2006 December 12 Tuesday
Saudis Demand US Not Abandon Iraqi Sunnis To Shias

The Saudis are going to line up on the side of the Iraqi Sunnis when the US withdraws (and probably sooner).

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 — Saudi Arabia has told the Bush administration that it might provide financial backing to Iraqi Sunnis in any war against Iraq’s Shiites if the United States pulls its troops out of Iraq, according to American and Arab diplomats.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia conveyed that message to Vice President Dick Cheney two weeks ago during Mr. Cheney’s whirlwind visit to Riyadh, the officials said. During the visit, King Abdullah also expressed strong opposition to diplomatic talks between the United States and Iran, and pushed for Washington to encourage the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, senior Bush administration officials said.

The Saudi warning reflects fears among America’s Sunni Arab allies about Iran’s rising influence in Iraq, coupled with Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

You can read the above like blackmail if you choose. But look at it from the Saudi standpoint. Bush messed up Iraq and created the problem. Bush doesn't want US troops to leave. But his power is declining and he'll be out of office in a little more than 2 years. The Saudis are signalling to all of Washington DC that they have a stake in the outcome of the Iraq civil war.

But the Saudis face a tricky situation even among the Iraqi Sunnis. The Al Qaeda types want to overthrow the Saudi monarchy. The Saudis will funnel money to some Sunni tribes. Can the Sunni tribes beat the extremist Sunnis even while battling the Shias?

The Shias could go too far in their ethnic cleansing and cause the Sunni governments to intervene on behalf of the Sunnis. The US might reduce the odds of that by helping the Sunnis move away from the Shias. But Bush Administration does not want to admit the inevitability of continued ethnic cleansing. So rather than help the Shias and Sunnis move away from each other the death squads will continue their operations.

The Middle East has become the new Great Game. The Israelis and Jordanians and Saudis share a common opposition to a nuclear Iran. The Saudis are ready to spend their oil revenue to fund the minority Iraqi Sunni rebellion against majority Iraqi Shia power. Other Sunni governments will also side with their Sunni co-religionists. Bush wants to side with the Shias because the Shias can win (maybe). But the Sunni governments are going to oppose this move.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 December 12 10:15 PM  Mideast Iraq Exit Debate


Comments
Wolf-Dog said at December 12, 2006 10:45 PM:

"Bush wants to side with the Shias because the Shias can win (maybe)."
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Without external help, the Sunnis will lose and the Shias will gain total control of most of the economically important parts of Iraq, with the possible exception of the northern Kurdish zone close to Turkey.

Additionally, the Shias of Iraq will naturally be allied with Iran, and once Iran dominates Iraq, Saudi Arabia is next. And the fact that oil-rich eastern parts of Saudi Arabia is populated by Shias, cannot be overemphasized. Thus the proxy-war in Iraq between the Saudi-backed Sunnis and the Iran-backed Shias, will be very interesting in the future. The winner takes all (the oil.)

John S Bolton said at December 13, 2006 1:16 AM:

Has the administration given any argument so far as to why Iraqi national unity itself, is in the American national interest at all?
And, if so, why should it considered such an interest to the extent of the current involvement, or even half what is being done now?
Ethnic cleansing may be seen as something to avoid, but how does that allow any justification for increasing the aggression on those to whom we owe loyalty: citizens and especially the net taxpayers here?

MlR said at December 13, 2006 2:02 AM:

Two ideas.

1. Iraq was intended as a multicultural paradise to enlighten the reagion.
2. Independent Kurdistan would
a. Piss off the Turks.
b. Create another state in the Middle East that is dependant on the US to protect it from its neighbors and yet another thing for Bin Laden to rail about (he'll label the Kurds as traitors).

Ned said at December 13, 2006 6:26 AM:

I think Mr. Bolton has it right. Why is the US involved in the Middle East at all? The Shia and Sunnis are going at each other hot and heavy, as they've been doing for the last 13 centuries, and why should we care? Neither side likes us, but they're quite content to slaughter each other if we stay out of their way. In fact, the conflict predates Islam, with strife between Babylon (Iraq) and Persia being described in the Old Testament (for example, see Daniel 5:31). So why should it make any difference to us whether Shia or Sunni, Saudi Arabia or Iran, dominates this region? Access to oil is not an issue, since both sides desparately need the revenue to support their corrupt, dictatorial regimes.

Tony said at December 13, 2006 8:02 AM:

I agree with all the comments. What an unholy (holy?) mess. The US is better off having no miltary involvement in the region. It drives the Islamisst crazy and has the opposite effect to that intended. Major powers like Germany and Japan can do the business there quite well without military involvement.

Half Sigma said at December 13, 2006 6:06 PM:

Iran has enough missiles to destroy all of Saudia Arabia's oil export infrasctructure.

Stephen said at December 13, 2006 6:28 PM:

John said: "Has the administration given any argument so far as to why Iraqi national unity itself, is in the American national interest at all?
And, if so, why should it considered such an interest to the extent of the current involvement, or even half what is being done now?"

There's one overriding argument - just as adults should take responsibility for their actions/negligence, so should a nation.

Especially a democratic nation.

John S Bolton said at December 14, 2006 1:51 AM:

Responsibility-
to the Iraqi unity as such, though
is what is being questioned
Does the US have any responsibility to act towards the furtherance of Iraqi unity itself?
Has the administration given any reasons why this would be an American responsibility?
They've given us a slogan about you break it, you own it
...but does this refer to a feeling of responsibility to the unity and integrity of Iraq as such, or to anything other than a vague analogy to store policies?
A project of nation-building there is underway, one that appears naturally blighted
Are we spending and killing in such volume in order to prove that the American government can make brotherhood where enmity is the factual substrate?
Their strategy assumed that man is not primed for hostility, but to be grateful for foreign intervention, that intercommunal hostility has to be stirred up artficially, and more
These assumptions of strategy cannot be allowed to be cleared of blame

Craig Johnson said at December 14, 2006 3:51 PM:

“When Ambassadors Withdraw”

Inter alia, having US forces in the Middle East (but not near Mecca) was intended to provide security/stability for the region and protect Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is now in a political war, facing the cascading domino thunder of Shiite ascendancy.
The US is mulling backing Iraqi Shiites as a solution for the civic strife in Iraq. To do so would be to declare a shooting war against Sunnis and bring Saudi into a shooting war.
So, America is on the brink of being on the opposite side as Saudi Arabia in a shooting war.
Might not Saudi (ahem) withdraw their Ambassador?

nz conservative said at December 19, 2006 4:07 AM:

Saudi financial muscle backing a Sunni minority government (no doubt with a charismatic strong man)- sounds like things may end up back where they started.


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