Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Global sanctions on Tehran sought

The Washington Times-Former senior U.S. and Israeli officials called yesterday for the United States to rally the international community to impose sanctions on Iran and push Arab allies to work against Hezbollah and Hamas. Mr. Ross blamed Iran for recent Hamas and Hezbollah attacks and said encouraging political and economic sanctions against Iran and Syria "should be our objective right now."

Moshe Yaalon, chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces from 2002 to 2005, said, "These attacks were masterminded by Iran and facilitated by Syria." He pointed out that Hezbollah's initial attack on Israeli forces coincided with a deadline for Iran to respond to a U.S.-led coalition offer regarding its nuclear program. "Iran guaranteed that the world's attention would be directed elsewhere," Mr. Ross said, noting that the nuclear issue was pushed off center stage at the weekend Group of Eight summit in Russia. Gen. Yaalon also said Iranian officials "prodded" Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Damascus shortly before the Hamas kidnapping that triggered Israel's offensive in Gaza in June.

Mr. Ross urged the United States to "work intensely behind the scenes" with Iran's enemies in the Arab world to broker a peace deal. "I watch for changes in behavior. And one thing that makes this situation different from past ones is that some Arab states are acting very uncharacteristically by criticizing Hezbollah and not letting up, especially Saudi Arabia," he said. Mr. Ross suggested that the United States encourage the development of an "Arab plan," which would include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and others interested in undermining Iran's regional influence. He said the plan would include political, economic and military support for the Lebanese government and military, which is still relatively weak and unable to rein in Hezbollah.



Also in the news:

AS FIGHTING in the Middle East continues, the Bush administration is coming under pressure to launch some sort of diplomatic initiative. These calls sound reasonable; the loss of innocent life in Lebanon and Israel is tragic, the dangers of further escalation are real and U.S. shuttle diplomacy has been instrumental in halting previous conflicts. The problem is this: The usual options in the State Department's playbook would hand to the extremists who launched this war exactly the results they have hoped for.

  • Lou Dobbs: US not so smart when it comes to the Middle East
CNN's Lou Dobbs weighs in and raises some interesting points:

We Americans like to think we're a pretty smart people, even when evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. And nowhere is that evidence more overwhelming than in the Middle East. History in the Middle East is everything, and we Americans seem to learn nothing from it.

Even now, as Katyusha rockets rain down on northern Israel and Israeli fighter jets blast Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, we simultaneously decry radical Islamist terrorism and Israel's lack of restraint in defending itself.

And the U.S. government, which wants no part of a cease-fire until Israel is given every opportunity to rescue its kidnapped soldiers and destroy as many Hezbollah and Hezbollah armaments as possible, urges caution in the interest of preserving a nascent and fragile democratic government in Lebanon. Could we be more conflicted?

While the United States provides about $2.5 billion in military and economic aid to Israel each year, U.S. aid to Lebanon amounts to no more than $40 million. This despite the fact that the per capita GDP of Israel is among the highest in the world at $24,600, nearly four times as high as Lebanon's GDP per capita of $6,200.

Lebanon's lack of wealth is matched by the Palestinians -- three out of every four Palestinians live below the poverty line. Yet the vast majority of our giving in the region flows to Israel. This kind of geopolitical inconsistency and shortsightedness has contributed to the Arab-Israeli conflict that the Western world seems content to allow to perpetuate endlessly.

In the Middle East, where is our sense of proportion? Where is our sense of perspective? Where is our sense of decency? And, finally, just how smart are we?

More...