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

May 25, 2003

The Big Picture

The US is recreating the Middle East

A few weeks ago I took an optimistic line on what was going on in the Middle East and beyond. DebkaFile has now come out with a very important progress report on the US moves with respect to Syria and Iran. To my mind it is only a matter of time (months) for the US to bring these two to heel. This would be great news for Israel and America.
The Bush administration is engaged in one of the most sensitive and ambitious geo-strategic projects ever undertaken by any US presidency - comparable to landmark events like the termination of the Cold War, the opening up of Communist China to the world back in the 1970s and détente with the Communist bloc.

In the short term, the US president hopes to lay the dividends of the Iraq War before the American voter in November 2004. He will want to demonstrate his success in bringing to fruition an ambitious agenda for sweeping regime change and improvement in the volatile Persian Gulf and Middle East and the United States’ elevation to kingpin of these regions in control of its oil resources. At the same time he will be undertaking a similar objective in Central Asia and the Caucasus for the sake of building a strong overarching bridge linking the Middle East to the Indian subcontinent and China.

With Saddam Hussein gone, the United States can assemble the modular bricks of its policies, building them on the bedrock of the victory in Iraq.

The main stumbling block in the Bush administration’s postwar path is Iran.

In keeping with its star role in Bush’s axis of evil, Iran is pressing ahead with a not so hush-hush nuclear weapons program. It is also conducting undercover negotiations with fellow axis-member, North Korea, for the purchase of one or two off-the-shelf nuclear bombs (as first revealed in DEBKA-Net-Weekly No. 82, October 25, 2002). Teheran’s support for such terrorist gangs as Al Qaeda, Hizballah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is just shy of blatant and it is sparing no effort to set up terrorist and subversive networks among Iraq’s Shiites.

Nonetheless, this year, the Bush administration managed to negotiate a series of secret agreements, mostly on military and terrorism issues. Under those deals, Iran agreed to keep its forces out of northern Iraq before, during and after the U.S.-led war. After the fighting began, Iranian Revolutionary Guards helped US and British forces take the Faw peninsula and the southern city of Basra. During the war, Iranian naval and air forces prevented Iraqi terrorist attacks in Gulf waters. After initial attempts at subversion, Iran helped the Americans calm a jittery Shiite populace and persuade their Iraqi coreligionists to accept limited cooperation with US forces in Najaf, Karbala and Baghdad.

In Lebanon, Iran barred the Hizballah from carrying out cross-border terrorist raids.

All these concessions boiled down to a message to the United States: Look what we are prepared to do for you – it would be worth your while for us to talk.
I urge you to read the whole article. It is very important.