Saturday, May 12, 2007

Cheney likely to find the era of blind Arab-regime cooperation is over

Al-Quds al-Arabi says in its lead editorial Cheney has his work cut out for him in his visits to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Jordan, because he has two very tough problems: One is to find ways for the four countries to help pacify Iraq so as to create at least an appropriate environment for the start of a US troop-withdrawal; and the other is to try and make military and political arrangements in the event of a decision to bomb Iran. The UAE is included in the trip because of its geographic location on the Gulf opposite Iran, and because of the three small islands occupied by Iran, so it could play the role of that Kuwait played in the Iraq wars. Cheney has a personal relationship with the Saudi king, and with Hosni Mubarak, dating back to his days as defence secretary under Bush the elder, but chances of any success in any of his plans are extremely slim, the editorialist says, and for the following reasons:

First, these countries all supported the American attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, and yet they have nothing to show for it. On the contrary, Iraq is now a more dangerous threat to them than it was under Saddam. Al-Quds normally doesn't show a lot of respect, editorially, for the intelligence of the Arab regimes, but in this case, the editorialist says the Mubarak and Abdullah and the others will be looking for specific explanations and guarantees from Cheney with respect to details of US plans for both Iraq and Iran. They will want a commitment to the effect that the current instability in Iraq will not be allowed to continue; and particularly the Gulf states will want assurances to the effect they won't be subject to retaliatory attacks from Iran in the event the US decides to bomb that country.

And more generally there is a reluctance to continue supporting any and all US schemes, or as the editorialist puts it
It wouldn't surprise us if what Cheney hears from some of the Arab leaders he meets with is a lot of questions about what recompense they will be receiving in return for any additional cooperation with his administration, whether with respect to Iraq or with respect to Iran, because voluntary and unpaid cooperation has become impossible, given the popular uneasiness in these countries about this blind following of the American administration, whose only wars it launches are against Arabs and Muslims.
The refusal of the Saudi king to meet with Maliki during the latter's recent Arab tour, "despite strong American pressure to do so", is one indication of the degree to which the Saudis have distanced themselves from the Bush administration, and the refusal at Sharm el Sheikh to write off all of their Iraqi debts was another.


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