Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 27, 2007

A Strategic ME Shift?

Has last week has seen a major turn in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East?

This is quite speculative, but there are some data points that suggest a big shift has happened.

The Bush administration may have turned away from its Sunni allies in the wider Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and towards some rapprochement with Iran.


  • The main agitator for an attack on Iran in Cheney's office has been removed.
  • Bush himself moves the blame for U.S. problems in Iraq away from alleged Iranian insurgency support and towards al-Qaida.
  • Information leaked to newspapers emphasizes the connection of al-Qaida in Iraq and Saudi financing and highlights Pakistan's lack of action against al-Qaida in Pashtun-land.
  • High level U.S. officials press the Saudis to retract support for the Sunni side in Iraq.
  • Bush's intimate relation with the Iran friendly Maliki in Iraq is pointed out.
  • Recent talks between the U.S. and Iran seem to expand.

Some details below the fold:

Back in mid June there were intense discussions within the administration about an attack on Iran. The NYT version:

The debate has pitted Ms. Rice and her deputies, who appear to be winning so far, against the few remaining hawks inside the administration, especially those in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office who, according to some people familiar with the discussions, are pressing for greater consideration of military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Only a few weeks ago, one of Mr. Cheney’s top aides, David Wurmser, told conservative research groups and consulting firms in Washington that Mr. Cheney believed that Ms. Rice’s diplomatic strategy was failing, and that by next spring Mr. Bush might have to decide whether to take military action.

That discussion was won by Rice and Gates. On Tuesday Robert Dreyfuss (and Steve Clemons) reported:

Vice President Cheney is losing a trusted aide: David Wurmser, Cheney's chief adviser on Middle East affairs and perhaps the Bush administration's most radical hawk.

According to multiple sources, Wurmser will leave the office of the vice president (OVP) in August for the private sector, where he will start a risk-consulting business.

For now an attack on Iran seems thereby likely off the table.

The U.S. has largely stopped to blame Shiites (al-Sadr) for the insurgency in Iraq and emphasizes a personal Bush-Maliki relation.

Bush has started to renew the al-Qaida meme. In a long speech last week on the War of Terror (simple version here) he mentioned al-Qaida or Bin-Laden every 15 seconds. Iran isn't mentioned at all. What happened to the axis-of-evil?

Of course this is obfuscating the real Sunni insurgency, but it helps to pressure Saudi Arabia, which is one main point of this policy shift. Here you can see it being played out.

Last Friday I flagged this astonishing op-ed by the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Khalizad. He wrote:

Several of Iraq’s neighbors — not only Syria and Iran but also some friends of the United States — are pursuing destabilizing policies

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal had a page A1 piece about a Saudi bank financing Al-Qaida:

But the Saudi government has been far been less willing to tackle the financial infrastructure essential to terrorism. U.S. intelligence reports state that Islamic banks, while mostly doing ordinary commerce, also are institutions that extremism relies upon in its global spread.

As a result, the Bush administration repeatedly debated proposals for taking strong action itself against Al Rajhi Bank, in particular, according to former U.S. officials and previously undisclosed government documents. Ultimately, the U.S. always chose instead to lobby Saudi officialdom quietly about its concerns.

The confidential reports the article is based upon were certainly leaked "just in time" for more to come.

Today the New York Times has a major piece about interviews with some "Senior Administration Official" (i.e. Rice and Gates) being frustrated with Saudi Arabia. The earlier quiet lobbying the WSJ reported is officially over:

Now, Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia’s counterproductive role in the Iraq war. They say that beyond regarding Mr. Maliki as an Iranian agent, the Saudis have offered financial support to Sunni groups in Iraq. Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow.
Senior Bush administration officials said the American concerns would be raised next week when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates make a rare joint visit to Jidda, Saudi Arabia.

At the same time the administration is also threatening direct attacks on Pakistan and furthering a nuclear deal with Pakistan's primary enemy, India. Pakistan's nuclear weapons are said to have been financed with Saudi money and Pakistan is a major supplier for Saudi weapons.

While the two most important U.S. allies in the Sunni realm come under severe pressure from Washington, relations with Iran seem to get warmer.

During Tuesday's talks between the U.S. and Iran in Baghdad, a major point was an anti-Sunni alliance. Juan Cole picked up the importance of this:

[I]n my view the money graf in this Telegraph report is this one:

'The two countries did agree to form a security committee, with Iraq, to focus on containing Sunni insurgents. The committee would concentrate on the threat from groups such as al-Qa'eda in Iraq, officials said, but not those[Shiite] militia groups the US accuses Iran of funding and training. '

If the US is allying with Iran against the Sunni insurgents and al-Qaeda, this is a very major development and much more important than some carping over Shiite militias. (..).

If the report is true and has legs, it will send Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal ballistic. The Sunni Arab states do not like "al-Qaeda" in Iraq, but they are much more afraid of Iran than of the Iraqi Sunni Arabs who are fighting against US military occupation.

There even seems to have been a private follow up meeting between the U.S. and Iran without Iraqi participation. Iran is ready for high-level talks with US over Iraq and maybe other things too? The U.S. is still rejecting sich higher level talk for now, but that could be just to keep them private.

Iran is in a much better position to help the U.S. in Iraq and in Afghanistan than any other partner. With the Saudi oil production peaking out, a strategic shift away from the Sunni world towards Iran also makes some economic sense.

The original grand strategy plan was to take over Iraq AND Iran and then to clean up the Gulf monarchies. With the first part stalled, the same result, though with less assured influence, might be gained by simply allying with Iran.

If such a shift is really in the making, there is other trouble ahead.

The Saudis are already pissed about the ousting of the Palestinian national unity government they had sponsored. They have little leverage except money to make much trouble in Palestine, but they do have other weapons. OPEC is already sniveling about the lower dollar. A nice excuse for some production cut in Saudi fields. There could also be some man portable anti-air weapons finding their way from Saudi warehouses to Anbar.

In Pakistan al-Qaida would love the U.S. to invade as this would certainly result in a serious backslash. One consequence could be the Pakistani secret service renewing its payments (with Saudi money) and weapon deliveries to the Taliban. Then U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan will be in really serious trouble.

But these futurities may be unavoidable anyway.

As of now in terms of historic legacy Bush will be regarded as one of the worst presidents. A successful opening towards Iran could add a major positive point to his rapsheet.

Is another Nixon goes to China moment coming? Henry Kissinger prepared that trip with some secret meetings. He is still around somewhere ... does anyone know where exactly?

Posted by b on July 27, 2007 at 13:21 UTC | Permalink


Kissinger has been to Moscow recently. But he didn't come out happy.

Posted by: Migeru | Jul 27 2007 13:51 utc | 1

I doubt that there is any meaningful "strategic" shift underway - it's actually quite hard to determine any Bush administration strategy in the first place as, on the ME at least, there always seem to be several competing and contradictory strategies in play all the time. A genuine tilt towards Teheran would require some substantive US concessions - the most obvious being the neutering of ILSA and direct US participation in nuclear negotiations.

There are some very sound reasons, however, for the slight shifts towards a more realistic and diplomatic approach on Iran. The most obvious is that there is no military option that can engineer the current default regime change policy, and that the default policy is itself under severe pressure as Iran is now the regional power that cannot be ignored. We're in what I would describe as a holding pattern at present; neither Bush nor Rice will ever take the trip to Teheran - this will be a job for the next US president in the aftermath of the 2009 Iranian presidential elections.

More pertinently, perhaps, the Bush administration is about to hit the federal debt ceiling...again...probably some time in the September/October time-frame. I would imagine that there is a fair degree of anxiety over this, as the need to grab funds from the money markets to keep the show on the road may actually require an interest rate rise or two to keep the dollar from falling further, to the detriment of the US domestic economy. Ouch. One of the upsides of stock market reversals is that money tends to get parked in bonds in the short-term - and this can have a useful restraining effect on both interest rates and a sliding dollar; I supect that this week's market correction will be replayed a few more times over the next few months.

Posted by: dan | Jul 27 2007 15:08 utc | 2

ceebs on ET suggests that maybe this is a reaction to the Saudi's distancing themselves from the Bushites, which is an interesting way of looking at it.

Posted by: Colman | Jul 27 2007 15:21 utc | 3

Slightly OT here,
but a good piece from Foreign Policy In Focus - Misunderstanding Muqtada al-Sadr

Sadr has repeatedly stated his opposition to Iranian interference in Iraqi politics, and has consistently advocated Iraqi political unity. He has fashioned a populist-Shi'i political platform that has deep resonance among Iraq’s long-oppressed Shi'i underclass, whose votes helped install a bloc of his loyalists in the Iraqi Parliament, and put control of the Health and Transportation ministries in his hands. There is a strong nativist element in his rhetoric; he has indicated his belief that the religious leadership of Iraq should be in the hands of ethnic Arabs, rather than the ethnic Persians who currently make up much of the higher Shi'i clerical establishment in Najaf.

Posted by: b | Jul 27 2007 15:27 utc | 4

After 9/11 it became clear that the Saudis were not reliable allies. But it was too soon to just saw them off. For starters, it would have been a bit embarassing given the Bush clan's close personal ties to the house of Saud.

But now that an alternative source of oil has been secured in the form of the soon-to-be-passed Iraq Petroleum Rape Act, we can finally afford to start distancing ourselves from the Suadis.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Jul 27 2007 15:45 utc | 5

Well they might now be finally going after the "front office" guys responsible for 911. As for the backroom guys and what they make of this, it remains to be seen. That refinery in Haifa may be back on the cards.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Jul 27 2007 15:48 utc | 6

Oceania has always been at war with East Sunni.

