Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 2004, pages 30-31
Glimmer of Reason Emerges in Senate Amid Continuing Anti-Arab, Anti-Iranian Pressures
By Shirl McArthur
While congressional Israel-firsters continued their anti-Arab and anti-Iranian sniping, as described below, Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) on April 8 introduced their “Greater Middle East and Central Asia Development” bill, S. 2305. The bill would authorize $1 billion per year for five years to further economic reform and private-sector development by creating three new multilateral mechanisms: a Greater Middle East and Central Asia Development Bank, a Greater Middle East and Central Asia Development Foundation, and a Trust for Democracy.
In introducing the bill, Hagel said, “Although poverty and economic underdevelopment alone do not ”˜cause’ terrorism, the expansion of economic growth, free trade, and private-sector development can contribute to an environment that undercuts radical political tendencies that give rise to terrorism.”
Lieberman compared the proposal to the Marshall Plan for rebuilding Europe after World War II. “The key to the success of our Marshall plan for the Middle East, as it was of the Marshall Plan for Europe, is it is not a detailed list of programs,” he said. “It is a statement of values and purposes. It is the creation of a structure to carry out those values and purposes, and it is a commitment of American and international resources to realize those purposes.”
The Development Bank would be similar to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It would include private-sector participation and would underwrite large-scale infrastructure projects. The Development Foundation would “assist in the administration and implementation of assistance programs, including public-private programs.” According to Lieberman, the “foundation would be a public place where we and other donors can come together with the countries of the region to set priorities together.” He added, “We would invite all governments in the region to sit on the board of this foundation, and we would ask all to contribute financially and programmatically to it.” The Trust for Democracy would be a multilateral, public-private trust “to support grass-roots development of civil society” through small grants. Private foundations would be encouraged to participate and provide matching funds.
The bill defines the “countries of the greater Middle East and central Asia” as the 22 Arab countries, plus Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Finally, the bill urges the secretary of state and the heads of other relevant government agencies to consider new approaches to coordinating political and economic support for the countries of the Greater Middle East and Central Asia, and urges the secretary of state to appoint a “Coordinator for Assistance to the Greater Middle East and Central Asia.”
Bills Criticizing Iran’s Nuclear Program Continue to Gain Ground
Although H.Con.Res. 332 and S.Con.Res. 81—the two resolutions described in previous issues of this magazine that express concern over Iran’s “failure” to live up to its safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—have now gained more than half the members of both houses as co-sponsors, a new version has now been introduced. On March 25 Reps. Henry Hyde (R-IL) and Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman and ranking Democrat respectively of the House International Relations Committee (HIRC), joined by Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Howard Berman (D-CA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Brad Sherman (D-CA), introduced H.Con.Res. 398, expressing Congress’s concern “over Iran’s development of the means to produce nuclear weapons.”
The new version is similar to H.Con.Res. 332 in that it has several pages of “whereas” clauses ending with a long list of “resolved” clauses. While still non-binding, the language of H.Con.Res. 398 is tougher than that of its predecessor, however. For example, in “resolved” clause 3 Congress “declares that Iran, through its many breaches for 18 years of its Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, has forfeited the right to be trusted with development of a nuclear fuel cycle, especially with uranium conversion and enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technology, equipment, and facilities.” Clause 15 urges the U.N. Security Council and other relevant international entities to declare that non-nuclear weapons states under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) “who commit violations of their safeguards agreements regarding uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing, or engage in activities which could support a military nuclear program, thereby forfeit their right under the NPT to engage in fuel-cycle activities.”
The HIRC considered H.Con.Res. 398 on March 31 and ordered it reported out to the full House with a recommendation that it be brought up under “suspension of the rules,” meaning brought up for a voice vote with no amendments. This could happen at any time.
