An op-ed writer in Al-Hayat, Rana Sabbagh, summarizes the consensus in the capitals of the "Arab quartet" on Cheney's tour this way: Cheney seems to be narrowly focused on somehow creating signs of progress on Iraqi legislative and security issues, via a stabilized Maliki administration, so as to minimize pressure from Democrats in Washington on war-funding and on the question of a withdrawal timetable. It is not lost on them that this is a purely American aim and not an Arab one. Arab leaders are exasperated by the lack of candor respecting the chances of any real progress on national reconciliation under Maliki.
Authorities in the moderate-Arab capitals see Maliki as inclined to deviousness, and as buying time in order to nail down his sectarian agenda. And at the same time Washington is building separation walls between Sunni and Shiite sections of Baghdad, something that adds to their anxiety about a division of Iraq and the emptying of Baghdad of its Sunni population, preparatory to making in the capital of the Shiite southern region, rich with oil resources, and connected with Iran.Some see this as case of a US "failure" resulting in a strengthened Iranian position, but there is another set of ideas in the background. She writes:
Iran, according to the [Arab] quartet, has been able to turn Iraq into an arena for the strengthening of its regional position in the face of the American project, or maybe as part of this or some other project. There are premonitions [or forebodings] about the existence of an America-Iran deal that involving an exchange of benefits by the two sides, leading to an early [American] withdrawal, in exchange for another agreement respecting related issues including the nuclear file. "Because" [she writes, quoting a Jordanian government source at this point] if the American aim was the restoration of security and stability in Iraq, they would have knocked on the right doors in the region."In other words, according to this summary, the Arab leaders are pretty sure Maliki has been leading them down the garden path, with respect to Iranian influence, and now increasingly they aren't so sure about Cheney and the Bush administration itself. But while the thoughts about an America-Iran deal are described as forebodings, the Arab leaders aren't at all unsure about Cheney's short-term aims on this trip.
Another Jordanian official said "the Arab quartet is no longer in agreement with Washington on Iraq, not least because the [American] aims are domestic-American and not Iraqi. What Cheney is currently trying to market is something that falls into the category of trying to minimize Democratic party pressure on war-funding and on the issue of a timetable for getting the troops out within 18 months".