DEBKAfile, Monday, October 22, 2001.

DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that the US president is placing all his chips on the single card of his relationship with Putin, as the key to winning in the world war against the terrorists.This was first reported by DEBKA-Net-Weekly in Issue 32, October 5, 2001. Every other consideration has been cast aside. So single-minded is Bush that he was unconcerned when he and the Chinese president Jiang Zemin found no agreement on a single issue at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that ended in Shanghai on October 21. Bush seems to believe that China has no option but to fall in behind the Bush-Putin lead. Beijing has been quick to disprove this assumption with steps calculated to curtail the spread of US influence in Pakistan and Central Asia.

With America going full steam ahead in the first phase of its Afghanistan campaign and preparing to open additional fronts – possibly in Iraq and Lebanon - and Russia preparing for a major offensive in Chechnya, no one has much time to spare for Yasser Arafat. Therefore, Israel’s indefinite troop presence in seven Palestine towns does not unduly perturb too many officials in Washington or Moscow.

[Syrian President] Assad, on the other hand, may find himself faced with more attention than he likes – not only American demands, but US Marines landing in Syrian-controlled eastern Lebanon and setting about the task of eradicating the terrorist bases of the Beqaa Valley.

The Iranian leaders grasped the seriousness of the American threat first. Over the weekend, they pulled their military and Revolutionary Guards personnel out of Lebanon, ending a 15-year presence there so as not to see Iranians killed or captured in an American anti-terrorist operation.

In Israel, the Labor party, while a part of the government unity lineup, is evincing extreme nervousness over IDF operations in Palestinian territory. Their foremost complaint, that Israel is recreating a Lebanon situation, is clearly divorced from the wider context. Not only has the Labor leader, foreign minister Shimon Peres, endorsed the steps approved by the defense cabinet to purge Palestinian terrorists in the wake of the murder of a cabinet minister, but those steps are fully synchronized with the White House - if not the State Department - and will not be reversed as long as that consensus lasts