Meanwhile, the earlier House version, H.Con.Res. 332, introduced by Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), has gained 69 new co-sponsors beyond those previously named in this column and now has 219, including Weldon.New co-sponsors are Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Frank Ballance (D-NC), J. Gresham Barrett (R-SC), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Leonard Boswell (D-IA), Robert Brady (D-PA), Henry Brown (R-SC), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Michael Burgess (R-TX), Dave Camp (R-MI), Howard Coble (R-NC), John Culberson (R-TX), Tom Davis (R-VA), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), John Doolittle (R-CA), Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Katherine Harris (R-FL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Robin Hayes (R-NC), Joe Hoeffel (D-PA), Tim Holden (D-PA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Michael Honda (D-CA), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Kenny Hulshof (R-MO), William Jefferson (D-LA), Timothy Johnson (R-IL), Ron Kind (D-WI), Peter King (R-NY), Steve King (R-IA), Tom Latham (R-IA), Steve LaTourette (R-OH), John Lewis (D-GA), Martin Meehan (D-MA), Dennis Moore (D-KS), Tim Murphy (R-PA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), John Olver (D-MA), Ed Pastor (D-AZ), Joseph Pitts (R-PA), Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), Jon Porter (R-NV), Rob Portman (R-OH), David Price (D-NC), Jack Quinn (R-NY), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rick Renzi (R-AZ), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Paul Ryan (R-WI), Jim Ryun (R-KS), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), MaxSandlin (D-TX), Adam Schiff (D-CA), James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Rob Simmons (R-CT), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Adam Smith (D-WA), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Lee Terry (R-NE), Patrick Toomey (R-PA), Mark Udall (D-CO), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Dave Weldon (R-FL), and Don Young (R-AK).
The Senate version, S.Con.Res. 81, introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), has gained 12 co-sponsors and now has 56, including Feinstein.New co-sponsors are Sens. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tom Daschle (D-SD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), John Ensign (R-NV), Bob Graham (D-FL), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Bill Nelson (D-FL), E. Benjamin Nelson (D-NE), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), John Sununu (R-NH), and Craig Thomas (R-WY).
Israel’s Apartheid Wall Also Gaining Support
H.Con.Res. 371, introduced in February by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), “supporting the construction by Israel of a security fence to prevent Palestinian terrorist attacks and condemning the decision by the U.N. General Assembly [UNGA] to request the International Court of Justice [ICJ] to render an opinion on the legality of the security fence,” has gained 53 co-sponsors since those mentioned in the previous issue of the Washington Report and now has 146, including Pence. New co-sponsors are Reps. Aderholt, John Boehner (R-OH), Robert Brady, Burgess, Dan Burton (R-IN), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Brad Carson (D-OK), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Chris Cox (R-CA), Lincoln Davis (D-TN), Peter Deutsch (D-FL), Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mark Foley (R-FL), Vito Fossella (R-NY), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Bart Gordon (D-TN), Sam Graves (R-MO), Gene Green (D-TX), Hoeffel, Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Tim Johnson, Ric Keller (R-FL), Jack Kingston (R-GA), John Kline (R-MN), Nick Lampson (D-TX), LaTourette, Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Kendrick Meek (D-FL), Michael Michaud (D-NY), Candice Murphy (R-MI), Tim Murphy, Major Owens (D-NY), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Chip Pickering (R-MS), Porter, Jim Ramstad (R-MN), Renzi, Harold Rogers (R-KY), Mike Rogers (R-MI), Ros-Lehtinen, Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Clay Shaw (R-FL), Chris Shays (R-CT), John Sullivan (R-OK), John Sweeney (R-NY), Terry, Henry Waxman (D-CA), Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Curt Weldon (R-PA), and Don Young.
Also, on March 18 Ackerman introduced H.Con.Res. 390 “condemning the adoption of [UNGA] Resolution ES-10/14 (Dec. 8, 2003) which requests the ICJ to render an advisory opinion concerning the international legal consequences arising from Israel’s construction of a security fence in parts of the West Bank.” Even more than that, the resolution expresses the continued U.S. commitment “to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish democratic state, its security and its right of self-defense, including the right to build a security fence as a direct consequence of more than three years of barbaric Palestinian terrorism.”
H.Con.Res. 390 has 24 co-sponsors in addition to Ackerman: Reps. Todd Akin (R-MO), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Berman, Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Brad Carson, Joe Crowley (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Lane Evans (D-IL), Martin Frost (D-TX), Harris, Hoeffel, Steve Israel (D-NY), Lantos, Maloney, Robert Matsui (D-CA), Carolyn McCarthy, Michael McNulty (D-NY), Candice Miller, Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Charlie Norwood (R-GA), Owens, Ros-Lehtinen, Waxman, and Robert Wexler (D-FL).
