out of the way and Iraq thus brought under Jordanian Hashemite influence, Jordan and Turkey would form an axis along with Israel to weaken and “roll back” Syria. Jordan, it suggested, could also sort out Lebanon by “weaning” the Shia Muslim population away from Syria and Iran, and re-establishing their former ties with the Shia in the new Hashemite kingdom of Iraq. “Israel will not only contain its foes; it will transcend them”, the paper concluded.
To succeed, the paper stressed, Israel would have to win broad American support for these new policies – and it advised Mr Netanyahu to formulate them “in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the cold war which apply well to Israel”.
At first glance, there’s not much to distinguish the 1996 “Clean Break” paper from the outpourings of other right-wing and ultra-Zionist thinktanks … except for the names of its authors.
The leader of the “prominent opinion makers” who wrote it was Richard Perle – now chairman of the Defence Policy Board at the Pentagon.
Also among the eight-person team was Douglas Feith, a neo-conservative lawyer, who now holds one of the top four posts at the Pentagon as under-secretary of policy.
Mr Feith has objected to most of the peace deals made by Israel over the years, and views the Middle East in the same good-versus-evil terms that he previously viewed the cold war. He regarded the Oslo peace process as nothing more than a unilateral withdrawal which “raises life-and-death issues for the Jewish state”.
Two other opinion-makers in the team were David Wurmser and his wife, Meyrav (see US thinktanks give lessons in foreign policy, August 19). Mrs Wurmser was co-founder of Memri, a Washington-based charity that distributes articles translated from Arabic newspapers portraying Arabs in a bad light. After working with Mr Perle at the American Enterprise Institute, David Wurmser is now at the State Department, as a special assistant to John Bolton, the under-secretary for arms control and international security.
A fifth member of the team was James Colbert, of the Washington-based Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (Jinsa) – a bastion of neo-conservative hawkery whose advisory board was previously graced by Dick Cheney (now US vice-president), John Bolton and Douglas Feith.
One of Jinsa’s stated aims is “to inform the American defence and foreign affairs community about the important role Israel can and does play in bolstering democratic interests in the Mediterranean and the Middle East”. In practice, a lot of its effort goes into sending retired American military brass on jaunts to Israel – after which many of them write suitably hawkish newspaper articles or letters to the editor.
Jinsa’s activities are examined in detail by Jason Vest in the September 2 issue of The Nation. The article notes some interesting business relationships between retired US military officers on Jinsa’s board and American companies supplying weapons to Israel.
With several of the “Clean Break” paper’s authors now holding key positions in Washington, the plan for Israel to “transcend” its foes by reshaping the Middle East looks a good deal more achievable today than it did in 1996. Americans may even be persuaded to give up their lives to achieve it.
The six-year-old plan for Israel’s “strategic environment” remains more or less intact, though two extra skittles – Saudi Arabia and Iran – have joined Iraq, Syria and Lebanon on the hit list.
Whatever members of the Iraqi opposition may think, the plan to replace Saddam Hussein with a Hashemite monarch – descendants of the Prophet Muhammad who rule Jordan – is also very much alive. Evidence of this was strengthened by the surprise arrival of Prince Hassan, former heir to the Jordanian throne, at a meeting of exiled Iraqi officers in London last July.
The task of promoting Prince Hassan as Iraq’s future king has fallen to Michael Rubin, who currently works at the American Enterprise Institute but will shortly take up a new job at the Pentagon, dealing with post-Saddam Iraq.
One of the curious aspects of this neo-conservative intrigue is that so few people outside the United States and Israel take it seriously. Perhaps, like President Mubarak, they can’t imagine that anyone who holds a powerful position in the United States could be quite so reckless.
But nobody can accuse the neo-conservatives of concealing their intentions: they write about them constantly in American newspapers. Just two weeks ago, an article in the Washington Times by Tom Neumann, executive director of Jinsa, spelled out the plan in clear, cold terms:
“Jordan will likely survive the coming war with US assistance, so will some of the sheikhdoms. The current Saudi regime will likely not.
“The Iran dissident movement would be helped enormously by the demise of Saddam, and the Palestinians would have to know that the future lies with the West. Syria’s Ba’athist dictatorship will likely fall unmourned, liberating Lebanon as well.
