Friday, December 01, 2006

Two views of the exclude-Iran movement: Same facts, opposite meaning

Today is Friday, so for the immediate aftermath of the Amman meetings, we don't have local Iraqi newspapers, only the UK-based pan-Arab papers.

Both Al-Quds al-Arabi (anti-Saudi among other things) and Al-Hayat (sometimes pro-Saudi) lead with the idea that everyone at the Amman get-togethers rejected the idea of any concessions to get Iran or Syria involved in promoting stability in Iraq. It is a good illustration of the same-facts, opposite-meaning phenomenon.

According to Al-Hayat:

Bush ...renewed his administration's adherence to its strategic choices in the region, and he brushed off domestic and foreign pressure [for change]. There was clear support for the American and Arab approach of refusing any concessions to Iran or Syria in exchange for their participation in the pacifying of Iraq...[And later in this piece]: High-level Jordanian sources told Al-Hayat that countries in the region warned Washington of the danger of offering any rewards "nuclear-related" in the case of Iran, or "Lebanon-related" in the case of Syria in exchange for their facilitating an honorable American exit from Iraq.
And in an accompanying piece, Al-Hayat puts the matter this way:
[Some suggested there might be a multilateral conference instead of direct discussions, as a way of involving Iran and Syria.] However, in the discussions at Amman, it was a clear given that there was a balanced support in the regional and international environment for dealing with the Iraq issue without any important American concessions to Iran or Syria, particularly with respect to the nuclear or the Lebanon issues, in the words of those close to the environment of the dicsussions.

That is a mouthful, but the really what the journalist is saying is that the people he talked to described shutting out Iran and Syria as enjoying "balanced support" in the region and around the world.

Here's the way Al-Quds al-Arabi describes the same phenomenon.

There was a coalescing of the outlines of political and sectarian alliances in the region, with new leaks indicating that Sunni Arab states oppose the participation of Iran in any settlement of the Iraq question, fearing that this would diminish their [the Sunni Arab states'] influence in the region.
In a nutshell: Where Al-Hayat sees "balanced support", not only in the region but all over the world for shutting Iran and Syria out of the Iraq discussions, Al-Quds al-Arabi sees the formation of a Sunni-regime alliance against Iran, based on "balance" all right, but a "balance" that says: We Sunni Arab, you non-Sunni non-Arab, keep out. One sees "balance", the other sees sectarian polarization.

The "balance" that Al-Hayat sees is the balance between the Bush administration and its allies. For Al-Quds al-Arabi, the polarization whose "lineaments started to coalesce" at Amman is that of a US-supported sectarian jihad against the country that is racially and religiously different.

The "new leaks" that Al-Quds al-Arabi refers to are those reported in the Financial Times of Thursday November 30. And the Al-Quds journalist cites with approval the FT analysis to the effect this is basically part of a regional power-struggle between the Sunni-Arab regimes and Iran.


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