A reverse look, in the form of an intriguing, sophisticated thriller, at the conventional view of Middle Eastern terrorist operations, from someone who should know.
Clarke, the presidential counter-terrorism advisor at the time of the 9/11 attacks, whose 2004 book, Against All Enemies, criticized harshly the Bush administration’s handling of the war on terror, here poses the question: What if the royal House of Saud fell to revolution after America’s pullout in Iraq, and in its place a viable fundamentalist state called Islamyah emerges, ruled by a Shura Council and vulnerable to terrorist action by Iran? The new Islamic government is led by an idealist named Abdullah bin Rashid, who recalls younger brother Ahmed from his medical residency in Canada to work in a hospital in Manama, Bahrain, in order to be Abdullah’s “eyes and ears in the nest of vipers across the causeway”—that is, Iran. A series of troubling events puts the heads of British Intelligence and American officials on alert. Explosions occur in Bahrain, attributed to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, or Qods Force, and Chinese medium-range ballistic missiles have been mysteriously moved to Islamyah. Ahmed learns that a liquid natural-gas tanker in the Persian Gulf harbor is targeted for explosion by the Qods and leaks the information to sharp-shooting American reporter Kate Delmarco. These events are falsely blamed on the Islamyah regime, British Intelligence officer Brian Douglas learns. Who is really behind the destabilizing attacks, and why? Secretary of Defense Henry Conrad, committed to reinstalling the Sauds, seems to have cut a secret deal with the Iranians, although Tehran proves that it, too, can doublecross. The bin Rashid brothers vindicate themselves in a chapter that sets forth measures to bring peace to the region.
Short on blood and guts, yes, but long on thoughtful, prescient analysis of realignments of power.