“Israel and Turkey, the only current democracies in the region, will find themselves in a far better neighbourhood.” Would anyone like to bet on that?
2002.9.3 Playing Skittles With Saddam By Brian Whitaker (guardian.co.uk):
CAIRO (Reuters) – Eleven people were killed in Cairo on Wednesday, medics said, when armed men attacked protesters demanding an end to army rule, prompting several candidates to suspend presidential campaigns and heightening doubts on the transition to democracy.
Leaders from Islamist and secular camps blamed the trouble on hired “thugs” doing the bidding of entrenched interests behind military rule and warned the generals not to use it as a pretext to delay their departure; the army reaffirmed its stated commitment to handing power to civilians by July.
Unidentified men armed with guns and batons attacked demonstrators who included hundreds of ultraconservative Salafi Islamists protesting at their candidate’s exclusion from the ballot for a first-round presidential vote on May 23 and 24.
For hours after the dawn raid, the security forces seemed unable or unwilling to put an end to the violence. As fighting raged near the Defence Ministry in the Abbasiya district of central Cairo, Reuters reporters saw men carrying guns, even a sword, while protesters threw rocks, bottles and petrol bombs.
Only in the afternoon did riot police arrive in large numbers to break up the bloody melee and the clashes abated.
Democracy campaigners blasted the military rulers of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took over 15 months ago as veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak was brought down by mass street protests during the Arab Spring of uprisings.
“SCAF and the government unable to protect civilians or in cahoots with thugs. Egypt going down the drain,” tweeted Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Prize-winning former U.N. official.
Members of the SCAF met representatives of political parties and repeated a pledge to hold elections on time. Politicians who were present said they even offered to return to barracks over a month before the July deadline – in the albeit unlikely event that one of the 13 first-round candidates wins outright in May.
A runoff between the top two contenders would be in June.
However, the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s biggest Islamist group which dominates a parliament elected in December, refused to join talks with the generals, saying Wednesday’s violence showed the army was trying to “obstruct the handover of power”.
The Brotherhood’s presidential candidate Mohamed Mursi suspended campaigning for two days, saying they would be mourning the dead. Several political groups said they would call on followers to mass in central Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday.
“I think it will be the practical response to all of what is happening now, be it the blood being spilt or the foot-dragging in the defined date for handing over power,” said senior Brotherhood official Essam el-Erian.
The other leading Islamist candidate, Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, suspended campaigning indefinitely in protest at the way the authorities had handled the clashes, a spokesman said.
Abol Fotouh and former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, the frontrunner among those with past ties to Mubarak, are seen as the most likely candidates to contest a head-to-head runoff.
On Twitter, Abol Fotouh said he could not now take part in an unprecedented televised debate with Moussa planned for Thursday “when today our youths are drowning in their blood”.
The hosting TV channel also said the event was delayed.
Moussa said: “The number of dead and injured foreshadows a disaster and it is unacceptable for security agencies to stand and watch as clashes continue and blood is shed.”
Medical and judicial sources gave a toll of 11 dead and over 160 wounded. The Interior Ministry said seven had died.
Ahmed Shahir, 24, a pharmacology student working at a makeshift clinic set up the scene, said men he described as thugs fired shots at an encampment of protesters including supporters of Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, the Salafi cleric barred from the election, and members of pro-democracy youth movements.
Local residents joined in the attack on the protesters.
Among the protesters were hardcore soccer fans and diehard secular revolutionaries skilled in street combat who dashed back and forth across debris-scattered streets, hurling rocks.
Wounded men were hauled away and others filled bottles with gasoline to throw at their opponents. Shots rang out and a Reuters journalist saw at least one attacker wielding a sword.
“Where is the army? Why are they not stopping these people?” cried a bystander.
The army, hailed as national saviour when it rallied behind protesters last year to oust fellow military man Mubarak, sent troops to the scene. But some armoured vehicles then beat a retreat when protesters attacked an officer who was taking video footage. Riot police later arrived in larger numbers and separated the two sides. The violence subsided by the afternoon.
Days of street violence also preceded the start of a staggered parliamentary election in November. That vote, Egypt’s first democratic election after six decades of rule by a succession of military autocrats, was mostly smooth.
Official campaigning for the presidential election began this week under a cloud, with the Brotherhood demanding that the army sack the cabinet of Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri.