Posted by: Copeland | Jul 27 2007 16:15 utc | 7

The hole card for damn sure is that Hydrocarbon Law, since it deems 70% of any profits on Iraqi product is America's. That's gonna be our honey pot, babe.

Them sumsabitches won't turn it over, though. Their unions threaten to riot, their Parliament threatens fair to stay in Europe for the duration, and everybody and his cousin just keeps shootin' at us.

And even if they can finally be forced to put it into play, it will only last as long as we keep fifty thousand grunts in country for fifty years forever "training" the Iraqi army and police, AND maintain a no fly zone for fifty miles around the Green Zone, AND an artillery division for counter-battery fire, AND test the food every day for arsenic.

Iraqis are so unreasonable!

Maybe it's the uranium dust . . . could that be makin' 'em cranky?

Posted by: Antifa | Jul 27 2007 17:11 utc | 8

This scenario is of course the only way the administration can salvage something, anything from the Iraq debacle. But nonetheless, its a whole heap of crow that must be swallowed first, but probably not as much as the titanic meal placed before them should they not form some alliance with Iran. I read somewhere (maybe in a dream) that the last card in Iraq for cheney was to dump the whole mess into the hands of Muqtada al-Sadr, which as more and more people begin to realize, epitomizes the best option compromise, at least rhetorically, for the U.S. This option in a sort of retro-active retrospect makes what most people believe to be incomprehensable incompetence begin to almost look like a plan. In that over the last four years it has allowed and developed the political space for al-Sadr to evolve from upstart nobody to the most widely revered populist figure in Iraq today, or in other words the only political figure with enough street credential popularity to even consider holding the country together minus a continued U.S. military presence. Whether or not he could actually (in reality) do any of this or how the U.S. policy could be reconstructed to actually promote (instead of fighting it) this is anybodys best guess. At any rate, the exit road from Iraq, in all likelyhood, will in some fashon go through Iran, and whether that road will be full of smoking bomb craters - and zero future for the U.S., or a rocky, but passable way out with a semblance of popular stability - and residual U.S. influence, are the only real choices left. For a president with no legacy.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 27 2007 17:40 utc | 9

An interesting psychological point in all this will come up Sunday.

The Iraqi soccer team will play against The Saudi Arabian team in the finals of the Asia cup.

The last win for Iraq was quite bloody when some folks bombed the partying Iraqi fans.

Don't ever underestimate the power and symbolism of that game.

Neurotica, an Iraqi women with an additional British passport and married to an US contractor (not mercinary), she is working in the Green Zone. Her blog entry on the last soccer win and the upcoming game is quite livid:

The game on Sunday is crucial. Especially because its against the Saudis. God, I hope and pray we will win, I really do. I wanna bring their noses down for once. I know I shouldnt be judgemental and I know I shouldnt generalize for many of my friends are Lebanese, Jordanians and Palestinians but in general the Arabs did nothing but hurt us. They hate us, they hate us because they dont want to see a beautiful unified flourishing Iraq.
I remember when I used to travel with my parents and say we are Iraqis, its like we've just said we are royalty. But now, now being an Iraqi means nothing but a destitute poor country. All those countries who used to salute us in the past, look down at us, mock us and kick us where it hurts. This is the reality that we live in. We have become like some disease that everyone runs away from.

So now you see why the football game is not really about a game anymore? Its more about Iraqis vs Arabs. Iraqis vs Iraqi haters. The jubilations although cut short due to the filthy Al Qaeda tactics will not deter the Lions. The Great Lions of Babylon...

With that sentiment, I am sure she's not alone in it, a U.S. alliance with Iran might even get some applause in Iraq ...

Posted by: b | Jul 27 2007 18:09 utc | 10

Since our Middle East policy is in fact Israel's, shouldn't we also take a look at Israel's urgent needs of the moment?

It's my impression that Israel needs some help in restraining Palestinians, and that only Americans can provide the help they need (or can be coerced into providing it). But what help?

As of a few months ago, Israel wanted America to pressure the Saudis into delivering an Arabian miracle of some kind--bringing peace and quiet to the Palestinians, and maybe even offering them a new homeland away from Palestine (a strange notion, this one, but if I can imagine it, then a lot of other people have been thinking about it for a long time).

Israel has what it wanted in the first place--a massive American military presence on Islamic soil. And now it has to tell its puppet where to turn...

Posted by: alabama | Jul 27 2007 18:37 utc | 11

I would like to believe there's been a strategic shift, but it's wishful thinking: Just because the International Herald Tribune and other mainstream papers have started pointing out that 40 % of all insurgents are Saudi and over 50 % of suicide bombers in Iraq are Saudis, it doesn't mean the Bush Administration is ready to engage Iran. On the contrary, it's merely an acknowledgement that America has to pressure Saudi Arabia AS WELL (actually more than it pressures Iran, but it's a start!).

Recent reports blaming Saudi Arabia are a natural but very belated media reaction to the global complaints by people like myself (I write to the NYT and IHT whenever I notice them twisting the facts) who have constantly reminded the media that 9/11 was almost exclusively a Saudi operation, from the financing to the planning and personnel. The same applies to the insurgency, to the bombings in Bali, London and Madrid (the Pakistani 'madresehs' teach the firebrand, extreme version of Wahhabi Islam whose base is in Saudi Arabia), and Osama is clearly 100 % Saudi.

Having said all of the above, let us remind ourselves (as the Israelis and Neocons remind us each day) that IRAN (who else?) is the No. 1 cause of terrorism worldwide.


Posted by: Parviz | Jul 27 2007 22:41 utc | 12

Alabama, America and Israel simply refuse to come to terms with the fact that Iran was, is and always will be the superpower in the Middle East, whether financially, geo-strategically, historically, intellectually, culturally or politically.

America has no right being in the Middle East (Nor does Israel, for that matter, but they're well established there and I favour a 2-state solution based on pre-1967 borders)). What in God's name is America doing there other than supporting dictatorships and stirring up trouble?

If America leaves Iran alone, Iran won't attack anyone, just as Khruschev ("We will bury the West") didn't and China (virtually guaranteed to attack Hong Kong and Taiwan, according to most observers) didn't.

By surrounding Iran with U.S. military bases on all borders, America forced Iran to forego reforms and adopt a siege mentality: Freedoms were promptly curtailed, funds for infrastructural and civilian projects were suddenly diverted to the military and there is now massive censorship which scarcely existed until Bush targeted Iran for 'regime change' in January 2001, forcing the Iranian leadership to replace President Khatemi with "No More Mister Nice Guy" Ahmadinejad.

America has a propensity for creating its own problems and then crying 'foul! It's time for America to grow up and give the rest of us Middle Easterners a chance to do the same. Israel would then also be forced to adapt instead of terrorising the Palestinians.

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 27 2007 22:55 utc | 13

Whoops, penultimate paragraph, I meant January 2002 (following Iran's indispensable assistance to America in ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban, albeit temporarily, in Oct/Nov. 2001).

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 27 2007 22:58 utc | 14

I dunno, all this hype and emphasis on al-Qaeda as the bogeyman, combined with Chertoff's "gut feeling," cannot possibly bode well. It certainly makes me nervous.

Posted by: Bea | Jul 27 2007 23:11 utc | 15

Countries have no allies, just interests.
The same can be said for gangsters.
Before a hurricane the weather vane
will twitch angrily back and forth.

The question is,
is this the quiet before the storm,
an "imperial interregnum,"
or just more misdirection.

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows..."

Posted by: Malooga | Jul 27 2007 23:13 utc | 16


because the vandals broke the handles

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 27 2007 23:22 utc | 17

Interesting mob of speculation and it that is all any of it can be, me, I'm going to go with the two things we can always be sure of in amerikan foreign policy - greed and stupidity.

Whatever amerika does, those two attributes feature clearly at the top; which is why I doubt that any result that leaves anyone in the ME better off is unlikely. That actually does include Israel, since realistically the Israeli-amerikan alliance has been dreadful for Israel's long term prospects.

I don't know if the Iraqis can hold out for ever but they have certainly managed to hold out for longer on the oil theft legislation than anyone in amerika expected. Moqtada al-Sadr has been at the forefront of opposition to this law, just as he has, despite press to the contrary ,consistently opposed Iraq getting too close to Iran, so the chances of him bending over with with the folds of his pulled up robes in one hand and a jar of vaseline in t'other are slim to none. Despite western media commentary to the opposite, Moqtada, whose family is held in great reverence precisely because they have a reputation for honorable behaviour, is most likely not a man for whom giving away Iraq's oil could ever be justified.

In fact the more damage that amerika has done to Iraq's infrastructure, the less opportunity they have for creating the dissonance between what is perceived and what is actually happening, that is at the heart of their technique of government.

So while they would love to have Moqtada onside and certainly they will not be seeking out any more confrontations with him, they are dreaming if they imagine he will trade oil for power. Why would he? He knows if he holds out he can get that power without sacrificing his nation.

Rapprochment with Iran would be too smart so I doubt it will happen.

Even setting aside the ill will which we know politicians can do in an instant, both the amerikan and the Iranian regimes need that hatred to achieve so many other twisted agendas. Amerika to justify it's armed robbery throughout the ME, and it's post-cold war 'defense' corporate welfare state, while oppressing its own people.

