I’m sure someone who spends far more time analyzing government policies around the world is going to correct my logic here, but Jefferson Morley’s World Opinion Roundup kicked off a train of thought.
Morley reports on reactions to Egyptian president Mubarak’s statements regarding the Shiites’ ultimate loyalties (to Iran, according to Mubarak), and his fears that an Iraq civil war would engulf the entire region:
Harsh reaction to remarks made by Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak about Iran’s influence this weekend shows that the conflict between Shiites and Sunnis reverberates well beyond Iraq.
An Iraqi civil war, warns one Saudi analyst in a front page story in the Khaleej Times, also based in Dubai, “would have the gravest implications for the entire region, especially Saudi Arabia, which shares its longest international borders with Iraq.”
“Saudi Arabia should to try to avert Iraq’s fragmentation by lobbying against any premature withdrawal of U.S. forces and by pressing Iran to stop meddling,” said Nawaf Obaid of the U.S.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Ah. In light of the recent articles about US intentions toward Iran (my posts here and here), a lightbulb went on for me when I read these last two paragraphs.
The US administration has consistently downplayed reports that Iraq is devolving into civil war, but they’d have to be idiots (no trolls, please!) to think that the country isn’t splitting along sectarian lines. If the Roundup paints an accurate picture, Polimom wonders whether our apparent unseemly haste to threaten Iran might not be directly related?
US support for the Saudi rulers is no secret, and Polimom suspects that any potential threat to them would necessitate action by Bush. However, Bush is not likely to take a direct approach in protecting the House of Saud. Furthermore, if the entire region would follow Iraq into civil war, our oil supplies from that region would cease.
If Iran is the holder of Shiite loyalty, then taking out Iran makes much more sense, strategically, if it could be realistically accomplished. (Note: I’m just theorizing, not attacking or defending…)
On the other hand… If Mubarak is correct (again, if), then the mere threat of aggression against Iran could radically escalate the situation in Iraq.
Some have speculated that White House planners are deliberately allowing plans for attacking Iran to “leak” into the press in hopes of intimidating Ahmadinejad. For that to be correct, then one has to conclude that the White House either a) disagrees with Mubarak, and instead thinks Iran hasn’t nearly that much influence with Shiites in Iraq, b) thinks there is some advantage to a civil war in the Middle East, or c) has no clue what it’s doing.
Frankly, all of this feels pretty Machiavellian to me, but I needed to clear these thoughts out so I could function again.