By MICHAEL COLLINS DUNN
Michael Collins Dunn, Ph.D., is editor of The Middle East Journal, a
scholarly quarterly published by The Middle East Institute, and also editor
and publisher of The Estimate, a biweekly newsletter of political and
security intelligence on the region.
The year 2000 may be remembered as the year when many of the assumptions
held by all parties in the Middle East, and many of the relationships
forged in the crisis and 19901991 war that followed Iraq's invasion
of Kuwait, began to come apart. The Israeli-Palestinian peace process,
which had its first tentative beginnings in the Madrid Peace Conference
of 1991 just after the war, spun out of control, leaving grave doubt about
the future. Then, in December, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak announced
his resignation and called for a special election in February.
The United States and its British ally found themselves increasingly
isolated on the issue of enforcement of sanctions against Iraq, as more
and more European and Arab countries sent "humanitarian" flights
into Baghdad and called for a lifting of sanctions. Finally, a U.S. military
presence in the Gulf region that had become almost routine since 1991--interception
of vessels to enforce U.N. sanctions, continued patrols over the northern
and southern no-fly zones, and air strikes against violations--was catapulted
to the front pages with the 12 October attack on the USS Cole (DDG 67)
in Aden harbor in Yemen, killing 17 U.S. Sailors and wounding 39.
The sophistication of the planning and the attack suggested the involvement
of a skilled network such as that of Usama bin Ladin, but the fact was
that the situation in the region was sufficiently unstable that there
were other possibilities on the suspect list: pro-Iraqi or pro-Iranian
elements, Palestinian elements sympathetic with the uprising at home,
and others opposed to the U.S. presence in the region. It was the careful
planning and the sophistication of the bomb, not a shortage of other suspects,
that seemed to point to bin Ladin. The Yemen government arrested several
suspects on 7 December, and "insider" reports said that one
or more had admitted ties to bin Ladin. A trial is scheduled for January,
but it seems unlikely that all of many unanswered questions will be resolved
at that time.
For much of the decade following the Gulf War the U.S. position in the
region has been little changed, and U.S. policy has concentrated primarily
on maintaining the isolation of Saddam Hussein and enforcing the sanctions
against Iraq, while also promoting the Arab-Israeli peace process. By
the end of October 2000, both of those goals seemed to be unraveling--and
that, in turn, may raise the threat level against U.S. forces in the region.
Because the most visible development in the region in the past year was
the attack on the Cole, it is worth examining that event in some detail
and placing it in the context of the overall U.S. policy in the region
before surveying the more general developments of the past year.
The Attack on the Cole
USS Cole, an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis guided-missile destroyer, deployed
from Norfolk on 8 August 2000, en route to join the maritime operations
enforcing the U.N. sanctions in the "northern Arabian Gulf."
From 20 August until 9 October she engaged in operations in the Mediterranean
and made several port visits there. She transited the Suez Canal on 9
October. The distance from Suez to the Gulf region is some 3,300 miles.
Because reductions in the overall size of the Navy have seen a corresponding
cutback in fleet oilers (from more than 30 during the Cold War to only
21 today), Navy policy has been that a single unaccompanied vessel does
not have to be accompanied by an oiler during transit. Which is why the
Cole was required to make a "brief stop for fuel" in Aden, Yemen,
where the Navy has had a bunkering contract since 1999.
Following standard fleet practice, the Cole developed a security plan
for the refueling operation and filed a logistics request to the port;
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (USNAVCENT) then filed for the necessary
diplomatic clearances. The Cole arrived at the port on 12 October, and
moored to an offshore refueling dolphin at 0849 local time. Refueling
began at 1031. The attack occurred at 1118, when a small craft came alongside.
(An initial report, suggesting that the small craft had been one of a
number of boats involved in the mooring itself, was subsequently corrected;
the attack occurred well after the mooring.)