The Iranian regime has a similar agenda, they do best without actual warfare but keeping their population in a continuous state of fear does allow plenty of latitude vis-a-vis political rights and that stops intrusive questions about where the money is going.

So no, the most likely outcome of any tete-a-tete is that both sides will come out saying "See we tried out best but that other mob is just intractable"

I suppose none of that prevents Iran and amerika agreeing to just pretend to oppose each other while both sides patch their wounds. Amerika gets a little respite on it's Iraqi supply lines and the Iranian ruling elite get to move money and assets to more stable harbours in these increasingly volatile times. Such agreements usually end in disaster. With an amerikan election coming up, that disaster is most likely to be precipitated by some careerist pol ignoring the unwritten rule and going for the Iranian prez's throat.

That is exactly why even if the current mob of Pennsylvania Avenue hustlers weren't as thick as two short planks, as silly as a wheel, and as greedy as my ex-mothers-in-law, any deal between Iran and amerika done right now is nearly worthless. There will be no major changes in amerikan foreign policy between now and mid '09.

That is something worth considering - that the window of opportunity for the amerikan ruling elite to do anything substantively different gets smaller and smaller as the the amount of time spent in election mode gets bigger and bigger.

As for the seeming move against Sunni power, well I'm afraid that's just that air of injured innocence that amerika adopts and which the rest of the world loathes when as Robbie Burns put it:
"The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
Gang aft agley,
An'lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy! "

The plan gone awry and it's original moves were best outlined in the March 5 New Yorker article by Sy Hersh. Who knows how much traction it had? Divide and rule, the most tried and tested of all anglophone imperial strategies has always failed miserably in the ME where religion underpins a fierce nationalism that has time and time again, trumped USuk collective or individual efforts to gain control by quelling internecine strife.

That it went awry so fast is another indicator of exactly how deeply up shit creek amerikan policy for the ME is.

The divide between State and the Pentagon demonstrated so graphically a month ago during the Iran/Afghan arms farce will be worsening at the reality of the surge's failure sinks in and begins to harvest casualties. Look at where State and the Pentagon were just three months ago. In concert on the need to arm the oppressive Sunni regimes against the evil Iran and Syria.

I love the contradiction which Syria always offers. Being as it's Arab and largely Sunni, the amerikan propaganda machine has to perform interesting gyrations to keep it in the sights right next to Iran. Still never letting the facts get in the way of a good story is what got us where we are today sonny!

My prediction then is more of the same with a high probability of a meltdown in the amerikan ruling elite between now and November '08.

No one really has the least idea of what to do next and even if they did have a workable plan, which would be good fortune not good management, there is no way they would be able to get the machine which has been rendered totally dysfunctional by the fallout from failure, to overcome the election mode inertia and implement it.

I repeat myself. I strongly believe that the empire is a millimeter away from implosion. Those on the left in amerika would be wise to have some type of fallback position which reasonable people could unite around. The other side of knaves, charlatans and blusterers will be developing an 'exit strategy' but not from Iraq - from the democratic process.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 27 2007 23:28 utc | 18

debs makes the most salient point - thiis whole thing aint' happenin because a rapprochement between the us & iran would be the most sensible thing for them to do - in their own interest(s) - but i'll have to agree with debs again - because in geopolitics - stupidity will always win out

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 27 2007 23:33 utc | 19

"Follow the money." (Deep Throat) Too late!

"New US anti-terrorism legislation will authorise significant increases in grants for Homeland Security, providing $4bn over four years for transit security (TSA), $750m a year for airport security and $1.8bn next year for states and high-risk cities.(New York)"

"The Democrats agreed to modify some measures to win Republican approval and dropped one element - no longer allowing airport screening personnel to unionise - which had prompted President Bush to threaten a veto."

More money in the sweet hominy pie for Heckel (Cherthoff) and Jeckel (Cheney). Remember, this bill is just another money pot for Congress to pour our taxes in. Cheney can, and has, taken money from one pot and moved it into another, including black ops, off budget and hidden from any Congressional oversight, thanks to Gonzales re-interpretation of rule by divine edict, and for Cherthoff to divert funds from one pot to another and into cost overruns on the catastrophic Boeing failure re the southern border "virtual wall", or for this:

That $6B draft just means Bushco will need a $160B re-approp in September instead of October, barely 30 days from now, at a time when the US$ is worth 55% what is was back in 2000, and the world is heading into a global financial meltdown.

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Biometrics.
Benjamin: Just how do you mean that, sir?

Posted by: Tante Aime | Jul 28 2007 1:31 utc | 20

"...Iran was, is and always will be the superpower in the Middle East, whether financially, geo-strategically, historically, intellectually, culturally or politically."

Of late, it seems closed minds have been very outspoken. An intelligent being can get lazy in that respect. Intelligence is more than an IQ score.

Posted by: Rick | Jul 28 2007 1:52 utc | 21

Seems like the same old strategy to me- keep the weapons flowing to each side while they kill each other off. Sadr is dangerous because he won't play their game. The Kurds will also get sold out again when Sarkozy blocks Turkey from getting in the EU and then the US allies with Turkey against the EU....

Posted by: biklett | Jul 28 2007 2:59 utc | 22

US plans massive arms deal for Saudis

Reports the New York Times in its Saturday, July 28 edition, Congress will be asked by the Bush Administration to approve $20 billion in advanced weapons and planes for Saudi Arabia, at the same time that Israel, along with Congress, are nervous about Saudi Arabia's role in the war effort. The US hopes to have assuaged this by offering Israel an aid package totaling $30.4 billion over the next ten years.
"The role of the Sunni Arab neighbors is to send a positive, affirmative message to moderates in Iraq in government that the neighbors are with you," a senior State Department official told reporters in a conference call on Friday. More specifically, the official said, the United States wants the Gulf states to make clear to Sunni Arabs engaged in violence in Iraq that such actions are "killing your future."

Posted by: Rick | Jul 28 2007 3:28 utc | 23

Rice, Gates head to Middle East again
Published: July 27, 2007, 09:27
Washington: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defence Secretary Robert Gates will travel to the Middle East next week to rally support for Iraq.
The two are set to meet ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council as well as Jordan and Egypt in Sharm El Shaikh on Tuesday, followed by meetings in Saudi Arabia.
"This is more about optics than substance," said an Arab diplomat. "They want to show … that there is regional consultation on Iraq and regional support for the surge."

Posted by: Rick | Jul 28 2007 3:47 utc | 24

just a few weeks ago, major confrontation between US troops & Sadr's forces in Baghdad was the imminent big story. Sadr declined. hence dissipating what looked like yet another effort to ramp-up "divide & rule" -- between Shia & Sunni".

Sadr warns the Persians to not meddle in Iraq. Yet the word is he's in Iran somewhere. Sadr's Mahdi army engages in tit-for-tat attacks against the Sunni. Yet, more & more the Sunni say they admire him for his nationalism.

these guys just arent following the script.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jul 28 2007 4:12 utc | 25

Iranian leaders won’t loose much sleep over these news stories:

Oil rises above $75 as investors focus on tighter fuel stocks

…fuel demand in the world's top consumer remains robust. Government inventory data on Wednesday showed a third straight draw in US crude stocks.
Analysts said Opec's output curbs would ensure a continuing decline in US crude stocks through the third quarter. Traders continued to monitor the closure of most of ExxonMobil's 326,000-barrel per day Fawley refinery.

MORE PRESSURE: Analysts lower Opec production estimates

With non-Opec forecasts coming down for 2007, this puts more pressure on Opec to increase supply later this year to meet demand.
"Without more Opec oil, global inventories are set to fall by 200 million barrels over the course of 2007," the Centre for Global Energy Studies said in its latest monthly report.
Opec, which meets next in September, pledged to reduce supplies by a total 1.7 million bpd in two stages from November 2006 and February 2007.

Are those dates in the last sentence past tense?

Posted by: Rick | Jul 28 2007 4:21 utc | 26

Debs: the empire is a millimeter away from implosion.

I guess we will see soon enough…

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries hasn't raised output to keep pace with growing consumption.
Global oil consumption peaks during the Northern Hemisphere winter.
Brent crude oil for September settlement increased $1.08, or 1.4 percent, to $76.26 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures exchange.

Posted by: Rick | Jul 28 2007 4:42 utc | 27

Bush Speechwriter Calls for Attack on Syria

Gary Leupp writes about Michael Gerson's military fantasy concerning "Low-Hanging Fruit"

Posted by: Copeland | Jul 28 2007 4:51 utc | 28

The first credible eyewitness account on U.S. pressure to pass oil law and inplications. via JCole:

Sawt al-Iraq reports that member of the Kurdistan parliament, Nuri Talabani, insists that US economic interests are driving its heavy-handed push to make sure the Iraqi parliament signs a petroleum law in short order. He said that the US government wants special deals for US petroleum corporations in developing, producing and distributing Iraqi petroleum, and that is why it is in such a hurry. Since the US and its Iraqi allies have been involved in heavy negotiations with the Kurdistan Regional Government over the exact provisions of a petroleum law, it is plausible that Talabani has special knowledge of US goals.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 28 2007 4:56 utc | 29

The NYT piece Rick announced U.S. Set to Offer Huge Arms Deal to Saudi Arabia

The Bush administration is preparing to ask Congress to approve an arms sale package for Saudi Arabia and its neighbors that is expected to eventually total $20 billion at a time when some United States officials contend that the Saudis are playing a counterproductive role in Iraq.

