Along the Tracks

Thursday, April 04, 2002

Time machine

Reports from a world which could be, in 2007 - just five years away:

  • Israel - The northern city of Qiryat Shimona fell today during a blitz by the forces of Hezbollah, Syria and the Palestinian Authority, the first time land originally granted in the 1948 United Nations mandate creating Israel has been taken. Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu called it a “dark day for the Jewish people,” and reiterated his threat to use weapons of mass destruction against Arab countries if the advance into Israeli territory does not stop. The European Union denounced his statements as “state terrorism” and called for restraint on both sides. Yasser Arafat, from his Jerusalem headquarters, announced plans to celebrate the victory with the opening of the newly expanded Dome of the Rock Mosque, which now covers the entire area Jews consider the site of the Temple. Meanwhile, the Red Cross/Red Crescent pointed to a growing humanitarian crisis in Palestine, where lack of effort at food production and the military’s control of resources threatened to doom hundreds of thousands of poor women and children to starvation.
  • Iraq - Saddam Hussein signed a treaty with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to “unify” their oil fields’ production, marketing and revenue under a single corporate structure. He announced the embargo against America and Israel would be maintained until “the Zionists litter the shores of the Mediterranean.” In other news, reports trickling into Turkey indicated the Kurdish population in northern Iraq has largely been eliminated. The official Iraqi news agency claimed the Kurds had merely been “relocated” to safer places away from two French-built nuclear reactors in the area, which will go online this summer.
  • Iran - Secret police and army troops stormed Tehran University overnight, slaughtering the two hundred or so student dissidents who had been holding a peaceful sit-in to protest oppression by the Islamic government. Smaller actions were reported to have occurred across the country’s major cities. Supreme Ayatollah Khameini announced a state of emergency and called for the death of all who “sympathize with the Great Satan.”
  • Russia - Russian troops rolled into Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Khazikstan as Prime Minister Primakov attempted to blunt the infiltration of Islamic extremists who had taken de facto control of several southern Russian provinces. The Islamic governments of the invaded nations called for jihad, and Khazikstan, a nuclear power, threatened to use “all available options to stop the advance.” The European Union called for an immediate Russian withdrawal. A UN Security Council resolution condemning the attack, co-sponsored by China and the United States, was blocked by a Russian veto.
  • Egypt - President Sheik al-Zwahiri announced completion of treaties which will implement a United Islamic Federation, based on the European Union model. Integration of economies, already largely underway in the 23 signatory nations, will be completed in two years with the debut of a single currency. The federation will then choose a Supreme Leader, who will oversee the federation from headquarters in Mecca. Once established, the federation will complete a full set of laws and regulations, based on the Koran, which will be implemented in all signatory countries. Discussions on expansion are already underway.
  • Yemen - Speaking to Aljazeera from his palace, Sheik Osama bin Laden praised both the federation treaty and the “reconquest of our sacred lands from the dogs,” apparently referring to Arab advances against Israel. He also threatened “annihilation” to India if it does not make concessions on Kashmir at the peace talks in Brussels. Asked if the federation leadership was created specifically to place him at the head of the Islamic world, bin Laden responded, “We are only following the direction of Allah, praise his name. All infidels and Jewish dogs must be driven from the land for the reign of Allah to begin. This (the federation) is not the goal, but the beginning of the rule of Allah, praise his name.”
  • China - The communist government announced the sale of 15 intercontinental ballistic missiles to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for an undisclosed amount which experts estimate at $120 billion. The contract will be filled over the course of five years. The missiles are capable of carrying chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. Experts say warm relations between the Saudis and the Islamic leadership of Pakistan make it likely the missiles will be topped with nuclear warheads. A spokesman for the House of Saud said the purchase was meant to “guarantee peace for Muslims around the world” and security from “Zionist and American aggression.”
  • Afghanistan - Under heavy ground fire, the final C-130 transport took off from the Bagram air field escorted over hostile Pakistan by a pair of F-15s. The plane was carrying the last contingent of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to the British base in Diego Garcia, before they begin the long ship-ride home. The president called the mission in Afghanistan a “mistaken response to tragedy” and assured Americans that “overseas adventurism” was a philosophy of the past.
  • United States - Frantic work continued at the latest “Ground Zero,” even as rescuers held out little hope of pulling any more survivors from the rubble of an Applebee’s restaurant in Detroit. The death toll was estimated at around 30, with four others seriously injured. Police said the suicide bomber smashed a van laden with nitrate explosives into the front of the building, then detonated his bomb, turning the restaurant to rubble. “Fortunately, it was only a half hour before the national 9 p.m. curfew, so many people had already left,” said National Guard Lt. James Smith, one of the first security officers on the scene. The bombing was the third in a month for Detroit, and 22nd nationally since the start of the year. Meanwhile, the president, gearing up for a challenge in the Democratic primaries just a year away, called for his party to unite, and blamed the terrorist attacks on the policies of his predecessor, George W. Bush.
    “He tried to shoot the moon with a war nobody wanted. He did finally listen to us and stop the war, but by then, the damage had been done. We’ve been trying to pick up the pieces ever since.” The president also signed the latest campaign finance reform bill, which restricts all political advertising to candidates only and sets publicly-financed maximum spending limits. The measure also calls for strict penalties against any “negative ads,” requiring all federal advertisements to be vetted by a Congressional committee before running in any media.

    Not a world I want to live in, but one which is much closer than you may think. Failing to prosecute and win the war on terrorism would be a death sentence to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, around the world and within our own borders; a death sentence to the Middle East’s one democracy, Israel; and, ultimately, a death sentence to the American Dream itself.

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