And the letter, which had been circulating for signatures since early February, to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urging him to “reverse” his support for the ICJ hearing was finally sent on April 1, signed by 79 senators. Those not signing the letter were Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Joseph Biden (D-DE), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), John Breaux (D-LA), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Hagel, Ernest Hollings (D-SC), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), James Jeffords (I-VT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Zell Miller (D-GA), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), Ted Stevens (R-AK), Sununu, Thomas, and John Warner (R-VA).
Saudi Arabia Still a Congressional Target
The “Saudi Arabia Accountability” bills, discussed most recently in the April Washington Report, continue to gain co-sponsors, though slowly. The identical bills’ stated purpose is “to halt Saudi support for institutions that fund, train, incite, encourage, or in any other way aid and abet terrorism, and to secure full Saudi cooperation in the investigation of terrorist incidents.” The House bill, H.R. 3643, introduced by Weiner, has gained eight co-sponsors and now has 34, including Weiner. The eight additions are Reps. Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), Evans, Frost, Hoeffel, Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Wexler, and Frank Wolf (R-VA).
The Senate bill, S. 1888, introduced by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), has four new co-sponsors and now has 11, including Specter. They are Sens. Jim Bunning (R-KY), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Harry Reid (D-NV).
To continue the assault, Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the HIRC’s Middle East and Central Asia subcommittee, held a March 24 hearing on “Saudi Arabia and the Fight Against Terrorism Financing.” In her opening statement Ros-Lehtinen made her position clear, saying, among other things, “There are great concerns on this subcommittee, and I would say in Congress in general, over the extent of Saudi cooperation in this fight [against terrorism] and, specifically, the Saudi role in financing and abetting of terrorist groups in general.” She also said, “Simply put, Saudi Arabia must be a part of the solution to this vast problem, not a participant.”
The hearing’s key witness was State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator J. Cofer Black, who referred to Saudi Arabia as “a like-minded ally” in the fight against terrorism. After listing 14 steps taken by Saudi Arabia to combat terrorism financing, he concluded with, “The Saudis are a strong ally and are taking unprecedented steps to address an al-Qaeda menace that threatens us both. We believe that they are headed in the right direction, are committed to countering the threat of al-Qaeda, and are giving us extremely strong cooperation in the War on Terrorism.”
Ros-Lehtinen gave no indication that she was convinced.
Finally, on March 10 Weiner introduced H.R. 3934, “To halt the issuance of visas to citizens of Saudi Arabia until the president certifies that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not discriminate in the issuance of visas on the basis of religious affiliation or heritage.” This little gem has eight co-sponsors in addition to Weiner: Reps. Berkley, Deutsch, Mike Ferguson (R-NJ), Israel, Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Maloney, Nadler, and Wexler.
Anti-Palestinian Bills Languishing...
The latest version of the “Israeli-Palestinian Peace Enhancement” bill, described in detail in the March and April issues of the Washington Report, has made almost no progress. The Senate version, S. 1944, introduced by Ensign last November, has gained two co-sponsors, Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), for a total of 14 including Ensign. On Feb. 11 Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) introduced the companion bill, H.R. 3814, in the House. Only Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has signed on as a co-sponsor.
On the other hand, the resolutions applauding the Geneva plan and other private peace initiatives also have stalled. H.Res. 479 has gained only Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) as co-sponsor, for a total of 47, and S.Res. 276 still has only seven co-sponsors.
...But Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait Targeted
One new, particularly mischievous bill is H.R. 4021, introduced on March 24 by Ackerman. It would “amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to require that only countries that have a democratic form of government and that support United States nonproliferation objectives may be designated as major non-NATO allies for the purposes of that Act and the Arms Export Control Act.”
Designation as a “major non-NATO ally” carries significant benefits to the designated countries in terms of aid and access to excess U.S. military items. The current list includes Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait, in addition to Argentina, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, the Philippines, S. Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. The bill’s wording, however, could be interpreted to apply only to future designations, and not to countries already on the list.
Shirl McArthur, a retired foreign service officer, is a consultant in the Washington, DC area.