The proposed package of advanced weaponry for Saudi Arabia, which includes advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to its fighters and new naval vessels, has made Israel and some of its supporters in Congress nervous. Senior officials who described the package on Friday said they believed that the administration had resolved those concerns, in part by promising Israel $30.4 billion in military aid over the next decade, a significant increase over what Israel has received in the past 10 years.

First issue - the Saudis would have to pay for those weapons, Israel gets them for free ....
“The role of the Sunni Arab neighbors is to send a positive, affirmative message to moderates in Iraq in government that the neighbors are with you,” a senior State Department official told reporters in a conference call on Friday. More specifically, the official said, the United States wants the gulf states to make clear to Sunnis engaged in violence in Iraq that such actions are “killing your future.”
Killing their future? Quite an threat ... will the US go after the children now?
The package and the possible steps to allay Israel’s concerns were described to Congress this week, in an effort by the administration to test the reaction on Capitol Hill before entering into final negotiations on the package with Saudi officials. The Saudis had requested that Congress be told about the planned sale, the officials said, in an effort to avoid the kind of bruising fight on Capitol Hill that occurred in the 1980s over proposed arms sales to the kingdom.
The Saudis said: "We don't trust you Bush, so first prove to us that you are capable to deliver."
The $20 billion price tag on the package is more than double what officials originally estimated when details became public this spring. Even the higher figure is a rough estimate that could fluctuate depending on the final package, which would be carried out over a number of years, officials said.
So many bribes to pay - we had to double the price ...
Along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are likely to receive equipment and weaponry from the arms sales under consideration, officials said. In general, the United States is interested in upgrading the countries’ air and missile defense systems, improving their navies and making modest improvements in their air forces, administration officials said, though not all the packages would be the same.
The $30.4 billion being promised to Israel is $9.1 billion more than Israel has received over the past decade, an increase of nearly 43 percent.
In defending the proposed sale to Saudi Arabia and other gulf states, the officials noted that the Saudis and several of the other countries were in talks with suppliers other than the United States. If the packages offered to them by the United States are blocked or come with too many conditions, the officials said, the Persian Gulf countries could turn elsewhere for similar equipment, reducing American influence in the region.
The Chinese made a good offer here ....
Israeli officials have made specific requests aimed at eliminating concerns that satellite-guided bombs sold to the Saudis could be used against its territory, administration officials said.

Their major concern is not a full-scale Saudi attack, but the possibility that a rogue pilot armed with one of the bombs could attack on his own or that the Saudi government could one day be overthrown and the weapons could fall into the hands of a more radical regime, officials said.

Something's in the air ...

Posted by: b | Jul 28 2007 5:08 utc | 30

Richard Sale (old time journalist) via Pat Lang:

According to senior US intelligence officials, President Bush has definitely decided not to strike any of Iranian alleged nuclear weapons production facilities this year. Israeli intel is floating a lot of stories about bunker buster bombs being moved to the region, but this is psyop rubbish.

What Cheney has proposed is a measure that would launch a very limited military strike at one or more known Iranian training centers whose forces are being deployed to Iraq. This proposal has, so far, gotten no approval.

(emphasis in the original)

Posted by: b | Jul 28 2007 6:00 utc | 31

Even the woefully decayed Guardian is featuring the story on it's front page. US accuses Saudis of telling lies about Iraq

Looks like xUS is between S.A. & Russia on this one. I recall we had a discussion this spring after S.A. summoned Cheney & insisted he curb growing power of Iran. So, any retrenchment on bellicosity toward Iran would be accompanied by attacks on S.A. Given that xUs is claiming they're putting in missile defense crap surrounding the Soviet Union to protect against Iranian missiles, I suspect that discussions of recent trip of Kissinger & Chairman & CEO went along the lines of Russia agreeing to cut a deal/share on the oil rich land Russian just claimed under the Arctic, if the missile defense crap is removed/US backed off Iran....Maybe they figure there's enough oil under the Arctic to change course in ME.

Posted by: jj | Jul 28 2007 6:19 utc | 32

Yikes - correction - Above should read "I suspect that discussions on recent trip of Kissinger & Chairman & CEO of Chevron " ...

b-, what's yr. take on this reasoning?

Posted by: jj | Jul 28 2007 6:31 utc | 33

@jj - 32 - I don't think the Russian claim on Arctic resources is well founded. It is still discussed in the various UN committees and will take some time. I therefore doubt that the US is currently already negotiating about it. There is already enough on the table to be discussed ...

Posted by: b | Jul 28 2007 8:06 utc | 34

Of course, it's very possible that it's just Maliki/Chalabi ("Oil Minister") turning the screws - don't forget Houston still pressuring them to pass "Oil Law" ASAP giving them 84% of the profits for ~30yrs.

Just listened to interview w/Palast Remember when Sunnis were fighting against xUS desired breakup of Iraq into 3 'cuz their part of the country had so little oil? Well, that prob. was solved. Iraqi govt. just spent millions buying from West a map of Iraqii oil fields & what mysteriously to their eyes should appear - but vast unexplored tracts of oil under the Sunni part!

Posted by: jj | Jul 28 2007 8:09 utc | 35>Green zone government freaking out

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 28 2007 8:14 utc | 36

@Rick, you took umbrage at my statement below:

"...Iran was, is and always will be the superpower in the Middle East, whether financially, geo-strategically, historically, intellectually, culturally or politically."

"Of late, it seems closed minds have been very outspoken. An intelligent being can get lazy in that respect. Intelligence is more than an IQ score."

There's nothing wrong with being outspoken as long as you're accurate. And I honestly think you should check your facts before you try to belittle other people's statements. Let me justify my claims, one by one, so you can learn why America is so desperate to (re-)capture Iran, even if it means destroying it first:

1. Financial. Iran is the WORLD's (not the ME's) 19th largest economy on a PPP basis, according to the CIA Factbook. No other ME nation or state comes even close. Iran's wealth is diversified, boasting $ 10 trillion barrels of easily recoverable crude oil, $ 5 trillion of natural gas and $ 5 trillion of metallurgical wealth (including gold, copper, zinc, aluminium, titanium, bauxite, uranium and unlimited semi-precious and unique quarry stones). These have been discovered despite interminable U.S. technological and financial sanctions that have prevented further discovery and exploitation. The U.N.F.A.O. also classifies Iran as a global top 20 producer in 30 different categories of agricultural products (13 millions tons of wheat, etc.,.), so the nation's wealth is highly diversified. Iran is self-sufficient in everything other than sound government!

2. Geo-strategic. Iran is the only country in the world, besides Russia, with 8 land borders and 8 sea borders. Its location is even more strategically relevant than Russia's despite the obvious size difference.

3. History. Every country in the Persian Gulf is no more than 100 years old, their borders drawn up in Whitehall less than 100 years ago. Iran's identity was etablished by Cyrus the Great 2,500 years ago. Persia grew ever smaller over the centuries, but its core (now Iran) remained constant for the entire 2,500 years.

4. Intellectual. 65 % of all Iranian university students are women. Iranians hold numerous prestigious posts abroad, such as Professor Naderi (Head of NASA's Mercury Space Project). 3 Iranian universities have been declared "world class" by the U.N.. Graduates of Sharif Technological University gain automatic admission to MIT and Stanford, and regularly gain the highest Ph.D scores in those universities. A recent MIT study concluded that Iranians are the most educated AND most wealthy among all U.S. immigrants. Iran is a world leader in stem-cell technology and has made solid progress in aerospace. 100 % of the workforce is Iranian, whereas Gulf nations depend on an immigrabt workforce of up to 90 % of the entire population (Qatar, Dubai).

5. Cultural. This is a no-brainer. The Arabs have lots of shiny new buildings and a few Waddies, but Iran has millenia of historical monuments and artefacts. Iranian cinema is world famous, with director Kiarostami nominated President of the Cannes Film Festival 2 years ago. Iranian poets inspired Goethe, while Ferdowsi, Rumi, Omar Khayyam, Hafez and Saadi are household names to students of world literature.

6. Politics. Before the Islamic Revolution Iran was America's ally and the Policeman of the Persian Gulf. The hostage crisis changed all that, even though not a hair of one hostage was harmed and they were merely denied 'room service' for 444 days. (Thank God they weren't captured by revolutionary Iraqis, Saudis, Afghans or Pakistanis!). America (and France) did everything within their power to encourage and assist Saddam Hussein in destroying Iran, and failed miserably, partly because Iran is so wealthy and influential in the region that staunch U.S. allies (and even American companies like Schlumberger and Halliburton) did everything possible to circumvent America's sanctions.

Now, Rick, instead of a cute one-liner, I welcome your criticism of any of the statements above.

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 28 2007 8:17 utc | 37;jsessionid=IGAHG33FIYEL1QFIQMGSFFOAVCBQWIV0?xml=/news/2007/07/28/wirq128.xml>Maliki asks bush for gen. Petreaus to be removed.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 28 2007 8:21 utc | 38

And what the Saudi's are upset with washington for is what washington is accusing the Saudis for doing - what they themselves are doing, arming the Sunnis - against the wishes of the government they supposedly support.

Stupidity winning out.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 28 2007 8:35 utc | 39

Parviz - you make a solid argument about Iran. Could'nt the same be said about Turkey except they are allied with the US and Israel rather than being burdened, perhaps even chained, with threats of destruction?

