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Assassinations in Lebanon; Pipelines in Haifa

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No one knows who killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. We do know, however, that the main witness cited in the UN report, Zuhir Mohamed Said Saddik, "has been convicted of embezzlement and fraud among other crimes" (Der Spiegel) which casts grave doubt on the credibility of his testimony.

No problem; the Bush administration has used convicted fraudsters to make their case for war before, particularly in the case of Iraq where the specious claims of Ahmed Chalabi appeared consistently on the front page of the New York Times creating the rationale for the invasion. But, Sadik's trustworthiness is even more uncertain than Chalabi's. "Sources in the UN say that Sadik had undeniably lied" and had received money for his testimony. "According to a statement by his brother, Sadik had called him from Paris in late summer and said, "I've become a millionaire!" (Der Spiegel)

Indeed; lying can be a profitable choice when it serves the greater objectives of American-Israeli foreign policy.

None of this suggests that Syrian intelligence wasn't involved in the assassination. It very well may have been. It simply proves that the report of German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis is inconclusive and may have been the result of American coercion. At the very least, the report fits rather nicely with the Bush administration's stated goals for regime change in Damascus and redrawing the map of the Middle East.

If Mehlis was truly serious about finding out who the assassins really are, rather than carrying out a political vendetta for the United States, he would be devoting more energy to uncovering the details related to the white Mitsubishi Canter Van that carried the explosives. The history and origins of this van, which was stolen in Japan on Oct. 12, 2004, are critical to the investigation as journalist Robert Parry points out in his recent article "The Dangerously incomplete Hariri Report". But, then, few who have been following the Hariri assassination have any misgivings about the real motives behind the Mehlis Report. The Hariri investigation is just the pretext for the forthcoming military action against Syria.

Already the western press has swung into high-gear reiterating the blistering rhetoric emerging from the White House and its acolytes' at the State Dept. Ambassador John Bolton, the Bush administration's mad-hatter at the UN, has repeatedly threatened Syria with swift action although the facts are still uncertain.

"This is true confessions time now for the government of Syria", Bolton warned. "No more obstruction. No more half measures. We want substantive cooperation and we want it immediately."

As many have suspected, the volatile Bolton was dispatched to the UN to pave the way for war with Syria and Iran. His baseless attacks on Damascus have done nothing to disprove that conclusion.

Fans of the much-maligned "paper of record" will be glad to see that Judith Miller's chair at the Times has been filled by her equally-competent prote'ge', Warren Hoge. Hoge has already produced 4 front-page articles on the Hariri case invoking the same demagoguery, unsubstantiated allegations and damning insinuations as his mentor Miller. In essence, the Times has already condemned poor Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by framing the uncorroborated evidence in a way that excludes every other suspect and by repeating the constant refrain "sanctions" 7 times in one article alone. Judy Miller's early retirement has not dulled the Time's appetite for reiterating fictions on its front page. Predictably, no mention of the witness Sadik's shaky testimony has appeared in any of America's leading newspapers.

Sound familiar?

So, what's the game-plan? Can the Washington warlords really be considering another invasion just to depose what Paul Craig Robert's calls a "mild mannered ophthalmologist"?

The real reasons for regime change in Syria have less to do with Hariri's assassin and more to do with oil and Israel. An April 20, 2003 article in the UK Observer, "Israel seeks Pipeline for Iraqi Oil", clarifies this point.

The Observer notes that Washington and Tel Aviv are hammering out the details for a pipeline that will run through Syria and "create an endless and easily accessible source of cheap Iraqi oil for the US guaranteed by reliable allies other than Saudi Arabia". The pipeline "would transform economic power in the region, bringing revenue to the new US-dominated Iraq, cutting out Syria and solving Israel's energy crisis at a stroke."

This is the driving force behind the confrontation with Syria. At present, Bashar al Assad refuses to normalize relations with Israel until Israel surrenders the land it seized in the Golan Heights during the 1967 war. Israeli hawks have no intention of returning the land and are planning to remove al Assad instead.

It's widely known that Israeli Intelligence (Mossad) is already operating in Mosul where the pipeline will originate and have developed good relations with the Kurds in the area. The only remaining obstacle is the current Syrian regime which has already entered the US-Israeli crosshairs.

Originally, the pipeline was the dream of the Israeli Minister for National Infrastructures, Joseph Paritzky, who said that it would "cut Israel's energy bill drastically - probably by more than 25 per cent - since the country is currently largely dependent on expensive imports from Russia."

The Observer quotes a CIA official who said: 'It has long been a dream of a powerful section of the people now driving this administration and the war in Iraq to safeguard Israel's energy supply as well as that of the United States. The Haifa pipeline was something that existed, was resurrected as a dream, and is now a viable project - albeit with a lot of building to do."

James Akins, a former US ambassador to the region and critic of the pipeline plan said, "This is a new world order now. This is what things look like particularly if we wipe out Syria. It just goes to show that it is all about oil, for the United States and its ally.'"

"Wipe out Syria"? That's pretty blunt talk from a diplomat.

Akins is not kidding. Washington and Tel Aviv are fully committed to toppling the Assad government. Many of the same people who are connected to the ongoing Fitzgerald investigation, (Wurmser, Libby, Perle, Feith, Hannah, Wolfowitz) authored a report outlining the neocon agenda in the Middle East for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996. The report, "A Clean Break; A New Strategy for Securing the Realm", campaigned for the very policies that are currently being executed by the Bush administration. The strategy calls for a "roll-back" of regional threats to Israel, help to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and striking "Syrian military targets in Lebanon". To deny that America is now fighting Israel's war is shortsighted to the point of blindness.

The title of the Wurmser-Feith's-Pearl document tells the whole story. "A Clean Break" conveys the message that Israel should abandon giving back land in exchange for peace with the Palestinians. (as per Oslo) "Securing the Realm", however, is equally attention-grabbing in that it articulates the real objectives of its authors; to reestablish the ancient kingdom of Israel; a kingdom that will undoubtedly mean West Bank-type apartheid and Guantanamo-type justice for 1 billion Muslims in the region. Regime change in Syria is a crucial step to realizing that goal.

Syria poses no threat to America's national security. We have no dog in this fight. The real threat is those who now operate freely within the foreign policy establishment, using the US military to further their own self-serving objectives of controlling Middle East oil and securing an imaginary Israeli empire. Neither of these is in the national interest, and both have put America's future greatly in doubt.

( Note: "James Akins was ambassador to Saudi Arabia before he was fired after a series of conflicts with then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, father of the vision to pipe oil west from Iraq. In 1975, Kissinger signed what forms the basis for the Haifa project: a Memorandum of Understanding whereby the US would guarantee Israel's oil reserves and energy supply in times of crisis. The plan was promoted by the now Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, was to be built by the Bechtel company"
The memorandum has been quietly renewed every five years, with special legislation attached whereby the US stocks a strategic oil reserve for Israel EVEN IF IT ENTAILED DOMESTIC SHORTAGES - at a cost of $3 billion ( ú1.9bn) in 2002 to US taxpayers. "UK Observer)
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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.

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