Jim Lobe, of Inter Press Service, rounds up the global state of conflict, for which most of the world is looking to the United States to eventually, comprehensively, solve. If only because President Bush has repeatedly stated that the storm of crises now raging are all part of the global 'War on Terror' that Bush himself launched while the imploded ruins of the Twin Towers were still burning in New York City :
Four years after the emergence of the first signs of a serious insurgency in Iraq, US President George W. Bush finds himself beset with major crises stretching from Palestine to Pakistan.
With US-backed Fatah forces routed by Hamas in Gaza this week, Bush's five-year-old vision of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict now looks more remote than ever, while a new Pentagon report in Iraq suggests that his four-month-old "surge" strategy is failing in its primary objective of reducing the violence there.
Meanwhile, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, to whom Washington has provided virtually unconditional support since al-Qaeda's 9/11 attack, faces a growing popular revolt, while much of the country's tribal border regions have come under the control of forces allied with Afghanistan's Taliban.
And Iran, which senior US officials this week accused of arming the Taliban, as well as Shi'ite militias in Iraq, has continued to defy Washington's demands that it halt its nuclear enrichment program, while Tehran's regional allies, Syria and Lebanon's Hezbollah, not to mention Hamas itself, appear to have successfully withstood intensified US-led efforts to isolate them.
This week's events in Gaza, in fact, are also likely to have dealt a heavy blow to US hopes of forging an anti-Iranian coalition consisting of Israel and the "Arab Quartet" led by Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, Saudi King Abdullah appeared to have grown disillusioned with Bush even before the US-backed dissolution by Palestine Authority President and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas of the government of national unity whose birth was personally midwifed by Abdullah himself last March.
"There's a strongly held view among our Arab friends that we don't know what we're doing," observed ret. Amb. Daniel Kurtzer, Washington's chief envoy to Israel during Bush's first term and now a professor at Princeton University, earlier this week before Hamas' takeover of Gaza.
Al-Qaeda, which continues to enjoy the protection of its allies in Pakistan and has made the US military occupation in Iraq its primary recruiting ground, has also benefited enormously from the backlash against Washington's policies throughout the region, according to most experts here.
"al-Qaeda today is a global operation – with a well-oiled propaganda machine based in Pakistan, a secondary but independent base in Iraq, and an expanding reach in Europe," wrote Bruce Riedel, a former high-level Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst, in Foreign Affairs magazine last month.
In the article, entitled "al-Qaeda Strikes Back," Reidel, the senior director for Near East Affairs in the White House from 1997 to 2002, predicted that the group would likely set up new operations in northern Lebanon and Gaza and eventually try to provoke "all-out war" between the US and Iran as part of a "grand strategy" aimed at "bleeding" Washington in much the same way that US-backed mujahadin and their Arab allies bled the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s.
Indeed, like Jason of Greek myth, Bush has sown dragon's teeth throughout the region with a predominantly military policy, particularly his decision to unilaterally invade and occupy Iraq, even as he encouraged right-wing governments in Israel to indulge their propensity for using force to resolve problems with their neighbors.
But, unlike Jason, it looks increasingly doubtful that Bush can subdue the militant forces that have sprouted from those seeds and appear to grow stronger with each passing day.