I'm not sure that just b/c the 6 point schema you've laid out looks good for Iran that it translates into an actual reality. Iran is the norm not the exception when it comes to unrealized potential and the problems of dealing with Western powers.

It would make for a very interesting gobal dynamic if Iran were to become the head honcho on the block.

Posted by: Ben | Jul 28 2007 9:04 utc | 40

I’ve always said that Iran is a natural US ally. That used to be a Dem pov btw.

Kissinger went to Moscow (afaik) to try to undo some of the damage caused by BushCo. Reportedly the K tried hard, and did make a little progress at mollifying Putin who is in a black rage.

I naturally have a different view (than Ralphie boy at 9 and Parviz at 12) on 9/11 and the Saudis. Independently of who the ‘true’ perpetrators were in that affair, Saudi took a lot of flack, kind of indirect blame, from the US public and the Dems (see M Moore’s opus; the affair of the ports, etc.) Bush of course kept up the same friendly relations. However the Saudis were not allowed to defend themselves or protest. They wanted proof of the involvement of their nationals (as did the families of Atta and Jarrah; the Hanjour family accepted Hani’s involvement) but they did not get it. They managed only to get the US to officially apologise to A. Alomari, Saudi pilot, falsely accused, but that was it. For the rest it was move along, nothing to see here, forget about it, we are allies, etc. It rankled, and it was the Saudis who distanced themselves and Bush who tried to make nice.

Needless to say, even if some or most of the ‘terrorists’ were truly Saudi (most conspiracists consider this unlikely, on one count or another, or see them as patsies picked up with some cash) Saudi had nothing to do with 9/11, as far as I see it, but this is opinion, not more. (I don’t want to derail the thread.)

Good round up on Iran (Parviz.)

Posted by: Noirette | Jul 28 2007 9:04 utc | 41

@Ben, you're right, Iran is the norm in terms of lost or unexploited potential. Regarding Turkey, it's not really 'Middle Eastern' but sandwiched between Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, so I didn't include it. Turkey's biggest advantage has been its absence of natural resources, a phenomenon that encourages innovation, internal development and leadership rather than the nation's exploitation by foreigners in return for kickbacks and bribes. We Iranian 'intellectuals' curse our nation's wealth, because the country is so rich that even donkeys can run it without bankrupting it! Without such wealth even the Mullahs would have stood aside and begged the technocrats and educated classes to save the country. We would have developed like Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Korea, India, China and numerous other countries that depended on raw brainpower for their survival and prosperity.

What we have instead is vast wealth devoted exclusively to the maintenance of a dictatorship. If that wealth hadn't existed Iran would have pursued its intellectual, cultural and economic destiny. We have more than our fair share of brains.

@Noirette, I don't want to repeat my statements, but you would do well to read "Against All Enemies" by Richard Clarke (Head of the NSC's Counter-Terrorism Security Group for a decade till 2003), "Imperial Hubris" and especially "Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America", both by Michael Scheuer (Head of, and later advisor to, the CIA's Bin Laden Unit till mid 2004; Op-Ed articles by Flynt Leverett (Director for Middle Eastern Affairs at the NSC), numerous recent mainstream media articles on that Saudi scoundrel Prince Bandar, and other available literature. These all prove that Saudi Arabia is indeed "the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism". Iran comes out smelling like roses in comparison, though Israel and the Neocons would have you think otherwise.

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 28 2007 9:36 utc | 42

I can't help but notice a lot of these so called news reports are sourced out of the Daily Telegraph in particular a bloke called Damien McElroy who spent four days in Iraq once.

The Telegraph is practically the official organ of the British Conservative Party, but when they are out of power like now, it seems to hang out with the alphabet organisations. The damn rag was unreadable during the cold war as it not only devoted itself to vituperative attacks on the USSR at every turn, it's stories read like a really bad spy fantasy.

The Telegraph gets it's hands on a lot of airy fairy stuff that is all innuendo and little checkable fact. George Galloway decided to make the Telegraph check it facts when it ran a story claiming a big mob of papers had been found in Baghdad showing he took millions from Saddam. MoA readers may remember that after Galloway won a large settlement out of the Telegraph when it was demonstrated that the papers were manufactured by an Iraqi intelligence asset of USuk, he dropped by the amerikan Congress for a quick word.

The other organ for most of this "USuk turn on Sunni" story is that well known bastion of truth light and the amerikan way, the New York Times - all the news thats fit to start a war. Or confuse the enemy at home. Heh remember 'the briefcase of data" on Iran last year?

As I said up thread the BushCo regime doesn't have the clout to make a major shift in foreign policy like rapprochement with Iran. Nixon cut the deal with China at the peak of his power just as he was due to be re-elected. Shrub would have been able to pull off an Iran in 04, and what a deal that would have been if he had, the Iranians wanted it. But Bush and Cheney are little men grasping in the now with no real vision.

Setting aside for one moment the plain fact that Al-Quaeda is a US construct that believed the lies about itself for a while, and now it's three men in a cave, I have no doubt that BushCo would like very much to turn up the heat in Iraq and put further stress on whatever internal alliances remain.

However even if they do, they are never going to get past the one big bugbear. Iraqis may dislike each other but they hate amerikan occupation more. They may not be able to purge themselves of it right now and they will take the arms on offer, understanding that in the end all that artillery will be used against those who supplied it.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 28 2007 13:30 utc | 43

@Debs - as for the sources - I know the Telegraph is an MI6 outlet. But the Iran/Iraq "security committee" Juan Cole quotes the Torygraph on was confirmed by several other like the FT.

The Maliki Petraeus fight anna missed linked also has several sources like AP

As for using NYT as source - it usually prints what the US government wants it to print. But by reading that one might get a hint what the US government is aiming for.

That said: I characterized my thoughts as "quite speculative" - It would be a good move for Bush though. Is he capable to do that move? Like you I doubt that.

The idea of a US-Iran rapproachment is spreading around, btw. Here is monarchist William S. Lind in the American Conservative (who I read only today after writing my piece yesterday):

How to Win in Iraq

An indirect approach to winning the war in Iraq on the strategic level has three central elements. The first is the lesson of Nixon’s trip to China.

That brilliant diplomatic move of establishing a rapprochement with China in effect won the Vietnam War for the United States. The threat that drew us into a major war was not North Vietnam, a power of purely local significance. Rather, it was Mao’s doctrine of exporting wars of national liberation. (The phrase at the time was “Two, three, many Vietnams.”) The new relationship Nixon established with China ended that threat, rendering our defeat on the ground in Vietnam irrelevant.

In the case of the war in Iraq, Iran is China, and the first component of a strategy to win in Iraq is to establish a rapprochement with Iran. That is, a general settlement of differences. The Iranians have offered us such a settlement—including a compromise on the nuclear issue—on generous terms. But the Bush administration, true to its hubris, refused to consider it, going so far as to upbraid the Swiss for daring to forward the overture to us. It seems, however, to remain on the table.

The reason a strategy to win in Iraq must begin with a rapprochement with Iran is that any real Iraqi state is likely to be allied to Iran. Even the quisling al-Maliki government cowering in the Green Zone is close to Iran. A legitimate Iraqi government, which is virtually certain to be dominated by Iraq’s Shi’ites, will probably be much closer.
There is no chance the Bush administration, locked in a Totentanz with its dreams of world empire, will adopt this strategy. But the presidential debate season has already begun, and a bevy of candidates in both parties are looking around for something, anything that might get us out of the Iraqi morass without accepting defeat. If just one of them picks up on it, those yawningly dull debates might get a lot more interesting.

Posted by: b | Jul 28 2007 14:11 utc | 44

While a cordial detent (if not an alliance) with Iran has some merit from a strategic point of view, it isn't going to happen for two reasons.

1) Political resistance to it is simply to great (mostly from Israel but some also from the Saudis.) Even during the Clinton W.H. and with the west friendly Khatami in Iran, attempts at breaking the ice always failed. This despite a number of overtures from Iran and a desire by the U.S. oil industry to invest.

2) Such a detent assumes the U.S. is willing to share. It isn't. The U.S. has gotten used to being the single dominant power in the Persian gulf and has no interest in dividing up spheres of influence with the likes of Iran (it won't even do that with Russia, even over areas without a tenth of the Gulf's strategic value.) It isn't going to lift sanctions, an essential component to any deal, as that would only make Iran more wealth and powerful.

Bear in mind that U.S. foreign policy typically prefers relationships of dominance-submission. (Egypt, Saudi) It isn't looking for equal partnerships in a multi-polar world. That is why it seeks to overthrow any government in Iran it can't control, be it Islamic as today, or secular-democratic as in 1953.

Posted by: Lysander | Jul 28 2007 16:51 utc | 45

While a concerted U.S. media campaign runs to pressure Saudi Arabia, by pure coincidence the Associate Press writer in Riyath today puts out a long story about a converted ex-"al-Qaida" and the good works of Saudi government against "jihadis".

Saudi turns his back on jihad

Today, he says, he has changed his mind about waging jihad, or holy war, and wants other young Muslims to know it
At 22, the new Ahmed Al-Shayea is the product of a concerted Saudi government effort to counter the ideology that nurtured the 9/11 hijackers and that has lured Saudis in droves to the Iraq insurgency.
Funny how this all works ...

