To the People

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mission Impossible: Making Sense Out of US Middle East Policy

I have stopped trying to make sense of US Middle East policy, as that is a bridge too far for my intellectual ability. But I can point out the nonsense by looking at the totality of our various stances and how they are contradictory at almost every turn.

The recent Iran IED claims: Bush is claiming that Iran's government is providing Iraqi militants with the deadly armor-piercing IED's that are killing US forces. Yet Iran is Shi'ite, and our forces are mostly being attacked by Sunni former Baathists and al Qaeda. Iran hates the Sunnis and is more likely hoping that with the help of the Shi'ite Iraqi army and police we will help Iran achieve its goal of a Shi'ite Iraq.

Saudi Arabia: The US is closely allied with Saudi Arabia, yet Saudi Arabia vows to invade Iraq to protect the Sunnis should the US leave. SA wants to protect the same Sunnis who include the insurgents who actually are planting IED's to kill our troops, and if they invade they will be fighting the same Iraqi army that we have built and funded.

Israel/Palestine: The US chose not to support the moderate Palestinian Abbas regime in any meaningful way or take the US's traditional leadership role in negotiating peace between the two peoples. Abbas was thus marginalized and, while Condi Rice praised the coming elections, their result, which put Hamas in power, caused the administration to clamp down on the Palestinians further as the US doesn't like Hamas. This proves to the world that the US only likes democracy when it goes its way = major credibility eroder. Hamas is Shi'ite and funded by Iran while most Palestinians are Sunni. The US pull of support to Palestine has opened the way for Iran to have unbridled influence over the territories, another door we opened for them.

[Sometimes I think we are working for Iran, Bush's proclamations aside, more to come.]

Lebanon: This country is a rare example of a democracy in the Middle East with a diverse population of Sunnis, Shi'ites and Christians living together under a common government and secular society. This is Condi Rice's fantasy. Yet when Israel started raining bombs and marching into Lebanon after a Hezbollah (they are funded by Iran) provocation the US turned a blind eye for a month. The result was that the Lebanese democracy is now fragile and Hezbollah looks like heroes to besieged Lebanese, as Hezbollah were able to position themselves as protectors of the people.

I cannot make sense of US policy re: Sunnis versus Shi'ites or the Middle East in general. I welcome you opinionated TtP commenters to chime in and add to the dialogue, and please keep it civil. It is much more useful for all of us if you try to persuade your ideological enemies and not just call them idiots.

For a great article on how the geniuses in the White House have fomented a new Sunni/Shi'ite rift crisis that is reverberating around the globe, Anthony Shadid's excellent story is here.

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