Gaza Under Murderous Assault, U.S. Escalating Regional Threats, New Sanctions Against Iran
By Phyllis Bennis
Source: Institute for Policy Studies
"** As the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War approaches amid a renewed rise in violence, once-claimed U.S. regional goals of "democratization," "stability," "freedom" are overwhelmed by violent, anti-democratic, unilateral and militaristic U.S. actions across the beleaguered Middle East.
** The massive Israeli military assault on Gaza of recent days is the most immediately murderous part of a series of escalating regional crises that are rippling across the Middle East, involving Palestine and Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, the UN Security Council -- and U.S. warships prowling off the Lebanese coast.
** In Gaza, Israel's attack killed between 125 and 131 Palestinians, of whom half were civilians, and at least 22 were children, including several infants. The attack devastated Gaza's 1.5 million residents already suffering under what a coalition of British humanitarian agencies including Amnesty International and Oxfam called "worse than at any time since the beginning of the Israeli military occupation in 1967."
** Despite Condoleezza Rice's opposition, the need for a ceasefire is more urgent than ever. Hamas has offered longterm ceasefires on several occasions, but Israel, backed by the U.S., has consistently refused to even consider the proposal.
** In Cairo, Rice pressed Egypt for greater involvement in the Annapolis "peace process" and reportedly sent a message to Syria via the Egyptian government that the current deployment of three U.S. warships off the coast of Lebanon was designed to remind Syria that the U.S. remains the dominant military power in the region; she simultaneously announced that the Bush administration had waived congressional restrictions to provide Egypt with an additional $100 million in military aid.
** The rising tensions may reverse the outcome of a planned Arab League meeting now set for late March; Egypt and Saudi Arabia had been threatening to boycott to pressure Syria, but tables have turned as the bloody Israeli attack in Gaza, the Vanity Fair revelations of direct U.S. arming and paying for the internal Palestinian fighting, and the high-profile U.S. warships off the Lebanese coast, are embarrassing all the region's pro-U.S. governments......."