Posted by: b | Jul 28 2007 18:14 utc | 46

If I remember correctly, wasn't dick cheney as head of halliburton, working to expand that companies interests in Iran in the period after the first gulf war? That he was an outspoken critic of economic sanctions, and against further sanctions? It may be counter-intuitive, but this is a man who can work with the mullahs of Iran - and also account (in part at least) for his transformation from pro-Saudi realist to pro-Shiite neo-con.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 28 2007 19:10 utc | 47

Parviz at 42:

9/11 is, sadly, a rorscharch butterfly on which ppl can project their favorite scenes, enemies, scenarios, etc. That is deliberately engineered.

Blame is handed out:

to Saudi - to Israel - to the Mossad - to the CIA - to Iraq - to Bush - to Bush co.- to the neo-cons - to AlQ (Saudi, Pakistan) - to Silverstein and NY interests in the twin towers - to the Illuminati - to occult forces - to Islamist fundamentalists - to Binny, al Q again - to a US cabal, the US army and security agencies - to a band of stateless terrorists, a one off - to a business conspiracy - to an Anglo group.... and fill more in.

Your particular projection has nothing going for it. Cherry picking can always be done, as the US press sees to that - it is, a deliberate, calculated strategy. The trick is to pull in any opiniated asshole and get him or her banging some kind of drum and then mouth off and show that even the weirdest ideas are expressed and not censored, > free speech. In this way a free for all is created and ppl like you will blame - without any evidence whatsoever - their pet hates, enemies, etc. You know nothing - or very little about 9/11 - but is somehow suits you for Saudi to be a culprit. You are a either a dope, a willing victim of the offer on hand, or an opportunist, for tiny, actually null, stakes.

Sorry to be so harsh. Have a drink on me, but you need to get away from your own impulses, examine them. In view of your other attitudes I’m surprised you didn’t say that Israel was responsible.

And I have read all those texts your refer to.

Posted by: Noirette | Jul 28 2007 20:01 utc | 48

Noirette, you must have some extremely close personal links/ties to Saudi Arabia to be defending the Saudis so fiercely in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence. I suggest you re-examine your own motives instead of questioning mine.

FACT: Saudi Wahhabi Islam is the most extreme form of Islam in existence. It preaches (as do the Saudi schools) death to all non-believers, whether Shi'ites, Jews or Christians. You're not even allowed to bring a Bible into Saudi Arabia, for Christ's sake.

The Saudi charities financed 9/11,and Osama Bin Laden (a Saudi in case you didn't know) planned 9/11 and 18 Saudi hijackers carried it out. I'm not even going to reply to the rest of your statements since you don't even pass the elementary first test of apportioning blame correctly for 9/11. Maybe you're one of the 70 % of gullible, brainwashed Americans who thought that Saddam was responsible............

And have a drink on me, plus a hot coffee and a cold shower. You need them all.

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 28 2007 21:31 utc | 49

@ Lysander, that was a brilliant post (45), an excellent and concise summary of the reasons why America won't engage Iran.

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 28 2007 21:35 utc | 50

@anna missed (post 47), it's too late for that type of Nixon- or Kissinger-like transformation as far as Iran is concerned. If Cheney even hinted at such a move he would become the laughing stock of the world, not just of America. And the Iranians wouldn't trust him.

No, it needs a new regime in America, so at the very earliest it will take till early 2009, assuming the 2 sides haven't caused each other irreparable damage before then.

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 28 2007 21:52 utc | 51


quite a few very smart peeps say the 9/11 conspiracy theories are wack.

conversely theres quite a few very smart peeps who strongly accept the conspiracy angle.

but my simple mind does not quite have a position yet.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jul 29 2007 1:13 utc | 52


While you're probably right, by virtue of the "empire does the stupid thing" rule of thumb - But, I also would think that most of the bad blood between the U.S. and Iran has been the results of decades old juvenile posturing by the state department and the pentagon than the results of anything substantial. After all, the U.S. has managed to find rapprochement (in not unsimilar time frames) for circumstances far heavier in price of blood and treasure, Vietnam for example. Its just that all the posturing has served the purpose of placating allies and has been allowed to exceed its usefulness in geo-political terms. Especially with regards to the situation in Iraq where some deal making with Iran could yield significant results in a dire situation, with little concession. And then there is of course the obvious fact that the entire Iraq escapade has been predicated on an AEI pro Shiite platform with windfall benefits to Iran itself. This is hardly the behavior a country worried about enabling an enemy it considers already to be a mortal threat.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 29 2007 1:41 utc | 53

Blaming the Saudis for 9/11 is silly. First and foremost, 9/11 was an inside job. How do I know? The Laws of Physics: Building #7 was an ordinary skyscraper that was stuck by NOTHING except some stray debris, somehow caught fire, and then somehow COLLAPSED INTO ITS OWN FOOTPRINT in one single motion. THAT is where the violation of physics comes in: No other steel-frame skyscraper in the history of the world has collapsed from fire, let alone into its own footprint, not before and not since (For example, Madrid 2005, where the steel skeleton still stood despite the building being completely gutted.)

What does that tell you? That the official 9/11 story is bogus--a lie. And what does THAT tell you? That the US federal government, specifically the executive, specifically the White House, is complicit. Guilty as enablers, or guilty as planners. Either way: Inside job.

From there you can set about sorting good "conspiracy theories" from the bad. Certainly there are bad ones: It is part of the officially generated disinformation. The good ones will show themselves by being compatible with reality. Was there a conspiracy? Well, everybody agrees that SOMEBODY put together a team that knocked those buildings down. It's just that the somebodies who are officially blamed are NOT the somebodies that did it.

AS to who DID do it, there are plenty of clues. You just have to be willing to look.

In short: Reichstag fire. Look it up. Learn what it was. Learn what it IS. Learn how it works and why. Not the first time; not the last. We will see this again, at least once more.

Thanks b, for this thread. Wandered over from European Tribune, where they are discussing it.

Posted by: Gaianne | Jul 29 2007 2:58 utc | 54

Sunni Islam in Saudi Arabia comprises several competing, even conflicting, trends. There is an official ideology that informs almost all of the country's ulema and that motivates the country's whip-weilding religious police, scourge of female drivers, male drinkers, exposed ankles, and bare heads. Yet, far from calling for radical political action, that ideology is firmly rooted in current society. Often misnamed "Wahhabi" after Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the sect's eighteenth-century founder, the correct term is salafi (follower), since it demands strict adherence to doctrines laid down not by Adb al-Wahhab but by the Prophet Muhammad, his immediate companions, and the leaders of the two generations that followed. The objective of the salafi movement is to purge Islam of subsequent accretions, including notions like jihad-as-a-sixth-pillar, which bin Laden learned from his theopolitical mentors.

r.t. naylor - money, myth, and misinformation in the war on terror, (mcgill-queen's university press, 2006)

The thrid time jihad was widely waged as a "just war" was in the middle of the eighteenth century in the Arabian peninsula, proclaimed by Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab (1703-1792), who gave his name to a contemporary doctrine identified with the House of Saud, Wahhabism. Ibn Wahhab's jihad was declared in a colonial setting, on an Arab peninsula that had been under Ottoman control from the sixteenth century. It was not a jihad against unbelievers. Its enemies included Sunni Muslim Ottoman colonizers and Shi'a "heretics", whereas its beneficiaries were a newly forged alliance between the ambitious House of Saud and the new imperial power on the horizon, Great Britain. ... The Islamic world had not seen an armed jihad for nearly a century. But now the CIA was determined to create one in service of a contemporary political objective. Of course, the tradition of jihad is contentious. Doctrinally, the tradition of jihad as "just war" can be located in the "lesser jihad," not in the "greater jihad." Historically, the tradition of "lesser jihad" itself comprises two different -- and conflicting -- notions. The first is that of a just war against occupiers, whether nonbelievers or believers. There were for such just wars: Saladin's jihad against the Crusaders in the twelfth century, the Sufi jihad against enslaving aristocracies in West Africa in the seventeenth century, the Wahhabi jihad against Ottoman colonizers in the Arabian peninsula in the eighteenth century, and the Mahdi's anticolonial struggle against the combination of Turko-Egyptian and British power in late nineteenth-century Sudan. The first was against occupying nonbelievers, the second against oppressive believers, the third against occupying believers, and the fourth, against a combination of occupiers, believers and nonbelievers. The second, conflicting, tradition is that of a permanent jihad against doctrinal tendencies in Islam officially considered "heretic." This is a tradition with little historical depth in Islam. Associated with the slaughter of Shi'a civilian populations in Iran and Iraq carried out by the Ikhwan faction of the Wahhabi movement in the eighteenth century -- not to be confused with the later Egyptian Ikhwan (Society of Muslim Brothers) -- this tradition is more akin to the Inquisition in Christianity than to any historical practice of jihad in Islam. The notion of a standing jihad -- a state institution in defensse of state interests -- is identified less with historial Islam that with the later history of the House of Saud and the state of Saudi Arabia. Precisely because of its association with sectarian practices enshrined in the history of a state with such close ties to official America, an armed standing jihad was particularly appealing to the CIA planners.

This is the setting in which the United States organized the Afghan jihad and that informed its central objective: to unite a billion Muslims worldwide in a holy war, a crusade, against the Soviet Union, on the soil of Afghanistan. The notion of a crusade, rather than jihad, conveys better the frame of mind in which this initiative was taken. A secondary objective was to turn a doctrinal difference between two Islamic sects -- the minority Shi'a and the majority Sunni -- into a politica divide and thereby to contain the influence of the Iranian Revolution as a Shi'a affair. The Afghan jihad was in reality an American jihad...

