Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Al-Quds: CFR Report says Saudis supporting the Awakenings and want Maliki replaced with Allawi (UPDATED)

[UPDATE: This Al-Quds al-Arabi piece is apparently a summary not of an actual report, but of an interview with Gause by a CFR person which CFR has posted here. And the remarks by Gause are in some cases a little more circumspect than the Al-Quds summary indicates. For instance, Gause says "I'm pretty confident the Saudis have supported this (the Awakening Councils) with their influence and their money"); and with respect to their desire to see Allawi installed as PM, Gause at the same time expresses skepticism whether this is politically possible].

Al-Quds al-Arabi summarizes on its front page what it says is a report prepared by Gregory Gause, a political science professor at the University of Vermont, for the Council on Foreign Relations, whose main points are the following:

First, Gause says the Saudi regime "would like to see" Maliki replaced as Iraqi Prime Minister by someone less sectarian and less close to Iran, someone like former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. And second, although he doesn't have conclusive evidence partly because of the chronic secrecy of the Saudi regime, Gause "is certain" that the Saudi authorities are supporting the Awakening Councils in Iraq, and in any event this phenomenon is one that they are very much focused on. The journalist writes: "The American researcher sees the Saudis as having supported the Awakening Councils with all of their political and financial resources, and [the Saudis as] thinking of the Awakening Councils as part of their natural influence within Iraq". The Al-Quds headline-writer puts it this way: "Report: Saudi would like to replace Maliki with Allawi, and it is secretly financing the Awakenings."

The journalist elaborates as follows:
Gause says although the Saudis recognize that the Shiites are majority of the population of Iraq, and recognize that [the Shiites] will continue their role as a political formation in the Iraqi governing regime, still, the Saudis are making known their anxiety that this [current] situation could lead to a major marginalization of the Sunnis in Iraq, in addition to turning the Shiite ruling class into a group of agents in the hand of Tehran, and most of all Nuri al-Maliki, the report says.

Ironically, says Gause, Maliki's biggest ally at the moment is George Bush, and while the formation of alliances as [potential] substitutes for the current Iraqi regime with the support of Allawi [NOTE: not exactly what he said; see below] are in accord with US administration policy, still, Bush has not approved the abandonment of Maliki. Gause adds that there is a personal element to this, in the sense that Bush feels comfortable dealing with Maliki on a human level.

Gause says the Saudis feel the best way to end the war is to choose Iyad Allawi as new Prime Minister, and they contemplate that an administration of his would include a lot of Sunnis.

(The published remarks by Gause on the Bush-Maliki relationship are a little different from what is implied in the Al-Quds summary. Here is that exchange:
Q: Clearly patience for political change is running out. Politically, that’s really the only hot issue now in the United States—why the surge hasn’t produced political results.

A: Right, but Maliki’s most important ally right now is George Bush. This is consistent with his administration’s policy from earlier efforts to put together an alternative parliamentary coalition in Iraq. The president and the administration don’t think it’s a good idea [to oust Maliki].

Q: They’re afraid it would be too unsettling?

A: Yeah, I mean the president seems to be very much a guy who deals with personalities. And it seems he’s gotten comfortable with Maliki.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The article


may be of interest, because it is the only other place I've run into where rumors about "the Saudi authorities are supporting the Awakening Councils in Iraq" have been disseminated.

Although Non-Arab Arab does not identify his source, it can't be Prof. Gauss. The latter assumes that the Iranians and the Saudis are at odds in the former Iraq; Mr. X conjectures as follows:

The Saudis want the US out of Iraq, they’re just making a mess of it, but they want the Americans out on their terms. The Iranians feel almost exactly the same – they want the US out, but on their terms. So the Saudis and Iranians have found common ground and have more or less struck a deal to help calm Iraq so that the Americans can “claim victory” and get out. The Saudis and Iranians are meeting regularly behind the scenes and closely coordinating their efforts. So the Saudis are funneling huge support to anti-Al-Qaeda Sunni elements to tamp those hotheads down, and the Iranians have used their influence to calm down Sadr. So each side is calming down their respective sectors.

Meanwhile the sort of "official" CFR view that one might expect appears in the current issue of Foreign Relations , and contains nothing half so exciting. If all goes well, we may look forwards to "the paradoxical but beneficial result [that] all the Persian Gulf states would not just cooperate with one another but also endorse the United States' continued presence in the region."

7:24 PM  
Blogger badger said...

I don't think the assumption of Saudi support for the Awakenings is necessarily that remarkable in itself. In a way it is sort of what you'd expect. What is noteworthy is the prominence Al-Quds gives this, along with the (what compared to the actual interview remarks looks more like) possibly wishful thinking about replacing Maliki.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Alison said...

As you say, Badger, there is nothing in the least remarkable about Saudi sponsorship of the so-called Awakening (as a means of strenthening the hand of their stalking horse, Ayad Allawi.) The so-called Awakening represents the second stage of the systematic subversion of the Iraqi National Resistance by Saudi Arabia, the prime sponsor of 'Al Qaeda'!! The Saudis are a menace to Iraq just as the Iranians are! What is most depressing is that the Syrians are also in on the act via their renegade Ba'athist hireling Mohammed Younis Al-Ahmed.

6:52 AM  

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