Parliament suspended its work for several days, saying the government was failing to respect its decisions.
Many Egyptians suspect the generals, who have built up vast economic and business interests over the years, will seek a strong influence even after the new president assumes power.
The latest unrest, limited to Cairo, was on too small a scale so far to influence the election, said Mustapha Kamel Al-Sayyid, a political science professor at Cairo University.
“These are small groups,” he said, adding that the violence could harden public attitudes against continued military rule.
IMF and other MF’s – Vultures picking the Bones of Freedom and national sovereignty
DUBAI (Reuters) – Egypt needs to do more to secure a $3.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, including gathering broad political support and identifying other sources to finance its funding gap of up to $12 billion, an IMF official said on Wednesday.
Masood Ahmed, IMF director for the Middle East, told Reuters that Egypt still needed to do “some technical work” to finalize its economic programme.
Asked whether he thought there was enough domestic political support for the programme, Ahmed said: “I think that process (of getting political support) is advancing but I do not think we are at the point yet where we could move forward.”
“There’s still more work to be done to close down those three areas,” he said, referring to the economic programme, political support and alternative financial sources.
“We are ready as soon as pillars are there for that programme to move forward relatively quickly,” Ahmed said after presenting the regional economic outlook in Dubai.
Egypt and the IMF are in discussions on a $3.2 billion loan programme, which Egypt had requested earlier this year but which had been opposed by the powerful Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.
Egypt’s $236 billion economy has been laid low by 18 months of political turmoil.
Last week, parliament overwhelmingly rejected the army-appointed cabinet’s plan to cut state spending, hampering the government’s efforts to secure IMF help needed to avoid a fiscal crisis and potential currency devaluation.
“Egypt has pressing economic and financial challenges and that’s why we believe it is important to move forward now to finalize the content of the programme, to get support for it and to mobilize the financing for it,” Ahmed said.
The country’s finance minister said last week the government expected the Fund’s aid to start flowing from May.
The IMF is insisting that any agreement on financing is backed by Egypt’s government and political partners ahead of presidential elections later this month. This would ensure the deal would outlast the political transition following the polls.
The IMF expects Egypt’s inflation-adjusted economic growth to ease to 1.5 percent this year, which would be the slowest pace since a 0.3 percent expansion in 1992 and down from 1.8 percent in 2011. Its fiscal gap should widen to 10 percent of gross domestic product in 2012, from 9.9 percent last year.
Egypt has said it expects Saudi Arabia to deposit $1 billion at the Egyptian central bank by the end of April as part of a $2.7 billion package to support Egypt’s battered finances.
Egypt’s foreign reserves have tumbled by more than $20 billion to $15 billion during a year of political turmoil following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.
Ahmed also said the IMF would consider further aid for Yemen after approving a $93.7 million loan for the poorest country in the Arab world in April, which was aimed at addressing an urgent balance of payments deficit.
“It’s hard to say yet (what the financing needs will be). But clearly the financing requirements for Yemen to embark on the programme of expanding employment and the economy will be significantly larger than the current phase of how to stabilize the economy after the crisis,” he said.
Yemeni officials have previously said the public sector would play a key role in job creation as the country attempts to stave off economic collapse after 15 months of political turmoil that saw President Ali Abdullah Saleh forced from office.
“In that context, that they move to the medium-term strategy the IMF would also consider how to support and accompany them during that process, including by providing financial support over a longer-term period and with amounts that are likely to be larger than the amount, we had so far provided for the immediate stabilization,” he said.
“The fiscal situation deteriorated significantly, this year, we believe it will stabilize,” Ahmed said.
Yemen’s $34 billion economy is seen shrinking 0.9 percent in real terms this year after a 10.5 percent plunge in 2011, the worst contraction since North and South Yemen unified in 1990, the IMF’s updated regional outlook showed on Thursday.
The IMF did not provide economic growth forecasts and 2011 estimates for Syria, rocked by a 14-month old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, but Ahmed said that its economy was likely to contract this year as it did in 2011.
“It (the impact of sanctions) is hard to judge because it depends a bit on how rigorously the sanctions can be forced and depends on the shape and course of the conflict, which is hard to tell, and how it is going to affect production and what help if any Syria will be able to get,” he said.
“But nevertheless the best estimate is that there is going to be a continuous contraction of the Syrian economy this year.”