Although the exact sequence of events was still being investigated as
of early December, early reports suggested that, in order to avoid a diplomatic
incident in a busy harbor, the armed Sailors on the deck of the Cole refrained
from immediately opening fire when the small craft first approached. Whatever
the reason, the result was a massive explosion and the casualties that
Controversy arose immediately after the attack on the Cole. Because Yemen
has previously been characterized by the U.S. government as a "safe
haven" for certain terrorist groups, some critics asked, reasonably,
why it was being used as a refueling stop by a U.S. warship en route to
the Gulf to enforce sanctions. The same critics have suggested that the
decision to refuel in Yemen was part of an effort to encourage "engagement"
with the Yemeni government, and was thus decided upon more for political
than for military reasons. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services
Committee on 19 October, only one week after the attack, Marine Gen. Anthony
Zinni, former commander in chief of the U.S. Central Command, took responsibility
for the decision--but also defended it; in subsequent testimony, Army
Gen. Tommy R. Franks, Zinni's successor as CINCCENT, did the same.
Aden is one of the better ports in the region. For vessels coming down
the Red Sea to the Arabian Gulf, it is an ideal refueling site--it rose
to prominence, after all, as the British Empire's primary coaling station
between Suez and India. The fact that refueling tanks are located out
in the harbor and not onshore was seen, at the time, as an added security
With fewer refueling vessels now available a U.S. Navy ship coming into
the area from the Red Sea usually has to refuel in a port. Zinni said
that he could not keep an oiler in the Red Sea unless he borrowed one
from the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, and that, because of ongoing
operations in Kosovo and other commitments, that might not have been possible.
The alternatives to Aden for refueling in any port in the region are
few. Prior to switching to Aden for refueling in January 1999, the United
States had, for more than a decade, been depending on Djibouti at the
western end of the Gulf of Aden. But, as Franks put it, Djibouti "began
to deteriorate as a useful port because of the Ethiopia-Eritrea war. This
war caused increased force-protection concerns for our ships, as well
as congestion in the port resulting in operational delays." In Zinni's
words: "We were interested in terminating that contract [with Djibouti]
because, at that time, the threat conditions were far worse [than in Aden].
The port [Djibouti] was extremely busy, [there were] many small boats,
[and] the conditions ashore and in the government were not satisfactory."
There are not many alternatives to Djibouti in either the Red Sea or
in the Gulf of Aden. Jidda in Saudi Arabia is a busy commercial port,
and the Saudis are highly sensitive about the American presence elsewhere
in the Kingdom. In addition, as Zinni noted in his testimony, the Riyadh
and al-Khobar bombings against American personnel were among the factors
considered when the decision to move from Djibouti was made.
There are not that many other options. Sudan is unfriendly. Until recently,
Ethiopia and Eritrea are at war with one another. Somalia, of course,
is a failed state where the United States has already learned too many
lessons. Other than Aden, the only remaining port convenient to the Red
Sea/Arabian Gulf region is Salalah in Oman--which was still under development
at the time the decision was made and, Zinni suggested, is too far east.
East African ports farther down the coast also are too far away and, since
the 1998 bombings in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, would
pose too many security questions.
The entire CENTCOM region is, after all, one where security threats against
American forces are considered high. The only country in CENTCOM's area
of responsibility (AOR) that did not pose a major security threat during
his tenure, Zinni noted, was the Seychelles, far off in the Indian Ocean.
As of December 1998, Franks noted, 14 of the 20 countries in CENTCOM's
AOR were characterized as "High Threat."
In these circumstances, Aden appeared to be the best of a bad lot. The
refueling facilities are offshore, Zinni noted. Moreover, he had "visited
every one of these ports ... and done port surveys. I went into a launch
in Aden with the harbor master and the director of the port and personally
surveyed that port and surveyed those bunkering facilities." The
end result was the decision, reluctant as it might have been, to use Aden.
Meanwhile, U.S.-Yemeni relations had been improving. The West had considered
Yemen pro-Iraq during the Gulf War, and relations had cooled. U.S. forces
in Somalia did use Aden in 1992 for some of their staging, but military
relations remained cool until 1995, after the Yemen Civil War of 1994.
U.S. military assistance to Aden resumed in 1996. In April 1997, a U.S.
interagency working group focused on improving U.S.-Yemeni relations,
and the guided-missile frigate USS Halyburton (FFG 40) made the first
visit to Aden by a U.S. naval vessel since 1969.
