US President George W. Bush’s policy speech Monday, June 26, told Yasser Arafat in the bluntest terms to go – or be dumped. He acted on a disclosure in a new US intelligence report that further established Arafat’s direct complicity in Palestinian suicide terrorism and revealed he had secretly created a new command center to handle strikes against American as well as Israeli targets. (See HOT POINTS for June 25 below.)
The same message went out – albeit implicitly – to every Middle East and Gulf leader whom the US president deemed to have opted for the wrong (i.e. “evil”) side of the battle lines in the US-led global war against terrorism.
His unspoken message covered more ground than his words
A. The Saudi rulers received the loudest signal, although the oil kingdom was not mentioned once.
B. The rest of the region’s rulers were also informed, by way of the call to the Palestinians to choose different leaders, that any who stood in the way of the US-led campaign against terror risked sharing the Palestinian leader’s fate.
C. Iran and Syria were ordered to terminate their sponsorship of terrorists or face American music.
D. The American masterplan charting new national and political borders for the Middle East and Gulf was launched. That plan was laid out before regional leaders by vice president Dick Cheney during his 11-stop tour in mid-March.
(See DEBKA-Net-Weekly No. 54, March 12, 2002: Cheney’s Tour – Iraq Offensive Is Delayed, New Maps in ME Sands.).
In tough face-to-face encounters with Middle East and Persian Gulf leaders, Cheney first laid the US ultimatum on the line: Carry out these actions, or it will be all the worse for you.
As DEBKA-Net-Weekly reported at the time, he warned that American action against the countries on Bush’s bad-guy list would not be limited to toppling their leaders and governments. A regional metamorphosis, a clean sweep, had been drafted, entailing the redrawing of state borders and the inception of new national entities.
Iraq, for instance, stood to be trisected into three self-governing states under a loose federal government. Cheney even hinted at Saudi Arabia being partitioned and losing control of its oil fields to non-Saudi elements in the region.
Since March, the Bush administration keeping score of the nay-sayers in the volatile Middle East-Gulf region, now counts Saudi Arabia as well as the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Bahrain and Lebanon as squarely in the opposition camp. Arafat’s Palestinian Authority is high on the list while Egypt is half in and half out. Iraq and Iran are constant foes. They regard any American action as an assault to weaken them militarily and economically.
The Bush policy speech therefore, aside from the dealing with the Palestinian issue, signposted America’s intentions regarding those equally noncompliant:
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources in Washington, the Middle East and the Gulf confirm the main points of the US plan of action:
1. To eradicate all terrorist organizations, include al-Qaeda.
2. To block their indirect and direct financial sources of revenue from governmental and welfare bodies, whether private, national, religious, cultural, medical or international; to destroy their logistical and recruitment bases in the countries that harbor them.
3. To tighten controls on the flow of funds to terrorist groups and their allies from state-owned and private banks as well as financial institutions.
4. To clean up religious, educational, media and cultural institutions, expunging their terrorist-support and indoctrination programs.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources in Washington and capitals in the Middle East and Gulf review, one by one, the military and domestic realities prevailing in these uncooperative countries as pointers to this summer’s scenarios: