The forthcoming Arab League summit conference in Amman on March 27th circles over the Middle East like a bird of ill omen. DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence and Arab sources estimate the Middle East pressures building up in the run-up to the session as unlikely to taper off in its aftermath. One of the key decisions facing the Arab rulers in Amman will be whether to keep the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict localized or to regionalize it by dint of outside Arab intervention, voluntary or coerced.

Our experts pick two likely dates for the next surge of violence: April or May-June 2001. Like most convulsions, a full-scale regional war, if that is the form it takes, will alter the face of regimes, reshuffle rulers and possibly redraw frontiers.

All past Middle East conflagrations have jolted the world economy and global balance of power. Since the United States, Russia and China are deeply involved financially and militarily with some of the potential belligerents, the governments of these powers will not escape untouched either. The spinoff potential may also ripple outward to the Balkans and the Moslem republics of Central Asia, such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgistan, Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan, and even lap at the military balance between Pakistan and India.

Because of the pivotal importance of the forthcoming Arab summit, DEBKA-Net-Weekly is devoting this issue to the hidden undercurrents actuating the dramatis personae of a future confrontation.

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