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NON-ARAB STATE MAY BE NEXT TARGET IN TERROR WAR. 

1
AllPuntland(NEWS) Kala xiriir editor@allpuntland.com 
November 22 , 2001
Posted to the AllPuntland.com  November 23, 20 01

By DEBORAH ORIN
November 22, 2001
-- Inside Washington

TEAM Bush keeps making it clear that "eventually" it will go after Iraq's Saddam Hussein, but there's growing talk that the president wants his next target in the terror war to be a non-Arab state.

For starters, that makes it easier for Bush to push the Mideast peace process forward. It also makes it easier for him to argue this is a war on terror rather than a war on Arabs or Islam.

That's why there's growing speculation Bush may next target Somalia, Sudan or Islamic terrorists in the Philippines.

"What the administration is doing in the Mideast now is a two-track strategy," says military analyst Dan Goure, noting Secretary of State Colin Powell's bid to re-launch Mideast peace talks this week.

"The message to the Saudis is that we are going to push for Mideast peace as they want - but the quid pro quo is that we are also going to go after the Iraqis," said Goure.

He noted Bush needs to get the reluctant Saudis to allow use of military bases there to go after Iraq.

Goure figures the clock may already be ticking toward a spring start of action against Iraq, so the question is what moves Bush might make in the interim.

While it is clear Bush is already working out the next move, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said yesterday America should wait to get Afghanistan stabilized "before we talk about anything else."

Many analysts say Somalia could be a Bush target because it has clear ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network and is another lawless state of warlords, but not an Arab nation. And, like Afghanistan, it wouldn't pose real threats to U.S. air power.

Attacking terror bases in Somalia would also offer a chance to avenge the humiliating al Qaeda-plotted killing of 18 American soldiers in 1993 - which prompted then-President Bill Clinton to yank U.S. troops.

Sudan has long had terror ties to bin Laden, who used it as his base from 1991-96. Right now, Sudan is seeking to reach out to the West.

To many analysts, Lebanon is right at the heart of worldwide terror - the Bekaa Valley has been a training ground for decades - but it's an Arab state right in the center of any Mideast peace effort.

Islamic terrorists in the Philippines clearly are an attractive target because they aren't Arabs, the Philippines are predominantly Roman Catholic, and the government is a close U.S. ally.

Bush and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld this week revealed America is already helping the Philippines - "great allies," Bush said - battle the al Qaeda-linked terror group, Abu Sayef.

Still, it was quite intriguing how quickly Rumsfeld segued from the war on terror in the Philippines right back to the old nemesis - Iraq.

"There is no question but that there has been a good deal of interaction between the terrorists in the Philippines and al Qaeda and people in Iraq," Rumsfeld said.

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