Published on September 11, 2001
By: George Friedman
Source: Stratfor Worldview
The big winner today, intended or not, is the state of Israel.
Israel has been under siege by suicide bombers for more than a year. It has responded by waging a systematic war against Palestinian command structures. The international community, particularly the United States, has pressured Israel heavily to stop its operations. The argument has been made that the threat of suicide bombings, though real, does not itself constitute a genuine threat to Israeli national security and should not trigger the kind of response Israel is making.
Today’s events change all of this.
First, the United States no longer can argue that Israel should endure the bombings. Moving forward, the domestic American political mood simply won’t tolerate such a stance.
Second, Israel now becomes, once again, an indispensable ally to the United States. The United States is obviously going to launch a massive covert and overt war against the international radical Islamic movement that is assumed to be behind this attack. Not only does this align U.S. and Israeli interests but it also makes the United States dependent on the Israelis — whose intelligence capabilities in this area as well as covert operational capabilities are clearly going to be needed.
There is no question, therefore, that the Israeli leadership is feeling relief. Given that pressures for Israel to restrain operations against the Palestinian Authority and other Palestinian groups will decline dramatically, it might be expected that Yasser Arafat, anticipating this evolution, will rapidly change his position on suicide bombings and become more accommodating to Israel. In effect, today’s events have wrecked Arafat’s nearly successful drive to split the United States from Israel.
Given that the bombers are not fools, they undoubtedly understood that this would be a consequence. Their reasoning appears to be that of Lenin: “Better fewer, but better.” In other words, they see Arafat and many others in the Arab world as weak and indecisive. They are prepared to split the Arab world between two camps in which they — though smaller and weaker — hold the imagination of the Islamic masses as well as control the tempo of events.
The greatest question right now is this: Which Islamic state was involved in the attack? We suspect that there was such involvement. The sophistication required means of communication and transport available only to states. Afghanistan does not have the international facilities needed. We assume that Sudanese and Iraqi diplomatic communications and transport are both too closely monitored to be useful. If that is true, what other nation provided support facilities for this operation? Answering that question speaks to the future of the region.
George Friedman is the founder and chairman of STRATFOR, the global intelligence company.