In 1998 a number of senior U.S. military officers visited Aden, including
Vice Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, now the four-star commander in chief of the
U.S. Pacific Fleet, but then commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command
(USNAVCENT). Because the United States was actively seeking a replacement
for Djibouti, a fuels team from the Defense Energy Support Center surveyed
Aden as a possible refueling site, and CENTCOM's joint security directorate
carried out an assessment of the port's security vulnerabilities. The
end result was that the U.S. and Yemeni governments signed contracts providing
for the refueling of U.S. naval vessels in Aden.
Navy ships actually began refueling in Aden in January 1999, making brief
stops for fuel (BSFs); the contracts were in place by June of that same
year. From January of 1999 through the visit of the USS Cole, various
Navy ships made 27 brief stops for fuel as well as two port visits and
one logistics replenishment visit, according to Franks.
Aden was not the only port available for refueling: Jidda and Djibouti,
among others, were still available, but the contract with Yemen made Aden
the preferred location.
According to Franks, "no specific threat information" about
Yemen or Aden had been provided to the Navy at the time of the Cole visit;
had there been, the visit would not have been made. (The Senate hearings
also addressed reports that one Defense Intelligence Agency analyst resigned
because his superiors did not pass on a suggested warning.)
In the wake of the attack on the Cole, Secretary of Defense William S.
Cohen named retired Gen. William W. Crouch, former vice chief of staff
of the Army, and Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr., former commander in chief,
Joint Forces Command, to review all aspects of the 12 October attack and
submit as comprehensive a list of "findings and recommendations"
as might be possible under the still-uncertain circumstances. A separate
Navy Judge Advocate General investigation will focus on the role played
by the Cole's commanding officer and crew.
The United States also sent investigators from a wide range of agencies
to search for evidence of the guilty parties, and a joint task force--commanded
by Rear Adm. Mark Fitzgerald and codenamed "Determined Response"--coordinated
recovery and support efforts. The Navy ships participating were the USS
Donald Cook, USS Hawes, USS Camden, USS Tarawa, USS Anchorage, and USS
Duluth, as well as the fleet ocean tug USNS Catawba. The Tarawa, Duluth,
and Anchorage constituted an amphibious ready group (ARG) to provide additional
Meanwhile, the chartered Norwegian heavy-lift ship Blue Marlin picked
up and transported the Cole back to the Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding yard
in Pascagoula, Miss., where extensive repairs and perhaps some upgrading
will be completed before the badly damaged ship is once again fully operational.
Dangers Inherent in the Mission
Critics will undoubtedly continue to ask whether the Cole should have
refueled in Aden, but the points made by Zinni and Franks are valid: (a)
other ports in the region posed at least as great a potential security
threat, and in many cases were considerably less secure than Aden; and
(b) with fewer oilers now available refueling at sea is not as ready an
option as it was only a decade earlier.
Other points to consider:
* Ever since Desert Storm, the United States has continued to maintain
a major military presence, usually through the Central Command, in the
Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf region.
* U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps aircraft maintain Operation
Southern Watch over the no-fly zone in southern Iraq, and, operating from
Turkey, carry out the parallel Operation Northern Watch over northern
* The U.S. Navy and Royal Navy enforce the U.N. sanctions against Iraq
by intercepting suspect shipping in the Gulf and adjacent waters.
The Navy units assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command make up
about 70 percent of the total CENTCOM forces deployed in the area. The
Navy contingent normally consists of one aircraft carrier battle group
and one ARG, along with logistical and other support and a submarine presence
of varying size. These forces are frequently augmented in times of potential
U.S. naval forces in the region are under the operational command of
the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain. The carriers come from
both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets and provide a far greater, and far
more visible, presence than the "over-the-horizon" deployments
of the 1980s. The downside is that its higher profile and forward deployment
in the Gulf make the United States a more tempting, and easier, natural
target for its enemies in the region.
After the bombing attacks on U.S. personnel in Riyadh and al-Khobar in
Saudi Arabia, U.S. Air Force personnel in Saudi Arabia were redeployed
to Prince Sultan Airbase, located in a remote desert oasis. No such desert
redeployments are available to Navy forces in the Gulf, a shallow and
narrow sea. Among the "high-risk" alerts following the attack
on the Cole were warnings of imminent threats both in Bahrain, the Fifth
Fleet headquarters, and in neighboring Qatar. If nothing else, the attack
on the Cole proves that it is not only the regular ports of call in the
Gulf, but any port between there and the United States where U.S. naval
vessels may prove vulnerable. U.S. ports are not 100 percent safe, either--nor
are U.S. cities, as the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombings
In a high-threat environment like the Gulf and adjoining waters, there
is no absolute protection against terrorist attack in any case. Nor is
there anywhere else in the world, for that matter. Although there had
been some cases of Iranian Revolutionary Guards using small boats to attack
tanker traffic during the Iran-Iraq war and the Kuwait reflagging crisis
of 1988, there had never before been an actual terrorist attack against
an armed U.S. warship comparable to the attack on the Cole. The U.S. Navy's
force-protection plans almost always consider both frogman and small-boat
operations as potential threats, but no such attacks had been made before.
As of early December, and despite the arrests made on 7 December, it
was still unclear if the attack on the Cole was directly related to other
events in the region, particularly the new Palestinian uprising and the
clashes between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Those events certainly
raised the emotional level of the entire region, and helped spur some
anti-American feeling in the Arab "street." But the type of
explosive used and the sophistication of the plan suggest that the attack
on the Cole was put in train long before the outbreak of violence between
Israel and the Palestinians. That violence was not quite two weeks old
when the Cole was attacked, probably insufficient time to have been the
real genesis of the plot. (Since, as noted, the United States had a refueling
contract in Aden, the plotters need not have been waiting for the Cole,
but merely for the next U.S. warship to enter Aden harbor.)
Growing Distrust of U.S. Policy
What is clear is that the U.S. position in the region, and in the Gulf
in particular, is now more controversial than it was just a few years
ago. With the exception of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which face the most
immediate threat from a resurgent Iraq, most of the Arab world--including
the smaller Arab Gulf states--has been increasingly critical of the impact
on the Iraqi people of the sanctions imposed on Iraq, and nervous about
their own populations' reactions to the continuing American military presence.
It is one thing to respond, as the United States correctly does, that
Saddam Hussein is himself responsible for the suffering of his people.
Iraq is exporting oil under the oil-for-food program and is producing
at or close to its capacity; the resultant food and medicine imports should
be used to alleviate the suffering--but, apparently, are not being so
But that argument does not alter the fact that public opinion in the
Arab world, at least outside of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, has turned strongly
against the sanctions--not out of sympathy with Saddam Hussein (although
that exists in many places), but out of humanitarian concerns. Although
the Arab world is not democratic in the Western sense, few governments
are strong enough to ignore public opinion entirely; Saddam's government
is one of the few. The concerns of the Arab street are therefore readily
translated into governmental concerns.
By the latter part of 2000, humanitarian flights into Baghdad (some by
celebrities and sports stars that were more media events than charity)
were becoming frequent. The flights began with Russian and French aircraft,
but soon most of the Arab world was competing to fly to Iraq, including
such close U.S. friends as Egypt, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Few of these flights actually violated the U.N. restrictions, because
they did not carry embargoed goods, but the United States opposes such
flights on principle.
Russia's Aeroflot and some other airlines began to speak of resuming
regularly scheduled flights into Iraq. And when violence erupted between
Israel and the Palestinians in late September, the two issues became intermingled.
Egypt permitted its first flight to Baghdad after a 12-year-old Palestinian
boy had been killed in Gaza.
Not surprisingly, Saddam Hussein is capitalizing on these events. There
were reports during the year suggesting that he might be planning new
moves against Kuwait--or against the autonomous Kurdish region, or even
against Jordan--but Iraq has been generally well-behaved, apparently recognizing
that the sympathy of Europeans and other Arabs for its suffering under
the sanctions is being translated into a growing chorus of calls for the
"normalization" of relations. Saddam Hussein has continued to
challenge the United States and Britain in the "no-fly" zones,
and the United States has continued to respond by attacking Iraqi radars
and air-defense targets. But this continuing low-grade conflict receives
little attention, even in the United States, having been more or less
The wave of flights to Iraq added to the erosion of sanctions, and there
was an increasing realization that, with the world already suffering from
high oil prices--and with Iraq, through the oil-for-food program (and
considerable smuggling) now producing near its capacity--Saddam actually
has a new weapon he can wield: Should Iraq suddenly cut production, he
could provoke a major spike in oil prices.
