BY YOSSI MELMAN
One needed to hear Bruce Riedel last week to understand once again that Israel is not the center of the universe. Riedel, who spoke at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said that the most important subject on the foreign affairs agenda of President Barack Obama’s administration is the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Riedel formerly served in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s Tel Aviv station and later was a analyst in the agency’s research directorate and a member of U.S. president Bill Clinton’s National Security Council.
According to Riedel, in the coming weeks Obama will make a decision about a strategy that could decide his fate and determine whether he will win a second term in office.
The reference is to whether he will agree to the demands of the army commanders to send tens of thousands more soldiers into the war against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan.
“Obama inherited a disaster in Afghanistan and it is getting worse,” said Riedel, who was asked by the president a few months ago to look into that issue and offer his advice. “In Afghanistan the Taliban and al-Qaida have the strategic momentum after years of American neglect and they are winning the war.”
Riedel is of the opinion that the most important man today in al-Qaida – an organization he defines as a syndicate along the lines of La Cosa Nostra – is not Osama bin Laden but rather the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar.
If the United States is not able to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan, he believes, this will lead also to the collapse of Pakistan where “a weak civilian government is fighting for its survival against the Frankenstein-like monster [the Taliban and Islamist organizations like Lashkar e-Taibe] that it created.”
The biggest nightmare of the Obama administration is that Pakistan, with its dozens of nuclear warheads, will turn into a jihad state.
“There are already more terrorists per square kilometer there than in any other country in the world,” he says. “A jihadist Pakistan will be the largest terrorist state that has ever been set up,” and will dwarf Libya, Iraq, Syria and Iran.
It is clear that under circumstances like these, the president’s attention to other topics, including involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, will be virtually non-existent. Moreover, the administration in Washington needs Iran if it wishes “to merely stabilize” the situation in Afghanistan. Iran can cause trouble and make the lives of the American soldiers in Afghanistan even more miserable, he says.
With this in mind, it seems that the Israelis who pin their hopes on the United States leading a military move against Iran because of its nuclearization, merely have pipe dreams.
Ofer Reichman recently received good news from the Israel Police: The investigation against him has been closed because of lack of guilt. He had suffered a delay of justice for more than four years in the wake of the suspicions raised against him and other private investigators in what was known as “the Trojan horse affair.”
Reichman was arrested together with other security officers and private investigators and interrogated by police officers, some of whom he knew from joint operations. A short while before his arrest, Reichman had left the Shin Bet security service and joined Cellcom as the company’s director of commercial intelligence. Until then, he had been a senior Shin Bet investigator for years and, among other things, participated in the interrogation of the spies Shabtai Kalmanowitz and Shimon Levinson, and of the Mossad operative, Yehuda, who was convicted of fabricating reports about a Syrian general who was an agent.
From the outset, Reichman claimed that he was not guilty and did not know about the espionage software that was planted in the computers, and that he certainly had not ordered or requested that it be operated for him to collect information against business rivals of Cellcom. The police interrogators did not believe him, and the media, including yours truly, went wild with articles about his arrest with quite a bit of malicious delight.
In the end, the state prosecution decided to close the cases against most of the suspects, including Reichman. Some of them, including the private investigator Zvi Krochmal, the CEO of Modi’in Ezrahi, Yitzhak Rath, and others, were convicted and received prison sentences and fines. The creators of the spyware, Ruth and Michael Haephrati, were also convicted and sentenced to imprisonment. Reichman has meanwhile put his life back together and today runs a private business, Hatzevet, a (commercial) competitive intelligence firm.
See Related: BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENCY
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