--mahmood mamdani, good muslim, bad muslim: america, the cold war, and the roots of terror, (doubleday, 2004)

In an effort to mobilize the entire Muslim world against the "evil empire," the CIA started supporting the flow of volunteers from all around the world to fight in Afghanistan, to be socialized into the ideology of anti-communism, and to be trained to hit communists whereever they found them. That's how the militants were recruited and flown in. I've seen planeloads of them arriving from Algeria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, even from Palenstine, where at that time Israel was supporting Hamas against Al Fatah, Yasir Arafat's faction of the PLO. These people were brought in, given an ideology, and told that armed struggle is virtuous -- and the movement was born. ... This whole phenomenon of jihad as an international armed struggle never existed in the last five centuries. It was brought into being and pan-Islamized by the American effort.

-- eqbal ahmad, confronting empire: interviews with david barsamian, (south end press, 2000)

Posted by: b real | Jul 29 2007 3:49 utc | 55

Gaianne, even assuming for a second that the DEVASTATION of 9/11 was the result of an inside job, you cannot absolve the Saudis from blame for having sent their 18 hijackers and pilots to America for flight training and execution of the project, at least in its preliminary stages.

It's really weird how people bend over backwards to defend the Saudi regime, saying that any Saudis caught in terrorist attacks were operating independently, while on the rare occasion that an Iranian footprint is found in Iraq the accusations immediately turn towards the regime itself! I expected more from this Board than a Neocon-like total whitewash of Saudi Arabia, considering its 100 % proven involvement in 9/11. Just because the CIA or Mossad may have known about it and purposely failed to warn anyone, or even if the U.S. regime ensured that the efects would be more dramatic than even the Saudis had planned or hoped for, does NOT absolve the Saudis of the INTENT to cause massive damage.

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 29 2007 4:06 utc | 56

saudi arabia is a US colony. pull away the u.s.-trained national guard & the house collapses.

Posted by: b real | Jul 29 2007 4:14 utc | 57

@anna missed: "your words in God's ear"! I sincerely hope you're right. But the time for rapprochement would have been May 2003, not the final 15 months when the Iranian regime knows the U.S. is acting out of sheer desperation (if it decides to act at all). The U.S. would now have to make too many face-losing concessions to get past Congress and the Senate, such as:

Lifting sanctions
Recognizing the regime (one of the world's worst)
Guaranteeing Iran's security
Pressuring Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders
Inviting Ahmadinejad to the White House (?!?)

Time is on Iran's side: Sanctions have been ineffective other than to force hardship on the civilian population, and China/Russia have formally stated they would veto a 3rd round of U.N. sanctions. America is unpopular and in desperate trouble throughout the region, and the Mullahs have a combined cash war chest of almost $ 200 billion in official and illicit holdings. The playing field is very uneven.

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 29 2007 4:16 utc | 58

Regarding my 56 above, I just spotted the authoritative article below that states precisely the same thing about the malicious Saudi role in Iraq:

Bush Line Distorts Iran's Real Interest in Iraq

by Gareth Porter
As US and Iranian diplomats met in Baghdad Tuesday for a second round of talks on Iraq, the domestic US political climate appears decidedly more supportive of an aggressive US posture toward Iran than just a few months ago, reflecting the apparent triumph of the George W. Bush administration's narrative on Iran's role in Iraq.

That new narrative threatens to obscure the bigger picture of Iranian policy toward Iraq, widely recognized by regional specialists. Iran's strategic interests in Iraq are far more compatible with those of the United States than those of the Sunni regimes in the region with which the United States has aligned itself.

Contrary to the official narrative, Iranian support for Shi'ites is not aimed at destabilizing the country but does serve a rational Iranian desire to maximize its alliances with Iraqi Shi'ite factions, in the view of specialists on Iranian policy and on the security of the Persian Gulf region.

Symptomatic of the toughening attitude in Congress toward Iran was the 97-0 vote in the Senate last week for a resolution drafted by its leading proponent of war against Iran, Sen. Joe Lieberman, stating that "the murder of members of the United States Armed Forces by a foreign government or its agents is an intolerable act of hostility against the United States." The resolution demanded that the government of Iran "take immediate action" to end all forms of support it is providing to Iraqi militias and insurgents.

That vote followed several months of intensive administration propaganda charging that Iran is arming Shi'ite militias in Iraq, and characterizing Iranian financial support and training for Shi'ite militias as an aggressive effort to target US troops and to destabilize Iraq.

But this administration line ignores the fact that Iran's primary ties in Iraq have always been with those groups who have supported the Nouri al Maliki government, including the SCIRI and Dawa parties and their paramilitary arm, the Badr Corps, rather than with anti-government militias. That indicates that Iran's fundamental interest is to see the government stabilize the situation in the country, according to Prof. Mohsen Milani of Florida International University, a specialist on Iran's national security policies.

Milani argues that Iran's interests are more closely aligned with those of the United States than any other state in the region. "I can't think of two other countries in the region who want the Iraqi government to succeed," says Milani.

He believes the Iranians are so upset with the efforts by the Saudis to undermine the Shi'ite-dominated government that they may try to use the talks with the United States on the security of Iraq to introduce intelligence they have gathered on Saudi support for al-Qaeda and Sunni insurgents.

Trita Parsi, author of a new book on Iranian-Israeli security relations, agrees that Iran's support for the Maliki government stands in contrast to the attitude of the leading US Sunni ally in Middle East, Saudi Arabia. "Look at what the Saudis are calling the Maliki government – a puppet government," he observes. "You're not hearing that from Iran."

Dr. James A. Russell, a lecturer in National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and a specialist on security affairs in the Gulf region, agrees that the two countries do indeed share common strategic interests in Iraq, at least in terms of rational, realist definitions of strategic interest.

The problem, Russell says, is that the history of the relationship and domestic political constituencies pose serious obstacles to realizing those common interests. Two such obstacles are "the very powerful political constituency for attacking Iran" and support for Israel, says Russell.

James Dobbins, former US ambassador to Afghanistan and director of the Rand Corporation's International Security and Defense Policy Center, agrees that Iran is not trying to destabilize Iraq. "They have been supportive of the government and hope it prevails," he says. As for the chief source of instability in Iraq, the Sunni-Shi'ite conflict, Dobbins notes that "Iranians don't see anything to be gained by Sunni-Shi'ite conflict in Iraq."

Contrary to the impression conveyed by the Bush administration, Iran's ties to Shi'ite militias do not represent a new development. They have been a constant in Iranian policy since the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime opened the way for Shi'ite militias to return from Iran in 2003.

In August 2005 a Time magazine story reported that Iranians were providing support to what were then called "Shi'ite insurgents" but quoted Western diplomats as saying that they "appear to be acting defensively rather than offensively." Those sources noted that the Iranian assistance to Shi'ite militias was "dwarfed by the amount of money and materiel flowing in from Iraq's Arab neighbors to Sunni insurgents."

Iran specialists and regional analysts agree that Iran's ties with militias who attack US and British forces as well as government targets is essentially a way of ensuring that Iran will be on good terms with any future regime in Baghdad. "They're trying to hedge their bets," says Dobbins, "because they're not sure who's going to prevail."

Russell agrees that Iranian support for militias is not aimed at to destabilizing Iraq but to establish good relations with every Shi'ite faction. "This is a logical step to protect their interests," he says.

The actual degree of convergence between US and Iranian interests on Iraq could still be a factor in the bilateral talks on the subject, despite the determination of the still powerful Vice President Dick Cheney to make sure they fail.

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 29 2007 6:04 utc | 59

@Noirette, re my post 49, here below is, FINALLY, an admission of Saudi guilt by the U.S. Administration, though America merely expresses 'frustration' at Saudi horrors and promptly rewards the U.S. colony with a $ 20 billion arms deal!!! And precisely what were those Saudi 'horrors'?

-- Forging documents to discredit Prime Minister al-Maliki
-- Doing nothing to prevent Saudi insurgents from corssing into Iraq
-- Financing and equipping Sunni insurgents inside Iraq, etc.,.

This news is uncharacteristically carried in the New York Times which is usually at the forefront of camouflaging Saudi terrorism and demonizing Iran:


(Sorry, b, I haven't got the hang of this link-thing yet!)

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 29 2007 8:02 utc | 60

AIPAC mouthpiece comment on the Saudi weapon deal: House Members Say They Will Try to Block Arms Sales to Saudis

But Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who was briefed on the deal Tuesday, said he had several reservations. "This is not a sale at Macy's that you go in and buy a bunch of stuff. There are a complex set of relationships behind it, and while it's very desirable to have the Saudis and others recognize that Iran is an existential threat, there is also a degree of responsibility that they have to show on broader U.S. foreign policy interests," he said in an interview.

In the context of the arms deals, Lantos said the oil-rich countries should use windfall profits from high oil prices to cover the expenses of Iraqi refugees who have flooded Jordan. Saudi Arabia should not try to re-broker reconciliation between Palestinian moderates and militants, he added, and Qatar should look at the television network al-Jazeera's role in the region.

Saudis/Qatar etc. must:
1. Clean up the mess Lantos & co made out of Iraq
2. Help the Israeli Lebensraum project
3. Suppress the Arab media

Then they might be allowed to pay for overpriced U.S. weapons ...