It also helped Saddam's cause that, in October of 2000, when a Saudi
airliner with British passengers aboard was hijacked to Baghdad, Iraq
quickly released all the passengers as well as the aircraft (though it
did not return the hijackers). In short, the Iraqis have been winning
friends just about everywhere but in the United States, and appear reluctant
to interfere with that trend by creating trouble. (That policy does not
preclude covert action, however, and some suspected an Iraqi role in the
attack on the Cole--which was, after all, on her way to enforce the sanctions
Travelers to the Middle East during the new uprisings in the Palestinian
territories have reported that anti-Americanism in the Arab street is
at a higher level than it had been for many years--perhaps more than at
any time since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. This general impression seems
to be as true in such friendly countries as Egypt and even Saudi Arabia
as it is in traditionally hostile states. The Palestinian uprising has
brought deeply seated emotions to the surface and, because many in the
Arab world see the United States as Israel's primary patron, has fueled
the already existing concerns about U.S. treatment of Iraq and other issues.
Even in friendly countries, it raises the level of potential threats to
The Peace Process
The Arab-Israeli peace process, or at least the Israeli-Palestinian component
of it, was a veritable shambles by late in 2000. The two sides naturally
blame each other, and historians will no doubt disagree for a very long
time. Most Israelis seem convinced that Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered
the Palestinians more at Camp David in July 2000 than any Israeli leader
has ever even hinted at before, and yet the Palestinians rejected the
offer and took to the streets. Most Palestinians insist on the other hand
that Israeli unwillingness to yield on the question of Jerusalem caused
the collapse, and they reject any compromise on what they consider their
The Palestinian people as a whole have long been frustrated by the fact
that the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA)--and the consistent
transfer of control of Palestinian cities to the PA--has so far meant
little insofar as improving their daily life. In fact, because Israel
has controlled traffic between the cities, travel has been more difficult
than before the Oslo peace process began. Most Palestinians, moreover,
have seen their standard of living decline consistently through the 1990s.
It already has been widely reported that Yasser Arafat warned both Barak
and U.S. President Bill Clinton that an effort to achieve a final peace
at Camp David should not be rushed into, and that Arafat himself preferred
another interim agreement. In that context, the effort to make Camp David
a "final status" summit seems in retrospect to have been very
ill-advised. The problem with the Oslo process from the beginning has
been that it deferred all the really difficult issues to the end. When
"the end" finally arrived, it seemed inevitable that any effort
to resolve all of the most intransigent questions--Jerusalem, the Jewish
settlements, the return of refugees--in a single long-running summit at
Camp David would be bound to fail. And that is exactly what happened.
It certainly is true that Arafat and the Palestinian Authority allowed
the violence to begin after Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon made
his well-publicized visit to the site the Israelis call the Temple Mount
and Muslims call al-Haram al-Sharif. Given the emotional situation at
the time and the apparent failure of the peace process, Sharon's visit
seemed to the Palestinians--and to many neutral observers--to have been
predictably provocative. Israel's sharp response to the violence escalated
matters further, of course.
By early December there appeared to be no quick or easy way to end the
cycle of violence, and the peace process seemed on indeterminate hold.
In fact, since the Oslo process failed to produce the "final status"
settlement it envisioned, it is now probably safe to say that the Oslo
process itself is at an end, and that some new approach, some new formula,
will have to be found in the future. How and when will depend on how Israel's
domestic political situation evolves and what happens in the streets,
but an era of relative progress may now be yielding to an era of confrontation.
The fact that Barak felt compelled, after only 18 months in office, to
resign and call for new elections--in mid-February--was a clear sign of
how Israel's own political situation has changed in recent months. There
are numerous other complicating factors, of course, related to the overall
Israeli-Palestinian situation and its linked Israeli-Lebanese and Israeli-Syrian
dimensions, but one thing seems clear. After several years in which local
and regional issues had replaced "the Palestinian problem" in
the minds of many Arab leaders from Morocco to the Gulf, the events of
September, October, and November 2000 have catapulted the Israeli-Palestinian
issue back into the forefront of policy concerns throughout the region.
