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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

November 23, 2002

Russian, Israeli hands tied in war on terror

Debka analysis points out what is already apparent. American strategy on Iraq shackles and shields terror money supliers and terror groups elsewhere
US President George W. Bush made a point of calling on Russian president Vladimir Putin directly after the NATO summit in Prague, to solicit his support for direct US military action against Iraq. However, Putin, who received his American visitor with pomp at the grand 18th century Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg, was not mollified by Bush’s reassurances about Russian interests in post-Saddam Iraq. Instead, he took the US President to task over the way the global war on terror was being handled, brushing aside the capture of al Qaeda’s Gulf operations chief, Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri, as marginal to the issue.

To underscore his point, Putin asked some tough questions.

Where had Osama bin Laden taken refuge? he asked rhetorically, adding in a pointed dig at Saudi Arabia: “We should not forget about those who finance terrorism.”

Putin went on to question if Pakistani President Musharraf had done enough to stabilize the area, noting: ”What can happen with armies, arms, weapons that exist in Pakistan, including weapons of mass destruction?”

What Putin was saying was that while America’s mind was on Iraq, the terrorists against whom they had solemnly declared war together after September 11, 2001,were getting away.

The allusion to the Saudis as financiers of al Qaeda (Read separate article: Saudi Interior Minister’s fund enriches al Qaeda’s war chest) was not lost on Bush; nor the suggestion that the Pakistan ruler is secretly promoting Islamic terrorist operations in Kashmir. Russian intelligence, like many other undercover agencies, including that of Israel, do not rule out the possibility of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, military strength and weapons falling into the hands of al Qaeda in certain circumstances. Putin’s query, translated in terms of the concerns in Jerusalem, would be: What if Saddam Hussein hands over weapons of mass destruction to al Qaeda or the Palestinians?

The Russian leader’s blunt words to Bush were undoubtedly aimed at making his war in Chechnya more acceptable to the West. He is also worried about the damaging effect of the Iraqi war to the frail Russian economy. At the same time, Putin put his finger on a disturbing point: The roots of terror are being allowed to flourish, especially in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, while America focuses on fighting Saddam Hussein – instead of coming to grips with both menaces.

In recent weeks, DEBKAfile and DEBKA-Net-Weekly have exposed certain developments in this regard: