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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 14:44 GMT
Q&A: What next in war on terror?
With the Taleban defeated and al-Qaeda cornered, the war in Afghanistan appears to be drawing to an end. Amid signs that the US may be gearing up for a second phase, the BBC's Paul Reynolds looks at what could be in the offing.

Where does the war go next?

The war on terrorism will certainly go on, but the word "war" does not always mean military action. There are other actions as well.

Right from the start, this was designed as a multi-faceted campaign - there would be financial measures to dry up funds used by terrorist networks, primarily those run by Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation; diplomatic pressure on governments to act against terrorist camps and suspects; and military action where necessary.

The first phase of the military campaign has taken place in Afghanistan. It might not be the last.

Who could be hit?

No decisions have been taken, but targets have been looked at, especially in Somalia, Yemen and Indonesia.

It's not that those governments are supporting Osama Bin Laden and his allies. It is that they cannot control them.

So the United States might attack training camps and bases which are beyond the local government's reach.

Three such places have been mentioned - Ras Komboni in southern Somalia near the Kenyan border; the northern moutains in Yemen where Osama Bin Laden's family come from; and Aceh in Indonesia, where rebels are fighting the central government.

There is also the issue of getting a United Nations mandate for further military action.

Is Iraq likely to be attacked?

Iraq looms large in consideration of what happens next.

The issue of whether to attack Iraq was shelved shortly after 11 September when President Bush listened to his Secretary of State Colin Powell rather than to hawks in the Defence Department like Paul Wolfowitz and decided that one war at a time was enough.

Since then, no clear cut evidence has emerged that Iraq was linked to 11 September, though there was a report that one of the suicide hijackers met an Iraqi agent in Prague shortly beforehand.

So instead, the argument has shifted to the complaint that Iraq is developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and is not complying with a Security Council resolution by not allowing in arms inspectors.

In the meantime, the Russians have promised to support a tightening of military sanctions against Iraq while loosening civilian ones.

That could slow down Iraqi efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.

What to do about Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney said on Sunday, had not been decided. The main option would seem to be air attack on an even greater scale than was last used, in December 1998.

A ground invasion is not really possible, since it would need Saudi support which would probably not be forthcoming. Another option is to arm the Iraqi opposition more vigorously.

But they are not as strong as the Northern Alliance and a weak instrument with which to overthrow Saddam.

Diplomatically, the ground needs to be prepared since Arab countries and others might well not support a move against Iraq.

To be decided, therefore, but something will happen.

Will the war on terror ever be over?

Like the "war on drugs" and the "war on crime", the "war on terrorism" will probably never end.

There is too much hostliity to American and Western policies and too much repression in some parts of the world for peace to break out all over.

Even if the Israeli-Palestinian problem was resolved, there would still be those angered at the actions of their own governments. As we saw, many of the 11 September hijackers were from Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The best that can be hoped for is the disruption and destruction of terrorist networks - and eventual political and diplomatic solutions to some of the problems which have given rise to them.

Will the coalition hold after the Afghanistan campaign?

There has never been one "coalition". Indeed some people in Washington never wanted any coalition, as they feared it would tie American hands.

What there is is a loose collection of like-minded states, each of which brings something different to the table.

The American strategy has been successful so far in keeping this together - Pakistan, for example, was brought in at a very early stage and without Pakistan, the air assault would have been very difficult if not impossible.

Once the focus moves from Afghanistan, other close allies might be needed.

To judge from its performance, the Bush administration will approach this in a firm but careful way. It does not want to see action prevented by bad preparation.

So do targets include those such as Hamas and ETA?

President Bush said in his speech to Congress on 20 September that the targets would be those organisations with "global reach".

This would seem to rule out going after some nationalist groups like ETA and the Real IRA.

The normal American restrictions on their supporters and activists will apply. But the main target is Osama Bin Laden and any associated Islamic groups.

The Israelis would like Hamas, which has used suicide bombers against Israel, to be on the list.

However, this is a delicate issue for the Americans who want to keep their eyes on Osama.

There is not much the Americans can do about Hamas anyway which the Israelis themselves have not tried. So the focus will probably stay on the man Mr Bush calls "the evil one".

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