Arafat Grows Increasingly Irrelevant
Vol: 2 Issue: 26 Monday, November 26, 2001
Israeli intelligence sources have concluded “Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat does not appear to be part of the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” They point to discussions within the Palestinian leadership of a post-Arafat strategy.
According to Israeli intelligence, pressure on Arafat has increased in four separate areas: 1) Popular support continues to grow for terror groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad; 2) Senior Palestinian leadership within his administration have lost faith in Arafat as he searches for a way to balance his promises of recognition of Israel made to the Israelis with his promises to his people to drive them into the sea; 3) Military pressure from the Israelis against senior members of Hamas, Tanzim and al-Fatah; 4) Diminished support from Europe who has begun to realize Arafat really has been lying to them. Arafat’s days are clearly numbered and Israeli internal security is urging Ariel Sharon to start cultivating relationships with senior Palestinian political figures most likely to replace him.
German Arms Merchants Scrap Marketing Blitz
Germany has scrapped a plan to market weapons to the Middle East. The scrapped plan was originally part of Germany’s drive to increase arms exports and reduce the nation’s military surplus. Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping intended to offer allies in the Middle East and other regions surplus combat jets, main battle tanks and naval vessels.
The ministry had published a 46-page weapons catalogue that included Soviet-made weapons deployed in the former East Germany. They included the MiG-29, submarines, 699 Leopard 1A5 tanks and other model tanks. Most of those weapons were intended to go to NATO allies but the majority of the customers lining up at the window were the Arab states of the Middle East.
Saudis Beefing Up Military
Saudi leaders are pledging to increase support for the military as internal unrest continues to erode their grip on power. Saudi Arabia, the seat of the supposedly benign Islamic faith, is facing a hugh popular backlash due to the mere rumor they might be considering aiding the US war on terror.
Saudi defense chiefs have been touring military bases around the kingdom and meeting with both senior and junior officers. Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz has told military units and graduation ceremonies around the kingdom that human resources are the most important element in the military. In an effort to maintain support within the military, they are promising officers better training and more money.
Rather than admitting to the increasing threat to the royal family’s grip on power, the tours are being described as a Saudi review of military assets to ensure readiness amid increasing tension in the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia is the seat of Islam. Unrest there reverberates through the Islamic world.
It is estimated that as much as ten percent of global Islam is of the militant variety. While it doesn’t sound like much of a threat, 10% of 1.2 billion Muslims equals 120 million card-carrying enemies of Western culture. Unrest in the Islamic kingdom could increase unrest among Islamic militants even as it increases the ranks of their membership.
Saudis Strike More Oil
Another reason for the West to watch the developing unrest in the Saudi kingdom is the fact they continue to grow in importance in terms of the global energy supply. They found new pockets of oil and natural gas reserves near the Ghawar field in the eastern portion of the kingdom 240 kilometers southeast of Riyad. Ghawar is regarded as the world’s largest oil field.
The find by the state-owned Saudi Aramco was the ninth in the eastern province. The previous strike went online in June, and now produces 1,100 barrels of crude and 1.6 million cubic feet of natural gas daily. The more they have in the global market share, the more influence the Saudis have over the global marketplace. And among the OPEC members.
Lebanon Competes With Iraq As Priority Target
Although all the signals suggest Iraq is the next target of the US war on terror, high on this list of potentials is Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. It is situated half way between Beirut and Damascus, the capitals of Lebanon and Syria. The Bekaa Valley is known principally for two products: hashish and terrorists.
The Bekaa valley is in Lebanese territory but controlled by drug barons and the Syrian army, which took over parts of it in 1976.
For the past 20 years the Bekaa valley has been the military base for Hezbollah, the ‘Party of God’ and leading Islamist organization in Lebanon. Hezbollah built training camps there, using the valley to prepare for attacks on the occupying Israeli force in south Lebanon. It eventually forced the Israelis to withdraw in 2000.
Strikes against the Bekaa Valley would be tantamount to strikes against both Syria and Iran. Since most of the strikes by Hezbollah are aimed at Israel, US action would be seen across the Islamic world as US action on Israel’s behalf.