Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Atwan: Qualms about Iraq won't affect the countdown to an attack on Iran

Abdulbari Atwan says in front-page editorial in Al-Quds al-Arabi Tuesday January 16 that the Gulf states plus Jordan and Egypt are going to approve, at their meeting in Kuwait with Condoleeza Rice, the new Bush strategy in Iraq, "and in particular that part relating to blocking the influence of Iran and Syria, and preparing for a major confrontation with Iran". The particularly dangerous nature of this, he says, lies in the fact that Bush in his final two years in office is trying to save face, and obtain "some kind of a victory in Iraq", that he can use as a basis for his next war against Iran to wipe out its nuclear program.

He says the "reservations" that were expressed by the Egyptian foreign minister, respecting promises to the Sunnis in Iraq (changing the constitution, dealing with the militias, and so on) are nothing more than a smokescreen, and won't affect the granting of Arab cover for American military action against Iran.
The countdown to an attack on Iran has begun [Atwan writes] and practical steps for implementation are proceeding, and it can't be ruled out that Israel could start with air strikes using tactical nuclear weapons, with America standing ready to defend it in the event of retaliatory attacks by Iran. American warships are pouring into the Gulf; the price of gold is on the rise; stock prices on the Gulf stock markets are in continuous collapse, for instance the Saudi stock index has lost 50% of its value in the past year, and these are indicators that war is practically a sure thing.
Atwan says the "temporary borders" scheme in Palestine is to placate the Arab states, who have asked Rice to do something for the Palestinians, in order to give them cover for allying with Israel in this confrontation with Iran. And to add insult to injury the "negotiations" are being conducted by Abbas on his own, as if the majority Hamas government didn't exist.

But the focus of Atwan's attack is the Arab heads of state. While Europeans and even US Republicans have demanded that Bush concede defeat in Iraq, the Arab leaders are too stupid to see that backing him up in this new strategy will lead them to a new and greater catastrophe: that of being caught in the crossfire of a regional confrontation, and being seen as allies of Israel at the same time.


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