Friday, December 01, 2006

Saudis Threaten To Assist Iraqi Sunnis

It has become difficult to keep track of all the Iraq "studies" that have been commissioned by the U.S. in recent months.

There is, of course, the Iraq Study Group (also known as the Baker-Hamilton commission) which has received the most attention from the media.

There is the Pentagon's Iraq Options Study ("Go Big," "Go Long" or "Go Home").

The one initiated most recently, and the least publicized, is the White House's own internal policy review. This was originally thought to be a "second opinion" to be juxtaposed against the Baker-Hamilton findings to provide some leeway for the administration to ignore the expected inconvenient recommendations from that forum.

It turns out that the White House internal policy review is actually doing some heavy lifting of sorts. The State Department has proposed a controversial idea for the U.S. to abandon the (mostly covert) U.S. outreach to the Sunni insurgents and basically throw our support to the Shiites (and Kurds) when push comes to shove.

The proposal has met serious resistance from both U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and military commanders in Iraq, who believe that intensive diplomatic efforts to bring Sunni insurgents into the political process are pivotal to stabilizing the war-ravaged country, the sources said. ...

Opponents of the proposal cite three dangers. Without reconciliation, military commanders fear that U.S. troops would be fighting the symptoms of Sunni insurgency without any prospect of getting at the causes behind it -- notably the marginalization of the once-powerful minority. U.S. troops would be left fighting in a political vacuum, not a formula for either long-term stabilization or reducing attacks on American targets.

A second danger is that the United States could appear to be taking sides in the escalating sectarian strife. The proposal would encourage Iraqis to continue reconciliation efforts. But without U.S. urging, outreach could easily stall or even atrophy, deepening sectarian tensions, U.S. sources say.

A decision to step back from reconciliation efforts would also be highly controversial among America's closest allies in the region, which are all Sunni governments. Sunni leaders in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf sheikdoms have been pressuring the United States to ensure that their brethren are included in Iraq's power structure and economy.

This last bit -- about potentially pissing off Iraq's Sunni neighbors by writing off the Sunnis -- is the backstory to some very interesting skullduggery that is being discussed in security circles in Washington.

Rumor has it that Saudi Arabia has sent word to the administration that if we abandon the minority Iraqi Sunnis to their fate at the hands of the Shiites, they are willing to intervene (including militarily) in Iraq to prevent the wholesale slaughter of their religious brethren.

The real risk of a Saudi-Iranian conflict is not lost on anyone.

The Saudis say they are willing to help drastically cut oil prices by boosting production to economically impact the Iranian sponsors of Iraqi Shiite aggression upon the Sunnis.

The Saudi summons to Vice President Cheney to come meet with the custodian of the two holy mosques last weekend was presumably connected to this Saudi pledge of support to the Iraqi Sunnis.


Blogger superstar said...

life just good

12/01/2006 2:39 PM  

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