Morning Report: February 21, 2005

Bush in Brussels. "Now is the time for the established democracies to give tangible political, economic and security assistance to the world's newest democracy," President Bush said in Belgium while on a European visit. The President also plans to visit French President Jacques Chirac. Debka elaborates: 'Bush launched his European tour in Brussels by declaring his immediate goal was Middle East peace. He urged Abbas to seize moment. Israel, he said, should stop building Jewish settlements so that a Palestinian state will be viable with contiguous territory on the West Bank and not scattered pockets of land. Other high points of Bush address to joint NATO EU delegates in Brussels: Syria should stop interfering in Lebanese election, pull its occupation forces out of country and stop interfering in Iraq. US supports WTO membership for Russia if that country advances towards democracy. He rejected anti-Semitism from any source. Only democracy can provide the basis for a Palestinian state that should live in peace with security for Israel. Iran must not have a nuclear weapon, but we are in the early stages of diplomacy.' (Fox, Debka)

Anti-Syrian demonstrations planned in Lebanon. Also in the context of Bush's European tour, Debka reports: 'Massive anti-Syria demonstrations scheduled by Lebanese opposition at outset of “democratic uprising” to coincide with Bush-Chirac summit. Lebanese security units out in force on tense streets. DEBKAfile adds: Protest permitted only at scene of Hariri assassination on Beirut Corniche to prevent march on parliament. Opposition hopes set back by Lebanese parliament speaker Shiite Berri falling into line behind pro-Syrian government under extreme pressure.' Mr. Fadhil believes the Lebanon powderkeg is "the Middle East's 9/11" and Chrenkoff, quoting Syrian activist Anwar Bunni, agrees. (Debka, Iraq the Model, Chrenkoff)

Richard Perle interview. 'We will look back on the liberation of Iraq and the subsequent establishment of a decent, humane government there as a turning point in history. The attitude in France and Germany today is reminiscent of their attitude toward Ronald Reagan's policy to end the Cold War. They were terribly shortsighted and missed the big picture. ... The U.S. policy (of disassociating from Chalabi) was stupid. A few people in the administration developed a personal dislike for him, and that clouded their judgment. In the post-election mix in Iraq, Chalabi has emerged as the secular democrat. ... These are two issues [viz. Iranian human rights and the regime's nuclear threat], but a single policy toward Iran would advance both purposes. That policy would be to give real support – political, moral and materiel – to those Iranians who want to see a regime change.' - Richard Perle, in an interview with Global Viewpoint's Nathan Gardels. (San Diego Union-Tribune, via Free Iran)

Bush calls for a contiguous Palestine. President Bush, reiterating his long-standing support for a Palestinian state, urged Israel to cede territory to allow for a contiguous Palestine, according to a recent news report. 'Bush urged Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to be ready to yield land in a way that makes a Palestinian state "truly viable." He declared, "A state on scattered territories will not work."' (WHO-TV via Google News)