"Some broad strategy lines for the next stage of the US war against global terror are indicated in the special analyses appearing on this page. The most important, according to DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources, is a major military and political maneuver aimed at fashioning a US-led Middle East-Persian Gulf equivalent of the Northern Alliance. Washington wants local forces to shoulder the brunt of combat in the Middle East, much as the Northern and Eastern Alliances did in Afghanistan.
The initial candidates for this front - not all in an active role - are Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain. Once the grouping is in place, the Americans will hand out respective tasks for the various anti-terror campaigns.
Preliminary moves by the Bush team are focusing on diplomatic efforts and international cooperation. Referring to this plan of action, a former State Department official said: “The United States does not want to go from country to country using military action.”
Washington is clearly concealing the directions it is pursuing behind a fog of disinformation. Pointing hard at the Iranian Peril - with the help of Israeli charges against Tehran in the Palestinian arms smuggling affair - may have been a deliberate exercise in misdirection.
DEBKAfile’s sources see strong pointers to Yasser Arafat becoming one of America’s first anti-terror objectives. Other conspicuous targets are the Lebanese Hizballah, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen.
Paradoxically, the deterioration in Saudi-US relations and Riyadh’s refusal to allow the United States bases for offensives against global terror - has had a liberating effect: it disencumbers Washington at last from the long-standing Saudi stipulation that has long tied American hands: never to embark on any Middle East initiative without an Arab consensus.
For now, the American interest lies in the opposite direction: to
break up the unified Arab front before driving ahead with its campaign
against terrorists in order to activate a multiple front, like the one
that served the US offensive in the different sectors of the Afghan War.
In its Middle East applications, some groupings will fight with Israel
and some without, affording Washington extensive tactical and operational
flexibility. For this reason the Americans are going to great lengths to
drive a wedge between Syria and Iraq, hoping their secret military and
economic treaties will be put on ice. No one expects Syria to join the
war against Iraq, but its passivity will intensify Iraq’s isolation, softening
Saddam Hussein up in advance of a projected joint Turkish-Israeli-Jordanian
Syria is also the key to the isolation of the Hizballah, leaving the Shiite terrorists vulnerable to attack by the United States and Israel.
At this stage, the Bush administration believes it can wage war against
international terror without becoming entangled in regional and local conflicts,
such as the Indian-Pakistani standoff and the Israel-Palestinian confrontation.
Even if these conflicts do flare into full-scale belligerence, Washington
hopes hostilities will remain low-key enough not to impede the great American
war against terrorism."