That, in turn, complicates U.S. relations with the Arab states, because
even the friendliest among them tend to believe that the United States
is too supportive of Israel.
Leadership Changes Continue
As noted in last year's Almanac of Seapower, 1999 was the year when a
long-predicted generational change in the Arab world began, starting with
the deaths of the long-reigning Kings of Jordan and Morocco and the Amir
of Bahrain, each of whom was succeeded by a son with a new generational
outlook. In 2000, another of the old guard passed from the scene: Syria's
Hafez al-Assad, who died on 10 June. Syria then became the first Arab
republic to see a succession by primogeniture when his son, Bashar, was
chosen the new president. Bashar, another young leader in his thirties,
trained in Britain to be an ophthalmologist, but was retrained for leadership
when his older brother Basil was killed in a car accident. During his
first few months, at least, Bashar seemed to be enjoying the support of
Syria's complex ruling elites in the military and security services.
The generational changes are certain to continue. Sheikh Zayed of the
United Arab Emirates is in his eighties, and a number of other leaders--in
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority--are in their
seventies; in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia the heirs apparent also are in their
seventies, and in Kuwait the Crown Prince is in poor health. So is Arafat,
who suffers from a number of ailments. There also have been persistent
rumors that Saddam Hussein may be suffering from lymphatic cancer. In
any event, the actuarial tables alone guarantee further changes of leadership
in the Arab world over the next few years.
Fortunately, several of the new generation of leaders already have begun
to make their mark. King Abdullah II of Jordan has shown some of his father's
flair for leadership; King Muhammad VI of Morocco fired his powerful interior
minister and has sought to give himself a more progressive image; and
Sheikh Hamad of Bahrain has slowly sought to liberalize his island nation's
political life. Finally, another member of the new generation, the young
Amir of Qatar, also named Sheikh Hamad, has continued the political liberalization
he began after overthrowing his father in 1995.
Iran: Power and Progress
Elsewhere in the region, Iran's struggle between its reformers and hardliners
has continued to evolve. The reform successes at the polls, which began
with the landslide election of President Mohammad Khatami in 1997, continued
with a strong showing in the 2000 elections for the Majles (Parliament).
But, while the reformers win all the elections and now control both the
executive and legislative branches, the real power in Iran still lies
with the religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i--and Khamene'i has
frequently put the brakes on reform and backed the hardliners, who also
still control much of the judiciary and all of the security services and
Despite the strong showing of the reformers in the Majles elections,
most pro-reform newspapers have been shut down, and when new ones are
founded they often are short-lived. The combination of power struggle
and culture war continues, and will see yet another test in the 2001 presidential
elections, when Khatami is expected to run for a second (and last) term.
While the domestic debate goes on, Iran continues to open up to the outside
world. It has restored or normalized relations with most Western countries,
except for the United States. Washington and Tehran have made a few tentative
gestures of conciliation in each other's direction, but each also has
a list of issues it insists the other must first act on to facilitate
normalization. Iran's relations with its Arab neighbors also have improved
Another longstanding pariah state, Libya, also has begun to normalize
ties with Europe and other parts of the world--again, with the exception
of the United States, though there have been some tentative talks even
there. Libya finally freed itself from the long-running international
air travel embargo by turning over for trial the two Libyan security officials
blamed by the West for the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie bombing. Many foreign
airlines resumed service to Libya not long after the suspension of U.N.
sanctions, and a number of European companies took steps to do more business
Conclusion: A Changing Environment
If any conclusion is possible in an environment as volatile as that in
the Middle East of late 2000, it is that much of what has been taken for
granted in the past ten years--the isolation of Iraq, the Madrid and then
the Oslo peace processes, the tentative start of a modus vivendi between
Israel and the Palestinians--is now in question. The past year has been
one of metamorphosis, of changing assumptions, changing relationships,
and the end result has been a more difficult political, diplomatic, and
military situation for the United States.
The attack on the Cole may be emblematic of these changed circumstances.
Although attacks on the United States have occurred for years--in Riyadh,
al-Khobar, Nairobi, and Dar Es Salaam--the overall threat environment
has rarely been as high, and U.S. policies have seldom been as unpopular
throughout the region, even in friendly states. There were few signs at
year's end, regrettably, that the situation would not get worse before
it gets better.