Posted by: b | Jul 29 2007 8:09 utc | 61

Great comment on the arms deal, b! But I hope everyone will read the link in 60. Here's just one sample from the many juicy quotes in the NYT report:

"Officials in Washington have long resisted blaming Saudi Arabia for the chaos and sectarian strife in Iraq, choosing instead to pin blame on Iran and Syria. Even now, military officials rarely talk publicly about the role of Saudi fighters among the insurgents in Iraq."

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 29 2007 8:15 utc | 62

The Empire has a brilliant idea!

Taming Iran and Russia through Europe's pocketbook

And it is suggested so sweetly, so persuasively... Tsk, Europe would have to have a heart of stone to refuse it. Why wait indeed?

Posted by: Alamet | Jul 29 2007 17:20 utc | 63

A rather amazing set of admissions there, like:

"and while it's very desirable to have the Saudis and others recognize that Iran is an existential threat, there is also a degree of responsibility that they have to show on broader U.S. foreign policy interests," he said in an interview.

As if the Saudis/&others have a duty to the U.S. to see (and act like) Iran is an enemy. That if they were to not do so, the U.S. could not make a convincing case that Iran is a threat - which of course it isn't, but since the U.S. has always inflated Iran as a threat (for propaganda purposes) it behooves all the client states to all rise up in mock horror and exclaim in unison "oh big daddy save us from that monster" like some vaudeville pantomime. And for the chairman of the house foreign affairs committee to come right out and imply that it's their responsibility to do so, would be just another cheap trick were it not for the fact that it uses the mock threat from Iran to legitimize and shield what its doing in Iraq. The threat from Iran is an utter fabrication, and its refreshing to hear a senior congressman admit it.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 29 2007 17:20 utc | 64

@Alamet - 63 - that reads like a page out of The Onion.

Posted by: b | Jul 29 2007 18:30 utc | 65

Parviz, there is no need to recommend cold showers. Ok I was bad tempered, I apologize, I understand everyone has to blame their pet hates.

9/11 is a free for all or a taboo topic, that in itself says much.

If I may reiterate anything, it is that large scale criminal acts, as 9/11 was, cannot, or should not, be attributed to countries. That frame is foolish.

Largish scale terrorist acts, nowadays (9/11, Bali bombings, London, Madrid, Istanbul, etc.) are either genuine or false flag. In all cases they are organized and carried out by splinter groups who have no nationalist agenda at all.

Did the Madrid bombers want to liberate Spain? Did they want to kick out Aznar? Or conversely keep him in power? Did they bomb because they hate freedom and democracy? Did they bomb for independence from the EU? Or for any specific minor cause, such as stipends for Basque widows? Or against abortion or for football?

As they never said, we cannot know.

Apparently they had no message, no future threats, no demands, no program of action. Nothing.

9/11 is empty in the same way. Bush justified it saying that Ay-rabs hate US freedoms, which gave him an excuse to cut those down immediately, with endless executive orders.

Nations are not the actors here.

Posted by: Noirette | Jul 29 2007 18:43 utc | 66

Noirette, sorry but I can't let you get away with statements like:

"If I may reiterate anything, it is that large scale criminal acts, as 9/11 was, cannot, or should not, be attributed to countries. That frame is foolish."

Yes, ETA is a Spanish splinter group, but the Taleban was created by the Government of Pakistan to gain total power over Afghanistan. It ws not created by what you call "splinter groups with no nationalist agenda". You claim to have read the 3 authors I mentioned, but I strongly doubt it. Even the 9/11 Commission Report attributes the creation and support of the Taleban to one country, Pakistan. If you want to get polemical and question what is a 'country' you can go ahead: Sure, no government represents all its people, but I don't believe in splitting hairs on this issue.

Whether 9/11 was misused by the Bush Administration, or its knowledge concealed in advance by Mossad, or any other of a thousand theories, is irrelevant to the central fact that Al Qaeda was financed by Saudi charities that represent Saudi feelings more than the corrupt and decrepit Saudi princes who rule the land by the Grace of America. Saudis actually danced in the street on 9/11. I'm sure you know many enlightened Saudis who are shocked by what happened, just as the Nazi regime didn't represent the will of every German, but the 'Taleban' is as close as you can get to a state sponsored terrorist organization, and Al Qaeda, an essentially Saudi organization disgusted with the debauchery of the Saudi ruling elite, assumed the Taleban's mantle to devastating effect. Now that the NYT has finally admitted the Saudi regime's complicity in the Iraqi insurgency I would have hoped any remaining doubts on your part might have been dispelled.

Finally, your statement on Bush is totally wacko:

"9/11 is empty in the same way. Bush justified it saying that Ay-rabs hate US freedoms, which gave him an excuse to cut those down immediately, with endless executive orders."

Bush never blamed "Ay-rabs" but placed the blame fairly and squarely on a single Arab nation (Iraq) while totally and wrongly absolving another Arab nation (Saudi Arabia) from any blame. Your generalizations simply don't make any sense. If the U.S. had bombed Saudi Arabia and Pakistan I would have understood it, because these 2 countries were the No. 1 perpetrators of terrorism in September 2001 and remain the No. 1 terrorists today (Besides the U.S., of course).

Yes, some terrorist groups are splinter groups like Baader Meinhof and ETA, but the Taleban was created and sponsored by the Government of Pakistan, and Al Qaeda is as close to the will of the Saudi people as any group can get. Conversely, Ahmadinejad is far more popular on the Arab street than he is in his own country. (Iranians held a 10,000 person vigil in Mohseni Square, Tehran, in support of America after 9/11, and he won only 20 % support in recent nationwide elections). Now do you see the difference?

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 29 2007 19:20 utc | 67

Sorry for the screw-up on the quote. Clearly the last 2 paragraphs are my own comments. Will use the 'preview' in future.

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 29 2007 19:23 utc | 68

parviz, let it rest. we have to agree to disagree. the founding principles, views, are not shared, I cannot refute this or that in your posts, it is like talking to a Xtian fundamentalist, a corporate oil guy, a Suv soccer mom, a Taliban who wants home lock my doubt you feel the same...

facts are slim on the ground, and everyone can make of them what they want. of course i cannot ‘prove’ that saudi had nothing much to do with 9/11, nor can you show the opposite, despite desperate links to this or that...

getting all heated up about some heidi with braids on a swiss mountain (me) is not cool.

send me e mail and your phone number and stop clogging the the thread. or scoot over here, we can bash it out.

Posted by: Noirette | Jul 29 2007 20:12 utc | 69

Thanks Noirette :-)

Posted by: b | Jul 29 2007 20:24 utc | 70

Noirette, so I'm wasting space and you're not? Hmmmm, interesting. You can emaill me by clicking on my name.

And if you want another exampe of how I waste space go to thread 07/52.

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 30 2007 7:14 utc | 71>Understanding Muqtada al-Sadr.
in a side note, seems like frederick kagan has a writer wife shilling for him, like the wormser's, the cheney's, I guess.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 30 2007 9:50 utc | 72>Pat Lang has an interesting take on the Saudi arms sale, as a kind of reverse bribery/"insurance policy":

Those involved probably, almost, nearly think this is about Iran. The ludicrous conception of selling such sophisticated toys to the Saudis is delightful in an Evelyn Waugh kind of way. Saudi Arabia has a tiny, still poorly educated population. There is no way that THE KINGDOM can absorb this kind of equipment, but, then, neither can the jihadis. What will happen to all this "gear?" It will gather dust and rust somewhere after all the payments, training and posturing are finished.

The symbolism is the thing. We, the American guarantors of the status quo in the Middle East guarantee to you, the Sunni Arab govenments that we are not going to try to unseat you. We had our flirtation with radical change, but, well, ... How can you be sure? Well, if we do, we can't collect the money.

And, of course, this means that we understand what you have to do in Iraq...

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 30 2007 17:46 utc | 73>Marl Lynch interprets some recent postings by the I(slamic) A(rmy) in I(raq), the main Sunni resistance group - with regards to recent U.S. statements on the subject:

Insurgency statements like these, while obviously crafted for public consumption, should have a sobering effect on those who claim to believe that the current American 'Sunni strategy' is on the road to success. Sure, some insurgent groups have been willing to take American weapons in order to rout their local rivals and to beef up their capabilities in advance of an anticipated showdown with the Shia militias (and Iraqi government) when the Americans finally leave. I long ago pointed out the real grievances that these groups had against an over-aggressive al-Qaeda (Islamic State of Iraq) muscling in on their territory, and I have no doubts that the strategy of arming 'former' insurgents and Sunni tribes is having some effect at the local level. But this has little to do with the insurgency's overarching strategy or its views of either the American presence or the current Iraqi government. Listen to what the leaders of the insurgency groups actually say, not to what American spokesmen project upon them: the major insurgency factions remain committed to fighting until the Americans withdraw and the current political system is revised.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 31 2007 3:10 utc | 74

Heidi on the mountain,

Do you have anything like a fermented goat cheese over there ? Possibly fried in hot spicy oil ?

Thats some good stuff.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jul 31 2007 5:43 utc | 75

Outstanding article in today's on the U.S. strategic shift towards supporting Middle Eastern dictatorships "to build an anti-Iranian alliance [resembling] the early Reagan administration's attempt to find an anti-Soviet 'strategic consensus' among U.S. allied Arab states and Israel."

Posted by: Parviz | Jul 31 2007 11:14 utc | 76

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