The Coastal Post - February, 1999

News From The Middle East Front
By Karen Nakamura

It was with joy that this reporter read Husayn Al-Kurdi's article describing the Kurdish Liberation movement in Kurdistan or what the rest of the world likes to call sections of Turkey and Iraq. This tome ran in the January issue of the Coastal Post and brought to mind the frightening reality that the Western world rarely gets to hear directly from the various elements involved in the perpetual power struggle that is the Middle East.

In an effort to correct that wrong, and in the name of true democracy where all voices are heard, it is hoped that readers with direct, relevant knowledge of the entire region will share their knowledge with us. From truth and knowledge comes peace and tolerance.

It has become clear that Americans need to understand set and setting. With the declaration of Palestinian independence due May 4th, and the upcoming Israeli elections of May 17th, what are the factors at play?

Before, however, a correction needs to be made. The Jordanian government will not be headed by King Hussein's son if something happens to the king as was stated here last month. Having received radiation treatment for cancer, King Hussein returned to Jordan in triumph and flying the jet. His cancer, if not cured, is at least in remission.

The king's brother appears to have ably taken the reins in the king's absence. This could develop into a crisis if there's no compromise between the two factions, but hopefully, that will not happen. The region needs the calming influence of a stable Jordan.

What is evident is that while Israel is trying to keep from giving up one inch of Palestinian territory and Iraqis are being starved to death by the ego trip going on between Saddam Hussein and UNSCOM's Richard Butler, Jordan is worrying about computers in their schools and giving grants to farmers to help them through the harsh, dry winter. That is if the first rain in a year, which began falling hours before the king returned, didn't end the drought.

The Lebanese have a newly-elected president. There are the usual pledges to halt corruption and such, but the most impressive actuality is the loans pouring in from various European countries to rebuild hotel and retail areas downtown. Again, American workers and businesses miss out as America's moralistic isolationism keeps it from considering investments in any country not under its thumb.

In the meantime, Lebanon refused to take back 29 illegal, mostly Iraqi, immigrants dumped on the beaches of Cypress from a fishing boat registered in Tripoli. Apparently, the more prosperous countries in the Mediterranean are facing the same onslaught of boat people that the United States faced with fleeing Haitians and Chinese. Italy and Greece are getting boat people from the Yugoslav Peninsula plus Iraq, Yemen and Egypt.

The United States has been so engrossed in cutting off its head that it missed the nine separate bombardments of Southern Lebanon by Israeli jets made between January 1st and the January 15th bombing of Melita. Hussan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese, Pro-Iranian, Hezbollah did not, however, stating that Israel did the same thing during the 1996 election (which is true). He was speaking to the multitude in Beirut on January 15th at a rally for Jerusalem Day. This event was created by Iran to protest Israeli control of the city sacred to Moslems, Jews and Christians, "Liberating Jerusalem is a duty," Nasrallah intoned.

While Lebanon was rebuilding its infrastructure, settling into a new government and fighting incursions into its territory from Israel, Israel was getting prepared for the May 17th elections and the May 4th declaration of a Palestinian state. One can't help but wonder if the elections were purposely set after May 4th to use as another delaying tactic for the Likud by using the declaration as an excuse not to give up power.

True to form, what the mainstream U.S. press neglected to mention was the break-ins of several aides to the leader of the Labor opposition, Ehud Barak, in the middle of January. All of the aides reported their homes had been ransacked but nothing was taken. This news, which should have been bigger news, followed a burglary the second week in January at the Washington office of an American firm, Greenberg Quinlan Research, commissioned by Mr. Barak to provide political advice.

An adviser to Mr. Barak, spokeswoman Aliza Goren, told Israel Radio that the "Labor party central office is not going to make accusations about these break-ins, we are awaiting the results of the police inquiry."

An adviser to Mr. Barak, attorney Yitzhak Herzog, told the same source, "We very much hope these break-ins are not connected to the elections." The ruling Likud Party has denied speculation about a political motive for the burglary and break-ins. In the meantime, Netanyahu and Barak are running neck and neck.

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