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November 29, 2006



The suggestion that the Saudis would go in and back Baathist militias to fight the Sadrists struck me as too ludicrous to be anything more than posturing by the Saudis to either help the US lean on Maliki, or perhaps aimed at the Americans, telling them to put more pressure on Maliki to give the Sunnis something, or else the Saudis would be ready to pick a side and really get the civil war kick-started.


The Saudis hear the rumours of a US tilt to the Shia side and are worried if such a thing happened the consequences for them domestically could be dangerous. Putting out these kind of stories is to keep that kind of change in US policy from happening.

Abu Tabakh

The one about the Jordanians is truly a howler, but it was cooked up in Washington. A number of folks in influential positions in the administration have been itching to restore Hashemite rule in Iraq. The Jordanians annexing Anbar is the next best thing, no?

Rex Brynen

And how exactly would the Saudis do this? They certainly wouldn't commit combat forces to Iraq. They could throw money and weapons at the problem (as Riyadh did in the Lebanese civil war and Afghanistan). but frankly that won't do much to protect Sunnis in Baghdad and other mixed areas, especially if Iran starts weighing in on the other side.

With Washington having discovered it is unable to halt civil war in Iraq, there is now a lot of wishful thinking that others have the leverage to do so. They don't.

This isn't to say that engaging regional actors isn't valuable. It is, and opening dialogue with Syria and Iran--as Baker/the Iraq Study Group will reportedly urge--are especially valuable. (By the way, for all the attention now to the Iraq Study Group, the strategy of "engage regionals, including the Iranians/Syrians" was already being contemplated within the USG before the ISG was even formed.)

However, the best anyone can do it mitigate outcomes, not reverse the process--even Iranian and especially Syrian influence is limited.

At this point, I fear, the best that can be hoped for in Iraq is months or years of the more of the same, followed by war fatigue, political moves, and slow deescalation. The worst is very, very much worse than anything we have now, with daily casualty figures an order of magnitude higher (think Srebencia).


Ed Marshall

Maybe Cheney told them they are next in line to inherit the role of the Arab sword against the Persians now that Saddam was gone when he was in town. I really doubt any of this went across the wire without being vetted by the U.S. State dept. Maybe it's an empty threat meant for domestic consumption to shore up support for the occupation, maybe it's an empty threat meant to frighten Tehran.


He's fired.

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